30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 11.00 a.m., and read prayers.
-My question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce relates to the Minister’s statement last week concerning small businesses. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that many small businesses entering into contracts with Government departments do not know that their tenders are for firm and fixed price contracts which do not allow for price escalation brought about by wage rises and increases in the cost of materials? Is the upshot of this situation that some small businesses have failed as a result of entering into Government contracts, particularly in the defence area? Will the Minister ensure that steps are taken by Government departments specifically to point out this aspect of government contracts to tenderers who operate small businesses?
– Nobody has come to me from a small business individually, from an association of small businesses or from an association of industry in any area with a complaint like that. Nonetheless, this is a useful question. If the problem exists it ought to be examined in the way the honourable senator has suggested. I shall ask my Department to write to other departments which deal with people in the business world totally, to make sure that that condition of contract is understood by the people concerned. I do not think what the honourable senator has suggested is true in all cases, but it is a useful suggestion.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that the Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice Woodward, of the New South Wales Royal Commission into Drug Trafficking is reported to have said yesterday:
I have had discussions with the Commonwealth and I have heard nothing since and I understand the Premier (Mr Wran) has heard nothing. If my expectations for the future are measured by the past, we might as well forget them and get on with the inquiry. I hope that does not come to pass.
Will the Minister inquire whether any Commonwealth authorities have refused to co-operate with the Commission? If that has been the situation, will he take action to see that they give proper assistance in the future?
-I have not seen that report. I think it is perhaps a pity that that has been said. Yesterday I had the benefit of a discussion with Mr Justice Williams who,’ as honourable senators know, is a very distinguished member of the Queensland Supreme Court and who has been appointed by the Commonwealth Government as a royal commissioner into the problems of drugs in Australia. I understand that he will be receiving a commission from all States with the possible exception of South Australia. As I understand it from my discussion with His Honour yesterday, proper means certainly will be put into motion whereby there will be total co-operation between his inquiry and that being run by Mr Justice Woodward. I hope that, arising out of Mr Justice Williams’ desire, any complaints that Mr Justice Woodward might have will be dissipated quickly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I refer to the Government’s intention to extend the lending activities of the Commonwealth Development Bank so as to include small businesses. If the total lending activities of the Commonwealth Development Bank are to be increased as a result of the Minister’s statement last week, does the Government intend to make a special allocation of funds to the Bank for such purposes or will the Commonwealth Development Bank itself be expected to raise funds in the private market?
-Why does the Bank not ask the Government direct?
-Is the Minister for Education aware of concern being expressed at some universities about the future of academic study leave? I ask whether the Minister’s attention has been drawn to a newsletter issued by the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations which is circulating on university campuses and in which it is alleged:
It is known that some senior Cabinet members believe that academic study leave is an unjustified ‘perk’ and an excuse for a paid overseas holiday.
Can the Minister assure the Senate that there is no truth in these rumours that the Government is intending to reduce study leave entitlements in universities or other tertiary institutions?
– I have had made known to me the quantity of rumours circulating in universities and colleges. I have seen at least one circular that has been distributed. I am bound to say that tertiary campuses are marvellous places for the generation of rumours- and, what is more, based on their score over the past two years, thoroughly incorrect rumours. All the rumours that have emerged in recent times have been proved wrong. The facts about study leave are: The Federal Government set up, firstly through the Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education and subsequently through the Tertiary Education Commission, which is their successor, an independent study of study leave by people who are independent and expert in the field of tertiary education. Nobody in the academic sphere should have anything to fear from such an independent study. The whole basis of a statutory body such as the Tertiary Education Commission is that it shall seek objective evidence. My understanding is that the Commission will not complete its investigations until at least the end of this year or early next year. I have no knowledge at all of the contents of its possible report. Certainly, there is no prior judgment or prejudice on the part of the Commonwealth Government or any of its Ministers in this matter. In due course we will receive the report and give it the study it will deserve. I ask people to put aside all rumours until the report emerges and the judgment of the Commonwealth is made upon it factually.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is it correct that trading banks and other institutions have been unprepared to lend to small firms, not because of lending limits placed upon them but because most small firms have been unable to offer the security required by the trading banks? Will the Government be prepared to arrange for guarantees or inducements to the trading banks to ensure that loan requests made by small businesses to the banks will now be approved?
-That comment has been made often by people in the community and sometimes by people in the Parliament. The trading banks say quite specifically that that is not the case. The figures on their lending activities demonstrate that that is not the case. There are often problems of security for all people involved in small businesses. They have not had the chance to build up a big asset structure as other people have had either because of their size or because of time. I think it has been demonstrated fairly clearly that the Government understands the problem and is doing something specific about it.
Guarantee situations are highly simple propositions, but it has seemed to the Government from the investigations of its task force, the work of its own departments, the work of the small business committee that has been referred to and from very broad discussions that there may be better ways of approaching this matter. Hence the opportunity has been given to the Development Bank and, equally, the Australian Industry Development Corporation to engage in some joint ventures with either the States or private enterprise and to set up devices that might make it possible to expand lending and to make a kind of bridging finance arrangement available to small businesses. I think that is the best approach to the matter. The simple one-off proposition that the Commonwealth should guarantee everybody and do everything does not really stand up. What one has to try to do is get an involvement between the banking institutions, the State governments and the overall market place itself, where there is some ability to help, and try to put it all together. But in the finality of that, whatever happens, those people who lend money must be making commercial judgments about those to whom they lend it.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer to the decision announced recently to reduce by some 20 per cent the cost of STD telephone calls of a Sunday and note that this decision is to take effect from January. I cannot recall the exact date, but can recall that the reason given for the reduction was that the telecommunications equipment was not heavily loaded of a Sunday and the reduction was an attempt to have the equipment used on that day. I ask: Firstly, will the Minister advise the Senate whether there are any plans to attempt to get better utilisation of the telecommunications equipment on days of the week other than Sunday, as I am informed that the utilisation is low at night and is particularly low very late at night and early in the morning? Secondly, will the Minister attempt to play Santa Claus by asking Telecom Australia to bring forward the date of the reduction to 18 December? I have noted that Christmas Day happens to fall on a Sunday this year. Perhaps the Minister could play Santa Claus by getting Telecom to reduce the cost of STD calls from 1 8 December so that those people who wish to contact their relatives and friends during the Christmas period can speak for longer periods at the same cost.
– I represent a considerable number of disciplines and portfolios, but not Father Christmas, except in expansive Budget periods. I am aware that Telecom has been seeking to make better utilisation of its STD equipment by attracting people to use that equipment at times other than when there is peak or average loading. I think all honourable senators would welcome such an innovation. The honourable senator also would be aware that Telecom, through the proposed acquisition of a considerable quantity of very modern telecommunications equipment, is aiming to maintain the cost of the services that it delivers and to prevent an upsurge in that cost. So in many ways it is seeking to provide an effective and economic service. I am not aware specifically of the final part of the honourable senator’s question, that is, whether some kind of preferred rate or arrangement is being considered for other days of the week. I will seek that information from the Minister in another place and also draw his attention to the suggestion, if it has not been responded to. As to Father Christmas, since the honourable senator is dreaming of a cheaper Christmas- I think that is his theme- I will ask the Minister for Post and Telecommunications whether such is within his power and discipline.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. It relates to the heavy burden placed on small business in this time of business recession and financial stringency by the inordinate delay that has been placed on small business by government administrative procedures. Following the Minister’s statement of last week on small business what steps will be taken to short-cut existing administrative procedures to reduce the time between when a department takes receipt of goods and services and when the supplier actually receives payment for them? Is the Minister aware that existing administrative procedures, from receipt of delivery document, to receipt of an invoice, to preparation of a claim, to authorisation of that claim and the issuance of a cheque by the SubTreasury, invariably take longer than a month? Does the Minister agree that this delay creates cash flow problems for small businesses and will he see what can be done to overcome this documentary nightmare?
– It was for precisely those reasons that the Government stated it was moving to have this whole process simplified, made more clearly understandable and more uncomplicated, in order to endeavour to reduce the volume of work for small business, or indeed any business, get the cash payments made more speedily and generally help in any way possible. The honourable senator has asked a useful question because it demonstrates what the problem was and how the Government is moving to solve it. One might observe that the problem has been with us for a very long time, yet little was done about it during Labor’s regime.
-There was not a crisis then.
-What a pity. They created the crisis. That is how it came about. You are the people who brought everybody to their knees, including small business.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications whether the Government has finalised plans to establish conditions and guidelines under which the operations of frequency modulation radio broadcasting stations may proceed? If such plans are uncompleted, can he inform the Senate when they will be finalised and when the expansion of FM broadcasting, especially into rural areas, can occur?
-I understand the honourable senator’s interest in the extension of frequency modulation broadcasting, because in that particular technology lies considerable opportunity for higher quality. To the horror of listeners to FM broadcasts, Senator Button’s laughter would be recorded with absolute fidelity. However, FM has also many virtues which could be demonstrated. The Government has been looking, with some sense of its significance, at this whole question of developing conditions and guidelines under which FM radio broadcasting may proceed. I am not sure of the precise timetable, but will ascertain this from the Minister in another place and let the honourable senator know.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development whether he is in a position to answer the apprehensions of Dr Mosley, the Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, that uranium mining targets in the Northern Territory make the concept of the Kakadu National Park, as envisioned in the Fox Report, impossible to achieve. Is the supervising scientist for the Alligator Rivers area in the field, and what sort of staff has he to achieve what Mr Justice Fox visualises?
-I have not read what Dr Mosley has said, or is asserted to have said, but if he has indeed said those things the facts are against him. As the Senate will know, the Government has adopted, with regard to the Kakadu National Park, all the essential principles of the Fox report, and more. Indeed, it has taken in an area which includes virtually the whole of the traditional Aboriginal sites. I think Senator Mulvihill will share my view that it is an important situation. Equally, Senator Mulvihill and honourable senators generally will know that the Government itself is determined that Kakadu National Park shall achieve its great potential as one of the world’s great national parks, particularly one of the world’s great wetlands, bird sanctuaries and wildlife sanctuaries. Specifically, action is proceeding as a matter of urgency to amend the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act to allow for the early declaration of the Kakadu National Park. The Government has made clear that in the park area to be declared initially no further mineral exploration is to take place for the time being. In future, any such activity will be permitted in the national park only after very careful consideration, and then under careful control in accordance with the formally developed plan of management as recommended by the Ranger Inquiry. The Government will proceed to establish the rest of the park as quickly as possible. In the meantime there will be no exploration, development or mining within this area except with the express approval of the Commonwealth authorities involved.
With regard to the final question asked by Senator Mulvihill, a chief scientist has been appointed and I think his name has been publicised. I am not aware of the full staff available but Senator Mulvihill’s attention should be drawn to the various pieces of information contained within the uranium kit that was issued to all honourable senators. He will be aware that the Commonwealth has a comprehensive plan to ensure that the chief scientist, his abilities and his responsibilities are used to the full.
-I should like to ask a supplementary question. With all due respect to the Minister’s reply, I suggest to him that he is falling into a habit of making the mistake made by Senator Withers of not reading the newspapers. Yesterday I sent him a clipping of the report of what Dr Mosley said. I think the main point was the sequence of events. The Minister said that he did not know what Dr Mosley said. Has he read the clipping, which is probably on his desk, from the Sydney Morning Herald?
-I do apologise to Senator Mulvihill. I have not perused the clipping he sent me. I will certainly do so. I responded in my answer to Senator Mulvihill’s own paraphrase of the remarks of Dr Mosley. Whether for reassurance or in apprehension, the fact is that I read seven or eight newspapers each morning. I will read the clipping he sent me.
-Can the Minister for Social Security confirm that the Salvation Army and other voluntary organisations in Victoria which have been providing emergency aid to families of people out of work because of the power strike have now depleted their funds? If this is so, can the Minister give any assistance to those voluntary organisations to enable them to provide emergency cash relief in this particular situation?
– I am aware of the difficulties of the voluntary agencies in Victoria which have been providing emergency relief to families suffering as a result of strikes and other matters. I have discussed this matter with my colleague, the State Minister in Victoria and the Governments concerned have agreed to provide $50,000 each, making a total of $100,000, which will be sent immediately to Victoria to assist voluntary agencies in the work that they have been doing in the past weeks. My Department and the Department of the Honourable Brian Dixon are consulting with regard to the dispersal of these funds and the way in which the voluntary agencies can best be assisted. We are seeking advice from the Victorian Council of Social Service. We hope that the release of $100,000 into Victoria will enable the organisations to continue to provide funds for those who are suffering distress at this time.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Will claimants for unemployment benefit now registering as a result of the Victorian strike be paid unemployment benefit under the current system or are they to be the first group to be paid in arrears, that is, before the introduction on 1 November of the system of payment in arrears as announced by the Minister?
– Those people who are presently eligible are being paid on the present system, that is, in advance; but it should be understood that we do not pay unemployment benefit in advance of the period for which unemployment is expected. For instance, if it is suggested that all strikers will return to work and all those who have been stood down will return to work in less than a fortnight, unemployment benefit would not be paid a fortnight in advance. Under those circumstances the payment would be for the period when it was expected that unemployment would be experienced. The new system of payment in arrears will be introduced from 1 November. At present all people who are eligible for unemployment benefit under the existing system are being paid in accordance with the practice that has been established.
-Is the Attorney-General aware that there is a need for the appointment of another judge to the Family Court in the State of Queensland? If the answer is yes, can the Minister tell the Senate what steps he is taking to appoint another judge in Queensland?
– The Senate will be aware that the Parliament quite recently passed amendments to the Family Law Act to enable commissions to Family Court judges to provide for their retirement at 65 years of age. That was done in the exercise of the power given to the Parliament by the constitutional amendment. The regulations also have been amended to enable the appointment of another six Family Court judges, and I am proceeding as quickly as possible to make those six appointments. One of the appointments will be made to Queensland, and I hope that shortly I will be in a position to announce the appointments.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, refers again to the question of the small business assistance allegedly being provided by the Government. Does the Minister remember that in his statement on small business he referred to the fact that there are 350,000 enterprises in Australia which he defined as small businesses, or more than 90 per cent of the total of all businesses? I ask whether the Minister recalls saying in his statement:
The Reserve Bank has been advised that it is the Government’s policy that adequate finance should be made available to small business and that no arbitrary limits should be placed on such finance.
Would the Minister not agree that to fulfil the undertakings contained in that statement the funds of the Commonwealth Development Bank would need to be augmented by very large sums of money? Has the Government determined the source of those funds? Does the Government intend to provide additional appropriations for the Development Bank or, as Senator Sibraa asked earlier, has it decided that the Development Bank itself will go on the market to raise those moneys?
-The statement is quite clear. What the honourable senator has asked for is an expression of Government policy on how it will determine its objectives as set out in the statement. It is not the policy of the Government to back down on its promises. It is the policy of the Government to establish the facts clearly and to keep its promises. What it has said to the Reserve Bank it intends to make sure happens. The way in which the Government does that is at this stage the business of the Government, the Reserve Bank, the Treasury, and indeed the Commonwealth Development Bank. The honourable senator may be sure that it will be done properly and carefully, as it was never done during his time in office in relation to small business.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question because this is a very important matter. Are we to assume that the Government has made no decision on how this program of alleged assistance to small business will be financed? Is that not a reasonable conclusion to draw from the Minister’s answer?
– It is a most unreasonable conclusion. The Government has made a statement. The Government has determined a policy. The Government is the Government; the Opposition is not the Government. We are doing our job properly and carefully, and when we have concluded the way in which we should do this it will become clear in the proper way, not by innuendo and statements which are basically quite incorrect.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and refer to the report in today’s Australian newspaper that the Government has given its support to an application by Ms Elizabeth Reid for a senior United Nations position. Can he confirm that Ms Reid has applied for a job? Does she have Government support in that application? Has she applied for the job as an individual or does she have some status as a
Commonwealth public servant? If the former is the case- that is, if she has applied as an individual- is it usual for the Commonwealth Government to indicate support for such an application? If the latter is the case-that is, if she is applying as a Commonwealth public servantwere other Commonwealth public servants given the opportunity to apply? Is it normal practice to advertise United Nations job vacancies in Australia?
– Why do you not get off her back. You have hounded her out of the country and now you are -
– Order! I call Senator Withers to answer the question.
-Mr President, we are getting some help from the other side.
-I thought the honourable senator was asking a question which he was entitled to ask on a matter about which a lot of people would like some information. I have a briefing note here which states that there was a story in today’s Australian. I cannot answer all of Senator Chaney ‘s question but I can answer some parts of it. It is true that Ms Reid is an applicant for a position in the United Nations Secretariat which was advertised by that organisation in August. I do not know where that organisation advertised. I suppose that it is really none of the Australian Government’s business.
– Quite right; it is none of its business.
-I ask the honourable senator to let me answer the question. I do not know why he is so touchy.
– I am touchy about it. It is a grave injustice to a very fine woman.
-This sort of Pavlovian reaction makes me wonder whether the honourable senator has something to hide. I thought Senator Chaney was asking a question which was not emotive, political or anything else. As usual, Senator O’Byrne reacts in his peculiar way. What I am saying is that the position was advertised by the United Nations.
– Wicked mob.
– I suppose the organ grinder’s monkey has to keep going. I imagine that it is the business of the United Nations and not of the Government whether that organisation advertises in Australia. I will attempt to find out for the honourable senator how widespread the advertising was. I can also inform the honourable senator that the fact that Ms Reid had applied for this position had been known to the Australian Secretariat to the United Nations for some time. I am unable to tell the honourable senator at this stage whether she has had active, passive or no support from the Government in her application for the position. But again I would point out that it is a decision for the United Nations to make as to whom it will employ. As to whether or not Ms Reid applied as an individual or member of the Commonwealth Public Service, I do not know the answer to that. Whether or not -
– Sheer persecution.
-It is rather like the reaction honourable senators opposite make to any criticism of AUS Student Travel. It is funny, Mr President. Occasionally honourable senators opposite talk about giving jobs to the boys. But when they give jobs to their own people and the slightest question is ever asked we get some sort of peculiar reaction .
- Mr President, I rise to order. I ask for your ruling upon whether the Senate should be made a forum for pursuing a person who is outside this country? She has taken a job in Iran to get away from the persecution in this country. She is now applying for another job and now this persecution is continuing. Mr President, do you believe that the Senate should be made a forum for such activity?
– I cannot uphold the point of order which Senator O’Byrne has raised. I call Senator Withers.
-I am not persecuting Ms Reid at all. I am attempting to give information to an honourable senator. If Senator O’Byrne likes to ask a question about anybody, I will attempt to get him the information which he seeks. It is not a matter of pursuing anybody. Senator Chaney has asked a question. He is entitled to know whether Ms Reid is a member of the Commonwealth Public Service. I do not know the answer to that question. The honourable senator has referred to a number of matters on which my brief does not give full information. Therefore, I suggest that he places the balance of his question on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. The Minister intends to grant an extra $2m to level 1 and level 2 schools in 1978. At what level of resources, compared with the non-government schools average, are these schools operating? How much does this mean in total to a level 1 school such as Melbourne Grammar?
-I will, some time today with leave of the Senate, be making a statement on education which incorporates information on this whole matter. So I think the honourable senator will find the specifics contained in that statement. If they are not, she might let me know and I will seek more information. As to the specific question, yes, an amount of $2m is being set aside to raise over some years funding for level 1 and level 2 non-government schools to 20 per cent, which was the percentage determined in 1972, and then dismantled by the Whitlam Government. That was the level of funding which the Whitlam Government recognised should be provided in the Australian Capital Territory and. the Northern Territory, and so disposed its policies to do. Funding was to be raised to 20 per cent without means test by five of the six States and to 20 per cent with some means test applied by the sixth State. What in fact is happening is that the Commonwealth Government is restoring over a period of years the basic policy on which the principle of non-government school funding is funded in all States and the two Territories and which, as a Commonwealth principle, is the linchpin for all those things. I have not heard anyone suggest that the principle of a 20 per cent funding without means test in the Territories and under State governments is a wrong principle. I think the people of Australia would be very interested indeed to know whether the Labor Party itself opposes the principle of 20 per cent as a basic rate in the States and in the Territories. It is a profoundly important piece of information. All I can say is that I take it by implication from the honourable senator’s question that she opposes such a principle.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory. I refer to concern- quite proper concern- that has been expressed recently about a possible site for a national museum in Canberra. This concern is related especially to the Pigott Committee’s recommendation that a 90 hectare site be provided at the foot of Black Mountain. Can the Minister say whether a site has been set aside for possible use for a national museum and whether roadworks such as the Glenloch Interchange and William Hovell Drive will affect the possible site? In particular, can the
Minister say whether an area of up to 90 hectares could be provided in the area proposed by the Pigott Committee?
– I understand that the Pigott Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections was shown the road proposals for the area south and west of Black Mountain by the National Capital Development Commission in 1975. It is in that general area that the Pigott Committee apparently recommended that the museum of Australia be sited and, as the honourable senator said, approximately 90 hectares have been set aside for a museum. I understand that the proposed Glenloch Interchange and William Hovell Drive which appeared to be the cause of some concern do not constrain in any way the location of the museum on this site. I am unable to say other than from a plan that I have seen that the proposed site is not interfered with by those roads. I understand also that my colleague, the Minister for Administrative Services, has been asked to prepare a paper on the timing of the construction of a museum for consideration by the Government.
-My question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce relates to the replies which have been given to questions concerning small business, including a question I asked on this matter on Tuesday. I should like to know whether the implementation of Government policy in this area necessitates legislation passing through this Parliament to extend the activities of the Commonwealth Development Bank and the Australian Industries Development Corporation. If so, will this legislation be presented to the Parliament during this session? In effect, how much longer must small business wait to get the relief which it is Government policy to give them?
-One is desirous to be helpful in the new-found enthusiasm of the Opposition for small business. That is one of the reasons we made our comment about the Reserve Bank. I believe there will be a necessity for some legislative change in regard to the Commonwealth Development Bank and in the Australian Industries Development Corporation. As honourable senators would expect, that is currently under study. The programming of legislation is not in my hands, but I am looking at this very carefully to see how quickly we can get appropriate legislation through the Parliament.
That is as far as I can go. If I can give the honourable senator further information later I shall certainly do so.
– My question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate relates to the question asked earlier by Senator Chaney. In a report in the Australian it is stated that a person, Elizabeth Reid, has the backing of the Government in her application for a position in the timewasting and money-wasting organisation known as the United Nations.
– Come on!
– It is too. Tell me what good it does. Another honourable senator is attempting to interject. When he has finished I shall resume my question. I draw the attention of the Leader of the Government specifically to the paragraph in the article which states:
The Government, apparently through the Prime Minister’s Department notified its recommendation of Ms Reid to the office of the United Nations Secretary-General, Dr Kurt Waldheim.
I ask the Leader of the Government: In view of the fact that this woman does not rate very highly with a very great proportion of people, particularly the women, of Australia-
– She is adviser to Her Highness Princess Ashraf Pahlavi of Iran on women’s affairs. She is good enough to do that.
– Well, as many people will remember the disgraceful and disgusting address she gave to students at the Australian National University -
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. When a question on this matter was raised earlier the Leader of the Government in the Senate said that the appointment of this woman to some particular position is not the business of this Government. He has indicated that he will obtain further information in response to the question asked by Senator Chaney. I suggest to you that the question being asked now is a direct personal attack on this person. I suggest that you should rule the question out of order.
– Under the Standing Orders I cannot do that. I shall listen to your question, Senator Wood. Put your question, but it must not be a repetition of another question, nor a statement. It must be a question seeking information.
– The point about which I am seeking clarification relates to this specific paragraph in the report in the Australian which states that the Prime Minister’s Department recommended the appointment. I ask the Leader of the Government: Is it not necessary that an urgent answer to this question be sought because of the fact that the people of Australia, particularly the women, remember the disgusting address which this woman gave to university students at Canberra when she told them to go in for selfmasturbation - .
– That is the truth, and some honourable senators do not like to hear it.
-Order! You may seek information, Senator Wood, but you may not make a comment in that way.
– I am not making a comment; I am asking the Leader of the Government: Does he not consider that it is essential for the good name of this Government that, in view of the fact that this woman is making statements like this which could be damaging to the Government, the Government should look into the matter? The longer that it is in the public mind that this Government has recommended the appointment of this woman, the more damaging it could be to the Government. Furthermore, is she not the person who helped to organise a women’s convention in this city about which many women in Australia are still talking with great disgust because of the obscenity of the occasion? Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate take up this matter urgently with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to get a clarification of it?
-Order! Senator Wood, you must not debate the question.
-I read a paragraph in the newspaper which states:
The Government, apparently through the Prime Minister’s Department, notified its recommendation of Ms Reid to the office of the UN Secretary-General, Dr Kurt Waldheim.
The honourable senator wishes to know whether that is true or false. I shall seek that information for him as a matter of urgency.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. The Minister, of course, will be aware, either from his own readings or from reports from his Department, of the very significant proposals which have been developed by Mr Hawke, now supported by the Victorian Premier and agreed to finally by the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir John Moore. These proposals will allow a speedy hearing of a claim which could produce a settlement in the State Electricity Commission dispute. I ask the Minister: How is it that since that statement became public and his departmental officers knew about it there has been no support from any of the Government Ministers for those proposals which have been developed only by the Australian Council of Trade Unions? How is it that his own Department has not been active, having declared support for the Victorian Premier in moves such as this? In view of the lack of declaration by the Government, why is it that the Government now is producing certainly more repressive laws against the union movement when it might well wait for a settlement based on the proposals which are now declared by the Victorian Premier and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to be very constructive?
– I am aware that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations whom I represent has been giving the closest consideration since last evening to the proposals to which Senator Bishop has referred which are the subject of moves today in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I know from my own knowledge that my colleague was discussing these matters with the Victorian Government last night and again this morning. No doubt some announcement will be made by him or by counsel representing the Commonwealth I am not sure which- during today of the attitude of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to these matters which Senator Bishop has mentioned. The legislation to which Senator Bishop referred consists of general reforms in the conciliation and arbitration area. The reforms have been matters of Government policy on which we were elected. The legislation was foreshadowed earlier this year. It has been discussed with the National Labour Consultative Council. The legislation is, as I have said, in the nature of general reform of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Its passage through the Parliament certainly does not hinge on a resolution or otherwise of the State Electricity Commission dispute.
-Can the AttorneyGeneral say when the appointment of the Director of the Institute of Family Studies will be announced?
– The appointment of the Director of the Institute of Family Studies is being considered at present. I think I answered a question quite recently and informed the Senate of the fact that we had had a large number of applications for the position. There have been applications within Australia and from overseas. A panel has been appointed to select the Director. It consists of the Chief Judge of the Family Court, Justice Elizabeth Evatt, Mr Lloyd Phillips of the National Marriage Guidance Council, Dr Jean Martin, Senior Fellow in Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian. National University, Mr Carnsew an officer of my Department and an expert in marriage guidance administration, and Mr Creswell who is the officer in charge of the family law section in my Department. They have already commenced their task. I hope they will be able to make a recommendation to me as soon as possible and that this appointment will be made, certainly early in the new year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer to the $ 100,000 of public money which is to be spent on advertisements in the ethnic Press this week ‘in order to counter misconceptions about the Government’s policies relating to ethnic communities ‘. What factors have led to these misconceptions developing at this time and to the Government’s response at this time to those alleged misconceptions?
– My colleague the honourable Michael MacKellar recently announced a program of advertising of Government programs and assistance to Australians through the ethnic Press. Several departments will be involved in preparing advertisements which will give information with regard to programs and access to assistance. I would not class this as a misconception about Government, policy but rather a means of giving information to those who may not be aware of it. There is in my own department a considerable degree of advertising and other means of communication of our programs but we will participate in this new program announced by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. All Australians would agree that there is a language disadvantage for those who may read only ethnic Press and publications. This is an effort by the Government to clear in the minds of those who read ethnic papers the programs and opportunities for assistance that the Government provides. I hope that a program of this kind has the support of the Opposition in believing that migrants who do not nave at their disposal the same information as other Australians from pamphlets and other publications will now have extra assistance under this new program.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. I am not sure whether Senator Mulvihill has asked this question. In view of the concern shown in some sectors of the Northern Territory that the Kakadu National Park should be proclaimed before uranium mining commences, can the Minister indicate what stage planning for the park has reached? What organisations or Government departments are participating in the planning? On what approximate date is it expected that Kakadu National Park will be proclaimed?
-Senator Kilgariff’s question is distinctly different from that asked by Senator Mulvihill although it relates to the speedy establishment of the Kakadu National Park. My advice is that the plan of management for the Kakadu National Park will be prepared as soon as practicable after the park has been proclaimed. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act sets out the procedures that must be followed both for proclamation and the preparation of the plan of” management. They provide for extensive public participation. The Director of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service is at present gathering all the preliminary and basic information which will be needed to begin preparation of the plan of management. A critical factor will be the availability of survey information to fix boundaries of the park and those areas that are to be excised as recommended in the report of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry and subsequently agreed on by the Government. Preliminary discussions have been held with most of the relevant Northern Territory and Commonwealth authorities and more discussions are proposed in the near future. It should be emphasised that the process of preparation of the management plan is a highly skilled one. That is particularly the case with Kakadu because of the great variety of interests involved and the unique nature of the terrain and biological features.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. What progress has been made in obtaining a reply to a question on notice which I asked on 1 3 October 1977, and which is listed on the Notice
Paper as question No. 1 45 8? I shall repeat part of the question because of the urgency of the matter. I asked:
Has the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service nutrition program been approved and recommended by both the Aboriginal health section of the New South Wales Health Commission and the Aboriginal health branch of the Australian Department of Health?
The second part of the question was directed at obtaining an early reply so that this organisation will know what it will be able to do in the current financial year. I merely ask the Minister: What progress has been made?
– I will refer again to the Minister for Health the matter that has been raised and endeavour to obtain an early answer to the question that was asked on 13 October about the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Minister will recall that on Tuesday I asked him a question about international action relating to terrorist incidents, such as the recent coldblooded murder of a Lufthansa pilot. Can the Minister inform the Senate the current domestic position relating to terrorism? Has action been taken to protect Australia and Australians from such incidents?
-I well remember the honourable senator’s question. I think Senator Wright asked me a similar question yesterday, as did Senator Young earlier in the week. Other honourable senators also have expressed an interest in the matter. Because of the known interest in this matter I have had a briefing paper prepared which I seek the indulgence of the Senate to read. It will take about two minutes to do so.
I can inform the Senate that the recent events of which we are all aware have drawn attention again to the real dangers posed by the activities of terrorist groups. I inform the Senate that the Commonwealth and State governments are and have been for a number of years actively engaged in developing contingency plans to deal with any international terrorist incident which might occur either in Australia or in another country affecting Australian lives and interests. The Commonwealth places proper importance on anti-terrorist precautions. Contingency plans have existed for some time and are regularly updated. Commonwealth departments and authorities work in close consultation with the relevant authorities in the States and Territories. The States also have their contingency plans but, naturally, they are not matters to be canvassed publicly.
There is special machinery which provides advice to the Commonwealth Government on counter-terrorist matters, precautionary arrangements and intelligence co-ordination. Precautionary measures are maintained and procedures and arrangements to respond to and deal with such incidents, should they occur in Australia, have been established and are under constant review. Joint Commonwealth-State exercises are held to test and develop the effectiveness of the system and the close co-operation which exists between the Commonwealth and the States at all levels. It will be evident from what I have said that, together with the States, we are taking very seriously the whole problem of terrorist threats. Finally, I am glad to say that whenever the matter has been raised with the States they have given us marvellous and very close co-operation.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate in respect of the same matter. I preface it by stating my experience some time ago on an international flight when I was shown the offensive weapons that had been confiscated from passengers who had been permitted to join that aircraft on the flight to Europe. I ask: If an offensive weapon is confiscated from a person boarding an aircraft is that person still permitted under the present law to fly on that aircraft? If that is the case, is that not a matter that ought to be looked at?
-The Leader of the Opposition has raised a very interesting point. I do not think I ought to attempt to proffer a view on it without seeking advice. I will certainly seek it and see whether I can inform the Senate later as to the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, in view of the continuous controversy in the media about adult migrant education, inform the Senate of the latest situation with respect to the supply and demand for adult migrant education services.
-I have followed with keen interest the discussions in the media on this matter, which is of considerable importance. The Government is considering how it can, in conjunction with the States, expand facilities for migrants generally. So that honourable senators will understand the present position, I should indicate that this Government has greatly expanded the facilities. For example, in 1972-73 national enrolments totalled 60,000. In the following year, 1973-74, they totalled 66,000 and in 1974-75, 75,000. In the following year the then Government froze the enrolments at 75,000.
In the first year of the Fraser Government, 1976-77, there were 88,000, or a 17.3 per cent increase. Honourable senators may be interested to know that in 1973 a survey was done entitled A Decade of Migrant Settlement’ and that this showed some quite alarming situations. It showed that, of heads of households, 54.4 per cent of Italians, 6 1 . 1 per cent of Greeks and 70.6 per cent of Yugoslavs had not undertaken English language courses, and that the percentage was likely to be worse for other family members, particularly women. When this Government came to office it inherited a backlag and, as I have said, we have produced an expansion. As I stated to honourable senators in recent days, new factors, relating particularly to refugees and unemployment, have made the problem more complex. We are looking at ways to use facilities to widen services. We have already made significant increases in the provision of finance, where possible, and I hope that we will be able to do more. The problem is highly complex and has existed for a long time, but expansion is now taking place in a very real way.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security whether it is a fact that 6,000 rural producers are now receiving unemployment benefits? Has she noted the remarks last week of the honourable member for Dawson, in which he deplored the fact that primary producers with no means, and suffering hardship, were having their unemployment benefits withdrawn as a result of new procedures in the Department of Social Security? Has she investigated the circumstances, and are they the result of new work-testing procedures of the Commonwealth Employment Service which forbid the Department to pay the applicant even when it is aware that extreme hardship exists? Have these persons, whose unemployment benefits have been withdrawn, been told of their right of appeal and right to apply for special benefit? Finally, are these new guidelines affecting primary producers in all areas of Australia?
