23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Some time ago the Minister for the Army promised the House that immediately the coronial inquiry into the disaster at the Rip, Port Phillip Heads, Victoria, had concluded, he would make a statement to the House. I have not seen the Minister about for some days, and I should like to know from the Acting Prime Minister whether he will arrange for that statement to be given to honorable members this afternoon before Parliament adjourns for the long winter recess. The last I heard of the Minister for the Army was that he was up in Queensland sampling bully beef. Will the Acting Prime Minister do his best to obtain the Minister’s statement which, I understand, is ready for delivery, and see that some Minister presents it to the House before it rises?
– I know that this matter has been regarded as one of great interest and concern to the House. I regret that I am not able, at this moment, to make a statement, but 1 shall endeavour to have such a statement made before Parliament adjourns. If, for any defensible reason, that cannot be done 1 shall see that the statement is made public as promptly as possible.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Defence a question supplementary to the one just answered. The coroner’s inquiry now having been concluded into the unfortunate and tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of three members of the Citizen Military Forces in the Rip on the night of 17th February last, what action is being taken to ensure that the Higher Command makes a reasonable appreciation of the situation and exercises an efficient supervision of similar training manoeuvres in future? Will the Minister lay on the table of the House the final appreciation and the operation orders for this exercise and indicate the chain of command responsible? While initiative and enterprise are fundamental characteristics of a commando, does the Minister consider that in future it will be necessary to test these qualities by crossing one of the most dangerous rip tides in the world in kyaks and ducks? In view of the fact that reporters and photographers were invited to publicize the exercise and provide evidence that the Higher Command was fully cognizant of all that was happening, will the Minister give instructions for a proper court of inquiry to be convened to ascertain the chain of responsibility and the reason why the crossing was attempted in circumstances which would appear to have been hazardous even in war and foolhardy in peace?
– This question is supplementary to one which has already been answered by the Acting Prime Minister, and I do not know that I can add much more. The Minister for the Army has said that he will make a statement to the House, but he is not here. If we can get the statement of the coroner, it will be delivered in this House this afternoon as the Acting Prime Minister has said. I point out that the coroner’s inquiry finished only yesterday, and my knowledge of it has been gleaned from reports in the Sydney press. The Melbourne newspapers are not yet available in Canberra because of this morning’s fog; and the actual report of the coroner has not been received. I give an undertaking that, when it has been received, I will ensure that the Minister for the Army and the General Officer Commanding, Southern Command, make a very intensive study of it.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: Has there been any reaction overseas to the speech that he made earlier this year, in which he emphasized the growing feeling that Australia deserves a better deal from America in regard to trade policy? Is there any indication that in the near future the United States of America will revise its restrictive policies against Australia in relation to products that we can supply on a competitive basis?
– The kind of general statement that I made does not lend itself to a definite decision by anyone. It was a statement to an important American audience in which I expressed the Australian view of American policy as it affected Australia’s trade opportunities. I believe that the constant pressure by the Australian Government in this matter does have an effect in America, both on the Administration and in public circles, and I am not without hope that over a period we shall get substantial results. I hope that the American Administration will review the degree of its quota restrictions upon Australian lead and zinc. At the present time, on behalf of the Government, I am initiating a request for a further review by the American Administration of the duties on Australian wool. This is one of the years when, by the arrangements made under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, there is an opportunity to bring these matters forward. I can say no more than that I believe an impression will be made. Indeed, there is a glimmer of evidence that it is being made already.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry received a report of the result of the inquiry by the United States Tariff Commission into the importation of mutton into that country?
– The United States Tariff Commission has found that lamb and mutton products are not being imported into America in such quantities as to affect detrimentally like commodities produced in that country. Therefore, the commission is not making any recommendation to the President for the modification of such imports. In other words, we can go on exporting lamb and mutton to the United States as at present.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration a question relating to the unfortunate disaster that has befallen the people of Chile and the interest of Australia in affording all help possible. Would the Minister consider the possibility of a number of the distressed people from the devastated areas being given an opportunity to migrate to Australia, remembering that Valparaiso, one of the distressed areas, was the birthplace of the first Australian Labour Prime Minister?
– I am interested in what the honorable gentleman has said, as apparently he and some of his friends behind him have some sentiment for Chile because of political reasons. To my knowledge, Australia has had no migrants from that country so far. Of course we, as a Government, are very sympathetic towards the Chilean people in the great disasters that have befallen their country. I shall certainly investigate the honorable gentleman’s request, but without being able to promise that anything can be done to accede to it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the announcement which he made a day or two ago regarding a £1,300,000 drainage scheme for South Australia in general and for the Loxton irrigation area in particular. From what source will the funds for this job be drawn? Is this a project which should be referred to the Public Works Committee for examination?
– The Loxton irrigation area comes within the war service land settlement scheme, and the work to be carried out there is a State and not a Commonwealth matter. The funds are made available to the State Government by the Commonwealth for projects of which the Minister approves, and the money is allocated out of the £7.000,000 which was voted by the Parliament in the last Budget, together with repayments of other loans which have been made to the States. The actual position is that the Minister who administers the war service land settlement scheme has the authority to approve applications for grants to carry out work within the scope of the scheme.
A State committee which was appointed for the purpose made a thorough investigation of the proposed work, and I have inspected it also. The whole area, as a result of irrigation, is so sodden that the trees are beginning to die and unless we can drain the water away and prevent the saline content from coming to the surface we could lose the Loxton settlement. I do not think that any honorable member would like that to happen. The proposed work will be spread over about three years. The State will call tenders for the work, and subject to the approval of the Commonwealth, the State will carry out the job.
