23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with deep regret that I inform the House of the death of the Honorable Percy James Clarey, the member for Bendigo. I am sure that I speak for all members of the House, and indeed for the country, in expressing profound distress at the death of our colleague.
We wish it to be recorded that the late Mr. Clarey was acknowledged to be one of the great men in the trade union movement and in the political Labour Party of this country. We will always think of him as Percy Clarey. He was a man who engendered respect in all of those with whom he came into contact. Certainly he had the full respect of his colleagues in this Parliament, whatever their political points of view. I know that he was profoundly respected in union circles, and I am sure that he was equally respected in employer circles. As we know, he had a great physical disability, under which he laboured throughout his public life, but that never at any time deterred him from devoting himself with very great courage to the problems with which he associated himself.
The late Mr. Percy Clarey was a member of the Legislative Council of the Parliament of Victoria before he became a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. In the Legislative Council, he represented the Doutta Galla province from 1937 to 1949. For a period in 1943, he was Minister for Labour and Minister of Public Health in a Victorian government, and from 21st November, 1945, until 20th November, 1947, he was Minister of Labour and Employment. He was in this Parliament, as the member for Bendigo, since 1949.
He had a distinguished and enviable record of public service in the parliamentary sphere as well as in his other chosen sphere - the service of organized labour. He was a member of the Australian delegation to the International Labour Organization conference held in the United States in 1944. In 1954, he was a member of the Australian delegation to the 9 th session of the United Nations General Assembly. He had been a member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council since, I think, its inception in 1947.
To record the sentiments of the House on this sad occasion, I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Percy James Clarey, a member of this House for the Division of Bendigo, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in its bereavement.
– I join with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in the warm tribute which he has paid to the memory of our dear friend. All of us mourn to-day the passing of a man who distinguished himself in the service of the Australian people in a variety of worthy causes.
We knew the late Percy Clarey in the House of Representatives as the honorable member for Bendigo. We knew him also, as others throughout the Commonwealth knew him, as a great Australian, a kindly, sincere, able and trustworthy man whose word was his bond and with whom a friendship, once established, was always certain and secure. In the discharge of his public duties, and particularly in the representation of a seat such as Bendigo, which required so much of his time and energy, the late Mr. Clarey set an example and displayed a fortitude and courage in the face of physical difficulty and great personal sacrifice which will long remain an example to those who have had the pleasure to know and respect him.
The honour which was his in serving as a member of the Parliament of the nation for nearly eleven years, as the member for Bendigo, was for him a cherished one. As the Acting Prime Minister has said, before Mr. Clarey came to this Parliament he was the member for Doutta Galla province in the Legislative Council of the Victorian Parliament. In addition, he was a Minister in Labour governments in that State for some considerable time. He was the president for a long period of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and a member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council from its very beginnings. In the service of that body he gave unstintingly of his time, his energy and his talents.
There are some, like my colleagues, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), and Senators Cameron, Sheehan, Kennelly and Hendrickson, who can claim a friendship with him dating back over 40 years and more. I can remember first meeting him in 1917, and I can truthfully say that we never exchanged one angry word in all that period. As the years passed, my esteem and admiration for our colleague grew with each passing day.
Percy Clarey will long be remembered by all who were associated with him in the various walks of life that he adorned by his presence and enlightened by his contributions. He will be remembered for his great unselfish service, because he certainly won his way into the hearts, affections and admiration of all who were privileged to know him. Above all, he will be remembered kindly and affectionately by the little people - the workers whom he led in the Storemen and Packers Union and the Food Preservers Union of Australia. He will be remembered, too, by the delegates who, for more than the past 50 years - there are not many of them alive now - have seen him at industrial congresses and labour conferences, and who will now see him no more.
Percy Clarey was a great Australian. The fragrance of his memory will remain, and the example of his achievements will continue to inspire us while we of the Opposition try, to the best of our abilities, to serve the people and the Commonwealth of Australia with the same devotion as he always displayed.
I join the sympathy of the Opposition to the sentiments which have been expressed by the Acting Prime Minister to the late Percy Clarey’s relatives and friends; to those who were closest and dearest to him, and who are left to mourn a great loss, but who have a great example which will be theirs as long as life is spared to them.
. In the absence of my leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I know that my colleagues of the Liberal Party would wish me to associate them with the motion which has been proposed by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has addressed himself so movingly. These are sad occasions for all of us when we mourn together the death of one who has been of our company; and the sadness is not a matter confined to the place in the Parliament where we sit. Indeed, there is a deeper poignancy in this case where the former member was a man whose personality and character stamped themselves so strongly upon our consciousness.
I, perhaps more than any one else on this side, had occasion over recent years to come closely in contact with Percy Clarey. My work as Minister for Labour and National Service placed me frequently in association with him and, at times, in opposition to him politically, in this place because he was the recognized authority of the Australian Labour Party on matters related to the trade union movement. Frequently, he was the spokesman of the Opposition on large industrial issues as they arose from time to time in this place. I have no doubt that what I discovered of him was recognized by honorable members from all parts of this chamber. The things which impressed us were the evident sincerity and earnestness which he brought to every issue he discussed. He could’ talk vigorously, pungently and movingly on all matters on which he was called upon to speak for his party. But I never heard him attack, in a personal sense, any of his opponents. He did not need to strengthen his arguments in that way, and yet few men from either side of the House made more of an impression by their arguments upon those to whom they were addressed.
Sir, we all learned to admire the courage - the daily courage - with which he overcame his physical disability which would have daunted a lesser man. We all came to appreciate that while he could be a doughty political opponent, he was first an Australian who placed the national interest and welfare above all other considerations. I found, in talking over industrial issues, that I could approach him as a man with a constructive contribution to make to the problems which the nation had to solve. I, and other Ministers for Immigration, since the time he joined the Immigration Advisory Council found him helpful in the contributions he made there. He was amongst the foremost of his own party to recognize the importance to Australia of immigration, and whatever burdens these added responsibilities laid upon him, he did not hesitate to discharge them for the national concern.
Sir, we regret the passing of a man who was a big Australian. We feel that in the example of men like him our parliamentary tradition grows in stature. He has a place in history for the contribution he made to the trade union movement of this country during the formative and critical period of its development, and he has a place in the hearts of all of us for the man he was. We join in conveying sympathy to his sorrowing family. This Parliament and Australia are the poorer for his passing.
– May I add a few words to those that have been uttered to-day concerning the late Percy Clarey on behalf of a great body of people who are not privileged to be here to say what they are thinking about the passing of this great Australian. Trade unionists throughout Australia will remember this as the day when one of Australia’s greatest sons passed to his well deserved rest. The name of Percy Clarey will be revered throughout the trade union movement. He will be mourned in every walk of life where trade unionists assemble. He was the architect of what is now the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and was intimately associated with its progress. He brought it from nothing to a high place in the community as an institution that has played a vital part in the growth of the nation.
Percy Clarey was unselfish in his outlook, and did fearlessly what he believed to be right, within the framework of the trade union movement, as one of its leaders. He was constantly guided by his convictions and his conscience, and by his honest belief that every man in the community is worthy of his hire. The trade union movement throughout Australia will sadly miss a great leader. He was conscientious, and leaves behind him a tradition of honesty of purpose that leaders in the trade union movement will endeavour to emulate. His passing will bring a sadness into the homes of trade unionists throughout Australia. Thousands of unionists would wish to be here to join in all sincerity with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in his tribute to our late colleague, and to join with us in extending to Percy Clarey’s relatives the sympathy that is expressed in this motion.
– I had the good fortune to know the late Mr. Clarey extremely well, first when I was Minister for Air - and he was interested in the Department of Air because his own son as a doctor was closely associated with it - and later when I was Minister for Social Services and then Minister for Labour and National Service. Mr. Clarey’s very kindly advice to me in the administration of both portfolios was extremely valuable. Mr. Speaker, if I could sum up the characteristics of this man I would express them as sincerity and honesty of purpose. He was a very great Australian. My officers in the Department of Labour and National Service have asked me, Sir, to express the regret of senior officers and all the staff at the death of this great man. They knew him as a Minister of the Crown in the Victorian Government, and, what was much more important, they knew him as a leader of the trade union movement, whether as general secretary or president of the various trade unions or of the Australian Council of Trade Unions itself. The officers of my department have asked me specially to join in the expressions of regret at Mr. Clarey’s departure and particularly to express the sympathy of all those associated with the department to the relatives of Percy Clarey.
– With a very deep sense of sorrow, T join in the expressions of regret at the passing of our very dear friend and colleague, Mr. Percy Clarey. I knew Mr. Clarey for more than 40 years, both in his work in the trade union movement and as a member of the Australian Labour Party. Memories of his high sense of integrity, his marvellous fortitude, his great understanding of human values and his warm friendship will always be treasured amongst the richest of our possessions. In that sense, the loss to every one who knew him is great. Those who were identified with him in the many public causes that he supported, and those who enjoyed his companionship must feel this loss deeply.
Throughout Australia, and even beyond, there will be this day a feeling of grave sorrow that we are now dispossessed of his immediate presence. But his example will live on and great will be the name of Percy Clarey in our history.
– I desire, very briefly, to join with those who have already paid a high tribute to one who thoroughly deserved it. I ask for this privilege as a member of the rank and file on the Government benches on the ground that I, like many others - but I am sure no more than others - feel that I have lost a very close and true personal friend. The first time we met on public affairs was when I was Minister of Labour and Employment in Victoria during the years of the great depression, and he was a leading trade unionist. I learned very early to respect his views even when I did not agree with them; to have a high regard for his tolerance and an even higher regard for his capacity and his friendliness for all men. We served together in the Victorian Parliament from 1937 to 1949. In succession we held the ministerial post of Minister of Labour and Employment, and we both transferred to the Commonwealth Parliament on the same occasion in 1949.
He had many interests. One that has not been mentioned to-day was the Melbourne Technical College, of which, if I remember rightly, he was the president for some time. He was interested not only in the trade union movement and in politics, but in everything that made for the advancement of mankind, including education. But despite his magnificent public service, I feel that all of us in this House and many people outside the House will remember him best as a very good and true friend. The longer one lives, the more one realizes that true friends are the greatest possessions that one can have. I therefore join with other honorable members in paying a tribute to a great Australian, who will be accorded his rightful place in the history of Australia. I also express sympathy with the members of his family.
– As one who knew the late Percy Clarey for more than 30 years I should like also to be associated with the expressions of sympathy and with the tributes that have been paid to him by various honorable members. I knew Percy Clarey first in the courts. In the Commonwealth Arbitration Court he was a great, fearless and able advocate. I think that 1 can say without any hesitation that the finest address I ever heard made in the Arbitration Court was made by Percy Clarey. I have never forgotten that occasion although it was very many years ago.
In addition to being an able advocate, he was also, as the members of this House and the members of the State Houses in Victoria know, a most capable parliamentarian. When one thinks of him one thinks first and foremost of a friend. Whether you were with him or against him, he was always a friend. He never let friendship descend and be lost. No matter how you had had to oppose him he always greeted you afterwards with a smile and a pat on the back if he could. As a trade unionist he must rank among the greatest of the trade unionists in Australia. Above everything else, he was a very fine gentleman. His death is a tremendous loss to this House and to the community.
– As chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council I should like to add my tribute, on behalf of the Council, to the magnificent service rendered by the late Percy Clarey. I knew Percy Clarey for a great many years, and I am sure that he can be regarded as one of the really great Australians. His work for the Immigration Advisory Council was invaluable. He always lent to that council a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we shall find our work ever so much more difficult without his advice and assistance.
Over the great many years that I knew Percy Clarey I did not hear him once use an unkind word about anybody. As has been mentioned before, he was a man of high principle. He fought his causes with energy and enthusiasm, but never lost a friend. As will have been noticed from the remarks made by members from all parts of the House, there was genuine friendship for a man who was undoubtedly one of Australia’s greatest sons.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– Mr. Speaker, as a mark of respect to the deceased honorable member I suggest that the House suspend its sitting until 8 p.m.
– I feel sure that the suggestion made by the Acting Prime Minister will meet with the concurrence of the House. Therefore, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased honorable member, the sitting is suspended.
Sitting suspended from 2.59 to 8 p.m.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question without notice concerning the conference in London this week to revise the 1948 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. My question is prompted by the proposal by some governments to amend the convention to exempt cargo ships above 1,600 tons gross from the requirement to fit radio telegraphy installations. I ask the honorable gentleman why the Australian Government is not sending to this conference a representative with practical experience of radio at sea. Will the Government resist any proposal to depart from the proven virtues of radio telegraphy in ensuring safety at sea?
– The Australian delegation to the conference to revise the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea was selected for its knowledge of affairs that would be brought up at the conference, and I am quite sure that it will pay very practical attention to the matters under consideration. Until the result of the conference is known, it is impossible to say what conclusions will be reached, but I can assure the honorable member that we will be taking a very active interest in the matter and make sure that nothing is done that would be detrimental to the safety of the ships under our supervision.
– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by reminding him that many overseas countries are printing postage stamps in multi-colour. I therefore ask the Minister whether it would 11Ot be possible to print Australian stamps in the same, attractive manner.
– This is a question t6 which considerable attention has been given by the department over a period. At present, stamps are printed for the department by the Note Printing Branch of the Reserve Bank of Australia. That department uses what is called the recess process. To meet its own requirements and ours the Note Printing Branch is acquiring new equipment, which is expected to be available early next year. This will use the photogravure process which, I understand, will enable stamps to be printed in several colours and achieve the result which the honorable member seeks and which my department has been seeking for a considerable time. It will be remembered that, at the time of the Olympic Games, we issued stamps in several colours but, because we lacked the necessary equipment we had to have them printed in Switzerland.
– 1 wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question without notice concerning the 182 occasions on which telephone communications have been intercepted for security reasons since 1949. Were these interceptions carried out wholly or in part by employees of his department? If so, what status did those employees hold in the department?
– Obviously, this is a matter which deals with the security provisions existing in Australia. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition well knows, we do not discuss security matters in this House, when replying to questions. All that I have to say - and I state it with emphasis - is that no employee of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is in a position at any time either to hear or to record any conversations which are the subject of security surveillance.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that extensive delays have been occurring since the introduction of the extended local service areas telephone system?
Can he tell the House what is the cause of the delays which have arisen since the introduction of this system and what plans the Postmaster-General’s Department has for overcoming them?
– I assume that the honorable member refers to the fact that since the introduction of the extended local service areas system, which is commonly known as Elsa, a channel has not been available at times for the carriage of a conversaton. That is a problem which the Postmaster-General’s Department knew would develop as a result of the introduction of the Elsa scheme. It flows from the fact that, in many instances, people calling, say, friends in certain localities previously had to make a trunk-line call and, consequently, confined their conversation to three minutes because they were advised when that period had expired. In many cases, such subscribers are now able to make an untimed call on a local fee basis over a much wider radius. As a result, the conversations have been extending over a considerably longer time. We feel that this is partly due to the novelty of the new system and that it will wear off after a while. But the delays are considered to be only partly due to that, and therefore the department has planned to provide more channels in order to enable the extended services to be provided without subscribers having to wait for too long.
It will interest honorable members to know that a survey, not only in Australia, but also overseas, was made by departmental officials in order to determine the percentage of extra time that resulted from the introduction of automatic untimed services such as we are dealing with. It was found that the time increased by about 25 per cent. Therefore, the department has planned the extra channels which it proposes to introduce on the basis of providing an increase of 25 per cent. A great deal of the necessary work has already been done, and I have sent letters to a considerable number of honorable members telling them of the additional channels which are being provided in their areas. The work is not yet completed, but that is the plan which the department is carrying out. I believe that it will be successful.
– I direct a question, without notice, to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the Minister aware that great unrest has been caused on the northern coal-fields in New South Wales by the failure of the coal-mine owners to observe the principle of seniority in retrenchments from the mines? Will he ensure that, where employment is terminated, the basis will be: Last to come, first to go? Is the Minister aware that almost 50 per cent, of the employees of the Stockrington No. 2 colliery have received a week’s notice terminating their employment? Is he aware, also, that practically all of the men affected own homes near where they work and will require local work unless they are to suffer heavy financial loss by moving to another district? Has the Minister or the Government any plans for the absorption of the dismissed men into alternative employment, or are these miners to be thrown on the scrap-heap as a result of mechanization while the mine-owners are rewarded with greater profits?