– I shall investigate the several matters raised by the honourable senator with regard to primary producers and their eligibility for unemployment benefits. I will also investigate any specific matters that were raised by the honourable member for Dawson and ensure that anyone who applies for unemployment benefits is advised that he has a right of appeal against the decision. I will also have drawn to the attention of people without income the special benefit procedures that do operate at the discretion of the Director-General. The many questions that have been raised will have consideration, and information on them will be supplied.
– by leave- Yesterday, when I tabled the report of the Royal Military College, Senators Rae and Georges sought certain information. I would like to inform the Senate of the advice thereon that I have since received from the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). The report is prepared after the return of the College in February each year and is considered at the first meeting of the Interim Council of the College, which takes place in mid-March. This year, after the Council considered the report in March it was ready for sending to the Department of Defence (Army) on 28 April. The Army Office processed it and sent it to the Government Printer on 8 June. Printing of two proofs and proof reading took until 26 August, when the final copy was sent for printing. Completed copies were returned by the Government Printer to the Royal Military College on 16 September, which forwarded them for consideration by the Minister before tabling at the end of September.
It has always been the practice to table the report during the Budget session. Previous dates are as follows: 1969, 15 September 1970; 1970, 8 September 1971; 1971, 21 September 1972; 1972, 6 November 1973; 1973, 18 September 1974; 1974, 1 October 1975; and 1975, 7 December 1976. Honourable senators will be interested to know that consideration is being given to means of enabling the report to be ready earlier in the future. I am well aware of the questions that have been asked and the remarks that have been made in this place by Senator Rae, Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Georges. I have issued certain instructions to my Department about the delay in presenting these reports to the Parliament. I certainly will pursue this matter quite actively with my ministerial colleagues.
– Pursuant to section 8 of the Poultry Industry Assistance Act 1965 I present the annual report on the operation of that Act during the year ended 30 June 1977.
-by leave- I move:
I should like to make a few brief remarks. It is unfortunate that I have not had an opportunity to look at the report. I sound a note of warning about the problems that could face the poultry industry. I am referring to the introduction of Newcastle disease into this country. If it took hold, it could wipe out all the commercial flocks in this country. We have seen evidence in recent times- because of the illegal importation of birds from overseas- that the poultry industry in Australia is under severe threat. It was under threat to such an extent that the Government- I commend it for the action it took- had to take action to destroy birds in aviaries which contained illegally imported birds. I hope that the Government continues to keep a very close watch on people who are importing into this country birds which are infected with Newcastle disease. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Industries Assistance Commission on stranded wire, cables, et cetera, of copper; insulated electric wire, cable, et cetera.
-I present a report from the Joint Committee on Publications on the purpose, scope and distribution of the Parliamentary Papers Series, together with the transcript of evidence.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-by leave-I move:
This is the fourth special report presented to the Parliament by the Joint Committee on Publications since its investigatory powers were conferred upon it by amendments to the Standing Orders in 1970. The inquiry was initiated by the
Committee in June 1976 to ascertain whether, in the opinion of the Committee, the Parliamentary Papers Series of the Commonwealth Parliament was fulfilling adequately its intended purpose and, if so, whether this was being achieved in the most economic and efficient manner. The Committee noted that no thorough investigation of the content and effectiveness of the Series had taken place since the presentation of the report of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications in 1964- often referred to as the Erwin report after its Chairman, the Honourable Dudley Erwin.
Content of the Parliamentary Papers Series
Since 1967 the content of the Parliamentary Papers Series has been determined, in the main, by the Joint Committee on Publications, following the recommendations of the 1964 Erwin Committee report. In that report certain guidelines were laid down to encourage future Publications Committees to establish and maintain a comprehensive and consistent Series. The main advantage of a consistent Series remains unchanged from 1964, namely, that researchers, librarians and other users of the Series can anticipate, with relative confidence, the likely content of the Series from year to year. More recently, the establishment of a consistent Series has enabled the Australian Government Publishing Service, on advice from the Parliament, to arrange the simultaneous printing of the departmental and Parliamentary Paper versions of a report. The resulting cost savings from undertaking only one production run for two separate jobs are considerable. The Committee reaffirms the general conclusions of the Erwin Committee with regard to the consistency of the Series and has made a recommendation designed to reinforce this aspect of the Series. The Committee has added only slightly to the Erwin Committee content guidelines by including documents which comprise the Australian Treaty Series and Reports of Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry.
In 1971, in its report on distribution and pricing of parliamentary publications, the Committee recommended that the free distribution list for the principal parliamentary publications be rationalised and up-dated. It recommended that each addressee be limited to the receipt of one copy only of each of the principal parliamentary publications, e.g. Parliamentary Papers, Hansard, Notice Papers, upon request. ,ne Committee examined its 1971 recommendation and found that, in the main, its previous recommendations on this matter were still sound and only minor variations to up-date the recommendation were considered necessary. The Committee did not make any recommendations concerning the free distribution of Hansard in this report. It took the view that any examination of the extent of free distribution of Hansard should be the subject of a separate investigation by the Committee at a later date.
The Committee was informed that the cost of producing the Parliamentary Papers Series in the financial year 1977-78 is likely to reach Sim. With this in mind the Committee was most concerned to remove any duplication of distribution or any wastage which might occur under the present distribution arrangements. The Committee was pleased to discover that in the main such wastage was minimal. In only one area did the Committee determine that it was necessary to amend the distribution arrangements of the Series to avoid wastage, namely, where Members of Parliament receive a copy of a report on tabling, duplication should be avoided by excluding members from receipt of the Parliamentary Paper version.
One of the prime concerns of the Committee relates to the increasing cost involved in producing the Series. For example, it was informed that in 1970-71 the cost of producing the Series was $107,580; in 1975-76 that cost had increased to $729,716. As previously mentioned, the cost in 1977-78 will approach $lm. The Committee was keen to determine the principal factors involved with the increasing cost of producing the Series and whether any action taken by the Committee could reduce that cost or at least slow down the rate of increase. It narrowed the increasing cost to four main factors, namely, (a) the increased size of the individual publications included in the Series; (b) escalating costs involved with printing, binding et cetera and the supply of labour; (c) a tendency for more reports to be prepared by certain more expedient but relatively expensive processes; and (d) a failure by author bodies to observe production guidelines and procedures laid down by the Australian Government Publishing Service when producing simultaneously the departmental and Parliamentary Paper versions of reports.
The Committee determined that the first two factors, namely, the size of individual publications and increasing costs of production, were outside the terms of its inquiry and that it would be in a position to comment on these matters in the course of future inquiries. It has, however, made recommendations which are designed to encourage departments to make greater use of less expensive production processes. The Committee also recommended enforcing AGPS production procedures laid down by AGPS circulars. It recommends that, in the event of an author body failing to follow AGPS procedures and, as a result, additional costs flow on to the production of the Parliamentary Paper version, those additional costs be met by the originating department rather than by the Parliamentary House Departments as is the present situation. The Committee hopes that the implementation of this recommendation will provide an incentive for author bodies to avoid the use of unnecessarily costly methods and material during the production process.
Delay in Publication of the Series
The other main concern of the Committee was the delay in the publication of the Parliamentary Papers Series. The Committee found that the present procedures which apply following the tabling of a report in Parliament and leading to the eventual printing of that document as a parliamentary paper are cumbersome and require streamlining. Under present arrangements the parliamentary paper version of a report normally does not become available for some eight to nine months after the original tabling. The Committee feels that such a situation is intolerable. Such delays reduce the practical use of the Series to that of an archival research tool rather than offering a Series which provides the community with current and up-to-date information on the affairs of Parliament and government.
Ordinarily, the completion of the parliamentary paper version of a tabled report is undertaken by the printer who produced the original departmental tabling version. In most cases, these are contract printers employed by the Australian Government Publishing Service. The Committee has recommended that the Government Printer undertake the completion of the Series from the beginning of” 1978. The implementation of this recommendation would co-ordinate and simplify the procedures involved in completing the Series. Its implementation would shorten delays caused by the preparation of design specifications and setting type because of the familiarity of the Government Printer with this type of work. It would certainly reduce considerably the delays associated with the movement of proofs between the AGPS, the contract printer and the Parliament, and would enable direct contact to take place between the Government Printer and parliamentary officers. The implementation of these recommendations would bring the production of the Series into line with the production of the other principal parliamentary publications.
In past years, the Committee consistently has expressed concern over the late tabling of many of the reports presented to Parliament. Members of both Houses, particularly in recent times, have complained of this growing trend. Because of the Committee’s concern in this area and the fact that late tabling necessarily means that the currency of the Parliamentary Papers Series is adversely affected, the Committee has recommended the establishment of parliamentary machinery which is designed to encourage the more timely tabling of reports in Parliament. If the recommendations are implemented, members of parliament will be advised of those reports of government which have not been tabled within a reasonable period of time following the completion of the period to which each report refers. It would also ensure a continuing involvement by the Committee in this most important area of executive accountability to Parliament.
The Committee feels that greater use should be made of the photo-typesetting equipment recently installed at the Government Printing Office. It feels that the time taken to produce most publications could be reduced by employing this equipment. At this stage the Committee suggests that the extension of the use of this equipment be limited to the production of parliamentary committee reports which make up part of the Parliamentary Papers Series and the transcripts of committee evidence.
Evidence was given to the Committee that a reduction in the costs involved in the storage, distribution, ease of retrieval of information, etcetera, of the Parliamentary Papers Series could be achieved if the series was reproduced in a microform. The Committee accepts the evidence given on this subject and recommends that when production and financial considerations permit, the Parliamentary Papers Series be produced in a microform version as well as in hard copy.
One factor which was brought out in evidence revealed, in the Committee’s opinion, an inconsistency with the distribution of government publications through the AGPS deposit. Currently there are 25 recipients of the AGPS deposit, namely, national, university, and Commonwealth parliamentary librarians. The
Committee feels that the category of State parliamentary librarian should be added to the AGPS deposit and has recommended accordingly.
In conclusion, as Deputy Chairman of the Committee, I would like to join the Chairman, Mr John Hodges, M.P., in thanking the other members of the Committee for the work which they have undertaken to complete this inquiry. I add that the great work of Mr Wharton and the other staff to the Committee has been most invaluable to the members of the Committee. We are very grateful to the staff for the work they have done. The report is the first of its type for a number of years carried out by the Joint Committee on Publications and I feel sure that all members of the Committee enjoyed the experience. I commend the report to honourable senators.
– I commend Senator Missen and the members of the Joint Committee on Publications for the report that has now been presented by them to the Parliament. From a very quick perusal of the report, I believe that they have done an excellent job and got to the nub of the problems that confronted the Parliament and the parliamentary process in dealing with the multifarious and numerous publications that come through the parliamentary sphere from time to time. It is interesting to observe that in a period of eight years the cost of the printing and publication of parliamentary papers has increased from about $100,000 in 1970 to about $lm in 1977-78. One wonders, having regard to that type of expenditure involved and the type of distribution that has occurred to date, whether the public and the community at large have been getting value for the money that has been involved. Certainly, this has been a desire on the part of the Committee. It has given consideration to a reduction in costs and also the better distribution of such papers.
I sincerely hope that time will be made available at some time either in the life of this Parliament or of some future Parliament for adequate debate on this very detailed and important report. I particularly want to refer to that section of Senator Missen ‘s statement dealing with the delay in publication of the Series and the recommendations that appear on page 6 of the Committee’s report under the heading ‘Content of the Parliamentary Papers Series’. This matter has been the subject of comment in the Parliament on a number of occasions. I have raised it from time to time. My colleague, Senator Georges the Opposition Whip, has raised the matter from time to time. Senator Rae, only a couple of weeks ago, moved a motion seeking the referral of the question of the lateness of the annual report of the National Gallery being presented to the Parliament to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. Only yesterday, mention was made of the report of the Royal Military College for 1976 being tabled in the Parliament in October 1977. Senator Withers made a detailed report in reply to Senator Rae’s comment on that aspect this morning.
I am delighted that the Committee has given a great deal of consideration to that and has proposed that in the new guidelines to be set up the Clerks of the Parliament will advise the chairman of the Committee on any occasion when an author body has failed to meet a statutory requirement to table its annual report, return or other document within the stated statutory period, or within a reasonable period of time following the completion of the period to which the report refers. Also, at the conclusion of each year’s sitting, or as often as may be deemed necessary, the Committee will table a return in Parliament recording the titles of those reports of author bodies which have not been tabled during the stated statutory period or within a reasonable period of time following the completion of the period to which the report refers. I am pleased the Committee has made those two recommendations along with a number of other recommendations which I will not weary the Senate with at this time.
In the time I have been in this Parliament it has appeared to me that there has been a tendency on the part of statutory authorities which are charged with the responsibility of reporting annually to Parliament to come to the belief that the report they must tender to the Parliament does not really matter because probably few people read it. No matter how many people do read the report, whether it be only a few or whether the number be quite large, that report is of great importance to the people who read it. It is only when the report is received, tabled in Parliament and given adequate debate that it will become effective. I think that the Committee has done a very good job. I congratulate Senator Missen and all the other members on the job they have done. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
– by leave- Mr President, may I address myself to the motion?
-It is manifestly impossible for more than very cursory observations to be made on the tabling of the report on the Royal Military College by Senator Missen. It seems to me even from the lengthy presentation of the report by Senator Missen, to which I offer no objections, that there seems to be obscured in the report a problem which is not dealt with. I wish, to mention just for five minutes, with the permission of honourable senators what I see to be the omission in the report.
First of all, the report does not deal with the subject of what I described as bureaucratic inertia. The report on the Royal Military Collegethe Duntroon report- is a perfect illustration of bureaucratic inertia. This does not seem to be confined, I might add, to the report on the Royal Military College or the Department of the Army in the Department of Defence. It is a characteristic of the bureaucratic system, anyway. Therefore, the report does not address itself, it seems to me, to that context. That is where a large element of the delay in the presentation of papers occurs. This is not confined only to the area of the great departments of state. This problem of inertia is inherent in the bureaucratic structure whether it relates to Parliament or to great departments of state. How on earth we can overcome this problem of inertia, I do not know.
The second matter that does not seem to me to be clear is that, although there has been an improvement in the technology of printing, which any visitor to the Government Printing Office can see- and I am sure Senator Withers would arrange for a visit at any time any honourable senator wishes to do so- the inertia itself still creates a problem and there seems to be no priority in the context of the production of reports. However, I will absolve the Government Printing Office from blame because, from my experience of the printing of parliamentary papers, I think the Parliament should be extraordinarily grateful to the Office. I mention the printing of committee reports, in respect of which there is urgency from time to time. The Government Printer is able to expedite the production of these reports with great speed and, I think, with great professional skill. So I exclude the Government Printer from blame. I think the Government Printer is all right. I think the Parliament should be grateful to the Government Printer for the technology that has been evolved by his Office. But in itself this is useless unless some drive comes from the area of ministerial responsibility to overcome the inertia that exists inside the bureaucratic structure. I am afraid that that is the nature of the beast and there is no scientific evidence available to me at the present moment how speed can be inserted into the system.
I come to the third matter to which I wish to address myself. Some years ago, enthusiasts in the Australian private sector began to give prizes for the best production of annual reports. It became a competition amongst the corporate structure in Australia for producing reports and prizes were given for the best presentations. What has happened, oddly enough, is that by this sort of mirror system that we find ourselves in it has now become the habit of Government departments themselves to follow the corporate structure method of producing reports with expensive covers of one sort or another and very complicated methods of reproduction. I suggest that it is time that we went back to a sensible system involving a standardised form of presentation of reports. I put that proposal forward as emphatically as I can. The Government itself should turn its attention to this matter. Senator Withers has been called out of the Senate for the moment. He does not read the newspapers but no doubt his secretaries read Hansard. As the Minister responsible in this area, perhaps he may lay down or examine the need for an instruction for a standardised form for the production of reports. If we can get even that simple administrative addition to the bureaucratic structure we may be able to speed up the production of reports and Government publications. I commend those views to the interest of honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Carrick) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Lands Acquisition Amendment Bill 1977.
Non-Government Schools ( Loans Guarantee) Bill 1 977.
Office of National Assessments Bill 1977.
– by leave-In September I tabled in the Senate, the reports prepared by the Schools Commission and the Tertiary Education Commission in response to the Government’s guidelines for the 1978-80 rolling triennium. At that time I drew attention to the fact that both commissions had confined themselves essentially to making firm recommendations for 1978 only. Both commissions have proposed comprehensive reports early in 1978 on the needs and priorities of their respective areas covering the period 1979-81 which will also include financial allocations within the existing planning guidelines for 1979 and 1980- The Government has accepted this plan of action by the commissions and looks to the reports to provide valuable advice for the framing of the guidelines for the 1979-81 rolling triennium-
The guidelines provided by the Government enabled the commissions to recommend programs for 1978 totalling $1,740. 7m, at December 1976 cost levels. The wages and salaries components of recurrent grants which, of course, comprise the major part of education expenditure, will be fully supplemented for cost increases in 1978. The effect of the guidelines has been to establish base levels of expenditure for 1978 at the same real level as for 1977 in the case of universities, colleges of advanced education and schools. For technical and further education the 1978 base level of expenditure will be 10 per cent higher in real terms than for 1 977.
I turn now to the programs in each sector.
The Government has accepted the financial recommendations of the Tertiary Education Commission for the expenditure of recurrent and capital funds in respect of universities, colleges of advanced education and technical and further education. Accordingly the following base level of funds will be provided for 1978: $m (December 1976 Cost Levels)
In accepting the Commission’s financial recommendations, the Government has agreed to the proposed small adjustments to capital expenditure for each sector. This transfer arose from the Commission’s review of capital projects required by the guidelines and reflects its estimate of likely cash flow for the building program in the advanced education sector in 1 978. However, all projects contained in the Advanced Education Council’s program for 1978 have been retained and will proceed. The Government has also accepted the proposals for an increase in expenditure of $3m for technical college buildings in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and for an additional $2m to be made available for university capital projects to provide a building for student and staff facilities and administration at Deakin University.
The Commission had also proposed that the Minister be empowered under States grants legislation to effect transfers of funds as recommended by the Commission. The Government believes it is essential to the co-ordination and rationalisation roles of the Commission that it have as much flexibility as possible. The Government has decided therefore that, as an extension to existing arrangements, the Minister should be empowered to effect transfers of capital funds between sectors and between States after advice from the Commission. The States grants legislation will provide that any transfers will be subject to prior consultation by the Commission with the appropriate State authorities and that the details of any such transfers will be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament as soon as practicable.
The Government’s expenditure program for schools in 1978 amounts to $57 lm in December 1976 cost levels. Government schools will receive $337.3m, and non-government schools $2 10.2m; while $23.4m is to be shared jointly between the government and non-government sectors. Details of proposed expenditure on individual programs in each State are shown in the table that follows. As indicated in my statement of 8 September when I tabled the Commission’s report, the Government has taken its decisions having regard to those allocations of the Commission which are consistent with the guidelines. It has accepted all of the proposals made by the Commission on this basis. The recommendations accepted provide for the continuation of all existing programs for government and non-government schools. These are: General resources programs- general recurrent grants, including funds for child migrant and multi-cultural education, emergency aid for nongovernment schools, and capital grants; specific purpose programs- disadvantaged schools and schools in disadvantaged country areas, special education for handicapped children including children living in institutions, development and services including education centres, and special projects including funds for school based innovations.
I deal first with government schools. The recommendations of the Commission which the Government has accepted provide for programs for government schools of $209.4m for recurrent expenditure and $ 127.9m for capital; the break-up of general resources grants being in accordance with the wishes of the States. This compares with programs of $2 13.5m for recurrent and $ 134.1m for capital in 1977. The slightly lower level of Schools Commission grants to government schools in the States in 1978 needs to be considered against the broader context of total funds available to the State governments. Schools Commission grants represent about 15 per cent of the total cost of government schools in the States and are provided as a topping up of State government resources. Thus the Commonwealth’s revenue sharing grants to the States are highly significant in considering funding for government schools. In assessing the financial resources available to government schools, both the general revenue and capital funds allocated to them by the States and by Schools Commission funding must be taken together. With an increase in Commonwealth payments to the States this financial year of more than $600m or 17 per cent under the tax sharing arrangements, the States have ample capacity to further increase their spending on education if they wish.
Although the resource levels in nongovernment schools have increased the Commission’s report reveals that the gap between the average levels of resource usage in government and non-government schools has widened since 1972. It is to help reduce further deterioration in the relative position of non-government schools, that the Government has accepted the recommendation made by the Commission in its 1977-79 report, and reaffirmed in its report for 1978, that per capita grants for non-government schools should be linked to per pupil running costs in government schools. This link, together with enrolment increases and changes in levels of support is expected to cost an additional $8. 8m in 1978. The Commission in its 1977-79 report expressed itself sympathetic to the difficulties facing those who seek to start new nongovernment schools and noted that stationary funds in non- government schools effectively placed limits on future enrolments. The Government has decided to provide in 1978 an additional $3m in capital grants to nongovernment schools specifically to assist building programs in newly expanding areas of population, to be allocated on a needs basis on the recommendations of planning and finance committees. The Government has also decided, in line with its long-standing policy, to allocate $2m as a first step in raising per capita grants to nongovernment schools in levels one and two to a basic 20 per cent of government school running costs. The per pupil amounts for 1978 compared with those in 1977, in March 1977 price levels and expressed as percentages of standard government school costs, are set out below. These amounts will, of course, be paid in terms of the relevant price levels which obtain in 1978.
Non-government general recurrent grants for 1978 will continue to be distributed in the same manner as in 1977. Block grants will be paid to central authorities for systemic schools, while individual non-systemic schools will receive direct payments. The Government has accepted the Commission’s recommendation that funding for the emergency assistance scheme of $500,000 would be appropriate next year within the total funds available. This scheme provides emergency grants to non-government schools suffering severe financial difficulties as a result of an unexpected drop in enrolments of country students.
I turn now to specific purpose programs. The Government will be continuing programs for disadvantaged schools and country areas, and for special education including provision for children in institutions, at the same base level as in 1977. As recommended by the Commission, the base program for migrant and multi-cultural education, while the same in total, has been adjusted between States and systems to bring the payments more into line with the actual distribution of migrant children.
An amount of $ 14.8m will be provided for the services and development program for 1978. The Government has accepted the Commission’s recommendation that the allocations for development activities and associated staff replacement should be combined to give more flexibility to the States. For the special projects program, the Government has accepted the proposed allocation of $3.6m to be comprised of $3m for school level innovations and S0.6m for national level activities. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard tables summarising the financial details of the approved programs for tertiary education and for schools in the States.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The tables read as follows-
SUMMARY EDUCATION COMMISSIONS EXPENDITURE PROGRAMS
(December 1976 cost levels) $m
GRANTS FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION FOR 1978
(December 1976 cost levels) $m
-I present the following paper:
Programs of the Education Commissions for the 1978-80 Rolling Triennium-Ministerial Statement, 20 October 1977.
I seek leave to move a motion in respect of it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrockman) Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-by leaveThe Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) said that the programs for country areas will be continued at the same base level as in 1977. What is the reason for not improving the basis for country areas when previously an extra $500,000 was allocated for non-government schools which may suffer a drop in enrolment due to a paucity of students from country areas.
Senator CARRICK (New South WalesMinister for Education)- The disadvantaged schools program in the metropolitan area nas been in existence for some years. Last year it was extended to the country areas. It relates to the disadvantaged country area programs. It is in its initial stages. The amount of money is relatively inflexible. I do not think it can be compared with the amount for emergency services. The amount of money for emergency services is a figure set aside each year to keep viable schools which get into some disability and need instant support. There is no co-relation between the two. The amount of money is relatively small. It has to be drawn upon each year. In itself, it is a modest sum compared with the demands which might be placed upon it.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 1.48 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That at 8 p.m. tonight after the consideration of General Business, Notice of Motion No. .1, intervening General Business be postponed until after consideration of Order of the Day No. 3 relating to the consideration of a report from the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and Order of the Day No. 2 for consideration of a report from the Standing Committee on Education and the Arts.
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 10 a.m. and that at S p.m., unless otherwise ordered, and notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the President shall put the question That the Senate do now adjourn’, which question shall not be open to debate.
As far as I was able, I indicated to honourable senators yesterday and again this morning that the Government desired the Senate to sit tomorrow As all honourable senators would know, the Government has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives in relation to which it anticipates a message being read in this place at 8 p.m. tonight and the debate on that legislation taking place in this chamber tomorrow. For reasons that I think will be explained in the second reading speech when that legislation is introduced, the Government desires that legislation to be passed this week.
– The Opposition opposes the proposition that has been put forward by Senator Withers, namely, that the Senate sit at 10 a.m. tomorrow and that, notwithstanding anything else that may happen, at 5 p.m. tomorrow you, Mr President, shall put the question forthwith ‘That the Senate do now adjourn’, upon which question there shall be no debate. Might I say that it was only at about 10.30 this morning- it may have been about 10.15 this morning- that we learned officially that we would be asked to sit in this chamber tomorrow to consider some legislation that is now before the House of Representatives. This is the second time this year that the Government has introduced in hasty manner legislation that the Opposition collectively as a party has not been able to consider at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labor Party, and the second time this year that the Government has expected members of the Opposition to sit idly by and allow a motion of this nature to pass without comment.
I think it was toward the end of last session, although it may have been earlier this session, the Senate was asked to sit on a Friday, again in connection with industrial legislation. That legislation, which was ill conceived legislation, was presented to the Parliament in a very hasty manner, so much so that one of the Government senators- Senator Knight from the Australian Capital Territory- said at the time that he had some doubts as to whether he should support it but when a vote was taken on it he supported it. That legislation was introduced in that vein. I am told by my colleague in another place, Mr Willis, that the legislation that it is contemplated will be dealt with by the Senate tomorrow- that the Government has asked the Senate to deal with tomorrow- is legislation of a very complex nature. It relates to the deregistration of unions and to the deregistration of one section of a union against another section of a union. It is legislation that could have serious industrial consequences, legislation that could well be the subject of a contest in the Federal Court of Australia and legislation that could well be contested in the High Court of Australia.
The Senate is being asked to sit tomorrow for the purpose of approving legislation which at this very moment has not been seen by honourable senators in this chamber. I said earlier this year that the Government was making the Parliament and the parliamentary process an utter farce. The Government espouses full and open discussion on all matters except those that, for electoral purposes and for cheap political purposes, it wishes to hush up until the last moment in the hope that it will get some political capital out of doing so. A difficult industrial situation certainly exists in the Latrobe Valley of Victoria.
We understand that; we know that. It exists principally because of the Government’s economic policies. I understand that another sitting of the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has been convened to try to achieve a settlement of that dispute. Inflammatory legislation of the type which the Senate is expected to debate tomorrow and which has not been introduced in this chamber must have the effect of inflaming the parties to what we hope are conciliatory moves that are going on at present.
We suggest that the action of the Government in asking the Senate to sit tomorrow to consider the legislation is not for the purpose of curing industrial unrest. The Government’s actions are designed to cause industrial chaos. The employers of this nation- the manufacturers of this nation- are as concerned about this type of legislation as are the employees in the work force. We were told this morning that the Senate would sit until about 5 p.m. tomorrow. If satisfactory progress is not being made the legislation probably will be guillotined or gagged by the Government at about 4.30 p.m. This has happened in a week in which not one Bill has been introduced into the Senate. This has been the pattern of the sittings of the Senate since the Parliament was reconvened in August. We know that, but for urgency motions being moved by the Opposition and but for our proceeding with General Business debates, the Government would have been hard put to keep this chamber in session.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSomeone said ‘nonsense’. I would say that less legislation has gone through this chamber this session than in any other sessional period in the 16 years that I have been a member of this Parliament.
– A very healthy step in the right direction.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDSenator Chaney said that it is a very healthy step in the right direction. That only illustrates to me what a farce the Government is making of the parliamentary process.
– It does not believe in the Parliament.
-The Government does not believe in the Parliament and it does not believe in the right of the Opposition to debate certain issues in the Parliament. It is a farce, it is a sham and it is a smokescreen for the creation of an election issue. The Government knows that it cannot handle the economy, that the economy is getting completely out of hand. The government knows that things are going to be so bad next year because of its policies this year. In typical fashion it is looking for someone else to blame. This is the Government’s excuse for holding an election. For a long time the Government has been saying that it needed a full three-year term of office to overcome the economic problems. We now find the Government introducing this type of legislation which it expects the Senate to debate tomorrow and which has not been seen in this chamber to this very minute. All I can say is that this is just a farce. As I have said, the Opposition opposes the motion put forward by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– I raise my voice in protest against this procedure. It is a protest that I repeat every session when industrial legislation is brought in during the last days of a session and accompanied by a gag motion designed to prevent the Opposition debating that legislation fully. On the last day of the sitting in June we had amendments to the trade practices legislation for the purpose of encompassing industrial organisations. We had amendments to the industrial code legislation for the purpose of establishing the Industrial Relations Bureau, and gag motions were applied on the ground that it was a matter of urgency that the legislation be passed on that last day. The Industrial Relations Bureau legislation has not yet been proclaimed, but we had to sit on a Friday to pass it as a matter of urgency because we were told the country needed it! It was clearly not urgent at all.
In regard to the legislation now under discussion, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) has stated on the radio that it has been under consideration and preparation for weeks. It is not connected with the Latrobe Valley problem. It is an improvement, he tells us, to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Therefore it is not urgent. There is not some crisis, in Mr Street’s own words, that demands that we get the legislation through this week. The object is really to stop proper debate on the legislation.
Having obtained a copy of the Bill, which covers some 28 pages of very intricate matter, which it would take greater capabilities than my own to understand, I went down to the Records Office to obtain a copy of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I find that they have a composite copy made up to 1 976, and that there are seven groups of amendments, covering many pages, that one has to consolidate before one knows what the Act is all about. There is no one in this chamber unless he be an adviser to the Minister, who could tell us what section 132 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is about. One would have to study possibly six or seven documents to know what it is, and what we seek to change in the legislation under discussion. I do not think it is fair to the large section of the working class community involved that legislation governing their whole lives and operations should be pushed through this chamber, on every occasion, on the last day of sitting, on the basis that some urgency has arisen.
I endorse the remarks of Senator Douglas McClelland to the effect that the Government wants to introduce the legislation as an election ploy because it believes that it cannot win at the polls next year. Mr Anthony himself has said that there is justification for it, ‘because what can we do in the six months of government remaining’? The suggestion is not that it will mean six months plus another three years of office for this governmentbut that the Government will be in office for six months only if it does not get an election now. So, for the purposes of an election, we are having legislation rushed through this House, without honourable senators knowing what it is all about and suffering from an inability to study it in the time available.
It is said that it is greatly urgent. We see that sections 5, 11, 15, 17, 18, 19 and 21, paragraphs 23 (a) and (b), and sections 24, 25, 28 and 31 shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed by proclamation. It will not come into operation with the Government’s consent if consideration extends beyond tomorrow. All of the vital clauses come into play at such time as the Government decides; therefore it is not urgent. If there were some urgency, the settling of some dispute -
– I raise a point of order. As I recall- and I am subject to your direction on this- we must not refer in this place to a debate that is current in another place, and the honourable senator is therefore out of order.
-Standing Order 416 so provides- unless the matter is relevant to the business then before the Senate.
– Do you want to sit here tomorrow and just play marbles?
– The motion before the Senate at the present time is that of Senator Withers, providing that unless otherwise ordered the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 10 o’clock a.m.
-In discussing that the question is: Why should we sit at 10 o’clock- an unusual time to meet- on a Friday. The Minister has told us that the passage of the Bill is essential but I am pointing out that it is not, other than for the Government’s political purposes; that it is not essential for industrial relations, nor for the good of Australia, and that in the process the Government is making a farce of the Parliament.
I am trying to demonstrate this by showing what is in the Bill and that, although we are talking about urgency, we are asked to leave it to the Government at some future date to proclaim the legislation. On previous occasions when, after sitting for four or five months, we were compelled to stay back to pass certain legislation, which we were unable properly to discuss and consider because of the way it was rushed through this chamber, that legislation was not proclaimed and it has not yet been proclaimed. Therefore, the Government’s excuses are farcical and simply not borne out by the evidence; its action cannot be justified.
I have in mind the enormity of the legislation, for whether or not we believe in trade unions or the worker’s right to strike, such actions have grown up over the years in this country and if we were to desire to end them every aspect should first have the fullest and most detailed consideration as to how best this could be done and not dealt with in such a way that the Senate cannot properly take into consideration whether the legislation contains the appropriate clauses.
We have not the time necessary to study the 28 pages of the legislation, nor the earlier complicated amendments that we would first have to consolidate for the purpose of knowing what the present Act is and what we are trying to alter. That is the problem facing senators, and no one in this chamber can claim that he is capable of giving the legislation proper consideration in the time allotted. We are asked to pass it on the assurance of the Minister that the nation needs it. We know from history that it does not. I would ask the Senate not to pass the motion.
– The last two speeches have been very interesting, because they have indicated how greatly out of touch is the Opposition with the Australian people who, I have no doubt, regard any legislation in this field as extremely urgent and probably overdue. It also sits ill in the mouth of a gentleman who supported a guillotine put down by Senator Murphy to push through 42
Bills in about a day and a half. A wonderful exhibition of legislating! In my opinion, it is quite clear that we should proceed to spend the time that is available to us on the business of the chamber and not in arguing about whether we have the time to do it. In furtherance of that, I move:
– On a point of order.
