29th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Justin O’Byrne) took the chair at 10.30 a.m. and read prayers.
– The following petitions have been lodged for presentation:
To the Honourable the President and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petitionof undersigned citizensof Australia respectfully showeth that the establishment of an Australian Government Insurance Office will:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate rejects completely the Australian Government Insurance Office Bill 1975.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Chaney.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the insurance industry is already faced with
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will reject the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Chaney, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator McAuliffe.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate assembled:
We, the undersigned citizens of Australia, respectively refer to the Commonwealth grant for herd recording in this State, South Australia.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, will consider our recommendation that the Grant be reinstated.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Steele Hall.
-I present the following petition from 16 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
1 ) That Parliament should pass the Bill currently before it to establish an Australian Government Insurance Corporation.
That an Australian Government Insurance Corporation will benefit all Australian women and men by offering equal opportunity for employment and insurance cover.
That there is a need to establish in Australia National Interest Insurance so that cover is available against natural disasters.
That the Australian Government Insurance Corporation will fairly compete with the general and life insurance companies thereby benefiting the industry and the policy holders.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will pass the Bill.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
- Senator Missen yesterday morning raised the matter of the order of calling senators on the Opposition side of the Senate during question time. He indicated that senators seated in a particular area of the Opposition benches were disadvantaged as they were rarely given the call early during question time. I indicated to Senator Missen that I could understand that this could happen but I know that I do not have to assure him that there was no intention of disadvantaging him or any of his colleagues located in that area of the chamber in receiving an early call to ask questions. I assure honourable senators that in future I shall endeavour to overcome what Senator Missen appears to consider an injustice. I should add that, having studied the statistics of the questions asked without notice during sittings of the Senate this year, I find that the numbers of questions asked without notice by honourable senators, to and including 26 August 1975, were as follows:
Government senators- 465;
Non-Government senators- 656.
Senator Missen may be interested to know that, although he may not have received early calls during this period, overall he has exercised his right and received the call to ask 28 questions- one of only 16 senators who asked 28 or more questions this year.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Media confirm that the Minister for the Media recently met senior radio and television production staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and encouraged them to challenge conventional tastes with programs similar to the now notorious ‘Lateline’ program on pederasty? Will he confirm that there is a tape recording of the Minister’s remarks? If so, will a transcript be made available? Is it proper that the charter given to the Australian Broadcasting Commissioners and the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission by the statute setting up the ABC should be undermined by ministerial endorsement of radical staff policies?
-The honourable senator has asked me to confirm whether the Minister for the Media had a discussion with producers of the ABC and, I understand, senior management of the ABC. I assume that Senator Greenwood obtained the information set out in his question from an article that appears in this week’s Bulletin, which I read yesterday with a great deal of interest. I cannot confirm whether the information set out in Senator Greenwood ‘s question or in the Bulletin is accurate or detailed in any way. All I can do is to undertake to refer the question to the Minister for the Media in another place.
As far as the second aspect of his question is concerned- whether there has been any interference with the charter of the ABC- this Government religiously has adhered to the practice of stating that the Commission is responsible for its own affairs, for its own program arrangements. From time to time doubtless Dr Cass or Senator Greenwood would have suggested programs to the Commission for its consideration, but the eventual programming of the Commission is a matter for the Commission.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Police and Customs. I refer to a recent court case in which 2 brothers were charged with having imported cannabis resin inside typewriter cases. Can the Minister advise the Senate whether smuggling of this type has previously been drawn to his attention? If so, what is his Department doing to detect drug smuggling of this type?
– Last week I answered a similar question to some extent but I was somewhat inhibited as the matter was then before the court. I believe a decision has been made in the case and the evidence would suggest that cannabis resin to the value of approximately $600,000 was seized. Two brothers were brought before the court for possessing that cannabis resin. On an inspection in New South Wales I investigated the case and saw the particular typewriter cases in which the cannabis had been contained and how it had been detected. It had been contained in the space between the outer and inner covering of the case. As a result of this incident there will be close examination of all cases carrying electrical goods which in the future come from overseas. The cannabis was obviously imported because there is no known manufacturer of cannabis resin in Australia.
The Department has produced photographs of the type of concealment used. They are in my office and are available if any honourable senator would like to see them. The Department of Police and Customs continually carries out surveillance for the detection of illicit importations into Australia. It was officers of my Department who were successful in detecting a breach of the customs laws in this case. All I can say is that we are doing everything that we possibly can to eradicate this problem.
-Can the Minister for Agriculture confirm that he or his Department has circulated the Industries Assistance Commission’s interim report on the superphosphate bounty to various primary industry groups throughout Australia? Does the Government intend to assess the reaction of rural industries before deciding whether the bounty should be restored? Were industry groups consulted before the Government discontinued the bounty?
– As my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland has advised me- he is the Minister responsible for the Industries Assistance Commission- the document was made public last week. I did indicate that all members of Parliament were circulated with a copy. It is a public document. It is available to any primary industry organisation to consider. The question whether the Government should await any further comment by industry groups is not quite relevant, because during the course of the Commission’s inquiries any person, any body or group in Australia was entitled to place evidence before the Commission before it made its recommendations. As far as I know primary industry groups did, in fact, submit quite a lot of information and material for the Commission’s consideration. That was the proper time for any interested body to lay its case before the Commission. The Government has a responsibility now to act or otherwise on the Commission’s recommendations.
– I call Senator Missen.
-Thank you, Mr President, and thank you for your statement this morning. My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the Minister recently received or seen representations from an organisation named ‘The Council to Stop Offensive Advertising Incorporated ‘ and /or from other organisations complaining about the failure of the Government to take action against the type of Press advertising of films which highlights and applauds promiscuous sexual activity, debauchery and violence? Does the Government have any power or opportunity to take action on such complaints? If it has, does it have any intention of doing so?
– I am asked this question in a representative capacity. I assume that if representations were made by such a body they would be made to the AttorneyGeneral. They certainly have not been made to me. I will take up the matter with the AttorneyGeneral and ask him, firstly, whether he has received such representations and, secondly, whether he considers it possible and/or desirable to act on those representations, and I will let the honourable senator have a reply.
-I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health to considerable publicity given in recent weeks to statements by the Minister for Health in connection with the dangers of smoking, alcohol and the over-use of pharmaceutical drugs. Have the Minister’s activities been motivated by concern that the smoking education campaign has failed? Has the Minister received any indication of support from organisations with an interest in the health field? Do his efforts in the interests of improved public health suffer from gibes of wowserism in some quarters of the media?
– I do not know to what extent the Minister for Health has suffered from that. I do not think that as yet I have been accused of being a wowser. Many responsible people are concerned about what seems to be a rising trend in drug usage in Australia. The Minister for Health is aware that the Government and of a lot of voluntary organisations in the educational field have been very hard pressed to match the campaigns which have been waged by those who wish to make popular the use of legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotine. Consumption figures in recent years certainly give no cause for any complacency in this regard. It is for that reason that the Minister for Health has felt obliged to use the weight of his office and the information which he has as Minister for Health in order to lend some assistance to the efforts of those people who are trying to counter the use of these drugs which, I think everybody would admit, are at best unhealthy.
– But the Government has cut the grants to the anti-smoking people for education this year.
-Yes, as Senator Baume has said, the Government has cut the grants to the anti-smoking people. It has cut a number of grants this year. It has been trying to cut down on spending in the public sector. I know that Senator Baume opposes that sort of thing. Despite all of that, there has been a reduction in consumption in the higher age groups, and the evidence also suggests that fewer young males are taking up smoking. What is apparently more serious is that the number of young females who are taking up smoking is increasing. In fact, I have been so distressed by all of this that, as one who has been smoking ever since his quite early school days, I have to confess I bought a small article which looks like a cigarette. If one wants to retain a sort of Humphrey Bogan image, one puts it in one’s mouth and if people are not too close they do not see that it is not a real cigarette. It has many of the effects of smoking a cigarette. One tends to get a headache after a while and a nasty taste in the mouth.
– Oral gratification, is that right?
-Yes, it is oral gratification of a type which is not always available to one. Recent statistics, however, do provide some ground for optimism. The consumption patterns of tobacco products in Australia by established smokers, among whom I would include myself, suggest that the smoking education campaign has been successful in changing smoking habits. The increase in consumption by females can be traced to wide social changes which have transformed our society in many respects.
With regard to the support from organisations for curbs on smoking, honourable senators will be aware of the marked shift in social attitudes and of the special sections in planes and trains and so on. The prohibition on smoking in public conveyances such as those of the Metropolitan Transport Trust in Perth has certainly had some effect. Another example of at least some efficacy of the campaign is found in the recent decision by the Pharmaceutical Council of New South Wales to endorse a policy statement that tobacco products should not be sold in pharmacies. The Council has adopted a code which states that public health education responsibilities of pharmacists should be applied in connection with the sale of tobacco products. Apparently my colleague the Minister for Health was described recently by Mr Sigley on a Melbourne television program as a wowser. Those who counsel moderation in these matters are often described as wowsers, and I am sure that Dr Everingham, who has been accused of much worse things in his day than being a wowser, will not be dissuaded by any such accusation from following the course on which he has embarked.
-The Minister for Social Security will recall that on 19 February this year I asked him a question in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Now that he has the responsibility for the portfolio can he give me any information on the matter of age pensioners who own their homes and whose homes maintenance costs are around $10 a week and rising? Has any decision yet been made that will ease the cost burden on these people?
-To the best of my recollection, a decision has not been made on this matter. That is not because I do not regard it as a serious matter. I hope to be able to make a statement on it shortly. The matter that Senator Bessell raises is a serious one. Since the original decision was made with regard to the value of homes and the cost of the maintenance of homes which are owned by age pensioners there has been a quite dramatic level of inflation. I suppose that this is another example of an instance where some sort of indexation ought to be applied. As yet I have no information to give Senator Bessell. He will appreciate that with the Budgetary problems with which the Government has been faced this year it has been very difficult, however desirable it may have been, to embark on new initiatives in these matters, but certainly it is not because the matter has been overlooked or because the seriousness of the question to which Senator Bessell has so correctly drawn attention has not been appreciated by the Government.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. I think it might also have some bearing on his responsibility as Minister representing the Minister for the Media. In view of the rising unemployment in the Australian publishing industry and the loss and /or transfer of Australian owned publishing lists to overseas interests or countries, will the Minister indicate the assistance which has been given and which is proposed to be given to Australian owned publishing companies?
-The Government is aware that the publishing industry in Australia is facing some problems at present. In the past the publishing industry has received assistance from the Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts, which is now known as the Australia Council, but the Government understands that there may be, having regard to the problems in the industry, a need for wider forms of assistance to be available to the industry. Towards the end of last month I asked the Industries Assistance Commission to conduct a wide ranging inquiry into all aspects of the industry in Australia. The reference that I have made to the Commission in my capacity as Special Minister of State leaves it open for the Commission to make recommendations to me on any matter that it considers relevant to the inquiry. When the Commission has considered the matter, has taken evidence from the industry and has tendered its report to me the Government will consider what assistance, if any, it should provide for the industry in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture. No doubt he is aware that the Liberal and Country Parties have recently committed any future Liberal-Country Party Government to the restoration of the superphosphate bounty. Can he say whether this decision by the coalition is soundly based economically? Is there any evidence to show that prominent members of the Opposition have a vested interest in the reintroduction of the bounty?
– Yesterday I drew attention to the standing order which requires that senators not ask questions relating to matters on the Notice Paper. This question relates to the Budget. I ask that this point be watched very closely. Senator Walsh, will you reframe your question?
– Could I speak to your ruling, Mr President? I made no reference to the Budget.
– I ask you to reframe your question.
– I ask the Minister for Agriculture whether he is aware of recent undertakingsthere have been a number of such undertakings- by the Liberal-Country Party coalition Opposition to restore the superphosphate bounty. Can he say whether this decision is soundly based economically and whether prominent members of the Opposition have a vested interest in the restoration of the bounty?
– I raise a point of order. I refer to standing order 99 which states that questions which have imputations are not allowed to be asked. If that is not an imputaton against members of the Opposition, I do not know what is.
– You are frightened of the truth.
– I do not use superphosphate on my lawn, so I do not know. I just want to say that if this is not an imputation against members of the Opposition, what else is it?
– In support of the point of order raised by Senator Missen, I go further and say that many rulings have been made, long before my time and your time, Mr President, that a senator cannot ask a Minister for an opinion about matters that lie outside his capacity to answer. The Minister for Agriculture cannot answer a question that relates to policies, undiscerned or discerned, of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr President, I thought your action in asking Senator Walsh to rephrase his question was quite proper. He carefully avoided any reference to the Budget and quite properly said that a number of undertakings had been given by the Opposition on the reintroduction of the superphosphate bounty. It is obvious that the question is one which the Opposition does not want answered. There is nothing improper in the information which I could give in answer to Senator Walsh’s question which, I suggest, in its amended form is quite proper. However, naturally, it is up to you, Mr President, to rule on the matter.
– I rule that the question seeks information from the Minister and that it is quite in order. I call the Minister for Agriculture.
– There has been a number of undertakings given over the past 12 months or so by the Opposition on the reintroduction of the superphosphate bounty. It is a matter of judgment whether there is any great economic value to primary industry as a whole in its reintroduction. The Government therefore referred the matter to the Industries Assistance Commission to obtain an appraisal of the effect of the reintroduction of the bounty and, of course, the application of superphosphate in Australia.
As to the question whether the agricultural community as a whole benefits or whether individuals benefit, it is interesting to recall that on the basis of information that was supplied to me by my colleague, the Minister for Police and Customs, in respect of the 400 principal users of superphosphate in Australia in 1973- these are the people who received a personal bounty or a bounty in their names in excess of $5,000 in 1973- we do find one name prominently featured, the name John Malcolm Fraser of Nareen in Victoria. I am not able to vouch for the identity of the John Malcolm Fraser referred to, but if it is the person I think it is, I would believe it fair to assume also that since the reintroduction of the bounty in 1963 -
– Tip the bucket.
– Yes, and he is one of best bucket-tippers in the whole business. It is about time someone disclosed some of the truths about him. Since the reintroduction of the superphosphate bounty in 1963 it is fair to assume that the same person has received payments from the taxpayers in superphosphate bounties totalling possibly as much as $50,000 to spread over his $2m property.
-Is the Minister for Labor and Immigration aware of the imminent lay-off of 4500 workers at Chrysler Australia Ltd at Lonsdale and Finsbury in South Australia, due to a Vehicle Builders Union strike at No Sag Springs, Geelong, and the consequent inability to obtain supplies of seat springs? I also ask whether the Minister is aware that the Deputy Chairman of the Chrysler organisation, Mr R. C. Rainsford, has said:
It is only a matter of time before other shortages will make it impossible to continue our assembly operations.
In view of the critical outook for Chrysler in South Australia and for its 4500 assembly workers, can the Minister say what has been done to overcome the difficulties in Geelong? Can he report as to the progress in this regard?
– I am not aware of the details of the industrial dispute mentioned by the honourable senator. If the facts are as he relates them, they are of course very disturbing as the motor industry already faces sufficient difficulties. I will make it my business to find out the position about the industrial upheaval that he mentions and do whatever is within my power to bring the matter to a speedy conclusion.
I might mention in passing, seeing that we have been referred to the troubles of the Chrysler establishment at Lonsdale, that this Government is acutely interested in the long term fate of the Chrysler company, and indeed of the motor car industry in and around Adelaide. Recent moves taken by the Government will, I am sure, after the present industrial trouble has been solved ensure the long term viability of the motor car industry in the State of South Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labor and Immigration. It would appear that the fine city of Geelong in which I live is getting a few mentions in the Senate this morning. What is the current rate of unemployment in the Geelong district? Has the Minister carried out a special study of the employment situation in Geelong? Has Geelong had a registration rate approximately equal to double the national average for a number of years? What was the increase in registrations in the most recent figures, over previous figures?
– It happens that I have some information on this subject because recently I asked my Department to look into the situation of Geelong, which I think we have to confess has in recent years been a particularly vulnerable industrial centre. I had also been approached by the Speaker in the other place, in his capacity as the honourable member for Corio, expressing his concern about the employment situation in Geelong. There has been no special survey in the Geelong area carried out by my Department in recent times, although I am advised that the Cities Commission, on behalf of the Geelong Growth Centre Planning Group, undertook a study of the structure and sources of unemployment in the Geelong area, and the Commission’s report entitled ‘Employment in Geelong’ was released in July this year. However, my Department has been keeping a close watch on the employment situation in Geelong which is, as Senator Poyser suggests, an area in which the level of unemployment is normally higher than the national average.
At the end of July 1975 the proportion of the estimated work force registered as unemployed in Geelong was 7.5 per cent compared with a national figure of 4.2 per cent. At the end of July 1966-I quote this figure to underline the long term vulnerability of this centre- registered unemployment in Geelong represented 3.0 per cent of the work force as against a national average of 1.2 per cent. In 1971 it was 2.8 per cent compared with 1.2 per cent nationally. In fact, the Geelong unemployment rate has been considerably higher than the national rate in each of the last 10 years.
Senator Poyser also asked about the increase in the number of registered unemployed shown in the most recent figures. I am happy to be able to tell him that the most recent figures show a decrease in unemployment. The Geelong employment office area, which includes surrounding areas as well as the city of Geelong, had a total of 5042 people registered at the end of July, which was a decrease of 155 from the number registered at the end of June, and the June figure represented a decline of 9 1 from the number registered at the end of May. Despite this recent decline in unemployment, the situation in Geelong is of course serious and gives the Government cause for great concern. The National Employment and Training scheme, the Regional Employment Development scheme, the Structural Adjustment Assistance scheme and the scheme for Special Assistance for NonMetropolitan Areas are some attempts which the Government has made to give real assistance to the residents of the area.
– I draw the attention of the Senate to the presence in the gallery of 2 members of the House of Representatives of the Japanese Diet, Mr Kenji Fukunaga and Mr Shoji Kaiama, and party. On behalf of the honourable senators I extend to Mr Fukunaga and Mr Kaiama and party a most cordial welcome.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of the expression of fears that it may be impossible to maintain adequate medical staffing in the Darwin Hospital? Has a resignation reduced the hospital medical staff to 14 doctors, and will 3 further resignations take effect within the next week or so? What steps are planned to ensure that a shortage of trained medical personnel does not add to the already formidable problems facing the residents of Darwin.
– I am afraid that I do not know the details of the situation at the Darwin Hospital. I ask Senator Baume to put the question on notice and I will undertake to ask the Minister for Health to let the honourable senator have a reply as quickly as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Police and Customs. Can the Minister refute the allegation of Mr Wordley, an officer of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, that some of the Customs officers engaged in combating bird smuggling have had their activities nobbled? Can the Minister again explain what co-operation exists between his Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs to enable the refusal of visas to known bird smugglers?
– Co-operation exists between my Department, the Department of Labor and Immigration and the Department of Foreign Affairs in dealing with foreign nationals who deliberately breach the Customs laws in relation to bird smuggling or any other form of smuggling. In fact, as a result of the liaison between the departments the granting of visas to residents of other countries who wished to come to Australia has been refused on 2 occasions because of their previous convictions for smuggling fauna from Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labor and Immigration. Is the
Minister now in a position to answer my recent question regarding the request for permanent residence in Australia by South Vietnamese persons, including students, who are now in this country? Will he, in doing so, also indicate the Government’s intentions with regard to applications for entry permits on behalf of close relatives of such persons, including such relatives now living in South Vietnam, Thailand, Guam, the United States of America or elsewhere?
