23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
National Health Bill 1959.
Therapeutic Substances Bill 1959.
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 1959.
Loan (Housing) Bill 1959.
States Grants Bill 1959.
States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1959.
Science and Industry Research Bill 1959.
Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1959.
Rayon Yarn Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Canning-Fruit Charge Bill 1959.
Canning-Fruit Charge (Administration) Bill 1959.
Canned Fruit (Sales Promotion) Bill 1959.
Canned Fruits Export Control Bill 1959.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1959. Income Tax and Social Services Contribution (Non-resident Dividends) Bill 1959.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1959.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1959.
Australian Capital Territory Representation Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Life Insurance Bill 1959.
Commonwealth Motor Vehicles (Liability) Bill 1959.
Taxation Administration Bill 1959.
Superannuation Bill 1959.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1959.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1959.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1959.
Loan Bill 1959.
Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1959.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1959.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments):
Clause 21 - (1.) Subject to this Act, a marriage that takes place after the commencement of this Act, not being a marriage that is void, is voidable, where, at the time of the marriage -
either party to the marriage is -
subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
Clause 21, leave out sub-paragraph (iii) of paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1.).
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
After clause 32, insert the following new clause: - “ 32a. Where-
a person has been sentenced to imprisonment in respect of each of two or more crimes that, in the opinion of the court hearing the petition, arose substantially out of the same acts or omissions; and
the sentences were ordered to be served, in whole or in part, concurrently, then, in reckoning for the purposes of paragraph (g) of section twenty-eight of this Act the period for which that person has been sentenced in the aggregate, any period during which two or more of those sentences were to be served concurrently shall be taken into account once only.”.
Clause 112- (2.) Subject to section one hundred and fourteen of this Act, the provisions of sections sixtynine to seventy-three (inclusive) of this Act apply to and in relation to pending proceedings, being proceedings for a decree of dissolution of marriage or nullity of a voidable marriage, other than proceedings in which a decree nisi has been pronounced before the commencement of this Act, as if those pending proceedings had been instituted under this Act and any decree made in the proceedings had been made in proceedings so instituted.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
Clause 112, leave out “seventy-three”, insert “ seventy-four “.
Senate’s amendment No.4 -
Third Schedule, after paragraph 40, add the following paragraph: - “ 41. This Schedule has effect in relation to a defendant notwithstanding any law that would otherwise prevent the attachment of his earnings or limit the amount capable of being attached.”.
Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta
That the amendments be agreed to.
They are four in number. Three of them were made at the instance of the Minister in charge of the bill and were in pursuance of undertakings given in this House. But the fourth of them - the first numerically in the list as returned by the Senate - was an amendment made by the Senate deleting a provision in clause 21. I think it proper that I should say something about this clause although I have moved that the amendments be agreed to.
The clause in question - 21 (1.) (b) (iii) - provided a ground on which a marriage might be treated as voidable; that is to say, a ground on which it could be set aside by a court at the instance of one of the parties. The particular ground reads as follows: - (1.) Subject to this Act, a marriage that takes place after the commencement of this Act, not being a marriage that is void, is voidable, where, at the time of the marriage -
either party to the marriage is -
subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy;
Insanity figures in this bill in other places in a slightly different character. Under clause 18 insanity may preclude consent. The party may be insane to the point of not being able to know what is taking place in the marriage ceremony and under clause 18 such a marriage would be void. Then there is clause 28 (1) with which must be read clause 34. The provision in clause 28 (1) is that if one of the parties becomes of unsound mind after the marriage, the marriage is subject to dissolution at the instance of the sane partner, but subject to a number of safeguards which are expressed in the bill, particularly in clause 34.
The deletion of the ground under consideration does not impinge at all upon the other provisions to which I have just referred. This ground was a particularly narrow provision. It provided that if a person married, not knowing that the other partner was subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy, discovered the fact within twelve months, brought a petition within twelve months of the marriage, and had no intercourse with the other spouse after knowledge of the disability, the court might declare the marriage null and void. This recital of the nature of the ground will indicate to the House how very narrow it is. It was thought when I introduced the bill - and if 1 may say so, I think it was rightly thought - that a person who in ignorance married a person subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy ought to be entitled to some relief. Many people find even mild forms of insanity or epilepsy totally repugnant. Moreover, there is always a fear by many people that insanity and epilepsy are hereditary and that the condition may be passed on to the children of the marriage.
There was no ground of this sort in Australia at the time of the introduction of this bill, but there had been such a ground in England since 1937. The ground was repeated in England in the consolidating act of 1950. It is a ground about which there has been some difference of opinion, and during the course of the investigation carried out by the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce under the chairmanship of Lord Morton criticism of this ground was voiced and evidence offered in regard to it. However, the commission unanimously decided that the ground should be retained, but that a word in its specification should be altered. The early specification was that the party should be subject to recurrent fits of insanity. The commission suggested the adoption of the word “ attacks “ instead of “ fits “. That suggestion was adopted in this bill.
Honorable members may be interested to know that the number of cases which have occurred under this ground in England over a span of years is extremely small. It is impossible to get precise statistics of how many cases there were, either on the ground of recurrent epilepsy or recurrent attacks of insanity because the English statistics include cases where a marriage has been declared null because the insanity of one of the parties had precluded consent.
I have found that, lumping all those cases together, plus those instituted on the ground of insanity, which voided consent, the greatest number of cases which were instituted in any one year was eleven, or less than 1 per cent, of the total number of cases of nullity in a population approaching 50,000,000 people. So, the statistics have shown an extremely small number of cases arising under this ground. However, although there were few cases, it did appear to me that the ground would do justice in those cases which it fitted.
However, at this stage I do not think that I should enter into any discussion of the ground itself or of the differences of medical opinion that may exist as to whether epilepsy is so curable these days as to warrant its removal from this ground. My proposal to the committee is that this very minor amendment should be accepted at this time so that the passage of the bill will not be delayed and so that it may become law immediately. I do this also because this may not be the last opportunity which the House will have to consider the matter. During the recess I shall give consideration to the medical views which may be advanced upon this ground, and I may later decide to do something about it.
– You never know what I will do. As this ground is narrow in its application, its removal from the bill will not really affect the balance or the structure of the measure as a whole, and my proposal is that the amendment be accepted.
– Why not deal with the amendments separately?
– I do not mind dealing with them separately. The others are not contentious. I ask for leave to withdraw my original motion so that the committee may deal with the amendments separately.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Senate’s amendment No. 1.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -
That Senate’s amendment No. 1 be agreed to.
– Although this amendment is in a sense narrow in its scope, it did assume importance in the Senate, where it was dealt with in a helpful and effective way. I should like to read to the committee from page 1926 of the Senate “ Hansard “, which indicates the latest medical opinion in relation to epilepsy. It was stated that by the use of modern drugs epilepsy was now capable, in most instances, of being contained. The following opinion, by Sir Charles Symonds, was quoted -
After all this, they will need some encouragement and may fairly be told that there are many cases in which the liability is so slight that it is entirely controlled by medicines and the attacks cease; that if they cease for three or four years they will probably not recur; and, further, that there are many more cases in which, though the attacks continue, they are so infrequent as to interfere very little with the patient’s life, and their occurrence is known only to his intimates. It may be explained that the proportion of serious cases is small, and that one person out of every 200 suffers from this malady in some degree.
I was impressed by that statement, and I should imagine that the members of the Senate were impressed. The proposal made by the Attorney-General commends itself to me. The proposal is to agree to the omission of the provision dealing with epilepsy and unsoundness of mind in connexion with nullity. The Attorney-General has been frank enough to state that the situation may be looked at again. If it is looked at again, it can be studied in the light of information of the character to which I have referred, given in the Senate. In a matter of some difficulty, the Senate chose the course that it thought the most modern from the point of view of medicine, and the most humane in all the circumstances. I agree with that.
As honorable members know, we considered this bill and voted on it as a matter of individual responsibility. Although the English royal commission endorsed this formula, the cases that have arisen in England under it, in which a suit for nullity has been successful, are very few in number. I think the right course is being taken, and I support it.
.- I shall not delay the committee very long with what I want to say. Of all the amendments that could have been made to this bill in another place, I regret that an amendment of this character should have been made. I thought the provision was an eminently sensible one, and the fact that it has been deleted by the Senate does not excite my sense of admiration in the least.
Take the case of one party to a marriage who deliberately sets out on a course of deceit with regard to a physical or mental disability. What is the position then? There will be a reluctance to have children if there is a subsequent exposure of the disability. The fact that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has said that this will not be the last time that we will have an opportunity to look at the provision is of some comfort, and does tend to settle one’s mind. However, I hope that the committee is not going to give this afternoon a blanket cover to the amendment made by another place, leading the country to draw the inference that the Senate’s decision represents the settled conclusion of the Parliament on this matter. I hope that, in the light of experience, this provision will be reinserted by means of subsequent legislation.