– There is no point of order at this stage. The question must be put without debate or discussion.
– Even if I question the procedures?
– Under the Standing Orders I must put the question.
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put:
That the motion (Senator Withers’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
If the Senate is happy to give me leave, I will have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is npt granted.
-I am quite delighted that the Opposition has not given me leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Nansard. As I observed to one of my colleagues, this is an historic document of great importance. Nothing will make me happier than to read it in this place.
– Keep going and keep to the Bill.
-Would Senator Georges mind not instructing me? I have other people doing that, who pay me. The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy imposed by the Oilseeds Levy Bill 1977 and to establish an Oilseeds Research Trust Account to fund an oilseeds research scheme. This Bill should be read as one with the Oilseeds Levy Bill 1977. The Bill provides for the Act to become operative on the same date on which the Oilseeds Levy Act 1977 comes into operation.
The levy is imposed on the production of oilseeds and growers are liable to pay the levy. However, for practical and administrative reasons the levy will be collected by the Commonwealth from the crusher, or other person, to whom the grower delivers his oilseeds. There is, of course, provision for the crusher, or other person, who pays the levy on behalf of the grower to deduct the amount of the levy from the purchase price of the oilseeds or otherwise recover from the grower an amount of levy paid on his behalf to the Commonwealth.
The Bill provides for the establishment and operation of a joint Commonwealth-industry research scheme for the oilseeds industry. The funds raised by means of the levy will be paid into the Oilseeds Research Trust Account and the Government will provide a matching contribution on a dollar-for-dollar basis to meet expenditure from the Trust Account on approved research projects.
It is the established policy of the Government to foster schemes of this nature to undertake research into the problems that exist in our rural industries. The oilseeds industry will become one of the many primary industries where this joint approach to research between the industry and Government is undertaken. Similar schemes are already operating successfully in respect of the wool, meat, wheat, dairy, pig and chicken meat and other rural industries.
The oilseeds industry in Australia is in a relatively early stage of development. Small quantities of linseed and safflower have been grown for many years but over the past decade an expansion of output particularly in sunflowerseed, rapeseed and soybeans has occurred. Even though the industry is relatively new its value of production is already over $40m annually. About half of Australia’s vegetable oil requirements are imported and it therefore has significant import saving potential.
– This is a change from the Marrickville days when the farmers were against the oilseeds.
– I think the expansion has taken place under the beneficial influence of the McMahon and Fraser Governments.
Moreover oilseed growing represents an important alternative to the more traditional grain crops. The industry is thus one of great potential. There is scope for an expansion in oilseeds production but if this potential is to be realised the industry must develop on a sound basis with an increased research effort to improve yields, combat pests and diseases and develop varieties that are suitable to the Australian environment.
This scheme will contribute to a proper ordering of priorities in oilseeds research. At the same time it will ensure that the funds from the Trust Account are expended on research projects that are additional to and do not merely replace the existing research effort. The proposal for an oilseeds research scheme was initiated by the oil.seeds committee of the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation. The Government has expressed its willingness to participate with the oilseeds industry in a jointly financed research scheme. The Australian Agricultural Council has also endorsed the proposed scheme.
The Bill establishes an Oilseeds Research Committee which will make recommendations concerning expenditure from the Trust Account. The research committee will comprise five members, one from each producing State, representing the oilseeds growing industry and one member each representing the Australian Agricultural Council, the Commonwealth Scientific and industrial Research Organisation, Australian universities and the Department of Primary Industry. The main function of the committee will be to consider research proposals and formulate recommendations on a program of research and on expenditure for the oilseeds industry for approval by the Minister for Primary Industry. Purposes for which moneys from the Account may be expended broadly follow the precedent established for other joint Commonwealth-industry research schemes and will be used for scientific, economic or technical research into the oilseeds industry.
With the expected commencement of the legislation on 1 November and given the seasonal pattern of production involving peak deliveries in summer and autumn, the bulk of the first season’s levy money will become available late in the current financial year. Accordingly, the program of research will not become fully operational until the 1978-79 financial year. The proposed research scheme is a logical extension of the schemes already operating successfully for other rural industries. In the oilseeds industry there are important problems to be overcome. The industry is fully aware of the problems that exist and recognises that a planned research program would assist in determining solutions to these problems.
I consider that the industry has shown a responsible attitude in taking the initiative to bring forward the proposals that are now incorporated in the legislation before the Senate. The Government has conferred with all sections of the oilseeds industry concerning these proposals. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
– I wish to speak to this motion because I believe we have come to a point where co-operation in the Senate is breaking down. For that reason I want to make it perfectly clear that if the Government intends to behave as it has today it will find that we will endeavour to place our point of view clearly and perhaps at length on every possible occasion. This morning a proposition was put to the Senate that it should sit tomorrow. The Opposition wished to debate that proposition and to explain that we thought it was unnecessary to sit tomorrow. This is not the end of the session. We will have a sitting of the Senate next week and it would be possible, because of our light program, to debate next week the legislation that it is proposed we should debate tomorrow.
What seems to have happened is that the House of Representatives has taken it for granted that it can put through legislation on a Thursday and demand that the Senate sit on Friday to deal with that legislation. As a person who has to make arrangements on behalf of senators on this side of the House, I resent that strongly. Arrangements have been made by many senators to keep commitments as far away as Port Hedland in Western Australia. Some senators have already undertaken commitments and have left this place. The Government now proposes that we should suddenly change those arrangements and bring the senators back to this place in order to carry out a program that is thrust upon us by the House of Representatives. We should have been permitted to have a reasonable debate on the proposition because it concerns the position of the Senate in relation to the House of Representatives. We ought not to accede easily to the demands of the House of Representatives. If we accede on this occasion, as we did on a previous occasion, we will find that we will be sitting at the behest of the House of Representatives and not in order to carry out our own program.
What happened this morning when we were putting that proposition was that we were gagged. If the gag is going to be applied in a situation such as that, the Government can expect that on every possible occasion we will endeavour not to assist in the passage of legislation but will resist that passage. The Government will then have to carry out its desires and use the gag and the guillotine, misuse the procedures that have been established in this place over a long period. It is all very well to talk about guillotining a Bill on the last day of sitting after a particularly long session. Perhaps even on the last occasion those of us who were party to that may have objected personally to the procedure but we went along with it. Nevertheless, it should not become an established procedure in this place, and that is what is happening today. The Government has applied the gag and prevented the Opposition from putting a case. What is to prevent us from proceeding next Tuesday with the debate on the legislation that is coming from the House of Representatives? If I recall correctly, on the previous occasion the legislation was put through the Senate hurriedly on the Friday. Senator Cavanagh has indicated already that that legislation has not been proclaimed.
-It dealt with the strike.
-The Government still has that strike with it.
– They went back to work.
-The Government still has that industrial situation very much with it. I remind honourable senators of a cartoon that appeared in the Age this morning which showed the present situation quite vividly. Mr Hamer and Mr Hawke are trying to find their way out of a situation and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and Mr Lynch are trying to find their way into that situation. In other words, two people are endeavouring to get away from a confrontation to solve a situation and the Prime Minister and Mr Lynch are endeavouring to create a confrontation to exacerbate what is happening in Victoria. That is the ground work. That is the backdrop. That is the situation which the Prime Minister needs to justify an early election. He has already made up his mind apparently that there should be an election on 10 December (Quorum formed). I am grateful to Senator Keeffe for bringing into the Senate a few more Government senators because -
– It certainly did not bring in any Labor ones.
SenatorGEORGES-The honourable senator has been here for sufficient time to realise that it is the responsibility of the Government to maintain the chamber. It is not our responsibility. The Opposition has been quite easy with the Government over a period of time. I recall that when we were in government we were subjected to the continual calling of quorums. We were subject to continual irritation. Our Ministers were placed under considerable pressure. It seems to me that what the Government is looking for is a return to that situation. In other words, the Government wants to make of us an Opposition that will irritate, frustrate and delay. That was not our intention. We have even gone along with the Government to assist it to maintain a program in this place. I have before me the program for the next three weeks. It is very light on. If we sought not to co-operate, the Government would have been fully engaged in maintaining its own program. Next week it hardly has a program. The proposed program for the three weeks whichI h ave in my hand does not include any Bill of substance. There is the Loan Bill that has been the subject of some gentle and quite tolerant query on our part. It was not the aggressive approach that Government senators undertook when the Loan Bill was before the Senate during the period of the Labor Government. Honourable senators opposite deferred and delayed the Bill and sought an excuse to throw out the elected government. We are merely querying certain parts of that Loan Bill. Honourable senators will remember that last night the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) allowed the Loan Bill to pass through the Senate on the understanding that certain questions would be answered. That is a quite different approach from the approach adopted by honourable senators opposite when they were in Opposition.
The debate on the Budget Papers has been going on in a leisurely fashion. There has been no substantial legislation before the Senate. Suddenly the House of Representatives decides that it needs some urgent legislation which is similar to previous legislation which the Government did not proclaim. It suddenly needs the legislation, and demands that the Senate should sit on Friday and that honourable senators should alter all their arrangements and commitments to pass the legislation in a hurry which, the Government says, it possibly will not proclaim anyhow. Mr President, I am saying to you that the Senate over which you preside is being made to look ludicrous. It is a mockery that we should be treated in this way and I am hoping that the Government will accept this as the case. However, I do not think so. The Government is in difficulty at the present time. Honourable senators opposite would like to gag what I am saying but until I sit down they will not be in a position to do so. An honourable senator opposite will endeavour to get the call and I do not doubt that he will gag this debate. If that is the way the Government wants to behave, by all means we will give it the opportunity. I might give that opportunity to the Government in a minute or I might endeavour to bring in some more honourable senators to support my case.
– You have made a lot of good points.
-Yes, I have quite a deal to say and I am not going to deal with the legislation that is coming from the other place. After all, we have not seen it. We have heard about it.
– Have you read the Hansard?
– Has the honourable senator seen the legislation? Does she know what it is about? Does any honourable senator on the other side know what the legislation is about?
– I do.
-Well, except members of the Executive who were party to some midnight meeting last night in order to put a proposition to the House of Representatives so that it could be forced, gagged and guillotined through that House and put into this so-called House of Review. No, honourable senators opposite do not know what is in the legislation nor do they care what is in the legislation because tomorrow they will accede to the wishes of their Executive no matter what they think of so-called liberalism.
The small T liberals might as well accept the position that the National Country Party takes which is close to totalitarianism. Its members agree that their Executive should direct them what to do and they accept that whenever they are asked to do so. But the small ‘1’ liberals in this place are said to take another view. But they are denying -
– Like you.
-We at least have accepted our position since the Australian Labor Party was formed. We make no excuses. We make no explanations. When we join our Party and work with our Party we accept that we shall abide by the decisions made, and support those decisions. (Quorum formed). I was saying that we have certain Party disciplines which we declare and which we have always declared. We do not say one thing and do another. The Liberals are proud of the fact that they sometimes say one thing and do another. They regard that as freedom of conscience. They claim that they have a right to a so-called conscience vote. It all depends on whether they can do it without the weight of party discipline coming down upon them. They will do it if they can get away with it. But at all other times they do exactly what we on this side do; that is, they adhere to the party requirement and to the program of the party. It would be a very sad Parliament if that were not the position.
I am a strong believer in the two-party system. I believe in party disciplines because they are in effect the watch dog which safeguards the people and the electorate against log-rolling and wheeler-dealing on the part of groups of members or individual members. So, make no mistake, I believe in party disciplines. I am one who hesitates to encourage a senator on the other side to cross the floor. I might do it for a short term political advantage, but I do not really believe in what I am doing. I certainly would not like anyone on the other side of the chamber to endeavour to encourage me to cross the floor just for a momentary advantage. There is only one exception to that, and that is on a matter of strict conscience. In this place we have had only one such matter that I can recall, and that was the capital punishment legislation. There may have been one or two occasions on which the parties freed their members from the disciplines of the party; but on all other occasions, make no mistake about it, when we on this side see honourable senators cross the floor, even though we might have encouraged them to come across our respect for them does not increase in any shape or form.
The motion before the Senate is that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay. In normal circumstances we would agree to that motion being carried and we would have the debate on the Bill at a later stage. Let us test what the Government intends to do for the rest of the day and let us test the Government’s attitude to the special sitting tomorrow. Is it to be the last time that such a sitting will be thrust upon the Senate? Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) accepted that in future this shall be the procedure? Is the Senate to sit for three days a week without substantial legislation for debate, and then suddenly to have to sit an extra day while the members of the House of Representatives go about their electoral commitments? Tomorrow there will be no pairs because the Government has called off the pairs arrangement. It will have to do that for tomorrow’s sitting. It has a statutory requirement that it has to meet, so I do not blame the Government. It has called off the pairs arrangement.
– We have not.
-That is right; we have two senators overseas. I can understand the Government’s reason. Tomorrow, because of what has been done in the other place, the Minister is forced to inconvenience all senators on the Government side. He is forcing the Opposition to inconvenience its senators, to break their appointments and commitments tomorrow; but a member of the House of Representatives is going to participate at Port Hedland in a debate on a very important question, namely, the exploitation and export of uranium. It was supposed to be- and rightly so-part of the national debate that we are undertaking so that the electorate can be enlightened on the export of uranium. I hope that the people will oppose the export of uranium. I believe that, given sufficient time, they will. Nevertheless, there is to be an all-party debate in Western Australia tomorrow. Senator Chaney was to take part in that, but of course he cannot go tomorrow because of the special sitting. Senator Walsh also was to take part in that debate, and he will go because a member of the House of Representatives will take part in that debate and that member is the only one who can keep that appointment, free of the limitations of the parliamentary program.
Let us get it clear: If we accept without any question what the Government is proposing for tomorrow, then it will be done again and again. All we wanted to do earlier in the piece was to express an opinion. I intended to say at that stage what I am saying now. That is what I intended to say. I intended to say: ‘We are being misused.
We are being pushed around. We ought not to be pushed around in this fashion’. What happened? The Government applied the gag. It is useless to apply the gag to me when the procedures of the Senate will allow me to speak at a later stage. They not only allow me to speak later but also encourage me to speak at greater length. The application of the gag is a foolish practice to follow.
We have come to an understanding in this Parliament, especially in the Senate, that we can make a speech in 10 minutes much better than we can make the same speech in 30 minutes. There has been general agreement on both sides of this chamber that we should not take up all the time that is available to us; that we should say what we have to say, sit down and give somebody else an opportunity to speak. But, if the Government follows this practice of applying the gag, then we will stand up and speak for the whole hour that is available to us or for the half an hour that is available to us on days when the proceedings are broadcast. That is just wasting the valuable time of the Senate.
– It shows that you are childish. It proves that you are being childish; by your own admission.
-Senator Withers may like to use the word ‘childish’. I would not have used the word ‘childish’ because in a way that is an imputation, and if you rule correctly, Mr President -
- Mr President, on behalf of my three young children I withdraw that imputation.
-He has actually admitted that it was an imputation. Mr President, you know that we have a rule- I think it is Standing Order 418- which says that an honourable senator cannot make an imputation against a House of Parliament. At some stage we will have to have a discussion or debate on Standing Order 418. We have immense respect for you, Mr President, and we would not even consider moving a motion of dissent from your ruling; nevertheless, at some stage or other we will have to have a look at Standing Order 418 in order to understand clearly what is an imputation against a House of Parliament, what is an imputation against a government and what is an imputation against a member of the other place.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I draw your attention to Standing Order 42 1 , which reads:
The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition . . .
I submit that the honourable senator is simply, in a tedious repetitive fashion, threatening a filibuster on this motion. I suggest that, at great cost but no worth to the community in the process of the printing of Hansard, he is filling the Hansard record with repetition and irrelevancies.
- Senator Georges, you must relate your remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– I could be resentful of that point of order, but there is a strong element of truth in what he says. If I were to continue I would merely reinforce his argument and also(Quorum formed). I was caught in the middle of a sentence. I was to finish with the words: If I continue much longer I will have overstated my point and I will have appeared to be ridiculous. Certainly the lesson is now clear. If the Government misuses the goodwill of the Senate it gains very little indeed. In fact, if it persists in using the gag and the guillotine it will diminish the role of the Senate.
– Debate on this procedural motion provides a good opportunity to do as Senator Georges has done, that is, to protest against the procedure being followed in this chamber today, not only in respect of the motion seeking the rapid passage of a Bill but also in respect of what occurred earlier in the day when the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) decided to gag debate when there was an opportunity to discuss what the Senate ought to be able to do today and tomorrow.
In view of the serious situations which exist in industry and in the community generally, it is a sad reflection on the Senate that it is not given sufficient opportunity to discuss at length very serious legislation which will affect dramatically the relationships between employers and employees in private industry and in government. Had we had the opportunity this afternoon to express at some length our differences about the procedures, we might well have cleared up some of the misunderstandings about the need for the Senate to sit tomorrow. Obviously for that reason honourable senators such as Senator Georges- I hope other honourable senators will do the same- are entitled to discuss the procedures of the Senate as they relate to legislation enacting Government policy.
I remind honourable senators that only a few hours ago when I asked the Attorney-General (Senator Durack), a question about the very legislation which will cause us to meet tomorrow, he made the very clear statement that the legislation had nothing to do with the State Electricity Commission in Victoria. He said that the legislation merely reformed a series of legislative procedures covering industrial relations which the Government had had under consideration for many months and which for some time had been before the National Labour Advisory Council. It is a sad reflection on the Senate that this legislation has been considered by outside bodies such as the National Labour Advisory Council- I understand that it has been before that body for well over a month- but we will be given so little time to consider it. Outside organisations, such as the Australian Chamber of Manufactures and the Australian Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the unions have had an opportunity to discuss and to think about the Government’s proposals contained in this legislation. They know what is contained in the legislation.
– I rise to take a point of order, Mr President. Is the honourable senator who is speaking in order? We are supposed to be discussing a motion concerning a different Bill from the one which he is discussing. It appears to me that his discussion does not relate to the Bill which is before the chamber.
– The question before the chamber is the motion moved by Senator Withers that this Bill might be taken through all its stages without delay. Therefore, an opportunity arises for discussion, but the discussion must not relate to legislation in another place or that type of thing. Carry on, Senator Bishop. I am listening.
– I think my submissions are relevant, Mr President. What I am trying to indicate is that on a procedural motion such as the one moved by the Leader of the Government, which seeks to permit this particular Bill a speedy passage, it is competent for a senator to rise and to question whether, in the circumstances of this Senate and the Parliament, such a procedure should be followed. For that very reason, I am raising related matters of procedure which have been dealt with this afternoon and which certainly impel me to protest. More than once, I have risen in the Parliament and pointed out that the Parliament has again to come into its own. I think that, generally speaking, people have agreed with that.
- Senator Bishop, I must point out that you must relate your remarks to the matter immediately before the Senate.
-Mr President, what I am saying is this: Honourable senators on this side of the chamber are concerned about giving speedy passage to this legislation. We feel this way because we have found that our work in this chamber has been frustrated. I have outlined that in the background information I have given. I think that, in those circumstances, it surely is competent for an honourable senator to express concern about the way in which legislation is being introduced, the time being allowed for debate on that legislation and the way debate has been frustrated by numbers. For that reason, we should be allowed to talk about the general background of the feelings which are present in the Senate. This Parliament has to come into its own. The Senate should be competent to discuss -
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I again draw your attention to Standing Order 42 1 . Within the past two minutes Senator Bishop has said twice that this Parliament must come into its own. He is therefore repeating himself almost word for word.
– It was to tedious repetition that reference was made before. I point out to honourable senators that there are other occasions when they can speak. I have been pretty liberal in respect of discussion on this motion, but at this point I must insist that the question to debate now is whether this Bill should pass through all its stages without delay.
– I repeated the expression that this Parliament should come into its own because I was interrupted by points of order, first by Senator Young and now by his new found friend, Senator Hall. There seems to be some unity between those two. I put it to you, Mr President, and to the Senate that today no honourable senators on this side of the chamber will agree to the speedy passage of this Bill, as the motion of the Leader of the Government requires, for the very reason I have stated, namely, that we are dissatisfied with the procedures of the Senate as they are now being organised by the Leader of the Government. For that reason, this debate is related to the debate which took place earlier. The matters are inter-connected and honourable senators ought to have regard to that fact.
We are advising the Senate about these matters. I am quite sure that not only on this occasion but also later this day- I hope, Mr President, you will facilitate this- we will seek to bring these matters before the Senate. Every honourable senator should be entitled to complain about unnecessary frustration. What is more, the actions of the Leader of the Government now are very similar to his actions when we were in government. Those actions were then very strongly contested by Senator Hall. Of course, later today, Senator Hall- (Quorum formed). Perhaps I should take the opportunity to summarise what I was putting forward. However, I do not think I shall do that in the terms that Senator Georges did because it seemed to me that by the time he concluded his remarks he had made the wicket very unfavourable for my entry. But, for the benefit of the Senate, I do hope that, on reflection, the Leader of the Government might see the need to allow the Senate during the day to consider not only the sorts of issues I have raised in respect of the Bill which is before us, but also the wider issue of the conduct of the business of the Senate. I think it would be a good thing to have those feelings made clear before we go any further with other debates. I hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate will take notice of the resentment which has been shown by Opposition speakers in relation to the matter raised.
-The people of Australia will be extremely interested to know that the Opposition is conducting what amounts to a filibuster to prevent one of the most urgent matters coming up tomorrow to be discussed here. That matter applies to the crippling strike in Victoria.
– Now we know. You have let the cat out of the bag now.
– I am doing nothing more than taking the words of the Opposition. It has said that it will not have time to study an important Bill which is coming into the Senate. There is no misconstruction put on the words of honourable senators opposite. It is a claim which the Opposition has clearly made. It became ap- parent early this afternoon that the Opposition ad one thing in mind. It is deliberately working against the people of Australia- all of themwho are dependent on urgent legislation which is coming into the Parliament. I believe, of course, that a factor in this matter relates to the thinking of the Opposition which is unable to face up to a number of questions, especially when they relate to industrial matters.
One wonders why the Opposition, if it disclaims any interest in something else which is to come before the Senate, wishes to hold up the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill which affects growers in Queensland and New South Wales. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. Either it is deliberately working against the assistance which this subsidy will provide or it is doing the former thing which I mentioned. It is one or the other. There are no two ways. Senator Georges, whilst he was rambling, repetitive and irrelevant was somewhat honest in his attitude. He made no pretence about what he was trying to do. He is simply using this situation as a device to hold up the passage of further legislation. I suppose there is little one can say and still keep to the Standing Orders. Very few honourable senators who have spoken so far have kept to the Standing Orders. It is difficult, therefore, to answer their irrelevancies except to say that the people of Australia will be interested to know that the people who are to get the subsidy will have the subsidy delayed in some way or that further legislation in which people are interested is causing such acute embarrassment to the Australian Labor Party in some way that it would like to put off even thinking of making a decision on that legislation.
I believe that honourable senators opposite should rethink their course at this time. It illbecomes Senator O ‘Byrne to jump into the breach and join his colleagues in a delaying action which does no credit to the Labor Party. I suggest that Senator 0 ‘Byrne would do much better to consider the essentials which are facing Australia at the moment. He would do much better to consider his electors and constituents and their concern in the community. He should facilitate discussion in the Senate and not hold it up by irrelevancies.
-The encouragement I have been given by the previous speaker, Senator Steele Hall, to get to my feet leads me to quote from Hansard of 6 November 1975. Among other things, Senator Steele Hall stated:
A letter which I had here the other day was typical of the hundreds of letters that I and I am sure all members of Parliament have received. It stated:
On behalf of myself and my family, we thank you -
That is Senator Steele Hall- for your condemnation of Mr Fraser for his attempt to overthrow our elected Government.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order.
– Order! Senator O ‘Byrne, you realise that the motion before the House is in relation to the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill and it is that the Bill be taken through all its stages without delay. Please restrict your remarks to that very question.
– Thank you. I must say that I was provoked into referring to that matter because of the invitation that was so kindly extended to me by the honourable senator who has just resumed his seat. I intended to describe him as a Jacob, or a man with a coat of many colours, or a political chameleon. The reason I got to my feet was that this motion to pass this measure through all its stages without delay is part of the Government’s program which is changing the character of this House of review, this Parliament, this Senate. It is virtually being changed into a chamber of horrors. When I talk about horrors, there are certainly some reactionary horrors on the other side of the Senate. They are all prone to talk about the importance of this chamber and about it not having time to deliberate over important legislation. Now they have the temerity to charge the Opposition with filibustering when we talk about the history of legislation of this kind which has been before the Parliament. In 1947 this measure was debated for a month.
– What? The Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Bill?
-No, the measure the Government wants to get on to by hurrying this Bill through the House. I am speaking about undue haste. I am talking about the program of the Government. It wants to have this measure brought on and passed or adjourned without the deliberation and review which we claim we could give to it in the Parliament. I make the point that the Senate is being turned into a charade and a farce by political hit and run men. I describe Government people as hit and run men because they are doing to the Parliament and to the institution of the Senate what ruthless and reckless power crazed road hogs do to the pedestrians of this country. They run over people regardless of the conventions and customs of the country. Members of the Government are doing their evil worst to divert the Parliament from its traditional role into an authoritarian role which is to be equalled only by the pre-war days of Hitler’s Germany when trade unions and the Parliament in Germany faced farcical things like the burning of the Reichstag and all the other ploys which were used to fool the people. This is exactly what this Government is doing. I take the opportunity in relation to this motion to voice my strong disapproval of the Government’s proposed program, including its proposal in relation to this measure. I feel certain that this Bill needs a lot more discussion and that we should not put it through all its stages without delay. I hope the Government will adjourn debate on this Bill in order to give us full discussion on it in the future. It is a matter of importance to the farmers of this country.
– What, oilseeds?
– Nitrogenous fertilisers. As a matter of fact, the spreading of fertilisers by people on the Government side is equal to that which comes out of the farmyard in great quantities. There is no great hurry for this Bill to be passed. It is almost an annual event and therefore I object to the passage of the Bill without full consideration. I also put on record my very strong objection to the way in which legislation is being treated in this Parliament. The Government is gagging and not allowing the proper forms of the House to be applied or for review to take place in the proper way.
– I bring to the attention of the Senate and, indeed, to the attention of the people of Queensland the filibuster which has been instituted by Senator Georges over this most important Bill. The Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill is important to sugar farmers. The sugar industry is one of the most important industries in Queensland. It is an export industry of immense value to Australia. It has helped in the decentralisation of Queensland. Many people in our ancillary industries are reliant on it. Yet here this afternoon Senator Georges, a senator from Queensland who is supposedly here to represent that State, is trying to hold up this BUI.
I point out what the previous Administration did not do for the sugar industry when it was in power. It was unable to conclude an international sugar agreement. When the previous agreement ran out the Labor Government was not able to conclude a new sugar agreement. Instability has hung over the sugar industry from that time until the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) was able to conclude an agreement two or three weeks ago. The Labor Government’s record in looking after the sugar industry is abysmal. It would have been headed for disaster next year except for the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister was able to do what the previous Government could not do, namely, conclude a suitable agreement with set quotas which will bring stability and a reasonable price back into the industry. Now, this afternoon, Senator Georges is holding up a Bill which will be of great assistance to the sugar producers in Queensland.
– The Senate is debating the motion for the first reading of the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill 1977.
– Order! This is not a first reading debate.
– I am wrong. The Senate is debating the motion:
That the Bill be taken through all its stages without delay.
In speaking to this motion, Senator Hall misled the Senate when he said that it was an urgent Bill and that Opposition senators were delaying the payment of this subsidy to the farmers who are in desperate need. I draw Senator Hall’s attention to the fact that this Bill was introduced in the other place on 6 October, 14 days ago, so no urgency is attached to this Bill by the Government.
– The Opposition sought the adjournment of the debate over there.
– The Government accepted the adjournment and did not see fit to bring on the Bill again until some days ago. It then came over to this place. Senator Hall has deliberately misled the Senate and people outside by saying that we are deliberately trying to withhold the subsidy payment to the farmers who use nitrogenous fertilisers. Senator Collard repeated the remarks which were made by Senator Hall. He said that the Opposition is delaying the passage of the Bill by speaking to the motion. Of course, that is not so. As I pointed out, when we look at the Notice Paper we see that the Bill came into the other place exactly 14 days ago. Therefore, there is no urgency. If we followed the usual procedures with this Bill what would happen? Immediately Senator Withers moved for the Bill to be taken through all its stages without delay, we would have the first reading. Then we would have the second reading and the debate would be adjourned. It would be placed on the Senate Notice Paper for debate at some later stage. Perhaps Senator Withers might be able to indicate to me by nodding that he intended this Bill to go through this place today. If he did not intend that to happen, what Senator Hall and Senator Collard said is a complete untruth, that the Government had no intention that this Bill should go through this place today. If it had, I would have said that it defeated the very purpose of this place. We are so often reminded by honourable senators opposite that this is a House of review. The tactics being adopted here today give complete and absolute proof to every person interested in the procedures of this Senate that it is not a House of review when a Liberal Government is in office. The Government will railroad legislation through this place to suit its own purposes. Senator Hall let the cat out of the bag in his opening remarks on the reason the Senate has to sit tomorrow. He told us- Mr Fraser will not be too happy with him on this score- that the purpose of the Senate sitting tomorrow is to railroad legislation through because of the present problem in the Latrobe Valley of Victoria. That is the very purpose of the Bill. Senator Hall has already told us that.
– The honourable senator will come back to the motion before the chair.
– The reason I rose to speak was to point out that both Senator Hall and Senator Collard have not only misled the Senate, they have also misled the farmers who will receive the subsidy which will flow from this legislation.
-I do not enter this debate for the purpose of delaying the passage of the Bill. It is an annual event. The House of Representatives and the Senate debate a similar Bill each year concerning the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy. On every occasion such a Bill has come before the Parliament it has enjoyed the support of the Opposition. We are not concerned with the infamous remarks about why we wish to speak in respect to this ploy- that is all we are dealing with- that the Government is putting before the Senate. It is using this Bill as a means to achieve an end. That end has been well and truly exposed by those who have spoken before me. It is to hurry up the legislation for the purpose of discussing the more contentious and controversial amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The Bill we are asked to expedite was passed by the House of Representatives on 6 October. If it is an important Bill, as Senator Hall and Senator Collard suggest, why was it not debated in this House last Thursday night when, at the instigation of the Leader of the Government (Senator Withers), we adjourned at 5 p.m. to go home? If it is important we could have dealt with it then and not have left it on the table until today and then use it as a means and an excuse to expedite the business of this Senate so that we can deal with matters of great moment which affect about 4 million trade unionists in this country. Of course, the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Amendment Bill is an important one from Queensland’s point of view. Senator Collard said that the Opposition wants to use the forms of the House. What is wrong with that, Mr President? In the seven years I have been in this place I have seen honourable senators opposite use the forms of the House in a very notorious way to bring about their desired ends and to bring about the downfall of governments which had the majority support of the electorate in the other place. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The Government objects when we want to use the forms of the House in order to point out the tactics being employed on this particular occasion.
Senator Collard had the audacity and temerity to suggest that we are trying to deny the sugar cane growers of Queensland the use of fertilisers. Everybody knows that this is a machinery Bill. This measure is placed before the Parliament every year. In no way will it affect the payment of a subsidy or bounty to those who want to use a nitrogenous fertiliser because it operates from 1 January 1978. Senator Collard then showed his lamentable lack of knowledge when he suggested that we failed the sugar cane growers of Queensland and elsewhere in Australia when we did not negotiate a decent price for sugar. It was a matter of great glee for the producers of this country when Dr Patterson in 1 975 -
-Order! The honourable senator will come back to the motion before the chair.
– I am replying to what Senator Collard said, with respect, Mr President. In fact, a very good price was negotiated for the sugar cane industry. Be that as it may, we are being asked to expedite the business of this place in order that we can sit for an extra day and repeat the charade that went on on 19 August when we had to stay behind for the purpose of passing an important Bill- a Bill of great urgency, to use the words of Senator Withers. The Government guillotined the debate and denied the Opposition a chance to discuss the Bill. If it was so important, why have we not had an opportunity tor debate within the normal forms of the Parliament? Why was the Bill not brought in on Tuesday or Wednesday?
Why is it that the Bill that will be introduced at 8 o’clock this evening will be brought on for debate before the members of the party that I represent have an opportunity to discuss it among themselves, let alone with the broad sections of the trade union movement that wish to discuss the matter with my party and to convey their point of view to my party so that the Bill may be debated adequately in this place and in the community generally? We are being denied the opportunity to do that on the specious ground that the Senate has to pass the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Amendment Bill and that if it does not do that some people who are experiencing some form of hardship because of the attitude that has been taken by the Japanese Government in particular in respect of the price of Queensland sugar will be adversely affected. Of course, nothing is being said by the Government about the insulting way in which Mr Bjelke-Petersen of Queensland has referred to our major trading partner- Japan- in the last 24 hours.
We believe that we are entitled to have adequate time to discuss this piece of legislation and to discuss the more contentious Bill. We feel very strongly that what is required to get the economy of this country going and to get an upturn in the economy is for the Government to bring about co-operation and consensus- not confrontation. Constantly we see leading figures in the Government trying to manoeuvre us into a position where there is absolute confrontation and no dialogue. That is the tactic to which Senator Cavanagh drew attention in speaking during the previous debate. On the previous occasion on which we were forced to sit for an extra day we had to expedite the business of the Senate on the Thursday of that week in order to enable us to deal with certain legislation in the same way as we are being asked to deal with legislation tomorrow. But what has happened to the earlier legislation? That legislation still has not been proclaimed.