– Does the Treasurer realize that Australians are now compelled to accept a larger expenditure on advertising each year than the State governments spend on education? Will he introduce a regular statistical bulletin showing the amount spent on advertising each year in each medium and in relation to each group of products?
– I do not altogether follow the relevance of the reference to advertising. I believe that the honorable gentleman could argue with equal relevancy that Australians spend more on beer than they do on education, yet frequently honorable members opposite have urged me to reduce the excise on beer.
– But advertising is a tax deduction. The Government taxes beer.
– I do not think the honorable member can pursue the analogy very far. Of course, education is an important matter. This Government, consistent with its constitutional position, has manifested a practical interest in the subject. As the honorable gentleman knows, substantial sums have been made available for the universities, and this has earned the general approval of all sections of this House. On more than one occasion, and quite recently, the attitude of the Government has been stated by my colleague, the Acting Prime Minister.I have nothing to add to what he has said.
– Has the Acting Minister for External Affairs any information to support the forecast which was made recently in London that, following the failure of the Summit Conference, the Soviet is likely to supply nuclear bombs to red China for useagainst the Nationalist regime on Formosa?
– The honorable member, no doubt, has seen the article in the “ Economist “. We are not, of course, sure at the moment what con sequences willflow from the break-down of the Summit Conference. But if there is any consistency in the statements of the Russian leaders, the delivery of nuclear weapons to Communist China would not sort very well with Mr. Khrushchev’s statement that he wanted to see the easing of tension. That is a hopeful view we could take - that the Russians will be consistent in their attitude in respect of wanting peace and that they will refrain from giving nuclear armaments to the Communists. On the other hand, we do know that the Communist regime, quite apart from the nuclear complement, is well able to cause a great deal of trouble around the periphery of South-East Asia; and because of that we think there is no room at all for the nations of this area in which we are, nor for the great powers, to weaken their defensive arrangements with respect to South-East Asia. Consequently, the present meeting of Seato is being encouraged by the Prime Minister to regard the need for defence alliances and mechanisms to be strengthened in this area.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Trade. It relates to the export from Australia to Japan of copper concentrates while a substantial proportion of Australia’s smelting capacity is idle because of the shortage of raw materials. I ask the Minister: Does this not in fact constitute preferential treatment for Japanese manufacturers and workers over Australian manufacturers and workers? On what grounds does the Government justify such or any form of preference for foreign industry over Australian industry? Finally, I ask the Minister: Do not such conditions as are operating in the free export of copper concentrates from Australia reverse the policy being applied by the Japanese Government which places an embargo on the export of raw copper, including scrap, to protect its own smelting industry? Are the known reserves of copper ore in Australia unlimited?
– The conclusion which the honorable gentleman seeks to draw in his question is utter nonsense. To suggest that Japanese purchasing of copper concentrates in Australia in completely open competition, not only with other countries but also with Australian potential users of copper, turns out to be preferential treatment of the Japanese, is nonsensical. It is as nonsensical as it would be to suggest that a decision by a person employed for wages in one part of the country to stay there, instead of going to work for a copper refinery elsewhere for a lower rate of wages, would represent preferential treatment directed against the refinery. Copper concentrates are sold on the open market, and the Australian user is as free to buy them as is any one else, as is the case in respect of wool, lead, and all other similar products of Australia which we have surplus to our own requirements.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Do the United States of America and the United Kingdom pay their butter producers, through price support, 5s. Australian or more per lb. and grant them substantial indirect support in addition, for example, by way of grants for improvements and for hillside farms in the case of the United Kingdom? Do any Western European countries pay their butter producers, through price support, 6s. Australian per lb. or more for their butter? How much, Australian, per lb. does the Minister estimate Australian butter producers will finally receive for this financial year?
– In general, the countries mentioned by the honorable member do pay in support schemes, subsidies or bounties or whatever they may be termed, to their butter producers. In America the rate is predetermined at the beginning of the year. I think that this year it is 57 cents per lb. butter fat, which is the equivalent of 4s. per lb. of commercial butter. The United Kingdom guarantees a standard quantity of milk produced each year for all purposes and the guarantee would work out at about the figure that the honorable member suggested. Production in excess of the standard quantity returns to the producer only market realizations. The price support level in some Western European countries works out at about 6s. per lb. of commercial butter.
The honorable member asked me for an estimate of the realization to the butter producers of Australia for this financial year. Obviously, there is still a considerable quantity of butter to be sold on the export market, but if the present price does not go any lower than 287s. per cwt., as it is at present, it looks as though we can realize a return of 45d. per lb. to the Australian producer.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Is it a fact that primary producers are charged telephone rental at the business rate, which is so much higher than the ordinary rate, when rentals are assessed by the department? If this is so, will the Minister re-examine this as an unjust and improper charge? I put it on that basis because there is no relation between the use made of his telephone by a farmer, and the use made of his telephone by a city businessman or shopkeeper. Is it further a fact that the department is charging the business rate to farmers whether they are using the telephone in their homes for any business purpose at all or use it solely for private purposes? One of my constituents, who is running a couple of hundred sheep, has a telephone that is not recorded as being for business purposes. It is, as he has shown to the department, used solely for private communication between members of his family and with friends. In such a case, should the business rate be charged? Will the Postmaster-General have a look at this matter?