.- The members of the Senate deserve the gratitude of this House for their critical examination of the bill and of the clause we are now considering. They debated the bill generally, and this clause specifically at very great length. I want to say, however, that the amendment proposed does not make a good bill out of a bad bill. The bill remains fundamentally a bad bill.
I support the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in respect of this clause. I think it would be wise to accept the decision of the Senate which, acting as a house of review - protecting State interests in some respects, and perhaps neglecting them in other respects - considered this matter carefully. I think that the exclusion from the bill of the provision that recurrent attacks of insanity and epilepsy shall be grounds for nullity has much to commend it. I think that there should be a responsibility on those who are about to enter the state of matrimony, to realize that matrimony is a serious business, and, for Christian people, generally a lifetime arrangement. It is a question of people trying to make the best of the arrangement.
One would think that couples contemplating matrimony would certainly give consideration to the health of the opposite party before agreeing to an engagement or entering the state of matrimony. There is an old saying, “ Marry in haste and repent at leisure “. It is, of course, very true, and this amendment attempts to impress it firmly on the minds of those about to marry. It says that if a person is prepared to enter into a union with some one who has recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy, he is taking on a contract that cannot be dissolved at a minute’s notice. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has dealt with the matter of epilepsy, and has pointed out, quite rightly, that with new medical techniques epilepsy can be treated to-day, and therefore should not receive serious consideration in this legislation as a ground for divorce.
I regret, however, that the AttorneyGeneral has not accepted the amendment of the Senate in a more gracious manner. He has made the suggestion that perhaps he will review this matter in the New Year, and that amending legislation may be introduced. Let me say that if the Minister does introduce amending legislation, then perhaps a large number of the members of this Parliament will be pleased to take the opportunity to discuss the various features of the matrimonial causes legislation. While the Attorney-General may seek an amendment with respect to this matter, other honorable members in this place will be glad to consider other aspects of the legislation, and to try to amend it to bring it nearer to the heart’s desire of a considerable number of people outside the Parliament, and to bring it into harmony with the viewpoints of those people, who would very much have liked to express their opinions on many features of the legislation. I can only hope that on this occasion what the Senate has done will be accepted graciously by the AttorneyGeneral and the Government, and that the Senate will be paid the respect to which it is entitled as a house of review.
– Far be it from me to offer any medical advice on either epilepsy or insanity. I would like, however, to applaud the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) for his expressed intention to seek medical advice on this matter. I hope that he will seek the best medical advice available, and I hope that, if this subject is to be re-introduced in the Parliament, all honorable members will do their best to obtain medical opinion on whether epilepsy can be cured, and what forms of insanity can be cured. When we are considering whether we should provide that persons who have had a mental breakdown, or possibly two mental breakdowns, before marriage should be liable to be divorced for that reason, we must have in mind that many of those people may never have another such breakdown. For instance, schizophrenia is definitely curable in some cases to-day. It may remain as an hereditary taint, but, goodness me, there are many other hereditary taints which, if they developed, would cause even greater upsets in marriage. One or two attacks of schizophrenia or other forms of mental illness may not necessarily make a marriage impossible to carry on.
Some people who, in the past, would have been called raving lunatics have been cured by an operation known as leukotomy. The question of what is curable and what is not, therefore, involves far different considerations from those that were valid in the past, and if this aspect of the bill is to be reviewed and brought before the Parliament at a later stage, it is the duty of every member of this committee to do what he can to obtain the best medical advice as to how far epilepsy and some forms of insanity are incurable. If we have to debate the matter again we should be better informed on it than we are to-day.
.- I think the Senate has done a splendid job in introducing only three amendments to this momentous legislation of 126 clauses and sending them back to this place for consideration. A fourth matter was suggested in this chamber by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), and it has been added to the bill at the very end of the Third Schedule. It is not, strictly speaking, an amendment to anything that we did in this House. Only three actual amendments to this extensive piece of legislation have been made by the Senate. I am pleased that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is prepared to have another look at the provision we are now considering. I referred to it during my speech on the motion for the second reading of the bill and to me it is a very interesting feature of the legislation.
For 58 years, no government was courageous enough to bring down a complete uniform divorce bill, but now our divorce law is being made uniform and will be cap able of relatively easy amendment by one Parliament. I believe that in the years to come it will be amended from time to time as we see how the fourteen grounds of divorce that have been provided for in the bill work in practice. I refuse to believe that if either the present Attorney-General or a future Attorney-General saw anything wrong with the legislation, he would not have the courage to bring down an amending bill. For all the years that we have had separate divorce laws in each of the six States, hardly one amendment has been introduced in the entire Commonwealth, because no government has been game enough to bring the need for amendment to the light of day. All the divorce laws have now been brought into one piece of legislation before one Parliament, and we will have a better chance of attending to any mistakes that may have occurred than we have ever had in the past.
I am glad that the Attorney-General has said that he is prepared to have another look at the principle involved in this provision. In the next twelve months he may feel that he should look at other provisions, and he has intimated that he would be prepared to do so. I admire his courage in bringing this bill before the Parliament. I commend the Senate for its handling of the measure after the lengthy debate in this chamber.
.- I should like to register my complete disagreement with the view of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) who said that this uniform legislation is bad legislation. I do not think that it is. This is one of the best pieces of legislation that have passed through the Parliament, and the great majority of honorable members have supported it. I believe that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has accepted this amendment in a very gracious manner. I agree with his suggestion that we should review the provision later.
I have been at variance with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) during the debate on this legislation, but on this occasion I agree with him entirely. I believe that the provision now being removed should be reinserted later. We may be able to cure epilepsy, but how do we know that it is not hereditary unless a period of many years has elapsed? This bill allows a judge to decide whether a marriage is void. If both parties know before entering upon a marriage that one party is subject to recurring insanity or to epilepsy, it is not likely that a judge would declare the marriage void for this reason; but where deception has occurred, then the party deceived has a right to dissolution of the marriage.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 2.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 2 be agreed to.
This amendment was introduced in the Senate by the Minister in charge of the bill at my request, and was the result of a suggestion made in this chamber by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). The amendment inserts a new clause, which bears upon the ground of divorce specified in clause 28 (g), that ground being that since the marriage the petitioner’s husband has, within a period not exceeding five years, suffered frequent convictions for crime in respect of which he has been sentenced in the aggregate to imprisonment for not less than three years and has habitually left the petitioner without reasonable means of support.
Honorable members may recall that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) asked me at the committee stage whether concurrent sentences were to be aggregated for this purpose, and I told him that they would be. He suggested that that would be unfair, and I agreed that in some circumstances it might be. The amendment prevents concurrent sentences from being aggregated for the purpose of this ground of divorce when they arise out of the same acts or omissions. Very often, a man is charged in two or three ways in respect of the one event. If he gets concurrent sentences, this amendment will preclude them from being aggregated. If he is sentenced concurrently in respect of different events, those concurrent sentences will be aggregated.
.- This is a matter of only minor significance. It did present some drafting difficulty, and I am grateful for the action of the AttorneyGeneral in regard to it.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 4.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 4 be agreed to.
This amendment was made at my request by the Minister in charge of the bill in the other place. It resulted from a proposal made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who drew the attention of the committee here to the fact that section 90, sub-section (1.), of the Navigation Act expressly provides that wages due or accruing to a seaman are not subject to attachment or arrestment from any court.
The amendment is intended to make the provisions of this bill paramount over that legislation or any like legislation, whether of the Commonwealth or of a State, which would prevent the garnishee of wages or salary in aid of the maintenance of a divorced woman.
– I support the acceptance of the amendment. As has been pointed out by the Attorney-General, the amendment arose from the proposal of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), which has now been embodied in the bill.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– by leave - I informed the House earlier in the session, Mr. Speaker, that 1 hoped to be able to convey to it the terms of reference of the proposed committee of inquiry on taxation, and also to indicate the members of the committee. It is perhaps of advantage, in one sense, that this sitting of the House has occurred, because I was not able to give that information earlier.
I now wish to inform the House of the membership of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation which the Government has decided to appoint, and of the terms of reference to be given to the committee.
There will be five memebers of the committee and the Government has been fortunate in securing, as chairman, the Honorable Sir George Ligertwood, a distinguished former Judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia. With him there will be: Mr. D. B. Lewington, of Sydney, who is a business man of considerable experience in commerce, industry and finance. He was formerly chairman of the British Tobacco Company (Aust.) Ltd.