If the Government wants war with the Opposition, I can assure it that the mood of my colleagues and me is that it will get war. Does the Government not want co-operation from the Opposition in this chamber or does it want to go back to the period when there was co-operation? I learned a lot when I first became a member of this chamber. Senator Murphy was then leader of my party in opposition and honourable senators opposite were in government. I saw a great deal of what is known as co-operation, tolerance and goodwill. I heard Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and others pay tribute -
Government senators- Ha, ha!
– Honourable senators opposite can laugh if they like, but I heard Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, who was the Leader of the Government in the Senate at that time, and other Government leaders pay tribute to the co-operation that was extended by the Opposition in the passage of Bills. It seems to me that, if the parliamentary process is to operate at all and to work in a sense of goodwill and some give and take, that is the way in which we ought to be dealing with this motion and that is the way in which we ought to be dealing with the Bill that is to be introduced in this chamber at 8 o’clock this evening.
One can use numbers to achieve anything. God only knows, I have seen plenty of that in the Australian Labor Party. That is obviously what is happening in this chamber and what has happened in this chamber consistently. I find it somewhat difficult to appreciate the very ingrained logic of Senator Withers when a matter of this nature was dealt with on 19 August and he spoke about a program that Senator Murphy put down in 1973. He went on about it at great length. His researchers obviously had done their job well. Senator Withers presented the time scale.
– There it is.
– That is right. Senator Withers presented the time scale; but the interesting thing is that the Liberal and Country parties had the numbers to enable them to defeat the objective of the Government of that time. They have had the numbers in the Senate since the early 1950s. Even on that occasion a degree of goodwill was expressed that enabled the Government’s program to be achieved. Is it wrong for the Opposition to suggest that that sort of philosophy ought to exist even today? If the House of Representatives wants to pass a Bill at midnight tonight it is fair enough for it to do so. It has been freely acknowledged that in 1974, immediately after the Labor Party was returned to government, honourable senators opposite set about bringing down that Government by using their numbers in this place.
I want to see a return to the situation where there is some goodwill in respect of these matters and not the blatant use of numbers that has become characteristic of the Senate. In other words, adequate time ought to be set aside to enable the Senate to carry out its review role. In practically every case adequate time has been set aside for debates on Bills. We members of the Opposition have been chided and derided for daring to stand on our feet and use the forms of the Senate, which I did not invent and which the Labor Party did not invent but which are part of the Standing Orders upon which the tradition of the Senate has been built. In using those forms we are severely criticised. The suggestion that we are not playing the game has been made by the people who have never played the game while they have had the numbers in this chamber. Honourable senators opposite have never played the game; yet they have had the audacity to suggest that during the three brief years in which the Labor Party was in government they did not use the forms of the House to achieve their objectives not only within the parliamentary sphere but also outside-perhaps even in the vice-regal arena.
Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that we are being asked to expedite the business of this chamber for a special purpose, and we object to that special purpose. That special purpose has no relationship to urgency, particularly if it is related to what the Government did on 19 August. Senator Georges posed a very reasonable question when he asked: What is wrong with the Senate dealing next Tuesday with the contentious Bill about the trade union movement?
– Order! The Senate is not discussing that legislation; it is discussing the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Amendment Bill; in particular, the motion moved by Senator Withers that that Bill be passed through all its stages without delay. I ask Senator Gietzelt to deal with that subject matter.
– I appreciate that, Mr President; but you surely must appreciate that it is consequential upon the adoption of that motion. There is a relationship. One cannot divorce that from the urgency approach that Senator Withers has applied to this Bill. There is just no point in suggesting that the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Amendment Bill has to be passed within the next 10 minutes or half hour. As you well know, the procedures have been such that such a Bill has been considered -
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I raise for your consideration the point that there is in fact no relationship between this Bill and the one to which Senator Gietzelt is referring. The motion that the Senate is being asked to consider is an entirely normal motion and one that I have heard moved many dozens of times in the Senate, as have all other senators. I do not know whether I am correct in this regard, but I believe that without exception this motion is moved in relation to every Bill. I believe that Senator Gietzelt has made no case to support his contention that there is some exception here in that the two Bills are linked. There is no relationship between this Bill and the other Bill that has been referred to, except that the Labor Party wants to delay the discussion on the other Bill.
- Senator Gietzelt, you should relate the points you are making to the motion before the chamber.
– Yes, Mr President. We have heard a great deal about this matter from the Government senators who are supporting the motion. I have found it very interesting, seeing that the matter has been elevated to one of great urgency, that while we have been debating it the Minister who is in charge of the Bill, according to the Notice Paper, has not even been within the precincts of the Senate. He certainly has not been ready to take over the handling of the Bill in the event of the Government succeeding in gagging the debate on the motion moved by Senator Withers. So, I find it difficult to appreciate the point of order that was taken by Senator Steele Hall, who, when he was playing the maverick role in this chamber in 1973 and 1974, adopted an entirely different approach.
– Order! Senator Gietzelt, that has nothing to do with the motion before the Chair. Please relate your remarks to that motion.
-One must question the motives of those who take points of order and those who seek to move certain motions when the Minister himself is not present to put the Bill before the Senate for consideration. Senator Hall, or other senators on the Government side, may well take the view that there is no relationship, but that is their interpretation; it is not ours. We see a relationship between the attempt to expedite the business of the Senate -
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I understand that you have ruled that there is no relationship between the Bills.
- Senator Gietzelt has stated that he does not accept that ruling and I suggest that he be brought to order.
– I have pointed out that in 1932 in a somewhat similar situation certain honourable senators were asked to sit downand I have no desire to act in that way- because of tedious repetition,, lack of relevance in remarks and so on. I would reiterate for the last time, that we have before us the motion that this Bill be passed through all its remaining stages without delay. We have gone far enough.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr President, but that does not convince me any more than it convinces the Government’s speakers. I have a point of view that is different. I accept your ruling that that is the way you see it. It is not the way I see it, or the way my Party sees it, but I bow to your ruling that you are of the view that there is no relationship between the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Amendment Bill 1977 and the proposals of the Government to expedite the business of this chamber. Whatever else may be said about it, we are quite happy to debate the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Amendment Bill, but will use what forms we have available to express our opposition to an expedition resolution and other resolutions which have as their aim an attempt to hurry up the business of the Senate by extending the sitting for an extra day.
– I become a participant in this debate because I believe certain relevant aspects have not yet been brought out clearly. In the first instance, if anyone goes out into King’s Hall and reads the brochure on the functions of the Senate one detects a thread running through that essay which emphasises that ours is a chamber of review, that second thoughts are best, and all those sorts of things. On that basis alone, this use of the thin edge of the wedge, this Panzer complex that one should plough through all Opposition, establishes a precedent.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) goes back to a certain period in an attempt to show that the then political mercenaries, the Democratic Labor Party, might have been allied for a few fleeting moments with the Social Democrats. Even if that did happen it would have been on a very rare occasion. I suggest that he go back further to the peak period of World War II, when the Curtin Government embarked upon lengthy discussions on the ambit of certain national security regulations. Maurice Blackburn, who was probably a Liberal with a small T differed completely from his Party.
– I raise a point of order. I ask whether this is relevant to the motion before the Senate.
– I ask the honourable senator to relate his remarks to the motion.
-I am developing- I say respectfully, Mr President- the fact that the whole issue involves the right to compress the timetable of the Senate, and whether it destroys the spirit and role of this chamber as a house of review. I was simply making that point and, on the precedent of some three or four years ago mentioned by the Leader of the Government, stating that the history of the Australian Parliament abounds with instances of governments that have been extremely lenient, even in times of acute stress, in allowing points of view to be expounded, sometimes with endless repetition.
Each of the speakers on this side has endeavoured to inject a different point of view in questioning the haste that is being engendered. I use the word ‘haste’, not in regard to the issues that people are talking about, involving future legislation, or to advocate that a leisurely tempo be adopted, but rather to emphasise the need to adopt a sane, analytical approach to the questions of the day. Often, after the seventh or eighth speaker has participated, some new development occurs that merits the attention of the Minister. That is the whole point I am trying to make. If you are going to adopt the contrary attitude, even on the Opposition side, people outside can say, ‘You are rather supine; you are lazy.’
Anticipating your ruling, Mr President, I have made my point, and have taken Senator Withers back to a period earlier than the one to which he is referring.
- Mr President (Quorum formed), I suppose the most than can be said about this afternoon’s debate is that when the Remuneration Tribunal next sits I ought to make a special submission to the effect that before honourable senators receive any payment at all for their services they should have to pass an examination in the procedures of the Senate. I would like to set the paper, because as surely as I stand here not one of those who have spoken would pass it. I have never heard so much nonsense about a simple motion such as was put down this afternoon. If honourable senators who have spoken so volubly in opposition had taken the slightest interest in how this Senate was run they would know why I had made that motion.
As I recall it, in the 1 1 years that I have been here that motion, or one similar to it, has been made on every Bill that has come into this place from the House of Representatives. The reasonand I will explain it to honourable senators opposite- is that, according to the Standing Orders, without the passage of such a motion one must have the first reading on one day, the second reading on another day, the committee stage on another day, and the third reading on yet another day. If the Opposition feels that that is how it would like to deal with Bills, and will let me know, I will do my best to accommodate it. For some reason or other, not one honourable senator opposite who spoke this afternoon knew that the sole purpose of moving that this Bill may pass through all its stages without delay was to prevent that sequence of events from happening. For some reason, and I realise that they live with a conspiratorial syndrome, they think that there is some deep, dark conspiracy, whereby this Bill is to be rushed through the Parliament today.
-I heard a number of senators say that something else could happen tomorrow. They should indeed have an examination on the Standing Orders of this chamber. Senator McLaren thought he was speaking on the first reading of the Oilseeds Levy Collection and Research Bill. Senator O’Byrne thought he was speaking on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which is still in the other place. For goodness’ sake, if honourable senators are going to stand here and spend a lot of the taxpayers’ money making great protests- I have no objection to their doing it; indeed they are entitled to do it- I ask them to speak from knowledge and not turn this chamber into a farce. That is what I object to. I do not mind the forms of this chamber being used. I have used them myself and will use them again. The forms of the Senate are to be used for proper debate on a proper motion with people knowing what the substance of the debate is all about. If ever the Senate is going to be brought into disrespect it will be by the Opposition engaging in the corny tactics they have used this afternoon, which make them the laughing stock of the gallery and the nation. I do not mind that. What I object to is that it casts a reflection on the whole of the Senate. That is what honourable senators on this side of the chamber object to. We do have some regard for the Senate. We do have some regard for the practices and procedures. That is why we did not break the arrangements for pairs. But let us not talk about pairs. We did not break the arrangements for pairs. If we are to talk about the practices and procedures of this place, the current practice- the one I adopted today- was to assist the expedition of the legislation through the Senate. I thought it would have been to the advantage of honourable senators to have a real understanding of the legislation before them. If honourable senators opposite feel that they have not yet learnt to read, let us go back to the medieval concept of first, second and third readings of a Bill. On the first day when I move that the Bill be read a first time and that motion is carried, we will ask the Clerk to read it, because that was the origin of this procedure. Then we will have a debate on the first reading. After the motion that the Bill be read a second time the Clerk will read it again and we will debate that motion. This mechanism was built into current procedures. As a result of doubtful benefits of compulsory education introduced in the last centurynone of which I have seen evident in honourable senators opposite in the 1 1 years I have been here-we have abandoned those medieval procedures. From what Senator Georges was saying today, I gather that he wants to go back to those medieval procedures.
– I did not say that at all.
-I thought Senator Georges was a member of a progressive party but he wants to go back to medieval procedures. I think Senator Collard is to be congratulated for telling the electors of Queensland that the No. 1 Labor senator on the ticket for the next Senate election is a man who does not believe that this Bill should pass through all stages without delay. Of course, I am aware, as Senator Gietzelt said, that we will only reach the second reading stage today. But one would imagine that next Tuesday there would be total support for the second reading debate, the committee stage and the third reading of the Bill to be dealt with. Senator Georges is saying that that ought not to happen. He is saying that we should deal with the first reading today, the second reading next Tuesday, the Committee stage next Wednesday and the third reading next Thursday.
Senator Georges is saying to the cane growers of Queensland: ‘There is no rush to pass this legislation’. I only hope that, before this night has passed Senator Collard is on every talk-back radio program in Queensland and that he is able to send a copy of his speech to every city newspaper up and down the sugar coast to let them know what has happened here this afternoon. I would have thought that in the interests of the hallowed practices of the Senate, for the simplicity of dealing with Bills and for the sake of the cane growers in Queensland, all honourable senators would support my motion.
Senator GEORGES (Queensland)-!, wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). He does not deserve another speech so I will not speak for very long. I put the point to him clearly as I put it before. The reason that the Opposition used this device was that the Government applied the gag on a previous occasion to prevent the Senate debating whether it should sit tomorrow. It is as simple as that. All I said at the time was that by applying the gag and breaking down the general goodwill and the general arrangements of this place, the Government was asking for confusion and a prolonged debate. I have been misrepresented but I think I have made the point clear now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Withers) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of the Bill I have just introduced is to extend the operation of the nitrogenous fertilisers subsidy scheme for a further year until 3 1 December 1978 at the present rate of $60 per tonne of nitrogen content. Honourable senators will recall that the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton), in outlining in the Budget proposals a wide range of rural industry support initiatives of the Government, mentioned the provision of an amount of $ 12m for continuation of the subsidy for a further year.
Although the Government in 1976 indicated agreement in principle with a recommendation of the Industries Assistance Commission that the subsidy be phased out, it has decided that, in view of the difficulties at present being experienced by the rural sector, no reduction in the rate of subsidy should be made at this time. Clause 6 of the Bill continues the Government’s policy of expanding, wherever possible, the jurisdiction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to administrative decisions which affect rights or entitlements of persons under Commonwealth legislation. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wriedt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 18 October on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I take the opportunity to speak to this Bill merely to make an appeal to the Government. Perhaps it could have been more easily dealt with in the Committee stage but since I am on my feet I will do it now. I ask the Government to consider a proposition for which there is now apparent need. The determinations are subject to disallowance as a whole, are they not? If we disagree with the determination, is it not disallowed as a whole?
– These are recommendations only.
-Nevertheless, I think they are relevant. I put the point that the Government may take into consideration that when we have a determination from the Tribunal we should, as a Senate, be able to disallow it in part. At the present time I think the situation is that if we wish to disallow certain sections of it we must disallow the whole determination. I bring that to the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). Perhaps he will consider that proposition when the matter comes before the Government.
– I thank Senator Georges for his comments on this matter. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill that is before the chamber, the purpose of which is to implement the recommendations of the Remunerations Tribunal with respect to the salaries and allowances of judges and persons of judicial status. In response to the matter that has been raised by my colleague Senator Georges, the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) has indicated that the subject of the legislation arises as a result of a report to the Government by the Remuneration Tribunal, as distinct from a determination that is made in the case of First Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service and as distinct from a determination made in respect of salaries and allowances of members of Parliament. So far as the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal in respect of judges are concerned, they are, as Senator Withers has said, in the nature of recommendations in the form of a report and are necessarily the subject of further legislative enactment. The purpose of this Bill is merely to enact the recommendations made to the Government last June by the Remuneration Tribunal in respect of salaries and allowances of judges and persons of judicial status.
The Whitlam Government established the Remuneration Tribunal in 1973. The establishment of the Tribunal meant that, for the first time, an independent quasi-judicial body was established in order to review such areas as salaries and allowances of judges, to report to the Government its findings and to recommend changes to the existing system of remuneration. That is a responsibility of that Tribunal at least once a year. As I have said, the Bill gives effect to the recommendations of the Tribunal contained in its report No. 1977/2 of June 1977. The report suggests that the remuneration payable to justices and judges of Federal courts and of the Supreme Courts of the Territories and persons who have the same status as a justice or judge of those courts, should be altered in accordance with the recommendations of the Tribunal. In short, the recommendations brought in by the Tribunal are in line with the changes that have taken place in the wages and salaries of other people in the wage and salary structure of the community according to wage determinations based on indexation made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the period involved.
The Remuneration Tribunal reported that alterations were desirable in the remuneration and travelling allowances payable to judges, including those members of the judiciary who occupy quasi-judicial positions, such as the Chairman of the Prices Justification Tribunal, at that time Mr Justice Williams, the President and Deputy Presidents of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the President of the Trade Practices Tribunal, the President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Director-General of Security, Mr Justice Woodward, the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice Kirby, and the Chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, Mr Justice Else-Mitchell. The Bill also provides that the appointment of a judge as a presidential member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or as a member of the Prices Justification Tribunal will not affect that judge’s tenure, rank, title, status, precedence, salary, annual or other allowances or privileges as a judge and he will be taken to have had continuous tenure.
The remuneration of the Director-General of Security, who is a judge, and judges of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the President of the Trade Practices Tribunal and the Chairman of the Grants Commission, who were judges of a court created by the Parliament or of a State supreme Court, will also be fixed and determined by Parliament. The President and Deputy Presidents of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are to be remunerated at the same rates as the Chief Judge and Judges of the Federal Court of Australia. The Bill also extends the existing provisions in the Law Reform Commission Act, that protect the status of a judge appointed to the Commission, to a presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Bill does not provide for additional remuneration for persons occupying more than one office, with the exception of the chief judges of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
I have looked at the debate that occurred in another place, and there are one or two aspects of that debate to which I should refer now. If one peruses the report of the 1977 review of the Remuneration Tribunal it is interesting to observe that at the time the report was brought in the remuneration of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland was greater than the salary payable to the Chief Justices of the High Court of Australia. At the time of that report the salary of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland was $55,090 whereas the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia was $52,500. Under this legislation the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court, as recommended by the Remuneration Tribunal, is to be extended to $55,000, which is still less by some $90 than the figure appearing in the Tribunal’s report as at 31 May 1977. As I understand it, since that time there has been an adjustment in the salaries of members of the judiciary in Queensland as from 1 July 1977. So notwithstanding this legislation, we have a situation where the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia is in fact less than that payable to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland. Indeed, the same situation applies on a lesser scale to salaries payable to justices of the High Court compared with those payable to justices of the Supreme Court of Queensland, and they are about the same as those payable to justices of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
We are in a bit of a bind in that the salaries of judges of the High Court-a Federal jurisdictionare subject to determination by the Remuneration Tribunal. The Remuneration Tribunal, in trying to assess a fair salary and allowances for a judge of a Federal court, naturally must look at comparable rates being paid to judges in State judiciaries who are not subject to its determinations, and there is a criss-crossing going on over a period of time. I think the stage has been reached where we will have to consider entering into some agreement between the Commonwealth and the States to see whether we can get the one remuneration tribunal for all the judicial officers throughout Australia. Much the same situation applies in regard to salaries of members of parliament. Members of this Parliament are paid at a lesser rate, or were at the time of presentation of the 1977 review, than are members of the Queensland Parliament. Queensland parliamentarians’ salaries rise automatically once a year on the basis of the quarterly cost of living adjustments that have taken place in the preceding 12 months. That provision does not apply to the salaries of members of the Federal Parliament, although I notice in the recommendation of the Remuneration Tribunal in respect of First Division office holders of the Commonwealth Public Service that it recommends that there be adjustments in accordance with the changes that have taken place having regard to the quarterly determinations made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
As I have said, the provisions in the Bill are in accordance with the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal which were presented to the Government in June. The determinations made in respect of members of parliament, office holders of the Parliament, and First Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service have now been approved by Parliament because the period of time for disapproval has now elapsed. Because Parliament approved of those other determinations, the Opposition sees no reason why this Bill should not be agreed to and therefore does not offer any opposition to it.
– I intrude on this debate to make a few remarks, and I will not detain the Senate for long. Although the Remuneration Tribunal has recommended various amounts and accordingly the Parliament alters the Act and the Schedule to the Act, it is my observation of this Bill that we have recognised the different value of judges and the onerous nature of their duties and therefore have fixed different rates. For those doing comparable work in different jurisdictions we have stuck strictly to a system of comparable reward. The salary of judges in five different tribunals is to be fixed at $44,000, and that is an acceptance of the principle of comparative wage justice which has been set by wage-fixing tribunals for many years as a fair system for wages and salaries. A person considers that he is well done by or ill done by according to what is paid to someone doing like duties in some other occupation. The system has worked well. Cases do arise in which there is a variation in salary because one employee is working under a State award and another employee is working under a Federal award. Senator Douglas McClelland advanced arguments on this question just a minute ago. Of course, where no such comparison can be made on the principle of comparable wage justice, there should be an uplifting of salaries or a rearrangement of positions so that people doing like work receive like rewards. I think everyone would agree with that.
I mention that point today because it will be of vital interest in the debate that we will have tomorrow. We accept for the judiciary the principle of comparable wage justice which Senator Douglas McClelland has argued and which I think the Government accepts. That is the only thing that the Latrobe Valley workers are seeking today. They are seeking only a reward comparable to that paid to other workers who are involved in an operation similar to that in which they are involved.
Senator Button placed a question on the Notice Paper yesterday seeking a comparison of the pay rates of the workers in the Latrobe Valley and workers in South Australia and New South Wales. He asked whether the Latrobe Valley workers are underpaid. As Senator Douglas McClelland says, some people may be underpaid when their salaries are compared to those paid to other people. That is the yardstick. It is the yardstick that is denied to workers under wage indexation. If we apply the principle in this case, it should be applied in all cases. If we were prepared to extend the method of wage fixing for judges to the Latrobe Valley workers in Victoria, there would be no dispute and there would be no inconvenience to industry generally. If we have any spirit of justice we should not blame the strikers for trying to get what the Government accepts as suitable; we should be blaming governments and the arbitration machinery for not giving them what we accept as fair.
I think it is only proper to note that the Chief Judge of the Australian Industrial Court, who will be deciding whether $140 a week is enough for the Latrobe Valley workers, receives a salary of $42,500 a year. The other judges of the Australian Industrial Court receive a salary of $41,500 a year, together with a $2,500 tax free annual allowance and a $5 1 a day travelling allowance when they are away from home. Honourable senators can see the lack of justice in that comparison. I make a plea that we should have sympathy for these workers. We should not put all the blame on those people who are forced to take some industrial action to obtain what is accepted by other tribunals as a fair reward for services, as is acknowledged in providing a fair reward ibr the judiciary.
-I do not want to speak at any great length. I wish merely to join with other members of the Opposition in supporting the Remuneration and Allowances Amendment Bill. However, the debate affords me the opportunity to say a few words about some of the principles which are contained in the Bill as they relate and as I believe they should relate to members of Parliament. Since the establishment of the Remuneration Tribunal we have seen a much more ready acceptance of the principle that those who hold public office are entitled to an adequate remuneration, travelling allowance and conditions. In fact in recent times we have seen some improvement in that direction. I think it has to be said that the Remuneration Tribunal has been rather tolerant and generous in its attitude to the office holders who are covered by this legislation, as indeed it has been in regard to members of the Australian Parliament. My purpose in entering the debate is to draw attention to the fact that the staff of the office holders covered by this Remuneration and Allowances Amendment Bill enjoy facilities much greater than those enjoyed by the staff of members of the Parliament. This is a matter to which I ask the Government to give some consideration.
Over the last couple of years I have made submissions to the Tribunal on behalf of the staff of members of Parliament, as I have direct to the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) and to the Public Service Board. Not a great deal of progress has been made, in the sense that there has not been a complete recognition of what I believe should be achieved. In other words, I am saying that the staff of the office holders who are covered by this Bill enjoy facilities better and more generous than those enjoyed by the staff of members of the Parliament. That is a deficiency in the system. When one looks at the areas of responsibility, I do not think it can be said that the staff working for members of the judiciary who are covered by this Bill should enjoy better privileges, pay and conditions than the people we employ. To that extent I have been waging a letter war with the Tribunal and with the Public Service Board.
I indicate to the Minister that I was somewhat critical of the Public Service Board for not dealing with the submission that I made very early this year. I had cause to write to the Board, suggesting that it was somewhat recreant to its responsibilities in not replying to my correspondence other than by acknowledging it. I am pleased to say that this week I received a letter which I think ought to receive the consideration of Government senators. I say this because I am aware of the statement that was made in this place some time ago by Senator Baume.( Quorum formed). I think the letter from the Public Service Board is of some interest and because it is related to the matters which we are debating in this Bill, which deals with the Remuneration Tribunal, I believe that I ought to make some reference to it. The letter states:
The position of electorate staff -
This relates to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate- as well as the related matters raised by you, have been under consideration in this office -
That is the Public Service Board- for some time.
This area is complex and varied, as indicated by you in your submission to the Remuneration Tribunal, and in a series of detailed parliamentary questions, replies to which appeared in House of Representatives Weekly Hansard No. 1 1, 1977 at pages 2543, 2568-9. In particular, these parliamentary questions pointed out that the area is one of shared responsibility for staff of Members of Parliament, by the Government, the Remuneration Tribunal, the Department of Administrative Services and the Board.
I think it is because we are dealing with an area in which several government agencies have part responsibility that we have not been able to make much progress in respect of our staff. The Board ‘s letter continues:
With regard to your proposal for an additional staff member to be located in the Parliamentary office -
That is here in Canberra- the Remuneration Tribunal was satisfied that there is a prima facie case for a backbencher to have one member of staff in Canberra, one in his electorate, and one additional staff member who may be located in either place from time to time. However, consideration of this matter was deferred until the accommodation constraints at Parliament House are overcome.
The letter goes on to refer to the entitlements which have recently been granted in respect of staff movements to and from Canberra and the acceptance of the principle of a daily allowance.
I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a document which has just been handed to me. I understand that it is part of a submission which was given to one of the Senate Estimates Committees. The document sets out the allocation of space in square feet in Parliament House.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
PARLIAMENT HOUSE Allocation of space in square feet ( 1 )
– The argument that has been put forward against the claim that we are entitled to more staff to enable us to perform our duties better in the Parliament and in the public arena is that there are accommodation constraints here in Parliament House. Approximately 21,000 square feet is allocated for members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives. Parliamentary office holdersobviously no issue is taken on this- are allocated 9,000 square feet. Ministerial suites are allocated 27,000 square feet. I am talking in round figures. House and Senate staff are allocated 17,000 square feet. The Library is allocated 16,000 square feet. The Press Gallery is allocated 6,000 square feet. In excess of 10,000 square feet is allocated to Party rooms and other sections.
It seems to me that there is a case to be made out for an examination of this matter by those persons referred to in the letter from the Public Service Board. The Government, the Parliament, the Remuneration Tribunal, the Department of Administrative Services and the Public Service Board all have some interest in the matter of accommodation in Canberra for our staff. If there is a prima facie case that we are entitled to receive consideration for extra staff facilities in Canberra- and this has been suggested by the Public Service Board and the Remuneration Tribunal- I submit it ought to be considered by the various authorities that I have referred to including the Minister and in particular the Presiding Officers because it seems to me to be rather strange that the Senate and the members, who after all should be primary consideration of the Parliament, should be denied what I consider to be elementary rights in respect of facilities to enable them to work from this place.
I, therefore, urge the Minister when he has a chance to examine the debate and, when he looks at the emoluments that are paid to the judicial office holders under this Bill, to look also at the rights of the staff of those office holders who have full travelling rights, proper accommodation and receive all the other benefits that go to public servants. I believe that it is time that we, as members of the Parliament, should stand up and say that our staff members should have the same rights and that statutory office holders should not have staff entitlements greater than staff facilities which are available to members of the Parliament. I am sure that Government supporters would agree with me. I am not suggesting that there should be a contraction of the rights of the staff of office holders dealt with in this Bill. I am suggesting that the consideration given to the staff of office holders under this legislation should be extended to the staff of members of the National Parliament. If the National Parliament cannot establish this fundamental principle, there is something wrong with our approach to our areas of responsibility.
– in reply- I am sorry that I was unable to be present throughout the debate on this Bill but as I understand that quite a deal of the debate concerned matters of emoluments, privileges and the numbers of staff of members of Parliament perhaps it was just as well that my colleague Senator Withers was standing in in my place. He has now heard what was said and no doubt will give consideration to the matters raised. As to the matters dealt with in this Bill, of course the legislation gives effect to the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal. The Bill is entirely in line with the recommendations of that Tribunal. I am glad, for that reason and of course in view of the substance of the recommendations themselves, that the Senate is giving its support to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I am sorry to intrude at this stage, but I will be brief. I would like formally to ask in the Committee stage the question that I asked during a brief intervention that I was forced to make to enable Senator Douglas McClelland to come into the chamber. It is mildly relevant. If it is not completely relevant, perhaps you, Mr Chairman, should rule that I ought not to be putting it. As it is mildly relevant, let me put it and then you can decide for me. I ask that the Government give consideration to amending the provisions relating to disallowance of determinations made by the Remuneration and Allowances Tribunal to enable the Senate to move to disallow part of a determination, not the whole of the determination.
– That seems to be only tenuously relevant, not even mildly relevant to this debate. But I will pass that question on and bring it to the attention of the Minister who is in charge of the Remuneration Tribunal, my colleague, Senator Withers.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19 October on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– The Senate is debating the Oilseeds Levy Bill 1977, the first reading of which has been moved by the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton). When the debate was adjourned last night, I had commenced to speak on this Bill. Before I continue my remarks, I wish to make some remarks about the happenings that have taken place here today and the situation in which honourable senators find themselves, particularly tomorrow. Senator Georges has already made some comments this afternoon about the’ inconvenience that has been caused to many senators. I place on record the great inconvenience which has been caused to the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. It had a program set down for tomorrow. It was to hear witnesses and carry out its duties in relation to the reference which is before it, that is, the Commonwealth’s role in the assessment, planning, development and management of Australia’s water resources. Of course, everything had been organised for this Committee to meet tomorrow. Now, out of the blue this afternoon, we find that all the proceedings of that Committee for tomorrow have had to be cancelled because the Government is bringing in a measure tonight and it will be debated tomorrow.
As I said earlier today, we now find that the Senate is no longer treated as a House of Review. We will not be given an opportunity to study the legislation which is coming forward. Our party room committees will not be able to study the Bill. We just have to pass it through like the ingredients go through a sausage machine to make a sausage. No doubt that is the way the Bill will end up.
– Don’t you like sausages?
– I am sure, Senator Archer, that you will not like the product of this Bill once it goes through. As I will point out when I refer to other statements which have been made in the House and to the actions of members of this Government when they were in opposition, you are creating a divisive attitude in the community.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! Senator McLaren, if you are going to talk to Senator Archer like that I will not like it either.
-I am sorry, but I was diverted by Senator Archer. As I say, through you Mr Deputy President to Senator Archer, I shall refer to some of those matters which have a great similarity and which were referred to by a man who is now back within the folds of the Liberal Party. He referred to these matters when he was outside the fold, when he had left the Liberal Party. But it has now welcomed him back. I shall refer to those matters later on during my remarks on the first reading of the Oilseeds Levy Bill. Before doing so I express my concern at the chaos which has come about because of the Government’s decision. I do not blame the people in the Senate. I do not think even Senator Withers was aware of the procedures which were to be adopted. He said he was not and I believe him. He could not give us any information when he was asked earlier in the day. Now we find that the whole program which honourable senatorsno doubt on the Government side toohave laid down has had to be thrown out the window because the Senate is to meet tomorrow to pass legislation. I now get back to what Senator Hall was saying. I was very disturbed last night when Senator Hall castigated the Labor Party.
-He has always done that.
-We know he has always done that. He has also castigated the Liberal Party in South Australia. I shall repeat some of the remarks which Senator Hall has made from time to time about the party of which he is now happy to be a member of again, and for which he is seeking to win a seat in the other place. When Senator Hall was speaking on the Oilseeds Levy Bill last night he said:
If there is to be a May election -
He was talking about the leadership of the Labor Party- who is it to be?
He goes on to propose certain leaders. Of course, we know that when he was on his feet in this chamber some weeks ago he floated the idea that Mr Dunstan would come to the Federal Parliament representing the seat of Bonython. As I said to him then, that was an airy-fairy statement and it has proved to be such. It was pie in the sky which Senator Hall floated in order to get some notoriety and some Press. There was no truth in it. What disturbs me is that he said:
The Labor Party is discredited by its record, inhibited by its origins and impotent under its decaying leadership.
He said the very same things about the Liberal Party when he was in the State parliamentary sphere. Those are the very same words. He goes on like a parrot. He has to fire his salvos somewhere. In years gone by he has fired them at the Liberal Party in South Australia. Now that he is back in the fold he cannot fire them against that party.
– He is having a go at the Liberal Movement too, you know.
– Yes, I know he is. Now he fires salvos at the Labor Party. He talks about it being discredited by its record and inhibited by its origins. Every member of the parliamentary Labor Party and every member of every branch of the Labor Party is very proud of the origins of the Labor Party. The Labor Party, as we all know, grew up through the trade union movement. We make no apologies for working hand in glove with the trade union movement to better the lot of the work force in this country which persons like Senator Hall do their utmost to discredit. Last night Senator Hall came in here and quoted from the latest census of all the categories of people engaged in different avenues of employment in the seat which he will endeavour to win. One would think that he had great concern for the people because he lists the categories in Hansard. He made great play of this. I wonder why he has suddenly taken such an interest in the work force in the suburbs of Adelaide. He never had any interest before.
Senator Hall, along with his South Australian Liberal colleagues, is on record on many occasions as having castigated the Dunstan Labor Government for bringing about a state of affairs in that State which has uplifted the living standards of the work force. Now the honourable senator says that because of the actions of the Dunstan Labor Government over the last 10 years South Australia is no longer classed as a low cost State. Why was it a low cost State when it was under the premiership of both Mr Playford and, for two years, Mr Hall? They did everything possible to keep the wage structure lower than that of the counterparts of the South Australian workers in the other States. In effect, they were using tactics so that the cost of production in South Australia would be a great deal lower than what it was in other States, to the detriment of the work force in South Australia. I, as a Labor Party senator and as a great supporter of the State Labor Government under Dunstan, make no apologies. I am proud of what Dunstan has done to uplift the standard of living of people in South Australia.