– This matter has been taken up with me before. When a person applies for a telephone service he fills in an application form on which he is required to state whether the telephone is for business purposes, and if so what his business is. In effect, the applicant himself classifies the service that he wants as either a residential service or a business service. Farming is considered to be a business, and if an applicant wants to be classified in the directory as a farmer he attracts the business rate for his telephone. On the other hand, if he simply puts himself in, as most of them do, as an ordinary subscriber, he is not charged the business rate. So. I repeat, in effect the applicants, not only in this particular realm, but also in connexion with all applications, classify themselves. The department does not make a habit of going around checking on the statements made, because it could not do so.
– But in this case the man specifically asked not to be shown in the business category.
– Let me have the details of the particular case and I will examine them.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Wide Bay on subsidies for food production, particularly in Great Britain. By way of preface I say that the general agricultural policy in Great Britain is to make that country self-sufficient in food production. I ask the Minister whether there is a subsidy in Great Britain of so much per acre for breaking up new ground, whether there is a subsidy for erecting new dairy buildings - a very large subsidy - and whether there is a subsidy for the use of lime and nitrogenous fertilizers to assist the farmer in production, as well as the other subsidies referred to by the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I understand that the United Kingdom does provide additional support for primary producers in the way indicated by the honorable member, but I have not the details in my mind. I shall try to get some particulars and supply them to the honorable member.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is he aware that many insurance companies engaged in the insuring of television sets against damage and breakdown of parts are charging premiums of at least £11 for the first year, £12 for the second year and £13 for the third year, and that they refuse to extend the cover for breakdown of parts beyond three years from the date that the television set was purchased as new? Will the Treasurer arrange for the Commonwealth Insurance Commissioner to investigate the details of the policies being issued and the premiums being charged to ensure that television owners are not being fleeced?
– I will examine how far it would be appropriate or consistent with the general attitude shown by the Government to these matters in the past to adopt the course suggested by the honorable gentleman, and I will advise him of the outcome of that examination.
– I desire to ask the Acting Minister for External Affairs a question concerning the United Nations Suez Canal clearance operation to which Australia has contributed £446,428, the equivalent of 1,000,000 United States dollars. Does the Government not feel that we, along with other national contributors, have been badly let down by the failure of the United Nations to ensure that the Egyptian Government meets its full share of the cost? Does the Government not consider that the payment we made towards the cost of clearing the obstructions was part of a general agreement that the Egyptian Government would meet its full share of the cost of canal clearance and, in particular, would cease to discriminate against ships carrying cargo to or from Israel? Will the Government direct our mission at the United Nations to raise this issue at the next sitting in September and protest at the reluctance of the United Nations to carry out its part of this operation?
Sir GARFIELD BARWICK__ The honorable member has several times shown his interest in this phase of the United Nations’ activities in the Suez Canal. Perhaps I should state, shortly, the facts with regard to the money contributed by Australia. There was a United Nations loan for the purpose of clearing the Suez Canal, and, as the honorable member said, Australia contributed 1,000,000 dollars. That loan is being repaid by a 3 per cent, surcharge on canal traffic. The money was not given; it was merely lent. There was no agreement that the Egyptian Government should clear the canal, although it did assist in clearing certain of the obstructions, and there was no specific agreement connected with the loan that the canal should remain free to all nations. However, the Australian Government has consistently urged in the United Nations that the canal should be free and, in particular, that ships carrying cargoes to or from Israel should be allowed to go through. We have stated that in the General Assembly, and we have supported the SecretaryGeneral in his efforts. We will continue to do this. At the moment, we are considering the necessary briefs for our representatives at the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly. This will again be our attitude, and suitable instructions will be given.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Following my constant representations to various PostmastersGeneral for the restoration of the General Post Office clock in Sydney, I now ask the Minister whether he will notify me when the inspection of this clock is to take place. Is he aware that the late Senator Ashley, when Postmaster-General, advised me that the estimated cost of replacing the clock, which is in the centre of my electorate of West Sydney, would be £40,000, which, despite inflation under this Government, seems closer to the true cost than the £200,000 now estimated? Is it a fact that the city council intends to remove the men’s convenience from the Martin-place site, where the only city clock is perched? Does the Minister consider that the only appropriate site for a clock in the second largest city in the British Commonwealth of Nations is on the top of the men’s convenience?
– It seems to me that the latter part of the question should be addressed to the Sydney City Council and not to me. I confess that I do not know anything about the particular matters raised in that part of the question. I have not been there and I have not seen the place mentioned.
I hope that I properly understood the first part of the honorable member’s question. I think he was referring to the statement which I made yesterday in reply to a question from the honorable member for Mackellar about the possibility of an inspection of the clock and all these things associated with it. In reply to the request made yesterday by the honorable member for Mackellar, I promised that arrangements would be made for a visit of inspection by any member of the Parliament who was interested. In reply to an inquiry by the Leader of the Opposition, I said that this would apply also to Opposition members and not only to Government supporters. I said then that I thought it would be better to leave the actual time of the inspection to be arranged between the honorable member for Mackellar, other interested honorable members and the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Sydney. Having indicated that, I rang the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, in Melbourne, yesterday afternoon and told him of the arrangements which I had made and the promise which I had given, and I asked him personally to ensure that the director in Sydney did everything possible to make the inspection as thorough as possible and to allow honorable members a full opportunity of seeing the clock and all the other things associated with it. Therefore, I suggest that if the honorable member for West Sydney communicates with the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Sydney he will be able to make arrangements similar to those being made by the honorable member for Mackellar by communication with the director.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question related to that asked by the honorable member for Hume concerning imports of mutton into the United States of America. Have any steps been taken to market wether mutton, and particularly merino wether mutton, in Europe in packaged form, especially in West Germany, where I understand there may be a suitable market? In view of the importance of this trade to the wool-growing industry, the stability of which would be promoted by the disposal of this excellent meat in such trade, will the Minister confer with his distinguished colleague, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, in order to achieve that end if no action has already been taken?