– How long has he been naturalized?
– I suppose that the honorable member would not have had much experience of matters of this sort, but I suggest that such experience gives Mr. Lewington a suitable background to undertake an inquiry of this kind. The other members of the committee will be: Mr. D. G. Molesworth, of Sydney, a chartered accountant who has also had wide experience of business affairs, especially in the field of processing and marketing primary products; Mr. F. C. Bock, of Sydney, who is a principal of one of Australia’s leading accountancy firms, and Mr. J. A. Neale, of Melbourne, who was formerly Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in Victoria. I believe that, in a committee so constituted, the Government has been abb to obtain a body of men particularly well suited by their abilities, attainments and experience to carry out the important and difficult functions to be entrusted to the committee.
The formal terms of reference for the committee are as follows: -
The functions of the inquiry are, subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of these terms of reference:
I may say that the Government has given a good deal of consideration to the scope and nature of this taxation inquiry. It will be remembered that, in his policy speech in October, 1958, the Prime Minister said that the Government would set up a competent and independent public investigation of the taxation laws. This clearly envisaged a wide inquiry. At the same time it will be realized that, unless such an investigation is to be almost inimitably wide and go on almost indefinitely, it is necessary to define its scope in such a way as will concentrate attention on those aspects of the taxation laws which are most in need of review. Hence, the Government reached the conclusion that, in the first instance at any rate, the committee should direct its attention to the laws relating to taxation of incomes, both of individuals and of companies.
On the whole, it seemed inadvisable to bring customs and excise within the purview of the inquiry because, although customs and excise represent one branch of taxation, they are also very closely involved with policy on trade, tariffs and external economic relations generally.
While we do not contemplate that the committee will, at least in the earlier stages of its investigation, undertake a general review of sales tax, pay-roll tax or estate and gift duty, we have recognized that there will inevitably be certain issues relating to these taxes which might be proper subjects for investigation and therefore we are providing in the terms of reference that such matters may from time to time be referred to the committee by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth.
Income tax law constitutes by far the largest body of taxation law and it undoubtedly offers the widest, and probably the most complex, field for investigation. It is primarily for that reason that the Government has designated it to be the principal subject for study and report by the committee. At the same time, we had in mind that in recent years various aspects of taxation law have been investigated by other bodies and that recommendations made by these bodies have, in a good many instances, been the subject of amending legislation. I refer here to the work of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation appointed in 1950, and of the Commonwealth Committee on Rates of Depreciation appointed in 1954. It has seemed both unnecessary and undesirable that the committee now to be appointed should again traverse the ground covered in a competent way by these earlier inquiries and we have therefore decided that except in special cases, the particular matters dealt with by those bodies should be excluded from the field to be covered in the forthcoming investigation.
We believe, therefore, that in drawing up the terms of reference I have announced we have been able to strike a suitable balance between the aim of having, on the one hand, an inquiry of considerable breadth and, on the other hand, of concentrating its work on areas in which its studies are most likely to be fruitful of practical benefits.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question in connexion with his recent decision to abolish completely restrictions on the importation of timber. Has he considered the serious effects that such a move will have on the Tasmanian timber industry which is unable to compete with timber imported from countries using cheap labour, such as Malaya and Borneo? If the Minister is aware of those effects, what action does he propose to take to protect this vital Australian industry? I further point out that the honorable member for Wilmot and the Tasmanian Timber Association share with me serious mis givings about the action that has been taken by the Minister for Trade.
– The honorable member’s question seems to raise the issue as to whether Australian industry is to be protected indefinitely by quantitative restrictions or by the traditional and accepted means of protective tariffs. Indeed, all governments in this country in recent years have accepted the policy of protective tariffs. The commitment not to use quantitative restrictions is a commitment first entered into under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade when the Labour Government was in office. I say that as an objective statement and not as a provocative statement. It is an historic fact.
I am aware that to widen the area of competition for the Australian timber industry may produce problems for the industry. The honorable member would say that it will produce problems. Because of the possibility of problems being produced there has been some further delay in that there will not be freedom to import before 1st April. I have referred the matter again to the Tariff Board. So there has been consideration by the Government in delaying to some extent - to as great an extent as I feel justified in the light of our overseas currency reserves - the abandonment of quantitative restrictions and in referring the matter to the Tariff Board. I may add, in conclusion, that it is really not very long since the timber industry was before the Tariff Board.
– My question to the Minister for Health relates to a recent claim by the Department of Health against an Asian student for £800 for hospital treatment. What is to be the general position relating to hospital expenses of Colombo Plan and South-East Asian students while they are temporary residents of this country? In other words, are they expected to meet their medical expenses? Does the Department of Health have such students as I have described insured against medical and hospital expenses? If it does not, will the department give immediate consideration to this question and see that all students are insured against medical expenses while they are temporary residents of this country, and, by so doing, follow a principle already in operation in other parts of the world?
– The understanding of the Department of Health has been that the tuberculosis agreement between the Commonwealth and the States applies to Australian citizens. In this particular instance, the patient to whom the honorable gentleman refers was treated in hospital for tuberculosis and, in the ordinary interpretation of the state of affairs, the department considered that the charge should be met by his sponsor as it was not covered, in the department’s view at any rate, by the agreement. When the full circumstances of the case were made known, I readily agreed with my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, that the charge should not be made.
The question of insurance is one which has not yet received attention.
– Will it?
– It could be examined.
– It is done in other parts of the world.
– I do not know what is done in other parts of the world. The question, of course, would be who would pay the insurance premiums, and who would do the insuring.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs yet tell the House what executive arrangements will be made, so far as Australia is concerned, in connexion with the pact dealing with Antarctica? Where is the chief centre of operations for the executive side of the treaty arrangements to be? Has an Australian officer of the Department of External Affairs, or any one else, been appointed to deal with that matter? Will the Minister explain the procedure to the House?
-All that has been agreed is that within, I think, two months of the treaty’s coming into operation - that is, after it is ratified by all the present twelve members - a meeting will be held in Canberra to consider the administrative arrangements that will need to be made for the implementing of the treaty in practice. As for myself, and, of course, without being able to commit the other treaty members, I hope and believe that Canberra will be agreed upon as the head-quarters of the treaty and of the secretariat of the treaty. The secretariat need not be very large, and I hope that it will be located in Canberra.
There will possibly be an appreciable amount of administrative work to be done by each of the countries that have posts in Antarctica. For instance, I should think they will need to give particulars of their posts and of the movements of personnel, ships or aircraft in Antarctica. They will also need to nominate observers who would have to be registered with the secretariat. They would have to be accepted by the receiving country and there would be an appreciable amount of administrative work in connexion with the execution of the treaty. It is my hope and belief - rather my hope - that Canberra will be agreed upon as the head-quarters of the treaty and the seat of the secretariat. I believe, too, although here I am speculating, that the secretariat will be nominated from amongst the treaty members and that the cost of maintaining the head-quarters will be shared among the twelve participating countries.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that what is described as a regulation strike is being conducted by the Australian Railways Union in Victoria? Is it a fact that this strike is a serious interference with the economy of Victoria and is a frustration of public convenience by the dislocation of an essential service? Is it a fact that this strike was undertaken after the refusal by the Senior Conciliation Commissioner to grant union claims? Will the Minister inform the House whether the union has utilized the appeal provisions of the relevant act?
– On, I think, 23rd November, the Senior Conciliation Commissioner did reject a claim by Victorian railwaymen for what was called a service grant. Shortly afterwards, some of the members of this union went on what is called a regulation strike. I am reluctant to comment on the observation of the honorable member for Bruce because, although up to the present time the railwaymen have not exercised their right of appeal, the time during which they may do so has not yet expired.
However, I shall make this one observation: The railwaymen cannot hope to gel the benefits of arbitration whilst at the same time retaining the right to go out on strike when their claims are rejected by an arbitrator. They have received very great benefits through arbitration in the last few weeks as a result of the margins decision. I hope that common sense will prevail and that they will work normally and accept the decision of the Conciliation Commissioner.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to the acute shortage of teachers in South Australia? Does he know that there are signs that the shortage of qualified teachers, particularly for secondary schools, is growing worse, despite the efforts of the South Australian Education Department to recruit sufficient teachers for training? Will the Minister take the matter up with a view to encouraging teachers to migrate to Australia from the Old Country and thereby ease the shortage of teachers, not only in South Australia, but in the Commonwealth in general?
– I know that my honorable friend from Grey is interested in this subject. I, too, am aware of this shortage of school teachers in South Australia but I would add that, as somebody interjected, the shortage is not confined to the State from which the honorable member for Grey and I come.