– I think the honorable gentleman will know better than does an> one else that the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of National Development have done their best to ensure that every employee retrenched from the coal-fields is placed in alternative employment. I think the honorable member will agree, too, that on the Cessnock and Kurri Kurri fields there has been a good performance in keeping the number of unemployed to the very low limit to which it has been kept. I was not aware of the difficulty about Stockrington No. 2 colliery, which the honorable member mentioned, but T shall look at the problem and make sure that the Commonwealth Employment Service does everything possible, if any of the employees are retrenched, to see that they are placed in employment. I shall be only too happy to discuss this matter with the honorable member for Hunter should he wish it and if he feels that there is any other contribution I can make, I shall be only too happy to try to make it.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Since the lifting of the
National Security Regulations, have any directives been issued to the trading banks by the central bank, or the present Reserve Bank, restricting advances by the private trading banks to primary industry? What is the current policy with respect to the primary sector?
– Since 1952, there has been no directive of that character which would restrict advances to primary producers. On the contrary, the central bank has left the trading banks in no doubt of the importance it attaches to meeting the special needs of primary producers for bank credit. All the available evidence indicates that the trading banks are fully alive to this need and have conducted their lending policies accordingly.
The present position is that the banks have been asked to see that their lending policies provide for, in general, not more than a moderate expansion of bank credit over the current financial year. There are no specific directives to the banks concerning their advances to the primary sector, but the Reserve Bank has indicated that the banks should, as usual, give special consideration to any areas adversely affected by seasonal conditions. The only specific restriction of advances by the trading banks at the present time is that they have been asked to continue to refrain from granting advances for the expansion of hirepurchase and instalment selling and to avoid giving any stimulus to speculative tendencies.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. I understand1 that ABQ, Channel 2, in Brisbane, is preparing a documentry film, entitled, “The Shadow of Heroes “, dealing with the struggle for power in Hungary from 1944 to 1956. As the film is being prepared from a script that has already been written, I ask the Postmaster-General: Will his department confer with the Department of External Affairs to ensure that complete historical accuracy is preserved in the making of this film, since it has been stated publicly that it will be sent overseas?
– This is a matter which falls within the province of the Aus tralian Broadcasting Commission, not the Postmaster-General’s Department. However, because of the interest displayed by the honorable member for Lilley, and because of the importance of accuracy in a film such as this, I shall certainly convey his suggestion to the Australian Broadcasting Commission with a request that it be looked into.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by stating that in a broadcast last Wednesday night Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia, made serious charges against the Commonwealth Government’s monetary policy as it applies to overseas loans. Will the Treasurer make a statement on Sir Thomas Playford’s allegations that we are living beyond our income, that we are borrowing to make up the deficit and that we are paying the highest rate of interest for the least desirable loans?
– I think that most honorable members are aware that I dealt with this matter last week in reply to a question. As I pointed out at the time, I was not prepared to accept, as a faithful report of what I have since learned was a broadcast by Sir Thomas Playford, a small extract which was quoted on the radio. I said that there would be suitable opportunities to examine the text of his broadcast and, if I held contrary views, to discuss those features with him when we met together as colleagues on the Australian Loan Council. I did assure the House, however, that the degree of Australian overseas borrowing was fractional compared with our export income and compared even with borrowing during the last pre-war year, to say nothing of the ‘thirties, when the equivalent of about 30 per cent, of our export income was necessary to pay our interest bill. Indeed, the honorable member really should not have sought a reminder that the proportion of our export income, or its equivalent, which is required to pay the interest on our overseas borrowings, is to-day somewhat lower than it was when the party of which he is a member was in office in 1949.
I also explained that overseas borrowing by the Commonwealth Government was conducted on behalf of the Australian Loan Council; that in the case of the works and housing programmes which were agreed upon a majority decision of the Loan Council was necessary before the loans could be obtained, and for borrowings outside the works and housing programmes, the unanimous decision of the Loan Council, of which, of course, Sir Thomas Playford is a member, was necessary. I am quite .certain that the majority view - indeed, the overwhelming view - of members of the Loan Council is that, far from reducing the scale of Australian borrowing overseas at this time, we should consider ourselves fortunate that we have been able to borrow more successfully than have most other countries, and that we have done so at rates of interest which compare very favorably with those paid by other industrialized countries.
– I address my question to the Minister for Defence. In view of the very large fleet of submarines which has been built up by the Soviet, and the chain of submarine bases in the Pacific which are now under Soviet control, can the Minister assure the House that under the recently revised defence plan our naval and air forces are being adequately trained and equipped to meet this potential threat to Australian shipping?
– I can assure the honorable member and the House that in all naval planning the highest priority is given to anti-submarine equipment and to operational experience in its use. As I pointed out in the last defence statement which I made to the House, the maritime reconnaissance wing of the Royal Australian Air Force is to be strengthened by the addition of twelve P2V7 aircraft - the latest type for the purpose of maritime antisubmarine reconnaissance. I assure the honorable member that we are taking all the steps that it is possible to take in recognition of the threat which he mentions and in which he has shown great concern.
– Can the Minister for Air make a statement concerning the radar defence installations of Australia, with particular reference to radar installations that are left unmanned over week-ends in the
Sydney area and, perhaps, in other areas as well?
– In answer to the honorable member, Sir, there is one radar station in the Sydney area, situated at Brookvale. It is not manned on a 24-hour basis because, in accordance with the Government’s assessment of the threats and our defence policy, there is no requirement for a 24-hour watch by the services at home. The station is manned for training purposes during working hours on week days. There is a continuous training programme for air force personnel both in operating this type of equipment and in maintaining it, and it is also used in exercises between the fightertraining units at Williamtown and the Canberra bombers from Amberley.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact, as stated by a Labour Party member of this House in a recent broadcast of a session named “ Victoria’s Labour Hour “, that “ the Commonwealth Government has continually cut the local government loan programme “; and is it also a fact, as stated later in the broadcast, that “ local government programmes have been greatly cut owing to the Commonwealth grant being restricted “?
– If that comment were made it would be neither correct nor fair. Anybody who has studied the allocations made over recent years will know that there has been an increase of a substantial degree in the amounts which have been agreed upon - it is not a matter of Commonwealth decision - by the Australian Loan Council, for semi-government and local government purposes. Last year we agreed among ourselves, in the Loan Council, on a total figure of £100,000,000. Later, in February of this year, following further requests made by the Premiers, the Commonwealth said it would agree to the raising of the ceiling of loans for semi and local government purposes to £104,000,000.
I point out that in addition to that, this year the financial arrangements agreed upon - again unanimously - between the Commonwealth and the States provided for an increased grant of £27,000,000 by the Commonwealth, for general revenue grants, and an increased amount of £5,000,000 for roads purposes. What the various State governments do with those increased amounts is entirely a matter within their own discretion. How they allocate them between the local government authorities, is, again, a matter within their own discretion; but the Commonwealth has provided each year an increasing amount for this purpose.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has he made himself conversant with the details of an accusation laid against the Commonwealth Industrial Registrar’s Office that in conducting a particular union ballot recently the union rules were completely disregarded by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer representing the Industrial Registrar? Further, can the Minister say whether there is any truth in the charge that an important ballotbox containing a substantial number of ballot-papers was held by the Deputy Industrial Registrar in Brisbane and was not returned to the Commonwealth office to be counted? If the allegations of irregularities are found to be true, will the Minister consider returning to the trade union movement the complete and free right to conduct its own ballots, subject only to controls over irregularities, and thereby remove the possibility of any stigma attaching to the Commonwealth Industrial Registrar or his officers?
– As to the principle involved in the last part of the honorable member’s question, I think that the great body of trade unionists would not want the provisions for secret ballots taken out of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. This matter was debated on the floor of the House shortly after I became Minister for Labour and National Service, and I think the answers given during the course of those debates were conclusive. Secret ballots are welcomed by the public and1 the trade unions. As to the actual case that the honorable gentleman purported to cite, I cannot identify it from the details he has given, and he did not mention the name of the union. If he cares to give me the particulars, I will have an investigation made and let him know the results of it.
– My question, which is directed without notice to the Minister for Defence, relates to the shooting down of an American aircraft styled the U2. I ask the Minister: Is he or any one in his department able to give a technical explanation of how it is that the film in the camera of that machine was not damaged, bearing in mind that the aircraft was presumably hit by a homing-style rocket and fell from a height of 60,000 feet? Has the Minister received information that explains the precise circumstances in which the pilot left the aircraft, again bearing in mind that the pilot did not use his ejector seat?
– The honorable member has raised several questions that have occurred to a number of us. I can only say in reply that up to now we have not had full, accurate and official information from the United States authorities on this matter, but officials of the Department of Defence and some of our defence advisers are giving close attention to this whole incident.
– My question without notice is directed to the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the New South Wales surf life-saving clubs are in dire financial straits? Is the Minister aware that owing to the continuous heavy storms during the summer months, most clubs had their surf boats battered to pieces and most of their lifesaving equipment destroyed? Is it a fact that these clubs are purely voluntary organizations that rely mostly on public subscriptions and the personal sacrifices of their members for money to purchase their equipment? As their finances are at a very low ebb, will the Treasurer, in framing the forthcoming Budget, consider making a grant of £50,000-
– They do not need it now.
– Will he consider making a grant-
– They do not need it now.
– Will the Treasurer consider, when framing the Budget, making a grant of £50,000, which would1 assist in the purchase of much needed equipment for the next surfing season?
- Mr. Speaker, 1 share the admiration that I am sure the honorable gentleman possesses for members of the surf life-saving clubs. We are indebted to them for the splendid voluntary service they give round the coast of Australia. 1 know that the Commonwealth Government has made some financial assistance available and, to the best of my recollection, this was recently increased. There seems to be some difference of opinion between my colleague, the honorable member for Phillip, and the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, both of whom come from a city renowned for its surfing beaches and life-saving clubs, about just what the members of these clubs really want from the Commonwealth Government. The honorable member will be interested1 to know that I shall be presenting the trophies to members of the Portsea Life-Saving Club next Saturday night, and I shall see whether I can find out at first hand what is needed.
– My question, which is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister, concerns the Government’s decision to reduce production at the Mulwala explosives factory and the consequent termination of employment of 91 employees there. Is there any other avenue of production to which this factory could be switched? Is every possible action being taken to find employment locally for these people?
– It was found several years ago that the Government explosives factory at Mulwala was not required to be in anything like full production to meet the Government’s requirements. To sustain employment and to avoid imports, the Government arranged to switch the operations at the factory to the production of sulphate of ammonia, a nitrogenous fertilizer required for farms. If production of sulphate of ammonia were to continue at the factory at the present cost, a loss estimated at £30,000 a year would result, having regard to the cost of other nitrogenous fertilizers. In the circumstances, the Government felt that it was impelled in the public interest to reduce the operations of the factory.
The Government has studied quite carefully whether alternative operations could justifiably be continued in that portion of the factory, but this has not been found possible. The Government has, therefore, given long notice - as long as four months in some instances - to those who are to be retrenched, and has arranged with the Department of Supply to make jobs available to those who want them, in other government factories at St. Mary’s near Sydney or at Albion in Victoria. A number of people are to be placed in this way. As well a» giving a substantial period of notice, the Government will defray, up to £100 in each case, the cost of removal to other areas of those who are displaced. At the same time, my department and the Department of Supply have expressed their willingness to co-operate with the Victorian Government or local authorities in any possible effort to place these people in any industry in the same locality.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware that the Seamen’s Union was recently fined £300 under section 1 09 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and ordered to pay the employers’ costs which amount to £800? Will the honorable gentleman immediately take action to discontinue the procedure under which the unions have to pay the costs of the employers?
– It is true that some weeks ago the Seamen’s Union was fined £300 by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. However, up to the present. I do not think that these costs have been taxed by the Registrar. Costs may be allowed byth e court or are fixed by regulation and are based on the costs in the bankruptcy jurisdiction, which provide a lower scale of costs than those in the High Court. 1 think 1 should say that, although exact figures are not available, when I last looked into this problem, I found that taking 1957 as the starting point, the costs awarded and taxed against the trade unions when they were defendants totalled about £6.000. This is a problem that has given me cause for thought and I have discussed it with the
Australian Council of Trade Unions. I will give the honorable gentleman my assurance that I will have another look at it as a result of his representations.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization recently estimated that the present world population of 3,000,000,000 will double to 6,000,000,000 in 40 years? Because of the already staggering world shortage of food, I ask whether the Minister is able to advise the House what specific co-operation Australia will extend in the F.A.O. five-year movement to be known as the “ Freedom from Hunger “ campaign?
– The “ Freedom from Hunger “ conference, which covers the matter embodied in the honorable member’s question was to be held at about this time, and I think will result in policy recommendations to the respective governments. Dr. Sen, who, as Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization was appointed organizer for the purpose of the campaign, was in Australia recently and met the Prime Minister. I think they travelled overseas together on the same aeroplane. No policy decision has actually been taken by the Commonwealth Government, but as the other governments - the United Kingdom, the United States of America and one or two other governments - are more or less awaiting the result of this conference, I think Australia is in that category also. Of course, we are sympathetic to the great cause the honorable member mentions.
– In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Government, this financial year, is paying private enterprise a sum of approximately £1,500,000 by way of bounty on the production of sulphuric acid and copper and proposes to extend that bounty payment after 30th June until such time as it receives a report from the Tariff Board, will the Acting Prime Minister take steps to ensure that sulphate of ammonia production is continued, even at a loss at Mulwala and at other sulphate of ammonia factories, until such time as the Government has referred that proposition to the Tariff Board and obtained a report?
– The honorable member refers to a variety of matters. The payment of a bounty on sulphuric acid is in accordance with a policy that has stood for a long time, and was designed to ensure the use of indigenous products, such as sulphuric acid which is necessary for the production of superphosphate. It has been the policy of this Government, as indeed I think it was the policy of the government in which the honorable member was a Minister, to pay a bounty on the production of sulphuric acid rather than impose a tariff on elemental sulphur. This was done so that the cost of supporting the local industry would be borne by the community as a whole rather than by the primary producers, of whose position the Government is very conscious.
As for copper, it is well known that the Government’s policy is to protect the Australian copper industry. The tariff is designed to ensure that the local copper industry shall enjoy protection to the extent of £275 per ton f.o.b. or c.i.f. - I forget which. However, should the industry need further assistance, the Parliament has approved the payment of a bounty on copper rather than that the import duty should be increased. This has been done in order to keep the price of copper down to a reasonable level.
Much more sulphate of ammonia is produced in Australia by private enterprise than is produced in government-owned factories. I understand that much of this commercial production, with by-products from steelworks and gasworks, can be sold competitively. However, the industry, which for the most part is centred in Tasmania, has asked for a reference to the Tariff Board, and the matter is before the Tariff Board now. There seems to be no likelihood that production at the government explosives factories can be continued except at unreasonable cost to the taxpayers.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service tell me whether the functions of the Colmslie migrant hostel in my electorate of Griffith are to be discharged by the Wacol establishment in Brisbane? If not, what are the immediate and future plans for Colmslie migrant hostel?
– I had not previously heard of the matter that the honorable gentleman has raised. I had not heard that there was to be any incorporation or assimilation such as he mentions, but I shall obtain the necessary information and Jet him have it to-night.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House under what legislation his department has facilitated the interception of telephone conversations on 182 services over the last ten years? Were those conversations recorded and, if so, have the recordings been preserved or were they destroyed? Has the Minister personally authorized the interception of telephone communications and, if not, what is the capacity of the officer of the department who exercises this responsibility?
– The question asked by the honorable member has already been answered by me in response to a previous question. I have already said that matters which are connected with security are not debated in this House. I have also said that no officer of the department either hears or records any conversation which is the subject of security surveillance. That is the extent of the information that I give the honorable gentleman in reply to his question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Are international conferences on wool being held in the United States this month, and will others be held in the United Kingdom next month? If so, what is the nature of the conferences, what are the subjects to be discussed, and will Australia be fully represented at them?
– Three conferences on wool are to be held in America and the United Kingdom in May and June. The conference to be held in New York is that of directors of the Wool Bureau Incorporated, and Mr. W. A. Gunn, the chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau, will be representing the International Wool Secretariat thereat. This conference is being held in response to a suggestion by the American Sheep Producers Council, which desires to discuss greater promotion of domestic wool in America. We are very glad to have the Americans interested in the promotion of wool, and consequently Australia is very pleased to be represented at that conference.
The second conference, which is to be held in England, is of the International Wool Publicity and Research Fund, which is the executive body of the International Wool Secretariat. This is the annual meeting of the fund, and Mr. Gunn and two other members of the Australian Wool Bureau will represent Australia there. Then, of course, there is the second International Wool Research Conference, at which Australia will be represented by Dr. F. G. Lennox, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and a party of scientists. That conference will be held in England this month.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider granting to blind people free installation of rent-free telephones? Would the Minister agree that, the Postal Department having made a profit last financial year of £6,000,000, the necessary finance is now available to provide this privilege for the blind, and that therefore no objection should be taken by the Government to meeting this request?