– I am not in a position to answer the last leg of the honourable senator’s question but I will investigate that aspect and let him have a reply soon. I am in a position to give the honourable senator some information about the question he asked yesterday concerning the Colombo Plan and private students who wish to seek resident status in Australia. The situation with regard to them is as follows: Under normal policy private students may seek resident status upon the completion of their courses of study but sponsored or formerly sponsored students are expected to return home and then apply the benefits of their training in Australia to the economic development of their own countries. They are not, therefore, normally granted resident status. However, in view of the special situation in South Vietnam, the Prime Minister announced on 3 April last that students from that country would be permitted to defer their departure from Australia. Consequently it has been the practice to extend temporary resident status until 31 December 1975 to any South Vietnamese student who did not already hold such an authority. Our intention is to reexamine the position of those students towards the end of the year.
In the meantime any private student from South Vietnam who successfully completes his studies will be eligible to apply for resident status. Any applications for resident status lodged by sponsored students from that country will be held over until they have completed their studies in Australia, when they will be determined in the light of developments in their home country. All of the students concerned will, of course, be permitted to remain here until the position has been clarified.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question of the Minister for Labor and Immigration. In view of the fact that such persons could, if necessary, claim refugee status would it not be more practicable for the Government now to grant permanent resident status to them, since I take it that the Government would give them the protection of refugees under the international understanding?
– Yes, I agree that their position should be clarified as soon as possible and that they should not be left in any state of suspended animation or doubt about their future in this country. I will be urging the Government to reach a speedy decision on that matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Agriculture. Is it a fact that the New South Wales Government has announced retrenchment of staff employed on the cattle brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign? If so, is it true that these retrenchments have been caused by a reduction in the Australian Government’s contribution to the campaign?
-I understand that Mr Lewis has made a statement in which he attributes the need to lay off staff on the brucellosis eradication campaign to lack of funds from the Australian Government Mr Lewis’ memory must be very short. In the last year of our predecessors, the amounts being contributed by the then Federal Government and the New South Wales State Government were roughly comparable. In the first year of the Australian Labor Government, we lifted the payments by a very significant figure. Since that time, Australian Government payments to New South Wales for the campaign have increased by 250 per cent, whereas the New South Wales Government’s contribution has increased by 50 per cent. The ratio now is almost $2m on the part of the Australian Government to only $700,000 on the part of the New South Wales Government. This year we have made sufficient provision in the Budget to ensure that the campaign can be maintained at the same level as last year. It is a completely fallacious argument to suggest that it is through any lack of support on the part of the Australian Government that anyone may be laid off. I think that Mr Lewis, as usual, is playing politics.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. I refer to the significant number of new senior staff positions, equivalent to the old second division positions, created by the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission, as from 1 July 1975. I ask: Did the commissions advertise generally for applicants for these new positions? Was any effort made to recruit people from outside the Public Service to fill any of these new positions? Have any of these new positions been filled by people who were not previously employed in the Public Service?
– I think I answered part of Senator Durack ‘s question last week. I indicated then that the whole question of those vacancies and appointments was to be the subject of a discussion between myself, the Minister for Labor and Immigration, Mr Cooley and some other important people including the chairmen of the commissions. Senator James McClelland and I are trying to arrange that discussion for next week. The whole question will then be examined and much of the information that Senator Durack seeks will be revealed. I suggest that he might put the question on notice now or I will supply the information after the discussion has taken place.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Social Security and Minister for Repatriation and Compensation, follows a series of questions that have been asked in the Senate in the last 2 days concerning the political activities of the organisation called the Life and General Insurance Committee’. I ask the Minister Is he aware that a branch of this Committee has been established in Tasmania and has been asked by a political party in Tasmania to support an Opposition candidate in a Federal seat? Has a letter been sent by this organisation asking for volunteers to doorknock in support of this candidate? Has the Committee expressed the view that the insurance industry should support the Opposition in activities against a whole range of Government proposals, not merely the proposed Australian Government Insurance Corporation, and that this support should be carried out in a clandestine and underhand manner? Will the Minister take steps to alert the Australian electorate in all States to this clandestine and expensive campaign against the Government by means which I consider that many of the electorate will consider to be undemocratic?
– I happen to have in my possession a copy of a letter from a Mr B. E. Mclnerney, the Chairman of the Life and General Insurance Committee of Tasmania, which is an organisation of private life and general insurance companies. According to the letter that has been sent to 25 responsible people in the industry, that is to say employees of insurance companies, Mr Mclnerney refers to the defeat in the Senate of the Australian Government Insurance Corporation Bill. He says:
Although we can all justly take pride in these efforts they would have come to nothing without the support of the Liberal-National Country Parry in the Parliament and at some time in the future it is possible we will again be looking for this support should National Compensation and National Superannuation be re-introduced by the Government.
In the meantime, the Liberal Party in Tasmania has asked for the support of the Insurance Industry in the campaigns of endorsed Liberal candidates and I have promised this support.
On Saturday, 30 August, the party -
That is the Liberal Party- has asked for forty volunteers to door knock with literature for Michael Hodgman in the Denison electorate. I have promised this support.
– Who is this from?
-This letter is from the Chairman of the Life and General Insurance Committee in Tasmania. The letter continues:
It will cost you approximately three hours of your time and I feel confident your support is forthcoming.
He asks each of the 25 employees to bring one other person with him. He says:
Please advise me NO LATER THAN 28 August, your intention to assist and advise also the name of your associate.
Helpers are requested to report to Liberal Party Headquarters, 30 Patrick Street, Hobart, . . .
I notice that Opposition senators are saying: Hear, hear!’ I hope that, when all Labor supporters and independently minded people throughout Australia are advised of the contents of this and of other letters and of the names of those insurance companies which are using the funds of their policy-holders in order to engage in this campaign and which are blackmailing their employees, as Senator Missen said- I take up Senator Missen ‘s words- to work against Labor Party candidates, they will draw their own conclusion when the time comes to renew their insurance policies or take out an insurance policy with any of those insurance companies.
– I remind the Minister representing the Minister for Manufacturing Industry that last week I asked him a question concerning retrenchments at Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd and at Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited. I asked whether the Minister would outline to the Senate what action the Government was taking to assist those industries and so protect the workers from retrenchment. Is the Minister yet able to indicate the position in relation to this matter?
– I understand that the Minister for Manufacturing Industry had some conversations this week at least with the management of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. I am unaware of whether he has also had discussions with the management of Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Ltd. However, I will see the Minister in the near future and get a full report from him on the latest situation in relation to these 2 beleaguered companies and let the honourable senator have the information as soon as I have it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence been drawn to recent Press reports concerning engine failure and the subsequent grounding of the F 1 1 1 aircraft of the United States Air Force? If so, have the F1 1 1 aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force been grounded, and what effect has that had on the capability of the RAAF?
– Following the information which was given to the Royal Australian Air Force concerning the engine failure of the F1 1 1 aircraft of the United States Air Force on 14 August, American authorities commenced inspections of the second and third stage rotating air seal in those aircraft engines which had accumulated, I think, 300 hours or more. The aircraft were put in for a major overhaul. As a precautionary measure the RAAF is carrying out the same inspection of engines in that bracket. This inspection program is a continuing process which will be completed as quickly as possible. As engines are inspected and found to be serviceable they will be returned to operational use. The RAAF’s flying program can proceed without interruption using the engines which either do not require inspection or which pass inspection. I might add that the engines so far examined have not been found to be faulty.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Will the Government give consideration to the fact that the savage increases in postal and telegram charges will affect handicapped and elderly people who generally use these means of communication? Will the Government try to minimise the hardship placed on these people?
-The effects of the tariffs required for the new commissions was discussed in the Cabinet against the background of the
Government’s welfare policies and programs and how they should be achieved. As honourable senators already know from answers given by Senator Wheeldon, he would be most interested in the amount of resources which would be applied in reducing the tariffs and the amount which would be available for welfare. The Parliament has passed the legislation. There is no question that the Parliament agreed with the movement towards the setting up of the new commissions. The Parliament had over 12 months to examine the legislation and to propose any alteration to it. So the proposition that the 2 commissions should pay their way was accepted. As had been agreed upon in the past the benefits to pensioners, servicemen and other privileged groups was given to the commissions in the form of subsidy. I think everybody knew that the new commissions would be faced in the first years with the obligation to establish high tariffs. In turn the Government, having given $ 16.5m in subsidy, also made fairly beneficial arrangements in relation to the writing-off of the superannuation liability of both Commissions, which gave them a good start. If the present tariffs had been maintained it would have cost the Australian Government $450m to maintain the new commissions.
– I ask the Minister for Agriculture whether, in view of the problems at present being experienced by the beef industry throughout Australia and the frantic endeavours of the Opposition improperly to place the cause of these problems on the present Government, can he outline what is being done to overcome these problems.
– A great deal has been done between the Australian Government and the States in the last 18 months to assist the beef industry. The main items were the $20m which was made available by this Government in December 1973 and the combined program with the State Governments which totalled approximately $40 m last year. I think it is of interest to realise that only about $10m of that amount has so far been taken up. The only other thing I can say is that there will shortly be a special meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council for the specific purpose of considering the beef industry’s problems. Some of the State Ministers have made suggestions as to other forms of assistance. Those matters will be discussed at that special meeting of the Council.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security and the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation who is also the Minister for war against insurance companies. In the course of making his statements in his war of attrition against the rights and freedoms of insurance companies and their employees will the Minister make reference to the use or misuse of the funds of various trade unions to campaign for and provide financial support to the Australian Labor Party against the wishes of large numbers of their members?
-Not only will I do so; I have done so already. In fact I mentioned this matter yesterday when I referred to the fact that the decisions which are taken by trade unions to affiliate with the Australian Labor Party and to contribute to the funds of the Australian Labor Party are done publicly. Everyone is well aware of them; they are done lawfully, and they are done by a ballot of the members. I am not objecting to the Australian Mutual Provident Society making contributions of whatever kind, be they of goods, services or cash, to any political Party. All I am asking is that if the Society does so it conducts a ballot amongst its policy holders in the same way as trade unions do; that it makes the contributions completely public; that if it so wishes it affiliates with the Liberal Party, and that it be prepared to become as clearly identified with the National Country Party as the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union is with the Australian Labor Party. If that is done I have no objection whatsoever.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister supply to the Senate a list of the donors amongst the trade unions of Australia to the Australian Labor Party, and the dates upon which the ballots were held in respect of the donations made during the past 12 years?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Order! That is not a supplementary question.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. A number of people have expressed concern recently about claims alleging that non-official post offices in their districts will be closed or that the services these offices provide will be reduced. Will the Postmaster-General indicate whether there is any truth in these comments?
– A number of representations have been made to me arising from conferences which are at present taking place between the non-official postmasters organisation and the Australian Postal Commission. Those conferences have nothing to do with the fears that have been expressed that there could be some new and more energetic policy of considering these locations. The honourable senator will remember that for many years now, in fact during the period of office of the last Government too, there was a review of the economics of these post offices and some were closed, but adequate alternative arrangements were made when they were closed. During that review there was proper consideration of the points of view of the organisation and of the communities concerned. At present the argument centres around whether the title of the people running the non-official post offices might be changed. Some members of the Postal Commission apparently think that the non-official postmasters should have some other title. I understand that the non-official postmasters object to that. In addition there is a proposition for examination of the designation of some other related occupations. So the discussions are going on. I hope the matter will be resolved and I hope that the non-official postmasters will accept whatever is proposed or perhaps somewhat modify their attitude.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Government know how many Australian nationals are still in Portuguese Timor? Who are they? What circumstances led to their remaining while others were evacuated or escaped? Has either of the two warring factions in East Timor requested humanitarian aid from Australia in exchange for the release of any Australians held in custody? If so, when were the requests made and what was the Government’s response? What action is being taken now to secure the safety of Australians on the island?
– I am not able to give precise details of actual communications between the warring factions in Timor and the Australian Government or the Department of Foreign Affairs. All I can say is what I said yesterday. In answer to a question the Prime Minister gave, I think, a fairly detailed statement in the House of Representatives this morning. The Australian Government is using what good offices it can to bring about some form of peaceful solution in Timor. We have been in touch, of course, with the United Nations. As I am sure the honourable senator knows, the Portuguese envoy, Dr Santos, has had discussions with Mr Waldheim, the United Nations Secretary-General. The Australian Government, as I also said yesterday, does not consider itself in a position where it should take any unilateral action. Rather we consider that we should do so in concert with other nations which are involved.
I have a note here which sets out in quite some detail the position of Australians who are still in Timor. I will give the Senate some of the introductory comments and then the rest of the statement perhaps could be incorporated in Hansard or be given to Senator Maunsell if he so desires. I understand that when fighting broke out in Timor earlier this month there were some 34 Australians in the territory. The Department of Foreign Affairs promptly sent 2 officers into Timor on 15 August by charter aircraft to assess the situation and to make arrangements for evacuation. The officers sought by all available means to tell the Australians in Timor that evacuation flights would be taking place, to advise them that they should avail themselves of the chance to leave, and to warn them that if they declined the Government might not be able to do any more to help them. One officer stayed in Dili until 19 August; the other returned to Darwin in the charter aircraft. There was a further flight by an RAAF aircraft on 19 August which took out 11 Australians and 14 other nationals. Most of the Australians who stayed in Timorsome 12 in number- declined to join the evacuation nights.
I would suggest that rather than take up the time of the Senate to read the individual cases, I should supply this information to Senator Maunsell. It sets out the current position.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Yes, I think that would assist the conduct of question time.
-I shall supply Senator Maunsell with the information
– I direct a question to the Minister for Police and Customs. Did the Minister note the statement by the Leader of the Liberal Party that if his Party were in Government it would reduce expenditure this year by abolishing the Australia Police? What opportunity exists for reductions in expenditure in this area?
– I did notice the statement that among the savings that would be made by the Opposition if it became the Government would be the abolition of the Australia Police- I take it as an amalgamated body. The statement mystified me because I thought that a responsible leader would first investigate whether he had an alternative method that was more efficient than an amalgamated force before he started discussing costs. The police are an important part of government for the regulation of the lives of the Australian people, and I should have thought that we would all be looking for the most efficient force possible.
Under the Australian Government, operating until March this year were the Australian Capital Territory Police Force, the Northern Territory Police Force, the Commonwealth Police and certain sections of the drug squad or detection branch of the Department of Customs and Excise. It has been proposed that these forces should be brought together, and in fact they have been functioning under one departmental head since March of this year. Legislation will be introduced during this session to establish the Australia Police by statute under conditions proposed by the Law Reform Commission which will safeguard the individual. On any arithmetical basis I should have thought that there would be a greater cost saving in the operation of one combined police force than in the operation of 3 different sections with 3 different Permanent Heads.
– The Minister representing the Attorney-General will recall that in the Senate on 22 April I asked for details of services provided by the Legal Aid Office in Tasmania with respect to persons seeking advice in connection with the Trade Practices Act. Is the Minister yet in a position to supply the information which I requested?
-Yes, I recall the question, and I express my regret to the honourable senator that it has taken rather a long time to supply him with an answer. However, I am now in possession of the information he wants and the answer is this: Yes, the Australian Government has advertised that the Australian Legal Aid Office is available to give legal advice on matters pertaining to the Trade Practices Act. Secondly, the Australian Legal Aid Office gives advice on all matters arising under Federal law but no statistics are kept of the precise number of persons who seek advice in regard to each statute. However, the Deputy Director of the Australian Legal Aid Office in Tasmania has estimated that advice has been given to several hundred persons throughout the State in regard to matters arising under the Trade Practices Act.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labor and Immigration and refers in part to a statement which he made earlier during question time. I refer him to a speech made by the Commissioner for Community Relations in Sydney on Monday in which the Commissioner is reported to have said that Australia would never again close its doors on Asia. Does this statement indicate a development or change in Government policy in relation to immigration, especially so far as the admission of skilled people from Asia is concerned? Does it indicate a widening of the criteria and the giving of a greater degree of consideration to the reunion of families in Australia, particularly those affected by events in Indo-China?
– I have not seen the statement by the Commissioner for Community Relations to which the honourable senator referred, but I heartily applaud the Commissioner’s statement that the Government would never again close its doors on Asia. No distinction is made on the basis of origin, colour, race or creed in respect of the skilled people that the country is still seeking. If the skills that we seek happen to emanate from Asia, they are just as welcome as if they emanated from Britain or Europe and will continue to be so welcome. With regard to family reunions, because of the budgetary situation we have been reluctantly forced to cut down on the amount which will be available in the current year for assisted passages, but persons in Asia who wish to be reunited with relatives living in Australia will strike no more impediments than will people from other countries. The only limitation will be on the amount available for assisted passages. I can assure Senator Davidson that, in general, persons in Asia who wish to come to Australia are under no greater handicaps than are persons from any other part of the world who wish to come to Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Media. It follows announcements by the Minister for the Media that some 15 experimental radio licences have been issued to tertiary institutions for public broadcasting purposes. Can the Minister say whether the stations have been issued with licences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act or the Broadcasting and Television Act? Is it a fact that these licences have been issued without applications having been called or without a public hearing? Is it a fact also that the Minister for the Media recently appointed a committee to report to him on public broadcasting? Has he taken action to license these stations while his committee is still taking evidence on this matter?
-My colleague the Postmaster-General, Senator Bishop, advises me that the licences which are the subject of Senator Young’s question are to be issued by him under the Wireless Telegraphy Act as a result of consultation that has taken place or is to take place between Senator Bishop and Dr Cass. I know that Dr Cass recently appointed a committee to inquire into all aspects of public broadcasting. I referred to that committee in my reply to Senator Davidson yesterday. I informed Senator Davidson that as far as my knowledge went that committee was in the process of taking evidence. If I recollect correctly, Dr Cass, in his initial statement on this matter, said that these stations are to be licensed on an experimental basis. I assume that they will be licensed on that basis and that the matter will await the report of the committee which Dr Cass has appointed.
-Earlier today, Senator Mulvihill asked me a question about the smuggling of birds from Australia by foreign nationals. His question included a reference to the statement published in the Press today by Mr Dick Wordley, of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Foundation, who was a witness yesterday before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation. Mr Wordley made serious allegations. My Department is now trying to get a copy of the transcript of the evidence to check all those allegations. I think that many of them cannot be substantiated. One of the allegations was that someone from the Department of Customs gave information to an officer of the Australia Police and to a member of the Committee. Mr Wordley stated further that senior Customs officers who tried to crack down on the smuggling had been transferred to other departments. It is because of that allegation that I am trying to clarify the position. Some confusion exists as to why one transfer took place.
The note from my Department says that what has occurred is this: Following the amalgamation of the Department of Customs and Excise and other federal enforcement agencies, the National Fauna Squad within the former Department of Customs and Excise has been merged with the detection operations branch of the Australia Police. Officers formerly belonging to the National Fauna Squad have indeed been transferred to a larger pool of detection officers. Traditionally, it is quite common for officers within the general detection operations area to move in and out of the specialist area from time to time. The Australian report refers specifically to the transfer of Mr J. McShane to uniformed duties. In fact, Mr McShane applied for a promotion within the uniformed section of the Customs Bureau and was successful. He is now happily working at Sydney airport. My Department can give the assurance that there has been no laxity in providing complete protection of the flora and fauna of Australia.
-Last Tuesday week Senator Young asked a question of me as the Minister representing the Minister for the Media concerning reports that Melbourne’s access radio station 3ZZ would be replaced by a station similar to 2JJ in Sydney. I undertook to refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for the Media. I have done this. The Minister has just now provided me with the following information:
The Minister for the Media Dr Cass has asked the Australian Broadcasting Commission to consider an alternative format for operating 3ZZ- perhaps as a rock music and access radio station.