– Why do you not do something about it?
– If the honorable member for East Sydney will have the patience to listen to my answer to this question, perhaps all these things may be made manifest to him. What I was going to say was that this shortage existed, not only in South Australia but throughout the entire Commonwealth. As the honorable member for Grey rightly says, it is particularly felt in the secondary schools. I am aware of these things, and I shall certainly see what can be done to recruit more school teachers in Great Britain and to try to persuade them to come out here. But I would 90,nd this note of caution: The same shortage that we are experiencing here, our kinsfolk in the Mother Country are also experiencing. I do not know whether honorable members realize that the annual increase in the population of the United Kingdom is, according to the latest statistics I have seen, something over 200,000, which, of course, implies an ever-increasing pressure upon schools and on all other educational establishments, and therefore on the demand for school teachers. I shall try to get them, Mr. Speaker, but if I do not succeed in getting enough to please the honorable member for Grey, I hope that this will reveal to him the extent of the difficulties.
– Does the Minister for Trade consider that the operation of the National Greek Australian Line will promote the development of greater trade between Greece and Australia? If so, does he believe that action by the AustralianNew Zealand Passenger Conference to prevent this line from using established passenger booking agents would amount, in a practical sense, to a restraint of trade?
– A line which, I believe, is known as the National Greek Australian Line, is to commence a direct service between Australian ports and Greek ports, I think, during this month. I understand that the service will commence with one ship. Such a direct service would make a useful contribution towards facilitating trade and, I would hope, expanding trade between Greece and Australia. I have reason to believe that the establishment of the service has the support and encouragement of the Greek Government itself. It is my understanding that the line has sought membership of the Australia-United KingdomContinent Shipping Conference and that membership which relates to cargo has not been approved. Whatever may be said of membership in relation to a cargo service, it would be regrettable if passenger booking agents in Australia who, on my understanding, are able to-day to make passenger bookings not only for the conference lines, but also for lines outside the conference, were to find themselves in these circumstances debarred, by some decision or pressure, from taking bookings on this Greek line alone. That would be a very regrettable circumstance and I hope it will not eventuate.
– What is the disability in relation to freight?
– The conference itself
– Will not allow the Greek line to come in?
– That is so.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade, in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister. Will he ask his colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, and his other colleagues in the Cabinet, to consider the desirability of amending the Australian National Airlines Act, so that Australian privately-controlled airline companies will be protected against take-over bids by foreigners in the same way as the Broadcasting and Television Act prevents foreign interests from having more than a certain percentage of the holdings in broadcasting and television stations? If I may interpolate this, my desire is to prevent any Australian airline from being operated by a foreign interest in the same way as General Motors-Holden’s Limited is completely foreign-owned and controlled.
– I must say that I think the question is largely academic in view of the fact that the only major airline in Australia that has recently been taken over had a preponderance of overseas control, and was taken over by a minor Australian airline.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has any request been made for Australia to undertake geological surveys of the sites for proposed dams for the Mekong valley project? If so, has the matter yet been considered by the Government? How long are the preliminary surveys and other preliminary work likely to take?
– I do not recollect any formal proposal being made to Australia in this connexion, but, informally, the suggestion has been made to me personally. 1 expect that that approach will be followed by a formal suggestion that we undertake this work. I believe that the present phase of the investigations for the Mekong valley project is likely to continue for an appreciable period - I have in mind four or five years, or some such term - and that this preliminary work will cost a considerable number of millions of dollars. Without committing the Government to it, I believe that the carrying out of geological investigations of the dam sites sounds a practicable proposal, and I think it would be within our competence.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister aware that, in a recent television interview, Senator Nancy Buttfield indicated that there were sixteen categories of Asians who were permitted to take up residence in Australia? Will the Minister supply details of the categories to which the honorable senator referred?
– I am not aware of what Senator Buttfield said in a television interview. All I know about the interview is that comments that I have heard indicate that she created a very favorable impression among those who had the pleasure of seeing the television programme. I make no comment upon the sixteen categories that the honorable senator may have mentioned, but the honorable member for KingsfordSmith may be interested to know what categories of Asians are allowed to settle in this country. I think they can be reduced to three. First, there are the spouses, whether they be husbands or wives, of Australian citizens, together with any children that they may have. Secondly, there are those who have been admitted in accordance with our laws, who have proved themselves to be Australian residents of good character, who have taken part in the normal Australian way of life and who have acquired a really proficient knowledge of our language. People complying with those conditions are allowed to settle here after fifteen years’ continuous residence. There is a third category which applies to
Asians who are highly distinguished in culture, the professions, statesmanship or diplomacy. Should they desire to come to Australia, they are given, and in the future will be given, the most sympathetic consideration by the Government. Speaking broadly, I do not think that there are any other categories of admissions for permanent residence.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. By way of preface, I indicate that it has been represented to me that special licences are being issued to certain importers of textiles - and possibly of other goods - from Czechoslovakia. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether this is a fact? If it is a fact, what are the scope and extent of such licences, and what is the reason for this policy?
– 1 am not able to reply in any detail from knowledge in my mind at the present time, but I should not be surprised if, to some modest extent, some licences were issued to permit importations from Czechoslovakia and other countries. Czechoslovakia is a country which is a very good customer country of Australia and, in the nature of circumstances which existed when the base year for licensing was taken, there were no normal trade opportunities for Czechoslovakia in Australia. I know that it has been a matter of concern to that country, wishing to earn something to offset its substantial spendings in this country, that it should have some opportunity to sell to us. I should think that, to some quite modest extent, where there is a necessity for special importations, as has always been the case with textiles required for manufacturing, some consideration might be given to it.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. During the coming recess will you review the procedures of the House with a view to bringing the Standing Orders up to date in order to meet the needs of Ministers and honorable members more effectively in regard to certain rights they should enjoy? The first matter I should like you to consider is whether Ministers should have the right to make statements without leave. The second is the right of honorable members in regard to Grievance Day and the preservation of that day so that Government business will not take precedence. And the final matter is the right of private members to introduce items on the notice-paper and have them discussed. Certain of our Standing Orders are somewhat outmoded and do not cover urgent claims which honorable members wish to make from time to time. Will you, Sir, review the position with a view to bringing the Standing Orders up to date?
– I thank the honorable member for the suggestion he has made. I will look at the position and see if, by any chance, any assistance can be rendered to honorable members. If so, it will be given. I will advise the honorable member of my decision.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by referring to the announcement he made this afternoon of appointees to comprise the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. Without reflecting on those chosen, I ask the Treasurer whether there was, or is, any reason why a member or members of this House should not have been appointed to the committee. Does he not agree that it would be some recognition of this Parliament if a member of the Government and a member of the Opposition were appointed to the committee? Is he disposed to give this proposal consideration, having in mind the signal service which the honorable member for Petrie performed on a similar committee and also the talent available on both sides of this House for this purpose?
– Consideration was given to the matter raised by the honorable member, but it was felt by the Government that it was inappropriate and inadvisable on this occasion to make such an appointment to the committee. This committee is required to conduct an inquiry of a technical and detailed kind over what will certainly be a period of many months. It could even extend to a period of years. Therefore, to include on that committee members of this Parliament would hardly be practicable. The function of a member of Parliament is to legislate on matters of policy; the prime function of this committee is to inquire into and investigate technical matters.
– The honorable member for Petrie was on a very important committee.
– That is so, but it was a committee of a rather different character from what is proposed here. That committee was concerned with bringing forward matters of policy for our consideration. I need only add that the Government did go into the matter quite carefully and came to the conclusion that it was not desirable in this particular case to include members of the Parliament.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question without notice, having failed in my approaches to other Ministers on the matter in the past. The residents of Lord Howe Island, which is situated in my electorate of West Sydney, have made several requests during the past four years for the provision of an air landing strip at Lord Howe Island. What are the prospects in that regard for the year 1960?
– I cannot attempt to peer into the prospects for I960, but I will see that the matter which is so important to the honorable member and to the residents of Lord Howe Island is brought again to the notice of my appropriate colleague who, I am sure, will give sympathetic consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– My question to the Minister for Trade relates to the availability of stocks of galvanized piping and galvanized iron. Is the Minister aware that there is a very pronounced shortage of these items in Victoria and possibly throughout the Commonwealth? Has he noticed an increase, to any marked degree, in the exportation of these particular items? In the interests of people in the trade and also of those who urgently need these requirements from time to time, is the Minister prepared to give consideration to a reduction in the export quota of these goods?