– I have already dealt, in this chamber, with this debatable question of the profit of £6,000,000 in the Post Office in the last financial year. I do not propose to go further into that matter now in response to the question. I can assure the honorable member for Gellibrand that the financial position of the Post Office is not such as would enable it to carry out his suggestion. The provision of free telephones for the blind has been considered on a number of occasions and by a number of administrations. I have recently looked at the question myself, but I am afraid that 1 cannot offer any hope to the honorable member that we will be able to institute that service in the near future.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Taxation - Thirty-eighth Report of the Commissioner of Taxation, dated 1st June, 1959, together with Statistical Appendices.
I would mention that, as a result of proceedings in the High Court in the McGrath case, it is not desirable that copies of the report be made available to honorable members or the public until the Parliament has given the necessary authorization. I have mentioned this aspect to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and he has agreed not to oppose the motion for the printing of the paper in order that the report may be circulated as soon as possible.
Ordered to be printed.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
The Australian Economy, 1960.
This is a periodical survey which is put out by the Treasury at about this time of the year. It should provide some light and informative reading for honorable gentlemen during the parliamentary recess.
– I lay on the table the following informative paper on the subject of pay-roll tax: -
Pay-roll Tax - Paper presented by the Treasurer on 17th May, 1960.
Honorable gentlemen will remember that I gave an undertaking that, before the House rose, I would present such a paper. Copies of it and of the preceding paper are now available from the Clerk of the Papers.
– Is there any reason why it should not be printed?
– I suggest, for the honorable gentleman’s own convenience, that it be not printed because the Supply bills and similar legislation will provide an opportunity for discussion of this subject. If 1 move that the paper be printed discussion of the subject may be inhibited.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Whaling Bill 1960.
Pollution of the Sea by Oil Bill 1960.
Colonial Light Dues Legislation Repeal Bill 1960.
Public Works Committee Bill 1960.
International Monetary Agreements Bill 1960.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1960.
.- I move-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, namely: - Construction of new international terminal building at Perth airport, Western Australia.
The proposal provides for the erection of a ground and first-floor building to accommodate Ansett-A.N.A., Trans-Australia Airlines, MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited and Qantas Empire Airways Limited with ancillary accommodation for the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Health. The proposal also provides office and functional accommodation connected with airport management for the Department of Civil Aviation.
The structure will probably be of steel and reinforced concrete with concrete ground and first floors. The building will be faced variously with brick, timber, terrazzo and glass and will have a metal roof. The preliminary estimate of cost is £435,000. I table the plans of the proposed building.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt). - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act 1953-1959, as amended by the Income Tax (International Agrements) Act 1960.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
On Thursday last, I signed, on behalf of the Commonwealth, an agreement between Australia and New Zealand designed to provide measures for the relief of double taxation of incomes flowing between the two countries. The agreement was signed on behalf of New Zealand by the High Commissioner for New Zealand, His Excellency the Honorable F. Jones.
Agreements of this nature are important steps in the removal of taxation deterrents to international trade and investment. The Parliament has previously given its approval to similar agreements concluded with the UnWed Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada and the present bill, when enacted, will give the force of law in Australia to this latest agreement with New Zealand.
It seems unnecessary for me to explain to honorable members that double taxation occurs when income taxed in the country of its origin is also subjected to tax by the country in which the recipient of the income resides. To a very large extent, Australia and New Zealand, by independent action in their own taxation laws, have avoided double taxation of their own residents. New Zealand has achieved this result by exempting its residents from, tax on Australian income taxed in this country. Australia has allowed a corresponding exemption of income, other than dividends, derived from sources in New Zealand and taxed in that country. Dividends received by Australian residents from New Zealand sources are assessable income for Australian taxing purposes, but double tax is relieved by the allowance against the Australian tax of a credit for New Zealand tax on those dividends.
Despite the generally adequate nature of the present unilateral procedures, there have nevertheless been instances in which income has been taxed by both Australia and New Zealand without appropriate relief. This situation has arisen because of differing concepts in the taxation laws of the two countries concerning the source of profits on the sale in one country of the products of the other. One of the effects of the agreement will be to remove this deterrent to trade between the two countries.
As in the case of agreements made with the other countries previously mentioned, the prior right of Australia and New Zealand to tax income arising within the respective countries will in general be preserved. In conformity with these agreements, however, there are classes of income where the country of origin will exempt and the country of residence will tax.
The agreement also includes a provision that will, with minor exceptions, limit to 15 per cent, the rate of tax that may be imposed on dividends paid by a company resident in one country to a shareholder resident in the other country. This provision will have an important consequence in relation to the withholding tax on dividends paid by Australian companies to overseas investors.
As honorable members know, this tax will come into effect on 1st July of this year and it will be met by tax deductions made from the dividends at the time of distribution. If it were not for this agreement, dividends flowing from Australia to New Zealand shareholders would be subjected to a withholding tax of 6s. in the £1, but under the agreement the rate is, with rare exceptions, limited to 3s. in the £1. Correspondingly, dividends paid by New Zealand companies to Australian shareholders will not be taxed at a rate higher than 3s. in the £1.
As is usual in agreements of this nature, provision is made for the exchange between the taxation authorities of the two countries of such information as is necessary for the operation of the agreement and the prevention of fraud or avoidance of tax. The taxing laws of both countries ensure secrecy in relation to the information exchanged and the agreement specifically precludes the exchange of information relating to trade secrets or trade processes.
The agreement will commence to apply in Australia to income derived in the current income year, 1959-60, and in New Zealand in the corresponding income year, which ended on 31st March, 1960. The full text of the agreement is set out in the schedule to the bill. Detailed explanations of the agreement are provided in a memorandum that is being circulated for the information of honorable members, and for this reason I do not propose to embark upon an examination of the articles of the agreement.
The agreement will apply for five years certain and thereafter may be terminated only by the giving of due notice by either country. It is, however, contemplated by both countries that the agreement will establish a permanent basis for the relief of double taxation. Accordingly, there will be engendered a feeling of confidence that business arrangements may be entered into and capital invested without the risk of income being taxed in full by the two countries. 1 should like to add - and I am sure all honorable members will share this pleasure with me - that, because of the bonds that have always existed between Australia and New Zealand, it gives me more than ordinary pleasure to bring the agreement here and to seek the endorsement of the House for it.
Finally, may I say that many officers of Commonwealth departments have given expert attention and care to the preparation of this agreement, just as has been the case in respect of New Zealand’s officers from the stand-point of that country. I am sure that the House will join with me in paying a special tribute to Sir Patrick McGovern, who carried the great weight of the negotiations and preparation in this matter, and 1 am happy to pay a public tribute to him.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Townley) read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The present Air Navigation Act 1920-1950, which is less than two printed pages, authorizes the Governor-General to make regulations to carry out the Chicago convention of 1944 and to make other regulations in the field of air navigation. In pursuance of the power contained in section 5 of the act, more than 300 regulations have been promulgated covering a wide and complex range of safety and technical matters affecting almost every phase of civil aviation.
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts, in its 24th report to Parliament, invited attention to the wide powers over civil aviation which the act vests in the Executive and went on to say -
We consider it undesirable to continue to vest such wide regulation making powers in the Executive Council and recommend that the basic principles should be incorporated in legislation enacted by the Parliament.
The primary purpose of this bill is to amend the existing Air Navigation Act in a manner which will carry out this recommendation as far as is practicable by defining in detail for the first time the powers of the Executive to control and regulate civil air navigation.
The federal regulation of civil aviation in this country is rendered unusually complex because of constitutional limitations and to appreciate the measures proposed in this bill it is, therefore, necessary to outline the powers of this Parliament to regulate air navigation and air transport.
As aviation was in its infancy at the time of federation it is not surprising that there is no direct reference to civil aviation or air navigation in any of the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution. The first Commonwealth act applying to civil aviation was the Air Navigation Act 1920, which authorized regulations to give effect to the Paris convention - since superseded by the Chicago convention - and for the control of air navigation generally. In 1936, the validity of the act and the Air Navigation Regulations was successfully challenged in the High Court in the first Goya Henry case- 55 C.L.R. 608 (1936). The High Court held, first, that Parliament could, under the external affairs power, authorize the making of regulations to give effect to the Paris convention, but that as the regulations then in force included substantial deviations from the convention they could not be sustained under that power. The High Court also held that the Commonwealth did not have power to exercise general control over all classes of air navigation and, in particular, over intra-state air navigation and that since the expression “ control of air navigation “ used in the act was not severable this part of the regulationmaking power was invalid.
Shortly after the Goya Henry decision, the Commonwealth amended the Air Navigation Act 1920 by the Air Navigation Act 1936. The amendment authorized regulations for the purpose of giving effect to the Paris convention and for the purpose of providing for the control of air navigation -
The practical result was that the Commonwealth regulations no longer purported to extend to intra-state air navigation, except to the limited extent necessary to give effect to the Paris convention. The validity of the act as amended, and the new regulations, was subsequently upheld in the second Goya Henry case- 61 C.L.R. 634 (1939).
The Commonwealth then sought a constitutional amendment to give the federal legislature power to make laws with respect to air navigation and aircraft. This was unsuccessful and in April, 1937, the Commonwealth convened the historic aviation conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers presided over by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his capacity at that time of Attorney-General, to consider means to ensure that uniform rules would apply to all classes of air navigation. As a result of the conference, all States agreed to enact in uniform terms State air navigation acts, which would in effect adopt certain Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations as State law.
Before the end of 1937 all States had enacted uniform legislation providing in substance that -
The regulations from time to time in force applicable to and in relation to air navigation within the territories apply (mutatis mutandis), to and in relation to air navigation within the State;
The administration of the regulations in their application to intra-state air navigation by virtue of the State act vests in the Commonwealth authority responsible for administration of the regulations in their application as Federal law; and
All fees payable under the regulations in their application to intra-state airnavigation by virtue of the State act are payable to the Commonwealth.
The practical result is that for almost a quarter of a century the Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations have applied uniformly to all classes of air navigation, and their administration, whether as Federal or State law, is vested exclusively in the Federal aviation authority.
There are two most important considerations which must be taken into account in determining the extent to which air navigation can be controlled by substantive provisions in the act. Because the uniform State air navigation acts attract only Commonwealth regulations it is necessary in order to carry out our part of the long standing and highly successful arrangements with State governments, and to act on the delegation by State governments of their responsibility for the safety of intra-state air navigation, that many technical and safety rules which might otherwise be included in the act should be prescribed by regulation. The second consideration is that many of the regulations relate to detailed safety standards which by their very nature clearly are, by any test, appropriate subject-matters for inclusion in regulation.
Furthermore. Australia by becoming a party to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, has undertaken the obligation of bringing its law into line with the international standards and practices as altered and added to from time to time in the technical annexes to the convention. These annexes have been amended on more than 60 occasions and this explains why the Air Navigation Regulations have been amended so frequently and extensively. If the safety and technical provisions of the regulations were to be transferred to the act, it might prove difficult in practice to amend the act as frequently and as quickly as our international obligations require, and certainly of no less importance, the safety of air navigation demands. It is interesting to note, in passing, that all countries adopt the procedure of giving effect to the annexes to the Chicago Convention by means of subordinate legislation.
Despite the difficulties I have mentioned, the Government now proposes four major steps which take account of the recommendation of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts -
The present act authorizes regulations to give effect to the Chicago Convention and the Air Transit Agreement. but the text of that convention and agreement have never been formally presented to Parliament. This bill cures this important omission and sets out the text of the international agreements involved so that the scope of the regulations being authorized is readily ascertainable. I should point out that section 5 of the existing act also authorizes regulations giving effect to any future agreement affecting air navigation to which the Commonwealth becomes a party. The bill withdraws this blank cheque.
Secondly, the regulations have been carefully scrutinized and where they deal with subject-matters of sufficient importance which do not have intrastate implications or can be applied by virtue of Commonwealth powers to intra-state air navigation - for example, under the external affairs power - the subject-matter by virtue of the bill will be transferred from the regulations to the act.
Thirdly, it is proposed to place upon the responsible Minister a statutory obligation to report annually to Parliament -commencing at the end of the next financial year - on the administration of the Air Navigation Act and Regulations and any other matters relating to air navigation which should be brought to the notice of Parliament. This will ensure that each year Parliament has the opportunity of reviewing the relatively wide Executive powers, which, for the cogent reasons I have just previously mentioned, are unavoidable.
Finally, the Government will introduce almost immediately a separate bill dealing in detail with the control of surface traffic at airports. This subject-matter is currently covered by regulations made under the Air Navigation Act. Before considering these matters in further detail, I should mention that the report from the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review has recommended that an additional paragraph be added to section 51 of the Constitution to vest the Commonwealth Parliament with a concurrent legislative power over all classes of aviation. See paragraph 507 of the report.
Clause 5 of the bill recognizes that the International Civil Aviation Organization - usually referred to as I.C.A.O. - possesses legal capacity and is entitled to privileges and immunities necessary for the independent exercise of its powers and the performance of its functions in Australian territory. It also recognizes that the archives of this organization and all documents belonging to it are inviolable. This clause transfers to the act provisions which have been included in the Air Navigation Regulations since 1947. The International Civil Aviation Organization is the organization formed pursuant to Article 43 of the Chicago convention, and is a specialized agency of the United Nations. The principal organs of I.C.A.O. are an assembly and a council and two other subsidiary bodies, namely the Air Navigation Commission and the Air Transport Committee. The aims and objectives of I.C.A.O. are set out in Article 44 of the Chicago convention and represent ideals which the countries of the world would like to see achieved in international civil aviation. They are to develop the principles and techniques of international air navigation and to foster the planning and development of international air transport so as to -
Ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation throughout the world;
Encourage the arts of aircraft design and operation for peaceful purposes;
Encourage the development of airways, airports, and air navigation facilities for international civil aviation;
Meet the needs of the peoples of the world for safe, regular, efficient and economical air transport;
Prevent economic waste caused by unreasonable competition;
Ensure that the rights of contracting states are fully respected and that every contracting state has a fair opportunity to operate international airlines;
Avoid discrimination between contracting states;
Promote safety of flight in international air navigation; and
Promote generally the development of all aspects of international civil aeronautics.
The permanent seat of the organization is in Montreal, Canada, where the 21 -member council has regular sessions. The supreme body of I.C.A.O. is the Assembly which all contracting States now numbering 74 may attend. The assembly has an obligation to meet not less than once every three years, but, of course, the council has several long sessions each year. I might mention that Australia has been elected a member of this council at each election since it was established in 1947. Council elections are held every three years and on the last two occasions Australia had the honour of being elected as one of the eight States elected to the council in the category of States of chief importance in international air transport, and at the General Assembly held in June, 1959, was elected in fifth position. I think this is a significant achievement for a country with such a small population as ours, but one which is not surprising in view of our aviation tradition and the volume of our air transport activity. In this regard, I might mention that in 1959 Australian airlines carried about 2,500,000 passengers and Australian airlines were second in the world only to the United States in terms of ton- miles performed per head of population.
The council has specific functions conferred upon it by Article 54 of the Chicago convention, including responsibility for the adoption of international standards on technical and operational aspects of international civil aviation such as personnel licensing, rules of the air, meteorology, airworthiness of aircraft, facilitation, aeronautical telecommunications and1 air traffic control services. In the years that have elapsed since it was established in 1947, I.C.A.O. has succeeded in adopting international standards which provide for completely uniform treatment of almost every international aircraft which flies in the free world today. Experts from the Australian Department of Civil Aviation have played a very active role in the drafting of these international standards and have attended some 100 technical meetings in various parts of the world for this purpose. Apart from the drafting of technical standards, the I.C.A.O. council through the division of the world into eight air navigation regions and the preparation at regular regional conferences of plans for air navigation facilities, aero- dromes, communications and air traffic control services, in those regions has assisted in putting into practical effect the international standards.
I would like to give the Parliament some brief background information concerning the Chicago convention. In 1944, on the initiative of the United States Government, a conference on international civil aviation was convened at Chicago, lt was attended by 52 allied and neutral States. Australia was represented. This conference developed and adopted the Chicago convention, and Australian ratification was approved by Parliament in the Air Navigation Act 1947. The convention came into force in 1947 after ratification by 26 States. It has now been ratified by 74 States and the International Civil Aviation Organization, formed by Article 43 of the convention, has been functioning since 1947.
Prior to the adoption of the Chicago convention there were two conventions dealing with international civil aviation, namely, the convention relating to the regulation of aerial navigation, signed at Paris in 1919, and the Pan-American convention on commercial aviation, signed at Havana in 1928. These conventions have been superseded by the Chicago convention. At the same time as it adopted the Convention on International Civil Aviation the Chicago conference also adopted an agreement known as the International Air Services Transit Agreement. Under this agreement each contracting state grants to scheduled international air services operated by airlines of other contracting states the first two freedoms of the air, namely, the privilege to fly across its territory without landing and the privilege to land for non-traffic purposes. This agreement has been ratified by 51 states and is of considerable value to the Australian international airline, Qantas Empire Airways Limited which, in operating its scheduled air services around the world, overflies the territory of very many states which are parties to the Air Transit Agreement. In the absence of this agreement, it would be necessary to negotiate transit facilities separately with every state concerned.