Last night we found when Senator Hall came in here that he had changed his view. He is going to show some concern for the residents of Hawker who are trade union members and who are in the work force. He went to great pains, he told us, to get information. At page 15 17 of yesterday’s Senate Hansard we find a great list of the categories of work in which these people are engaged. I am sure that Senator Hall will not fool those people by taking out those figures and implying that he has a sudden interest in their welfare. They know that he has no interest. He then went on to talk about the origin of some of the ethnic groups which live in the electorate. He plucked out the figure of 11,290 which is the number of people who were born in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
He is a member of the coalition Government. I have not heard him refute the statements made by Mr Sinclair who talked about these British migrants. Mr Sinclair is on record on more than one occasion as castigating those people and blaming them for bringing into this country- a term he coined and used- the British disease. Of course those migrants, particularly those 1 1,290 people who reside in that electorate and who Senator Hall said were born in the United Kingdom and Ireland, will not believe that Senator Hall has any interest in their welfare until such time as he comes out in public and denies his support for the statements Mr Sinclair has made everywhere. Mr Sinclair has made these statements about people in the work force in this country who have had stop work meetings and strikes, trying to better their conditions. Mr Sinclair does not consider the reasons why these people have stop work meetings or go on strike. All he can say is that we have imported the British disease. I am sure that the people who live in the electorate of Hawker are waiting anxiously and eagerly to hear Senator Hall denounce Mr Sinclair’s statements.
Mr Hall then went on to say in his speech that large industrial enterprises have spread. (Quorum formed.)
– He will not be game to say it now that I am here.
– I am very pleased to hear that interjection from Senator Hall that I will not be game to say what I am going to say because he is here. That is the very reason my colleague and friend, Senator Gietzelt, drew your attention, Mr Deputy President, to the state of the House. Senator Hall was not here. He knew that I would not want to make any remarks about Senator Hall behind his back. I have never been that kind of person. I am very pleased that Senator Hall is here. I am going to say what I have to say about Senator Hall to get it on the public record. I was leading up to saying that last night Senator Hall said:
Large industrial enterprises have spread here -
He was talking about the electorate he is so interested in now- from the rest of Australia and there are small commercial services there which are so important in providing employment in our society.
The Government he now supports is showing very little interest in providing employment for members of our society. The unemployment figures have grown rapidly since it took office and since Senator Hall came back into the fold of the Liberal Party which he so often castigated and criticised in this chamber when he was sitting in so-called opposition to it. Now he admits that large industrial enterprises are coming to South Australia. He has been on record so often criticising Mr Dunstan, the Premier, for chasing enterprises away but in the Parliament last night he admitted that large industrial enterprises are, in fact, being attracted to South Australia. Once again he contradicts himself. Some of his colleagues on the other side- I shall quote them later- had very great pleasure in reminding him that he was a political acrobat. That is on record.
Another thing I am concerned about was a statement he made criticising the South Australian Labor Government and the Commonwealth Labor Government because of the money we made available for the construction of the growth centre at Monarto. He misled the Senate on that occasion as he did earlier today when he said that we were depriving the people who are depending on the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy because of the way we were handling that Bill. Last night he was up to similar tactics. He said:
I think the greatest fault of those Labor governments was that they had in prospect the building of a very large city on the banks of Adelaide’s water supply. No expert has ever been able to answer what effect that would have had but it would have utterly destroyed the quality of Adelaide ‘s basic water resource.
That goes to show how much Senator Hall knows about where water is drawn from the River Murray to supply Adelaide. The first pumping station is at Mannum which is 20 to 30 miles up river from the site. The next pumping station is at north Murray Bridge which is again up river from where any drainage from Monarto would come into the river. Senator Hall said that we were going to jeopardise Adelaide’s water supply. If he only took the time to get out into the country areas and look around , he would not make stupid statements that Monarto would affect Adelaide’s water supply. Of course it would not. There is no pump site on the river below the projected Monarto area. Many times he and his Party and Mr Tonkin have been great critics of the establishment of the Monarto growth centre. In years to come they will have to admit that it has to go ahead. It will have to go ahead.
I take great pride in the fact that the Whitlam Labor Government made the money available to purchase the land which is now in the land bank. When we get additional money to develop it, we will be able to go ahead and do it without all the trauma of acquiring the land to build a city. Of course, Senator Hall did not tell the people that when the acquisition legislation for Monarto went through the Parliament, the Liberal Party of which he is now so proud to be a member supported the legislation. It did not object to it. I well remember the State member, Mr Wardle as he was then, coming out on the first inspection we had when Mr Dunstan announced the project, lauding what we had done. Of course, when his colleagues got to him and thought they could get some political mileage he criticised it. The people of Murray Bridge have now seen the light. What happened to Mr Wardle on 17 September? He lost his seat to an endorsed Liberal. I hope that the present incumbent of that seat will not take the same action as Mr Wardle took in criticising the development of the Monarto complex. It is something which is desperately required in that area.
Senator Hall today let the cat out of the bag on the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Amendment Bill in trying to gain a political point about the desperate need of the legislation for which the Senate is being held back. He said that the sole purpose of it was to put the knife into the workers in the Latrobe Valley. This is the very thing for which the trade union movement in South Australia has been critical of him in the past. I shall quote from Senate Hansard of 9 July 1 975 when I read an extract of some material that was put out awakening the trade union members of South Australia as to what type of person Senator Hall was. That document was headed ‘Liberal Movement-Liberal Myth?’ It stated:
Liberal Movement leader Steele Hall in the propaganda for his Senate election campaign makes much of his claim to be more ‘progressive’ than the official Liberals with whom he has bitter personal quarrels.
He would like to forget about these quarrels now and sweep them under the carpet.
He claims to be a reform politician, for enlightened change, a genuine alternative to the Labor Party.
And for the working people of South Australia it is dangerous nonsense.
His political career and beliefs are based on a deep-seated hatred of trade unions and he is longing to throw into reverse all that the ALP and the union movement have fought for over decades to achieve wage justice and decent job conditions.
That is what I was referring to a while ago when I talked about Senator Hall and his South Australian colleagues criticising the State Labor Government because it brought about a set of circumstances in which South Australia is no longer classed as a low cost State. This is what the trade unions think of Senator Hall:
A study of what he and his handful of supporters actually say show this.
A look at just part of their record in recent years proves this- consistent, unjustified attacks on trade unions.
To them unionists are always wrong, employers always right.
Back in May, 1970, when he was Premier, he roundly condemned a cement workers’ strike as irresponsible.
In October that year- in Opposition- he was attackingand distorting- the Government and the AWU over compulsory unionism.
This type of strong arm tactic … is repugnant to all fair minded citizens ‘, he said.
A month later unionists in the car manufacturing industry felt his wrath.
He tried to imply in his speech last night that he had great sympathy for the car manufacturing workers who are domiciled in the electorate which he is seeking to represent. That is in the Hansard record. Yet he is also on record as castigating the car manufacturing workers when he was a member of the South Australian Parliament. The document went on:
Industrial unrest posed a threat to Australia’s whole economy, ‘militant action . . . will destroy our existing capacity’.
A few months later, he claimed the industrial scene was in a state of deterioration and urged the Government to prevent black bans.
A month later it was the turn of the ACTU.
They were accused of making a secret agreement with retailers to enforce compulsory unionism, employees were intimidated and the Minister of Labour and Industry was encouraging the breaking of the Industrial Code’ because he is ‘ browbeaten ‘ by industrial leaders.
And so it goes on: Hall and his deputy Robin Millhouse- Robin Millhouse was his deputy then but now they are at loggerheads. Senator Hall did his utmost, in the events leading up to the election in South Australia on 1 7 September last, to remove Mr Millhouse from his seat of Mitcham. Of course, he was not successful. Mr Millhouse retained his seat with the support of the Australian Labor Party. Our preferences enabled him to retain it. (Quorum formed). To continue my remarks -
- Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. The honourable senator appears to be reading from a document. Could we be told who is the author of the article that he is reading and the document from which he is reading?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I do not uphold the point of order.
– That was just a device to prevent me from saying what I am saying. Senator Archer can see that I am reading from the Senate Hansard. I gave the date of it before I commenced reading from it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Order! Senator McLaren, I have been listening to you very carefully. I point out to you that you are not allowed to quote words that it would be unparliamentary for you to utter. I thought once or twice that you were tending to disparage another honourable senator. I ask you to be careful.
- Mr Deputy President, I am quoting from an article that I read into Hansard on 9 July 1975.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Order! That still does not allow you to make disparaging remarks.
- Senator Hall was in the chamber when I did that and he did not object. I notice that he is not objecting now.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- But I can object.
– I return to the article, which appeared in many trade union journals in South Australia. It went on to say that Mr Hall, as he was then, said that South Australian industries were moving to other States because of industrial disruption. As I said earlier in my speech, he is on record as saying that on many occasions. That is what I was referring to earlier in my speech when I quoted what Senator Hall said last night when he said that large industrial enterprises have spread to the seat of Hawker from interstate. He is on record as saying previously that they were leaving the State. He now has to admit that they are coming back to the State and they are doing so under a Labor government. There has been a Labor government in South Australia for nearly 10 years now.
Senator Hall once accused the Trades and Labour Council of ‘attempting to strip away the protection of the law from anyone who stands against it’. He once described an Australian Railways Union strike as ‘disastrous’. He once accused the Liquor Trades Employees Union of intimidation and the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of ‘grossest interference with the affairs of a company’. The article continues:
A year ago Hall claimed Australian industry was in ‘grave danger’ because of a ‘reckless’ union ban on US ships. Now he is on the attack again professing concern about union management, demanding checking of accounts by the Auditor-General despite the fact that audited balance sheets are already required by law to be presented to the Registrar of the Industrial Court.
These are just a few incidents of many.
We know that the last paragraph that I read is completely true. Mr Hall, as he then was, made a very severe attack in the South Australian Parliament- it was reported in the Canberra Times on 8 March 1974 and also is on record in the South Australian Hansard- on an accountancy company in South Australia and accused it of not doing its job. He accused it of some vile things. One of the members of that accountancy company was the honourable member for Adelaide, Mr Chris Hurford.
Mr Hall, as he then was, on the Thursday after he made that attack received a letter from the solicitors acting for Hurford, Doyle and Co. challenging him to repeat his parliamentary remarks in public within 48 hours. The solicitors described their clients as having been the victims of a most brazen libel and said that only the law relating to parliamentary privilege had prevented a Supreme Court writ from being issued against Mr Hall. Of course, we all know that Mr Hall never accepted the challenge. He never repeated his remarks outside parliament. He used the privilege of parliament to make those statements about an honourable company in South Australia. I will not quote them all. He could not verify the remarks that he made, just as he cannot verify a great many other remarks he has made. I venture to say that, as he is now back in the Liberal Party of Australia, he will not endeavour -
- Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. It is not unusual for the honourable senator to set about the task of being personal about another honourable senator in this chamber, but today we have had nothing but a continuous personal attack upon one member of this chamber. I ask you to rule upon that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I am in a very difficult position. I warned Senator McLaren earlier about that situation. There is a very fine line between political comment and personal comment. I say again to Senator McLaren: Please do not tend to disparage another honourable senator.
– I take cognisance of your remarks, Mr Deputy President. I feel that I am entitled to do that because of the provocative remarks that were made in this chamber last night by Senator Hall. I will repeat them. He said:
The Labor Party is discredited by its record, inhibited by its origins and impotent under its decaying leadership.
If that is not a disparaging remark about Mr Whitlam, what is Mr Deputy President? Why am I not entitled to come back and prove to this Parliament that Senator Hall has no basis for saying that? I am endeavouring to prove that he is the very type of person that he has accused the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party of being.
Senator Hall has uttered falsehoods in this chamber. What I am uttering in this chamber is the exact truth. He is on record as saying those things. They are on record in the Hansard of South Australia and the Hansard of this chamber, from which I am now about to quote. It is all very well for Senator Young to stand up and try to protect Senator Hall, but when I quote some extracts from Hansard Senator Young will have a red face because in years gone by he has said more derogatory things about Senator Hall in this chamber than I ever have, either inside or outside this chamber. When I come to read those extracts Senator Young will have to agree. I refer, firstly, to the Senate Hansard of 25 February 1975 and Senator Hall’s speech on the Privy Council Appeals Abolition Bill. The following interjection was addressed by Senator Baume to Senator Hall:
Your are sanctimonious
I have not said that Senator Hall is sanctimonious Senator Baume said that. Senator Hall said in reply:
I do not care whether I am labelled sanctimonious or not. I am rather tired, as are so many of Senator Baume ‘s supporters in New South Wales at a very high level, of the duplicity of the Opposition in this House.
Senator Hall was talking about the very people with whom he now sits. I turn now to the Joint Sitting on 6 August, after the double dissolution. In speaking to the Commonwealth Electoral Act (No. 2), Senator Hall said:
As a matter of fact, Mr Chairman, I threw that in for an effect.
He was engaged in a crossfire with the present Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Withers. Senator Hall went on to say:
I have seen in my State a so-called non Labor party destroy itself because it claimed it was anti-Labor by saying that it had, in effect, the divine right to govern.
At whom was his main jibe then directed? It was directed at the present Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council in South Australia, Mr De Garis. Although Senator Hall is back in the Liberal Party, I am sure that he is not on very close terms with Mr De Garis because of the things that he said about Mr De Garis over the years. As I have often shown in this Parliament, Mr De Garis espouses that very policy of the Liberal Party, namely, that it has the divine right to govern. Of course, Senator Hall is on record, when we look through Senate Hansard as saying that very thing about the Liberal Party when it was in opposition; that it thought it had a divine right to govern. He was criticising the Liberals most severely for the actions they were taking in 1975.
– When you cannot beat them, join them!
– This is just what he has done. The attitude that Senator Hall mentioned as then being prevalent in the Liberal Party has not changed one bit. The Liberals still think they have a divine right to govern. When Senator Withers got up to reply to Senator Hall in that same debate, as recorded at page 1 7 of Senate Hansard, in the Joint Sitting of 6 August 1974 he is seen to have said this about the honourable senator:
One would have thought that we had just heard from the greatest electoral reformer ever to come into any parliament in Australia, and it is rather interesting to note the electoral reforms which he carried out in 1970 as Premier of South Australia ‘.
I know almost everybody in the Liberal Party, both Federal and State, criticised Senator Hall for his electoral reform in South Australia, but I am on record on more than one occasion in this Parliament as congratulating Senator Hall upon it. That is one thing for which I do give him credit. Senator Withers went on to say:
No wonder one should beware of the devil when he quotes scripture.
He was, of course, referring to Senator Hall, and now he welcomes him back into this magnificent Liberal Party. They say all these things about one another, and then at the first opportunity welcome each other back with open arms.
Now we come to Senator Young. What did he have to say about Senator Hall? He got up and protected him a while ago, but if we look at Senate Hansard at page 494 of 26 February 1975 when we were debating the Minerals (Submerged Lands) Bill we see that, in following Senator Hall, he said:
We have just listened to a highly emotional speech from Senator Hall who has accused the Opposition of turning things upside down.
Of course, Senator Young was then a member of the Opposition. I quote further.
Unfortunately, for the last 10 minutes there has been a tirade of abuse and personal vendettas against individual senators on this side of the chamber. In my short time in the Senate this was a rarity until recent times. I regret very much that debate in the Senate has been lowered to that level.
Of course, he was referring to Senator Hall:
I say that with all sincerity because the Senate has always prided itself on the way in which debates have taken place. There have been cross-fires from either side of the chamber. But, as I say, these have been rarities and in the main have dealt with the subject under discussion.
That is what one of his now colleagues had to say about him, yet we found Senator Young getting up a while ago and trying to prevent me from detailing to the Senate some of the statements made by Senator Hall. I have never made about Senator Hall statements, such as Senator Young has made about him!
In the debate on electoral redistribution in South Australia, as recorded at page 1739 of Senate Hansard oil! May 1975, Senator Hall, in talking about his now leader, said:
Those of us who want equality shudder at the type of speech that Senator Withers has made to the Senate.
He went on to say:
The National Country Party is a sectional party. As much as it may claim to be a national country party and set out to go into the cities, we know that it is a sectional party and that it represents sectional views. I do not blame it; nor do I say in a sense that it is wrong for it to hold those views. Of course it can hold those views. I do not think it is nearly as false in holding those views as is the Liberal Party. After all, the Liberal Party is supposed to be a liberal party to cover all sections of this community.
There we find Senator Hall again being trenchant in his criticism of the party under whose banner he wants to run.
In speaking to the Constitution Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) Bill, Senator Hall is reported at page 2409 of the Senate Hansard of 10 June 1975 assaying:
Senator Withers never fails to repeat his performance, and never disappoints if one is expecting to find the lowest of all approaches to the electoral question. He simply approaches the question by asking: ‘Who’s gonna win?’ That is all that worries Senator Withers. He does not worry about any principle; he does not worry about the principle of where the Australian people stand on this matter. He just confuses the issue and asks: ‘Who’s gonna win?’ The only thing one must get from the other end of the microphone on the amplifier side is that Senator Withers does not think that he is going to win under the change. This is about the only logic that comes out of his continued opposition to the fairest of all proposals- - because it is the fairest of all proposals that the Houses should be in phase in elections.
I commend Senator Hall for being of that opinion. He went on further, as reported at page 2410, to say:
The situation has changed dramatically since the election last year. Following the election the then Leader of the Opposition said as honourable senators know very well, that he did not lose the election . . .
He was talking about Mr Snedden: . . he just did not get the numbers. From then on, week after weary week, he threatened Australia with yet another election. There could not have been a more unstable political situation than that which existed in Australia following the double dissolution last year. The public of Australia got thoroughly fed up with the instability in Australian pOlitiCs If ever there was a lesson for Senator Baume it existed in the removal of his former leader on the very basis that he constantly threatened instability in Australian politics.
Of course we all know the program that took place to get rid of Mr Snedden. I have spoken about it in this House, and other people have done so too. That is another episode where Senator Hall was criticising the Government of which he is now supposed to be a member. He went on further to say:
There has been a very real result from the new stability that has emerged, on which the new Leader of the Opposition (Mr Malcolm Fraser) should be congratulated. He said that he will not defeat the Government by defeating the Budget, and that is a promise he made again on the weekend. So the Government knows from that public promise given by the Leader of the Opposition that its Budget will not be defeated.
How untrue were those words which were uttered by Senator Hall. We all know what transpired after that, and yet Senator Hall got up in this chamber and gave an undertaking to the Government that Mr Fraser, whom he congratulated on his elevation to the leadership of the Liberal Party, would not defeat the Budget. We know what happened. He used the first opportunity to do so. We know how this Senate was held up, week after week. There was some criticism today when, for a few moments, a Bill was held up, but we then had to sit here week in and week out and see our Budget held up.
Further, as reported at page 2438 of Hansard, in discussing the proposals for electoral redistribution in the State of South Australia, Senator Hall said:
One wishes at times that Senator Withers would revise his speech. He seems to use the same copy but adds a few words each time a redistribution proposal comes into the House. However, one thing was clearer in his speech tonight that is that Senator Withers had very seriously charged senior public servants across Australia. He said tonight that the redistribution proposal we have before us is a fiddle, a gerrymander, a fraud and it is deceitful.
I ask honourable senators opposite to look at Senate Hansard of this week and read the reply given by Senator Withers to Senator Douglas McClelland, who asked a question about the redistribution for New South Wales. He severely criticised the senator for actually asking the question about the redistribution having been withdrawn. As we understand it, Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s question was: Why did the Liberal Party in New South Wales not call nominations for a pre-selection ballot for four certain seats, the very four that have now been altered altogether from the first proposal. We find Senator Withers coming in here and denigrating Senator Douglas McClelland.
Who set the precedent for this sort of thing? Senator Hall exposed him, as reported in Hansard at page 2438 on 10 June 1975. 1 hope that my colleague, Senator Douglas McClelland, gets out that Hansard now that I have brought it to his notice and reads it. It was not Senator Douglas McClelland who made those remarks but in fact Senator Withers who said: The redistribution proposal we have before us is a fiddle, a gerrymander, a fraud and it is deceitful. Of course we had honourable gentlemen carrying out that redistribution who were not under the influence of the Government. As Senator Withers claims, the people carrying out the distribution were not under the influence of this Government. Now I will deal with some of the derogatory remarks that have been made by honourable senators opposite about one another. When Senator Hall was speaking on the same Bill- this appears at page 2439 of HansardSenator Jessop interjected and said:
You are a Judas. The country people in South Australia say you are a Judas.
Senator Hall then said:
Senator Jessop says I am a Judas ;
Senator Jessop then said:
I did not say that.
He is recorded in Hansard as saying that. His very first words were:
You are a Judas.
Later he said:
I did not say that.
If we go further we find that Senator Hall said:
So Senator Jessop mouths other people ‘s words, like Senator Withers in this House. He disgracefully mouths insulting words. Of course, he can produce no evidence to back the use of those words. Senator Jessop knows the result that will ensue in South Australia. As the last senator on the ticket for the Liberal Party, he has a very limited life in this House, thank goodness.
Of course, we know that the friction still exists because those two senators had an exchange between themselves yesterday at the end of Senator Wheeldon ‘s speech. I have no doubt that Senator Hall will not be asking Senator Jessop to go into this electorate he is trying to win to help him campaign. I will now refer to some of the remarks made by Senator Hall on 15 October 1975. He was getting stuck into members of the National Country Party- the people of the coalition he now sits with. I am sure that the Minister for Science (Senator Webster) will not like to be reminded of the remarks made by Senator Hall against Senator Webster’s leader. Senator Hall said:
Mr Anthony ‘s Party is strongest in Queensland.
Of course, we all know why it is the strongest party in Queensland. It gets in on about 29 per cent of the vote under the greatest gerrymander that has ever existed in Australia. Senator Hall continues:
Today Her Majesty’s representative aligned himself with one section of the community against another section. This is what the action of Senator Wright in this chamber and of his Leader, Mr Fraser, has brought Australia to within the first day of this most divisive action which anyone can take in this Parliament. When we need, above all in Australia, a unifying consensus of thought we have a political leader who will snatch power and divide the country irrevocably in so doing.
They are the remarks of Senator Hall on 15 October 1975. Yet, we find him getting up here today and talking about a certain piece of legislation that is to be introduced and saying how necessary it is for it to be passed. He has completely lost sight of the fact that that piece of legislation also will cause division in the Australian community. On 15 October 1975 during the same debate, Senator Young interjected and said to Senator Hall:
What did the honourable senator do in his State- the great Messiah!
So, there again, we have this senator who rose in this place a few moments ago and tried to sit me down because I was making some very mild remarks about Senator Hall. Now I have proved that Senator Young himself has been much stronger himself in his criticism of the very person he now defends. One wonders why there has been a change of heart on Senator Hall’s part by going back into the Liberal Party and on Senator Young’s part in now defending Senator Hall. Senator Hall replied to the interjection from Senator Young on 1 5 October by saying:
This division is not made in a very pleasant fashion, because every time that Senator Young walks across this floor he takes a dead man’s vote with him in his pocket. Today this Opposition, which aspires to lead this country with the great principles about which it prates, won a vote in the Senate and was able to have its will to move an amendment to a loan Bill which is the lifeblood of many Australians. The Bill was’ defeated in that fashion only by the vote of a dead man which the Opposition has, contrary to the convention of this country. The Premier of Queensland would not replace the late Senator Milliner by a member from his own Party. The fact that that replacement, in Senator Field, is not here does not remove the fact that the absence of that vote to the Party which should have it means that it cannot prevent the Opposition from doing what it did today. This is quite disgraceful. I must say that there is an area of responsibility, no doubt, for all of us.
That is the cross fire that took place between the people who now are all together in one little bunch. Of course, we now find that history is repeating itself. We saw it repeated here today. Tomorrow, we will find that Senator Hall will stand up in this place and, no doubt, will support this legislation. Yet, I draw honourable senators attention to the statements he made in 1975 about the divisive measures that the present Government, when in Opposition, was inflicting upon this community. In that same speech, Senator Young interjected again and Senator Hall replied:
Senator Young is very vocal. I believe he has never wavered in his stance, unlike Senator Jessop. I remember that after Senator Bunton and I had clearly stated our position which was that we would not support the rejection of Supply, Senator Jessop rushed into print in Saturday’s Advertiser to say that he too would not reject Supply.
Of course, we are all aware of the events that occurred after that. Senator Hall was quite right in criticising his now colleague, Senator Jessop. A very interesting revelation came out later in that speech of Senator Hall about the present Prime Minister. When we examine the articles which appear in the daily Press and the editorials which appear day after day, we know that circumstances have not changed. When Senator Hall was talking about Australian Liberals, he had this to say about his present Leader in the other place:
The point is that they should know that their Leader has talked to them this morning through the nation’s Press by ringing the Press proprietors yesterday and asking them to do it in their own names and not in his. That is the way in which this morning’s Press was handled.
Of course, we know what the headlines were in the Press. Senator Hall then objected to those tactics being used by the Leader under which he is now prepared to serve, Mr Fraser. No doubt, he will support Mr Fraser if Mr Fraser brings about that divisive action of going to the people for an early election. Senator Hall also is on record in Hansard of 16 October 1975 at page 1237 as saying:
Mr Fraser will be the first political leader in Australia to go down as the leader who tried to cancel Christmas.
That is what Mr Fraser is trying to do now. Two years after that statement of Senator Hall in this place in which he accused Mr Fraser of trying to cancel Christmas, we now find that this legislation which is to be introduced will do the very thing for which Senator Hall was criticising Mr Fraser. Of course it will cancel Christmas for a great many wage earners in this country because it is nothing more than a provocative action to take on the trade union movement. I have pointed this out in this Parliament on more than one occasion. I made a speech on, I think, 30 October, which was about 1 1 months after Mr Fraser had said what he was going to do to get rid of Mr Snedden. Mr Fraser also indicated what he would do when his Party refused Supply. His remarks are in the Hansard record. Mr Fraser said that he and Mr Street-who would become the Minister for Labour and Industrywould take on the trade union movement and teach it a lesson. The points I detailed to this Senate in that speech have all come true. The finality of the matter will be when the legislation is introduced into the Senate tonight. The Government is taking on the trade union movement and it will endeavour to teach that movement a lesson.
– The sooner the better.
- Senator Archer says: The sooner the better’. Senator Archer ought to read some Australian history to see what happened to Stanley Melbourne Bruce when he tried the same tactics. What happened? He was the Prime Minister of this country and he lost his seat. No doubt, the same thing will happen to Mr Fraser if he has a confrontation with the trade union movement in this country. I will refer the Senate to some further statements. (Quorum formed). I was about to detail some of the other statements that have been made by Liberal Party senators against their own colleagues. I refer to a remark which I made earlier. I refer to page 1 560 of the Senate Hansard of 29 October when Senator Jessop called Senator Hall a political acrobat. Of course, he did not know at the time how true those words were. He had no idea of how true those words were and, of course, he stung Senator Hall when he said that. Senator Hall replied by saying:
Let me say that Senator Jessop has a bit to answer for in the community.
I do not know what Senator Hall was referring to and I am not much worried about it, but no doubt he knew something about Senator Jessop when he made those remarks. He went on to say, as recorded at page 1823 of the Senate Hansard of 6 November 1975 when he was debating the appropriation legislation:
Let me say quite briefly that I do not like the speeches that Senator Withers makes in this place. Of course, I have yet to hear him make a worthy speech with noble motives. He again adds to that continuing list of words that are chronicled in Hansard . . .
Again, he criticised the person he is now prepared to sit behind and support. He went on and at page 1659 of the Senate Hansard of 30 October 1975 during the adjournment debate he is reported in this way:
Senator Withers has not earned any benefit of doubt about this matter. In my 18 months here I have heard him make scoundrels of people who want fair redistribution proposals for this nation. In recent times I have heard him make scoundrels of those people who have supported the contention that governments are made and broken only in the lower House, and 1 have heard the many other twists of the truth in which Senator Withers has been involved. On his track record I must disbelieve him.
What has happened in the meantime since Senator Hall made those remarks? He has had a change of heart.
– I do not know whether he is repentant but 1 have no doubt that when he made those remarks he was being truthful. He believed in them or he would not have made them in this Senate. During the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill on 16 July 1974,. talking about Senator Jessop, Senator Hall said:
I am sure that Senator Jessop has not heard of it. He does not see anything but a little narrow path ahead of him which leads to the Liberal-Country League.
No doubt Senator Jessop has taken Senator Hall by the hand and shown him where that narrow path is, and has led him back into the LiberalCountry League.
I have made these statements today because Senator Hall stood up in this Parliament last night and castigated and denigrated the leadership, of the Australian Labor Party. He tried to fool the people of the electorate for which he wants to be elected into believing that he has some real concern for their interests. But we know full well, and the people of South Australia know, that he has never shown that concern in the time he has been here. He never showed that concern during all the time he was in the Parliament in South Australia and for the two years that he was Premier. I am sure that the people in the electorate of Hawker will be very grateful that I have reminded them of all the disputes between Senator Hall and the members of the Government party for which he now seeks to be elected, whenever the election may be. Of course, each moment now we become more aware that it is going to be on 10 December. That is when Senator Hall will go out and say that he is a member of a united Liberal Party and that people should vote for him.
Senator STEELE HALL (South Australia) Mr President, understanding Order 410 I claim to have been seriously misrepresented and misunderstood. I would therefore like to make use of that Standing Order to put right the misunderstanding.
– Proceed, Senator Hall.
-There were a number of points on which I was misquoted or misunderstood. Firstly, Senator McLaren said that I sat here in opposition to the parties with which I now sit. The facts of the matter are that I have sat always on the side on which those parties have sat. I have not sat on any other side in this House, and in proof of the direction of politics I then followed I draw to Senator McLaren’s attention the fact that the Liberal Movement, now out of existence, on every occasion on which an election was held, State or Federal, directed its first preferences to the Liberal Party. For Senator McLaren’s benefit, I believe that that explanation will prove entirely false his claim that I sat here in opposition to the parties now on this side of the chamber.
Secondly, Senator McLaren made the point about the city of Monarto that its siting on the planned area adjacent to the River Murray could have no effect on the quality of the water drawn to supply Adelaide. The fact is that in 1967 -
– What has that got to do with it?
– I suggest that I am putting the facts correctly. In 1967 the River Murray ceased to flow. At Murray Bridge, in that area of the river from which the two sources of water are drawn for Adelaide, the river level fell. In fact there was an intermingling of the water upstream so that any effect anywhere in the lock containment affected the totality of the water quality in that part of the river. I will not develop that further. I believe that it fully explains my claim that water drainage from the proposed city of Monarto, either from the surface or underneath the surface, would contaminate in some conditions of the river the significant supplies of water that supply Adelaide.
Thirdly, I understand that Senator McLaren said that in my remarks in relation to the electorate of Hawker, for which I am a candidate, I was using British migrants, or at least I was bashing them. He made a derogatory remark about the attention I gave last night in this debate to British migrants. The facts are that I quoted the very large number of people in the electorate of Hawker who were born in Britain on the basis of concern for their welfare, and in no way was I criticising them. My concern was based on the fact that their standard of living has been seriously depressed by the previous Whitlam
Labor Government, and that was the particular reason I rose in the debate.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I realise that under Standing Order 410 one can claim to have been misrepresented and correct that misrepresentation. I suggest that Senator Hall is at the moment debating an issue far beyond the limits of the Standing Order.
- Senator Hall is replying to different points on which he claims to have been misrepresented.
– If I take a little longer it is simply because of the very extensive quotations Senator McLaren made from my previous remarks in this place. The fourth point on which I was seriously misunderstood and misrepresented concerns the election of Mr Millhouse for the State electorate of Mitcham at the last State election. It is true that Mr Millhouse and I are now on opposite sides of the political spectrum, if one can consider that to be in the non-Labor sense. However, it is not true, and it is divisive to say so, that I used the utmost of my endeavours to defeat Mr Millhouse. I attended one of his campaign functions and no other. It was the Labor Party which elected Mr Millhouse with its preferences.
The fifth point on which I have been misrepresented concerns a quite serious matter to which Senator McLaren referred about remarks I made in the House of Assembly in South Australia about an accounting firm, one of the principals of which is the honourable member for Adelaide, Mr Hurford. Senator McLaren said that I made serious and defamatory charges against that gentleman through my criticism of his firm. The facts of that matter are that the firm was the auditor of a union in South Australia whose accounts were subject to very serious embezzlement of funds. That embezzlement was not found by the auditors, and that was the subject of my criticism at the time.
Senator McLAREN (South Australia)-Mr President, under Standing Order 410 I claim to have been misrepresented by Senator Hall. In his explanation claiming that he was misrepresented, he has misrepresented me. At no stage in my remarks did I say that Senator Hall was a member of the Opposition. I said that he sat on the cross benches of this House and supported the Opposition. As far as migrants are concerned, Senator Hall misrepresented me when he said that I said in my remarks today that he was derogatory of migrants in the electorate of Hawker. I did no such thing. I quoted what Mr Sinclair had said, and I went on to express the hope that if Senator Hall was sincere he would repudiate the remarks made by Mr Sinclair.
– That is not what you said.
– It is. I suggest that the honourable senator read the Hansard. Senator Hall has tried to confuse the issue on the question of Monarto. He knows full well that there is no pumping station which supplies -
-Order! Senator McLaren, do not debate the subject. If you think that you have been misrepresented, you must reply to the points upon which you think you have been misrepresented; and that is all.