The Minister has also asked the ABC to consider extending 3ZZ transmission hours. This has been done in conjunction with the announcement yesterday by the Minister for the Media of a major extension in ethnic broadcasting in Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne 3EA will now broadcast for at least 72 hours including at least 42 hours of new material each week. This compares with a current total of 42 hours of ethnic broadcasting each week provided by 3EA and 3ZZ combined. As well, minimum access requirements will continue to be a feature of ethnic broadcasting under 3EA.
This new initiative means that ethnic groups will now have more programming time and freedom to communicate with their respective audiences. In these circumstances 3ZZ should be able to devote its existing freed resources to provide a new radio service for Melbourne, in addition to its current access provisions for community groups. The Minister has accordingly invited the Australian Broadcasting Commission to consider establishing a rock music or some other format on 3ZZ for at least that pan of its programming time which up till now has been devoted to ethnic radio. The success of 2 JJ in Sydney indicates that there is a large audience for quality rock music which is not satisfied by the offerings of commercial radio.
As far as guidelines for control of programs are concerned, the ABC has its own internal system of program checks and standards, which apply to all other ABC programs, as well as those on 2JJ and 3ZZ.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDYesterday Senator Rae directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport a question without notice about the Tasmanian transport inquiry. In my capacity as the Special Minister of State and the Minister responsible for royal commissions, I have had information prepared in response to that question. I am informed that the recent increase in freight rates applied to all Australian National Line cargo services except northbound services from Tasmania. There has been a number of representations for the Tasmanian transport inquiry to present an interim report. Some of these representations were from Tasmania. However, the Commissioner, Mr J. F. Nimmo, in considering these requests, stated that his terms of reference were so inter-related as to render any interim report of little value. The terms of reference require the Commission to look at the differences in transport charges, the causes and effects, and measures that might be taken to overcome any such differences. Obviously, substantive recommendations to overcome differences cannot be made until the causes and effects have been identified and assessed.
The inquiry has collected information from over 140 firms about door-to-door charges for most categories of freight. It has received 84 written submissions and interviewed 185 organisations and individuals, and 49 firms and 87 witnesses have been heard at public hearings. A firm of international consultants with knowledge of overseas conditions similar to those pertaining to Tasmania was retained to examine all aspects of transport and to advise the Commission on ways and means of overcoming the particular difficulties facing Tasmania.
The Commissioner of the inquiry is only too aware of the need to finalise his report quickly and, along with his staff and advisers, is proceeding as rapidly as possible. He expects to present his report by the end of 1 975 or early in 1 976.
As regards the other matters raised in Senator Rae’s question, as Senator Bishop has indicated any matters not covered by my reply will be referred to the Minister for Transport, Mr Jones.
– At question time Senator Maunsell asked me a question about Australians in Timor. I did not actually seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the remainder of the material from which I was quoting. I now seek leave to do so.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Mr and Mrs Favaro, who are still understood to be in their hotel which borders on a Fretilin-controlled area in Dili. They declined the RAAF evacuation flight, and there has been no contact with them since then. They have a private aircraft.
Mr Kruger, an invalid pensioner, who is still believed to be in Dili and wants to remain there.
Mr Riseley, who was to have left in the aircraft that went to Baucau on 25 August, but was prevented from doing so by UDT forces. On 27 August we were able to confirm by radio with Baucau that he was safe and well. He declined the RAAF evacuation flight.
Mr and Mrs Sidell, believed to be at Tutuala on the eastern end of Timor. Mr Sidell, a pensioner, apparently has a hean condition which he considers would make it unsafe for him to attempt to leave Timor. The Foreign Affairs officers who went to Timor sent a message to the Sidells about evacuation and a reply was received saying they were safe and wished to stay.
Messrs Berry and Grady, geologists who have been working in the highlands but were cut off by fighting there and unable to reach Dili for evacuation. The Foreign Affairs officers tried to get a message to them, but are not sure if they succeeded. These two men are now in Fretilin-held territory and we have tried, and arc still trying, through Portuguese channels, to make direct contact with them. However, we received a message on 27 August through the Baucau airport control tower saying that both are being held in custody there but are well.
-(Western AustraliaMinister for Social Security and Minister for Repatriation and Compensation)- For the information of honourable senators I table the first main report of the Australian Government Commission of Inquiry into Poverty- the Henderson report- titled ‘Poverty in Australia ‘. I also table a much smaller document titled ‘Poverty in AustraliaAn Outline’, which is a short, easily read summary of the material and major recommendations of the main report. Mr Deputy President,
I seek leave to make a short statement on this matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable senators will recall that Professor Ronald Henderson, Director of the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in the University of Melbourne, was appointed in August 1972 to inquire into poverty in Australia and that his interim report was tabled in April last year. The main report that I have now tabled is a significant and comprehensive document covering such areas as the extent of poverty in this country, groups in poverty, the income needs of poor people, housing, welfare services and employment. ‘Poverty in Australia’ contains wide-ranging recommendations on social security, welfare services and other provisions. These recommendations bear directly on the policies of government at all levels. They will receive close attention by this Government.
Professor Henderson’s main concern is to ensure every individual an adequate income. To do this, he proposed a series of short term measures along with a long term recommendation for a guaranteed minimum income scheme for all Australians. Honourable senators will recall that a fortnight ago the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in the Chifley Memorial Lecture, announced that the Government would be undertaking a comprehensive review of income security, which will examine closely all expert reports which are related to the question of income security with the aim of developing ‘an equal, fair and workable income security system for Australia’. Professor Henderson’s report will be one of the major documents to be considered in the review of this very complex issue. Also of interest in this matter will be the report entitled Possibilities for Social Welfare in Australia’ by the Priorities Review Staff which, I understand, is being tabled today in another place. In addition to the main report of Professor Henderson there is a second volume which consists of a number of technical and detailed appendices. It is in the process of being printed and should be available reasonably soon. Volume 2 is expected to be used mainly by researchers and specialists in the field.
The Government is indebted to Professor Henderson for the work he has done in quantifying the extent and nature of poverty in Australia. I hope that his report will do much to promote informed debate in this very important field. I should also mention that there are four other Poverty Commissioners, each of whom is to report on specific aspects of poverty. They are: Professor Ronald Sackville, who is to report on legal matters; the Reverend George Martin, who is to report on medical and sociological aspects; Professor Ronald Gates, who is to report on selected economic issues; and Dr R. T. Fitzgerald, who is to report on educational aspects. The appointment of these Commissioners was announced by the Prime Minister on 13 February 1973, the intention being to broaden significantly the scope of the inquiry. Each of these Commissioners will be reporting separately to the Government. I expect to be able to table their reports by the end of this year or early next year.
I might add that since I began speaking a note has been passed to me asking me to delete the reference to the tabling today of the report by the Priorities Review Staff entitled ‘Possibilities for Social Welfare in Australia’.
-Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of the papers just tabled by the Minister for Social Security and Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon).
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I have moved that motion because I believe that the report of the Australian Government Commission of Inquiry into Poverty- the Henderson report- has been eagerly awaited by the people of Australia. The Opposition recognises the comprehensive nature of the report. I believe that the many people concerned with social welfare matters have been looking to this report to give a very detailed background to the findings by Professor Henderson and his recommendations in that respect. Therefore, I hope that the Government will enable a full debate to be conducted on the recommendations and findings contained in the report.
– I agree with the sentiments that have been expressed by Senator Guilfoyle. I think that there should be a debate on this very important report.
– I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Bessell) agreed to:
That there be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade the following matter:
The effect of the container method of handling cargo on the stevedoring industry and on overseas, interstate and coastal shipping, with particular reference to the effect of limited call on the out-ports.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That Government business take precedence over general business after 3 p.m. this day.
– by leave- I move:
It has become necessary- and I express this necessity with regret- for the Committee to have further time to consider the Bill which is of some 285 clauses and 8 schedules- a considerable task. There has been wide interest in the Bill and 70 submissions have been received- many of them of considerable substance. However, the Committee has been active, has met on 10 occasions and has had before it representatives of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Associated Stock Exchanges, and submissions from the States of Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and from other people. The Committee intends to sit during the first and second non-sitting weeks of this period of Senate sittings and as often as possible on Fridays. The Committee has had difficulty in meeting because the Senate had extraordinary sittings, of which honourable senators will be well aware and also because the Bass byelection involved some members of the Committee. But in particular the work of another standing committee whose reference dealt with the Compensation Bill involved members of our Committee. In courtesy to that Committee on occasion we postponed meetings of our Committee to allow that reference to be completedas it has been. I can assure the Senate that the Select Committee will apply itself to the task of reporting to the Senate as quickly as possible.
There is another matter which must be referred to. The Committee has had some difficulty in carrying out the inquiry under its reference because the proposed company legislation has not been before the Parliament and therefore was not available to the Committee. We have been assured by the Attorney-General’s Department that that very important legislation is likely to be before the Parliament during this session. Of course the Committee will then more easily be able to deal with the reference before it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27 August on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When this very important measure was being debated in the House of Representatives yesterday great concern was expressed by Mr Lynch and other speakers on behalf of the Opposition about the measure, its implications, what might be involved in it, and the need for further information. I understand that Mr Crean, acting on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Hayden), gave some answers which were not regarded by Mr Lynch as being by any means definitive enough. It must be made very clear, I think, that to have a measure as important as this one debated in the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon and brought into the Senate the following morning with the expectation that it will be dealt with seriously is really nothing like good enough. For a start, yesterday’s House of Representatives Hansard was not available even for reading half an hour before we resumed this morning. If in looking at this measure we are to understand its importance, I think as a Senate we would need to be looking for more adequate answers and, in addition, for some more time in which to scrutinise those answers and to look at the implications of this whole measure.
The Opposition in the Senate does not propose to move any amendments to the legislation at this stage but we will be seeking further information. I remind my honourable colleagues in the Senate that last year’s deficit has been disclosed as being $2, 567m, having moved from an estimated deficit of $570m. Therefore the deficit has run at 5 times greater than the Government thought it would be. For the coming year we have an estimated deficit of $2,798m. We certainly need much clearer indications from the Government- they should at least be given in a broad guideline fashion, if not in a far more definitive fashion- as to how it proposes to fund and finance these deficits. Financing a deficit of last year’s magnitude and a deficit of this year’s contemplated magnitude is a matter of central importance to good government and to financial prudence in Australia and to operating the country both wisely and well. The Opposition is just as much a part of that responsibility as is the Government.
I am often reminding my colleagues in the Senate of the Reserve Bank charter, and I do so again because the Reserve Bank cannot dissociate itself from the financial management of Australia’s affairs, and the Reserve Bank is so charged under its charter. It is the duty of the Board, within the limits of its powers, to ensure that the monetary and banking policy of the Bank is directed to the greatest advantage of the people of Australia, and that the powers of the Bank under the Banking Act 1959 and the regulations under that Act are exercised in such a manner as, in the opinion of the Board, will best contribute to the stability of the currency of Australia, the maintenance of full employment in Australia, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia. One of the principal arms of achieving those things is to have a sensibly operated Reserve Bank moving in conjunction with Government policy which is wisely and sensibly directed.
As far as one can see, this measure, slender as it is in the Bill and lacking in definition as it is in the second reading speech, covers a device to borrow money to pay for a very large deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The best evidence that is so far available is to be found on pages 10 and 11 of statement No. 4 of the Treasury Statements, which indicates an amount chargeable to the Loan Fund of $ 1 , 1 52m. That is the possible quantum of indicated borrowing at this stage. Of course, if the position of last year repeats itself and the inaccuracies persist in the Government’s estimating, borrowing may well become greater than that. However, we have not been given a figure as to what will be the total amount of loan funds necessary for this purpose.
Also one is equally concerned that this may well be a device which avoids the need for Loan Council approval under the financial agreement. Section 8 1 of the Constitution is a matter of some importance in regard to this particular matter which we are now considering. Section 8 1 reads:
All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.
That, I think, will stand further examination and test at what I hope will prove to be a later date. I do not intend to speak at length now because I hope that we will have more time to do so later. The concern underlying all this is the mechanisms which will in effect add to the money supply in the Australian system and which may in effect run against the Governments ‘s policy which, although not declared in quantum, is indicated to be an expansion at the rate of about 1 5 per cent. However, that has not been stated officially. I have had prepared for the guidance of my colleagues in the Senate a list of questions which seek information that the Opposition would like to have available to it from the Government dealing with the details of the monetary impact of the Budget. I seek leave to have those questions incorporated in Hansard, and, in addition, I shall speak to them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
DETAILS OF MONETARY IMPACT OF THE BUDGET
Information required from Government
Does the Treasurer confirm the actual total financial deficit on Government transactions for the year ended June 1975 was $2,567m.
Does he confirm it was financed or funded as follows:
The following table presents a summary of financing transactions in 1974-75:
Includes amounts available to the Government from funds obtained from coinage and bullion transactions, amounts borrowed by trust accounts and amounts available from moneys held in trust.
open public subscriptions.
Net changes in Treasury Notes on issue:
We need this to determine the extent to which the deficit is to be financed by those mechanisms which add directly to the money supply, such as the use of cash balances with the Reserve Bank, and those which do not, such as the sale of bonds to the non-bank public.
Attached is Table 6 of Statement 6 outlining transactions in this area since 1965-66.
– In order to aid proper deliberation on this matter, I have had the document copied and copies have been passed around to all my honourable colleagues in the Senate. I think it would perhaps aid the process therefore if we have a little more time than we have today to study these matters. I am seeking to know, first of all, whether the Treasurer does confirm the actual deficit of last year. Secondly, I am asking whether he confirms that the deficit was financed or funded as he has indicated in table 6 in the Budget Papers. I seek that information for the purpose of identifying the principles adopted, what the deficit was and how it was funded. I have spoken before about the funding of this deficit and what it has meant in the way of drawing down cash balances, floating out short term money and the consequences of that. I ask the Treasurer, through the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt): What was the total of unused cash balance available at 30 June 1975? My fourth question is this: What was the cash deficit of government finance transactions for the month of July 1975? I understand that there was a short fall of some magnitude between receipts and expenditures. It is said to be $650m or so. I do not know whether that is correct, but we would like to be told. Fifthly, can the Treasurer indicate the sort of running position for August? I imagine that we will be dealing with this matter next week, and by that time we should be able to get some figures related to revenue and expenditure for August. Is there a surplus or a deficiency?
– That could give a bit of a distorted view.
– I do not think that is an appropriate comment because when we have the position, which is indicated, that at the end of June we had about $700m and that in July we used nearly all of it up, it is some indication that in August the Government may have run out of money but not out of credit. Therefore, while it may be difficult to look at the position, it is necessary to look at it on the basis of what is happening month by month when there is no large pool of money to operate in a kind of balance tank position. So I suggest that that information would be worth having, if it is available.
– That is the usual form of information.
-That is right, but it may come out a little later, and I was thinking that we may need it a little earlier. In question No. 6 1 am asking how the last loan subscriptions were derived. How much came from the trading banks, which is really a transfer of their own liquidity which is induced to some extent by government policy; how much came from the Government itself- did it do any shuffling around with its moneys- how much came from institutions under the 30/20 rule; and how much came from open public subscriptions. The best demonstration of confidence or lack of confidence, in the broad, is the extent to which the investing public supports government borrowings and supports government excess expenditure which, in effect, are government deficits.
Then in question No. 7 I am asking specifically: How does the Government propose to fund or finance the deficit for the coming year now estimated at $2,798m. The balance and details of the various areas outlined in my question would be a valuable help to us all in analysing this position. For instance, I would like to know: What is the amount of money available under net drawings under overseas credit arrangements; what will be the net proceeds of other estimated overseas borrowings; what will be the net proceeds of bond sales to the nonbank public; what will be the net changes in treasury Notes on issue to the non-bank public and to the banking system; what will be the net proceeds from bond sales to the banking system; and what use will be made of the Reserve Bank cash balance? I point out that we need this information to determine the extent to which the deficit is to be financed by those mechanisms which add directly to the money supply, such as the use of cash balances with the Reserve Bank, and those which do not, such as the sale of bonds to the non-bank public.
In paragraph 8 I have asked: ‘What are the transactions under the procedure outlined in this Bill in the past years as follows: ‘ I have not had time to identify too many years but I have said that in fairness one should look at the past 6 years in which there were 3 years of activity by the previous Government and 3 years of activity by this Government. I have asked for the stages of the Bills that were being introduced. In effect, I have asked what time of the year a Bill was introduced, if it was introduced at all. I have also asked for the final amounts transferred and whether there were any years in which surpluses were available for distribution as distinct from deficiencies to be financed. It is important to know that.
In paragraph 9 I have asked quite seriously whether there is a proper constitutional base for this form of activity which, it is freely admitted, was engaged in by governments of our political persuasion as well as by this Government. I think this matter is well understood and is becoming of very great concern now because of the massive size of last year’s deficit and of this year’s potential deficit.
In paragraph 10 1 have asked: ‘Is this proposal in breach of the Loan Council Agreement and its arrangements?’ I have appended the Treasurer’s own statement of how government Budget sector financing has been undertaken since 1966. 1 have pointed out again, as I did last night, that for a succession of years governments have built up substantial reserves of cash and this year the reserves have been very heavily reduced. I have also pointed out that the amount of treasury notes that have been issued this year is 10 times the number that were issued in the highest previous year. I hope I have indicated to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) that the Opposition regards this matter seriously. It wishes to take it under objective study. It is not trying to be difficult. It believes that a measure of this importance which was introduced into the House of Representatives only yesterday ought not to be debated in the Senate today. A lot of the information which would allow a proper debate and understanding ought to be provided to the Senate. It will be valuable to all of us if it were so provided. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
The material that Senator Cotton has put before the Senate quite obviously requires some study and I am quite sure that the Acting Treasurer will be in a position to supply the information that is sought. Quite obviously we cannot proceed with the debate today so I think the proper course is to adjourn the debate until the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 August on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-May I suggest that the Australian National University Bill 1975 and the Canberra College of Advanced Education Bill 1975 be dealt with as cognate measures?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is there any objection? There being no objection, it is so agreed.
– In speaking to both of these Bills, which relate to tertiary level education, I indicate that the Opposition does not oppose either of them. The Bills essentially provide for amendments to the Acts relating to the Australian National University and to the Canberra College of Advanced Education. The Australian National University Bill provides for changes in the membership of its council, changes with regard to matriculation, admission and enrolment and changes which relate to fees at the tertiary level. The provisions in relation to fees at the tertiary level relate to both the University and the College and put into effect the Government’s policy that the existing Acts should be amended so that the Government’s policy of not charging fees at the tertiary level will be implemented. The existing Act relating to the University requires the University to charge fees, except in special circumstances. The Government abolished all tuition-type fees for the 1 974 academic year and later years. The Bills with which we are dealing will put into effect that policy which actually has been implemented for this year.
The Australian National University has been in a somewhat difficult position because the principal Act required fees to be collected and these amendments had not been processed at the beginning of the academic year. The AttorneyGeneral’s Department advised that a proclamation under section 29 (2) of the principal Act could not be used to abolish tuition fees while leaving other fees such as student association fees. Therefore this amending Bill lists under the statute-making power the fees which the University may charge and provides that fees other than those listed shall not be charged. It is important to note at this time that tertiary level education has been provided without fees. It is a policy of the Government and also of the Opposition that in the future fees at the tertiary level will not be charged to students. It is important to recognise the increasing opportunities that have been provided for tertiary level education in both the universities and the colleges.
It is perhaps of interest to note at this stage the Government’s proposal to amalgamate the 2 commissions which have dealt with tertiary level education. It had been expected that the amalgamation of the 2 commissions would not affect the funding for the next triennium, which was to start next year. In view of the Government’s Budget proposal to ask the commissions to provide new recommendations in March of next year, it is a matter of conjecture whether the previous proposal that the next triennium would be funded separately for colleges and universities will now be undertaken. We will be awaiting with some interest a statement from the Government in that connection.