Since the Chicago convention came into force, two protocols amending the convention have also come into force. The texts of these protocols are included as schedules to the bill and are described in clause 2 of the bill. These protocols have been ratified by Australia for a number of years and the purpose of their inclusion in the bill is to enable Parliament to know what regulations, if any, are being authorized. The protocol which amends Article 45 of the convention permits the permanent seat of I.C.A.O. which, as I mentioned previously, is established at Montreal in Canada, to be transferred by an assembly decision provided1 that not less than three-fifths of the total number of contracting States - at present 74 - vote in favour of it. I want to place on record that Australia is perfectly satisfied with Montreal as the permanent seat of the organization and grateful for the hospitality of the Canadian Government. We have no wish to see the organization move its headquarters from there. However, any assembly decision taken to move the permanent seat of I.C.A.O. could not be taken lightly because of the requirement of a three-fifths majority and the Government, therefore, decided to authorize ratification of the protocol. I should perhaps add that the protocol was fully supported by Canada, the host State.
The purpose of the protocol amending Articles 48 (a), 49 (e) and 61 was to permit the assembly of I.C.A.O. to meet less frequently than once a year. The convention, as originally drafted, provided for annual assemblies and in the early years of I.C.A.O.’s existence annual assemblies were necessary to settle the many problems which had to be dealt with. After nine years of annual assembly meetings, it became apparent that there was no longer the need to meet annually and the convention, as amended by the protocol, now requires assembly meetings at least once every three years. As I indicated, both these protocols have been ratified by the required number of States and are now in force as part of the convention. Fifty States have ratified the protocol amending Article 45 and 54 have ratified the protocol amending Articles 48 (a), 49 (e) and 61.
It is appropriate when reviewing the history of the Chicago convention to pay tribute to the work of the late Honorable Arthur S. Drakeford, who, in his capacity as Minister for Civil Aviation, led the Australian delegation to Chicago in 1944 and subsequently had the honour of being elected unanimously as the president of the first general assembly of I.C.A.O. in 1947.
There is one important matter at present dealt with in the regulations which will now be transferred by this bill to the act. This is the right to conduct non-scheduled, flights or charter flights, as they are more commonly described, under Article 5 of the Chicago convention. Under this article, each contracting State agrees that all aircraft of other contracting States not engaged in regular international air services shall have the right to make flights into or in transit non-stop across its territory and to make stops for non-traffic purposes without the necessity of obtaining prior permission. This obligation is given effect to in sub-clause 1 of clause 15 of the bill.
Article 5 of the convention goes on to provide that, if such aircraft is engaged in the carriage of passengers, cargo or mail, for remuneration or hire, it may take on and discharge passengers, cargo or mail subject to the right of a State to impose such “ regulations, conditions or limitations as it may consider desirable”. In practice, all contracting States impose limitations and restrictions on the conduct of charter flights.
Australian requirements are at present imposed in pursuance of Part XIV. of the Air Navigation Regulations and an examination of that part discloses that at present the Director-General has virtually an unlimited discretion to impose such conditions as he considers desirable. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has recently had occasion to review the administration of these regulations in some detail and he has made several policy statements concerning their administration. The bill will transfer from the regulations to the act all matters relating to charter flights and, in addition, specifies the matters which must be taken into account in granting or refusing approval. In particular, regard must be had to the public interest, the need to provide reasonable protection for the operators of regular public air transport services between Australia and other countries so as to maintain regular air transport services for the carriage of passengers, cargo and mail between Australia and other countries; and, finally, any resolution or decision of the International Civil Aviation Organization or of the International Air Transport Association that has been approved by the Minister and is relevant to the matter. In addition, there is an express power to require approval of the charges made in respect of passengers or cargo discharged in Australian territory, but otherwise the general power that exists in the present regulations to impose any other conditions considered necessary or desirable is withdrawn.
I should emphasize that it has been, and is, the Government’s policy as it is that of all overseas governments with which we have air transport agreements, to foster the development of regular international air services between our respective countries which are adequate to meet the needs of the travelling public and the requirements of commerce and industry. For this reason, the Government has given great financial support and in every other way promoted the development of a strong Australian international airline. The Government has negotiated with overseas countries in many parts of the world an extensive series of air agreements which guarantee traffic rights for Qantas in those countries. Naturally, these agreements authorize the designated airlines of such countries to operate regular services to Australia on a reciprocal basis and at the present time there are no less than eight international airlines, in addition to Qantas, operating between Australia and other countries, namely K.L.M., Pan American, Air India, B.O.A.C., South Africa Airways, Tasman Empire Airways Limited, Cathay Pacific and T.A.I. As a result, the Australian public has been provided with facilities for air travel by the most modern aircraft available on regular Australian and foreign air services to all parts of the world.
It will be appreciated that any extensive intrusion of the charter operator into the legitimate business of the operators of regular services on a sporadic and uneconomic basis could be most injurious to the maintenance of these services in a healthy economic condition and is, therefore, not in the public interest.
As I indicated earlier, there are a number of regulations which are not intended to apply to intra-state air navigation and others which can be expressed to apply to intra-state navigation in reliance on federal powers such as the external affairs power. Accordingly, it is not necessary to retain these provisions in the form of regulations in order to attract the uniform State air navigation acts. Where any such regulation is sufficiently important, the subject-matter is, by this bill, transferred to the act. It will be appropriate to consider these matters in detail at a later stage in the reading of this bill.
For the present, a brief indication of the subject-matters in question will be gained by reference to the marginal notes of the corresponding regulations: - Civil air ensign - regulation 11; legal capacity of I.C.A.O. - regulation 12; archives of I.C.A.O. - regulation 13; arrangements for use of military aerodromes by civil aircraft - regulation 86; establishment and conduct of the aeronautical information service - regulation 104; publication of aeronautical information publications and notices to airmen - regulation 105; operation of foreign aircraft within Australian territory - regulation 110; international aircraft to land and take-off from designated airports - regulations 114 and 115; carriage of munitions by civil aircraft - regulation 119; freedoms of the air - regulation 262; international airline licences - regulation 255; decisions of I.C.A.O. affecting international airlines - regulation 256; suspension or cancellation of international airline licences - regulation 258; international charter flights - regulations 261, 261a and 262; gazettal of contracting parties to the convention - regulation 320a; and powers of the pilot in command - regulation 330.
The present Air Navigation Regulations authorize the Director-General to suspend or cancel a licence or certificate issued under the regulations on a number of grounds, namely - that the holder of the licence or certificate on re-examination or test fails to reach the required standard; or in the interest of public safety or to insure compliance with the provisions of the regulations. Since the cancellation or suspension of a licence or certificate has a direct bearing on the capacity of a holder to earn a living, provision is made for appeal to a board of review by an aggrieved holder of a certificate or a licence. The regulations provide that a board of review shall be appointed by the Minister and shall consist of a chairman and two other members, the chairman to be a person nominated by the Solicitor-General who is either an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department, of the Crown Law Department of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea or a qualified barrister or solicitor of the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State or Territory. The other two members of the board of review are to be nominated by the Director-General and must possess aeronautical or engineering knowledge or experience or other special knowledge or experience of air navigation and the practice is to nominate as members of the board persons qualified to hold the same licence as the appellant. For example, in the case of a commercial pilot, the Airline Pilots Association nominates a short list of pilots having similar qualifications, at least one of whom is invariably appointed as a member of the board.
Over the years, boards of review have been found to work well in practice, and there are clear indications that most interested employee organizations find the functioning of boards of review to be satisfactory for their members. However, from time to time, there has been a good deal of criticism on the ground that an aggrieved holder of a licence or certificate has no recourse to the ordinary courts of the land. By way of comparison, it is interesting to note that the Air Navigation Regulations dealing with suspensions and cancellations and appeals to boards of review go a good deal further than other Commonwealth countries have yet done. For example, in the United Kingdom, the relevant orders provide that the Minister may “ on sufficient ground being shown to his satisfaction after due investigation by him cancel or suspend any certificate licence or other document issued under the order “. There is no provision whatsoever for appeal. The relevant regulations in New Zealand and the Union of South Africa are very similar to the United Kingdom orders and do not make provision for any sort of appeal. Under the Canadian Air Regulations, a pilot licence may be suspended at any time by the Minister for any reason that to him seems sufficient. Once again there is no provision for appeal. It is clear, therefore, that Australia, in the existing Air Navigation Regulations. ; gives more consideration to the interests of the licence-holder than any other Commonwealth country.
The board of review has the following attractive features: -
It ensures a speedy determination of appeals;
It is less expensive to licence and certificate holders than a reference to the ordinary courts;
It has the very great advantage of ensuring that the issue is considered by an administrative board having a majority of members possessing similar qualifications to the appellant and in effect affords the holder a hearing by his professional peers;
Boards of review are not bound by legal forms and technicalities, but have prescribed procedural safeguards which ensure natural justice;
Finally, boards of review as at present constituted have special technical knowledge and experience.
For these reasons this Government considers that the existing board of review procedure should be retained, subject to one or two improvements it has under consideration. Nevertheless, it is now proposed by this bill to give an aggrieved licence or certificate holder the right to elect to have the suspension or cancellation of his licence or certificate referred either to a board of review, as at present, or to the ordinary courts. These two procedures will be mutually exclusive because final determination of an issue would be unduly protracted if an aggrieved licence-holder could have resort to both procedures. In practice, we believe it is likely that boards of review will be preferred in most cases, but the existence of a right of recourse to the courts, at the option of the aggrieved person, will, we think, fully meet former criticisms on this score.
Compared with other professions and trades in Australia in which anything in the nature of a licence or certificate to practice is required, licence-holders under the Air Navigation Act will now be in a relatively favorable position. For example, a lawyer, doctor or plumber who has his right to practice or engage in his occupation cancelled by the equivalent of a licensing authority, does have a right of appeal, but only to the courts. Pilots and other personnel engaged in the aircraft or air transport industry will now have not only this right but, in addition, the right to elect to have their appeal heard instead by a board of review which, as we have seen, is so constituted as to have possible advantages from a particular appellant’s point of view
As I indicated earlier, many of the Air Navigation Regulations apply to purely intra-state aspects of air navigation solely by virtue of the fact that the uniform State Air Navigation Acts adopt them as State law and that it is only provisions which appear in the regulations which are so adopted. For this reason, the detailed provisions relating to appeal procedures in cases of suspension and cancellation of licences and certificates will be included in the regulations in pursuance of the express authority provided for in this bill.
With the rapid growth of industry in metropolitan areas, electrical and other interference with the civil aviation communications system and network of navigational aids is becoming an increasingly serious problem which could lead to situations which, if not handled expeditiously, might endanger the safety of aircraft. Serious interference can come from faulty electrical appliances, faulty radio receivers, faulty industrial equipment, faulty transformers, X-ray and diathermy units and a large variety of other sources. It is essential to ensure the safety of aircraft, therefore, to have express statutory authority to prohibit or remedy these sources of interference as the case requires. Although the proposed powers in the case where a person fails to comply with a direction, are quite drastic, it is believed that this is justified when the safety of aircraft may be endangered and it should be noted that, in any event, the owner or user is entitled to fair and just compensation provided the equipment has been installed and is being used and operated in accordance with all applicable laws.
The proposed new section 26 of the act contains the power to make regulations. The form of this section, which to some extent follows the existing act, is dictated by a number of important legal considerations. Although the Commonwealth Constitution contains no express powers relating to aviation, there are quite a number of matters of federal competence which include power to make laws with respect to certain aspects of air navigation. I have already referred in some detail to the external affairs power which enables this Parliament to make laws giving effect to international conventions and other bona fide international obligations. In addition, it has been held by the courts that interstate air transport is a necessary part of interstate trade and commerce so that the Commonwealth can, subject to section 92 of the Constitution, regulate interstate air navigation and transport. It has, of course, very wide power with respect to the territories and it was, no doubt, for this reason that the uniform State Air Navigation Acts were settled on the basis of adopting federal regulations applying with respect to air navigation in the territories. Other sources of federal competence arise from the incidental power, the power to make laws with respect to places acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes and with respect to any matter referred by a State parliament. The regulationmaking power has been drafted to take advantage of all these sources of power and in a matter of such vital importance as the safety and development of air transport - provided that there are proper safeguards - there can be no valid objection to defining these powers in the manner proposed. Such safeguards have been carefully considered and provided for.
Firstly, the succeeding provisions of the bill set out details of the more important subject-matters on which regulations are proposed and, where necessary, place proper limitations on the power. These can be examined at a later stage but I mention now, by way of example, the requirement that the regulations must provide for just compensation when- they require the marking or removal of obstructions to safe air navigation. In this way, the “ basic principles “ of the regulations have been incorporated, as the Joint Committee of Public Accounts suggested, in legislation enacted by Parliament. Secondly, as I indicated at the outset, the responsible Minister will now be required to report annually to both Houses of Parliament on the administration of the act and regulations, and henceforth, there will, therefore, be full opportunity to bring the regulations, if necessary, under critical review. Finally, the regulations under the Air Navigation Act, like all Commonwealth regulations, are subject to disallowance by either House.
In the past 40 years, civil aviation has grown from an infant undertaking into an industry of great and growing importance to Australia. To-day, aviation plays a major role in the business and social life of millions of Australians. This bill is a milestone in the history of the industry. It presents for the approval of this Parliament for the first time a large number of important matters affecting the safe and efficient operation of every facet of civil aviation activity in Australia. The bill also ensures that these matters are subject to proper parliamentary safeguards. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion of Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 12th May (vide page 1739).
.- The bill is opposed by the Australian Labour Party in its entirety. The Opposition believes that the principle that will be given the imprimatur of this Parliament with the passage of the bill is one which, to use the words of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), is abhorrent to all Australians. The Attorney-General, however, did not allow that to prevent him from introducing the bill, which includes certain provisions that are as wide open as the Sydney Heads.
Two or three clauses should be brought to the attention of the committee in the hope that the Attorney-General will see that the drafting of the bill is such that it requires a second look. I refer particularly to clause 6, which gives authority to the Attorney-General to issue a warrant for the tapping of telephones under certain conditions. In this clause, there occur phrases such as “ as is likely to be “, “ of being likely to engage in “ and “ is likely to assist “. There are only a few safeguards in the clause. The first is that the Director-General of Security must have grounds for reasonably suspecting certain things. If he reasonably suspects that activities prejudicial to the Commonwealth are taking place, and the Attorney-General is satisfied that his suspicions are correct, there is a right to issue a warrant to tap the telephone of the person or organization concerned. The suspicions of the DirectorGeneral would, in some instances, be aroused by what were, in fact, innocent associations and innocent actions. However, if the Director-General says that he has a reasonable suspicion that a person is likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth, and if the Attorney-General is satisfied that those suspicions are reasonable, the Attorney-General can issue a warrant for the tapping of a telephone. In other words, all power is given to the AttorneyGeneral.
I do not claim that the present AttorneyGeneral and the present Director-General of Security are not reasonable, just and honorable men, but in view of the debates in this chamber, I feel there are many persons who would agree with the opinion that has been expressed, that the present AttorneyGeneral and the Director-General of Security are not just, reasonable and honorable men. However, taking it for granted that they are just, reasonable and honest men, what safeguards are there that their successors will be as just, honorable and reasonable as they are? The men who hold those positions in the future will have exactly the same powers to determine which telephone lines will be tapped. They will have to work under this legislation, which will give authority to the Attorney-General to act once he is satisfied that a person’s telephone is likely to be used for an activity which is prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth and that the information obtained from tapping the telephone is likely to assist security. No wider scope could be given to any two individuals than that which is provided in the terms of clause 6. The words that stand out are “ that is likely to be used “, “ is likely to assist “ and “ likely to engage in activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth “.
The second-reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral indicated that no person in the Commonwealth will be above this measure. The Minister devoted perhaps two pages of his speech to saying why it had not been decided that the telephones of members of Parliament should not be tapped. In other words, he has suggested that every member of this Parliament is likely to use his telephone for prejudicial activities, or is likely to engage in subversion, sabotage or espionage. I am not saying it will happen, but this bill would permit the Attorney-General, in collusion with the Director-General of Security, to tap any telephone of any member of this Parliament. Clause 6 specifies certain conditions that are to be complied with when the Director-General of Security requests the Attorney-General for the issue of a warrant. Clause 6 (2.) states - (2.) A request by the Director-General of Security for the issue of a warrant in respect of a telephone service -
Once again the ground has been left open. These suspicions need not be confirmed before the Director-General requests a warrant to be issued for the tapping of telephones.