– I have heard that a shortage of these items to which the honorable member has referred has developed in some areas and I acknowledge that Victoria is one of those areas. I understand very clearly the importance to the home-building community, and especially the farming community, of the two items, water piping and corrugated iron. I am glad to say that there is an export trade in these items which we have fought hard to secure. My own opinion is that it is not really the export trade that has produced the shortage but some short-term inability of traders to obtain stocks. That is the impression I have gained. I think the right line is to encourage manufacturers to produce in sufficient quantities to meet both our home requirements and our export markets and, in the meantime, try to service our immediate home needs sufficiently without sacrificing the export markets that we fought so hard to gain. But I would not accept it as satisfactory that either our home market or our export market should go short for any appreciable period.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to give an answer to a question I asked him concerning the quality and quantity of Australian material in television? Does the report from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which he is studying, contain a suggestion that taxation be imposed on imported television film in order to create a pool for the encouragement of Australian talent and players in dramas on television?
– I am not in a position to add materially to the statements which I have made in this House recently, both in answer to questions and in debate. However, I can inform the honorable member that in a recent communication to me the Australian Broadcasting Control Board did report on a proposal which, if my recollection is correct, was put forward by Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia at a conference that some form of taxation should be imposed for the purpose of establishing a fund to help Australian productions. This is a matter of policy, of course, and it will have to be considered as such.
– My question to the Minister for Immigration concerns an Asian student who has completed his schooling in Australia and is due to return home but is anxious to remain in Australia. Does the fact that he holds a British passport from Hong Kong help his request to remain in Australia? If he werelegally adopted by an Australian couple, would this affect his right to stay in Australia? If he has to return to Hong Kong, how long will it be before he can apply to re-enter Australia, and on what grounds can he apply?
– The honorable member has asked a number of questions which I am afraid would take rather long to answer, but I will do so in the broad. I do not think it can be made too plain that glad as we are to welcome Asian students, and desirous as we are to make available to them all the educational facilities of our universities, the whole object of this scheme is to bring them here to give them these advantages so that they can return to their homeland and thereby help others who have not had that good fortune. By doing this, they help to raise standards in the countries from which they came. That is the general principle. That is the principle which the Government observes and I believe that it is right from our own point of view and that it is in the best interests of our Asian friends and neighbours for us to help these students and give them facilities on the condition that they return to their countries of origin. Therefore, in the case to which the honorable gentleman has referred, in spite of the good intention of people here, in spite of the fact that the student has a Hong Kong passport and that people are generous enough to wish to adopt him, I am sorry to inform the honorable member that, in the interests of the general policy and the whole scheme, it will be necessary for him to return to his country of origin.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service studied the judgment of the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, given in the margins case last Friday, in which the commission indicated the unsatisfactory method, in its view, of assessing margins on a percentage basis? In the light of the commission’s view on that subject, together with the fact that the recent decision was made to run until November, 1960, will the Minister take immediate steps, through his department and other departments associated with the matter, to have set up in Australia a productivity index that will reflect the real productivity of the Australian worker from year to year?
– I have carefully read on several occasions the full reasons for the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the margins case, and I have also read the comments relating to the productivity index. This is a matter that has given the Government great concern, at least since I have been a member of it, and which has given the commission and the Commonwealth Statistician exactly the same concern. Recently the Statistician sent me an article which, I think, came from an American journal. It is entitled “ Estadistica “, and relates to the very real difficulties of issuing a productivity index. I think this is something that is impossible at the present moment under present conditions. I can see the honorable member for Yarra shaking his head, either approving or disapproving of what I say. I shall have a copy of the article sent to the honorable member for Yarra, and I shall also have a copy sent to the honorable member for Blaxland.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade a question which is supplementary to that addressed to him by the honorable member for Bass relating to the importation of timber into Australia. Is it not a fact that in New South Wales country sawmillers and merchants, who are vitally interested in the production of hardwood timbers, find it absolutely essential to the conduct of their business to import a certain amount of Oregon or meranti, as the case may be, in order to be able effectively to use Australian timbers for building purposes? If that is a fact, will the right honorable gentleman give the fullest consideration to that aspect of the matter in dealing with any objection which might be raised against the further importation pro rata to our production of Australian hardwood?
– It is true that the New South Wales Country Sawmillers Association has made strong representations to me along the lines mentioned by the honorable member. He and other honorable members have supported the recommendation. I accept the fact that there is a demand for imported softwood timber both for building and furniture-making purposes. The recent licensing review did provide for an increase in the quantity of timber which may be imported, but on the general question of timber there is in fact a great diversity of interest and of representation. Our Tasmanian friends and, I think, Western Australian timber interests, affirm that we can do with fewer importations.
– From certain sources.
– Of certain types. Shall I put it that way? On the other hand there has always been most vigorous representation from New South Wales and South Australia in particular that the permitted level of importation is much too low. Those are the conflicting interests that trouble us.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will the Minister ask his colleague to investigate the increasing frequency with which Boeing 707 aircraft are landing at the Kingsford-Smith Airport during the hours of night despite the original assurances to the contrary given by Qantas and the Department of Civil Aviation? Will the Minister discuss with the New South Wales Valuer-General’s Department a method or formula by which people who reside near the Kingsford-Smith Airport, and who are most affected by the appalling din from large jet aircraft, may be compensated in part for the depreciated value of their properties since the advent of the Boeing 707?
– I will be pleased to convey the honorable gentleman’s question to my colleague in another place.
– I preface a question to the Minister for External Affairs by referring; to the recent death of Mr. Povl Bang-Jensen, a former United Nations political officer who was sacked by the United Nations SecretaryGeneral early this year for refusing to divulge the names of Hungarian refugees who had supplied him with information. The right honorable gentleman may remember that I raised the Jensen case earlier this year. 1 now ask the right honorable gentleman: Did the Australian Government ever make any protest to the Secretary-General of the United Nations against the fantastic reason for the dismissal of Mr. Povl BangJensen? If no protest was made, will the right honorable gentleman say why?
– The details of the case of Mr. Bang-Jensen are not in my mind. 1 do not recollect the processes that went on. All I know is that there was a full investigation into the case at the time. I will take steps to find out what was done and, as far as possible, the reasons for what was done, and I will inform the honorable gentleman.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. Does the Government intend to grant the request made by the Commonwealth Public Service unions for the 28 per cent, increase on margins granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to the metal trades unions? Is the acting Prime Minister aware that on a previous occasion when the metal trades unions were granted an increase equivalent to two and a half times the margin paid to them, his Government opposed the extension of the benefits to the Commonwealth Public Service unions, and that only after expensive litigation were the unions granted a portion only of the increase? Will the Government support on this occasion the claim of th-; Commonwealth Public Service unions to have these justified increases granted automatically and in full to their members?
– The Public Service Board, which is the appropriate Commonwealth authority, has been studying the claims of public servants in relation to the recent decision in the metal trades margins case. The Public Service Board, quite naturally and correctly, has been in touch with me, as Acting Prime Minister, and with the Government, in this regard. On an earlier occasion, speaking for the Government to a deputation of Public Service organizations, I said that the Government would not approve a settlement of the claims of those organizations prior to important decisions on the major claims before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Naturally, the Public Service Board will take cognizance of the relevant decisions of the commission. A principal decision has already been made in the metal trades case, and there are other important decisions impending in the immediate future.
Having had recent consultations with the board, I am sure that I can say that it will expedite to the utmost degree its processes. [ give an assurance that whatever slight delay may occur in reaching a final conclusion - we would hope that it would be as slight as possible - it will not be of such a nature as will prejudice, in point of time, the Commonwealth public servants.
I had in mind to try to be prepared to make a statement to-day on this matter, which is of real importance. I shall endeavour to make a fuller statement than I have now made within the next 24 hours.
– My question to the Acting Prime Minister is supplementary to the question to which he has just replied. Has not the matter as it affects Public Service employees, to whom my colleague, the honorable member for Banks has referred, gone much further than the right honorable gentleman has suggested? Has not Mr. Justice Kirby positively and publicly suggested, if not demanded, that the Government and the Commo.-.wealth Public Service Board should get busy and negotiate with the unions on these matters in an endeavour to settle them in the light of the decisions that have been made by the commission?
– A great deal of what the right honorable gentleman has said is correct but not complete. It is true that Mr. Justice Kirby has given a clear indication, in his judgment in the metal trades case, that the Commonwealth Public Service authorities might now proceed-
– Should now proceed.