It is perhaps appropriate when dealing with these Bills relating to tertiary education that we speak of the tertiary education allowance system. That system was introduced by the Government. It abolished the previous scholarship scheme which made opportunities for qualified students to undertake tertiary education and instead provided them with an allowance. We find it somewhat regrettable that in the present Budget there is no increase in the tertiary allowance that has been approved for this year. It will be recalled that it is $3 1 per student and that it is a means tested allowance. During the year there was a substantial report, styled the Williams report, which made many recommendations with regard to the tertiary allowance scheme. In particular it recommended that a base level of $42 a week would allow a student to continue his tertiary level education without the hardship which would otherwise be felt by him. We note that social welfare payments in this Budget have been increased but we recognise that the Government has frozen student allowances at $3 1 a week, lt is noted that this has occurred at a time when we talk of indexation of salaries to accommodate increases in costs.
If we look at increases in other payments that are accepted by the Government, it is futile to point to tax concessions or tax rebates at this time because the level of income of a student is such that he does not enjoy any benefit from that new introduction in this year’s Budget. It would have to be regarded as the most heavily means tested scheme in Australia despite the alleviation of means test requirements in this year’s Budget. So we point to the difficulty that will be felt this year by many students at tertiary level throughout Australia because of the inescapable increases in costs which they will incur in travelling, in postage, in fares and in those other matters that are the necessities of any student who has to travel from a place of residence to a place of tertiary education.
It is a matter of some concern that many students may face such hardship that they will be unable to complete their courses. I say this because at present the sort of part-time employment that a student in former times would have been willing to accept and would have found beneficial is extremely limited. I believe that in this year many students have suffered hardship through inability to obtain part-time employment during the long vocation at the beginning of this year and the inability to supplement their $31 a week allowance by any other means throughout the year. It is for that reason that the Opposition has a policy that would ensure that means test allowances are maintained at appropriate and realistic levels. Whilst taking into account the difficulties of the economic situation, I believe that if $3 1 a week were regarded as an appropriate payment at the beginning of this year it should be recognised at this stage that some increase in that allowance should have been granted in this year’s Budget to cover the inescapable increases in costs that have occurred.
We believe also that it is timely to consider a fairly fully-developed comprehensive tertiary loans system for students. I am sure many students wish to have some independence while continuing their studies. This would often apply to the mature age students who are completing tertiary courses to a far greater extent now than has ever been the case in the past. For those people to have access to a tertiary loans system which would provide for them independence and remove the hardship and interruption to their studies would be of assistance if they wished to pursue to degree status the courses on which they had embarked. We point to those difficulties while dealing with the Bills which relate to the abolishment of fees at tertiary institutions. Although we talk of opportunity for education at tertiary level it must also be recognised that economic hardship could make it almost impossible or extremely difficult for many students who wish to do so to use the educational opportunities that are now developing more fully in Australia.
The Opposition does not oppose the Bills. They implement our own policy of removing fees for tertiary level education. We hope that the Government will find some way to ensure that those who do avail themselves of opportunity through qualification for tertiary level courses will obtain some relief in the future with the tertiary educational assistance scheme.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 26 August on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26 August on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Defence Force Re-organization Bill 1 975 is the culmination of discussions over the years with the various sections of the defence forces. Not only has it been discussed over the past 3 years since the Labor Government has been in office; there also was talk about a reorganisation of the defence forces in 1958. 1 will touch on this a little later in my speech. There are 2 beliefs within the Australian Labor Party on defence policy. The first is that there must be recognition of the vital role of maintaining national security. If one reads a statement on the re-organisation of the defence group of departments made by the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, on 4 December 1973 this fact is borne out. In that statement the then Minister said:
The defence of this country is too important a matter to bc administered by a demonstrably inefficient grouping of organisations whose objectives are not always the same, whose functions are sometimes duplicated and whose very existence as separate bureaucracies bedevils great affairs with unnecessary conflicts. As from last Friday -
I remind honourable senators that this statement was made on 4 December 1973 - the separate Departments of Navy, Army and Air ceased to exist and a new Department of Defence was created.
Within the framework of the Department of Defence the 3 Service Boards will continue to operate on a temporary basis. The Minister for Defence will remain President of the Military Board and the Naval Board but the civilian members of all 3 boards will now be nominees of the Secretary of the Department of Defence. The Department of Supply continues in existence, financed from the Defence Vote, under a directive from the Prime Minister maintaining at least for the time being a relationship with the Department of Defence through which the Minister for Supply and the Minister for Defence collaborate in the execution of relevant defence policies. The Department of Supply will continue to participate in Defence committees.
The second belief of the Government and of the Labor Party is that membership of the armed forces is as necessary an occupation as any job which forms part of the national economy. I believe that defence should not be treated as a sacred cow for which the public should pay but show no other interest. Defence, since it is as much a part of our community as any other activity, should involve all Australians in the same way as any other community activity and should not be used for political expediency. Those involved in providing defence needs should be regarded by our community as equal to those involved in any other occupation. For these reasons the Government rejects excessive scare campaigns and foreign adventurism as the basis of defence policy and as an excuse for defence action. Providing adequate defence should be like any other government responsibility. It should be the subject of searching analysis and careful planning. Members of the armed forces are recognised as professionals with a responsibility to maintain and develop skills which might be needed to defend Australia. Professional skills cannot be developed unless the individual is highly motivated and has exercised his freedom of choice to select his occupation.
Because defence is an integral part of Australian life, decisions on defence which reflect our relations with other nations should not be made against the background of Australia’s basic interest. We should not reject alliances or downgrade friends but should be prepared to assert our requirements where necessary by developing independence and self reliance in defence policy. Within that policy the Australian Government has introduced the legislation that is now before the Senate for the re-organisation of the Department of Defence so that the individual Service departments- Army, Navy and Air Force- are eliminated. However, the men and women in the Services will retain their separate entities but will be responsible to the Minister. This re-organisation is being made in the interests of efficiency and cost and is the biggest public service reshuffle to occur in the last quarter of a century. When the re-organisation is completed the Australian defence system, I believe, will be one of the most efficient in the world.
When I began my speech I said that it had taken about 3 years for this Bill to come before the Parliament and that some years ago, in 1958, it was recommended that the defence forces should be integrated into one department. Sir Robert Menzies, in a speech recorded in Hansard on 1 9 March 1 958 at page 436, said:
The authority of the Department of Defence, which should be clear and commanding, has come to be regarded as uncertain in various particulars. The existence of separate Service departments, although it has advantages, tends to make it difficult to get truly unified joint service views. Sometimes it may make those views amount to a somewhat uneasy compromise between honestly maintained but conflicting conception and interests.
On 2 May 1968, Sir Allen Fairhall said, as recorded in Hansard at page 1083:
Operational and technological factors tend to pull the Services closer together . . . We, however, retain the conviction that the separate identities of the three Services should be maintained, but this does not mean that, in every respect, the status quo should be maintained.
I believe that the proposals in the Bill accord entirely with the views expressed by Sir Robert Menzies and Sir Allen Fairhall. The Bill seeks, some 1 7 years later, to rectify the difficulty identified by Sir Robert. At the same time, it avoids the danger pointed out by Sir Allen and does not attempt to abolish the separate Services. The Bill thus represents a sound attack on the main difficulty which has plagued our defence management for almost 20 years- that of a Service voice fragmented by bickering and poor organisation- while preserving separate Service identities.
The Opposition has proposed that the Bill be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, and that a report be brought down by 20 November. I believe that it would be very difficult for the Committee to bring down a report by that time because at the moment it is considering its report on the reference given to it on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. It has also made a start on a second reference given to it for an investigation of the refugee problem. That reference has been advertised in the Press and the Committee has received many submissions. To ask the Committee to embark on another reference, the report on which would have to be presented to the Senate by 20 November, would, I feel, be placing too big a responsibility on the Committee to enable it to give the matter the consideration it needs. If the matter were not considered by that time, it could be left over until the next session of Parliament or even the next Budget session. Although moves have been made for the reorganisation of the Services, I feel that the Bill should not be held up. For those reasons I believe that the proposal made by the Opposition should not be agreed to by the Senate.
The work of the Senate Standing Committee is hard and has been arduous over the last 12 months or even the last 3 years. To place on the Committee a further burden, as would happen if the Opposition’s proposal were agreed to, would be to place on it a difficult task. Other members of the Senate may not agree with me, but I think it would be a difficult task for the Committee to bring down a report by 22 November. I know that at all times the Committee has the right to ask for an extension of time in the bringing down of a report, but to do so would prolong the passing of this Bill which I think is a most necessary Bill and one which should be passed as quickly as possible. With those few remarks I indicate my opposition to the Opposition’s proposal and my support for the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.41 to 2.15 p.m.
Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) by leave-
The defence of Australia rightly occupies a high priority in the thinking and planning of the Australian Government. It is a priority reflected in the Defence outlay in this year’s Budget. The amount of this year’s Defence outlay- some $ 1,800m- represents a proper and just acknowledgement of the importance of maintaining a meaningful defence capability; it is a carefully thought-out response to the needs of the defence community, taking into consideration the necessary containment of public expenditure in the current economic climate. It is based on a realistic assessment of the international situation and not on a resort to deliberately generated appeals to fear and panic which in the long run can only distort the nature of our defence preparedness. Unlike the wasteful expenditure on foreign adventures undertaken by our predecessors, this is a defence budget designed explicitly and expertly for the defence of Australia and its direct interests. It demonstrates beyond all doubt Australia’s intention to defend herself and her vital interests. This concept of continental defence is reflected throughout the details of expenditure.
Defence capability is a matter of well trained men, modern equipment and adequate support. We must ensure that the Defence Force, its equipment and its logistic, industrial and technological support provide an adequate base from which to expand in a timely fashion should the need arise. Costs of defence manpower, both Service and civilian, have been rising very rapidly. At the same time, largely because of the failure of the previous Government to take sound equipment decisions in its last years of office, the resources devoted to capital items in the defence vote, namely equipment and infrastructure, have been falling. As a result of these 2 trends the proportion of the defence vote devoted to capital items had fallen to a quite unacceptably low level.
The present Government has already moved to reverse that trend in 2 ways. Firstly we have controlled manpower growth and indeed made substantial manpower savings particularly in the civilian sector in our period of office. This has been in support areas where we have brought to bear a fresh organisational approach and sharper business management.
Secondly, we have initiated a new program of major equipment acquisitions. The first series of decisions was announced last year by the then Defence Minister, Mr Barnard, namely negotiations for the purchase of 2 patrol frigates for the Royal Australian Navy, now known as guided missile frigates, and the purchase of 8 Orion long range maritime patrol aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force and 53 Leopard tanks for the Army. It was made clear that these were only the initial steps to ensure that our Services have the modern conventional equipment they need, and that further decisions would be made each year as part of the Five Year Rolling Program of the Defence Department.
Uninformed critics of Australia ‘s defence have sought to question the morale and capacity of our Defence forces. These people have misinterpreted and distorted figures to imply that the forces are not adequate for their task. These charges cannot be sustained. At the 30 June the permanent volunteer forces totalled 69 154. This was an increase of 1700 or 2.5 per cent over the previous year. The Army reached the highest volunteer strength ever maintained in peacetime at 31 5 14. All signs indicate that the standing of the Defence forces is high and the Armed Services are regarded as a worthwhile career. During the last year recruiting has been particularly satisfactory. There were 9388 enlistments in all categories. Applications for entry into officer training colleges remained high. From 1971 to 1975 the number of applications to enter the Royal Military College Duntroon has increased by 30 per cent. Re-engagement rates for Other Ranks during the last financial year were 70 per cent for Navy, 74 per cent for Army and 82 per cent for the Air Force. These compared with reengagement rates of 44 per cent, 69 per cent and 66 per cent respectively, for the year 1971-72. Nothing could more conclusively prove the validity of the Government’s policy of a justly rewarded, all-volunteer Defence Force.
The free movement of officers back into civilian life has not impaired the efficiency of the Services. Not one of the 3 Service Chiefs of Personnel has advised that resignations have prevented his Service from carrying out its functions fully. Furthermore, officer resignations have not significantly reduced the level of experience or expertise in the Services. The present proportion of officers to other ranks is higher than ever occurred under the Liberal-Country Party Government. All objective data therefore indicates that our nation is well served by a skilled, highly motivated Defence Force. The size of our all volunteer Services reflects the great improvements in pay and conditions since this Government came to power. As I indicated earlier, more attention must now be paid to giving the Services the equipment they need to develop new skills and become familiar with new technologies. The emphasis from now on must be on the more efficient use of manpower. Pending the completion of a major review of ground force capability, the size of the Army will not be increased during 1975-76. This year a further 120 soldiers will be released from duty in Papua New Guinea under the localisation program. The recently announced decision to end the school cadet corps will free a further 330 Regular Army personnel and 35 civilians. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard the statement of 26 August by the Minister for Defence (Mr Morrison) concerning the disbandment of the Army Cadet Corps.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Army Cadet Corps
The Government has decided to disband the Army Cadet Corps by December, 1975.
I fully appreciate that the abolition of school cadets, which have been in existence for over 100 years, will come as a disappointment to many of the boys concerned, their parents and their schools. However, the decision will be accepted by those who are genuinely concerned with the need to protect our national interests by ensuring that Defence resources are not used for activities which do not contribute to our defence capability.
I have made this decision on the recommendations of the Army who have assured me that the cost-effectiveness of cadet training cannot be justified from the viewpoint of its contribution to the defence of Australia. This is especially the case since the Government has taken action to increase the effectiveness of the Army Reserve and since emphasis on military type activities for the school cadets has been reduced in favour of adventure training.
The Army cadet corps is an expensive scheme directly costing the Army about $9m in a full year, employing some 330 Regular Army personnel and 35 civilians. There are, in addition, substantial indirect commitments not included in this cost. These indirect costs have been estimated to represent about 100 man years of effort or at least another Sim. The scheme reaches only 5 per cent of boys in the relevant age groups, i.e. 33 000 out of some 630 000. It is available to only 16 per cent of schools with male enrolments.
It has been argued by some that the school cadets should be retained for their value as youth training. A survey conducted by the National Youth Council of Australia at the request of the Minister for Tourism and Recreation found that cadets were amongst the least popular forms of youth activity amongst all age groups studied. My colleague the
Minister for Tourism and Recreation recently indicated that he does not support the retention of cadets as a means of youth training. Furthermore, my colleague the Minister for Education has advised that if the cadet corps did not exist, they would not be introduced today for educational reasons.
The Army School Cadets were conceived as a military activity; the only justification for continued funding by the Defence Department is their military value.
The Government has taken the advice of its senior military advisers in reaching its decision.
The Defence Force Development Committee- the most authoritative source of advice available to a Minister for Defence on Defence capability matters- has formally advised that abolition of the School Cadets would have no adverse effects on capabilities but would release Service manpower for other purposes.
The Report on the Army Cadet Corps prepared by the Committee of Inquiry (Millar Report) into the CMF stated: the military value of cadets is small and does not of itself justify the present annual allocation of funds and Regular Army manpower’.
These comments were endorsed by the Chief of the General Staff and the Military Board: the cost and effectiveness of cadet training cannot be justified from the viewpoint of its contribution to the defence of Australia ‘.
The military value of cadets was assessed by the Millar Report as only: the level of achievement reached at the end of their cadet experience is about the standard reached in 2-3 weeks of full time training in a Regular Army recruit training system’.
-I thank the Senate. The strength of the Army Reserve is now almost 20 000. The Citizen Military Forces component of the Reserve is being re-organised and revitalised as a result of the Government’s decision to accept in principle the recommendations of the Millar Committee, which are aimed at improving the standard of training and conditions of service in the Army Reserve. The CMF component of the Army Reserve will increase by 1000 this financial year. This more efficient use of Defence personnel is paralleled by strict economies in civilian manpower, which will see a reduction of 230 employees in the coming year. These steps have succeeded in reducing the proportion of the Defence Vote allocated to manpower from 61 per cent in the 1973-74 financial year to 56 per cent in this Budget. This increased efficiency has contributed towards the Government’s dramatic increase in the proportion of expenditure devoted to equipment in this Budget. There are other matters to which I have given particular attention. I have given particular attention to increased training exercises. By careful management of resources it has been possible to provide this year for increased levels of Service activities- in steaming time for the Navy, and in mileage for Army tanks and fighting vehicles. These increases will in turn increase scope for training exercises and other activities and contribute to the maintenance of high level of Service skills.
Our primary responsibility must always be the security of our own territory and linked with this the surveillance and patrol of surrounding maritime areas. The effort devoted by the RAAF to aerial surveillance of the Australian coast was more than doubled from the beginning of last year. It has since been supplemented by extensive naval patrols off Queensland and north-west Australia. We need to build up the self-reliance of our forces so that they have a better capability for independent action. Logistics has been a neglected area, primarily because of our past dependence in combat situations on the logistic support of others. We must build up our own capabilities.
Expenditure on capital equipment in this year’s defence outlay covering continuing payments on equipment approved last year and in earlier years, as well as initial payments on proposals approved this year, will be $182m. This represents approximately an 80 per cent increase on the spending on equipment last year, which was $ 102m. The first major decision in this area is to build a modern transport ship. The Royal Navy has an excellent and well-proven class, the Sir Bedivere landing ship logistic. We plan to build an improved version in an Australian dockyard. This amphibious ship will have a displacement of 6000 tonnes, and will provide a long range sea lift capability of some 2000 tonnes. It will be capable of discharging men and equipment, including tanks and other heavy items, across the beach or by cargo helicopter carried on board. It will be able to operate in undeveloped areas, such as the more remote parts of the Australian coast and offshore islands. There has not hitherto been a capability of this kind in the Australian defence force- or in the civil fleet. This versatile ship could also be used for civilian emergency tasks such as rescue work and the evacuation of refugees.
There are several other new decisions in the maritime area. We have 4 Oberon submarines and two more are being built in the United Kingdomunfortunately with delays beyond our control. The capability of our 6 submarines will be greatly enhanced by new fire control systems which are to be ordered this year from the American firm Singer Librascope. In antisubmarine warfare, Australian defence science and industry are developing a new active sonar, called Mulloka, especially for operation in Australian waters. Subject to successful sea trials of a prototype, this new sonar will be produced and fitted in the Navy’s 6 River class destroyer escorts.
In addition to these improvements, the destroyer escorts will be equipped with new electronic warfare equipment. For effective training with this new equipment, aircraft must be fitted with electronic systems that can simulate a threat, and be flown against the ships. The Minister for Defence will be announcing shortly the letting of a contract for electronic systems to be fitted into two HS-748 aircraft which were acquired for this among other purposes. Still in the maritime area but looking more to the future, there are 3 further proposals which are being actively developed. The efficient surveillance of our coastline requires the deployment of patrol boats.
As announced previously, we intend to introduce a new class to supplement, and eventually replace, the existing fleet of 12 Attack class patrol boats. We circulated, some months ago, the characteristics sought for the replacement class with a widespread invitation to ship builders in Australia and overseas to register interest in design and construction. We are looking for improvements over the Attack class in range, speed and sea-keeping qualities. The responses to our invitation to register interest are now being examined closely and the Minister for Defence expects shortly to let tenders for project definition studies that will enable us to decide on the precise type and characteristics of the new patrol boats which we should construct.
Studies are also in progress to assess the later requirement for a higher capability patrol craft, possibly missile fitted, that will complement the destroyer force in the 1980s. The previous Government had decided to proceed with the construction of an underway replenishment ship, but with some imprecision on design characteristics. The estimated costs had risen sharply by August 1973. The Government decided to postpone construction of this ship as there was no need to commission a new ship until at least 1980 when HMAS Supply is due to be paid off. We decided that a less sophisticated and less costly ship would be more suitable to Australia’s needs. Tenders have been called for the submission of a design for a new ship and the Minister for Defence expects to make a decision on the particular design next year.