– How would you word it?
– It is not my duty to word the bill. The complaint I make about it is that this clause is so wide that the Attorney-General could drive a doubledecker bus through it without scraping the sides. The Attorney-General, an eminent lawyer, must realize that the clause would allow him or some successor of his, or the Director-General of Security or some successor of his, to tap any telephone under any pretext. The only matter that need be proved is that the person concerned is reasonably suspected of being engaged, or of being likely to engage, in activities prejudicial to the Commonwealth. If some people were Attorney-General they would welcome the opportunity to use this bill against people whom they wanted to besmirch or to get out of the way, because there is plenty of scope to use it against any person. It is against all the principles of Australian freedom and democracy to allow a bill such as this to be passed without a voice of protest being raised by at least one section of the chamber. Up to this moment, all the Liberal members have agreed entirely with every provision of the bill.
The further clause I desire to mention is clause 7, which gives the right to the Director-General of Security to issue a warrant in certain emergencies. The clause lays down the circumstances in which the Director-General has power to issue a warrant in an emergency. The first of these is where the Director-General of Security has made a request to the Attorney-General for the issue of a warrant under the provisions of clause 6 in respect of a telephone service. Clause 6 (3.) provides -
Where the Director-General of Security makes a request, otherwise than in writing, for the issue of a warrant in respect of a telephone service, he shall forthwith forward to the Attorney-General a request in writing in respect of the telephone service.
It is quite clear that the Director-General can, on any occasion, request - it does not have to be in writing in the first instance - that a certain person’s telephone be tapped. If that request is made, he must forthwith put his request in writing for the AttorneyGeneral to consider. This is a bill which deals with the security of the Commonwealth and if the Director-General of Security requests from any AttorneyGeneral authority to tap a telephone, the Director-General has, at the same time, to give the facts, the reasons and the grounds-
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- In examining the bill, we find that clause 5 provides that telephone calls must not be illegally intercepted. There is definitely need for legislation to protect the private conversations of the Australian citizen. One has only to look at the occurrences of illegal wire-tapping in other parts of the world over many years to realize just how far illegal activities of this nature can interfere with the daily lives of people in any country where adequate preventive legislation is not enforced. A United States congressional committee had this to say -
Innumerable circumstances have been discovered where telephone wires of public officials and private individuals have been tapped purely for the purpose of personal gain by the wire-tappers, that is blackmail, bribery, corruption and the securing of business secrets.
Surely the known facts must be a reminder, to the Opposition particularly, that we are here in this Parliament to protect the people, and that is what this legislation will do. As early as 1862, California found it necessary to enact legislation prohibiting the interception of telegraph messages, and then in 1905 passed legislation against telephone tapping. Other American States followed that pattern. The dangers of subversive wire-tapping were apparent when in 1918 the United States Senate passed a resolution calling upon the United States Department of Justice to furnish information as to what measures were being taken to combat wire-tapping by enemies of the nation. Those dangers were apparent when the United States Congress enacted the Federal Communications Act, which prohibited the tapping and divulging of telephone communications. As far back as 1936, the Federal Communications Commission found that a wire-tapping apparatus had been connected to the telephone lines of the justices of the United States Supreme Court. On another occasion, a man was convicted of tapping the telephone lines that led into the President’s White House.
Many objections of the Australian Labour Party are directed to clause 6, which refers to the issue by the Attorney-General of a warrant to intercept on security grounds. The Opposition has said that this is unprecedented. There is ample precedent. In this connexion, I referred to New Zealand. In reading the speeches of Opposition members, I find not one reference to the attitude of the Labour Government of New Zealand on this matter. In New Zealand, telephone tapping is permitted where national security is involved, and it has been permitted by Labour governments in Great Britain. Actually, the Australian Labour Party with its negative attitude is isolated on this matter. In 1957, in Great Britain, the Home Secretary stated in answer to a question that wire-tapping in the United Kingdom was carried out on his authority, and he further stated that his right to issue warrants was based on the prerogative of the Crown. Later in that year, a committee of three Privy Councillors was appointed to study the practice of telephone interception under the authority of the Home Secretary. When the Privy Councillors submitted their report, they said -
The power to intercept telephone messages has been exercised in England since the introduction of the telephone.
That is a long time ago. The committee further reported that it was satisfied that the Secretaries of State and all officials and authorities concerned had taken, and had continued to take, scrupulous care to assure strict adherence to the purposes to which it was intended by the Home Office that the interception of communications should be directed and confined. A very important point is that the committee of three Privy Councillors, which included one Labour member, rejected1 proposals that the power to issue warrants be taken from the Home Secretary and given to magistrates or to a High Court judge. In view of the Australian Labour Party’s opposition to the Attorney-General having the authority to issue warrants, that point is worth remembering.
Clauses 6 to 10 of the bill refer to the Director-General of Security and the security service in Australia. What do we know of the United Kingdom security service? The security service of Great Britain, an organization with a record of efficiency second to none, reported that the interception of communications was being successfully used as a weapon against espionage and1 subversion. Sir, the Privy Councillors reported that they found that interception of communications resulted in the identification of major spies and the discovery of highly secret material in passage through the postal services in many ingenious forms, and the detection of Communist agents operating secretly in Great Britain. The committee stated further that it was satisfied that interception had resulted’ in the detection of many serious dangers to the security of the nation. They intimated that, to be without the power to tap telephones for security purposes, would be a concession to those who were desirous of breaking the law, with no advantage to the ordinary citizen or to the community in general. The Privy Councillors also said -
In the view we take, if the power of interception was not permitted, the law-abiding citizen would get nothing in return, and might indeed suffer the greatest loss.
These are all good points, Sir, and all points in support of the legislation now before us. The Opposition regards clause 6 as an interference with the privacy of the ordinary citizen, although it provides that a warrant can be issued only on security grounds. Again referring to the report of the three Privy Councillors, we find that they had this to say on allegations of invasion of privacy by security wire tapping -
It should be remembered that this is really no hardship on the innocent citizen. No information is disclosed to any outside person and is always destroyed. No single ground of complaint has been made known to us, and we feel that the question-
That is, the question of the invasion of privacy - should be answered in the light of practical reality rather than imagined or fanciful circumstances.
Imagined and fanciful circumstances have been the main content of speeches from the Opposition, in between other speeches, personally attacking the Attorney-General and the security service.
Sir, in referring to clause 12 of this bill, I refer back to 10th May when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) asked the Attorney-General a question in these terms -
Have any particular acts contrary to Australian security been (a) detected or (b) prosecuted since the Australian Security Intelligence Organization was established?
If so, what particular acts or types of acts have been (a) detected or (b) prosecuted?
It is significant that this question was asked by the honorable member for Yarra who later said, “ The Government will give us no information “. In the United States of America a similar question was asked of the Government in the following terms: -
Why so much secrecy in regard to official wire tapping?
May I quote the answer from the report of the investigating committee? It was as follows: -
It became clear after discussion that the lawenforcement agencies believed that if certain elements in the legislature knew that official wiretapping was getting results, they would promptly and effectively take this weapon away.
Sir, what remark could better illustrate the importance of those last few words than the interjection made during the secondreading speech of the Attorney-General by the honorable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr. Curtin), from the Opposition side of the House - “ We will fix you fellows when we get in “.
The final point I want to make, in order to shatter many of the Labour Party speeches against this bill, is that the late Mr. Chifley did authorize telephone tapping for security purposes, and that is on record. The then Labour Prime Minister was a shrewd judge of a man. He put his country before his party and the fact that he did not inform the honorable member for East Sydney or the other Labour Ministers, still on the Opposition benches, of his approval of telephone tapping, clearly indicates his realization of the dangers to national security if the facts were gossipped all over the countryside.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention to Standing Order No. 61 which provides that a member shall not read his speech. The honorable member for Stirling is reading his speech.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Subsequent events confirmed the judgment of the late Mr. Chifley, and his decisions at that time still stand as strong support for this bill.
– I should like to direct the attention of all Australians to this blatant attempt to muzzle them under this measure. For many years this Government has been preaching, day in and day out, about the dangers of the Russian system of espionage. One of the practices of that system, of course, is telephone tapping. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), himself, has been telling us about the dangers of this system. This attempt to muzzle the people of Australia is dangerous in the extreme. Imagine the Attorney-General having the right to decide whose telephone should be tapped. The other night, in this chamber, the Attorney-General became hysterical and unbalanced and incapable of following this debate. Australians should take cognizance of that fact. Fancy placing in the hands of the Attorney-General - a man whom all the newspapers of Australia have agreed is incapable of carrying on as the leader of this debate - the power to make such a decision. I would not be prepared to place in his hands my safety or that of my family, or the safety of any Australian while these snoopers employed by the Attorney-General try to snoop into my life and theirs by tapping telephones and hearing family conversation at any time they wish.
I am opposed to all systems that muzzle free speech. The Western world is supposedly free, and Australia is supposedly a free country; but we find an insignificant member of this Government, the AttorneyGeneral - the hysterical, incompetent and unstable Attorney-General - wanting to muzzle free citizens. Let us take cognizance of what happened at the Petrov commission. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) came into this House-
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in making a second-reading speech.
– I should like to mention another gentleman connected with that particular commission, named Richards. Richards made a statement in regard to the Petrov commission and in regard to our security.
– Order! This bill has nothing to do with the Petrov commission.
- Mr. Richards-
– Order! The honorable member will obey the Chair or sit down.
– I urge all Australians to take cognizance of the fact that this is the first attempt in the history of our great nation to shackle them from morning till night.
Let us consider how this legislation will be applied in the event of some industrial trouble occurring. As a result of snide manoeuvring the Government appointed one of its members, who used to be the Leader of the Government in another place, as Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Attacks have been intensified upon the trade union movement since that day. But the Prime Minister is not satisfied that he has thereby gained enough power; he now wants power to tap the telephones of the leaders of industrial organizations so his snoopers can listen in to conversations between different industrial organizations in order to gain evidence on which to take action against them.
Clause 6 of the bill states -
Where, upon receipt by the Attorney-General of a request by the Director-General of Security-
That is this unstable, hysterical AttorneyGeneral
– Order! The honorable member has made that remark a bit too often. It is completely unparliamentary.
– Clause 6 reads-
Where, upon receipt by the Attorney-General of a request by the Director-General of Security for the issue of a warrant under this section in respect of a telephone service, the Attorney-General is satisfied that -
The telephone service is being or is likely to be -
used by a person engaged in, or reasonably suspected- reasonably suspected - by the Director-General of Security of being engaged in, or of being likely to engage in-
Who is going to decide who is, or is likely to be engaged in? - activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth.
The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) rightly said that one could drive a double-decker bus through that clause. They leave the opening there for the carrying on of other nefarious activities. The clause continues -
Who is to decide what is likely? - assist the Organization in carrying out its function of obtaining intelligence relevant to the security of the Commonwealth.
If there are any activities going on that endanger the security of our Commonwealth, the miscreants should be immediately arrested. This Government has been in office for ten and a half years. We have had from it a great deal of talk about the security of our country. We had a royal commission, when a certain gentleman was found to be a reprobate and a hopeless drunkard. The Government was relying on him for information so that it could bring some sort of measure before the Parliament that would allow it to muzzle the people of Australia. That hopeless drunkard is still employed by the security service. Provision is made in the Budget for the security service, but the amount of money that it spends on the payment of snoopers, pimps and so forth is not disclosed. However, it is generally known that this gentleman receives £6,000 a year to drink himself to death at Surfers Paradise at the expense of this Government. How can we leave the security of this country in the hands of such people?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the honorable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr. Curtin), I think that the committee will agree that he has a most arresting imagination. He has seriously canvassed the proposition this evening that one of the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, after the passage of this bill, will be to tap his telephone. If I may say so to the honorable gentleman without any ambition to hurt his feelings, I think the people of this country put up with enough in listening to him in the Parliament and that they do not wish to inflict on any member of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization the task of listening to him on the telephone.
So that my remarks may be in order, Mr. Chairman, I want to make a few fleeting references to two definitions contained in the bill. The first is the definition of “ the Organization “ and the second is the definition of “the security of the Commonwealth “. The honorable member for Lane (Mr. Stewart) is one of the very few spokesmen for Labour, either in this House or outside it, who have spoken on this measure with moderation. I think it is essential that the committee and, I hope the country, notice the singularly immoderate approach by the Australian Labour Party to the consideration of the measure.
One can understand the action of the members of the Opposition in opposing a measure on its merits, and in pointing to its weaknesses, because in so doing they are merely fulfilling the historic role of an Opposition. But when, in order to support an argument in opposition to this measure, they find it necessary to resort to traducing officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, they hit rock bottom. That is something of conscionable importance. The honorable members for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and Parkes (Mr. Haylen) are four who come readily to one’s mind as having smeared and questioned the integrity and propriety of the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. That has not been simply a scandalous and shameful approach; I think it is a reflection on the integrity of the Australian Labour Party in its intellectual capacity-
– His name was not mentioned.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that nobody mentioned the Director-General’s name. I want to question that. His name has been mentioned. One would have thought that when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had the opportunity to rescue his party from this most reprehensible position, he would have done something about it. But, no, Sir; he set out, outside this House and elsewhere, to entrench his party in that reprehensible position. Worse still, I believe, he has brought into question his own sense of fitness, because he has since turned upon a very distinguished jurist of this country.
Sir, having said that, may I turn to another aspect of this measure. The members of the Opposition have also used this bill as a smokescreen behind which further to weaken resiliency against communism in this country. That is part and parcel of their tactics. It is part and parcel of the psychology to which they apply themselves. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is moved from time to time to say that some of us on this side of the House smear members of the Australian Labour Party for Communist affiliation. I challenge any honorable gentleman sitting opposite to point to one occasion on which I have said anything in relation to Communist activities that can be proved incorrect.
– Order! I think the honorable member is wandering well outside the bill.
– I am dealing, Sir, with the definition of the security of the Commonwealth. This comes into my line of argument, for this precise reason-
– Order! Communism is not dealt with in this bill.
– With the greatest respect, if you do not consider that the security of the Commonwealth involves communism, may 1 put it to you, Sir, that you should be disposed to have another think about it? I will develop this argument in a precise and, I am sure, completely acceptable manner to you, Sir. The Australian Labour Party, the Opposition in this place, has the view that opposition to communism is no longer respectable. That is something that they assiduously cultivate.
– I wish to take a point ot order, Mr. Chairman. Can you advise me what clause the honorable member is speaking to now? Have his remarks anything to do with the bill?
– Order! I think that the Chair is dealing with the situation.
– So long as he gets the same treatment as I got, that is all right with me.
– I am grateful to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith for safeguarding my interests. I want to turn to one of the clauses of the bill that has given me grave concern. I refer to paragraphs (b) and (c) of clause 7 (1.). I want to submit with great respect to the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) that, because of the way that these emergency provisions are framed, they could well prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the security measures predicted by this bill. If the committee will look at clause 7, sub-clause (1.), paragraph (b), it will see that an emergency warrant can be granted if the Attorney-General has not, to the knowledge of the DirectorGeneral of Security, made a decision with respect to a request and has not, within the preceding period of three months, refused to issue a warrant in respect of a telephone service.
I put it to the Attorney-General that the judgment of a subsequent Attorney-General in relation to advice tendered to him by the then Director-General of Security may be in error. If circumstances should arise in which the Director-General believes that there is every justification for bringing into play the emergency provisions he may well be precluded from doing so because, in relation to “ X “, the Attorney-General of the day has said “ No. This person is completely reliable.” Yet evidence may be available to suggest that the original opinion of the Attorney-General was in error.
Paragraph (c) states - the Director-General of Security has not, within the preceding period of three months, issued a warrant under this section in respect of the telephone service;
What would be the position if “ X “ knew that his phone was being tapped? Who will know when a telephone is to be intercepted? If “ X “ knows that his telephone calls are being intercepted he can simply carry on pleasant conversations for 48 hours and then, with impunity, conduct work which is prejudicial to the safety of the Commonwealth. The Director-General may be well aware of that work, but he will be restrained from invoking the emergency provision. The Attorney-General may not be readily available.
I ask the Attorney-General whether he would mind giving an answer to the two points which I have raised in respect of clause 7. If the construction that I have placed upon it is correct, it may well prove to be the Achilles’ heel of security.
I believe, finally, that if there are many people within the Postmaster-General’s Department who are aware that a particular line is being intercepted the whole purpose of the measure could be defeated.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– lt is a mystery why the Australian Government should be anxious to tap telephones in 1960 when there is a diminishing tendency to do so in other parts of the world. I have in my hand a copy of the report of the committee of Privy Councillors appointed to inquire into the interception of communications in Great Britain. The appendix to the report says that the incidence of interception is declining and is now at its lowest point. 1 have done everything that I could to ascertain the opinion on this matter of electors in my constituency and in other parts of Australia that I have visited recently. I feel that the reaction against it is very strong. I think that if, just as the Liberals went into the vestibules of the banks at the time of the bank nationalization measure, the members of the Labour Party were to go to every post office and stand there with a petition against this legislation, between 80 and 90 per cent, of the Australian people would sign it.