– I cannot say that I have in my mind the details that the honorable member requires of any transactions that may have been undertaken. But I do know that the Department of Trade, which is always on the ball in selling our commodities, has been very active, particularly in regard to trade with West Germany ever since the agreement between that country and Australia was signed, and this applies not only to mutton and lamb, but also to all the other products covered by that agreement.
– I preface my question to the Postmaster-General by stating that last Saturday evening I viewed on Channel 7 in Sydney an Australian play called “ The Grey Nurse Said Nothing “. This excellent production demonstrated the great acting ability of our Australian artists and, in the well-known phrase, this play would leave some of the imported productions for dead. Will the Minister consider appealing to all television stations to allocate more time for the presentation of Australian productions?
– Laugh that one off.
– There is no need to laugh that one off, for the simple reason that some months ago I announced to this House that I had made such an approach to the television interests. I discussed the matter with them then as I have done on other occasions, and, as a result, the percentage of time devoted to Australian productions on television has been increasing steadily.
– Can the Minister for Immigration give the House any information on the success or otherwise of the World Refugee Year, the primary purpose of which is to empty the refugee camps of Europe this year? Is it correct that each country has ‘been asked to raise a certain amount of money for this purpose during the year? Can the Minister inform the House how Australia’s contribution is progressing?
– As I have said from time to time, the Australian Government has been deeply interested in the whole problem of the refugees, and without wishto labour the claim too much, I think that in this connexion it is fair to realize that in absolute terms, we have done more over the years in helping to solve the refugee problem than has any Other country, except the United States of America. The Government announced some time ago that it had contributed £50,000 to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A public appeal for funds has been launched under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and an effort is being made throughout Australia to raise money. So far as I am aware, the campaign in Australia is meeting with varied success, but I am hopeful that the target set for Australia will eventually be reached.
I think the honorable member and the House may know that during the Australian Citizenship Convention in January, I announced what supplementary steps we were taking to bring quite a number of what we call the hard core cases to Australia, and my latest decision was to allow, in conjunction with the Department of Health, the admission of thirteen persons who had been suffering from tuberculosis. I feel, Sir, that this and other decisions have demonstrated Australia’s sincerity in this respect and, as I have said once before, much as we have done, we have not necessarily finished yet. No doubt there will be a residue in the refugee camps once the World Refugee Year is over. If that residue is of considerable size then, of course, we have to recognize that this is a continuing problem and, in conjunction with other countries, we shall have to do our share in trying to solve it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Is he aware that leading official representatives of the Church of England, the Catholic Church, the Methodist Church and a number of other churches have condemned most strongly the tapping of telephones? As the honorable gentleman cannot be induced to refrain from using the powers granted under the legislation recently passed by this Parliament, will he give an assurance to this House that the powers will be exercised with the greatest of caution, and only after the most careful consideration, and that a detailed report will be given periodically to this House on the telephone tapping that has taken place?
– Mr. Speaker, if I can answer the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question first, let me say that, so far as I am able. T will administer this act with the care and the integrity this country expects of me. So far as the churchmen are concerned, of course, a churchman is quite free to express his own individual opinion. I have the gravest doubts whether the lay people who form the church always affirm and agree with the opinions of individual churchmen.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer inform the House whether serious consideration can be given during the preparation of the forthcoming Budget to raising the amount of allowable deduction for taxation purposes in relation to students, and to the extension beyond 21 years of the allowable age for university students for taxation purposes?
– I am sure that all members of the House will have a good deal of sympathy with the request put forward by the honorable gentleman. This Government takes some pride in the fact that it was the first in the history of federation to introduce a provision into the taxation legislation making deductible for income tax purposes expenditure up to a certain amount on education. That was done in 1952 and we have raised the permissible maximum twice since that time. I think that the last time was in 1956-57. The request is one of those which will be examined against the general Budget background when Cabinet discusses these matter in a few weeks’ time.
– I wish to ask the
Attorney-General a question supplementary to that which was asked by the honorable member for Scullin. Will the AttorneyGeneral answer that portion of the honorable member’s question which inquired whether he would present a report, or make a statement, to the Parliament periodically on the number of telephones that have been tapped?
– The question of whether or not such a statement should be required to be made was given very careful consideration when the recent bill on the subject was being prepared. Opinions were sought from those who were experienced in the field of security both here and abroad. Their view was that it would not be advisable to have periodic revelations of the number of telephone calls which it had been found necessary to intercept. I do not propose to follow the course suggested by the Leader of the Opposition - not from a desire to keep information away from this House but from a desire to protect the major interests of this country.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. In view of the fact that, frequently, in cases of violent death, it takes some time to identify the victim, does the Attorney-General think that the compulsory fingerprinting of all persons over the age of, say, eighteen years would be of material assistance in identifying such victims? If he is of that opinion, can he say whether it would be possible to do this, and whether it would be desirable to introduce legislation to this effect?