– Might now proceed to consider the claims that have been made and reach conclusions - perhaps agreement with the Public Service organizations in the light of the decisions of the commission. The point that I have sought to make is that the metal trades case alone is not comparable in terms of the whole circumstances of the Commonwealth Public Service. Other decisions - I have in mind the bank officers’ case - are impending, and it may be that they will be handed down within a week or something like that. It could be useful if the decision in that case should be in the possession of the Commonwealth Public Service Board before it proceeds to deal with the claims of Commonwealth public servants.
I repeat, whatever small delay may occur - and I give an assurance that there will not be a day or a week of avoidable delay - will not prejudice them, because this morning my colleagues decided to backdate any decision to 3rd December, 1959.
– I address my question to the Minister for External Affairs in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is the Minister aware of the rumour that the C.S.I.R.O. is contemplating the establishment of a museum in Canberra and proposing to staff it with a number of officers who, although useful in other ways, are no longer capable of first-class research work? If he has no knowledge of any such proposal, can he ascertain whether there is any truth in the rumours to this effect which have been circulating in interested circles?
– Unfortunately, I was obliged to be away from the country for a short time. I have no knowledge of the subject to which the honorable member has referred.
– We thought you were to be the curator.
– That would depend on what had to be exhibited. I shall make inquiries and inform the honorable member for Wentworth of the result.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
– As chairman, I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Forty-fifth Report - Index to the First to Forty-first Reports presented by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
This index brings up to date the index that I had the honour to present to this House on 28th May, 1958, and it covers the reports that have been issued by the committee since that time. The index has been prepared on approved bibliographical lines and can be handled easily by people who are accustomed to handling indexes. It is intended to facilitate the efforts of honorable members who are striving to find their way through the number of documents that we have presented to the House on the investigations that we have made. I hope that honorable memers will find as much use for this index as the members of the committee themselves have found for it.
Ordered to be printed.
Banned Record - Water Supply and Irrigation - Business Practices - Term “ New Australian “ - Children of Australian Servicemen in Japan - Education.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I want to refer to one unfortunate limitation on the gaiety of the approaching Christmas season. I refer to the banning, in certain circumstances, of a record called “ Green Christmas “, which is the work of the American satirist, Stan Freberg. In this record, Freberg illustrates the commercialization and exploitation of Christmas by advertising interests.
– In his own native land. However, due to inevitable and increasing imitation, it is occurring in ours also. The Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations has imposed a ban on the playing of this record “ Green Christmas “ by Australian commercial broadcasting stations. I want swiftly to assure honorable members that the record is impeccably proper and irresistibly witty. Indeed, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has played it on the air, and proposes to play it again.
– The honorable gentleman is quite entertaining himself.
– Each man to his own forte. I may be better than Freberg at some things, but he would be better than I in this regard. The honorable member will not hear the record over the commercial radio, and Freberg will not be allowed to reproduce his performance on any commercial television station in Australia. The A.B.C. cannot afford to produce the show on its television stations. Therefore the honorable gentleman will have to listen to A.B.C. broadcasting stations if he wishes to hear the record. Better still, he can pay 9s. 3d. and play the record as often as he wishes. If he does so he will find it extremely diverting and a worth-while purchase on his part.
The important thing is that this seems to be an intolerable example of private censorship and private suppression of broadcasting material. We in this Parliament cannot just wipe our hands of this matter, because broadcasting stations in this country operate under the Broadcasting and Television Act, enacted by this Parliament, and under licences granted by the Postmaster-General. I hope that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), in consultation with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, will make inquiries to find out how many similar examples there are of censorship and suppression.
I apprehend that honorable gentlemen would be very loath to have the Australian Broadcasting Control Board imposing any bans on the playing of records; but this, of course, is a ban which is imposed by privileged companies - by companies which operate under our legislation and our administration as a Parliament. Public censorship is odious, but private censorship is more so. So I hope, Sir, that the PostmasterGeneral will make inquiries to see how prevalent this practice is and that, as a first step, he will put an end to it as far as this record is concerned, so that Australian listeners will be able to enjoy broadcasts of Freberg’s “ Green Christmas “ from commercial broadcasting stations as well as from A. B.C. stations. As far as I can observe, the record is the best contribution so far made to the gaiety of the approaching Christmas season.
.- I had intended to ask a question of the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Mr. Casey), but the speech I now make will cover the ground that was to be covered in the question. I wish to know whether the Minister is aware that the deterioration of irrigation farms is causing great concern among farmers. I should like the Minister to try to ensure that at least one member of the enlarged executive of the C.S.l.R.O. will be a man primarily concerned with irrigation and soil-water relationships, if I may use that term.
I wish to make it clear that I am very conscious of the splendid work in this regard which is being done, and has been done, by the C.S.l.R.O. However, I point out that many irrigation farmers are greatly concerned regarding the salinity of their farming blocks brought about by irrigation. Only a few weeks ago we passed a bill to enlarge the executive of the C.S.l.R.O., and I thought that in view of the enlargement of the executive it would be a very good thing if at least one - more than one, if possible - of the executive members was a man primarily concerned with irrigation and soil-water relationship. The Minister may sr.y that the scientists and the experts are the people to deal with such matters. I am fully aware of that fact, but I believe that it would be of great advantage to have on the executive of the C.S.l.R.O. a man primarily concerned with this important matter - a man who has great practical knowledge of irrigation and its attendant problems.
I do not wish to deal with any other matters on this occasion. I have raised this subject only because I believe that in Australia - and perhaps especially in Victoria - it is necessary to maintain soil standards. There are very many acres of highly productive land under irrigation, and with the Snowy Mountains waters becoming available, there will be more land under irrigation. Therefore, I believe that it is necessary that the C.S.l.R.O. concentrate on keeping irrigation blocks up to the highest standards. To have one member of the organization’s executive concerned primarily with irrigation and the soil-water relationship would do much to keep this very important subject before the experts and the scientists of the C.S.l.R.O.
.- 1 think it is disgraceful that on the last day of the sittings of this Parliament, just before a recess which will no doubt extend for some three or four months, the Government should take the action it took to-day to curtail the right of members to ask questions of Ministers about matters of great concern to the people of this country. I can understand the anxiety of the Government to get into recess. I could see the acting Prime Minister watching the clock anxiously until he got the opportunity to ask that further questions be put on the notice-paper, knowing that three or four months would have to elapse before any honorable members were able to ask questions again in this House.
I propose, in the limited time at my disposal, to direct attention to an extraordinary decision of the Government which has been conveyed to me. I regret that, in addition to Ministers refusing to answer questions, the moment that the motion to adjourn the House was moved there was an immediate and almost complete exodus of Ministers from the chamber. They have become so contemptuous of public opinion in this country, so arrogant and so selfsatisfied, that they feel there is no necessity for them to answer any inquiry that is made of them, either directly by the Opposition, or indirectly by any one else in this country to-day.
I want to direct attention to a matter in respect of which the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has given me a most extraordinary reply. It concerns a matter which I raised in this Parliament before, and in order to refresh the memories of honorable members I shall briefly relate the facts. These concern the activities of a firm named Charles F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited, warehousemen and manufacturers, 134-136 Flinders-lane, Melbourne. This firm has been in business for approximately 30 years. It manufactures a product called “ Doctor “ flannel undershirts, among other products. Under the conditions imposed by the suppliers of flannel, Messrs. Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Limited, the manufactured article was to be marketed at a reasonable wholesale selling price. But some time ago an organization was formed by five other Melbourne warehouses engaged in the same kind of business. These people evidently exercise a great deal of influence on the Government. That can be readily understood when I read the names of the companies. They are Paterson Laing & Bruce Limited, Sargood Gardiner Limited, Richard Allen and Sons Proprietary Limited, D. & W. Murray (Australia) Limited, and Robert Reid & Company Limited. The firm of Charles F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited refused to join the association that was formed by those companies. Shortly after the association was formed, the members decided that there ought to be a 10 per cent, increase in the price charged for this product. Charles F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited regarded this as an inappropriate time to make any increase, because the price of wool had actually fallen. The firm refused to join in this agreement to exploit the Australian community. The association then approached the supplier of the raw material and threatened that its members would withdraw their custom unless Kelsall and Kemp refused to supply Charles F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited. Supplies to that firm were discontinued.
It appeared to me that this was a distinct case of restraint of interstate trade. 1 took the matter up, first, with the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) but I was unable to get very far with him. On 14th August, 195S, Charles F. Hawkins Pro prietary Limited received the following advice from Kelsall and Kemp: -
Several of our other shirt flannel customers have indicated their intention of closing their accounts if we supplied your firm with this flannel, and we have no alternative but to accept the position. The position is not of our seeking, but we feel that there is nothing we can do in the matter.