One of the unfortunate approaches to this debate has been the desperate endeavour by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) to attach the respectability of the late Ben Chifley to this pernicious proposal to tap telephones. It is contended that Mr. Chifley authorized telephone interception. Having made very substantial inquiries of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, some of whom were in the Chifley Government, I have been unable to find any one who has any knowledge of this alleged circumstance. With many of my colleagues, I am inclined to doubt its authenticity. We are told by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Cash) that this is on record. There will be no doubt about it if the record is tabled in the House. This, surely, would be a comparatively simple thing for the AttorneyGeneral to do. It would not put anybody’s nose out of joint, so why does he not produce this evidence?
I think that the Opposition has been able to establish that this Government is introducing unprecedented legislation and practice into Australia. I doubt that the Australian Labour Party has ever been involved in this kind of activity. We regard this as a step towards totalitarianism. The Government is resorting to the same dubious techniques that it claims to oppose. I think that the Government underrates and misunderstands the mood of the Australian people who are just as opposed to the totalitarianism of the right as they are to that of the left.
Another bad feature of the AttorneyGeneral’s second-reading speech was his attempt to convey the idea that unless we support this bill there will be inadequate power to prevent the abuse of telephone services. The facts do not sustain this view. People who would abuse the telephone facilities of this country by annoying some unsuspecting subscriber with vulgar profanity or offensiveness can already be dealt with under the provisions of other legislation on the statute-book. This bill provides nothing of any consequence in this regard.
Almost everybody is included in the prohibitive provisions of the bill. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said -
The prohibition is wide and comprehensive; it binds everybody, including the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, the officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and, indeed, Ministers of the Crown.
It is extremely comprehensive but there are at least several exceptions. The AttorneyGeneral himself is excluded for example and in certain limited circumstances specified in clause 7 the Director-General of Security is excluded.
Apparently the Government feels that the Opposition and the people of Australia should be pleased or placated by those provisions. But we are not impressed with them at all. Clause 6 of the bill says, in effect, that a telephone conversation can be intercepted if the Attorney-General is satisfied that the telephone service is used or is likely to be used for purposes prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth. It is sufficient if the AttorneyGeneral is satisfied that the DirectorGeneral of Security “ reasonably suspects.” He does not have to know that the DirectorGeneral is right. He only has to be satisfied that the Director-General suspects that the telephone service is being or is likely to be used - perhaps in the distant future - in the manner I have described. Surely this is a wide and sweeping power which the people of Australia would not be inclined to entrust to any politician, let alone to any public servant. The Attorney-General has demonstrated his excitability in respect of political matters. He has demonstrated the narrowness of his outlook on many occasions. I say, with respect, that he has demonstrated his conservative and tory viewpoint. His intolerance of criticism has been obvious in this House on many occasions. He has also demonstrated his unrelenting vendetta against the trade union movement. Only the other day, the Minister could not contain himself when he was taunted by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
– Order! Deal with the bill, not the Minister.
– I should now like to deal with clause 6, which provides that the Attorney-General may authorize the tapping of a telephone service where he is satisfied that it is being or is likely to be used in activities or for purposes prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth. What is most likely to prejudice the security of the Commonwealth in the view of the Attorney-General or in the view of the Director-General of Security? I think we may fairly contemplate that matter, Mr. Chairman, and I know that you, with your usual tolerance, will allow me to deal with it. I have no doubt that the associating of people devoted to encouraging the great concept of peace is likely to be considered as a matter which should be covered by this clause. I have no doubt that for the Attorney-General the furtherance of the cause of peace as a great humanitarian principle is the sole prerogative of the Communists and that any one who indulges in this practice will be treated like a Communist by this Government.
It was not very long ago that the Attorney-General, at the instance of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), directed the security service to intimidate the harmless but, I think, wellintentioned professor who was lending support to the recent peace conference in Melbourne. Does this not indicate the manner in which the provisions of this bill may be interpreted? I think it is a very fair indication indeed that the AttorneyGeneral would be inclined to over-indulge in his new-found privileges. We must have regard for the fact that this measure coincides with a number of other pernicious tendencies on the part of this Government which have become evident. To my way of thinking, the Government is setting the stage for an onslaught against the trade union movement of this country - against the seamen, the waterside workers and any one else who rebels against the provocative directions given and impositions made by the arbitration authorities at the instance of this Government.
Clause 6 provides that the AttorneyGeneral may issue a warrant for the interception of telephone communications if he is satisfied that a telephone service is being used in activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth. In clause 3, “ the security of the Commonwealth “ is defined in this way - “ the security of the Commonwealth “ means the protection of the Commonwealth and the Territories of the Commonwealth from acts of espionage, sabotage or subversion, whether directed from, or intended to be committed, within the Commonwealth or not;
I think that the unfortunate part of this bill is the excessive scope that it affords for the interpretation of the word “ subversion “. I have no doubt that the Government’s interpretation of this term represents a very severe stricture and handicap on the freedom of the Australian people, and that this measure will facilitate permanent eavesdropping on the offices of trade unions. Probably, the head-quarters of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and that of the Australian Labour Party also will be subjected to telephone tapping in the future. In the estimation of many honorable members opposite, a strike is an act of subversion and comes within the espionage, sabotage or subversion definition in this bill. We are indeed alarmed when we contemplate those who sit opposite us and who may in future hold the office of Attorney-General, because we realize that some of them have right-wing tendencies of the most extreme kind.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I have listened with close attention to this discussion, and it appears to me that the only point made by the Opposition with which I can agree is the point that the Government should have introduced this measure long ago. Opposition members have been saying, “ Why did the Government not bring this bill in long ago? “ I also should like to ask that question, because I believe that this measure is long overdue.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who addressed the committee immediately before me, quoted with approval some article which suggested that in the United Kingdom telephone tapping as a means of fighting subversive activities was being restricted, not extended. This bill, therefore, should meet with his approval, because it is calculated to restrict and control telephone tapping in this country, not to extend it. If anybody in this place or in the community generally has the idea that this measure will extend telephone tapping, he has a completely wrong conception of it. One has only to examine some of the clauses of the bill to see this. Sub-clause (1.) of clause 5 reads -
A person shall not -
authorize, suffer or permit another person to intercept; or
do any act or thing that will enable him or another person to intercept, a communication passing over the telephone system.
Penalty: Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for two years.
– Read the rest of the clause.
– I shall read the rest of it in a moment. Irresponsible persons who could tap telephones at the present time will be subject to that penalty. This provision will put them right out of the ring with respect to telephone tapping, because they will face a fine of £500 or imprisonment for two years.
It is provided in an earlier provision of the bill that the Postmaster-General’s Department may tap telephones or listen-in in order to catch the culprit if, for example, telephone users are using obscene words or language. We come then to what is perhaps really the part of the bill which Opposition members want me to read. This is clause 6, sub-clause (1.) of which provides -
Where, upon receipt by the Attorney-General of a request by the Director-General of Security for the issue of warrant under this section in respect of a telephone service, the Attorney-General is satisfied that -
the telephone service is being or is likely to be -
used by a person engaged in, or reasonably suspected by the Director-General of Security of being engaged in, or of being likely to engage in, activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth; or
used for purposes prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth; and
the interception by the Organization of communications passing to, from or over the telephone service will, or is likely to, assist the Organization in carrying out its function of obtaining intelligence relevant to the security of the Commonwealth, the Attorney-General may, by warrant under his hand, authorize the Organization to intercept communications passing over any telephone line that forms part of the telephone service or connects the service to a telephone exchange.
Much has been said about freedom in this country. This bill is calculated to ensure and protect freedom in Australia.
It appears that the Opposition does not l ike the security service. I suggest that the Australian Labour Party bring forward in this chamber any evidence it may have which establishes that the security service is irresponsible or is not fit to perform its functions. I assure Opposition members that if they can prove that the security service is really irresponsible–
– How do we find out?
– Opposition members have said that they know; so there is no need for the honorable member to ask, “How do we find out? “ The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has said that the security service is irresponsible in what he called a political sense, but now another Opposition member asks how we are to find out whether the service is irresponsible. I should have thought that Opposition members would have found out whether the security service was irresponsible before they stated that it was. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has completely given the game away by asking, “ How do we find out? “ If they can be proved irresponsible, they will be dealt with.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is the one who is marshalling Opposition members to speak against this bill. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) are not even present in the committee. I see that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is now coming in; so my words have had some effect. As I have said, the honorable member for East Sydney is marshalling the opposition forces against this bill.
We have heard some talk about whether, in the past, the security service has been instructed or permitted to tap telephones.
– What about-
– I call the honorable member for Reid to order.
– What about-
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Reid that it is customary to obey the Chair, and that it is customary, also, for an honorable member who does not do so to be put out of the chamber.
– It has been freely admitted by the Government that, during the ten and a half years for which it has been in office, permission has been given for telephones to be tapped. But when it is pointed out that when Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister he gave similar permission, there is immediately an uproar from the Opposition. Does anybody in Australia think that Mr. Chifley, the man who established the security service, would try to restrict its operations?
The honorable member for Hughes said that the Government should bring its evidence of this permission being given into this chamber and put it on the table. I agree that that is what Labour wants the Government to do, in order that Opposition members might immediately accuse the Government of making public throughout Australia the secrets of the security service. I could have no faith in the work of the security service or of its value if that were done. It is only another of the Opposition’s tricks. Honorable members opposite say, “ Tell us about these things “. They ask, “ How do you know how they operate? “ That is the whole story. The main point of opposition to the bill raised by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is that federal members of Parliament will not be exempt from its conditions. Why should I, as a federal member of Parliament, be exempt? I do not mind if the whole world listens to my telephone conversations.
– Who would want to tap your telephone after listening to you here to-night?
– The honorable member for Watson asks who would want to tap my phone. The answer to that is that no one would want to tap it; there is no reason why any one should want to do so because everybody knows that I stand four-square for protection of Australia. Why should I be afraid that any one might tap my phone? I am certain that no one would want to do so. Even if any one did tap my telephone, I would not be worried about it. Are members of the Labour Party so out of touch with world affairs that they believe every one in this country does everything possible to safeguard its security? Are they so out of touch as to think that every one in this country supports or favours the freedom we enjoy? I am certain that in their hearts they do not believe that. Opposition to this measure comes from only some disgruntled members of the Labour Party who have been whipped up by the honorable member for East Sydney. He is responsible for it all.
As one has not much time to discuss these matters fully, I find myself obliged to be content with summing up the position as I see it. The first point is that any one who cares to read the bill closely will find that its primary objective is to restrict and control telephone tapping. If, as the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) says, telephone tapping is diminishing throughout the world, then he should be happy with this measure which seeks to restrict and control that practice. Secondly, I repeat - and it is worth repeating - that Mr. Chifley was wise enough to know that any security service that was set up must be given power to operate freely. To suggest that every person who is conducting a private conversation over the telephone will have his telephone tapped is absurd. As one honorable member opposite has admitted, no one would bother tapping my telephone. Why should the security service want to tap the private telephones of the thousands of people in Australia who have telephones? I ask those people listening in to-night whether they think the security service would waste time listening to ordinary family conversations. Of course, it would not! It is only on those occasions when the security service believes that people whom it has under suspicion are likely to use the telephone in a manner prejudicial to the Commonwealth of Australia that the telephones will be tapped. The impression which the Opposition has sought to give the people of Australia that every one is likely to have his telephone tapped - one honorable member used the word “ likely “, which means “ probably “ - this is absurd.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) suggesting as he did to-night that the late Mr. Chifley was responsible for the setting up of a security service in Australia. Usually the honorable member for Mallee has his facts fairly straight when he speaks in this chamber, but it was obvious from his speech to-night that he had not taken the trouble to study the Chifley Government’s record. Had he done so, he would have known that when Mr. Chifley was questioned in his capacity as Prime Minister about the security service he replied that the security service had been operating in this country for eighteen years up to that time. What the honorable member for Mallee did not say was that at no time in its history did the Chifley Labour Government authorize telephone tapping in Australia. I challenge the honorable member to point to anything in the Chifley Government’s record which shows that telephone tapping was permitted during its term of office.
My opposition to this measure stems from my concern about a vital principle of democracy. For some years, it was my privilege to sit in the Legislative Council of New South Wales. A Labour government was then in office. The Leader ot the Opposition at that time was Sir Henry Manning. On many occasions I heard Sir Henry Manning submit before the Legislative Council the argument that the moment you interfered with the liberty of a subject in a free country you took the first step towards fascism, communism or what ever you were to call it. The moment you interfere with the liberty of the subject, you undermine the principles of decency in a democratic community. I am surprised and astounded to find the present Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) with his great capacity, great learning and great training, introducing at this point of time a measure such as this, which has for its purpose the infringement of the liberty of the subject in Australia. To my mind, to introduce legislation for that purpose is to take a step into the darkness. I remind the honorable gentleman, who may have all the qualities that we would desire in an Attorney-General, that his time, like mine, is planned, and that to leave to some future Attorney-General the liberty to intrude into the homes of the people of this country is a retrograde step from democracy.
This measure will permit the security service to interfere with the liberty of the subject and to brand a man without his knowing anything about it or having any opportunity to protect himself. Before any approach is made to the AttorneyGeneral for authority to tap a telephone, the person concerned will be branded as guilty by the security service. He will have no right to defend himself. Under this proposal, there is grave danger of unwarranted attack upon the subject and his freedom. Before authority to tap a telephone may be granted by the AttorneyGeneral, a security officer must convince the Attorney-General that the person concerned is guilty. If he cannot convince the Attorney-General that the man is guilty and should be checked, the Attorney-General cannot give approval for the issue of a warrant. There is the first step towards a denial of freedom to the subject in Australia, the like of which has never been attempted before by legislation in the history of this country. It is astounding to think that the Attorney-General should admit now that he is taking power by legislation to issue a warrant for phone tapping merely on the say-so of some security officer who has made a report to the Director-General of Security. I emphasize that the report is to be made to the Director-General who will not make any further examination before applying to the Attorney-General for authority to tap a telephone. Any member of the security service may state in a report to the DirectorGeneral that he believes that circumstances warrant the issue of a warrant. The Director-General then transmits the report to the Attorney-General, so that, in effect, the person concerned is branded as guilty without having the right to defend himself. The Attorney-General thereupon approves the issue of the authority to tap the telephone.
If the Government is genuinely anxious to protect the freedom of the subject in Australia, then I submit that this Parliament should determine that the only authority to have power to issue a warrant to tap a telephone should be a judicial authority completely free from politics. We should not tolerate a position in which a politician has power merely to accept an uncorroborated report of some officer, declare a man guilty, and then issue authority to tap his telephone.
– What does “ freedom of the subject “ mean?
Attorney-General is one of the greatest jurists in this country. He knows what “ freedom of the subject “ means. Nobody knows better than he does that once you interfere with the freedom of the subject you take away what should be a paramount liberty in a free democracy. 1 do not propose dealing with the clauses which have been discussed already, but I must say that I am astounded by the provisions of clauses 10 and 12. 1 am amazed to read of what can happen after the AttorneyGeneral has been convinced, on the uncorroborated report of an officer, that a man is guilty of subversive activities and should be checked. I emphasize that he has been declared guilty without being given the opportunity to request a judicial authority to examine the charge that has been made against him. He has been declared guilty and reported to the Attorney-General without knowing anything about it himself. Destroy all the principles which have ever existed in relation to the freedom of the subject - as you will under this bill - and then see what happens.
Clause 12 of the bill is in these terms -
The Director-General of Security shall furnish to the Attorney-General in respect of each warrant a report in writing on the extent to which the interception of telephonic communications in pursuance of the warrant has assisted the Organization in carrying out its functions of obtaining intelligence relevant to the security of the Commonwealth.
In other words, the Director-General can tell the Attorney-General whatever story he wishes to tell until he gets the warrant. He has only to provide the Attorney-General with a report in writing - a report that the individual never sees and knows nothing about - outlining how the organization has been assisted by what has been ascertained.
Clause 10 states -
Where a record, whether in writing or otherwise, has been made of a communication intercepted in pursuance of a warrant and that communication will not, or is not likely to, assist the Organization in the performance of its functions, the Director-General of Security shall cause the record to be destroyed.