-I claim that the honourable senator has misrepresented me in respect of the site of Monarto. I said in my remarks that the site of Monarto, when it is developed, will drain -downstream from the access pumps which supply the Adelaide metropolitan area with water. Again the honourable senator has misrepresented me and I am sure that when he reads the Hansard tomorrow he will see that what he has said is not factual.
- Mr President, I ask leave to continue my remarks later in the first reading on the Oilseed Levy Bill.
- Senator Young, you should say a few words and then seek leave to continue your remarks later.
-I appreciate that the Senate is debating a motion for the first reading of the Oilseeds Levy Bill. I am concerned that we have spent so much time in the Senate chamber this afternoon listening to one honourable senator dealing with the personality of another honourable senator. I ask leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a first time.
Second Reading ; Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorneyGeneral) (5.48)- I move:
This Bill proposes important, far-reaching amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration
Act. The measures it contains give effect to the Government parties’ industrial relations policy which was overwhelmingly endorsed at the last election.
– They are being distributed right now.
-This policy reflects a fundamental review of the rights and responsibilities of the parties engaged in industrial relations and the demands of the contemporary community. An important feature of this legislation is the manner in which the Government has sought to expose the subject matter of the Bill to intensive public scrutiny. Much of the substance of this Bill was introduced into the House in March of this year.
In the second reading speech on that Bill, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) said that, because of the fundamental importance of the legislation, the Government intended members of this Parliament, the principal parties to industrial relations and the community at large to be given time to consider objectively the contents of the Bill and to make their views known to the Government. The Bill lay on the table of the House until midMay. Subsequently, the Minister entered into negotiations, on behalf of the Government, with the peak union and employer councils.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. The Minister is reading something different from what is contained in the paper that I have. I am not sure whether he is -
-It is the second reading speech.
– I am just asking. I have a copy of the statement he is supposed to be reading to the Senate. It is not the same as what he is reading. I would like to know whether this statement is different from the one that the Minister has. If it is, perhaps he should stick to the text given to us.
-I do not have to read exactly the same as what is contained in that document. I am presenting a second reading speech and I am entitled to present it in my own way.
-Mr President, it has been the custom in the Senate that when a Minister makes his second reading address on legislation a copy of his speech is given to all senators and that the copy of the speech contains the same text as the one the Minister reads. I suggest that it is quite improper -
– Of course it is improper. Surely it will not be said at this stage that the Minister is entitled to deliver something which is quite different from the matter which has been circulated to the Senate. I do not want to be too difficult -
– Order! The point of order is not upheld. The Minister may make his second reading speech on a Bill in his own way. I call the Attorney-General.
- Mr President, I ask for your consideration of the fact that on every occasion while I have been in the Senate- that is 16 years -on which a Bill has been introduced into the Senate and the Minister has read his second reading address, copies have been distributed to senators at the time of the making of the address and the copies distributed to senators have always been the same as the document from which the Minister has read. Otherwise, the Minister is reading something different and senators cannot follow his address. I suggest that there might be some understanding of that.
– Really, Mr President, this point of order is utter nonsense. I am reading a speech. I am simply changing the word *I’ to the words ‘Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations’. I am simply making amendments of that character.
– The Minister may introduce the legislation as he decides. I do not uphold the point of order which Senator Bishop raises.
- Mr President, I suggest that what the Minister is after now -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order -
– Order! I have a point of order before me now.
- Mr President, I have taken a point of order and you have knocked it out. If you had listened closely you would have heard me suggest- you might ask the Clerk to advise you- that the Minister has left out of his speech a number of things which are included in the statement. I do not mind him altering pronouns, et cetera; but, in fact, he has changed the speech. He has argued that he can change it. I am only asking, if the Minister has a different text from the one we have, that he give us a copy of it. That is my point.
– I call Senator Baume.
- Mr President, I believe that you gave a ruling on this matter twice.
– I did.
– I believe that Standing Order 429 states clearly the procedure to be followed if someone wishes to object to a ruling of the President. I do not believe it is proper, once the President has given a ruling, for an honourable senator merely to prolong the sitting of the Senate by bringing up the same matter again and again.
- Mr President, may I speak to that point of order?
-Order! The fact is that, when a ruling has been made in respect of a given standing order, that is final in respect of the matter which was the subject of the point of order.
- Mr President, would you like to repeat the ruling you gave so that honourable senators on this side of the chamber might consider very carefully what you said?
– I said-very clearly, I thought- that the Attorney-General or any Minister, when introducing legislation at the second reading stage, can introduce that legislation in the way that he desires. I add this comment now: The Hansard record becomes the authentic record of the words uttered by the Minister in this place.
- Mr President, may I ask you a question?
- Mr President, may I ask you a question? Is it your custom now and will it be your custom in the future not to carry out the forms of the Senate, which it has always been the custom in the Senate -
Honourable senators interjecting-
– I am asking the question. Mr President, I ask you to consider this seriously: Is it to be the practice in future that the distribution of copies of the second reading speech to senators will not be carried out? That is all I ask.
- Mr President, I would like to ask you a further question.
– One at a time, thank you. My duty in the Senate is to interpret the Standing Orders as I see them. Those Standing Orders are of paramount importance to me. They are the basis of my rulings in this place. A matter which does not come within the parameters of the Standing Orders is not within my jurisdiction in the chair. The Senate is the master of its own destinies in matters over which I have no control by virtue of the authority vested in me as one who interprets the Standing Orders and applies for the good conduct of the Senate.
- Mr President, do senators have the right to seek clarification of your ruling after you have made it?
– I ask this without any offence to you, Mr President. The question I wish to ask you is this: Does your ruling, Mr President, apply to a second reading speech that is made by a Minister in respect of an area within his own responsibility? Does the ruling also cover a second reading speech which he makes on behalf of a Minister whom he represents in this place? There is a substantial difference. The speech that the Minister is reading at the present time is the second reading speech of a Minister in another place. I would say that the Attorney-General would have to keep to the words in that speech. If he makes a speech in his own right on a matter that comes within his own responsibility he can add to it whatever he likes, but he cannot do that when he is reading a speech on behalf of another Minister.
– I advise the honourable senator that I have no control over the manner in which a Minister introduces legislation at the second reading stage.
-Subsequent to the introduction of the Bill in the House of Representatives earlier this year, the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations entered into consultations, on behalf of the Government, with the peak union and employer councils. As a result of these meetings the Minister announced on 17 May:
The Government welcomes the acceptance by the ACTU of an Industrial Relations Bureau and the reconstitution of the National Labour Advisory Council.
The Government has decided to pass legislation this Session to establish the Industrial Relations Bureau which will have the function of securing the observance-of the Act and Awards in the terms already in the Act.
Pending the detailed consideration of the Act referred to later in this statement, the Industrial Relations Bureau will have the same powers as the Arbitration Inspectorate, no more, no less, and those powers will be exercised according to the same processes as they have been until now.
The Government will also legislate this session to reconstitute the National Labour Advisory Council to provide a national tripartite forum for the consideration of issues of national concern in the industrial relations and manpower areas.
Both these bodies are key elements in the Government’s industrial relations policy.
The Government is also committed to legislating for the protection of individual rights in the industrial area.
However, it is prepared to review the provisions of these aspects and on other matters relating to the operation of the Act contained in the present Bill in the light of their further consideration by the reconstituted National Labour Advisory Council. To enable this the Government will stand over until the Budget session further legislation in relation to these matters.
On 27 May, and in accordance with this statement, the Minister introduced into this House legislation for the establishment of the Industrial Relations Bureau and the National Labour Consultative Council. As honourable senators will be aware, the Act establishing the Industrial Relations Bureau was given royal assent on 12 June. The provisions of that Act providing for the appointment of a Director of the Bureau and enabling him to undertake the organisation of the Bureau were proclaimed to operate from 3 October. On that date, the first Director of the Bureau, Mr D. L. Linehan, took up his appointment. The provisions enabling the Bureau to commence its function of securing the observance of the Act, regulations and awards will be proclaimed as soon as the Director has completed the necessary organisational arrangements. Similarly, honourable senators will be aware that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, whom I represent in this place, took immediate steps to convene the National Labour Consultative Council following its creation by legislation. The Council has now met on three occasions and, in accordance with the Minister’s statement of 17 May referred to earlier, considered the legislative proposals contained in the Bill of last March.
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to both the national employers and the peak trade union councils for the frank views put to the Minister during those consultations. The weight the Government has given those views is borne out by an examination of the amendments proposed by the current Bill. Though similar in substance, it is not the same Bill as was introduced in March of this year. A number of modifications have been made and some matters are not pursued. Furthermore, the process of consultation has permitted the airing of other issues and their presentation in legislative form. For example, the current Bill makes provision concerning accounting practises and financial reporting in organisations registered under the Act. These provisions are based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission- Mr Justice Sweeney- into Alleged Payments to Maritime Unions conducted during the office of the previous Government. I believe this Bill is evidence of the earnest and careful consideration which the Government has given to the views put to it. However, at the end of the day it is for the Government to act, having regard not only to the views put to it, but to the demands of the public interest, the interests of the community as a whole.
One of the fundamental tenets of the Government’s industrial relations policy is that each member of the community has both rights and obligations: Those rights must be protected and the obligations must be met. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is perhaps the paramount Australian industrial statute. It is the principal means of giving legal expression to industrial rights and obligations. While it is not, and cannot be, a complete statement of those rights and obligations it certainly is the vehicle which establishes the framework of those rights and obligations by defining the roles and responsibilities of the parties to industrial relations and providing for an expression of the public interest.
Industrial relations is a dynamic process, everchanging in response to the interplay of economic and. social forces. Consequently, no industrial statute of the significance of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act can hope to express or define those industrial relationships for all time. The law must be responsive to new demands and changing circumstances. Government has a duty to reshape the law to ensure its relevance to contemporary industrial relations.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
General Business taking precedence of Government Business at 8 p.m.
-Mr President, I seek leave to continue and to complete the second reading speech on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1973.
-Is leave granted?
- Mr President, I draw attention to the state of the Senate.
– No. There is a question before the Senate.
– Order! There is a question before the Senate. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. I shall now consider the state of the Senate. A quorum is not present. Ring the bells. (Quorum formed).
– I call the Minister.
- Mr President, I suggest that, when the Minister sought leave to complete his second reading speech, a quorum was not present and, therefore, leave ought to be sought again.
- Mr President, the circumstances are that the Attorney-General rose to his feet and then a point of order was taken to draw the President’s attention to the fact that a quorum was not present. I suggest that the Attorney-General should be called forthwith and, when he was on his feet, if an objection is to be taken it should be taken at that stage and at that stage only.
– Speaking to that, Mr President, we do not want to hold the Minister up -
– If we wanted to do that there are other devices by which we could do it. Before the question was put, the President’s attention was drawn to the state of the Senate. As a quorum was not present at that time, Mr President, you could not really put the question then.
- Senator Georges, I shall put the question again. Is leave granted to the Minister to continue and to complete his second reading speech? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-Thank you, Mr President. Perhaps I should thank Senator Georges as well. This Bill represents an important step in that continuing process of reshaping and redefining the rights and obligations under industrial law. It is a response to emergent trends in the social role of trade unions, or in the roles which they seek to assume, which has led to changes in the behaviour of trade unions as institutions. It is obvious that unions have moved a long way from being small craft organisations with limited aspirations concerned mainly with ensuring fair wages and working conditions for their members. By contrast, the union movement today is a powerful economic and social pressure group. Unions have grown greatly in size and are in a position to influence powerfully, by concerted action, the economic well-being of the community. No responsible Government can ignore this, or refuse to take steps to prevent such power being exercised contrary to the best interests of the community. A very real danger arises where a union, in pursuit of some limited or selfinterested goal, is able to impose economic hardship and dislocation on the entire community. Over the past year we have experienced the crippling effect of strikes by fuel tanker drivers, aircraft refuellers and by air traffic controllers. We have been, and are, witnessing, the frightening capacity of a relatively small group of unionists in the Victorian power industry to wreak havoc on an entire community, such situation demand tat action be taken. It is paramount that unions recognise their obligations and the legitimate interests of the Australian community.
In the face of irresponsible and protracted disputes in essential industries it is fruitless, and blatantly deceptive, for anyone to attempt to suggest that the trend towards a reduction in man-days lost in industrial disputes argues against the type of measures which the Government now seeks to implement. (Quorum formed). The real issues are the soaring economic and social costs to the entire community, and the capacity of certain unions and groups of unionists to inflict this harm. A second trend is that, in pursuing economic and social objectives- in seeking to give effect to their broader aspirations- trade unions have sought to extend their strength and influence by intensive recruitment activity and have endeavoured to impose greater restrictions on the freedom of individual employees and, indeed, non-employees. This is evidenced in part by the conduct of some unions designed to compel certain self-employed persons, such as owner-drivers, or employers m a small way of business who ‘work on the tools’ to join the union concerned. These unions have sought to impose bans or boycotts which directly or indirectly harm that person’s legitimate commercial interests in an endeavour to compel his membership of the union.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this trend is the change in the relationship between the member and his union. A certain common purpose must be shared by the members of a union, but as the objectives of unions broaden, this becomes less and less likely. Clearly, in any large group of individuals such as a trade union, while there might be agreement about traditional union goals, the scope for disagreement about other issues- political, social, cultural, environmental- may be as great as the diversity amongst individuals in an organisation. Regrettably, some organisations have lost sight of the needs of members in their pursuit of organisational goals. Legitimate disagreement with some aspect of the broadened aims of the organisation, or with specific action in pursuit of such aims, may be labelled as disloyalty which must be subject to discipline. This becomes all the more oppressive for individual members where the union leadership is ideologically oriented, bent upon serving some narrow political interest rather than the interests of the members. The Medibank strike of last year, a political not an industrial issue, will long live in the memories of many whose unions tried to discipline them for non-participation or who, under duress, took industrial action against their personal convictions.
I turn now to the Bill itself. First there is a series of amendments designed to strengthen the protection of individual employees and persons against unfair practices by employers and organisations. Second, there are measures designed to promote further the democratic control of industrial organisations. Third, the Bill proposes to enhance the means by which the rights of members of organisations, and the interests of the community, can be better protected through the functioning of the Commission, the Industrial Relations Bureau and the Federal Court.
I have already made general reference to the manner in which unions can erode the industrial rights of individuals. The Government recognises that strong and effective organisations of employees and employers are fundamental to the effective conduct of industrial relations; indeed the formation of such organisations is one of the principal objects of the Act. However, organisations are meant to protect and enlarge the rights of individuals, and not to undermine their liberties. A number of cases in which infringements of the rights of individuals by trade unions have occurred have received attention in recent months. Two most notable cases are those of Mr Latham and the late Mr Krutulis. But such cases represent only the tip of the iceberg. There are many people whose problems do not hit the headlines and who suffer in silence in the face of injustices which they feel powerless to challenge as individuals.
The Government proposes action in relation to two groups of persons. First, protection will be given to those who conscientiously object to joining an organisation. As proposed in the March Bill the right to a certificate of conscientious objection will no longer be dependent upon the existence of a preference clause in the relevant award. However, in response to views put to me during consultations with the national employers and the peak union councils, the Government has decided to require the payment of a fee by an applicant for a certificate. A series of associated measures is proposed to protect the holders of certificates from various intimidatory tactics by fellow employees, employers or organisations. I have also referred to certain abuses by organisations in relation to the recruitment of selfemployed persons. To this end, the Bill proposes limitations on the right of organisations to recruit self-employed persons. Non-employees will be able to join a State branch of an organisation of employees only where, and to the extent that, State industrial arbitration legislation authorises non-employees to be members of State unions. In addition, to combat unfair recruitment tactics designed to coerce a non-employee to join a union, a series of offences is proposed by the Bill.
The right of a union member to refuse to participate in industrial action is to be reinforced. The Bill proposes that it be an offence for an employer to dismiss or disadvantage an employee because he has refused or failed to join in industrial action, or to threaten dismissal or disadvantage to coerce him to join in industrial action. It will also be an offence for an organisation to impose a penalty, forfeiture or disability on a member to coerce him to join in industrial action or because he has refused or failed to join in an industrial action. Of course it is up to an individual to exercise his free choice on whether or not he engages in industrial action. Nothing in this legislation changes that.
Democratic Control of Organisations
The second group of proposals to which I referred concerned the fostering of democratically run organisations. It is important that elections in organisations be conducted in a manner which will achieve the fullest possible participation by members and be free of practices likely to lead to irregularities. Under the existing requirements for secret postal ballots, an organisation which does not have rules providing for a ‘secret postal ballot’ as defined must conduct the election in accordance with the Conciliation and Arbitration regulations unless an exemption is granted by the Industrial Registrar. These regulations provide a comprehensive code of practice for the conduct of elections to office. However, at the present time, organisations which have rules providing for a ‘secret postal ballot’ may take themselves outside the regulations. There can of course be deficiencies in some procedures.
The amendments I am proposing will deem the regulations to be the rules of organisations in relation to the elections required to be conducted by ‘secret postal ballot’. The regulations will not, however, apply to elections which the Industrial Registrar has exempted from the secret postal ballot requirement as already provided for in existing legislation. To reinforce these provisions, it will be open to the Federal Court, in proceedings under section 141 of 171c of the Act, to declare void an election not conducted in accordance with the secret postal ballots regulations, and direct that a fresh election be conducted. It will be an offence for a person to hold office knowing that he was not elected to that office by secret postal ballot where required by the Act. A penalty may also be imposed upon the organisation concerned.
I have already briefly referred to amendments to give effect to the Report of the Royal Commission into Alleged Payments to Maritime Unions insofar as it related to accounting practices and financial reporting in organisations. In his report, the Royal Commissioner reflected upon the adequacy of the existing measures contained in the Act and regulations, and the low level of compliance with them by organisations. The Bill proposes amendments to the Act which, with only slight modification, implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission. These amendments provide for the records to be kept by organisations, for audit and the duties of auditors, for the submission of reports and audited accounts to members, for the filing of financial returns with the Industrial Registrar, and for the investigation of irregularities by the Industrial Relations Bureau and the initiation of actions in the Federal Court. These provisions will require supporting regulations. The Minister agreed, when he met with the National Labour Consulative Council on 12 October last, to the establishment of a sub-committee of the Council to work with officers of his Department on the preparation of the necessary regulations.
Protection of the Public Interest
The final broad area with which this Bill is concerned is the series of measures which go to facilitate the expression of the public interest in the industrial relations process. In part, the vehicle which the Government has chosen for this role is the Industrial Relations Bureau. During Mr Street’s meeting with the unions on 1 1 May, the ACTU handed him a document setting out their position in relation to the agreement subsequently reached. That document noted that consultation in a National Labour Consultative Council may well produce positive, creative functions for a Bureau concerned with improving industrial relations. The Government is proposing amendments which give the Bureau precisely that role. The Industrial Relations Bureau will have, in the public interest, two broad functions. One of these involves securing the observance of the Act, the regulations and awards. The Arbitration Inspectorate has always had this function; the powers of the Bureau in relation to these matters will, however, be spelled out quite specifically. If the Bureau cannot bring about voluntary compliance with the law, it will have the necessary power to initiate appropriate proceedings in the Commission and in the Industrial Division of the Federal Court. These powers will include the power to notify the Commission of a breach or likely breach of a bans clause in an award and to make application for a certificate under section 33 of the Act to enable proceedings to be taken for breach of the award in the Court. In response to the views put to the Minister by the national employers and the peak trade union councils, the relevant provision has been redrawn to make clear that the Bureau cannot take part in the dispute settling process under this section.
The Bureau will also have the right to apply for cancellation of an award, for an injunction restraining contraventions of the Act and regulations, and for deregistration in appropriate cases. The Bureau’s second major area of responsibility concerns the role it will play in providing assistance to the members of organisations. Apart from its normal award inspection and advisory functions, it will assist persons to ensure that the rules of their organisation conform with the requirements of the Act and that they are observed by those under a duty to observe them. The Bureau will be empowered to investigate complaints by members that the rules of their organisations are oppressive, unreasonable or unjust, or otherwise contravene the Act; and will also be empowered to investigate complaints by members that the rules of their organisations are not being observed. If the Bureau fails to persuade the organisation either to take steps to amend its rules, or to observe its rules, as the case may be, the Bureau will be able to take the matter to the Court. The amendments now proposed in this regard retain the right of a person to go directly to the Court, rather than to have the Bureau act on his behalf, and this change again reflects views put to me by the national employers and the peak union councils.
There are other related matters. As the Bureau will be properly staffed and equipped to undertake investigations, including the type just referred to, it has been decided to empower the Bureau to undertake investigations on behalf of the Industrial Registrar in connection with applications for inquiries by the Court into alleged irregularities in elections. Similarly, responsibility for the detailed investigations relating to the administration of the finances of an organisation under the proposed requirements will be given to the Bureau.
I now come to further very significant provisions of this legislation. The Government proposes to amend section 143 of the Act to extend the grounds on which deregistration proceedings can be based. The new grounds will include power for the Court to deregister an organisation which prevents, hinders or interferes with interstate and overseas trade and commerce, or the provision of a public service of the Commonwealth or of a State. Honourable senators are only too well aware that disputes affecting trade and commerce or essential services have imposed profound economic dislocation on the community.
The Government also proposes to extend the range of consequences available to the Court in deregistration proceedings. The ‘all or none’ principle which presently applies limits the flexibility of the Court in dealing with breaches which may not warrant total deregistration. Thus, the Bill proposes to empower the Court to:
Honourable senators will be aware that, in the March Bill, this power of suspension was to be available in proceedings for offences under a number of sections of the Act. The intention now is that this power will be restricted to deregistration proceedings. This decision by Government is a further indication of the seriousness with which the views of national employers and the peak union councils have been considered.
Finally, the Bill will insert a new provision in relation to demarcation disputes. For too long the powers of the Commission in this area have been inadequate to deal with demarcation disputesdisputes which may well bring an entire industry to a standstill. It is proposed that the Commission may order that an organisation cannot represent a specified class or group of employees and direct the organisation to amend its rules to exclude these employees from its membership.
In conclusion, I reiterate that the measures in this Bill result from a comprehensive review of the operation of the Act, a review which has involved tripartite consultation at the highest levels. It represents a necessary reshaping of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to meet changed industrial circumstances and to reassert the rule of the law in expressing or defining industrial rights and obligations Events of recent months and, most particularly, the events of the last few days, have emphasised this is essential in the interests of our community. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Button) adjourned.
I gave notice of that motion on 9 March this year. I am not particularly tied to a royal commission; but, because of the continuing bad relationships between the Aborigines and many sections of the police force, it is obvious that some inquiry has to be conducted. Whether this takes the form of a Senate select committee, a standing committee, a royal commission or some other type of inquiry, it is perfectly obvious that the terms of reference have to be wide enough to cover all aspects of the problem that faces this country today. We have seen internal inquiries into the problems faced not only by Aborigines but also by other sections of the community. The most recent of these included the Cedar Bay inquiry which has come in for a lot of criticism, particularly for the way in which it was carried out. It came in for a lot of criticism also because when the rather brief sentences were imposed the police concerned were protected by their own people.
The Lucas Committee in Queensland, which sat for a lengthy period of time and investigated a whole number of aspects of relations between the public and the police, also can be described as an abject failure- not because of the findings but because of the way the Queensland Government has treated the findings which were brought down. I put in approximately 100 submissions and was never asked to elaborate on any of them. A member of my staff also put in an extensive number of submissions and was never called as a witness. The inquiry itself can be described only as a very superficial inquiry. We are familiar also with what happened in Queensland when there was alleged corruption in the police force. The Premier of the day, who probably will remain in that position until 12 November this year, decided that he would call in Scotland Yard. Apparently, the two people who came from Scotland Yard to look at various aspects of alleged police corruption were fairly thorough in their investigating processes. The end result was that when the area became too sensitive they went back to London and were not recalled. We also had the Beach inquiry in Victoria. Most of the people indicted in the evidence given before that inquiry have been able to escape any penalties.
The inquiry I envisage would have a wideranging effect. First of all, it would give Aboriginal and Islander people in the community who have been disadvantaged because of the application of the law the right to tell their own story without fear of any repercussions. Believe me, Mr President, if one is black in this community the repercussions that can follow if one -
– Bucks the system.
– It is part of the system, but the repercussions that can follow to disadvantaged people in the community are almost unbelievable. I shall cite some instances later in this debate. One of the things that have been highlighted is the fact that most of the respective police forces in Australia are totally untrained to deal with the problems of either our own indigenous ethnic group or our imported ethnic group. This is where half the trouble starts. I can recall one situation in my own home city. Two Ghanaian students were arrested in a New Year’s Eve raid by police. The were classified as local Aborigines and were arrested, allegedly for drinking. One was a teetotaller and the other touched very little alcoholic liquid. That led to my apologising personally to the Ghanaian High Commission for the insult that these lads had suffered. It had little effect on the local police. I also recall the instance of a policeman in one of the remoter areas of the Gulf country who said: I was trained in the Brisbane metropolitan area. I had problems with Aboriginal people. Quite frankly, I did not understand them. Now that I have been transferred to this area, closer to the tribal people, I have discovered a whole new outlook on life. Never again will I be brutal to Aboriginal people’.
Some years ago there was the case of a Commonwealth policeman who was on duty here at Parliament House. He did not want to be involved in the bashing that went on in the days of the Aboriginal Embassy. He resigned from the police force rather than take the orders that he had to take from his superiors.
– What was that astounded remark?
– What bashing?
– The honourable senator is getting a little like Senator Bonner, who came into the chamber the other night and repudiated all his own people. (Quorum formed). Before the Australian Labor Party was dismissed from office one year and 49 weeks ago, legislation was pending to establish -
– It does not seem nearly as long as that to me.
– I am sorry; I am a day out. Legislation was pending to establish a royal commission to examine the very problems that are the subject of this motion. But it was not proceeded with by the new Government. When I asked why, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) replied in these terms, on 8 March 1977:
You wrote to me on 2 February on the subject of relations between Aboriginals and the Police in Central Australia.
I am aware of the serious nature of the complaints made by Aboriginal people throughout Australia. If you have information which you consider would assist me in my assessment of the situation in Central Australia I would be grateful to receive it from you or from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.
I have undertaken a number of initiatives with the intention of improving the knowledge of State and Commonwealth Departments and Ministers of the seriousness of the problems experienced in this area, and intend discussing it with relevant State Ministers of Police.
I made the decision during 1976 that I would not press for a royal commission in the Northern Territory because I felt that there are alternative and better methods of achieving progress.
That was signed by the Hon. R. I. Viner, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister Assisting the Treasurer, who has a couple of other jobs. Unfortunately today the Minister is not devoting the time that he ought to be devoting to Aboriginal affairs because he is too busy propping up Mr Lynch, the Treasurer.
I want to make an assessment of the Laverton royal commission. I suppose that it was probably one of the better inquiries to have been conducted. I visited the town of Laverton some considerable time ago and was amazed to find a list in the bar of the local hotel of the names of 26 people who had been blacklisted for life from drinking in that hotel. A closer investigation revealed that 24 of those 26 people were blacks. When I and a companion who was with me suggested that we would -
– What does that have to do with the police?
– If the honourable senator is so impatient, I suggest that he go outside until the Opposition calls him back for the next quorum. When we got down to investigating the facts of this matter and suggested to the publican that he was running a very grave risk of being sued for defamation by banning people from his hotel like that, he said: ‘But twenty-four of them are boongs Why should I be worried about it? Only two of them are whites’. We said: ‘We are not worried about the two whites. They can handle themselves. But we want to know about the 24 Aborigines you have banned’. There was a very good local organisation there that was quite capable of working in liaison with any section of the community which felt that it had some problem. Ultimately the publican was persuaded to remove the list. (Quorum formed). It is interesting to note that numerous back bench supporters of the Government are having great difficulty in getting into the chamber, particularly Senator Bonner, who has not been able to turn up at all. But I am delighted to see that a couple of Ministers have come into the chamber.
-I rise to a point of order. That is a reflection upon Senator Bonner, who is this evening representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs at an official function in Sydney.
– I do not want to reflect upon Senator Bonner, but I say: God help the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs if Senator Bonner is representing him in Sydney.
- Senator Keeffe, I ask you to express your regret about that remark. Senator Bonner is engaged on other official work of the Parliament.
– I do, Mr President. I want to make a quick summary of what I believe is the importance of the Laverton report to many people in this country, particularly the Aboriginal people. I point out the report accentuates the Aboriginal- police problem and the lack of understanding by Australian people generally of the problems and needs of the Aboriginal people of this country. There is a great lack of knowledge of the culture of the Aborigine and the importance of his activities in the community generally. In areas where the Aboriginal population is extensive- this covers most of the area north of the tropic of Capricorn- little provision has been made by the white population to accommodate their cultural activities. If this trend continues, the so-called racial problems being experienced will only increase. That was one of the reasons why I emphasised a while ago that the respective police forces ought to have some training in how to handle ethnic minorities. The Laverton report recommended both short term and long term measures in the areas of housing, transport facilities, communication between the whites and the Aborigines, police training schemes in which there would be considerable Aboriginal participation, the appointment of Aboriginal justices of the peace and the continuation of the Aboriginal Legal Service.
I have quarrelled with the Government on several occasions in the past 12 months about the scaling down of the influence of the Aboriginal Legal Service. That organisations has done more than any other organisation to remove the problems being faced by the Aboriginal community. I want to quote now from two newspaper articles about a Press statement issued by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner. I refer firstly to an article in the Courier-Mail of 6 May 1976 under the heading ‘Skull Creek was a police frame-up’. I will not quote the whole article. I will merely refer to the relevant sections. The article reads:
Police in Western Australia had acted in the most deliberate attempt to pervert justice after an incident involving Aborigines at Skull Creek, the Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister (Mr Viner) said yesterday.
Mr Viner said he was considering sponsoring a move to work out a national policy on police-Aboriginal relations.
He said the commission found that the police had arrested innocent people without any evidence, then imprisoned them.
The police then had falsified charges to justify the arrests and fabricated evidence using other police officers who were not witnesses to support the charges.
The police then altered the original charges from Aborigines fighting Aborigines, to Aborigines fighting police, but both charges were found to be untrue, according to the royal commission.
By any standards of conduct towards Aborigines or nonAborigines, this constitutes the most deliberate attempt to pervert the administration of justice’, Mr Viner said.
He said alcohol did not play any part in the incident.
The article went on to say that of the 28 police officers at Laverton at the time of the incident only ten had had any previous dealings with Aborigines. Eighteen of them, of course, had had no previous dealings. A report published in the Australian on the same day emphasised other parts of the statement by the Minister. It reads:
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Viner, yesterday called for a nationwide effort by law enforcement agencies to further improve relations with Aboriginals through increased understanding of their culture, traditions and values.
An organised campaign to achieve a better relationship was long overdue, he said when presenting the report of the Laverton royal commission.
I intercede there to say that this is totally inconsistent with the letter that he wrote to me this year in which he washed his hands of any problems that were facing Aborigines and police in this country. The report went on to say:
I am therefore giving due consideration to sponsoring an effort to look at proposals for a national policy on policeAboriginal relations ‘, Mr Viner told Parliament.
The commission was set up after an incident on January 5 last year in which vehicles carrying 74 men, women and children were intercepted by a party of police at Skull Creek, near Laverton in western Australia.
Mr Viner said police ‘intentionally frustrated’ the commission investigation into the imprisonment of Aborigines on fabricated charges.
By any standards of conduct towards Aboriginals or nonAboriginals, this constitutes the most deliberate attempt to pervert the administration of justice’, he said.
Those are very strong words indeed. I want to quote also some extracts from a speech made in this chamber by my colleague Senator Jim Cavanagh on 6 May 1976. Again I will quote only the relevant sections. Senator Cavanagh said:
The Western Australian Government attempted to whitewash the whole affair and to stop the facts coming out publicly. I visualise from the Press reports of Sir Charles Court that this is still the intention. I made a plea for the Federal Government, which had responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs, to do something concrete to see that this matter would not be pigeonholed; that the recommendations would be carried out; that something would be done to ensure never again, against an oppressed people of Australia, would a Skull Creek incident happen.
– They promoted the guilty policemen in the west.
-What the honourable senator says is perfectly right. One person in particular, who was probably the worst offender, received a very high promotion. Senator Cavanagh continued, as reported on the next page:
It was reported that until 2 1 December there was complete harmony between police and Aborigines at Laverton. Their behaviour was ideal up until the time the publican made representations to Inspector Hilton to send reinforcements. The constable in the town made no representations for reinforcements but the publican did. Inspector Hilton, on the evidence of Sergeant Holmwood, said to him: ‘You are too soft with the Aborigines. You have been in the area for too long. You are thinking like an Aboriginal’. Whilst there had been complete co-operation and harmony between the Aborigines and the police, the attitude of the senior Inspector of the western desert district of Western Australia was that police had to take a definite attitude. Rather than the Royal Commission saying that the actions of the police were reasonable in difficult conditions he said that in specific incidents which they were considering in every case the Commission investigated there were complaints against the police. On one occasion there were five policemen in a car and there was no room left for anybody who was arrested so the police, having arrested two people, put handcuffs on them and conveyed them to the police station in the boot of the car contrary to the traffic regulations in Western Australia.
I am told that after those two Aborigines had been handcuffed and locked in the boot of a car on a very hot day it was left standing in the main street of the township while the police went off looking for a further arrest- with those two people suffocating in the boot.