All these facts were conveyed to the Attorney-General in a letter dated 5th June, 1959, and the Minister replied on 19th June in these terms -
There is no provision of the Commonwealth law under which any action could be taken. This is not surprising, as the whole of the activities to which you call attention have taken place in the State of Victoria, and if there is any restraint of trade involved, it is a restraint of intra-state trade in respect of which the Commonwealth has no constitutional power to legislate.
I again wrote to the Attorney-General on 6th July, and on 14th July I received the following reply: -
I did not assume that the whole of the business activities of Chas. Hawkins Pty. Ltd. were limited to the State of Victoria. I did assume that when it purchased its supplies of flannel it did so in Victoria, t also assumed that any arrangement that may have been made between the company’s competitors was made in Victoria with a view to affecting the purchase of flannel by the company in Victoria. The Australian Industries Preservation Act covers arrangements made in relation to interstate trade. I concluded that the Victorian purchase of flannel by the company would not be part of interstate trade, and that it would not become part of it merely because at a later stage the company’s products made from that flannel would be sold into other States.
On 30th September, in the debate on the motion to adjourn this House, I again referred to this matter, and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), in a contribution which he made to the debate, said -
A Victorian manufacturer has sought supplies from a Tasmanian producer and the Tasmanian producer has answered the Victorian manufacturer that other Victorian manufacturers will cease to buy his produce if he supplies this Victorian manufacturer. That surely puts a new complexion on the matter; there is interstate trade.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) later interjected and said -
Has this been put in writing yet?
The Attorney-General then said -
No, of course I have not got it in writing. This has only recently been thought up.
The fact is that I conveyed this information to the Attorney-General in my letter of 5 th June, and I repeated it in a letter on 6th October. I was amazed to receive a letter from the Attorney-General, dated 19th October, giving the Minister’s latest opinion. I had advised the AttorneyGeneral of the fact that a request had been made to the producers of the material in Tasmania by a manufacturer in Victoria, and that the producers in Tasmania had advised the manufacturer that they could not supply because others of their customers had declared that they would withdraw their custom if the Victorian manufacturer was supplied. The AttorneyGeneral then gave this amazing decision -
You have formed an opinion that the material which you have in hand undoubtedly makes it clear that a restraint on interstate trade has occurred. I regret that on the material you submit I do not share this confident opinion.
Let me put the position to the House. A firm operating in Victoria, manufacturing a product marketed throughout Australia, obtains its supplies of raw material from Tasmania. Those supplies are interrupted by a combination of a number of its trade competitors. If ever there was a restraint of interstate trade, surely this constitutes one. But the Attorney-General says no.
What is lacking? Is there a defect in the legislation of this Parliament, or does this Parliament lack constitutional power to deal with such a matter? If the Parliament has not the constitutional power to deal with this question, the sooner we amend the Constitution tha better. But I am of opinion that if power is lacking this Parliament can remedy the position with appropriate legislation. This Government can put the situation right if it wants to do so. It may be argued, as it has been by the Attorney-General, that it is a matter for Chas. F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited to take action if it feels that its rights are being infringed. But I am not concerned only with the manufacturer. I am concerned about the Australian public, the consumers of the product. If, by this combination of commercial interests, the company is being compelled to charge a higher price, I think this Government has an obligation, as protector of the public’s rights, to intervene and see that some action is taken to put the matter right.
As I have said before, I do not expect this Government to take any action, because it is a government of big business, and these warehousemen who have combined against Chas. F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited are the great powers in the retail and wholesale trade of this country. They are putting the screws on and dictating the policy of the Government. I merely bring the matter to notice, so that it will be further evidence of the fact, which has often been alleged by Opposition members, that this Government represents only the powerful commercial and banking interests in Australia.
.- I wish to take this opportunity to mention a matter which has caused me concern for some time, and which I know has caused concern to a large section of the Australian community. I refer to the continuous use of the term “ new Australian “. I realize, as I have said in this House on a number of occasions, the way in which this term was coined. At the time it was coined, the person who coined it deserved thanks and congratulations for having done so. It was brought into use to replace terms that had been used and were insulting in character, such as “ Bait “ and “ reffo “, which were used in a slighting way and were intended to convey a slight. The term “ new Australian “ was introduced, and was welcomed by every one as conveying no slight.
As I understand the position, the term “ new Australian “ has not been officially recognized. It has come into common usage, but with the passage of the years it has acquired many of the characteristics of the earlier terms, itself implying a slight. Since the war, about 1,250,000 migrants have come to Australia, and of that number we can say, using rough figures, that about half were born in foreign countries. When they come here, they invariably find that the appellation “ new Australian “ is applied to them. Many of them have now been naturalized for a number of years, and they regard the term as a slight.
I think the time has come for the newspapers of this country to give a lead to the public in abandoning the use of this term. I do not suggest the substitution of another term; 1 mean complete abandonment of any term whatsoever which is used exclusively for people of foreign birth now living in Australia.
– Would you simply call them migrants?
– No, I would not call them anything. I would refer to one of these people as a man or a woman, or a child. A person born in this country does not expect to be referred to as an Australianborn resident. Such a person is termed simply a citizen or a resident, and the migrants who have been here and have played an active part in the development of Australia should be entitled to the same privilege as being described as men, women or children. It may be said that the newspapers do not play a very significant part in forming opinion. I believe that they do. Certainly it is true that newspapers are widely read in Australia and that people normally adopt terms that are repeatedly used in the press. The press should cease describing these people as “new Australians “. This practice is most hurtful, particularly when the press, in describing a person who is wanted by the police for questioning in connexion with a crime, ends with the words, “ He is a new Australian “. Surely it is sufficient to give his description and to treat him as any other resident of Australia would be treated. We see the appellation “ new Australian “ applied most frequently in circumstances of which the person concerned cannot be proud. I feel that most Australians will agree that the use of this appellation, or indeed any other appellation intended to apply to these people as a group, should be abandoned. They are residents of Australia, whether naturalized or not, and should be treated in entirely the same way as any other resident of Australia is treated.
.- I wish to speak for only a few minutes and I do so because we will not have the opportunity to speak here again until March next. The matter to which I wish to refer was raised in a question asked by my colleague, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies). It relates to the Japanese children of Australian servicemen in Japan. I had intended to ask the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who is now in the House, a series of questions about this matter earlier to-day, and I will ask the questions now. Is he aware that the Australian Council of the World Council of Churches has just paid £500 in legal costs for the adoption by American citizens of eight Japanese children of Australian servicemen? Is it a fact that the council has asked the Australian Government for a grant of £12,000 to add to its fund of £50,000 for the education of these unfortunate children in Japan? I had intended to ask also that the Government consider amending its immigration laws to permit the adoption of some of these children by Australian citizens who wished to do so.
To my knowledge, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have both accepted responsibility for the children of their servicemen in Japan and I commend them for their humanitarian action. It is about time that this country came into line with the United States of America and the United Kingdom on this point. The Government has done absolutely nothing to help with the education or the maintenance of these destitute children in Japan. There are about 400 or 500 of them, or the figure may be 600. I know that this is not a popular matter, but that does not concern me because our responsibility for these children is equal to that of the Japanese mothers, who are themselves outcasts because they have had children by Australian servicemen. This is not a new problem. It has arisen with every war and has been known through the centuries. However, in the twentieth century we should be able to do something. The Government should show a little bit of humanitarianism and open the way for any Australian citizen who wishes to adopt a Japanese child. I do not suggest that our citizens should be forced to do so. The Government should also give the £12,000 that the Australian Council of the World Council of Churches has sought to augment its fund of £50,000, which will be spent in Japan to assist with the education of these children. If the Government were to do that, it would be a start, and many people with humanitarian ideals, and the Churches themselves, would be grateful to the Government.
One Japanese child, adopted by an Australian citizen, is already in this country although hardly any one knows about it.
An Australian ex-serviceman adopted a child in Japan. Last year he came home with the forces and got the child into Australia. He is living in Tasmania in the electorate of the honorable member for Braddon. I have met him and I have met the child. The ex-serviceman married a Western Australian girl and he is working happily in Smithton in Tasmania. The little chap is seven or eight years of age and he is a credit to the ex-serviceman. The man wandered about the country with the boy for about a year, during which time the Army said he was absent without leave. This case has set a precedent. As one of these unfortunate Japanese children is now in Australia, why should the Government not come into line with other governments and accept responsibility for the children?