– The honorable gentleman does touch upon a difficulty that occurs in the administration of the law, particularly of criminal law. But it is my view, if I may be allowed to express it, that, in a free society such as ours, it is preferable to accept the inconvenience and the inefficiency which result from the occasional inability to identify some one, than to ask the citizens to submit to identification procedures. I would not like to see any such procedures adopted. In any case, it does not lie in my domain to legislate on this matter.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that Australia’s expenditure on immigration is running at the rate of between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000 per annum. Is it a fact that, as a result of this expenditure of money - amply justified to bring desirable citizens here - thousands of immigrants are settling in the electorate of Lalor in the vicinity of St. Albans, Sunshine and Altona and that land values in those areas have risen to fantastic levels? Is it a fact that recently a Sydney company bought 540 acres of what I would term “ sheep-to-the-acre “ paddocks for £500,000 and that there are no subdivisional roads. streets, drains, electricity, or sewerage in this area? Before any homes are established on these 540 acres, and by the time the accretion to the land-holder who has sold it is considered and further profits are taken out by the builders and allowance made for subdivisional fees, the price to the unfortunate migrants now coming to Australia will have risen to such a level for homes and home building blocks in that desirable area that great hardship will inevitably be occasioned to these people. What is the Government going to do about this matter?
– I congratulate the honorable member for Lalor on one of his more effective speeches, but I regret that in order to answer adequately all the points he has raised I would have to intrude, to an unwarranted degree, into the time set aside on Grievance Day for private members. As to the amount spent on migration in this country, I am sure the honorable member would agree with my view that it is the most profitable investment that Australia can make of its funds at this time. Some of the consequences may be inconvenient and even uncomfortable for us. The honorable member has painted a picture of land operators exploiting the demand for land, but at the same time he has not shown the other side of the coin which, I think, would demonstrate that the risk-taking enterprises of people in this country have led to an increase in the provision of housing and of land for housing, and so have assisted in the process of migrant assimilation. I believe, personally, that in these large sub-divisions it should be a requirement, as it is in certain other parts of the world, that the person sub-dividing the land should provide the necessary street and engineering facilities before the land is sold. I gather that legislation to that end has already been adopted in some parts of Australia.
As to the general question of whether the Government should interfere in these activities, quite apart from constitutional limitations, my general view is that in the freedom of the market and the incentive given to individual Australians to hazard their enterprise and their capital lie the opportunities for rapid progress in this country.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960 I present the report relating to the following work: -
The proposed construction of a new main hospital block at the Canberra Community Hospital, Australian Capital Territory. and move -
That the report be printed.
The first reference of this matter to the Public Works Committee occurred in 1956 at a time when the anticipations of Canberra’s population were 75,000 by 1985. The committee at that time accepted a ratio of eight beds per thousand population as being an adequate and desirable provision. Therefore it produced a recommendation that a hospital should be provided at a 600-bed standard, which is an economic unit for hospital administration, and that it should be constructed in two sections, the first stage having 472 beds, and the balance being provided at the second stage.
In the meantime, the development of Canberra, consequent on the Government’s decision to transfer the head-quarters of Public Service departments to Canberra has rather invalidated the basis of those conclusions, so much so that when the present committee sought advice from the National Capital Development Commission as to its population anticipations, the figure given to us was 100,000 people in Canberra by 1970. This compared with the original estimate of 75,000 by 1985.
The committee examined in close detail the need for the provision- of eight beds per thousand population, and visited the Royal Newcastle Hospital where some quite novel innovations in hospital treatment and administration in Australia are being carried out. There, a very wide domiciliary service has reduced the number of hospital beds required by the local population. There is a good deal of ideological difference on this subject but having regard to world authority on population hospital needs the committee had no difficulty in re-affirming that eight beds per thousand population was desirable, and accordingly accepted that opinion. Accepting also the National Capital Development Commission’s anticipation of population development in Canberra, the construction of a 600-bed hospital was a logical conclusion.
Some difference of opinion developed within the committee as to whether we should recommend that the building of a 600-bed unit should be proceeded with at once as one project or whether it should be done in stages in accordance with the original recommendation. But having regard to the undoubted need which is rapidly developing here in the National Capital and also to the disorganization of hospital operations which would result from vertical additions to a working hospital and, of course, the savings which would be made if the building were constructed as one unit, the committee finally agreed that the 600-bed hospital unit should proceed as one constructional project. If there is any doubt about the National Capital Development Commission’s population anticipations, the worst that could happen would be that hospital accommodation would have been provided a little ahead of the actual date at which it would be needed. The committee believes that the design and completion of the hospital as one unit will prove entirely satisfactory.
The site will be close to the existing hospital. Indeed, the present buildings will be incorporated in the development. In the committee’s view the proposed site is ideal. It is quiet and easy of access. It will overlook the Canberra lakes so that the new hospital will complement the Canberra scene, as the lakes will complement the hospital surroundings. Some question arose on the subject of flood level anticipation. The best hydrological information we could obtain was that a 200-year anticipation of possible flood levels would take waters to the 1,835-ft. contour. The ground floor of the hospital was originally planned to be set at the 1,835-ft. contour although this would necessitate the use of a ramp between old and new buildings on different levels. The committee gave a good deal of consideration to this aspect and finally recommended that the ground floor of the hospital unit should be set at the 1,831 -ft. level. As to adequate flood precautions that should be taken, it was recommended that there should be an earth ramp, or levee bank, built between the lake side and the hospital, which would fulfil the purpose of flood protection. It would become a levee against the possibility of a 200-year flood level in the first place; and secondly, it would form a road of access to the hospital itself. This levee bank would be suitably landscaped and become an integral part of the landscape development. As I have already said, the committee recommends that the flood protection level should be set at 1,831 feet. There will be no need then to provide additional protection.