We hear of instances like this. We also hear of instances such as the tourist bus travelling in central Australia which ran out of seating accommodation. Some Aborigines wanted to travel from point A to point B and were put in the luggage compartment until the space was filled. Senator Cavanagh as reported on the next page of that Hansard report, said:
These police officers falsified charge sheets. They falsified those charge sheets which went to their commissioners. Those were the actions of some members of the Police Force Association in Western Australia. I am not condemning the police force in Western Australia. I do not have any desire to condemn or find any pleasure in condemning policemen.
I want to reiterate that: I have no particular desire to charge a whole police force. On many occasions when brutality is exercised, it is not the fault of the policeman, who has been brought up in an atmosphere of ‘If you are black you are sub-standard anyway’. That is the sort of attitude that this society perpetuates so far as Australia is concerned and so far as South Africa and many other countries are concerned. Their training, probably from infancy, is not designed to enable people of different colours to live together. We can overcome that provided we have the capacity to train our police force and other sections of the community properly.
Senator Cavanagh added:
The first aspect on which we must make up our minds is: What is the right attitude to be adopted between police and Aborigines? Do we adopt the line followed by Sergeant Holmwood who mixes with Aborigines and has no trouble with them? Or do we take the line adopted by Brown who arrests everyone he sees because they are black and then sorts out the charges afterwards? I think we must come down on the side of more lenient treatment of Aborigines. But what do we do in respect of ordinary policemen acting under instructions of their sergeant who have gone into Laverton, made mistakes, and lied their way through all the processes, lied even to the Royal Commission, for the purpose of covering up their defaults? Are these men who should properly be in the police force? Are these men who should have powers of arrest? I point out that nothing can be done because the Western Australian Government is trying to protect its police force. Therefore, the only appeal I can make is to the Federal Government which has the right to intercede on behalf of people.
That appeal to the Federal Government was made on 6 May 1976. It is now well into October 1 977 and this Government has failed to take up any of the suggestions that were made by Senator Cavanagh, and others who spoke on the Laverton Royal Commission Report or any of the recommendations of the Laverton Report. To make it even worse, the direct responsibility for implementation of these recommendations must surely rest first with the Minister for Police and the Commissioner for Police in Western Australia, with the State Government of that State, but we saw those aggravations continue right into the recent State election campaign when five Perth lawyers went into the electorate of Kimberley with the direct responsibility of blocking an Aboriginal candidate from becoming a member of the House of Assembly in Western Australia. So not only has the State Government not learnt the lesson but also it is perpetuating the situation by acting illegally, though apparently on the surface legally, to prevent a very responsible and highly-respected man from entering the State House of Parliament.
I want to make reference to some other central Australian areas. This happens not only in Western Australia. I suppose the very worst areas are in the remoter parts of Western Australia, of the Northern Territory, of Queensland and perhaps part of the north-west of New South Wales, where policemen can be totally brutal to an Aborigine and are able to get away with it. Sometimes death is the end result but no policeman, as far as I know, has ever been charged with murdering an Aborigine.
– Oh, come.
– We will have the honourable senator quote a case if he can.
– Where did the murder happen?
– It has been going on in your area and you ought to know all about it because you know more about the area than do most people. You have lived in the Northern Territory most of your life but you come out all the time as one of those who do not want a Royal Commission because it will turn up some of your policemen friends on the wrong end of the stick. This happened to me recently when I complained about some youngsters who were getting less than a fair deal from their local police force.
– What happened to you?
-The first complaint I got was from a member of the Establishment who said: ‘You cannot do that’. It was not until afterwards I discovered that he was a drinking mate of the policeman responsible for the brutality against these kids. I am not accusing the honourable senator of that, but if he is going to keep on interjecting in that way I will have grave suspicions about him. The following telegram was sent to me from the President of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress:
We call on Senator Keeffe to support our call for an inquiry into the relations between Aboriginals and police following discriminatory and intolerant practices by a police officer in the Alice Springs area. Over 90 per cent of people locked up overnight for drunkenness are Aboriginals. Last week 300 charges were laid against Aboriginal children at Papunya for such things as stealing food because of hunger. We urge you to make a strong effort to end this scandalous situation.
It is signed by Bob Liddle, the President of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. That was not very many months ago. I am not aware that Senator Kilgariff did anything exciting to overcome it. Nevertheless, that was the telegram sent at that time. On 17 March this year I received this letter from the Central Aboriginal Congress, signed by Neville Perkins, who was at that time the executive director and is today a member of the Legislative Assembly in the Northern Territory, having defeated Senator Kilgariff ‘s closest colleague. It was addressed to Mr Viner and a copy was sent to me. It is a call for an independent inquiry into relations between police and Aborigines:
I refer to the letter to you dated 1 1th February 1977 from the President of Congress concerning a call for an inquiry into relations between Police and Aboriginals.
At a meeting of this organisation on Tuesday, 1st March 1977, this matter was discussed and it was resolved that Congress call for an independent inquiry into relations between Police and Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. It was proposed that such an inquiry, if undertaken, should have wide terms of reference as well as specific ones, such as looking into the suitability of Police Training Programs and preparation regarding work in Aboriginal situations.
It was proposed also that if such an inquiry was set up, it should not be just another departmental inquiry, but one which is completely independent of the bureaucracies involved, and one which nas provision for adequate and proper representation and input of Aboriginal views.
I do not think that is very wide of the mark at all so far as my resolution is concerned. It is the sort of inquiry that I envisage would be established. The letter goes on to say:
You will be aware that when the Whitlam Labor Government was in office there were previous calls made by Aboriginal organisations and members of the legal profession for a Royal Commission into relations between police and Aboriginals, largely because of the continuing deterioration in the relations between Aboriginal people and police in many parts of Australia. We understand that the whitlam Labor Government was on the verge of establishing a Royal Commission, but that this move was superseded by the political events of November 1975.
This was most unfortunate as there continues to be a need for an inquiry as will lead to an improvement in this situation. It is conceivable that an inquiry of this nature would benefit in the long term both police and Aboriginal people, as well as the wider community.
Should such an inquiry be set up, we would be able to produce statistics and many of the problems in the relations between the police and Aboriginals. This data is all on file at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and it is not practical for me to document all of this information here. There is a wealth of detail and case records of incidents between Aboriginals and police, including the extraordinary events of the past at Papunya, Yuendemu, Finke, Rabbit Flat and Roe Creek.
I suggest to Senator Bernie Kilgariff that the incident at Rabbit Flat was probably the worst.
– Elaborate on it.
-I do not have to elaborate on it because it has been documented and widely publicised. It is available for everyone to read. The National Times edition of 22 to 27 March 1976 published a reproduction of an article which appeared in the NSW Police News in January 1976. The article stated:
One of the most dramatic changes and increases in the work load of our members over the past 14 months has been in the relations between police and some members of the Aboriginal community.
Federal Government policies have in our opinion directly contributed to the breakdown in the relations between our members and the Aborigines. There has been a marked increase in the number of Aboriginal offenders, particularly those associated with excessive drinking and crimes of violence. Militant Aboriginal leaders have travelled around the States stirring local Aborigines into direct confrontation with our members who are endeavouring to enforce standards which are acceptable to the white community.
Assaults on our members of a serious nature by groups of Aborigines have increased and only in recent months in the Moree and Cowra areas members have had to engage in running battles with these people.
Particular examples of problems indicate the extent of the problems encountered by police with certain elements in the Aboriginal community.
So the trash goes on. But this does not reflect any credit on the police or the people who are responsible for writing that story in the police journal. Can one blame the police? It is possible that some of those people when they were transferred to these communities saw an Aboriginal for the first time, and because of their racist upbringing they knew no better. I think it was Senator Cavanagh who, during his term as Minister, sorted out probably one of the worst problems. I am referring to that squad which operated around the Big E in the Redfern area. I should like to refer to a couple of other reports that I have which highlight the points that I am trying to make in this motion. I should like to quote now from the Courier-Mail of 5 March 1977. It has a Melbourne by-line and states:
A dossier on allegations of police assault and victimisation of aborigines in Melbourne is being compiled by the Aboriginal Health and Legal Services.
The Aboriginal Health Service doctor said yesterday that after two recent allegations of assault in the Fitzroy area, the services would take direct action to investigate and consider charges against police.
Dr Kenneth Grigg said he intended handing a report to the State Attorney-General (Mr Storey).
That would be a waste of time, of course. Nevertheless it is the only avenue open to people who want to expose injustices. It is a constitutional avenue open to them. The article continues:
Dr Grigg said he had witnessed police taking aborigines with their arms handcuffed behind them from the Builders’ Arms Hotel in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, and throwing them bodily into a divisional van.
He had received reports of police dragging aboriginal men and women from Gertrude Street hotels by their feet and hair, and taking them away.
He had also been told of a vendetta against one aboriginal family, and of members being knocked to the ground as they stood in the street.
Dr Grigg described many of the incidents as brutality and unwarranted provocation.
After the latest incident on Thursday, a complaint had been laid against a policeman, alleging assault on a man. A charge might be laid next week.
Dr Grigg said he examined the man, 21, a student from East Reservoir, and saw a cut above his right eye, which he believed was inflicted while the man was at Fitzroy police station.
I should like to give an example of something that happened some years ago in the Townsville area when a member of the Aboriginal community rang me at my office and said: ‘Mr so and so is in gaol at Stuart Creek’. That is the local gaol. I checked around the police stations to see whether in fact he was a guest of Her Majesty at Stuart Creek. I was told that he was but nobody could give me any details. I then checked with the gaol and I was told that he was there but that I would not be able to get any information unless I went to the Criminal Investigation Bureau. Incidentally, he was undefended in this case. I have no doubt whatsoever about the manner in which the charges were laid.
It appears that this young fellow at the age of 12 or 13 had nicked a watermelon, a couple of apples or something and had been put on probation by the Children’s Court. When he left school he went out into the western areas as a ringer, station roustabout, what have you. He had his annual holidays. He was not, incidentally, subject to the Act. He came back to the provincial city to spend a few days of his holidays. One Sunday morning when he was walking in the direction of a coffee shop that used to be situated in the old Queen’s Hotel on The Strand he was accosted by two policemen in a prowl car. They told him that they knew that he had assaulted someone the previous night. Incidentally, he was a non-drinker. The policemen roughed him up and put him in the police car. He said: ‘What am I being charged with?’ He was told: ‘You are being charged with assault’. He said: ‘But I do not even know the person I am supposed to have assaulted because I have not assaulted anyone’. The policeman said: ‘Well, shut up’. They took him to the lockup and roughed him up some more and said: ‘Well, look, tomorrow morning if you appear in the magistrate ‘s court you will get off perhaps with a small fine, but if you want to make it rough, we will make sure you get 12 months’. The lad appeared without any legal representation and was given a sentence of six months gaol.
When we found out about it, so corrupt were the actions of the police that before we could get a solicitor to the gaol he had been discharged and his file had been destroyed. He went back to the bush whence he came before he started his holiday. When we asked him whether he would come back to lay charges, he said: ‘No way. Those coppers told me that if I come back there they will not just rough me up; next time they will murder me’, and he said ‘I believe them’. That is the sort of brutality that is exercised by some sections of the police force of this country. I should like to refer to statements which were made in front of witnesses by people in the Townsville area. I will refer to the case of a Mr S of Palm Island. I will not cite the names of the people. They can be supplied for confidential purposes such as a royal commission of something like that. If these names are published in Hansard the people will be subjected to further police brutality in many instances. The statement concerning Mr S states:
In this particular incident, Mr S was involved in a family quarrel with two other persons. The matter was eventually d ealt with and the three people concerned had settled it between themselves. The incident arose purely out of a domestic matter. Usually in matters such as this, the police are reluctant to intervene and often just caution any person who may cause further trouble. So it was unnecessary and unwarranted for the sergeant on the island to physically assault Mr S. Mr S is a very sick man with a bad heart condition and it is little wonder that he did not die as a result of the vicious attack on him personally, and especially whilst he was hospitalised. Mr S told me that he intended to take the matter further as he wanted to press charges against the officer concerned. Mr S is not very hopeful though, as he knows too well that if and when the matter does come before the court, it will be his word against the police.
Three Aboriginal men who were patients in the same ward as Mr S were witnesses to this incident but when questioned by a field officer from the Townsville Legal Service, they refused to say anything. They admitted that they were afraid to for fear of being put off the Island. They also know that if the sergeant wins the court case (which is more than likely) they will probably cop the backlash. Rather than be subject to any further intimidation or harassment they prefer to remain silent. To say that the police are unpopular amongst the Aboriginal community would be a gross understatement.
The police or any law enforcement agencies are looked upon by Aboriginal people with suspicion.
Incidentally, this report was compiled by an Aboriginal lady. It continues:
The foregoing incident illustrates just one example of many such incidents of police intimidation and harassment of Black people in this State. It also illustrates the feeling that when an Aboriginal person has been the victim of some racist police officer, they will not report the matter.
I have asked many Aboriginal people who I know have been assaulted or harassed in some way by police why they do not press charges or report the matter to some higher authority, and they will reply ‘who’s going to believe a blackfella?’
In that incident the policeman assaulted the man in his hospital bed, and there were three witnesses to it. The next case dealt with is the ‘green door’ episode. The green door is a type of aerial fig, which was looked upon as a place of shelter at night time for Aborigines in a Townsville suburb. The report states:
These statements were taken from a group of homeless Aboriginal alcoholics. It is well known that there would be approximately 30-40 Aboriginal men and women in Townsville who are forced to live in the parks in and around the city area.
I was told the other day that, because of the practices of this Government, there are probably that many Aboriginal people and almost as many white people who are forced to live under similar circumstances. I was with a group of deprived people only a couple of weeks ago, and amongst that group was a young widow of about 22 or 23 years of age. She was three or four months pregnant and had lost her possessions because when her husband was killed she had nowhere to go. So she started wandering- a destitute and lonely little lady. Because of the activities of the Government, particularly through its Department of Social Security, these people are hounded and hounded from place to place. They go out to look for a job and travel from town to town, whether they are black or white. Their applications are refused immediately by the local office of the Department of Social Security because it says that they have come to an area where there is little local employment. The reply they get- the Minister backs this up all the way- is this: ‘You can starve for all I care. Just keep on moving’.
I had an incident reported to me today of a young Island lad who has gone back to live in his home on Stradbroke Island. The Minister’s Department has said to him: ‘You are not entitled to unemployment benefit because you live in an area where there is little prospect for employment’. That lad went back to live with his parents. If he is not entitled to do that and still collect unemployment benefit, then I do not know what this country is coming to. The morality of this Government is almost nonexistent. I continue with the story of the ‘Green Door’.
The place they refer to as the ‘green door’ was one of their regular sheltering places until the police swooped on them in the early hours of the morning and moved them on and then later the area was burnt out- whilst people were still sleeping there.
That is very similar to Cedar Bay. The story continues:
These people are regularly moved on by police. They may congregate in one area, the police cruise around in their vehicles and move them from that area. They then come along a day or so later and move them from that spot. As one of the men said to me recently, ‘We don’t know where we are, the cops move us here, then they move us over there. We are like a bunch ot yo-yo’s.
The group of deprived people, black and white, who spoke to me two weeks ago now move together in their own little groups. All night somebody stands on guard, and when the police cars are seen anywhere in the vicinity they get up and move on. Senator Kilgariff would know of the thousands of people who live without a home in the fringe areas of Alice Springs. That story is repeated time and time again. People are homeless and harassed, mostly by police but also by a lot of other white people.
– You can say that again.
– Well, it is true (Quorum formed). I continue to quote from the report:
If the police officers had a better understanding and some knowledge of the social and other problems faced by most Aboriginal people, there would be no need for their persistent hassling of the people. Arresting them and gaoling them merely for the sake of ‘getting them out of the way for a short period is not going to solve the problem.
I refer particularly to the ability of some police to harass and exercise brutality towards Aboriginal children and Aboriginal women. In relation to juvenile matters, the same report states:
There have been many unreported incidents of police who have arrested and questioned at length many young Aboriginal children. This is usually carried out without parents or legal guardians being informed, or with no legal representative being present.
These children are often victims of police verballing The same of course applies to adults in many cases. I know of several cases where juveniles have been questioned, with certain officers making vague threats to the children saying that if they did not tell them certain things etc., they could be sent to a home. Brainwashing is another thing. With officers asking questions repeatedly like, ‘Come on, we know you did it.’ Who was with you? I bet it was Tom S. or Bill J.’
That is no reflection on members of the Liberal Party on the other side of the chamber, if they think it refers to them. The report continues:
Children are told things like, ‘You may as well own up now, because John D. dobbed you in and told us everything.’ This turns out to be untrue, and the kids think that their mates have put him in to the police and so he thinks that he too has to admit certain things.
As many Aboriginal people do not fully understand their basic legal rights, the police take advantage of this ignorance.
This report was written on 16 February this year. It continues:
In the last 2 months, a number of young Aboriginal children were picked up by police and questioned at some length. No parents were available and neither was a legal representative. One young boy who had just turned 17 was assaulted in the cells and as a result suffered broken ribs. Members of the black community were aware of this, but when he was asked by an officer from the Aboriginal Legal Service, he was too afraid to say anything. He just said that he fell out of a car.
There were witnesses to the fact that he did not fall out of a car. The report continues:
Many Aboriginal women are treated by some police officers as easy sex objects. Many of the old and young women who frequent the parks with the homeless alcoholics are usually the victims in these cases.
The report goes on to make some rather startling accusations. I heard a comment from the other side of the chamber. I have made startling accusations, fully documented, in this chamber before, and I do not propose to do it again. I am prepared to table the documents, but I do not think that anybody on the other side of the chamber would take the trouble to read them. However, if any honourable senator would care to read the documents, they are available and he can come to my office and read them if he does not believe what I am saying. The lady who compiled the report says, in relation to Aboriginal women:
They are entitled to the same rights as any other person in this country.
I have personally experienced casual confrontations with ignorant, racist, sexist officers at some stage- and still do on occasions. There were times when I would be walking down the street and police cars cruising along with maybe two officers in the car. They would make some nasty remark such as ‘ black gin’ (which is common).
She goes on to state in the report that it is usually only because it is known that she has friendships with certain influential people in the community that she is not then arrested. But her less lucky sisters are arrested. There is insufficient time to cover all of the reports, but I would like to have two of them incorporated in Hansard.
– How many pages are involved?
-About six ordinary double spaced pages.
– What is in them?
– If honourable senators opposite do not want the material to be incorporated in Hansard, it does not worry me. That just shows that they are afraid to face up to the truth. I am not worried about it.
– There are rules for the incorporation of documents.
-I tried to make them subject to the rules of incorporation but because of the inability of honourable senators opposite to face up to facts they do not want the documents incorporated in Hansard That is the fact.
– Ask to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Mr President, I seek leave to have those pages to which I have referred incorporated in Hansard
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
-Mr President, I do not know whether it was Senator Kilgariff or Senator Baume.
– It was I.
-I will hold it against both of those honourable senators in future.
- Mr President, it is my understanding that when an honourable senator seeks leave to have documents incorporated in Hansard it is the practice to show the documents that are to be incorporated to the Whip on the other side of the Senate. I think that is all that would have been asked for. Has the honourable senator done this?
-Mr President, I want to speak quickly to the point of order. Senator Kilgariff is the last person to whom I will ever give leave to incorporate documents in the future. The other day, when referring to a document, he asked whether it could be incorporated in Hansard. I had not sighted it. I happened to be in charge of the chamber for the Opposition and I said yes, even though I never saw what was in the document. Now Senator Kilgariff does not want to exercise that right the other way. I say to him that I do not care what he wants incorporated in Hansard in the future. He will produce it beforehand to the President, the Minister and to me. Mr President, I seek leave to have this document incorporated in Hansard. I showed it to you earlier. It deals with convictions recorded in the Northern Territory.
– I have seen those documents. Is leave granted for the incorporation of them in Hansard?
– There being no objection, it is so ordered.
The document read as follows-
Department of the Northern Territory
(Question No. 238)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice, on 10 March 1977:
I ) How many arrests of persons of Aboriginal descent have been made in the Northern Territory in each year 1970-76.
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Separate statistics are not kept in relation to persons of Aboriginal descent. Certain figures have been compiled in respect of full-blood Aborigines and this is indicated in the reply to each question:
N.B. Common to all years- Full blood Aborigines only.
N.B. Unable to supply total figures for this question as not kept. However, the statistics above are in relation to selected serious crime kept from 1 973 only.
- Senator Keeffe, before you resume your speech I must indicate that there are certain guidelines which apply to the incorporation of material in the Senate. I have not seen the other documents which you sought to have incorporated. I do not know whether the Minister in charge of the Senate at the moment,
Senator Guilfoyle, has seen them. Would you continue your speech.
-Thank you, Mr President. I am quite cool, calm and collected about it. Senator Kilgariff was one of the first persons to break this rule in the Senate.
– I have not done that.
-Oh, shush! Not so many days ago, when neither the person occupying the chair nor anyone on this side of the Senate chamber had seen the document, Senator Kilgariff asked to have a document incorporated in Hansard. It looked like an innocuous document. It was agreed that he could have it incorporated in Hansard. I am saying now that in future leave will not be given to any honourable senator opposite. I am sorry about that because the racist attitude of Senator Kilgariff is well known. I know why he has no intention of letting his document be incorporated.
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. I take exception to that remark, particularly when it comes from such a senator from Queensland.
– Calm down, calm down.
– The words used by Senator Keeffe are offensive.
– I seek that that remark be withdrawn unconditionally.
-Mr President, I will not get excited about the matter, even if the honourable senator does become excited. I will withdraw the remark. However, I would like to remind Senator Kilgariff that when the last big land rights demonstration was held -
- Senator Keeffe, will you withdraw that offensive statement?
-I withdraw it. I would like to remind Senator Kilgariff that during the last big land march -
- Mr President, I rise to take a point of order. Has the honourable senator withdrawn that remark?
– Yes, of course I have. Has the honourable senator gone deaf as well as blind?
– No, I am not deaf. The honourable senator must have withdrawn the remark in a very low voice.
– I heard Senator Keeffe. The remark has been withdrawn as requested.
– I withdrew the remark. I will phrase it another way. When the first major land rights demonstration was held in Alice Springs, Senator Kilgariff was one of the first people to state that he totally supported what they were trying to do. He then went home, locked himself in the bathroom or some other room and wrote a Press story denying that he was associated with the demonstration.
- Mr President, I rise to order. That is incorrect.
– It is the truth.
– You can make a personal explanation at the end of Senator Keeffe ‘s speech. Do not do it now.
- Senator Kilgariff, you can reply to or refute incorrect statements later on.
– Very well.
-This was published in all the Northern Territory newspapers, so it does not worry me what the honourable senator says. A report in a southern newspaper dated 12 December 1976 stated:
A Cairns solicitor claimed last week that he had been hit on the jaw by a policeman.
The solicitor, Mr Paul Richards, has asked the new Police Commissioner, Mr Terry Lewis, to mount a full investigation into the incident.
He has also reported the matter to the Queensland Law Society.
Mr Richards told Sunday Sun he was hit by a very big policeman after being pulled up a few kilometres outside Maryborough.
He said his travelling companion, an Aborigine, had been kicked.
Mr Richards goes on to state the hassling he had to go through. Mr President, in the last few minutes available to me I want to mention some very recent incidents which I believe ought to be investigated. In the areas concerned where I have asked for investigations they have not been carried out. I think this highlights the fact that there has to be some sort of national inquiry established to ascertain why these sorts of bad relationships should exist between black and white people. On the occasion of the last Cairns agricultural show a few weeks ago, I received a call from the local representative of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee who complained that one of his companions had been arrested bv a policeman, allegedly for drunkenness. He had been handcuffed to a high wire fence with his hands above his head and left standing there for an hour with his arms hanging to the fence. If that man had been in poor health, if he had a weak heart or some other ailment, that exercise could have killed him. I have asked the Police Commissioner in Queensland and the Queensland Minister for Police to carry out an investigation. Allegedly, he was left there because there was no paddy wagon to put him in. The police had to wait until a paddy wagon returned. That is a very feeble excuse. I understand that on the following morning in the Cairns court this man was charged with drunkenness. That occurred quite a number of weeks ago but I have not even received one acknowledgement from the people concerned.
I attended the celebrations of the National Aboriginal Day of Observance Committee this year at Maclean. They were very orderly celebrations and they were very well conducted. They were attended by a large number of Aboriginal and Island people. The local police have a good relationship with the local Aborigines. On that occasion I was accompanied by the local Catholic chaplain to the official festivities in the evening. However, quite a large number of policemen had been sent in from another district. They adopted a very harassing attitude. I think that probably the Catholic chaplain and I had some effect on the situation. When the police were seen to approach one or more of the Aborigines we stood behind them muttering about how the chaplain would make a very good sermon next Sunday morning and I would make an excellent Press statement. The local white and black people were totally intimidated by this large number of policemen who came into the district, apparently without any instructions from their senior officers.
We have heard about the recent incidents in Brisbane concerning Pastor Don Brady, or Uncle Don as he is known to many of his more intimate black and white friends. He was assaulted at his home by police on the day when he buried his younger son who had been killed in an accident. His wife was assaulted by police who broke into the house on the same night. The following night a large number of Aborigines who were addicted to alcohol were raided in a riverbank camp and physically thrown into the Brisbane River by police. Inquiries have been sought in regard to these matters but nothing happens. It is not likely that anything will happen in Queensland when the Premier of the State is totally anti-black and has made no secret of it. When Neville Bonner was the first black candidate the National Pam in the north-western area combined on the basis that its members would not vote for him. When Eric Deeral was elected in Cook, the Country Party pea for the area was a local policeman named Mahoney. He was to receive the No. 1 Country Party vote. But because independent candidates and others gave their preferences elsewhere, in a very close contest Deeral was the bloke who won the seat. But he will not hold the seat because no blacks will vote for him. He has come out and said that no Aborigine or Islander in the State needs or requires tribal land.
– You talk rubbish all the time.
-I am not talking rubbish all the time. That is documented. I am surprised to hear that remark coming from Senator DrakeBrockman. The honourable senator has been asleep in his seat all night. He has just woken up and started to make his stupid interjections. I am unimpressed by them. The honourable senator is not capable of absorbing what was said, anyway. I am sorry that the honourable senator was so deeply in slumber earlier in the night. If he had not been he might have heard some of the other remarks I have made. I want to conclude my remarks by making this final request: I ask that support be given for some type of independent judicial inquiry. I hope that this Government, even though it has repudiated the promise made by the Labor Government, will have second thoughts and that some attempts will be made to rectify the situation.
-Is the motion moved by Senator Keeffe seconded?
– I second the motion.
- Mr President- (Quorum formed). It was my intention to seek leave to make a personal explanation when Senator Keeffe finished his speech. However, as I have received the call, I will deal with that explanation. Senator Keeffe made the statement that I had addressed a land rights meeting in Alice Springs and then for some reason or other I had gone to my home, locked myself in the bathroom and wrote a statement which was contrary to what I said at the meeting.
– It might have been in the toilet; I do not know.
– The honourable senator has had his say. Let it be. If Senator Keeffe wishes to interrupt me, he may do so. Senator Keeffe has said that I, having made the statement that I accepted and supported land rights, went home and wrote an article to the contrary. Of course he had not looked at the history of the Northern Territory. I have mentioned this once before in this place. When I was a member of the then Northern Territory Legislative Council, in 1965 or 1966, 1 think it was, before land rights became a popular theme -
– What about the Gurindji?
– I know he is a bit afraid to look at history. Where is the honourable senator going now?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! Senator O’Byrne, you will withdraw that comment. I heard you say hypocrite’.
– I was talking about -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I do not care what you were talking about. You interjected. You will withdraw that comment.
- Mr Deputy President, in deference to you I will withdraw it.
– In deference to the Senate, you will withdraw.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I am not going to tolerate any interjections tonight.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. How can anyone be afraid of what they read. I am not a hypocrite. If Senator Keeffe looks at the Hansard record of the then Northern Territory Legislative Council- I refer the honourable senator to 1965, 1966 or whichever year it was- he will see that there was a motion before the Northern Territory Legislative Council, which was probably the first motion of its kind in a parliament in Australia, in which I moved that there be a standing committee on assimilation. As far as I understand, that was the first move in Australia to bring about land rights for Aboriginal people. Naturally it was proposed to help the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory who are my friends.
From that situation, many things happened with the result that in the Legislative Council, in 1968 or 1969 I think it was, legislation providing for the first time in Australia, the granting of land to Aboriginal people was passed. I will say no more than that. I think it is rather futile for anybody, let alone Senator Keeffe, to stand up in this place and say that I have supported land rights in public and have then gone and locked myself in the bathroom to write an article to the contrary. I must say that that is the most ridiculous statement and one that is completely wrong. I invite anybody in this place or any other place to look at the history.
I feel sorry for the honourable senator. I feel sorry for him because he has come into this chamber tonight and he has delivered this tirade of hate against authority. Why would a senator from Queensland who has been a member of this chamber for many years deliver such a tirade against police and authority. I listened very closely but I could not hear one constructive remark. There was this tirade of hate. With all due respect to what Senator Cavanagh has said, as I have indicated before I have respect for what that honourable senator has done in the past. We heard this tirade from Senator Keeffe quoting what Senator Cavanagh has done, what he had said and what other people had said. There was one point that I noted most. Perhaps I am a little sensitive about this matter because I live amongst Aboriginal people. It would be true to say that this year I suppose I have spent most weekends away from this place up in the Northern Territory with the Aboriginal people as I have done for the last three weekends in various parts of the Territory and the isolated parts.
– While you try to popularise uranium mining.
– As I have said -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Order! I do not want any comment from you, Senator Keeffe. You have had your turn.
– He interrupted me, Sir.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Order! I call Senator Kilgariff.
– As I have said before, I feel sorry for the honourable senator because of this tirade we have heard. Obviously he has twisted the matter. Can I say that he has a twisted mind? Perhaps not. But something has happened in his background which has caused him to have this sort of outlook which of course is completely erroneous to the situation that exists today. As I was saying -
Senator Keeffe- Mr Deputy President, I rise to take a point of order. You objected to me interjecting. Senator Kilgariff is not addressing you, Sir. He is directing his remarks to me and not to the subject matter. I think he ought to be sticking to the subject matter; otherwise I claim the privilege of interjecting each time he tells an untruth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Keeffe, I do not uphold your point of order because of the last statement you made.
– As I was saying, the Aboriginal people are my friends. If we rise at 5 o’clock tomorrow, I will arrive in Darwin at 2.30 in the morning. At 7 o’clock that morning I will be some 1 50 to 200 miles out of Darwin attending a meeting to which I have been invited by the Aboriginal people. So I think my qualifications are such that the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory trust me.
I suppose that if ever there should be an inquiry there should be one after the speech that we have just heard from Senator Keeffe to clear up completely, if nothing else, that smear, the dreadful dirt that has been shovelled, upon the police and people in authority in Australia. I rufute this claim completely- well, not completely because I acknowledge that even in a barrel of apples one may strike a bad apple. But this is life, is it not? No matter where we are we will strike a bad apple amongst many good apples. I would say that the same situation is to be found in the various police forces today. But I am not speaking of that one bad apple. I am speaking about the Police Force in the Northern Territory to which Senator Keeffe referred. There goes Senator Keeffe. He has left the Senate. There you are. Perhaps we will meet him another time. (Quorum formed). We were talking about one bad apple and a lot of good apples. I know the Northern Territory because I move around it continuously, especially through the outback. I assure honourable senators and the people of Australia that the Northern Territory police force, and I am sure the police forces in many other places, take a very sympathetic viewpoint to the Aboriginal people.
Let me tell you of something that happened to me some two weeks ago in the Northern Territory. At that time I was some 200 miles south of Alice Springs, having been invited by the Aboriginal people- the Appatula people- to come and see them, which I did. We were looking at a situation which I have mentioned before. A hotel had been taken over by these people and run by them. It had brought about such a tremendous social development in this isolated town that the situation is a credit to them. During the afternoon when they were reviewing the effect on their community after having taken over the hotel some two years ago- these were the words which came straight from the Aboriginal people- they said to the community adviser at this meeting: ‘Will you please write a letter to the
Commissioner of Police in the Northern Territory? We want to tell the Commissioner of Police what a good job the young constable who is living with us in this area in the Finke is doing and what a good friend he is to us’. Because I am interested when I hear Senator Keeffe talk of black and doom and of the oppression which has happened, I looked at this matter a bit further. Here were the traditional leaders of the tribe. They said: ‘Write a letter and tell the Commissioner what a good job this young constable has done’. Mr Deputy President, do you know what had happened? Three years ago on this settlement there had been murder, manslaughter, maiming of people, drunkenness, broken families, children neglected and the Appatula housing association was in pieces. Out of this came reform and almost a miracle which the people brought about themselves. This one constable who has lived among these people has arrested one person in something like the last year. He arrested this one person for drunkenness or some such charge because the elders of the tribe said: ‘You come and do it’. Why do we have the stirring up of a situation with honourable senators opposite calling for a commission when there are many things happening within the community today which are bringing about a development of better relations. We can go back decades and see what has happened in blackwhite relations. I suppose this has happened in every country where a majority has taken to the minority. That is part of life, I suppose. But the fact now is that the Aboriginal people are part of our way of life. I assure honourable senators that the Aboriginal people are coming up.
I make another point which Senator Keeffe did not make tonight. He quoted many authorities for this and that but I did not hear him quote the name of one Aboriginal person. As I have said in very many places, and I say it here tonight, the voice of Aboriginal people is not coming through such people as Senator Keeffe. He is the type of person- there are many around Australiawho attempts to speak on behalf of the Aboriginal people, but the Aboriginal people will not have a bar of him. The Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have said to me: ‘Why does that man come to us from Queensland? He comes to us and he asks what do we want. He is always asking us what do we want but before we can say anything he keeps talking’. If that is the case, how can Senator Keeffe and his like speak on behalf of the Aboriginal people?