I commend our friend in Tasmania for his great courage and for his humanitarianism. He is bringing up this little boy as an Australian citizen and there is a wonderful relationship between them. What he has done could be done by other kind-hearted people who are willing to adopt these children and give them a future in this country. Japanese war brides have been naturalized. The immigration laws are not now as rigid as they were when we were in government, and I approve of some of the things that have been done by this Government in this respect. If Australia were to make this gesture of admitting some of these children, I am sure that it would be deeply appreciated in Japan, where a committee is trying to keep the children alive - that is about all it can do at the moment. The children are outcasts amongst the Japanese. They are, as it were, children in noman’sland. I sincerely appeal to the Government to give another thought to this matter which has been raised before in the Parliament.
– I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). I know that certain difficulties hedge this matter, but I want to mention to the House one outstanding instance of a man who was the son of a Japanese lady and an Englishman, although in this case there is no suggestion that he was born out of wedlock. His record is outstanding. I refer to the late Lieutenant Wykheam Freame, who is better known as Sergeant
Wykheam Freame. He had a Japanese mother and an English father. Wykheam Freame was the first man in the Australian Army to win the distinguished conduct medal in the 1914-18 war. He was a brilliant linguist and was a great asset to Australia. When Sir John Latham represented Australia as an ambassador in Japan, Wykheam Freame. commissioned as a lieutenant, was attached to his staff as a special intelligence officer. Because of his knowledge of languages, especially of the Japanese language, he was most valuable to Australia, when not many Australians could speak or understand Japanese. Unfortunately, partly as a result of his war experiences and partly because of the effects of a germ which he caught, he was invalided back here and then died. I just mention those facts because the question of children of mixed birth is under review.
It is well for us to remember the debt that we owe to men such as Wykheam Freame. I was told by Sir John Latham of an extraordinary exploit by this man on Gallipoli, when he was captured whilst scouting behind the lines of the Turks. He was being escorted to a prison camp by seven Turkish soldiers. By pretending to be exhausted, he put the Turks off guard, and then, producing a concealed revolver, he shot six of them and bayoneted another one, and got back to his own lines. He was a brilliant soldier. I think Australia would not be the poorer if it definitely accepted a fair share of its responsibility in this matter. I support the views of the honorable member for Wilmot. I have no doubt that we could find other cases just as remarkable as the one that I have just quoted.
.- I wish to refer to a problem that was mentioned at question time to-day, namely, the shortage of teachers in Australia. I am very pleased that the acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has been generous enough to remain in the chamber during this adjournment discussion. In the negotiations with the State Premiers on this subject, the right honorable gentleman showed a sympathy with them in their problems which I cannot attribute to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself.
At question time to-day, the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) asked whether attention would be given to obtaining as immigrants teachers from the Old Country. In New South Wales - I am pretty sure that this applies also to other States - more recruits are available than the States are able to accept for teachertraining purposes. Last year, in New South Wales, some thousands of students, having diligently pursued their studies up to the leaving certificate standard, made application to join the teaching service of that State, but the education authorities were unable to accept them, first, because of an insufficiency of teacher-training institutions and related facilities, and secondly, because the New South Wales Government, despite its record expenditure on education - a record not only in relation to the actual sum involved, but also as a proportion of a State budget - considered that it had not sufficient money available to employ additional teachers.
I have raised this matter a number of times since I have been a member of this House. I felt that I had an obligation to do so, because I have three young children of my own and I was formerly a member of the New South Wales teaching service. In addition, for five years I was associated with the training of teachers. Therefore, I hope it will be accepted that I can speak with some authority in this matter. I am further reminded of my obligations as I visit the various teaching institutions at this time of the year in connexion with Christmas functions. Everywhere I go I am asked whether it appears that the federal Government will be converted to the proposition that it should do something to relieve the great financial pressure that is imposed on the States by the obligation to provide education facilities. In almost every school in the country, classes are overcrowded. Thousands of children are being denied proper educational opportunities. If those opportunities are not provided to them now, they may never be able to take advantage of them. This is a tragic state of affairs, not only from the point of view of the individual children, but also - I say this in all sincerity and with a sense of responsibility - from the point of view of the country as a whole.
Other nations of the world are committing themselves to a vastly greater finan cial contribution to education than we are doing. In this respect, we could with advantage follow the example of other countries. For example, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is devoting 15 per cent, of its national income to the provision of education facilities at all levels. The United States of America is making up its leeway in this field. That country has a federal system of government similar to ours. Recognizing its obligation in this matter, the American Federal Government is assisting the individual States of that country to a considerable extent to provide the educational facilities that are necessary. Even in the Australian Capital Territory, I understand that a plea is being made for more teachers. Even in this Territory, which is pretty adequately treated in respect of education, there is a teacher-training shortage.
I know that this is not altogether an appropriate time to make a long speech on this subject, but I have raised it because the schools are now breaking-up and in the new academic year complaints will be heard on every hand about overcrowding and about insufficient teachers being available. Honorable members on both sides of the House know that the teacher-training institutions are asking for assistance. The parents and citizens’ associations throughout the country are directing attention to the matter. Mothers’ clubs and expert educationalists throughout Australia are looking to the Federal Government to render assistance in this matter. If our children are to get a fair go and this nation is to develop comparably with other modern nations, it is imperative that the Federal Government makes available adequate finance for education.
I urge the acting Prime Minister to ask the Universities Commission to consider placing teacher-training institutions in the same category as the universities in relation to grants. After all, teacher training is an aspect of tertiary education. Therefore, teacher-training institutions should be eligible on the same basis as universities for financial assistance. If the Commonwealth could relieve the States of their responsibility to finance teacher-training institutions, the States would be able to expend the money now devoted to this purpose on the provision of school buildings and other education facilities. I am sure that my plea on behalf of the teacher-training institutions will be endorsed by many honorable members on both sides of the House.
.- I respect the strength of feeling on the part of honorable members which has impelled them to raise a variety of subjects on this occasion. I assure them that the points they have made will be either studied by the various Ministers concerned or considered by the Government. I shall bring to the attention of my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has referred to problems related to soil and water in the practice of irrigation, something of which I have had personal experience, and I shall bring his very important remarks to the attention of the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Mr. Casey).
I undertake to bring to the attention of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) the case quoted again by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). At this moment, I can make no more comment on it than that. I am sure that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) will have some thoughts on the matter raised by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). I shall see that the appropriate authorities consider the matter of very human interest referred to by the honorable members for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and New England (Mr. Drummond), and in which I know the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) is particularly interested. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has raised a matter of intrinsic importance, affecting Federal-State relationships. It has been discussed many times, but I undertake to see that his remarks are directed to the appropriate quarters.
In the light of arrangements that have been made and of the desire of honorable members to catch particular aircraft, I hope that this may be regarded as the last speech on the motion for the adjournment of the House to-day. In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of honorable members I wish to convey to you our best Christmas wishes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.47 p.m., to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
By way of general explanation, the relevant provision of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act pertaining to tax instalment deductions from earnings are subsections (4.) and (S.) of section 221c.
Sub-section (4.) provides that where, in addition to money wages, an employee is provided with board and quarters, his wages shall be deemed to be increased by an amount of £1 Ss. per week as representing the value of the board and quarters.
Sub-section (5.), however, requires that where the value of board and quarters is specified under the terms of an award, order or determination of an industrial tribunal, or under an industrial agreement, the value so specified shall be taken into account for the purpose of computing the tax instalment deductions.
The current award applying to employees in the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory specifies the value of keep (being board and quarters) as £4 16s. 8d. per week.
Prior to the current year 1959-60, a value of £1 5s. per week for board and quarters had been accepted for income tax purposes. Following an official review this year, it was decided that a value of £4 16s. 8d. per week, as specified in the award, should be adopted.
It might be borne in mind that under section 26 (e) of the Assessment Act the assessable income of the employee concerned includes the value to him of the board and quarters provided by his employer. If tax instalments were to be deducted at the scale of £1 5s. instead of £4 16s. 8d. per week, it would be found in most cases that the tax instalments would fall far short of the tax assessed and the employee would be required to pay the difference of tax after the issue of an assessment notice.
y asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
While on the high seas in the area of the Indian Ocean, including the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, bounded by the twenty-sixth degree south latitude and the sixty-second degree east longitude, warships or military aircraft under the control of Parties to this Convention shall have the same right of visit, search and seizure in relation to vessels of Parties to this Convention suspected on reasonable grounds of being engaged in the act of conveying slaves as they have in relation to vessels so suspected of being engaged in acts of piracy.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Mr. F. J. Marcusson, O.B.E. ; First Assistant Comptroller-General.
Mr. J. C. Lyon ; Chief Inspector of Excise.
Mr. L. W. Engledow - Director, Organization and Method.
Mr. J. S. E. Allwright ; Executive Assistant to the Comptroller-General.
Mr. N. Custance ; General Customs Branch.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 December 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19591203_reps_23_hor25/>.