Finally in the maritime area, I am pleased to report that earlier this month the Minister for Defence inspected the guided missile frigate project in the United States and discussed its progress with the United States Secretary of Defense and his officials. We now await a United States Department of Defense decisionexpected shortly- which will provide us with the necessary information on which to determine our position. To provide our forces with a more independent capability there is a need to rectify some deficiencies in operational equipment in areas where Australia has fallen behind. For many years, Army has had to make do with an air defence capability based on the Bofors gun. The Minister for Defence has decided that this capability, which dates back to World War II, will be updated by the introduction of the Rapier surface-to-air guided weapon system. The choice of an air defence missile system for the Army has been a lengthy and arduous process but the Minister for Defence is now satisfied that the selection of Rapier is right in the Australian context. Rapier is operational, is highly mobile and can be readily transported in Hercules and Caribou aircraft, and by the medium-lift Chinook helicopter. Trials have indicated that it is a highly effective system.
The Army’s Centurion tanks are outdated. They were ordered by the Chifley Labor Government in the 1940s. The Government took a decision last year to acquire 53 German Leopard tanks. Examination has led to a decision to acquire an additional 34 Leopard tanks. These 87 modern high performance tanks will provide the Army with a significant capability to maintain and develop skills needed in armoured warfare. Army mobility will be further enhanced by the purchase of new trucks to replace the present Landrover vehicles, which are due to be phased out beginning next year. The initial order will involve more than 2000 trucks, which will be procured in Australia at a cost of some $14m- a valuable contract for Australian industry.
Turning now to air transport, I am pleased to announce a significant addition to the heavy airlift capability of the Air Force. The RAAF presently has 2 squadrons of Hercules transports. The older of these, the C 1 30A aircraft, are due to be phased out in 1978, and will be replaced by a squadron of medium range transport aircraft. Together with the existing C130E squadron, this will give the Air Force an effective strategic and tactical airlift capability, both for the necessary support of the Services and in national tasks of a civil nature. The Minister for Defence will be announcing the type and numbers of the new aircraft later this year. The further priority need for the RAAF at this time is to modernise its radars. The RAN air station at Nowra has a similar need. It is proposed to acquire 1 1 new radars to replace existing low-performance equipments that are reaching the end of their economic lives.
The Minister for Defence is ensuring that the scope for participation of Australian industry in the projects under consideration is being fully explored, so that industry can make a positive contribution to employment. In particular, it is planned that the heavy-lift ship will be built in an Australian dockyard and that industry will make a large contribution to the manufacture of the light trucks. The Australian electronics industry will be involved to some extent in the radar projects. There will be local involvement in production work for the medium-range transport aircraft, the medium tank and the air defence weapon, but in these projects more emphasis will be placed on offsets. I have dealt with areas of manpower and equipment. Details of the third important component of the defence vote, namely defence facilities, are given in a document which I shall ask the permission of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard.
Mr President, in the last, dying years of the Liberal-Country Party Government the essential needs of the defence forces of this country were ignored or neglected, largely as a result of false perceptions of Australia’s national interest. The Labor Government, on the advice of its senior military and civilian defence planners, has the task of shaping the Defence Force to sharpen its capability to provide a strong and valid defence of Australia, and to demonstrate beyond all doubt Australia’s intention to defend herself and her vital interests. This year’s defence budget demonstrates clearly our determination to carry out this task.
- Mr Minister, do you seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a document dealing with defence facilities?
– Yes, I seek leave to have that document incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The Government is cognisant of the need to develop defence infrastructure at this time, particularly since so much defence activity continues to take place from sub-standard accommodation including temporary structures built during the Second World War.
The Government is also mindful of the need to develop further the improved conditions of service initiated by my predecessor and particularly to maintain a vigorous program of providing houses for Service people. A total of $40m has been allocated for expenditure in 1975-76 on Service housing under arrangements with the State governments. The new program planned for commencement in 1975-76 under those arrangements constitutes 533 dwellings and it is expected that over 1000 additional dwellings will become available this financial year.
A sum of $77.6m is planned for expenditure on capital works including major projects such as the Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, a Royal Australian Corps of Transport Centre at Puckapunyal, the Land Welfare Centre at Canungra, developments to the RAAF Base at Amberley, new storage facilities at RAAF No. 2 Stores Depot at Regents Park, the West Australian Naval Support Facility at Cockburn Sound and the Australian Joint Warfare Establishment at Williamtown, New South Wales. ft is planned also to set up an integrated Naval Supply Centre at the Zetland property acquired last year from the Leyland Corporation. This will be a very large and efficient storeholding. Also planned for construction is a new transmitting station near Darwin, and a new Office and Utilities Building within Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. This building will accommodate people now working at Albert Park and thus assist in the plan to vacate that portion of Albert Park occupied by defence activities and to return the park to the people of Melbourne.
In all defence facilities programs very close attention is now paid to environment considerations to ensure as far as possible that solutions found are acceptable to all parties with genuine concern.
- Mr President, may I invite the Minister to move that the Senate take note of the paper, and I will seek the adjournment of the debate.
– Yes. I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (2.35)- It is late in the week and the adjournment hour is drawing near. Therefore I assure honourable senators that I will not make a lengthy speech on the Bill. Before I begin to address myself to it and to the proposal foreshadowed by Senator Withers, I wish to reassure Senator Bishop and, in particular, Senator Devitt that I do not oppose in principle the amalgamation of the various arms of the Services into the Department of Defence. The amalgamation of the various departments of the armed forces has been much in mind since the days when I was a soldier and saw some of the problems that beset this country when it looked as though we were going to be involved in a continental defence system with a system of defence that was organised for totally different purposes. I was relieved in 1957 to discover that General Morshead had been instructed or commissioned by the Government of the day to examine the practicability or otherwise of bringing the armed forces into a more sharpened administrative command capacity than had been experienced in the years 1939 to 1945.
I want to make the point quite clear that the last major reorganisation of the Navy and the Army occurred as a result of the invitation extended in 1911 to a quite distinguished British soldier to come to Australia and report on the defence structure of Australia. I refer to General Kitchener. Honourable senators must bear in mind that the results of the Kitchener reforms were directed to an entirely different concept from that in which we find ourselves involved today, that is to say, in those days both the Navy and the Army were organised on the basis that they would be used as an expeditionary force in order to sustain and reinforce the concept of imperial defence of those days. That was the situation that pertained from 1914 to 1919. It is certainly the circumstance and the situation that pertained during the 1939-45 war in the first instance. The system began to come unstuck, of course, when it appeared in 1 942 that we would have to be physically involved in the defence of our island continent.
Having said that, I think that I should refer to some of the problems- I shall mention them only briefly- that showed up in the period between 1942 and 1945 and that relate to this Bill. That was when we were involved in war with Japan. Up until at least the fall of Singapore in 1942 it looked as if we would have to provide ourselves with a continental defence on our own. I illustrate the problems of the command structure at that time by drawing the attention of honourable senators to Mr President’s gallant arm of the Servicesthe Royal Australian Air Force. Shortly after the war Air Vice-Marshal Bostock, who was a member of this Parliament from 1949 until the middle 1950s or so, published a series of articles in which he described the function of the RAAF in the period from 1942 to 1945. Those articles were published in the Melbourne Herald, but I regret that a book he wrote, which I read in manuscript form, was never published. Those articles were headed ‘The RAAF Command Scandal ‘. What he meant by that description was that there was a chief of staff of the RAAF at that time who was trying to direct the operational sharp end of the RAAF in the theatre of operations; in other words, the chief of staff was acting as a commander and not as a chief of staff. There is a distinction between the roles of a chief of staff and a commander. There was a great deal of tension amongst the subordinate command levels of the RAAF. Certainly officers of Mr President’s arm of the Services were involved in having operational directions flowing from the chief of staff instead of from a commander. Ultimately the matter was rectified in part because, it will be recollected, Air Vice-Marshal Bostock became the commander of the First Task Air Force, RAAF, under General George Kenney, who commanded the American Fifth Air Force under General MacArthur. That is a brief, casual illustration of the dangers of having a chief of staff as a commander.
The second matter to which I wish to refer relates to the Royal Australian Navy. As part of the imperial concept of defence the RAN was closely allied to the Royal Navy in its composition and its instructions. I notice that Senator Withers is looking at me. He has a very intimate understanding of the Navy, having been introduced to naval life in the lower deck as a boy. He is probably at sea in his mind about war, although I do not know about that. At least I once had the pleasure of introducing him to the Chief of Naval Staff one day- as ‘the distinguished senator and Leader of the Opposition who once served in the lower deck of the Royal Australian Navy and who has been looking for an admiral ever since’. We had quite a pleasant evening. The RAN, as Senator Withers well knows, was serving directly in its command structure under admirals commanding in areas in which the Royal Navy was strategically and technically paramount. When the system shifted to the Pacific another set of conditions prevailed.
I turn now to the Australian Army. This is the way in which I must refer to the arms of the defence forces. I am not referring to them in their order of seniority. The Minister for Defence (Mr Morrison) mentioned in the other House the other day that General Blarney was responsible for the abolition of the Military Board. That is quite true. General Blarney’s first request when he came back to Australia and was summoned by Mr Curtin, who was the Prime Minister at the time, was that the Military Board be abolished and it was- I think with a great deal of improvement in the ability of Australia at that time. Pearl Harbour had just been attacked and no one knew what was going to happen here. What he did in the abolition of the Military Board was to insist that he become the Commander-in-Chief of the land forces or the Australian Army. I suggest to honourable senators that there is an important matter to observe in this respect. What General Blarney did as the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army was to insist that the administrative component of his command come under his direct control. In other words he could not assume effective command of the Australian Army and overcome the problems that were then besetting it and that I well recollect, if the administrative component of that force were moved from his command.
I went back to Volume 1 of the Field Service Regulations to find out what is the essence of administration. I can find nothing in Sir Arthur Tange’s paper or in the Bill that agrees in any way with what I am about to mention to honourable senators. The present Field Service Regulations of the Australian Army define ‘Administration’ as follows:
Administration is that function of command which deals with the maintenance of forces in the field and is divided into ( 1 ) general administration controlled by the headquarters of the forces in the field and (2) the local administration controlled by the local commander.
They go on to define ‘command ‘ as follows:
Command is an appointment at war involving complete responsibility for the training and leadership of the troops and for their efficiency and maintenance.
I think that this is a matter of extreme and fundamental importance because what the Senate has been invited to attend to this afternoon is a Bill which drastically alters- I agree that there should be drastic alteration- the system for the defence of Australia. It should be borne in mind that we now have a totally different problem from that which confronted us from 1911 onwards. That is to say, if we were involved in a defence situation then we would be involved with people who had the same type of equipment, the same tactical doctrine, the same strategical doctrine and world resources to draw upon in terms of logistics.
So I was very interested to see that about 14 Acts of Parliament will be repealed and an omnibus Bill put in their place. But I have an extraordinarily uneasy feeling because although that Bill is based on Sir Arthur Tange’s report which deals with what he describes as the ‘functional system’ of the reorganisation of the Department of Defence, I cannot find any description anywhere either by the ex-Minister for Defence who has now retired to the pleasures of Sweden or by the present Minister for Defence as to what the functional system is supposed to do. It is all very well to say that the Department of Defence has been reorganised functionally, but what is the purpose of the function? That fact has to be grasped. I have never heard what the function is or how it is to be used.
It is all very well for the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop) to talk about continental defence, but what is continental defence? I suppose we could set up all sorts of scenarios as to what continental defence is. It could be said that Blue landed a force in the north-west of Western
Australia and that the Department of Defence has the responsibility of emptying that force out. That would be a scenario which I could put before honourable senators. But is that the sole function of a Department of Defence- merely to act as a policeman as far as the continent of Australia and its islands are concerned? In other words, are we looking at a function in which the defence forces are to be a sort of super police body with a lot of sharp bits and pieces around them, or do the forces have a strategic value of their own? I suggest that it is a pretty cosy sort of theory to say: ‘Well, we are going to have continental defence and we will have a super-police force armed with 53 new Leopard tanks and 2000 new Land Rover type vehicles with one ship of the Sir Belvedere class which will be able to land across beaches’. How does one maintain the capacity to have a strategical flexibility in the defence of Australia? If honourable senators recall my scenario, they will see that it is not much use saying: ‘Yes, we have all this equipment’. Who is going to designate what is the strategic responsibility? Is it Sir Arthur Tange or the Minister for Defence or who and by what means will they designate this responsibility? When the Senate Committee which dealt with the Australian Army- honourable senators will have a copy of the report entitled ‘Australian Army’- sat, we asked some witnesses how long it would take, bearing in mind the scenario which I was just mentioning, to get a sort of battalion group to that area. I do not suppose that I have any right to divulge the time that it would take. I can assure honourable senators of this, though: It would take long enough to allow the supposed enemy landing in that place to take off three or four crops of vegetables and maintain themselves before we could get there.
Provided they were in season and there were no locusts and all those bugs in the Ord River around the place. I do not pretend to be an expert and I am not going to claim to be one. But at least I served in the middle echelons of staff in the middle echelons of command between 1942 and 1945. I was on the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff of the home forces at that time and charged with this responsibility and was certainly a staff officer to General Morshead at one stage in the theatre of operations in New Guinea. One comes into contact with this continental defence concept simply because of the role in which one finds oneself as an individual- in what I would call the higher levels of command’ and the ‘higher levels of strategy’.
In the years since the war, having been seared rather by my experience and what I concede to be a lack of single direction in our Armed Forces in Australia, I was relieved to find that General Morshead had been commissioned by the Government to examine this matter. He brought down a report in 1957, as I recollect, the outline of which was made public but the document itself I did not see until it was made available in 1973. Having got the document and the supplementary report, I am sure that it shows that a great body of* substantial evidence was made available to General Morshead and his fellowcommissioners when reporting to the Government. But so far as I know or can discover, that evidence has never been made available. In other words, it seems to have a quality of selective tabling of documents which we have become used to here.
The view of colleagues of mine on this side of the Senate is this: This is the most dramatic change that has been presented to the Australian Parliament since 1911 and 1912. This Bill was in the House of Representatives last week. It was pushed through that House very quickly. It arrived in the Senate last week and we are in the conclusive stages of it this week. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) foreshadowed a motion that this matter be referred to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence to examine and report on the matter. I have gone through the mill. I have looked at it very carefully. I can accept a great deal in the Bill. But I am very uneasy about the way in which this Bill is construed and how the responsibility of command is to be exercised.
I have looked at the Constitution which lays down quite clearly the functions and powers of the Governor-General as the command in chief- not the Commander-in-Chief, but the command in chief. I looked further at the annexures to Sir Arthur Tange ‘s report to see how command itself is exercised. I am very unhappy with what I saw because although it looks very nice, neat and tidy- it is set out as a management chart- that is not the function of war; that is not the function of defence. The function of defence is the operation of the sharp end of the defence structure. That becomes, as I mentioned earlier by reading out to honourable senators the definition of ‘command’, the function of the commander in the field. No one will be able to persuade me that a chief of staff sitting over the other 3 chiefs of staff will be able to exercise at one and the same time a strategical capability perhaps by the use of the maritime force, a strategical capacity being exercised through the Royal Australian Air Force and the tactical capacity of the Armed Forces that are on the ground. In essence, that is what seems to me to be involved in this Bill.
Finally, I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that in my mind there is a grave doubt as to whether this Bill is constitutionally valid. In every country that I have been able to examine, the command in chief resides in the President of the country or in the king or queen under ancient systems such as we have in this country and Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. I do not see how this can be broken down to say that the command in chief will be moved from the office of the Government to whom officers take their oath of loyalty or from whom the commissions are sent, so that officers may operate and exercise the command at whatever level they are appointed to by their command in chief, namely the GovernorGeneral. I do not see how this function will be exercised by a permanent Secretary of the Department of Defence and by the Minister of the day. The last time that this was exercised with any effect, it seems to me, was in the time of Charles II. He did so disastrously in the invasion of the Medway by the Dutch. Things were reasonably better when his brother came on the throne, but at least he had the advantage of the advice of Samuel Pepys. But men like him seem to appear only once in about 300 years. Whether Pepys’ administrative capacity was due to his other peccadillos, I have not been able to discover.
I now come to the areas in which some conclusive lessons have to be learned. The higher direction of war or defence- we run away from the noun ‘war’- must, it is true, be vested at and upon the political level. That was done, for example, between 1939 or 1940 and 1945 by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the late Rt Honourable Sir Winston Churchill, who exercised the highest direction, but he exercised it through his chiefs of staff of the three armed forces. Although he had to fight very strongly to avoid not doing so, he always in the end accepted the professional advice of his chiefs of staff. In the system we have before us the chiefs of staff occupy a very subordinate role. They do not come directly under the Minister for Defence. An enormous insulating system is put in between the secretary of the Department of Defence, the Minister for Defence and the men who are responsible for the professional conduct of the forces, who are responsible for delegating command, and who should have responsibility for their own administrative decisions in the continental defence. Someone here in Canberra should not be deciding how many vehicles are to be allotted for a specific objective. Such a person may allot 2000 vehicles, but once they are allotted they pass to the control of the commander in the field who must have unrestricted and absolute command over his own administration behind him.
Therefore, without enlarging any further on the matters that I have already mentioned, I strongly argue and suggest to honourable senators that they would be doing their own nation and their own people a grave disservice if they proceed to pass this Bill without allowing those honourable senators who are on that Committee, and others who may obviously wish to attend if they can, to obtain enough information so that we have an informed Senate able to deal with this Bill when it finally comes to decision- either yea or nay. So I recommend that honourable senators should support the proposition put forward by Senator Withers.
The question of reorganisation of the defence forces has been delayed at least since 1957. There has been the intervention of a war in South-East Asia, which was an expeditionary force type war. But honourable senators should not make any error about the fact that we are not going to be able to defend Australia without an expeditionary force. It may be an expeditionary force moving round the boundaries of Australia; it may be an expeditionary force moving across the continental deserts in order to get where it has to go. There will be a tremendous strategic pressure placed upon us whether or not we have continental defence. All of this, of course, is short of nuclear war. There are so many ominous signs of enormous strategic instability in this area which is the southern flank of the Asian land mass that I do not view the future with anything like the optimism which may be indicated by Senator Bishop, who has just resumed his seat, when the equipment on order becomes available.
It is easy to buy equipment and to lure people into the belief that they have a sound defence structure because the Government is buying this sort of ship, that sort of radar, and this, that and the other. That concerns only the logistics part of defence. Defence is based upon an enormous number of more severe criteria than the Government has disclosed. In fact, it has not disclosed any criteria at all as to why there should be a change in the defence structure in the terms of the Bill currently before us. For those reasons, which I have re-emphasised, I hope that honourable senators will find it within their capacity to support the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Withers.
-I was somewhat intrigued by the scenario thrown up by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack who has preceded me in this debate. Perhaps there is some truth in what he had to say in regard to the continental defence of Australia. It may well be that a platoon of Popeyes, with spinach in season on the Ord, would do better that 20 battalions of Reds were lettuce in season. One of the tragedies which I see in relation to the Defence Force Reorganization Bill is the proposal by the Opposition to refer the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Since it has been in opposition and for 23 years prior to that, the Opposition has had a long record in relation to committees, pigeons and pigeon holes. It seems that it is not content with breaking its own record and all past records; it wants to try to force this Government into breaking its record by having matters referred to committees and hopefully pigeon-holed.