The building itself will provide six floors for wards and two ancilliary wards. There will be five floors devoted to public and intermediate wards providing 64 beds per floor and 32 beds per wing. Provision is made also for a cancer clinic, dental service, chapel and an ambulance station. Two research laboratories will be provided by arrangement with the Australian National University. They will operate in conjunction with the John Curtin Medical School.
The question of air-conditioning came to the fore, as it always does now in discussing this type of building. The committee examined the costs involved and decided that air-conditioning should be provided only for the operating theatres, the radiology department, the labour wards, and, of course, the nurseries. The construction of the building will be in steel frame, with fire-resistant concrete floors. The external walls will be of brick, with metal window frames. Parking facilities will be provided within the grounds for 600 cars.
The estimated cost of the building, including site works of £74,000 in the first unit, will be £1,905,500 to stage one, and for stage two the estimate is £949,000, which includes £300,000 set aside for alterations and modifications of the existing building. The total estimated cost is, therefore, £2,854,500. In association with the hospital, there is a standing need to extend the nurses’ home, but that matter will be dealt with in a separate report, which I hope will be presented to the Parliament this afternoon. I commend the report to the House.
– I had great difficulty in hearing the honorable member because of some movement in the chamber while he was speaking, but I understood him to say that this is a 600-bed hospital and that it will cost £2,854,500. I would be the last person to delay the construction of a hospital in Canberra, which is a most important matter, but I wish to raise three points. First, on the figures given, the cost per bed works out at about £4,500, which seems to me to make it the highest priced hospital to be built in Australia. 1 have made that calculation quickly, but I think it is on the conservative side.
The second point is this: Are there any organizations in the Australian Capital Territory like the charitable organizations in other States that raise very large sums of money for hospitals? For example, the recent twomonth appeal in Melbourne for the new children’s hospital has raised £400,000 from individuals and companies - otherwise the public. Do Canberra residents subscribe in any way to the building of their hospitals, or does the Federal Government provide all the money? If the Government provides all the money, that is a most unfair position, having regard to the grants made to the States and the money that is spent in this area. I am in no way criticizing the proposal to build this hospital; I am only referring to what is happening in the sphere of State and Federal finance. A new hospital in Canberra is necessary, and I do not doubt that every recommendation of the committee is correct, but when a new hospital was required in Melbourne the public was asked to contribute, and did contribute, £400,000. There is a big difference between the two cases, unless a similar organization operating in Canberra has been asked to raise funds for this hospital. After all, Canberra is the wealthiest city in Australia, with the greatest number of cars per head of population in the country. It is not as though the citizens were in a financial position inferior to that of people in other parts of Australia.
Are we really wise to construct a building costing almost £3,000,000 on land that is apparently in some danger - it may be slight - of being flooded? With all the land that we have around Canberra, we choose for a hospital, which will serve, not only the citizens of Canberra but also, I expect, the people from the surrounding districts, a site that is below the possible flood level! If I am wrong, T apologize, but I understand that the level of the site is L831 feet and that 1,835 feet is the possible flood level. We are going to build a levy bank around the new hospital in case the basement might be flooded. Candidly, I think that we are plain crazy.
.- In view of the interest that the Parliament has to take in Australia’s capital, I hope that something will be said in answer to the points raised by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). 1 cannot believe that he heard the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) say that the site for the new hospital might be flooded.
However, I want to concern myself with another aspect. As I understand it, the citizens of Canberra pay taxes in the same way and to the same extent, according to income or values, as do the people in every other part of Australia. I think we should cease this inquiry into differences between people in Canberra and elsewhere. I do not know of any charges, direct or indirect, to which other Australians are subject and from which the people of Canberra are immune.
– Do they pay council rates?
– They are not called council rates, but I understand that every land-holder in Canberra pays each quarter some fee for the use of his land. The tenure is not freehold; I think it is a 99-year lease. In fact, everybody in Canberra pays the same amounts as other citizens of the Commonwealth, although the charges may be known by different names.
The second point made by the honorable member for Chisholm concerns voluntary contributions towards the cost of the erection of hospitals. It is true that Melbourne has a proud record of contributing to these appeals. It contributes more per head of population and in total to such appeals than does any other community in Australia, and it has done so for a long time. However, I do not think that the people of Canberra, by comparison with people in other centres, are deficient in any way. The plain fact is that hospital construction now is so costly that no longer is it possible for charity to finance it. That must be done by the whole community, through the tax and loan structure.
– There was an appeal for £400,000 for the new children’s hospital in Melbourne because the State Government had not sufficient funds to build it.
– That is their decision. I believe the position in Victoria is that communities get hospitals only if they raise a certain proportion of the money themselves. In other States, hospitals are established according to the health and not the wealth of the community.
My remaining point is that it is quite wrong to assume that the Canberra Community Hospital will cater only for people in Canberra. This city is beginning to serve a much larger area than the Australian Capital Territory. With all the specialists who have come here, and who will settle here in the future, and with the facilities that will be made available in the hospital, people from the surrounding parts of New South Wales will come for treatment to this centre.