I would not stand and endeavour to hide any malpractice as far as the police and Aboriginal people are concerned. We have had many difficulties in the past and we will have difficulties in the future. But if we earnestly and sincerely want to bring about better relations between the European community and the Aboriginal community, the last thing we want is a royal commission. What we should do is go into their communities and show some sympathy for them. I assure honourable senators that by showing sympathy to the Aboriginal people -
– And understanding.
– And understanding, as the honourable senator has said then we would not need a royal commission to improve relations.
– What? With the Aboriginals. What about the police?.
– There have been faults on many sides. I am saying that with proper education, sympathy and interest much more can be gained these days without creating a permanent whirlpool of emotion. We have to overcome this problem. As I have said before, the only way to do this is by going into their community with some understanding. If there is to be an inquiry, perhaps such a move was taken some little time ago. One looks at the Law Reform Commission. My understanding of the situation at the moment is that in August 1975 the Law Reform Commission proposed significant changes to the process for handling and determining complaints. This was directed to the Australian police force. We well know that the Australian police force was not proceeded with; it was not formed. One could say: ‘Thank goodness for that’. However, that is another argument. On 7 January this year came the reconsideration of the first report, in the light of the Australian police force not being formed. My understanding is that the matter of relations between the police and Aboriginals went before the Law Reform Commission in March this year. Tentative points have been put forward, but there has not yet been a final report to the Government. When the Government receives this final report it will be open for the Australian community to look at it, to criticise it, to advise on it and to make recommendations on it. We should not forge ahead with one of these emotional commissions of inquiry about which Senator Keeffe has been speaking. The criminal investigations legislation has picked up many of the recommendations that have been made in the past.
Senator Keeffe said some harsh things. In his usual style, he made some harsh statements about me. That does not worry me. It would worry me if the people of the Northern Territory believed them. But the people of the Northern Territory do not believe the statements he makes. The statements he makes regarding my name and activities mean nothing to me because the people of the Northern Territory know otherwise. A little while ago there were complaints in the Northern Territory regarding the police. These complaints continue. The police have investigated very many complaints. I suppose it is natural that there are many complaints throughout the whole community. I think two policemen were discharged from the service in the last year. I do not think they were discharged for acts against Aboriginal people. I hope not. I think one discharge resulted from a car accident after which a constable helped himself to some equipment in the car. He was removed from the service. I am not too sure what the other offence was, but the policeman was found guilty. Inquiries are carried out within the police force. If a person oversteps the mark he is reprimanded or removed from the service.
It has been said that it is insufficient for a complaint to be made to the Commissioner of Police. The situation could well be coloured and the facts of the case would not come out; the case would not be investigated. Perhaps it has not been noted by Senator Keeffe and others that in the Northern Territory, to which he referred to some degree, anyone who has a complaint against the police now directs his complaint to the Crown Law Officer who will then take it up. It is investigated by a person who is divorced from the police force and who can judge the situation without fear or favour. Mr Deputy President, as this is a matter of some importance I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Guilfoyle) proposed:
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
- Mr Deputy President -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Kilgariff sought leave to continue his remarks. No one objected and leave was granted. Senator Guilfoyle has moved that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. I now put that question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator ROBERTSON (Northern Territory) by leave- I thank the Senate for the opportunity to make a few comments on this most important matter. In doing so I support the motion moved by Senator Keeffe. Myinterest is with the total scene throughout Australia, but I shall draw my examples from the Northern Territory not only because it is different from the States in some ways, although it has some similarity with Queensland and Western Australia, but also because that is the area where I have had some experience. I have been an observer of the scene for 30-odd years. I have been involved with the Aboriginal situation for well in excess of 10 years. In fact, I have been involved long enough not to claim to be an expert in the area.
I support the suggestion that some sort of inquiry be held, for a number of reasons. The first is that the Senate Select Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders made this recommendation. Honourable Senators will recall that the Senate Select Committee was made up of people from both sides of the Senate, although according to the Northern Territory News Senator Baume unfortunately seemed to have a commendable change of affiliations in his association with it. The Committee recommended that the Senate establish, as a matter of urgency, a select committee with terms of reference sufficiently wide to enable it to examine all aspects of relations between Aboriginals and the police.
I support the proposition for another reason; that is, the comments made by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. I shall read a comment which was made by Mr Justice Forster, who had the support of both Mr Justice Muirhead and Mr Justice Ward. He put out some guidelines for the investigation and interviewing of Aboriginal people. Towards the end of the statement he made this comment:
It may be thought by some that these guidelines are unduly paternal and therefore offensive to Aboriginal people. It may be thought by others that they are unduly favourable to Aboriginal people. The truth of the matter is that they are designed simply to remove or obviate some of the disadvantages from which Aboriginal people suffer in their dealings with police.
I think that is a very important comment, coming from three judges of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. I emphasise the words ‘to remove or obviate some of the disadvantages from which Aboriginal people suffer in their dealings with police’. Later in the same report Mr Justice Forster had this to say:
What I say is also not exclusive. I do not deal with the offering and application of violence nor with the offering of threats or inducements. These are, I think, sufficiently well known to require no further repetition by me.
That means threats or inducements by the police to Aboriginal people. The Northern Territory News, commenting on the report of the Senate Select Committee on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, had this to say:
No one in his right mind would claim that all has been well between police and Aboriginals.
If we look at the number of cases which have involved Aboriginal people we get some further indication of the need for an investigation. A question was asked of Senator Webster, as Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, on 10 March. The first part of the question asked:
How many arrests of persons of Aboriginal descent have been made in the Northern Territory each year 1 970-76.
The answer reads:
Separate statistics are not kept in relation to persons of Aboriginal descent. Certain figures have been compiled in respect of full blood Aborigines.
So I am speaking here only of full blood Aborigines, that is, roughly 25,000 men, women and children in the Northern Territory. I shall run through the statistics, commencing with the figure for 1970. In that year there were 4,920 arrests; in 1971, 6,770; in 1972, 5,787; in 1973, 6,426; and in 1974, 4,349. Of course, as we all recall, in October 1974 alcoholism was decriminalised, so the numbers dropped. In 1975 there were 2,462 arrests and in 1976 there were 2,550. Nevertheless, with a population of 25,000 that represents one in every ten. The next question asked of the Minister was: How many convictions for each year have been made? I think it is important to read through those statistics. In 1970 there were 8,557 convictions; in 1971, 13,737; in 1972, 12,162; in 1973, 15,203; and in 1 974, 1 7, 1 79. Again in 1 975 there was a drop because of the decriminalisation of alcoholism. There were 8,536 convictions in that year and 10,936 in 1976. That is again for a population of 25,000. 1 think the last set of figures provided is also relevant to the relationship between the Aboriginal people and the police. The following question was asked:
What is the percentage of total arrests constituted by full blood Aborigines for each of the years 1970 to 1976?
The answer was that in 1970 it was 67 per cent; 1971, 63 per cent; 1972, 54 per cent; 1973, 53 per cent; 1974, 27 per cent; 1975, 32 per cent; and 1976, 29 per cent. That is the percentage of all cases. It should be recalled that that is for one quarter of the population- 25,000 people.
My own observations over the years in the Northern Territory have added to my strong feeling that something needs to be done, that some inquiry needs to be held to establish the relationship between the Aboriginal people and the police. I have noticed over the years- others who have lived in the Territory would have seen the same thing- that when drunkenness was a crime it was the Aboriginal people who were picked up and the white people who were left behind. The reason behind that may have been commendable. Nevertheless the situation was that the white person would be left alone or helped home and the Aboriginal person would be picked up and taken to the police station. I have noticed particularly the problems faced by Aboriginal youths on settlements, particularly those who are unemployed, who have had no money and who have broken into stores to get grog. That constitutes a terrific percentage- I will give the figures later- of the people on Groote Eylandt and Gove.
I have had discussions with Aboriginal people both while they were in Fannie Bay gaol in Darwin and outside. Those people have exhibited a strange attitude towards the law. In many cases they have not known why they have been picked up. In many cases they have seen the policeman as an authority figure. In many cases in their search for an identity and in their frustrations they have expressed themselves in anti-social behaviour against this authority figure. That is a very understandable situation but one which needs to be clarified. The reasons why these people do these things are not understood by many of the police. That is the reason why I think we need to have an inquiry. Senator Keeffe mentioned the situation at Papunya, where 28 people incurred 300 charges because, being hungry, they broke into a store to get food.
I am reminded of one of the authors who have worked with the people of the Northern Territory for many years- Mr Cecil Holmes- who went to Yirrkala and Nhulunbuy to see what changes had been made since he made his films there. He wrote of observing what happened to two Aboriginal teachers. They are both fine young people. I know them both well. I refer to Miss Helen Marika and Mr Tom Bakanawi Mr Holmes spoke of the disgusting names that Miss Marika had been called. She had been accused of soliciting because she was in the street- certainly having a drink. She was accused of all sorts of things and Tom himself was bashed by the police. I am not attacking the police; I am giving simple examples of things that have happened and have been documented. Mr Holmes mentioned in his article that 98 per cent of all the arrests on Groote Eylandt were of Aboriginal people. A good many of those were of young men who had broken into the stores to get alcohol. Mr Holmes mentioned that at Gove, which is the other mining town, 80 per cent of all the arrests were of Aboriginal people.
I found it very disturbing when I went to the office of Aboriginal Legal Aid to ask it for some comments on the relationship between the Aborigines and police to find the lawyer present call out to his secretary: ‘Bring me my brutality file’. What an indictment it is of our system that a man should file in his filing system the comments on and attitudes between the police and Aborigines under the heading of ‘brutality’. The Police Department has admitted- there is no secret about this-that there are some ‘bad’ policemen. They have asked Aboriginal Legal Aid and others to provide details. It has already been mentioned by Senator Kilgariff that some people have lost their positions. That is to be commended. If the senior officers in the force are prepared to say that a man did wrong, that man should be sacked. Unfortunately Aborigines, because of the authority idea that they have towards the police, are not always prepared to go to them with their complaints. They have always feared that if such a person is not sacked there will be reprisals.
I mention at this stage the need for the police in the Northern Territory to wear identifying numbers or identifying names of some sort. I have raised this matter in the Senate before. The Northern Territory is the only place in Australia where the police do not wear some identifying number. It is completely impossible for the Aboriginal people or, for that matter, any other people to identify the police unless they carry some sort of insignia on them. I call once again on the police to see the justice of wearing some sort of identification so that whenever any trouble occurs they can be identified. Another matter that has been of great concern to me is the matter of the police on patrols wearing sidearms That is contrary to the regulations and certainly incites all sorts of unfortunate reactions from the Aboriginal people. It is not good enought for the police to go out wearing six-shooters or whatever they happen to want when they go on their bush patrols.
It is not enough simply to say these things. I would be failing in my duty as a senator from the Northern Territory if I did not try to pinpoint some areas and make some suggestions. The comment was made in a previous speech tonight that nothing constructive has been done. I do not agree with that. However, I certainly intend during the rest of my comments to be constructive. I feel that, as with Senate select committee reports, both sides should make recommendations when matters of this sort are being discussed. I am reminded of the old time policemen- the people who were called mounted police or troopers. I pay tribute to them. Many of them understood the situation of the Aboriginal people. Many of them had a real appreciation of the Aboriginal people. Some of them did not, of course. There are many Aboriginals alive today who still bear scars of reprisal raids when they were shot by policemen and others. These are many who bear the scars of the hobble chain from being belted by policemen and others. There are many who will tell tales of brutality. But that is a thing of the past. There were many who understood the situation and who attempted to apply real justice because they had an appreciation of the position of the Aboriginal people growing up in what was an alien situation.
It is fair to say that many of the present day policemen do not have understanding. That is not surprising because they are not given any training in this work. I understand that those policemen who are recruited to work with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory are not given any psychological tests to find out whether they are suited for that work. Honourable senators will recall that when patrol officers were recruited to go to Papua New Guinea they were given personality tests and psychological teststhe sorts of things that would weed out those people who were not likely to make good officers. More disturbing than the fact that these people are getting no training is the fact that they are given no encouragement to go ahead and study and to go ahead and read and by reading gain themselves some promotion. Many of these people need guidance. An inquiry would be of terrific assistance to them. Of course, the shortage of police in the Northern Territory does not help the situation. In that regard I refer to an article in the Northern Territory News under the heading ‘Many police quit- Not enough men now, says McLaren’, which reads:
Commissioner Mr Bill McLaren confirmed there was a high rate of resignation from the force
He said that this and the reduced staff ceiling - . . were seriously affecting the service. The force were so short of men that if there were a couple of accidents and a break-in reported this would have to wait. ‘It’s madness. We haven’t got sufficient men to cover the needs o.f the Territory, ‘ M r McLaren said. ‘ Recruiting has also been cut. ‘
The article finished:
After the Government tightened its purse strings, a ceiling of 460 (including trackers) was imposed.
This is 100 fewer than recommended by the McKinna report. of 1973.
Let us now move on to the situation of the Aboriginal tracker, the Aboriginal policeman. Some would say that this is the answer to the situation; “that if we could have Aboriginal policemen our problems would be solved. I commend the attempt by the Northern Territory police to recruit and train Aboriginal police, but we must make sure that they are Aboriginal police and not simply trackers. There is a hangover from the old days when the tracker swept the floors, cleaned out the Landrover, did the wife’s washing, looked after the garden, did the odd jobs and looked pitiful in a cast-off uniform, riding in the back of the Landrover because he was not good enough to ride in the front, and eating away from the policeman when they were out on patrol. Nothing to be commended! If we are to have Aboriginal policemen, they must be fully supported and trained, with promotional opportunities, very much like the teachers who are being trained and are working in the Northern Territory; but they must be fully accepted and given status and provided, obviously, with the same quality of uniform and replacements as the other policemen.
There are problems, of course. Many of the people who will go into these positions will not arrest or caution their own extended family. They are not prepared to do this. If there are four or five clans in the one area they will look after four and leave their own alone. This has become apparent not only here but overseas, where indigenous forces have been developed. Many will use the position to pay off another clan, use the opportunity of being the one with the big stick, as it were, to get back at a clan which has affected them. Many, because of their training, will not arrest all the people; they will concentrate perhaps on their own peer group or on younger people and many of them will not move out of their own region to work. But for all this they are still worth preserving. If they are given good training this will overcome many of the problems that their cultural background gives them, and the proper status that they will be given will establish their role.
I would like to mention also the Aboriginal special magistrates or justices of the peace, and pay tribute to those who are working in this field at the moment- people like Silas Roberts and others- but I must again express caution. The same degree of care in selecting these officials -or perhaps more- should be exercised as is necessary in the case of the Aboriginal policeman, because they suffer from the same sort of problems. I am suggesting at this stage that if we do select people we should take the advice of the anthropologists working in the field, who are able to guide us and point out those who, shall we say, are able to ‘overcome’ their background sufficiently to render impartial justice. There must be discussion with the local community to make sure that the person being selected will be the one who is most appropriate. Again, we must make sure we canvass widely to make certain that we are not simply supporting one clan only as has happened in some negotiations that the Government has carried out with the Aboriginal people.
It would be wrong if we did not mention the discussion on Aboriginal law versus Australian law which has been going on. Any investigation or inquiry that is held will have to look at this. Mention has been made already of the Law Reform Commission and the excellent work that it is doing, so I shall not comment beyond saying again that care needs to be exercised; it is not a simple solution. Many aspects of Aboriginal law are such that we would not be prepared to support them. We must have built within our society, within our law, the rights of every individual member. If we support it without offering some caution we would be supporting killing, child brides, polygamy and so on. I am not making a judgment on this situation and it would be impertinent for me to do so, but I am trying to stress the point that it is not a simple situation, that it is not enough simply to say: ‘We would be right if we allowed them to have their own law’.
If we are talking about the police and the law we must talk about prisons and the attitude that Aboriginal people have to going to prison. There is no doubt that in the past in some areas young men saw going to prison as a part of attaining manhood, a part of growing up, a part almost of the initiation, if I may say so without being sacrilegious. This aspect must be looked at. Some people in the community suggest that, for the Aboriginal, going to Fannie Bay is a good holiday, though how they could say that once having been inside, I do not know. We would have to determine whether the Aboriginal people do see any problem about going to gaol, or whether there is no sanction at all against it. We must look also at the problem raised in this place earlier about the number of boys being expelled to places like Bremer Island, people from the Centre being sent up to what is almost foreign or alien country. It was originally agreed to by some of the older people but when they saw the effects it was having on the younger people they withdrew their support. It is interesting that this could happen to young people. I have recollections of seeing on many occasions a fully grown and what I would have called sophisticated Aboriginal being completely ill at ease outside his country, a man from the north walking through the central area, in one of the settlements, being almost afraid- yet we call that man sophisticated.
I would like to refer to the report produced by Mr Justice Forster with the concurrences of Mr Justice Ward and Mr Justice Muirhead. Honourable senators will remember that the report was issued because Mr Justice Forster had rejected evidence taken by police in two major cases in the Alice Springs area. He began his report by saying that many Aboriginal people do not understand English, although they may appear to do so. He gave an example in the report of a questioner asking: ‘Did you go into his house?’ This would be understood by most Englishspeaking people as, ‘Did you go into that man’s building?’, whereas even if this were translated for the Aboriginal people it could mean, ‘Did you go within the fence surrounding the house?’. The implications are obvious in the case of a breaking and entry, or some similar crime. He made the point that we know that Aboriginal people are polite and will try to give the answer that they think the questioner wants. If the person asking the question is a man of authority it is so much more difficult for the Aboriginal. He wants to please. One would almost say that he is frightened.
Mr Justice Forster made the point that Aboriginal people do not understand the caution. It seems silly to Aboriginal people to say, ‘You need not answer this question’, and then proceed to ask it. Aboriginal people do not understand such situations. If you do not want an answer, there is no point in putting a question. Mr Justice Forster put forward some very sane ideas which I commend to the Government, particularly the one concerning the Prisoner’s Friend, which would mean that no Aboriginal person would be interviewed unless he had a friend with him. This could be an English-speaking Aboriginal man whom he trusts, or a woman whom he trustssomeone from the area who could make sure that he understood the questions and also his rights.
I was particularly pleased to see the emphasis placed by Mr Justice Forster on the dignity of the individual, making sure that the Aboriginal prisoner had a meal, that he was given facilities to go to the toilet, that if he needed to be stripped for any sort of reason he be given alternative clothing. He concluded by saying:
The Judges of this Court do not consider the effectiveness of police investigation will be set back by compliance with these recommendations. It is basic that persons in custody should be treated with courtesy and patience.
I would commend to honourable senators the motion that has been moved by Senator Keeffe. There is obviously a need for some sort of inquiry and I would put forward the proposition that that ought to be not a royal commission but a bipartisan inquiry along the lines of a Senate committee ‘s investigation. I am aware that many people will say that if we have yet another Senate committee inquiring into yet another aspect of Aboriginal life nothing will be done. I am afraid that that is one of the risks we must take, but it seems to me that this vitally important area can be studied only by way of a bipartisan approach. If the Government is dinkum, to use a colloquialism, in its approach to Aboriginals, as I believe the Minister in fact is, I am sure it will look very carefully at the possibility of conducting such an inquiry; that it will look at this running sore that is in our society and seek some remedy for it.
Debate resumed from 2 June on motion by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack:
That the Senate take note of the report.
-Mr President -
- Mr President, I draw your attention to the state of the House. I also indicate that for the duration of the debate I do not intend to call further quorums.
– That is excellent of you.
-Order! Senator Georges has made his point. (Quorum formed).
– I do not propose to speak at length tonight. I have already commenced my remarks on the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and I do not want to take up time which might otherwise be available to other members of the Committee and to other honourable senators who wish to speak on this matter. The Committee in its report dealt with a number of matters concerning the present problems in the Middle East. The reference to the SubCommittee arose originally from the conflict which was at that time taking place in the Lebanon- a conflict which fortunately now seems to have lessened in its intensity. It was the view of the Committeeit is certainly my view- that the most important problems of the Middle East do not relate to the internal conflict within the Lebanon, however important and tragic that conflict was, but have resulted from the continuing state of confrontation between Israel and the Arab countries of the Middle East and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
I think it could be said that the problems of the Lebanon itself and the civil war which has been taking place in the Lebanon were, in themselves, very largely a by-product of the Israeli-Arab crisis. Had it not been for that conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, it is unlikely that there would have been the substantial number of Palestinians living within Lebanon. As emerges from the Committee’s inquiries, to a very large extent the conflict which took place within the Lebanon was a conflict between members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and other people- indigenous people- living within the Lebanon. The conflict between Israel and the Arab countries has become much acute over the past 10 or 20 years. But in many respects this conflict has been inevitable, so it now seems, from the first Jewish Zionist settlements in Palestine at the beginning of this century. The conflict results largely from the inability to reconcile the differences between two competing nationalisms, both laying claim to the same small territory.
The Jewish settlement, the Zionist settlement, in Palestine took place as a result of the Zionist movement, a movement which had as its objective the finding of a national home for the Jewish people who, for many centuries, have endured great persecution in many countries and, in particular, in those countries in Eastern Europe where the great bulk of the Jewish population was living. Founders of the Zionist movement believed that a national home should be acquired for the Jewish people who had retained their separate ethnic, cultural, religious and, to a certain extent, linguistic identity during the most adverse circumstances throughout many parts of the world, and that Palestine, which at that time was very largely unpopulated and undevelopedhistorically it had great ties with the Jewish people- was a suitable place for the Jewish people to settle. Indeed, many of the founders of the Zionist movement predicted with melancholy perspicacity the final solution of the Jewish problem which, as the SS described it, took place in Europe during the time of the Second World War. Many of them predicted that a cataclysm, a holocaust, of the kind which did take place would take place and that it was imperative that there should be settlement in Palestine.
Until the advent to power of the Nazis in Germany in 1933 the settlement was very slow. It accelerated as a result of the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people in Germany and in the occupied areas. After the end of the Second World War large numbers of Jews from Europepeople whose families had been largely exterminated and who were uprooted from their own homes- settled in great numbers in what was then Palestine. This, at the same time, was taking place during a period of persecution of Jewish people in many of the Arab countries. There was, for the first time, in large numbers a settlement of Sephardic Jews from North Africa and the Middle East. They settled in Palestine with the purpose of buying land, of peacefully settling, of living side by side with the Arab people who were already living in that country, in a national home. Unfortunately for them, and perhaps for everybody, their settlement in Palestine took place at the very same time as the revival of Arab nationalism started to take place. The two nationalisms- the Jewish nationalism, the Zionism, and the Arab nationalism- were coming into flower almost simultaneously during the 1920s and the 1930s, and particularly during and after the Second World War.
However that may be, the state of Israel was established. Australia played some part in the establishment of the state of Isreal as a legal entity. It became admitted to the United Nations. All of the great powers supported the establishment of the state of Israel. In fact one of the strongest speeches in support of that United Nations establishment and recognition of the state of Isreal was made by Mr Gromyko, who is at present the Soviet Foreign Minister and was the Soviet delegate to the United Nations during those debates. This would not perhaps emerge from some of the more recent statements by representatives of the Soviet Government and Mr Gromyko himself, but certainly there was no dispute between the great powers on this issue at the time of the establishment of Isreal Since that time there have been- I do not want to deal with matters which I think all honourable senators are familiar with- several major conflicts between Isreal and the surrounding countries. There have been number of smaller constant conflictsguerilla activities of various kinds, raids, boycotts, acts of sabotage and I think it would not be unfair to say, terrorism. During the past years there has been the establishment of the Palestine
Liberation Organisation representing a number of Palestinian political organisations of some differing persuasions. Some appear to be somewhat more moderate, if that is the appropriate word, than some of the others, but all of them committed to the destruction of the state of Isreal. The Palestine Liberation Organisation itself and every affiliated organisation within the Palestine Liberation Organisation- whether it is the El Fatah or Mr Yasser Arafat or the much more extreme organisation, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- however they may differ on the methods they would apply to the elimination of the state of Isreal all of them are united in their belief that the State of Israel has no right to exist.
The sub-committee was of the view, and I know that it is the view of all the political parties represented in this Parliament, that this is not a situation which the civilised world can tolerate. Whatever may have been the justification for the Zionist settlement in Palestine- I certainly have no hesitation in saying that it was completely justified whether or not one can say now that it should not have taken place and Israel should not have been established, the fact is that Israel was established and it is a country. Most of its citizens, wherever they were born, in fact were bom after the establishment of the state. It is just as pointless to inquire into whether the Jewish people should have settled in Palestine as it is to inquire into whether English people should have settled in Australia or the United States, whether Dutch people should have settled in South Africa- that may not be the happiest of examples- or whether the Celts should have migrated from Central Asia across to Ireland. There is no point now in debating where people came from. The fact is that the Jewish people are there and that they do have a state.
The other problem- it is also a pressing problem- is that of the Palestinian Arabs themselves. They are not citizens of any other country and, despite the efforts of some Israeli spokesmen to do so, I do not think that one can deny that the Palestinian people, whatever historical origins they may have had, are also, if they want to have one, entitled to have a state in those areas of Palestine which are not recognised by the international community as being part of Israel. But the solution of the problems of the Palestinians cannot be divided from the solution of the problems of Israel, in the same way as the solution to the problems of Israel cannot be found without a solution to the problems of the Palestinians.
I believe that the Palestinians are entitled to a state and I believe that the Israelis are entitled to the continuation of their state, on whatever borders they may be. Whatever negotiations there may be to settle those borders, I do not think there can be any dispute- there should not be- about the fact that Israel is entitled to exist as a state within defensible borders. I know that they are difficult to define, but without labouring the point as to whether Jerusalem, for example, ought to be under some sort of tripartite or bipartisan control or whether it ought to be within Israel or divided in some way- without going into those details, which are matters which can be dealt with only by subsequent negotiation- I do not think there can be any dispute- there should not be any dispute- that Israel is entitled to its right to exist.
– Do you place any reliance on a recently reported statement by Arafat which seems to indicate a move by the PLO towards recognition of the state of Israel?
-Senator Sim has asked me whether I place any reliance on the recently reported statement by Mr Arafat indicating that the PLO is prepared to accept the existence of the state of Israel. I do not know whether to or not. I certainly would like to, but that brings me to the point that I was about to make. As long as the Palestine Liberation Organisation- the last meeting of the Palestine National Council was described as being a victory for the moderatesmaintains the position that the creation of a Palestine state on the West Bank is merely meant to be a springboard for the eventual destruction of the whole of Israel, I believe that the Government of Israel is completely entitled to say- in fact it would be acting in a most foolish and selfdestructive manner if it were to accept that positionthat it will not withdraw its forces from the occupied West Bank areas and allow the establishment of that state. I believe that there is no doubt whatsoever about that. At the same time, having said that, I believe that Israel cannot achieve peace if it continues to say that it will not tolerate the existence of a Palestinian state or an independent West Bank in any circumstances, and I fear that that is what the present Government in Israel is inclined to do. That seems to be what emerges from what that Government is saying.
Although these matters were not, so far as I recollect, before the sub-committee when it was considering this reference, the support and recognition which have been given by the Government of Israel to the recent settlement of Jewish settlers on the West Bank in the occupied area are not conducive to a peaceful settlement of the question. It was a totally different matter under the previous Government, when settlements were taking place which the Government did not endorse- it did not do anything in many instances, although it did in some, to stop the settlement- and in respect of which that Government said: ‘They are there, but that is a matter that can be negotiated’. For the present Government of Israel to be saying that these settlements not only are being made but also should be made and that the Government will encourage them to be made and they are permanent settlements, I believe, can only have the effect of producing further intransigence on the part of the PLO, and in fact is wrong. In the same way as the Jewish people of Israel or any other people in Israeldespite what the United Nations has decided, I do not believe that Israel is a country which engages in racial discrimination- are entitled to their own nation, the Palestinian people are entitled to their own nation.
The criticisms which I would make of the Israelis are secondary criticisms, but they are important criticisms. I believe that they are inhibiting the achievement of a peaceful settlement of the whole dispute. Nonetheless the fact remains that for as long as the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Arab countries continue to say that they will not recognise the existence of that state and that it is their objective to destroy it, I do not believe that one can object in any way to the Israelis continuing to occupy the West Bank and refusing to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Statements have been made recently by the Government of Egypt which certainly go well beyond anything which was said earlier. Although there still, as far as I know, is not any pronouncement on an official basis by the President of Egypt, at least it does appear now that Egypt is prepared to accept the continued and permanent existence of the state of Israel. As yet, there is nothing clear and unequivocal to this effect in any statement which has been issued by the Palestine Liberation Organisation or the other neighbouring Arab countries. Without it, peace cannot be achieved.
In conclusion, I suggest that it should be the goal of those people who are friends of Israel, people who wish well and who do not wish ill to the Arab population of the Middle East, people who are trying to avoid bloodshed and to achieve peace in the area, to do two things: We should be urging on the Arab countries, and by whatever influence we can have on those countries which in turn influence the Palestine Liberation Organisation, that there can be no peaceful settlement without their recognising the sovereignty of the state of Israel and its continued existence within secure boundaries. At the same time I believe- this is not as important, but it is still very important- that we should be doing whatever we can to impress upon the Government of Israel that a permanent occupation of the West Bank as a question of principle, the establishment of new Jewish settlements. on the West Bank, is itself conducive only to a future conflagration in the area. I think that Australia can play a part in these matters. We do have relations with all of the countries that are involved. All of them are countries with which we have trading and other associations. If a conflagration or war were to occur, it would affect not only the people of the Middle East but also our own people. We have a responsibility in this direction. I welcome the report of the Sub-committee, which I believe has done something to inform the Australian Parliament and the Australian people of the problems involved in this area.
– I rise to support the recommendations and the conclusions of the Sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which investigated the Middle East situation. In doing so, I want to say how much I appreciate the fact that on this sub-committee I happened to be one of only two Government members, along with four members of the Opposition, under the distinguished chairmanship of the honourable Kim Beazley. I found that it was an exhilarating experience, especially when compared to the episode of bells and corridor trotting that we have had today, to find that in those circumstances we could examine a matter and come to a reasonable and responsible consensus.
Article in ‘Australian’ Newspaper
-Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I am compelled to address the Senate on a matter which was raised during Question Time this morning relating to an article that appeared in today’s Australian newspaper under the by-line of Graeme Beaton of the New York Bureau.
- Mr President, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
-There not being a quorum present, the bells will be rung.
The bells having been rung and a count having been taken-
– Order! A quorum not being present, the Senate stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Mr Perkins stated on Broadband on 18 August 1977 that:
Allocation of Commonwealth Funds to the Queensland Government (Question No. 1292)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Productivity, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
– The Minister for Productivity has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
I refer the honourable senator to the reply provided to question No. 1272 by the Acting Treasurer (Senate Hansard 11 October 1977, pages 1276-7).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 6 September 1977:
Are 85 retrenched staff of government hostels eligible for income maintenance payments for six months following the Government’s decision to close certain hostels, as reported in the Canberra Times on 14 July 1976; if so, (a) what are the details of the income maintenance paymentsconcerned and (b) why were persons employed by sandmining companies on Fraser Island not eligible for income maintenance payments for six months following the Government ‘s decision to ban sandmining on Fraser Island.
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The report in the Canberra Times of 14 July 1976 referred to the retrenchment of 85 people resulting from the closure of 3 Commonwealth Hostels, in the Australian Capital Territory, on 24 July 1976. In fact, to that date, 6 Commonwealth Hostels in Canberra had been closed. .
The guidelines dealing with Redundancy Situations in Australia Government Employment apply to employees of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. Under these guidelines the income of an eligible person was maintained at its level at the date of termination for a period of six months and I am advised that under this provision 69 of those retrenched from the Canberra Hostels were paid income maintenance totalling $174,820 for periods varying from one week to 26 weeks.
The guidelines dealing with Redundancy Situations in Australian Government Employment do not apply to persons employed by sandmining companies on Fraser Island and they are therefore not eligible for income maintenance payments. It should be noted, however, that an unconditional grant of $10m was made by the Commonwealth Government to the Queensland State Government for allocation at its discretion to create employment opportunities in the Maryborough region; $ 1 m of this to be spent in 1 976-77, and $3m in each of the 3 succeeding years.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice, on 8 September 1977:
What action has been taken on each of the nine recommendations contained in the 1975 report of an interdepartmental committee on alcoholism and Aboriginals.
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question.
The 1975 Interdepartmental Committee on Alcoholism and Aboriginals is now defunct. It made the following nine recommendations, which were also made in the 1973 Adams Report:
The following action has been taken:
Beef Exports to the United States of America (Question No. 1347)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 21 September 1977:
-The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australia had shipped approximately 260.2 thousand tonnes of beef and veal to the United States.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Commonwealth Task Force on a Common Fund (Question No. 1396)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 6 October 1977:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australian Security Intelligence Organization
-On 18 August 1977 (Hansard, page 254) Senator Mulvihill asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice concerning the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the honourable senator’s question he mentioned that ‘a certain CoUrt case is being conducted in Canberra’. 1 assume that the case to which he is referring is R. v. Gram which involved a prosecution pursuant to Pan VII of the Crimes Act 1914. In this case, evidence relating to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization was taken in camera at the direction of the Chief Magistrate in relation to the hearing conducted in the Court of Petty Sessions and subsequently at the direction of Mr Justice Smithers on appeal to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
As the Senate has been informed on a number of recent occasions, the present Government is adhering to the long standing practice of successive Australian Governments not to comment on specific matters relating to security. However, honourable senators can be assured that the matter of recruitment for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization falls within the matters dealt with by the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security and, as I have already informed Parliament, an announcement will be made as to action to be taken by the Government concerning the Royal Commissioner’s report
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 October 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19771020_senate_30_s75/>.