Who makes that decision? It is not the Attorney-General, but some person in the directorate of the security service. The Attorney-General might have had’ all the good intentions in the world of limiting the scope of the security service as he has indicated, but what he is doing in fact is destroying the liberty of the subject by legislation in a way that puts every Australian, whatever his calling may be, but particularly the leaders of the trade union movement, under the thumb of the organization. The Attorney-General does not even check the final reports which are to be kept by the security service if the organization believes that they may be of some value in the future.
This kind of legislation would have made Hitler smile with approval. This is the kind of legislation which Mussolini wanted - the power to destroy the people who were opposed to him politically. For the Attorney-General and the Government to put power of this kind into the hands of any politician is the most dangerous legislative step that has ever been taken in any free country because the Attorney-General, being human and a politician, has weaknesses and frailties. If he had not these weaknesses and frailties he would not be a member of a political party. He would be of independent mind with no adherence to either side of politics. But he does belong to a political party. I would1 not like to see an Attorney-General in a Labour government ever in the position of accepting the responsibility of denying the freedom of the subject in this great Australian community.
– A good deal of c.iO.ion has been injected into this debate and 1 should like to bring it back to a fairly level and calm atmosphere. Let me begin by saying that I yield to no man, either inside or outside this House, as a defender of civil rights, freedom and liberty. I have spent a great deal of my life in demonstrating that fact. But when I speak of free men, I refer to free men living in a free society who have one overriding obligation - to protect that society and, particularly, its mode of Government.
Is it a denial of freedom to arrest a spy? Is it a denial of freedom to arrest a person who is guilty of sabotage? Is it a denial of freedom to arrest a person who has engaged in subversive activities? No man would say that such acts were a denial of liberty. Let me say quietly that this bill does no more than ban absolutely all types of interception except that one which is authorized in the interests of the safety of the nation.
– Authorized by whom?
– I shall deal with that aspect in a moment. This threat to the safety of the nation is expressed in words which have been used by honorable members on both sides of the House - espionage, sabotage and subversion. There is no mystery about those words. In a moment or two I shall deal with the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who produced a dictionary as if he could not understand the word “ subversion “. I shall inform the House what it means. If a person who is reasonably suspected of espionage is detected, what do free men do? Do they do nothing? Or do they attempt to get on his wheel - to use a colloquialism - and head him off? If a person is suspected of assisting or encouraging a spy or one engaged in subversion, do free men sit down and do nothing? Or do they endeavour to protect that which is our most precious possession - our form of Government?
It is true as the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) pointed out that this bill uses the expression - “ reasonably suspected “ and “ likely to engage in “. But these are words of precision. If you look through the law books you will find that a person can be reasonably suspected of being in possession of stolen goods. That happens every day. No one of any level of intelligence would say that there is a denial of freedom in a statute which allows a policeman to arrest a man who he reasonably suspects of having committed a crime, or which allows a magistrate to convict a person who is reasonably suspected of being in possession of stolen goods. These are well-known expressions. If you intend to intervene at an early stage - I do not put this on my own say-so; the privy counsellors who have dealt with this matter have found expressly that it is necessary to intervene - and if that intervention is to be effective, the best point of intervention is at the point of communication, not merely to find the spy himself but to find the one who is accommodating him and making his activities possible. Every civilized democratic country in the world to-day has found it necessary to have interception of communications.
I have heard the statement made by honorable members opposite that this bill will make Australia a police state. Does anyone of intelligence believe that? Is Great Britain the home of liberty, the country which has done more for freedom than has any other country in the world, a police State? After close examination Great Britain has affirmed, not merely the desirability but the necessity for this form of interception. This bill does no more than allow us to protect ourselves. No citizen, whose phone cannot be justly thought to be an instrument of subversion, espionage or sabotage, has anything in the world to fear. It has been said that the bill is unnecessary. lt is unnecessary, says the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), because of a regulation in the telephone regulations which deals with some form of interception, provides for a fine of £25 and states that the department may give permission for interception. The honorable member says that, therefore, there is no need for this bill.
Let me contrast with this regulation what this bill seeks to do. The bill deals with all manner of interceptions. The telephone regulations deal only with interception by physical contact with a telephone wire; but messages come through the air, on the telephone to-day, by means of microwaves. The regulation does not deal with those. The regulation permits interception for police purposes, because the department could allow the police access, or for customs purposes, or for any purpose if the department cared to approve it. This bill forbids interception for any but one purpose and has deliberately excluded the possibility of its use for police or customs purposes until such time as somebody comes to this House and makes a case for such use.
The bill provides, by way of penalty, for the imposition of a fine of £500 or imprisonment for two years. If there is any unauthorized interception - and it is suggested that there is - then, I think that a fine of £500 or imprisonment for two years would be more likely to stop it than a fine of £25. I know that it is not easy to ascertain that there is unauthorized interception. The people who do it are clever. May I say, in parenthesis, that if there is one thing in a certain article with which I can agree, it is the statement that the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) made a good contribution to this debate. The honorable member asked me whether I would say something about policing methods. Of course, it would be very foolish to tell all how we are going about it, but I can say that so far as the Post Office is concerned, at points which might be thought critical the Postmaster-General sees that there are senior people who are trustworthy. So far as interception along the way, by instruments that do not touch the wires, is concerned, we shall be endeavouring to detect it, difficult and all as it is to detect.
It is not a misstatement to say that this is a bil] to ban interception. It states quite clearly the criteria on which an authority can be given. It provides that certain things have to be proved to the satisfaction of a Minister of the Crown.
– Yes, to his satisfaction. I want to say at this point that to attack a Minister of the Crown in this area on the ground that he is an improper person to decide such matters is truly not to understand our form of government and also to try to disrate it. We in this country govern by a system of responsible government, a system of which we are tremendously proud. We have secured administration at a high-level - this country has a high-level of administration, and the present Government has a remarkable record in that connexion - by giving to Ministers of the Crown very great discretions. If honorable members look through the statutes they will find that enormous discretions have been given to Ministers. If I brought in a bill and said that I was going to let the secretary of a department issue licences, or do something like that, somebody would say, “ Oh no. The Minister must do that.” Why? Because we have learned that in the ministry are to be found men of integrity and men on whom we can place great reliance. A very silly suggestion has been made that the Attorney-General is the only person whose telephone cannot be tapped. Let me say that the day that an Attorney-General of this country deals with spies, saboteurs and subversive people, the country will be finished.
I wish to deal for one moment with the suggestion of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) that the word “ subversion “ means no more than “ turning over “. The honorable member really wanted us to understand that if I knocked over a chair I would be guilty of subversion. How silly can you be! We all know that that is not the meaning of the word. The honorable member for Hindmarsh asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this House in 1957 and I shall return to that question in a moment to show how the Labour Party has been pulled along at the heels of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I shall give two instances in which supporters of that party have said unequivocally, as I see it, that they are in favour of just what I am doing.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh, on 21st November, 1957, asked the Prime Minister a question which I shall read. I am sorry that it is a long question, but it is not of my asking. It is as follows: -
I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question relating to the recent reports of a committee of Privy Councillors on the practice of telephone tapping in the United Kingdom and, in particular, to the conclusions and recommendations of that committee. Is the right honorable gentleman prepared to give an undertaking that, in accordance with those recommendations, telephone tapping will not be carried on in Australia except in ca:es of suspected criminal or subversive activities, and then only upon the issue of a warrant for a specified period, which warrant, at the end of the period, will have to be renewed before the tapping can continue? Will he also undertake that the name of any person, the tapping of whose telephone has been authorized, will be supplied to the Prime Minister, personally? Will he introduce legislation to make it a criminal offence for any person to tap a telephone, or to open letters in the course of their transit through the post, other than in accordance with the proceedings to which I have referred?
What a beautiful description of my bill! Just imagine the honorable member for Hindmarsh coming into this chamber and reading us a dictionary definition of the word “ subversive “ when, on a previous occasion, he proposed that we should have an act which excepted from the ban those who engaged in subversive activities! This Parliament passed a bill to ratify the SouthEast Asia Treaty, and the words “ subversive activity “ are at the very root of that legislation. The object of the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization is to see that subversive activities do not come upon us from a certain quarter.
This bill, on the one hand, brings no threat whatever to a citizen whose telephone cannot justly be suspected of being used or likely to be used, for activities which could prejudice Australia. Do honorable members opposite think that our telephones could be used for such a purpose without our knowing in some way? It might be possible, but I doubt it. The bill, on the other hand, says to the citizen, as strongly as it can, “ As long as you are not in that group which is playing with fire, to the detriment of this country, you have nothing to fear. We will do our best, in the administration of this absolute prohibition to see that there is no unauthorized telephone tapping “.
There was a suggestion made - I would like to deal with it and meet it fairly - that we might commit this function to a judge. I am surprised - perhaps because I have not been here very long - to hear a member of this House propose that we should put this particular function into the hands of a judge who, whoever he might be, would not be responsible to this House. One of the great points of our judiciary is that they are not responsible to Parliament. I would therefore like to say something about the legal possibilities of the proposition, but before doing so I would like to remind the House of what is involved. Would members take to a court, as it were, the day-to-day security information of this country? Think what that means, seeing that judges want information laid out on paper, affidavits, and so on. The judge would have to sit in camera. Do you think that would satisfy the Opposition?
Do you think that the fact that a man is a judge protects him? I want now to say something about what happened in this House on the last occasion it sat. Then we had the spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) pulling a judge’s name through the dirt, in this House, and doing so on inaccurate information, and that was surprising enough. Let me say something about that judge: He has a magnificent record of service to this country; he had his sixteenth birthday in the mud in Flanders. He served for many years as a judge and never a word of dishonour has come upon him. He served his country as chairman of the Joint Organization and put good hard thought to seeing that the best was made of the wool which the woolgrowers of this country had left with the Joint Organization. Lastly, and for this he was maligned, he sat on an important royal commission and there did an honest job and made honest findings. I am going to quote from “ Hansard “ in order to illustrate this proposition - that to give a judge a job like this is to expose him to risks to which we should never expose our judiciary. A judge cannot come here and answer back. He has to remain remote. But the Opposition does not care. Its members dragged his name as low as they could, and on inaccurate information. At page 1733 of “ Hansard “ the Leader of the Opposition said -
It was not just an incidental happening that a certain justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales was asked to preside over that commission. I say that deliberately.
That involves not only the Government, but also a judge; that is to say that he was a rogue. Do not let us have any misunderstanding about the allegation. The Leader of the Opposition continued -
That gentleman, Mr. Justice Owen, or Sir William Owen as he now is, said on the eve of the election that two members of the staff of the Leader of the Opposition were involved in the royal commission. If the inquiry was an honest attempt to ascertain the facts, at least the chairman of the commission might have kept quiet until the inquiry commenced.
See the suggestion there - that he was appointed to play politics, that he did so and that he did it, as the Leader of the Opposition said, on the eve of the election. But what is the record? The election took place on the 29th May, 1954. The remarks of Mr. Justice Owen, as he then was, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, were made on the 15th July, 1954 - not on the eve of the election, but months later. But the whole sting of the remark and the slur cast on him by the Leader of the Opposition was that he made his remarks for political purposes on the eve of the election. Let me place the page of the transcript on record in “ Hansard “. It is page 298, paragraph 1052, of the evidence before the Royal Commission. His Honour’s words were very mild and careful. He said -
We think it is right that we should say that v/e do not find anything in this document which reflects on the Leader of the Opposition. What disturbs us is that the document quotes as sources on various matters, some of which are of a confidential nature, three members of the secretariat of the Leader of the Opposition, including in that three O’sullivan. 1 think I should make that clear. And the following day the commission received a long telegram from the then Leader of the Opposition. My point is that the remark was not on the eve of the election; but the sting of the slur cast by the Leader of the Opposition was that Mr. Justice Owen - as he then was - said it on the eve of the election. If that can be done to a judge, in what peril would we put judges if we gave them a task like this, which is not a judicial but an executive task? It is essentially a job for the Executive and, under our system of government, the Executive is distinct from the judiciary. Indeed, under the Constitution we could not give a High Court judge this function.
– Why not?
– Because it is an executive function. We had it laid down by the High Court, in the boilermakers’ case and by the Privy Council that that is something we cannot do. Does this House suggest that we should submit our federal operations to the say-so of a State judge whom we could not invest with this power either? We would have to do it by some arrangement with the State Government. Therefore, I say that to appoint a judge to this position would be very much against the interests of this country. After all, it is fundamental to our way of doing things that we have a Ministry. There is nothing strange in a Minister doing such things, although I do not relish the task. I have no desire to learn the innermost secrets in matters such as this, nor does the Prims Minister (Mr. Menzies) want to know them, because many of the answers he hai given in this House have derived from the fact that he did not want to know the detailed operations of the security service.
I want next to say that the agency which is to exercise the warrant and the right to intercept is the Australian Security Intelligence Organization; and it has been dragged in the dust no end here. In Australia it is fashionable to try to bring down our institutions, and if we carry on too long in that way we will rue it. It is high time that we tried to build up our institutions instead of trying to bring them down. I will not give any numbers for the security service, because I do not propose to disclose security information of that kind; but let me say that 92 per cent, of the senior officers of this organization were appointed by Labour. This Government has appointed only a very small fraction of the total number of seniors - and I am not speaking of the little group, but of a substantial group. I repeat that 92 per cent, of them were appointed by Labour. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) made a speech on which 1 would like to congratulate him and demonstrated very well that when the Labour Party set up the security service it realized the necessity for it. The wartime service had been gone for three years - it finished in 1946 - but Mr. Chifley and Dr. Evatt found it right and proper to institute that service. Ever since, it has been fashionable in certain quarters of the Opposition, to try constantly to run down the security service.
Let me say that to-day our security service ranks high in its activities, prestige and integrity in the world and that other nations have good cause to compliment us on the excellence of the service we have. It is very interesting to hear the Labour Party opposing this bill on this occasion.
Tie Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on record only a few months ago. That gentleman, Mr. Sanders, who goes around this House with microphones for the purpose of recording statements for broadcast on channel 7, interviewed the Deputy Leader on 14th October last. There was a discussion about telephone tapping, and the point made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was that the important thing is not to stop telephone tapping but to know the principles on which it is allowed, and by whose authority it is allowed. He said, “ It is most important that we know on what principles and by whose authority telephones are tapped “. Later he said, “ We do not say that it could never be justified, but we must know the principles that are applied and by whose authority. The Prime Minister says that for two years the Government has been considering legislation and that this should be ready before the end of the year “. Later on he said, “ The British are open and regular about this matter and we should follow suit “. This is from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, ami I have already told the House what the honorable member for Hindmarsh said!
Let us consider what has been the major battle about this legislation. As far as I can see - and let us face this - the whole burden of the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), when analysed to its essence, was that it is wrong that members of this House or of any Parliament should have their telephones tapped. The proposition he put was this - and 1 ask honorable members to follow me: He said that if you can justly suspect a member of using his telephone or allowing it to be used - and it is probably one provided by the Commonwealth - for, or to assist, activities to the prejudice of the Commonwealth, or even when you are sure of these things, you must still let that member go scot free. That is the proposition, because this measure will not allow tapping until such a case is made out. But even in those circumstances, says the honorable member for East Sydney, we must let that member’s telephone be the honey pot around which the subverters, the saboteurs and the spies gather because they will know that that phone is clear. Does the Labour Party really stand for that? Is that the proposi tion that is really being put? Of course in this instance honorable members opposite have been trailed along at the heels of the honorable member for East Sydney.
When I opened this debate with my second-reading speech I said that Mr. Chifley had authorized telephone tapping in 1949, in July of that year, to be precise. I hear an honorable member opposite using the term “ Fascist “. I supposed, in my innocence, that I would hear that sort of remark - “ This is a Fascist measure “. It is evidently nothing to the point that Great Britain does this kind of thing, and that other countries do so. It is Fascist! Well, I suppose that is the kind of remark we could expect. But let me remind honorable members opposite that their great Prime Minister, who we all admit, however much we may have disagreed with him, had Australia written large on his heart, authorized telephone tapping.
– Where is your evidence?
– Listen to the honorable member for East Sydney - “ Where is your evidence? “ I do not propose to lay on any table the secret documents of the security service, and I have conducted this debate on that basis.
Opposition members. - Ah!
– Wait until I am finished, and you will not “ Ah! “ so much. I have seen the documents and the records. I know how many phones were tapped on the authorization of Mr. Chifley, and whose they were. I know how long the practice continued, and, by investigation, I know whom he instructed and when.
– How do we know you are telling the truth?
– The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith does not believe me. Well, that is somewhat of a compliment. I am not accustomed to being disbelieved, and I say, with all the responsibility that should be accepted when making such a statement, that Mr. Chifley did authorize telephone tapping.
– In writing?
– If the
Leader of the Opposition does not believe me, and if he cares to come to me later, I shall give him the name of a person, who is outside the security service now, to whom he can go, and who can recount Mr. Chifley’s conversation.
– Will you show me the file?