.- As to-day is Grievance Day I shall not detain the House for very long. It is important that some reply should go on record to the observations that have been made in relation to this report. In the first place, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) tried to make out that the cost appeared to be inordinately high. I want to assure the House that the cost factor was investigated very thoroughly, and the committee is quite satisfied that, as a result of its investigations and of the estimates which were presented to it, the cost of this hospital is in keeping with that of hospitals which recently have been or are being built in other parts of the world.
The question of public contributions towards the cost of building hospitals is a matter for the people of Canberra, and I shall not say any more about it.
Finally, the honorable member for Chisholm referred to the danger of flooding. The committee was told that the 1,835-ft. level would be reached by floods only once in 200 years. However, the committee has recommended that an additional 2 feet should be allowed, and we have been assured by the best available authority on this aspect that this will be an adequate safeguard.
The cost factor caused the committee grave concern, so much so that we called for additional evidence on it. The recommendation which we have submitted to the Parliament is based on the best evidence which was available to us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Broadcast Listeners’ Licences - Pay-roll Tax- Pensions - The Parliament- Child Endowment - Education - Employment of Physically Handicapped Persons - Civil Aviation - Socialism - Land Speculation - Repatriation.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
– This sessional period is now drawing to a close. The speeches which have been made during the last two or three days by members on this side of the House, particulary by my leader and deputy leader, have at least shown the people where Australia’s wealth lies - with the friends of the Liberal Party. However, I must commend also those honorable members on the Government side who raised their voices in protest at the present state of affairs. The honorable ‘member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is one who comes to my mind. He protested about the pay-roll tax, and I shall refer to that subject later. As I have only ten minutes at my disposal I should like to speak first about the people whom I represent and who would be very glad to receive the lowest digit in the hundreds, thousands and millions of pounds about which we have been speaking during the last two or three days. I refer to the pensioners.
I should like to bring a matter before the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). I have received a letter from a pensioner constituent who lives at 96 Quarry-street, Ultimo, and, so that the contents of the letter can go on record, I shall read it -
I am writing to ask you if you can help me out with regard to my wireless licence. I have written two or three times to the PostmasterGeneral, licensing records department, but somebody is evidently passing the buck. I also have been in personally and explained things. They said that they would rectify things but nothing has been done.
Now the trouble is I have a wireless set. It belonged to an old lady and her son. I took them in and looked after them. The old lady took sick and they put her in the hospital out at Silverwater, where she died. She was 84 years old. Her son stayed on with me and he gave me the wireless in recognition for the goodness for things that I did and got for his aged mother. A few years later he had a stroke from- which he never recovered. I nursed him and looked after him until he passed away at my home.
Now the trouble is as I have told you. I asked for the licence to be transferred into my name. It is fourteen years now since he passed away and they still keep sending the licence out in Mrs. A. Norman’s name, who has now been dead over 25 years, and as I have told you I have written asking them to change the licence into my name but I do not seem to get anywhere with them. I am a pensioner so I was wondering if you could take it up with the PostmasterGeneral.
The licence number is 10-02700.
Thanking you for past favours, Mr. Minogue, for which I am very grateful.
I do not think the lady would mind if I mentioned her name to the PostmasterGeneral. As she has said, she has visited the postal authorities time and time again over the last fourteen years to pay the licence-fee, and on every occasion she has told the departmental officers the same tale as she has told me, but the department is still charging this pensioner £2 15s. for a licence when she should be required to pay only 10s.
– It is all robbery by this Government. I hope and trust that this matter will be rectified. I shall not be satisfied if she merely receives her next licence for 10s. I want her licence-fee to be reduced and an adjustment to be made to cover the years that she has been writing to and visiting the Post Office and bringing this matter before notice. I hope that the Minister will accede to my request.
The next matter I should like to mention is the pay-roll tax. I commend the honorable member for Richmond, but of course he was speaking on behalf of the primary producers, who really are not in anything like the need of the amount of tax that they have to pay as are the people to whom I shall now refer.
– That is a rash statement.
– Will you give me a chance to make my speech? You should be in King’s Cross with the rest of the bandits. I wish to mention a matter affecting a hospital situated in the electorate of Lowe which is represented in this House by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). This hospital has 94 patients, but 56 nurses are required to look after them. Honorable members might think that this is a disproportionately high number of nurses to look after 94 patients, but 90 of them are pensioners who receive, in addition to the pension, the weekly government subsidy, for which they are very thankful. The lady in charge of the hospital appreciates that she cannot receive more assistance than is given to other hospitals in the State, but this is the only institution in which I can find accommodation for people who approach me seeking assistance. It takes in the chronically sick and the disabled. Incidentally, among the 94 patients are 40 what are called wet-bed patients. My point is that this Government compels that hospital to pay pay-roll tax. Is it not a standing disgrace that this Government should take the pay-roll tax from those people who are looking after so many pensioners including very bad cases? The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) has been notified of the position several times, as has the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). In view of the largesse that this Government hands out to its friends in taxation relief and everything else, why does it insist on levying pay-roll tax in this case? The woman who runs this hospital cannot keep going much longer unless some relief is given in this respect. The tax payable in respect of 56 nurses is considerable.