As Senator Drury has already mentioned in his speech, the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee is already up to its ears in work, having just completed one reference, starting on another and having a further one on the notice paper. I cannot quite perceive that the Senate is justified in sending further work to that Committee. It may well be the straw that breaks its back. Quite frankly, this matter has been under discussion and mooted around the portals of power in this country for long enough. I believe that it is time that some action was taken. If a decision of this magnitude cannot be taken in a time of peace, in a time when most of the evidence that has been obtained in recent years by that Committee to which I referred earlier is to the effect that there is no threat to Australia in the foreseeable future or for a number of years, then it will never be taken.
The proposal before the chamber is to give effect to the reorganisation of the higher management of the defence forces and the Department of Defence. As I have said, it is a matter which has been bandied around for a long time- I believe for too long. It is time someone took a decision. The previous Government shelved the matter. Nothing was done until the Labor Party came to office in 1972. Prior to that, as every honourable senator would know, the defence establishment was made up of 5 departmentsDefence, Navy, Army, Air Force and Supply. As a result of a series of steps taken since 1972 the activities of those departments have been wound down and integrated into one Department, namely the Department of Defence. The Department of Supply became the Department of Manufacturing Industry, with its defence science functions being transferred to the Department of Defence.
One of the arguments- I suppose the main argument- in favour of the proposals of the Government is that the proposed organisation provides a complete and integrated framework within which all matters related to defence can be considered and implemented. The changes will improve both ministerial supervision and the presentation to Parliament of the nature and cost of the various defence functions. The military power of command is clearly defined with, for the first time, a clear line of command for the defence force under the Minister from the Chief of Defence Force Staff through the chiefs of each Service. A single Department of Defence will enable improvements in administration, particularly in force structure planning, resources allocation, financial management and the management of civilian personnel. Service officers at all levels will be associated much more closely with the process of formulating policy advice and recommendations to the Minister than has been the case previously. The Department of Defence, presuming that the Bill is carried, will in future contain all the factors essential for policy making, support for the armed services and their running at the highest level.
The new organisation makes provision for both military and strategic intelligence to come under the one control- that is under the Joint Intelligence Organisation. The JIO will have a deputy director who will be responsible for purely military intelligence and, on the civilian side, a deputy director whose job will be concerned with strategic intelligence. The matter of intelligence received a passing reference in the hearings of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence when the reference on the Australian Army was before it. Although the Senate Committee’s report refers perhaps more to intelligence under actual battle conditions, I believe the comment in paragraph 5.18 of the report is worthy of quotation. It reads:
Although the Committee was not able to pursue the topic in detail, there is cause for concern at the quality of the intelligence which our forces are able to obtain at the present time. This field would seem to be one in which Australia has relied on Allied support in the past. It would also appear to be a field in which we could develop expertise because of our industrial capacity in the electronic and related fields.
Another important factor in the new organisation will be the Strategic Policy Branch. Using defence analysts this part of the Department will be responsible for long range considerations concerning possible threats to Australia. Hopefully this branch of the Department can obtain a clearer idea of the longer term preparations that this nation may have to make to be adequately secure. One certainly hopes that such a branch will be staffed with level-headed citizens who can prevent us from being involved in any future Vietnams where our defence forces were used in the past in an offensive rather than a defensive role. I am quite sure that this country is not devoid of people who can act out that role as it should be acted out.
The new organisation will also contain within its cloak the Supply and Support Services Branch. This will give the Department of Defence a central direction and control over very necessary logistic functions responsible for provisioning, equipping and movement of the armed forces and a multitude of like facilities. The Government believes that that Branch will ensure not only a quicker and better reaction from national resources, when needed, but also a more co-ordinated approach in the logistic support to the forces. The Senate Standing Committee’s report to which I referred earlier refers also to logistics and points out that in past wars we have relied to a large extent on Allied cooperation for this ingredient. The report goes on to suggest that it would be unwise to plan on the same co-operation in the future.
The new organisation proposed in this Bill has been criticised on the ground that it gives too much control to the Secretary of the Department, but I believe that a close look at the Department’s makeup will allay any such criticism in that the Secretary and the Chief of Defence Force Staff will jointly control the Department, thus, as it were, rendering unto Caesar all things that are Caesar’s and unto others all things that belong to them. The Chief of Defence Force Staff will not only work directly with the Secretary in the running of the Department but he will also be the principal military adviser to the Government and to the Minister and will have a significant influence on the formulation of defence policy in conjunction with the Secretary and the various branches of the Department.
I do not intend to speak at any length on this matter. I believe it has been discussed in the circles that understand the basics of our military forces and that over the years those people have, after much discussion and consultation, come to a conclusion that it is time that the command and the top echelon of our defence establishment should be restructured. After all, it is 1975, not 1875. Like people, organisations which do not update their thinking eventually go to the wall. Were this country unfortunate enough to be involved in a war in the future- I know we all hope that will never be but we are aware of the historyI believe that the type of department that is being established under this Bill will lead to a better performance throughout the ranks of our defence forces.
Despite the fact that we Australians usually proclaim ourselves to be peace loving citizens, for some strange reason we seem to have got ourselves involved in a terrible number of wars in the last 75 years- mainly, I think in retrospect, other people’s wars. I trust that in the future wiser counsel will prevail. I know that while this Government is in office that wiser counsel will prevail and indeed is already prevailing. We have already made it clear that our own forces are for the defence of Australia and are not to be used to prop up decadent regimes in the area. I hope that any future government will adopt a similar line, will follow the same course and will not expend the flower of our youth on filthy wars.
The previous Government’s record on the Vietnam issue was not good and I am quite sure that in retrospect in their less impassioned moments the members of the Opposition appreciate that. The use of 400 dead Australians as cannon fodder for a dubious regime in Vietnam is not the role that Australians should be playing in this area. I will go further and say that were any government in the future to attempt another such escapade the youth of Australia would refuse to do its dirty doings for it. In the meantime, I believe that the proposals before the Senate this afternoon will give a more efficient and effective structure to our armed forces and also- perhaps the most important factor in the proposal- will do away with a lot of what we have seen in the past, that is, rivalry between the various arms of the Services.
– The Senate is debating the Defence Force Re-Organization Bill 1975. This must surely be one of the most important measures to have come before this Parliament in many years. If that is agreed and its importance is established, surely it is vital that we should determine the true nature of the legislation and its true impact before we commit this country to it, because upon the success or otherwise of this legislation must depend the future security and the future survival of the Australian nation, however unfortunate that may be. Therefore I want to put to rest at this moment the nonsensical argument of the Government that we must not refer this legislation to a committee because the committee is too busy with Cocos Island or some other reference to consider this Bill. One should get one’s priorities straight. This Government agreed to the Opposition referring to a committee the National Compensation Bill. The report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs established that the Bill was rotten to the core and basically was wrongly established. That report has been accepted by the Government. Despite that, this Government eventually had to concede that its securities legislation also should be sent to a committee, and has today asked the Senate for more time to discuss these things. Now this Government says that the Defence Force ReOrganization Bill 1 975, a Bill which goes to the heart of the security of the Australian people, is not important enough to refer to a committee.
– It has already been before the Committee.
- Senator Poyser says that it has already been before the Committee. It has not. When the Committee was inquiring into the adequacy of the Army I sat through the whole of the evidence taken and this Bill was not then in preparation or before us.
– Not the Bill, the principle.
– The principles were in fact before us and the warnings of the Committee were that measures such as are foreshadowed in this Bill could be perilous. If Senator Poyser says that we should take note of the Committee- I agree with him- perforce we should send the Bill for examination. The Committee said- I will disclose what it said- that these very weaknesses would occur. But supposing we do not take note of what the Committee said. I think all of us would regard Dr T. B. Millar, Professorial Fellow in International Relations at the Australian National University and Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, as one of the most responsible and influential Australians in the field of defence. If Dr Millar saw fit to sound a major warning in public print, does the Senate say that we should not take notice of it? Writing in a newspaper on 3 July this year- a handful of weeks ago- he said:
I have regretfully come to believe that despite the greatly increased service input into the Defence Department the proposed reorganisation is a mistake of unprecedented magnitudefar beyond that of the short lived pentropic division and with far greater implications for the defence and security of Australia, whereas the previous organisation was clumsy and time consuming the proposed one is guaranteed in vital aspects to be immensely unwieldy and frustration making in peace and potentially disastrous in war.
That was written by Dr Tom Millar, a man who I think is respected throughout the whole of the Service area of Australia. He has been engaged in discussion on this matter with others including the Chairman of the Chiefs of General Staff, Sir Victor Smith, who questioned the validity of his argument. Because there is a conflict between Sir Victor Smith, Dr Tom Millar and the Service chiefs obviously it is vital until that conflict is resolved that we take the right steps.
I impress upon everybody engaged in this debate that if the Government simply rubber stamps this Bill, let it justify sending the National Compensation Bill and the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill to a committee. Yet the Government proposes to rubber stamp through the Parliament the potentially most important piece of legislation before this House in the face of the fact that people far more able to assess these things than we are say in its present form the Bill is perilous. It behoves the conscience of every honourable senator to face up to this situation. We are not asking for a delay that will hold up anything in the defence organisation. Nobody in the Government has suggested that what we intend will imperil or threaten in any way the normal conduct of the defences of this country in the several months that are necessary to bring in a report. Defence will continue. This Bill is not in any way imperative to defence. The only objection put forward by the Government is that the Senate Committee is too busy.
Let us test the kind of validity of the things that are put forward. The Minister read a procurement statement a few moments ago. Also in the last 2 days he asserted that the forces of Australia had increased in numbers and that the numbers would be sustained or increased in the year ahead. The validity of these things can be tested. I invite honourable senators to look at Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and at the Budget allocations for the 3 Services, the Army, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. The total salaries for this year will be $682,687,000 compared with $649,831,000 last year. This is a nominal increase of $32,856,000- an increase of 5 per cent. I want now to refer to the civilian staffing which is this year to receive by way of salary $206,396,000 compared with $202,529,000 last year. This is increase of $3,867,000 or 2 per cent. I ask the Minister. In a budget which asserts that the average wages in this community will rise 22 per cent in the course of this year, is it not a fact that a 2 per cent rise represents a major cut in the staffing of the Services? For a rise of 22 per cent in the civilian forces an extra $44.5m would be needed.
There is a shortfall of $40.69m meaning, on the face of it, that the Government proposes major retrenchments in the civilian side of the forces. Quite clearly either it is not going to increase the salaries of servicemen in the course of this year- I invite the Minister to assert that if it is so- or will maintain the increase at 5 per cent, which is a shortfall incidentally because if it were increased to 22 per cent an extra $142m would be needed. This would mean that on the face of it, unless there is fiddling elsewhere, there will be a reduction in the Services. I know that it will be alleged that cadet corps will be abolished and the figures shoved around, but the facts are simple. The salaries predicate this. If this is so, the basis on which this Bill is brought before us needs testing.
What does the Bill say it will do? Nobody here has really had time to read the Bill thoroughly. I wonder whether honourable senators present have looked at the 187 clauses of the Bill and the implications in terms of amendments of some 14 Acts and 10 schedules. Have we thought of the implications of the abolition of the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air, the partial dismantling of the Department of Supply and the future reorganisation into the one great Department of Defence? Have we thought of the abolition of the 3 Service Boards, the Military Board, the Navy Board and the Air Board. A major reorganisation asserts 3 things in particular. It asserts that it creates the office of the Chief of Defence Force Staff. In the Minister’s words that officer shall have power of command of the Defence Force. That is a major new concept. As previous speakers have indicated, it has not been the practice in this country to do this before. Nowhere in the Bill can one find what ‘ command ‘ means. My goodness, have we got such short memories about the perilous rows between Blarney and Rowell, or of the rows inside the Air Force between Bostock and Jones, that we are not prepared to pause, to take evidence and to find out what we mean by ‘command’? When we asked Sir Victor Smith and the Secretary of the Department what ‘command’ means they said they would tell us. I invite the Senate to understand what ‘ command ‘ means. This is what they say:
Command is to be taken as meaning- the authority which a commander in the military service lawfully exercises over his subordinates by virtue of rank or appointment. Command includes the authority and responsibility for effectively using available resources and for planning the employment of, organising, directing, co-ordinating and controlling military forces for the accomplishment of assigned duties. It also includes responsibility for the welfare, morale and discipline of personnel under command.
I say quite categorically that if that is what is meant by command, as Sir Arthur Tange and Sir
Victor Smith say, then basically the general structure of the Bill is fallacious because when one comes to the next step in the Bill, that is, administration, one finds what is called happily a diarchy, a sort of Siamese twin control, whereby administration, which is undefined, is to be a parallel job, a twin job divided between the Chief of the Defence Force Staff and the Secretary of the Department, with some qualifications. The Minister, when looking at administration, said:
The Secretary, as Permanent Head/Chief Officer of the Department will have legal responsibilities under the Audit Act and Treasury Regulations, will be the link with the Government administration at large, and will be the adviser on policy, on organisation and on financial planning and programming.
One cannot have it both ways. One cannot have a statement of command defined outside the Bill by the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and by the Secretary of the Department and a Bill which in fact states the direct opposite, a Bill which provides for this so-called diarchy in the most confused and undefined way. Try as I might, just as I could not find a definition of command, so I could not find a definition of administration. I had to wander back to the Public Service Act and find what are the Secretary ‘s powers under that Act. When I did that I found absolute conflict with this diarchy of control.
Now, that is fairly serious. It becomes more so when one gets down to the absolute assence of the matter. Senator Poyser has said that there was a committee of inquiry, and I take it that he meant that that was good enough and we should rely on it, we should take notice of it. Why have it unless we take notice of it? I remind the Senate that that committee of inquiry has said a number of very important things. First, it said that the whole question of command was in complete doubt, that there was a grave constitutional question involved, and that it needed to be clarified, perhaps even to the point of a referendum, before the question of command in Australia could be put beyond doubt. The committee had before it, as Senator Sim will recall, not only Air ViceMarshal Hartnell but also senior lawyers, who raised the gravest doubts. What they said, in effect, was this: ‘We draw your attention to section 68 of the Commonwealth Constitution’. Section 68 states:
The command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen ‘s representative.
Now, those who read this report, as no doubt Senator Poyser has, will know that it was concluded from the evidence that it is quite impossible in the present constitutional circumstances for the Governor-General to vest his authority in anyone else at all. He cannot devolve his authority. I want to remind the Senate of a very important point. The report of which the Government has urged the Senate to take note is a unanimous report of Government and Opposition senators agreeing together that there are profound problems as revealed by the report. Air Vice-Marshall Hartnell said in his evidence:
The Governor-General has a special role in the distribution of defence authority. Under section 68 of the Australian Constitution and separately under Letters Patent he is vested with command in chief of the defence force as the Queen’s representative. He is not a nominal commanderinchief; he is actually vested with command.
He went on to say:
These powers were given to the Governor-General himself and not to the Governor-General in Council. During the Constitutional Convention debates in Melbourne in 1 898 an amendment was proposed that command in chief should only be exercised on the advice of the Executive Council. The amendment was lost.
Government senators opposite say that they are not willing to pause for some weeks to consider a profound situation in which the whole philosophy of command inside this democracy may be under challenge, and that statement is supported by law. In the face of that, how can any honourable senator vote today for clause 1 1 of this Bill, which seeks to omit sub-section ( 1 ) of the Act and to substitute the following subclause:
How can any honourable senator in this chamber vote today for this Bill in its present substance when all the unchallenged evidence is that that is unconstitutional? It is simply unconstitutional as such. Ought not the Senate to pause for a moment and invite its own Crown law officers to talk about this matter? No doubt those honourable senators who had proposed to support this Bill- I hope they will have a change of heartwent on to read what was stated in the report of the Senate Committee, first on the point of higher command and then on the point of civil/military relations. In relation to higher command and control, I read the following extract:
The Committee draws attention to an anomaly which exists in the Australian Constitution in respect of higher command arrangements. Because of section 68, there exists the theoretical possibility that the Governor-General could, in an emergency of some kind, disagree with his Ministers and issue commands to the armed forces at variance with government policy.
The Committee recommends that the Government establish an eminent group of people to study the complex legal and constitutional issues which are raised in the above paragraph.
The report goes on to argue about the adequacy or otherwise of the proposed command structure. That in itself is of fundamental importance. Those who are more interested in giving precedence to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands or who are sleeping peacefully in the Senate at the moment might recall that on page 124 of the report under the heading ‘Civil-military Relations’, a unanimous report was made in these terms:
The Committee is extremely unhappy about the serious lack of co-operation, goodwill and rapport between uniformed service personnel and civilian public servants within the Department of Defence.
The Committee also observes that unjustified intrusions have taken place by civilians into purely military matters; this is undesirable and should be stopped. There is also a clear need to define precisely the tasks of the Department of Defence in relation to the armed forces and the role of the Secretary in particular.
The report then suggests making a number of improvements. Is it to be said that the three or more Government senators who were signatories to that report are going to support the Bill in the present circumstances? I put this matter beyond the ordinary playing of politics. If I am stressing it, if I am emphasising it, it is because of the importance of this matter. I remind the Senate that the current members of the Committee include Senator Primmer, the Chairman, who took part in the debate. I pay due tribute to his chairmanship and to the way in which he helped bring about unanimity of viewpoint in the report. I pay tribute to him as a colleague for a very worthwhile experience. The other members are Senator Devitt, Senator Mcintosh, Senator Maunsell and Senator Sim. In the past, almost up to the conclusion and, I think, to the approval of the final report, Senator Drury of the Labor Party and myself were members. Before that a number of other senators were members. A wide range of people from both sides reached what I think is the main object of a Senate committeeunanimity of view and of recommendationbecause they believed that the issue which they were studying transcended Party politics. I think it would fair to say- I think the former Chairman would acknowledge it- that all members compromised towards that end.
I am asked by Senator Poyser to look to this report and say that we should go ahead because all is well. I note that today the Minister, in his statement on procurement, said proudly that the size of the Army had reached some 3 1 000. He did not say that this was in defiance of all the Chiefs of Staff and the whole Chiefs of Staff
Committee who recommended, to a man, that the minimum viable size of the Army should be 38 000.
– We have too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
– Do not let any of us make a joke of it, in the face of the peril from an assassin’s bullet.
– An assassin’s bullet?
- Senator Primmer seems to think it funny that I should be drawing attention to the fact that in Bangladesh an assassin’s bullet, not the ballot box, could decide the fate of a country and to the fact that a war in Timor, no doubt fed from the north by foreign arms, is causing huge instability to our north. Does anyone doubt it? It appears that the Caucus of the Labor Party is out of step with its Prime Minister on Timor. It is this kind of balance, this kind of clash inside a government which makes us say: We do not think your judgment is as good as it might be. Let us have a quiet look at it. ‘
Since I am invited to look again at the report, I remind Senator Primmer who said that there is no perceptible threat for some time- he repeated in paraphrase the Government’s statement that there is no discernible threat for 1 5 years- that this report, unanimously agreed to, rejected the theory of discernible threat and said that the theory of discernible threat was one of the most grave fallacies and one of the most dangerous fallacies with which any country could live. Never in human history has any country been right in adopting that attitude- from William Pitt to Lloyd George to Curtin who in 1 938 said: We can disarm now because there is no threat’. That was some 10 months before war broke out. The theory of discernible threat was as wrong with Curtin as it was with Lloyd George, as it was with Pitt and as it will be with any country which adopts such an attitude. Senator Primmer did not say one important and basic thing- the theory of discernible threat must be replaced and supplanted by a vital situation, and that is the theory of lead time for the establishment and training of correct personnel and for securing equipment. Today the Minister, in a procurement statement, demonstrated the value of lead time. He rolled off a whole list of equipment, but most of the time he omitted to tell us that it will take 2, 3, 4 or 5 years before this equipment will be available.