– I will not produce any document. I am not going to show the security file. If you come to me later I will give you the evidence you want. If you do not want to come and see me and get the proof that I offer - because you can go to somebody whose word you could not deny-
– Will you show me the document?
– I am not going to produce security documents to you in any circumstances.
– Well, you can keep your information to yourself.
– Very well, and you can go on disbelieving me. Of course, it is very interesting to see what the proposition of honorable members opposite is. The honorable member for East Sydney, who was a Minister in the late Mr. Chifley’s Government, says, “ I was not told, and therefore it did not happen “. Well, as I say, Mr. Chifley was a person who had Australia written on his heart. Do you and I find it strange that he did not take the honorable member for East Sydney into his confidence? If the honorable member for East Sydney was not told, what is the right conclusion? Is it that Mr. Menzies, who made a similar statement to mine last September, and I are liars, or that Mr. Chifley was a wise man? What is the conclusion you draw?
It is very interesting to note that in this debate the man whom Mr. Chifley would not trust led for the Labour Party, and at his heels he drags along the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has talked about everything but the bill, and the Leader of the Opposition, whose main activity has been to besmirch the name of a very honorable judge. It is very interesting to see how different from the Chifley Labour Party is the Labour Party of to-day.
I have already, I regret to say, taken far too long.
– Hear, hear!
– 1 know the Leader of the Opposition would be glad if I kept quiet. But I want to say this in conclusion: This bill represents an honest attempt to ban unauthorized telephone tapping, under pain of a very heavy penalty. It is an honest attempt to lay out, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wanted done, the precise criteria upon which it may be allowed. It gives the control of this practice to a Minister of the Crown,
– Who is not responsible to Parliament.
– Of course I am responsible to Parliament. On top of that, it prevents disclosure - which the present law does not - of any information except in the course of very narrow duties.
– The Minister can give the information to any one.
– In the course of his duties, yes. I concluded my second-reading speech by saying this, and I would like to say it again: I do not think the Australian public who understand this measure will for one moment deny the power to try to protect Australian security from espionage, sabotage and subversion, and any man who sits in this House and says there is no risk of these things taking place has his head in the sand.
.- I never believed I would see the day when an Attorney-General of the Commonwealth would reach into the grave to try to justify legislation such as this. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) criticizes the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for having made some remark about a judge. But here is the AttorneyGeneral of a government which includes members who, while the late Mr. Chifley was alive, referred to him as a “ fellow traveller “ and tried to smear him on every possible occasion as being associated with Communists, with the audacity to stand up in this House and accuse a dead man, who cannot be here to defend himself against the charge, of being responsible for telephone tapping, while refusing to produce any evidence whatsoever to support his allegation. I think that such an action is utterly despicable.
Although the Attorney-General had unlimited time, 1 am limited to ten minutes and, therefore, I want to deal with some of the more important points raised by the Attorney-General. He criticized the Opposition because we had said this was another step by the Government towards a police suite. He asked, “ Does anybody of any intelligence believe such a thing “. Let me advise the Attorney-General to get the memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden and turn to page 471. At that page, Sir Anthony Eden quotes a letter that the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Menzies) had written to him after the Prime Minister had undertaken certain negotiations with. President Nasser of Egypt. I quote from the letter of the Prime Minister -
Egypt is not only a dictatorship but it has all the earmarks of a police state. The tapping of telephone lines, the installation of microphones, the creation of a vast body of security police - all these things are accepted as commonplace.
Those are the words of the AttorneyGeneral’s own Prime Minister so evidently he believes that the Prime Minister is a man of no intelligence. We say that the introduction of telephone tapping in a period of peace in Australia is another step by this Government towards a police state.
Let me examine some of the points that the Attorney-General attempted to make. First, he tried to suggest that he, of all the men elected to this Parliament, is the only one who is to be free of suspicion and whose telephone must not be tapped in any circumstances. My opinion of the AttorneyGeneral is not so high as that. If other members have to suffer the indignity of having their telephones tapped, I want the Attorney-General to be placed in the same position.
The authority to issue warrants for the tapping of telephones will not lie only with the Attorney-General and the DirectorGeneral of Security, as honorable members will find from a study of the bill. The bill provides that if the Attorney-General is outside the country, if he is ill or not available for some other reason, any other Minister can issue the warrant. So we would find that red-baiters like the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), Moreton (Mr. Killen) or Phillip (Mr. Aston) who see a Communist behind every lamp-post and every bush, could easily be the Minister to issue warrants for the tapping of telephones.
What are the facts to be placed before the responsible Minister at the time? He has to be satisfied that the telephone is being used or is likely to be used for activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth. The words espionage, sabotage and subversive activity are used. I say to the Attorney-General that if he cares to study the speeches of his own colleagues in “ Hansard “, he will find that time and time again, every strike that occurs in Australia is condemned and the trade union leaders are declared to be engaged in acts of subversion. Are their telephones to be tapped whenever there are strikes or threats of strikes?
Let us consider who else can tap a telephone; because once a warrant is issued, the tapping is not restricted to the AttorneyGeneral or the Director-General of Security or even to members of the security service or the Commonwealth Public Service. Authority can be given to the agents of the security service. Surely honorable members can recollect that during the hearings of the Royal Commission on Espionage - the Petrov case - irrefutable sworn evidence was brought to light that some of the people upon whom the security service was dependent for its information, were very disreputable members of the Australian community. So a drunken charlatan like Dr. Bialoguski could be given authority under this legislation to tap the telephone of any person in this country, and 1 am not suggesting that he is the only one of that type who happens to be an agent of the security service.
The Attorney-General has said that the only information that is to be recorded and retained is that which is of security value; all other information is to be destroyed. If the agents that are employed by the security service are like those who have been employed in the past, does anybody imagine for one moment that if they secured information that had nothing to do with security when listening to a telephone conversation and could use it for other purposes, they would destroy it? Of course, they would do nothing of the kind.
Let me turn to the Attorney-General’s criticism of myself. He said my complaints were centred upon an objection to the tapping of telephones of members of Parliament. That is not correct. I am opposed to the tapping of the telephones of any citizen of Australia. What I did say was that the tapping of a member’s telephone was an infringement of parliamentary privilege. Not the privilege of the member but of the people who had elected him and sent him to this place.
The Attorney-General has argued that these powers will be in the hands of a responsible Minister; yet he has told us in this debate that he would not, in future, even tell us how many telephones were tapped. How can we therefore believe that these powers will be in the hands of a responsible Minister - that means a Minister who is responsible to this Parliament - when the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) refused to-day to answer questions because he said the Government would not, in any circumstances, divulge or discuss security matters in this Parliament?
Let me turn now to one or two phases of this legislation. 1 say - and no member of the Opposition has said otherwise - that if we had a security service which was operating only for the purpose of countering the activities of foreign spies in Australa, there would be no objection to it from any member of the Australian Labour Party. The Attorney-General said that 92 per cent, of the members of the security service were persons who had been appointed by the Labour Government; but I repeat that the top men - the men who are responsible for directing the security service - were appointed by this Government. The Labour Government of the day appointed a civil judge to take charge of the security organization because we realized that its powers could be abused. To-day it has become a semi-military organization. It is in fact an organization superior to the Parliament itself because its actions cannot be questioned. The Attorney-General, who has declared that he will be the responsible Minister, has said quite plainly that he will refuse to answer any questions concerning the security service.
For years, the Prime Minister and members of his Government have denied that there has been any tapping of telephones at all. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister, on a number of occasions, has gone as close as he possibly could to saying that not only I, but also other honorable members, were lying when we said that telephones were tapped. In my speech on the second reading, I referred to the Attorney-General’s statement that the telephones of honorable members had not been tapped. I asked whether he meant by that statement a member’s home telephone, his office telephone or the telephones around Parliament House. The honorable gentleman has not given the committee that information although he has had the opportunity to do so. I am able to tell the Attorney-General that a senior officer of this Parliament who is now retired can furnish evidence, if given the opportunity, that certain telephones round this Parliament House were tapped, and that the senior public servants would not use them. I was warned by this officer not to use certain telephones unless I wanted some of mv conversations to be listened to.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). Referring to me, the honorable member said, as I was able to record his words -
The honorable member for Mallee, when he speaks in this House, usually has his facts straight, but he was wrong to-night when he said that the former Labour Prime Minister, the late Mr. Chifley formed the present security service.
I want to refer to an important public document.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Mallee is taking his second period in the debate. He has not shown that he has been misrepresented.
– Order! If the honorable member claims to have been misrepresented he must state the terms of the misrepresentation.
– I am stating the misrepresentation and I am showing that my statement was correct. In 1948, information then in the hands of the Crown-
– Order! Who misrepresented the honorable member?
– The honorable member for Blaxland in his speech to-night.
– What did he say?
– Order! The honorable member is trying to say what was said. J ask the honorable member for Mallee to state the misrepresentation.
– I am stating it. The honorable member for Blaxland misrepresented me by saying that I spoke incorrectly and misleadingly when I said that the former Labour Prime Minister, the late Mr. Chifley, set up or formed the present security service. The proof of my statement is to be found in chapter 21, paragraph 18, of the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage, which states -
In 1948 information then in the hands of the Crown gave rise to suspicions that Security measures in Australia, particularly in the Department of External Affairs, were inadequate. In consequence, Mr. Chifley, the then Prime Minister, formed the present Security Service.
– Order! That is hardly a point of misrepresentation.
– On a point of order, Sir: I only want to say that the document 1 quoted from-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member for Mallee is quoting from a document to substantiate the statement that he made and which another member has stated is incorrect. That is misrepresentation, and I take the point that the honorable member for Mallee is correct.
– That is a difference of opinion.
– I take a point of order, Sir. Have you ruled the honorable member for Mallee to be out of order in making a personal explanation?
– I have ruled that there is no point of misrepresentation. The matter that he has mentioned is just a debating point and nothing more.
– Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Blaxland stated that the honorable member for Mallee-
– Order! I heard the honorable member for Mallee say that.
– The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has brought me into this debate. I said all that I wanted to say when I spoke on the second reading of the bill, but the AttorneyGeneral has seen fit to attack me in regard to certain remarks that I made about a justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court, now Sir William Owen. The Attorney-General has stated that Sir William Owen said certain things some time in July, 1954, and he has checked on the facts. I said that the whole Petrov commission was a stunt to destroy the Australian Labour Party’s chances of winning the 1954 election.
Let us start from that point. These are the facts. An announcement was made in this chamber on 13th April, 1954, that a royal commission would be set up following the defection of the Third Secretary of the Soviet Embassy, a man named Vladimir Petrov. The writs were issued on 23rd April - ten days later - for the election which ensued. The announcement was made, the writs were issued, the nominations closed on 6th May and the election was held on 29th May. It was my impression, and I honestly believed it, that immediately the announcement was made and before the election was held, Mr. Justice Owen made his announcement that members of Dr. Evatt’s staff would be called to give evidence before that royal commission. Before the election was held, Mr. Justice Owen and his two colleagues - I make the charge that all of them were hand-picked by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - held their first inquiry in Albert Hall to create an atmosphere of mystery and suspicion in order to rob the Australian Labour Party of victory.
I know that the commissioners were hand-picked because I know from the Labour Premiers concerned that they were not asked to name judges; they were asked by the Prime Minister to make available the services of Sir William Owen in New South Wales and Mr. Justice Philp in Queensland. I presume the same procedure was followed with the justice from South Australia. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister had to accept Mr. Justice Philp, because the then Premier of Queensland, Mr. Gair, raised some objection to having the Prime Minister pick the judge that he wanted for an inquiry of this sort. He took his stand on the ground that the interests of Queensland and of the Queensland judiciary must be served, and that he would make available any judge that he could spare. In Victoria, no justices would make themselves available. Sir Edmund Herring, the Chief Justice of Victoria and a former member of the Nationalist Association, told the Prime Minister that no justices in Victoria were available for this work, and no High Court judges ever served on such an inquiry. The Attorney-General is quite right in saying that judges should not be asked to do the dirty work of governments in matters of this sort. As far as the Attorney-General has gone on record in saying that, he has opposed the policy and contradicted the opinions of his own Prime Minister.
As true as I stand here, I believe the Petrov commission was a frame-up and a stunt to defeat the Labour Party, and we have been out of office since. There was a group in Melbourne publishing a certain paper which, immediately the royal commission was announced, said, “ We told you in our issue eighteen months ago that a Russian Embassy official was about to defect”. I examined the records of that paper and I will show it to the Minister for Labour and National Service(Mr. McMahon) if he wants to see it. I examined the issue for January, 1953, and saw there the statement that a Russian Embassy official who was prepared to come over was on ice. It was our honest belief that he was kept on ice until the eve of the 1954 elections, and that is why we were defeated. I have since been told by reputable authority that that official was not Vladimir Petrov; it was somebody else.
I have been told that Mr. Windeyer, who was appointed by this Government to prosecute the case and who has now received his reward - he is a justice of the High Court of Australia - was asked to bring forward that evidence to prove that the person named in January, 1953, was not Vladimir Petrov at all. But for some extraordinary reason, Mr. Windeyer, now Mr. Justice Windeyer with a knighthood, refused to bring the evidence forward. Neither this Government nor any other anti-Labour government anywhere in Australian history has ever appointed a Labour barrister to any bench at any time. We have appointed people from the other side of politics, but we have been accused of packing benches and so on. Our record is clear. We believe that the Petrov commission was appointed for the purpose of destroying us, and temporarily the Government succeeded. But its success will be short-lived. I shall examine the record, because I am sure that the Attorney-General is not trying to mislead me. I shall refresh my mind as to the incidents that took place at about that time. If I have in any way misrepresented any happening I shall be happy to come back here and say so. There can be no doubt that the Government deliberately planted that bomb on the eve of the elections. It called for nominations ten days later and held the election campaign in the midst of hysteria and fear. It is entitled to whatever satisfaction it got from keeping the Labour Party out of office for five more years and causing a split in the party. The Labour Party will come back to power, and I hope to see the day when a Labour government will set up a royal commission to inquire into the Petrov royal commission.
Motion (by Mr. Pearce) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Mr. Speaker–
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Wednesday, 18 May 1960
Question put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
International Development Association Bill 1960.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1960.
Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Bill 1960.
Excise Tariff Bill 1960.
House adjourned at 12.12 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Australia has made two drawings from the fund - U.S. $20,000,000 in October, 1949, and U.S. $30,000,000 in August, 1952. (b) Australia has borrowed from the bank the equivalent of U.S. $317,730,000. While the major part of the drawings has been in United States dollars, drawings have also been made in Canadian dollars, Swiss francs and German deutsche marks. 2. (a) On the 1949 drawing from the fund Australia paid a service charge of3/4 per cent, amounting to £67,000 and interest charges amounting to £428,000. On the 1952 drawing Australia paid a service charge of 4 per cent, amounting to £67,000 and interest charges amounting to £216,000. Including the service charge, this was equivalent to an effective average annual rate of interest on both drawings of less than 2 per cent.b) The amount of U.S. $317,730 000 borrowed from the bank represents the proceeds of six loans, for which the interest rates are as follows: -
z asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Imports from South Africa.
s 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: - 1 and 2. No inquiries have been made.
s asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. Yes.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. No. The amount spent on war and defence works is included in item 9a “ War and Defence “, in the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure. For purposes of the national income estimates, expenditures on war and defence works are not segregated from other war and defence expenditures.
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following is the answer to the honorable member’s questions: -
It is not possible to supply the information, either in the categories requested by the honorable member or even by way of total figures. By way of explanation, it is pointed out that some articles of the double tax agreements now in force between Australia and other countries - viz. United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada - have the effect of requiring tax to be paid on certain classes of income only in the country of residence of the taxpayer. As a consequence, the country in which the income has its source ceases to obtain returns from taxpayers receiving these particular classes of income. In the ordinary run, therefore, statistics are not obtained of the volume of such income received from Australian sources by residents of agreement countries. Other articles of the double tax agreements preserve to the country in which certain income arises the right to impose tax. There is no means of knowing the amount of such income which is subjected to, or exempted from, tax by the country in which the recipient resides. Statistics are not maintained of the amount of income having its origin outside Australia but received by Australian residents or the amount of Australian tax paid in respect of that income.
z asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What arrangements has his department made with the States concerning charges for hospital treatment for pensioners?
– The following is the answer to the honorable member’s question: -
It has been a long standing practice for State governments to provide free hospital treatment for pensioners. The Commonwealth pays the States 12s. per day for each bed occupied by pensioners who are not insured with registered hospital benefits organizations. Recently there has been some departure in some States from the traditional policy of providing free hospital treatment for pensioners. The basis of Commonwealth payments has, however, continued unaltered.
s asked the Acting Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
If so, what is the (a) name of the occupant,
h. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 May 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600517_reps_23_hor27/>.