– You had 23 years in which to buy tanks, and you did not buy one.
– Let us look at this matter because an interjection suggests that we were at fault. Those who are now on the Government side yelled and screamed about the purchase of the FI 1 1 and its cost. They are deadly silent now when the aircraft that the Government is buying will be two or three times dearer than the FI 1 1, even allowing for inflation, will be far less sophisticated and will certainly not be front line fighting weapons. The simple fact is that the F 1 1 1 still remains the most sophisticated fighting aircraft in the world today. So they scream. The Committee which Senator Primmer chaired and which reached a unanimous decision said: ‘Put aside this theory of perceptible threat and look to the theory of lead time.’ It said: ‘Do you know that it takes 15 years to train an Army major, 20 years to train a half colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, 25 years to train a general staff officer and 7 years to train a sergeant?’ The decision which the Government makes today about whom it will recruit will provide the majors of 1 5 years hence, the colonels of 20 years hence and the General Staff officers of 25 years hence. The decisions which the Government makes today will decide the viability and capacity for expansion.
– That is so only if it is a new army.
- Senator Georges can laugh, but the simple situation is that this is not only the report of the Committee, it is the report of the Millar Committee, it is the recommendation of every senior Service officer. When such an officer makes a recommendation he says: ‘Look to lead times’. Clearly, if it were a time of doldrums we would be building an army not for now but for fruition in 15 or 20 years’ time. The army in which the Minister takes pride, 3 1 000, is well below the figure set by the Chiefs of Staff. They said that we must have 3 fully equipped task forces. Now we have task forces not with 3 battalions but with 2 battalions. We have battalions not with 4 fighting infantry companies but with three. So it goes. It is an attenuated situation. Today honourable senators opposite can take pride in the army, yet they cannot put into the field, on the advice of their experts, more than 3500 fully trained first line fighting men. This fact in itself is a tremendous indictment. It arises out of this report.
I turn now to the Defence Force ReOrganization Bill, in the light of the criticism of Dr Millar, in the light of the statements of the various senior Service officers and in the light of the unanimous report of the Senate Committee. I do so against the background that for 20 or 30 years in all the main countries in the free world there has been great discussion, and controversy has raged, about integration of the forces and, if they are integrated, how command and administration should be handled. That controversy has raged throughout Australia as it has throughout the world. It is important to realise that in those countries which have set out to achieve integration of command and administration- countries such as the United Kingdom, America and Canada- no perfect or near-perfect system has been developed. Today the gravest doubts are being voiced throughout all those countries about some of the deficiences. They are being voiced after the integration. I have been told that this is all to the good and that we should look to those other countries. Perhaps I should look at what has happened in America.
In the United States the position of Secretary of Defense, which is a most political position, has developed very much when compared with the powers that a Secretary of one of our departments has. I make no reflection on the present incumbent, Sir Arthur Tange. He is a man of first-class ability and of first-class integrity. He does a first-class job. Perhaps because of his sheer ability he seems somewhat overpowering to those who come in contact with him. Because he is so good does not mean that we should not criticise or that we should not probe. No man is beyond that. There was a report by what is called the Blue Ribbon Panel in America on what was happening. It was found:
As a result of its examination of the Defence Department, the Panel found that effective civilian control is impaired by a generally excessive centralisation of decision-making authority at the level of the Secretary of Defence.
That ought to be worth looking at, surely. Should we not pause to see whether we have understood the errors or the weaknesses that have emerged inside the American system? Should we not pause for some weeks so that, having done so, we can then build into our Service a system a little more effective? If we were to look towards the United Kingdom we would find queries again as to the functions of the centralisation of power.
Let me pull my remarks together in this way: The Government is inviting us to pass a Bill without further examination. The Bill has these characteristics: First of all, it faces a volume of top legal evidence that ‘command’ is undefined; that the meaning of ‘command’ is in grave doubt; and that doubt persisting, there could be peril at a time of challenge to Australia on a security level. We are willing to go along with that without further ado.
There is the basic criticism by Dr Millar to which the Secretary and the Chairman of the
Chiefs of Staff said: ‘Look, we will tell you what command is’. Will the Government pause to write into this Bill the definition of ‘command’? Will it write into this Bill the definition of administration’ so that it is not merely what is in the second reading speech or the Minister’s follow-up? I ask specifically: Does the Government intend to do this? Will it explain to us this fundamental: How does it propose that the Chief of Defence Force Staff shall have command when so much of the basis of his command is shared at least, or in fact overruled at least, by the Public Service, by civilians? How can command be exercised if it is divided in function? How can it be carried out? What we have is one of those paradoxes that we find in a community. We have this so-called diarchy of command in which beyond any doubt the Secretary of the Department is the first amongst equals. This is of vital importance. What this has done is to give a priority to the Secretary of the Department whose powers interweave with the whole of the powers of command of the Chief of Defence Force Staff. Is that what we want?
Surely the basis of what we seek is that the control of the defence system, the control of the military forces, shall first of all lie in the sovereignty of this Parliament and, secondly, that it shall be executed through the Minister for Defence, a parliamentarian, a political figure, who represents the triumph of the civilian power and the parliamentary system over the military. That is basically why this chamber has emerged over 400 years or 500 years. It represents the final triumph of the civilian population over the military. That must be established.
That having been established and being administered through the Executive Government and the Parliament, there are 2 needs. There are the needs for the general administration of a department by an under-secretary or a head of a department. Then, in the military field, there is the need for the military to have a clear command, a command that is not interfered with in the whole range of its activities. Can anyone say that this is so? This is the basis on which we are invited to deal with the Bill.
Wherever one turns in this Bill one finds absolute confusion. Can the Minister seriously say that he can explain this part of the second reading speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr Morrison) in the other place:
The administration- as distinct from Command- of the Defence Force is to be vested jointly in the Secretary and Chief of Defence Force Staff, subject to, and in accordance with, any directions of the Minister and except for matters falling within the command of the Defence Force or other matters that may be specified by the Minister as a further exception.
To the infinite degree, that must be gobbledegook. Unless it is defined, do we really commit the Defence Force of Australia to the ambiguity of that wording? It is the whole basis of that ambiguity, that neither the commander himself nor the head of the Public Service knows what he is doing which causes us to say: ‘Let us pause for a few weeks. Let a committee of this Senate have a look at this situation’. I could, but will not, go through this Bill step by step and show that there is left unanswered a whole list of absolutely vital questions.
I sum up in this way: The Opposition is not opposed to the general integration of the forces. It of course applauds the execution of power over the Defence Force through the Minister, through the Executive Government, through the Parliament. It recognises the need for a highly efficient Public Service department equipped to deal with these matters. It recognises the need for a command in the field to be clearly established, decisive and capable of acting with authority, without having to knock off and to refer to Canberra. All of these things are clear.
We do not in any way attack the main objective of the Bill as is stated outside the Bill. What we are saying is that the Bill in itself does not do what the Government says the Bill intends to do. Let me go further. I pay tribute to a very good basic report, the Tange Report, and to the officers who helped to compile it. In my judgment, having studied that report, I say that the report in no way is mirrored fully or even partially in this Bill. One is not to say: ‘We have the Tange report; it has been implemented’. That is not true at all.
We come therefore in summary to ‘command ‘. Nobody has suggested that there is not great confusion over the role of the Governor-General concerning his alleged incapacity to divest himself of or to vest in others the authority to devolve power. No one is suggesting that. No one has suggested that this has been clarified in any way. No one suggests that this Bill defines ‘command’,. and what it means although the Government is willing to define ‘command’ outside the Bill. No one has suggested that this Bill defines administration’ yet the Government is willing to tell us about this outside the Bill.
This is being done, as I have said, at a time of the greatest potential instability in our region in the post-war years and at a time when, for even continental defence or for peacekeeping purposes, it may be vitally necessary with immediacy to put small peacekeeping forces into action. Let nobody think that is war talk. On the one hand we applaud the United Nations, particularly when the Third World is voting, so that we can vote with its member countries. But the fact that we are not willing to back up peace keeping by use of our service forces as suchbecause we have not those forces- is evidence of the hypocrisy of this Government.
We are living in a brittle situation. Timor emphasises that. We have moved into a situation in which the report by the Senate Committee ought to invite the Government to pull up and to be steady for a moment. We are confronted with Dr Millar’s statement, and let us not forget it. He said he believes that in its vital aspects the Bill will be immensely unwieldy and frustrationmaking in peace and potentially disastrous in war. Are we going to vote for such a Bill without further investigation? Are we going to do that? I have pointed out that the things that the Government has advanced have fallen down in ashes around it.
We have heard the pathetic plea that the Senate Standing Committee cannot deal with this reference because it is dealing with other business, namely, a reference about Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I do not denigrate the importance of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands at all, but does anyone say that the Committee cannot put aside its other homework for the moment? I again remind the Senate that a government which admits the great value of Senate committee reports, which has been forced to admit that its original Bills were wrong and has had to take back those Bills and alter them or scrap them- I refer in particular to the National Compensation Bill- is apparently unwilling in regard to the most important Bill that has come before the Parliament to ask the Senate Standing Committee to knock off dealing with its other business for 8 or 10 weeks and consider this Bill.
If the Government’s arguments are right, the Senate Committee will present an open forum in which the Government can state its arguments. Why should not others who wish to criticise the Bill be able to do so? Is not this the Government that boasts of open government and open inquiry? If the Government is so sure that it is right, why would it not let this matter be referred to the Senate Standing Committee? The end result can only justify the Government’s stand if it believes that it is right. Why does the Government not do this? It says that the matter cannot be referred to the Committee because the Committee is considering a reference about the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Nobody has suggested that the deferment of the Bill for a few months will have any impact at all on the whole defence system. Let no one believe that suddenly at heart the Government has discovered defence and that it is going to grapple defence to its bosom, as the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop) said today in relation to defence procurement. Let us look at the small print, as I have been invited to do.
When we left office between 29 per cent and 30 per cent of the total defence budget was spent on the procurement of equipment. Last year the Government, which suddenly says that we had neglected procurement and that it has not, had expenditure on the procurement of equipment running at 1 9 per cent of the defence budget. The percentage of the total defence budget spent on the procurement of equipment has dropped from 29 per cent to 19 per cent in the space of 2 years, and this has been allowed to happen by a government that asks us to put trust in it, a government which says things and then does the opposite. On every level this Bill is so important that it should be referred to the Senate Standing Committee. Finally, this Senate Standing Committee took a great deal of evidence under oath in camera from senior serving officers of all the forces and from civilians. The volume of the evidence as recorded in the transcript of evidence lends to the matter a more serious character than do the words of the Committee. I ask the Government: Is it going to rest on what the Committee said? The Committee said:
The Committee is extremely unhappy about the serious lack of co-operation, goodwill and rapport between uniform Service personnel and civilian public servants within the Department of Defence.
The whole test of this Bill is whether the Government can integrate these people at all levels and have a working unit. The Government has not responded to the test. It has not said what is command. It has not said what is administration. It has not said how, for example, the functions of command can be divided between the Secretary of the Department and the head of the military. The Government has not in any way expressed how this diarchy can work. I myself would like to see the evidence which has been compiled in other countries, such as Canada, England and America, searched and looked at so that we can basically look at this Bill and ask: Are we learning? Have we learned at all from the mistakes of others, or are we going to repeat Medibank? Are we going to turn back the clock 30 years and start to make the mistakes that others made 30 years ago that have ended in chaos today? Is this what we are proposing to do? Why do we not learn from what has happened overseas?
I return to the fundamental: If this Senate chamber has any responsibility at all, it is a responsibility not to let a piece of significant legislation pass through it until it has thoroughly absorbed and digested every significant aspect of the legislation and is satisfied in every way that what the executive Government says the legislation purports to do it will do. On not one of these fundamentals do these things parallel at all. Since the Government has not alleged in any way that there is any urgency about this Bill, I plead with the Government to ask the Senate Standing Committee to put aside its other business for some 8 weeks to 10 weeks and then to come forward to the Committee and justify to the Committee that this is a good Bill. If the Government’s arguments are correct, this Bill will be back before us in its present form long before we rise for the Christmas recess, and of course the Government will have established a great deal of credibility. On the other hand, if the Committee itself seeks out and finds defects, are we not men and women enough to look at those defects and to correct them? I entirely support my Leader and the Opposition in our advocacy that this Bill should be deferred and referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
- Mr President, it is very difficult to reconcile what has been said by Opposition senators with the original statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) in opening this debate. He said that the Opposition would not oppose the Bill but that at another stage it would move to have the Bill referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Realising that the Committee consists of 6 members of the Senate- three from each side of the chamber- and noting the tenor of the debate today, one wonders what good purpose would be served by referring this matter to the Committee because there certainly would not be a unanimous vote on the Committee. I should have thought that if there were to be the opposition to the Bill of which we have seen evidence this afternoon, there would have been a complete debate in this chamber and an amendment would have been moved or so much would have been said that the Bill would have been thrown out. But such has not been the case.
This afternoon we have heard quite a deal of talk which has been outside the scope of the actual Bill itself. The title of this Bill is ‘ A Bill for an Act to amend the Defence Act 1903-73, and other Acts, for purposes related to the reorganization of the Defence Force, and for other purposes’.
For some years it has been known that the present legislation is inadequate. As a result of that the Government saw fit to ask Sir Arthur Tange, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, to make a report. The Government also saw fit to have a Senate committee inquire into the matter. Following on those reports certain legislative action was recommended to the Government. I should have thought that if the Opposition felt keenly about this Bill an amendment to it would have been moved.
I have been contacted by several people with different points of view in connection with this matter. It is a matter of opinion as to how best the position can be served. As a result of the discussion that took place in this chamber earlier I took it upon myself to do what normally I do not do. Normally, as a matter of courtesy to my colleagues, I sit through the whole of the debates in the Senate. As a matter of courtesy on the one hand and not having access to Party rooms on the other, I like to listen to the debates so that I know what is the position and then vote in accordance with my thinking as an Independent. I have followed that course of action ever since I have been a member of this chamber.
When it was suggested that this matter be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence I took it upon myself to analyse the Bill carefully and also, as far as I could, to traverse the suggestions made in the Tange report. In the light of the telephone calls I have received on this subject I was impressed when I read in this report- I have no reason to disbelieve it- the following comment by Sir Arthur Tange:
I consulted the members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee collectively (Admiral Sir Victor Smith, Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peek, Lieutenant General Sir Mervyn Brogan and Air Marshal C. F. Read) and we unanimously agreed to recommend . . .
He went on to list the things that they had unanimously agreed to recommend. I emphasise the words ‘we unanimously agreed to recommend’. There is no doubting the fact that the Government, having called for this report, has included in this legislation the suggestions contained in the report. Far be it from me to set myself up as an authority on matters such as this. I am just a member of the Senate who assists in the creation of policy. Every member of the Senate is in exactly the same position. We have no experts in this chamber on this matter. We called upon an expert to make a report. That expert consulted other experts in the field, including those people who perhaps could have been offended by the legislation which was suggested by him and which is included in the Bill that we have before us today. It would appear that the Chiefs of Staff have been quite satisfied to go hand in hand with the suggestions that have been made. It has been very difficult to make an assessment of the situation. Unfortunately it was not until the closing period of this morning’s session that I was handed a copy of the report by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on the Australian Army. I have not had an opportunity to read it. I am going entirely on what is included in the Bill and what I have read in the Tange report.
Might I just analyse what has happened here and, in my humble way, put my interpretation on what is contained in the legislation. In opening the debate on the Bill for the Opposition, Senator Withers referred to the complexity of the Bill. The fact that the Bill contains 187 clauses may be misleading since the great bulk of the clauses are concerned with matters of minor detail, such as the correcting of deficiencies in the current legislation or the making of consequential amendments in relation to the main clauses of the Bill. In fact, only 5 clauses are of major significance. They are: clause 7, which inserts new provisions governing the command and administration of the forces; clause 46, which provides for the abolition of the sentence of death by Service courts-martial; and clauses 23, 65 and 95, which abolish the Service Boards. In regard to the abolition of the death penalty, I am sure that no honourable senator would wish to oppose or even delay such a measure. No serious challenge has been made to the proposed abolition of the Service Boards, which are a method of administration and/or command of the Services by a Committee and for which a single command structure is to be substituted. Might I say that we had a single command structure here in General MacArthur. So we have a precedent to help that along. The debate, therefore, is essentially about clause 7 of the Bill and, although of great significance, the provisions and the philosophies on which it is based are essentially simple.
Clause 7 of the Bill seeks to insert in the Defence Act new sections 8, 9, 9a and 9b. The proposed new section 8 defines the present constitutional power of the Minister and provides that, as always has been the case, the authority exercised by the senior Service Chiefs will be subject to the directions of the Minister. Surely no one would suggest that the basic authority and. powers of the Minister should be cut down by independent authority vested in any official, whether he be Service or civilian. Reference has been made to the command in chief vested in the Governor-General. In providing in the proposed new section 9 for command to be exercised by a Chief of Defence Force Staff or by Chiefs of Staff it has been expressly provided that such command is subject to section 68 of the Constitution, which vests command in chief in the GovernorGeneral as the Queen’s representative. The Constitution makes provision for that. For the first time a clear single line of command has been established by the proposed new section 9, which creates an Office of Chief of Defence Force Staff with command of the defence force, and also provides for each Chief of Staff, under the Chief of the Defence Force Staff, to command his arm of the force. The principle of having a single chain of command for the defence force that is clearly set out in the legislation has not been seriously challenged and must be welcomed by all who are concerned with the operational responsibilities of the armed Services.
The proposed new section 9a links the Chief of Defence Force Staff and the Secretary of the Department in the overall administration of the defence force. This is the provision that has given rise to much of the criticism of the reorganisation In the defence organisation that is being replaced, the administration of the Services was shared under the Service Ministers by the members of the Service Boards, including the Secretary of the Service departments. Above the single Service departments, the old Department of Defence, with little or no direct military input, occupied a position that the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, stated in the Parliament to be ‘one of complete authority’.
Under the new defence organisation there will be a very substantial part in policy formulation and advice played by the numerous senior Service officers who are being given responsibilities within the reorganised Department of Defence. This, in itself, will largely overcome the predominantly civilian expertise deployed by the previous Department in the discharge of its responsibilities. Even more significant, the proposed new section 9a restricts the powers of the Secretary of the Department under section 25 (2) of the Public Service Act by specifically providing that the administration of the defence force should be the joint responsibility, under the Minister, of the Secretary and the CDFS. Far from extending the powers of the Secretary or his officers, the combined result of this sharing of administrative responsibility and the greater direct input into departmental business of Service officers represents a substantial move towards a better balance in the civil and military advice reaching the Minister and the Government. Clause 7 also seeks to insert a new section 9b, which merely provides for the determination of the remuneration of the CDFS and the Chiefs of Staff by the Remuneration Tribunal.
The process of abolishing Service Ministers and the separate Service departments and the restructuring of a new Department of Defence to provide one integrated administrative support to the Armed Services has been proceeding since the end of 1972, when the then Minister for Defence assumed all the portfolios within the defence group of departments. Towards the end of 1973 the Service departments were abolished and the report by Sir Arthur Tange on both the military command and the departmental structure recommended was presented to the Minister and to the Parliament. The restructuring of the new unified Department of Defence has been proceeding progressively. The stage has now been reached where legislation is required to obtain the full benefit of the functional organisation of the Department and the clear single line of military command. That legislation is now before the Senate and, having regard to the clarity and simplicity of the issues involved, no good reason is seen by me as to why the Bill should be referred for study by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
It is recognised by all that the present Bill is totally inadequate. 1 think that this legislation makes an attempt to rectify the position. There will be differences of opinion as to what that rectification should be. I would have loved to have heard from the Opposition its thoughts on the change that should be made. As I see it, there is nothing in this Bill that is not in the best interests of the defence of Australia. Consequently, I will support the Bill. I sincerely regret that the opposition to the Bill expressed today is contrary to the remarks of the Opposition Leader (Senator Withers) when he opened the debate. He said that the Opposition was going to support the Bill but that at a later stage it will have it referred to a select committee. It is a remarkable state of affairs. It is the funniest sort of support that I have ever heard. It would be very interesting to know just what has prompted the change in mind since Tuesday last up till this present time. Perhaps it is a result of the representations which I have received and which have been received by others designed to change their minds and result in their being led by other people. It is a good thing to know that people are interested in defence; it is very necessary. But on the mode of the defence and in the promulgation of legislation, it is necessary that there should be a heart to heart discussion, not on party lines, but on independent lines in the best interests of this nation.
– By and large I agree substantially with the remarks of Senator Bunton. I believe that this Bill is of far too technical a nature and of too great importance to the defence Services to be used as any propaganda base in this debate. But one thing that has intrigued me is this: The Bill has been introduced in all its detail and as it should do, clearly sets out the Government’s intentions. They are there for all to see. Those intentions are based on the Tange report which has been available since late 1 973. The Bill therefore is no surprise to Parliament nor to the Senate. I state again that it clearly sets out the Government’s intentions.
Over the years the Liberal Party in government or in opposition has taken a great deal of interest in the issue of defence. In some cases it has claimed a pre-eminence of expertise in this area and from its general propaganda statements on this Bill would seem still to claim that preeminence. Yet I find it strange and intriguing that there are no amendments on file concerning this Bill. My mind goes to one other very intricate measure which came before the Senate. That was the trade practices legislation dealing with the commercial and industrial world right across Australia. It had immense ramifications for all of this nation. Whilst I did not agree with the major amendments put up by the Opposition, I must say that I give Opposition senators full credit for the amount of work that they did on that legislation and for the intricate detail which was presented in their amendments. They basically knew the effect of their amendments, in all their detail, on the commercial and industrial world.
Yet today we have what is apparently very strongly held views of general opposition to some aspects of this change- not to the concept because Opposition speakers have not claimed any opposition to the general concept of integration of the defence forces- and a strongly maintained claim of opposition to some rather vague matters of detail. Opposition senators have not emerged with one amendment. We are therefore unable to debate the points that the Opposition has mentioned in the broad. I am very disappointed that we are unable to mount a debate on this issue because that is what it amounts to. There is no debate on this measure in the Senate. I should like that point to go on record. There can be no debate if there are no amendments.
There can only be a thrust of Party propaganda in the broad. This unfortunately is what we have had today. It disappoints me. I cannot claim that the Opposition is totally wrong in its case here today. I have not heard its case. That is what worries me: I have not heard its case. I find it strange that with the many advisers that the Opposition has in the private field and those supplied by the Public Service, we have not heard in detail the changes that should be made.
Let me just mention in passing in this brief address that I will make to the subject, the several complaints that have been made to me and which no doubt are very genuinely held by people who have been deeply involved in the past in Australia’s defence organisation. There has been one fairly slight area of complaint on command. I think the mention at some length in the House of Representatives of the position of the Governor-General is not taken very seriously by those who have been involved in the various representations to members of the Senate or to members of the lower House. But from the arguments which are outlined in the Hansard reports of the House of Representatives debate and from the debate that has taken place here today, I believe that the Opposition has in no way been able to discredit the. Government’s claim that the line of command is clearer now under this legislation than under the legislation it is amending or repealing. No argument that has been put up in writing or in words today has been able to discredit that Government claim. Therefore on the merits of the arguments and of representations that have been put to me, I can find nothing to support a claim by the Opposition which in no way is translated into substantive amendment.
There has been another claim that a single Minister responsible in this direct fashion as outlined in this Bill cannot encompass all the expertise which is required to maintain the 3 Services and the administration which must supply them. One is at first instance, perhaps, a little impressed with this, although on a lengthier study of the Cabinet structure, I find it a little incredible that a Minister could not properly carry out his administrative duties as provided by this Bill, over the 3 Services. Any person looking at the whole ramifications of government must agree with the importance of foreign affairs to the future safety of this nation. Yet we entrust that as a portfolio to one person. Surely the intricate detail of dealing with the rest of the world in all the areas of representation with Australia is indeed an intricate and a dangerous area in which to operate. Yet we entrust it to one person. I think in making a comparison of Cabinet responsibilities, the issue of having one Minister falls to the ground. As I understand the organisation, the Minister for Defence has a Minister assisting him. I believe that criticism has not been supported by the Opposition and does not float in its argument.
We come to perhaps a matter of some greater concern and that is the matter of the diarchy or the direarchy as I think Senator Carrick called it. I suppose that anyone could imagine some conflict here where in some ways there is left unspecified the line of demarcation between the Secretary of the Department and the supremo in the name of the Chief of Defence Force Staff. It is no doubt of valid concern to know how these people will mix their responsibilities and how they will efficiently carry out their duties in view of the fact that they are equal in their authority in their own spheres under the control of the Minister. But as I have said, those spheres have not been totally defined as yet. I believe that here again the Minister’s clear authority to direct is such that it would be his responsibility to ensure that the defence forces were run efficiently and were not bedevilled by personality clashes or claims for parallel authority or identical authority by the Supremo of the Services and the Secretary of the Department.
I believe that the more one looks at the claims which have been made in the broad as criticism of this measure the more one comes back to ministerial authority. There has been no disclaimer- of course, there cannot be any disclaimer- that the Parliament through Cabinet, through the Ministry, must be supreme in the authority finally given to our defence Services. So I think that that again answers the criticisms sufficiently at least to provide reason for the Bill to be passed. I would add that qualification. I join with members of the Opposition who express concern about that dual authority. As I said, it does not involve 3 people and there cannot be a voting majority; it involves only 2 people, which in some senses can be likened to an equally divided House. However, I believe that if such matters are left to rest on the Minister’s authority, that is sufficient reason to give it a try. Again the Opposition has provided no alternative. After all, that is what the Parliament is about. We are not here trying to win an election; we are not stumping in the Domain; we are in Parliament where Bills are passed, defeated or amended.
– Do you not think you would have a more informed debate after a critical examination of this matter by a committee?
– I think that Senator Jessop came into the chamber a little after I started my speech. I dealt with that matter to some degree earlier. I do not criticise that aspect, but what I do say is that one matter which intrigues me and which I mentioned earlier concerning the fact that the Government knew what it wanted and the Opposition did not is this: Half of the debating time of the Opposition has been taken in lecturing the Senate on committees. In simple terms, that leaves me cold. Obviously committees do some very useful work. However, I have used the example of the complexities of the restrictive trade practices legislation to show that the Opposition can, when it wants, make up its mind in the most complex detail and it can present that detail as its argument, and that is the way in which one goes about impressing one’s will on others in relation to legislation. But in this case it has not done that, and that is my answer to Senator Jessop. I have said: ‘Let us not, please, have any more lectures on the capacity or the desirability of committees’. In a sense I believe that the Opposition’s comments on this Bill simply mean- I do not say this in any unkind way; I say it in a factual way- that the Opposition has not done any work on the Bill. That is the truth of the matter. The Opposition has not produced its work here. I do not know what is the reason for that, but that is the fact of the case.
The various criticisms that have been made- I have said that they have been made by some very well meaning and very well versed peopleseem to me to centre on the fact that the Opposition is worried about the diarchy, the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Supremo of the Services. The Opposition worries about the single Minister and it worries about the lack of a defence council. It seems to me that the matter of the 2 somewhat equal persons in charge of our defence forces, the matter of the single Minister and a number of other subsidiary, if vague, criticisms could be met to a large degree if there were a defence council, because it would formalise more the position of the chiefs of staff in their relationship with the Minister. The Bill sets out clearly that the chiefs of staff may be called on by the Minister to advise him. I am not certain whether that advice is given only at the invitation of the Minister on every occassion. I take it that it would. I do not know what informality may be built into that provision. However, we are dealing with the Bill. The Minister may request advice from individual chiefs of staff. Without doubt, they could go to their Minister through the Chief of Defence Force Staff, but no doubt they would feel a little upgraded and a little more secure in their Service leadership position if they were a member of a defence council. Of all the objections or defections that the Opposition has seen in the minor part of this legislationagain I say to the Senate that it approves the conceptthe thing that impresses me most is the criticism concerning the lack of a defence council.
– But the one in England has not met for years.
-But I am told that in England the Chiefs of Staff meet directly with Cabinet Ministers. I think the honourable senator must admit that that is not envisaged in that formal sense in this legislation, and I think that is sufficient answer to that criticism. I am a little impressed, therefore, with the view that a defence council, if formed, would have a public relations stance and yet provide a more secure participation in the hierarchy of defence by the chiefs of staff. I would have thought that it would be quite the simplest of things to write such a provision into this Bill. One spokesman for the Opposition in the lower House has outlined his vision of a defence council. He has suggested that the council be made up- I do not wish to misquote him but I believe this is so- of the 3 chiefs of staff, the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Minister, who I have no doubt would be the chairman. I suggest the Chief of Defence Force Staff could be added to that list. If the defence council had 5 members comprising the 3 chiefs of staff, the Chief of Defence Force Staff, who is their higher command, the Secretary of the Department and the Minister as chairman, we would have an excellent defence council. If the Minister was not available because he was overseas or elsewhere his nominee could take his place.
Such an addition to the legislation would provide a wonderful advisory body. Why is it not there? It would be the simplest thing to encompass such a provision in five or six lines, and why we are not arguing for its inclusion as an amendment, I do not know. I do not intend to move that as an amendment. I would be very sympathetic to such a proposal if it were moved, lt would not upset the legislation one iota. It would not cross authority. It would do nothing but help. The wording of such a provision could be worked out very easily. I believe that in general terms it would meet all the other criticisms I have heard. If the Opposition wanted to go away and think about amendments, I would be happy to support a motion for the adjournment of the second reading debate on the Bill for that reason. I think that any reasonable person would be prepared to do that. If there were some move, even at this late stage, to insert a provision, in that form or any other form, which answers the points raised by genuine and well meaning critics of the legislation, I would be very happy to join with other honourable senators in considering it. I cannot support the generalised proposal to refer the Bill to a committee when this House is charged with the responsibility of dealing with the Bill. It has fulfilled that responsibility admirably in argument and in discussion in relation to many other complex and important matters, and I see no reason to differentiate with this legislation. So I join with the Opposition in approving the concept of the legislation. I have seen no valid criticism translated into what I regard as an attempt at providing effective legislation. Therefore I support the Bill, but I say to the Opposition that I would support any motion which sought to adjourn the debate until next week if the Opposition thought that it would like to move some amendments to the Bill.
– in reply- I think it must be obvious to all honourable senators that this legislation is now well understood. I can do no more than compliment everybody, including those on the other side as well as the Government supporters, who have talked about the provisions of the Bill, although it is true, as Senator Bunton and Senator Steele Hall have said, that much of the debate ranged around the two different political opinions on the way the defence forces are being run. Because of the time I do not intend to debate that matter except to say in a very definite way that the Labor Party did much to improve the general standard of conditions in the Services. As everybody well knows, we regarded the matter as a priority. The evidence is there for everybody to see. We established new pay procedures and after we had done that we set about making important purchases to make the new Defence Force viable, up to date and sophisticated.
I can see no reason at all to refer this matter to a committee. As a matter of fact, as my colleagues have pointed out, the matter went before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. While no determinations have arisen from the reports by Sir Arthur Tange and others there have been opportunities to discuss them. Opposition senators have asked whether anybody knew about the policy. As everybody knows, the Labor Party included its policy in its platform when it went to the electors. On being elected as the Minister for Defence, Mr
Barnard announced on 19 December 1972 the Government’s intention concerning the reorganisation of the defence groups. What he said is on the record in the Parliament for everybody to read. He said:
There is ultimately to be a single Department . . .
I will not read it all because of time, but he continued:
The reorganisation will not change the separate identity of the Navy, Army and Air Force … in the interests of efficiency within each Service, a substantial degree of delegation of financial and other authority for administration . . . will continue . . . there will be more effective central . . . control . . .
Surely those aspects are well understood by honourable senators because they were raised during the currency of Liberal-Country Party governments in former years. What were the advantages of the legislation to be? Mr Barnard said:
The changes will improve both ministerial supervision and the presentation in Parliament of the functions and cost. The military power of command is clearly defined for the first time. The single Department of Defence will enable improvements in administration . . . Service officers at all levels will be associated much more closely with the process of formulating policy advice.
Nobody has contradicted that. I suggest that everybody, including Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, has said that they agree with that sort of thing. With some reservations I think that even Senator Carrick gave his support to that notion.
In May 1973 Mr Barnard in the House of Representatives and I in this place made some comments about the reorganisation. As reported on page 2092 of the Senate Hansard of 30 May 1973 1 said:
The Government’s policy on reorganisation of the Defence group of Departments is to merge into the Department of Defence the 3 Service departments. We also propose to reassess the place in the defence structure of the procurement and production activities . . .
It is appropriate for me, while referring in the Parliament to the question of defence reorganisation to advise the Senate that I now intend to table with the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), for the information of members, the two reports of the Advisory Committee of officials led by Sir Leslie Morshead which were completed in 1957.
Those papers were available for honourable senators to read. In his letter to the Prime Minister on 9 December 1957 Sir Leslie said:
You will see that all the Committee’s recommendations centre around the amalgamation of the Departments of Supply and Defence Production on one hand and the 3 Service Departments and the Department of Defence on the other.
I shall not quote everything that I intended to quote because I would like the Senate to vote on this legislation.
The Morshead report canvassed many academic or philosophical arguments which were put by other people.
For example, on 4 December 1973 in the House of Representatives Mr Barnard presented the Tange report and said that we were to follow that report. As honourable senators will notice, the Tange report was not supported only by Sir Arthur Tange or by some of the Chiefs of Staff. It was supported by all, as Senator Bunton has pointed out. The record is there. In his report Sir Arthur Tange said:
I consulted the members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee collectively (Admiral Sir Victor Smith, Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peek, Lieutenant-General Sir Mervyn Brogan and Air Marshal C. F. Read) and we unanimously agreed to recommend the creation of a single senior military officer with power of command over the Chiefs of Staff of the single Services.
One finds references such as that in all sorts of documents. More importantly, Dr Forbes, who was then the shadow Minister for Defence said in the debate that he supported the principles of reorganisation. He said:
The Opposition fully supports the integration of defence group departments, and I place that on record. We regard integration of the defence group of departments as a logical extension of the process that started when the Morshead Committee report was brought down.
That is the general position, as everybody knows. What excuse is there for the Opposition to say: You must refine the legislation in some respect’?
As I have said, some of the matters which have been debated are academic. Perhaps I should refer to one or two of them. Perhaps the most striking or important argument that has been put is that of adding to the legislation the definition of command. The definition of command is contained in the Joint Service Glossary of Terms which has been with the defence forces since Federation. So there is no question that somebody is leaving something out. I think I should read a legal opinion that has been provided so that all honourable senators will understand the position. It reads:
Section 51 (vi) of the Constitution provides that ‘the Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth’.
Section 68 of the Constitution provides that ‘the command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative’.
The proposed new section 9 contained in clause 7 of the Defence Force Re-organization Bill provides for the Governor-General to appoint an officer of an arm of the Defence Force to be Chief of Defence Force Staff and vests command of the Defence Force in the Chief of Defence
Force Staff. This command is expressed to be subject to the control and administration of the Defence Force vested in the Minister and also to the command in chief vested in the Governor-General (sub-section 9 (5)).
Section 281 ‘The Command-in-Chief’. The commandinchief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is, in accordance with constitutional usage, vested in the Governor-General as the Queen’s Representative. This is one of the oldest and most honoured prerogatives of the Crown, but it is now exercised in a constitutional manner. The Governor-General could not wield more authority in the naval and military business of the country than he could in the routine work of any other local department. Of what use would be the command without the grant of the supplies necessary for its execution? All matters, therefore, relating to the disposition and management of the federal forces will be regulated by the Governor-General with the advice of his Ministry having the confidence of Parliament. (Todd’s Pari. Gov. in Col. 2nd ed. p.377).
A lot of the argument in this debate was based on the fact that Dr Millar had said certain things. I do not want to denigrate Dr Millar. I have read a lot of his contributions. Let me put the counter argument- of whom do we take notice? Do we take notice of the Chiefs of Staff, those people honourable senators opposite are always defending against the Labor Party? The Chiefs of Staff have supported what the Government has done. The Opposition’s shadow Minister for Defence, Dr Forbes, . stated that he supported what the Government has done. Everybody knows that the Opposition generally supports this measure, so why does the Opposition want to hold up the legislation at this stage?
Senator Carrick talked about the figures in the Budget. He knows full well that the Labor Party has met its target as to Service manpower. I am talking about numbers now. The old theory about everybody trying to get out of the Services has been exploded. There is no truth in it. The figures are up on the target we proposed. Senator Carrick quoted something which we had said was a reason for the reorganisation, namely, the difference between the civilian complement and the Service complement which will now disappear under the new legislation. There may be a need later to make modifications to the law. All of the evidence has been made available to honourable senators and their contributions today indicate that they understand what this is all about.
The payment of salaries of defence personnel as outlined in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) was also mentioned by Senator Carrick. As he well knows, the cost of the wage increases were calculated at current rates, and nothing more. I compliment all honourable senators who have participated in this debate and in particular, of course, those who are going to support the Government. I think the contributions by honourable senators have been very good. I cannot see, in the face of the value and the standard of the contributions which honourable senators have made, that there is any reason to refer the Bill to a committee. I want to say on behalf of the Government that if the Senate refers this Bill to a committee the Minister shall announce that the Government will regard such a reference as failure to pass the Bill under section 57 of the Constitution.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Pursuant to standing order 1 96A I move:
I do not intend to canvass the reasons for this motion. I think they have been canvassed within the debate and I think the Minister has replied to them. Let me allude to a comment made by Senator Steele Hall. I think the House is due to rise at 5 p.m. If we went into Committee most probably we would not make much progress. I therefore suggest to the Manager of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Douglas McClelland, that as soon as my motion has been disposed of we lift the Senate. This will give us the opportunity over the weekend to look at possible amendments. In any event we could not conclude the Committee stage this day. If this course were agreeable to the Government it would save my moving a procedural motion and reporting progress during the Committee stage which would have to be done possibly in the last 3 minutes of this day’s sitting.
– Do you want your motion to be disposed of now?
– Yes, I want the question on that to be put straight away.
– For the reasons I have indicated and which were put, I think, fairly completely and concisely, we oppose the motion. We see no need for it.
That the motion (Senator Withers’) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Justin O ‘Byrne)
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Motion (by Senator Bishop) agreed to:
That consideration of the Bill in Committee of the Whole be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– On the motion of the adjournment on Tuesday, Senator McLaren drew attention to the poor quality of photocopying from one of the machines in the Parliamentary Library. The Parliamentary Librarian was aware of this problem and has already taken steps to replace the machine. I am pleased to be able to tell Senator McLaren and the Senate that arrangements have been made for an improved machine which uses ordinary paper to be installed tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.59 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Unemployment figures in respect of refugees who arrived in 1974 and are now in the community are not available, but among those residing in hostels throughout Australia on 4.8.75 there were 27 breadwinners of Chilean nationality both refugees and non-refugees not in employment. Of these 9 were in hostels for periods of less than 2 weeks.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 August 1975, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1975/19750828_senate_29_s65/>.