There are many other such cases to which I could refer if I had time, but I pass now to social services generally. In West Sydney, many people in receipt of social service benefits, on becoming eligible for the age pension, are told, “ You have turned 65 years of age and we cannot deal with you any longer. Go down to the Pensions Office.” I have had cases of women of 60 years and men of 65 years of age who have been at least two or three months without any money whatsoever while trying to arrange for an age pension to be paid to them. Could there not be some agreement between sections of the department whereby benefit could be paid to these people while their eligibility for an age pension is being investigated? I do not want any one who is not so entitled to get a pension, but I think the Government should continue paying the benefit of £3 5s. in the circumstances I have mentioned. That would give them something to live on. The position of hundreds of people, including pensioners, in my electorate is a scandal. They are obliged to go to a soup kitchen on the last two or three days before pension day. We pride ourselves on doing good to people in other countries who are smitten by disaster, and donate relief to keep their bodies and souls together, yet we deny help to our own people who have worked hard over the years, many of them for the basic wage when it was only £5 a week.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker- [Quorum formed.]
– While the quorum bells were being rung the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), by asides which the Chair properly ignored, demonstrated how our late hours of sitting turn ordinary human beings into savage, bad-tempered and grumbling individuals. No member of this Parliament could agree with the present hours of sitting unless he was an ambitious back-bencher who hoped the strain so imposed on Ministers would decimate their numbers. I have spoken about this matter before. We must act like civilized human beings in the conduct of the business of this House. The hours and days we now sit are iniquitous. They date back to the time when Parliament was not a democratic institution, but was composed of people who had normal occupations and at the end of their day’s work went along to legislate, subject to veto by somebody else. If we accept the fact that Parliament is now a democratic institution, we must also accept the fact that some adjustment has to be made in its sitting hours.
Under the present system we sit for about four weeks and then have a week in our electorates; and in those four weeks there is a rush backwards and forwards, to and from Canberra; and the further away one’s electorate is, the worse the rush becomes. Then, instead of sitting at a civilized hour, we start in the late afternoon on two days of the week and invariably sit until the early hours of the morning or at least till midnight. I cannot see anything wrong with sitting for two weeks in Canberra and then having one week in our electorates and, during each of the two weeks of sittings, having five-day sessions, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It may be said that that would not allow the Cabinet, or committees, time to sit; but the reverse is the case, because at the present time it is quite unfair for Ministers to have to attend a Cabinet meeting when the House is sitting. They want to be in the House while bills are going through. If we reverted to civilized sitting hours, Cabinet and committee meetings could be held at night and members could get a reasonable amount of sleep and rest. As a result, Parliament would be conducted in a much better fashion.
In answer to any one who says that we cannot change our present hours of sitting because they are conventional and customary, I say that we should do what we wish if we believe that it would be in the best interests of members and of the country. Although I have been here for only a relatively brief period, I think that any honorable member who looked at the “ Parliamentary Handbook “, noted the photographs of members and the dates they entered this House and then looked around the chamber would see a totally different set of people sitting here to-day.
– You look very sick.
– Some people work here and subject themselves to strain and stress, and after a time it catches up with them; but if one sits down and relaxes and does nothing, one will never age, and the honorable member knows that. Nothing has happened to him in the period he has been here. I believe that for the benefit of every one in this House it is time the Government had a close look at this matter. It should be more realistic in arranging our sitting hours. Honorable members would then have a chance to infuse fresh and original thought into our debates instead of being absolutely knocked out by the conditions under which we now sit.
.- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) has brought up the subject of hours of sitting and has talked about looking around the House and seeing the savage, badtempered human beings among members at the end of sittings extending over long hours. He himself shows that little bit of savagery that the long hours can bring about. While I cannot agree completely with his proposition, I think a case can be made for the more orderly arrangement of the sittings of this House and the general conduct of its business. There is no doubt that when we sit, as we did the week before last, until 4 a.m., or later, members cannot give of their best. We cannot complain if members fall asleep in the House at that hour of the morning, as sometimes Ministers also do. We should call upon the Government to rectify such conditions. 1 believe that, as the honorable member for Perth has stated, we should not tie ourselves to this system just because it has been followed for so many years since the horse and buggy days. Let us try to re-arrange the sittings. I do not offer any suggestions as to what should be done, but 1 think that there is a great deal of merit in having the sittings on Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Party meetings and Cabinet meetings could then be held at night. This would surely be a better system than the present procedure. By adopting such a system we would also be giving some consideration to the staff in this building. It is all right for members when the House sits late. They can lie down and go to sleep if they want to do so in the early hours of the morning. The attendants, the “ Hansard “ staff, and the car drivers who have to wait to take honorable members to their hotels, cannot lie down and go to sleep when the House is sitting until 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, although in many cases they have to start work again perhaps within an hour.
I hope that the Government will consider this matter seriously. I do not agree entirely with all the suggestions of the honorable member for Perth, but I think that something should be done to improve the sitting hours. The Chairman of Committees (Mr. Bowden), who is at present in his place in his capacity of honorable member for Gippsland, is interjecting now. When he is in the chair he is always a very courteous officer, but when he is in his place as a private member he is the most disorderly member of this House. He calls us to order from the chair for interjecting, but when he is in his place as an ordinary member he constantly interjects and offends more than does any other member. But, after all, he is a very kindly disposed gentleman, and I am very happy to have his company here.
Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to deal with a few matters that concern the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is now at the table. I remind him that constantly in this House we hear Ministers and Government supporters talking of what will be done about the means test. We see Government supporters putting up a sham fight on this matter. There is even a committee of backbenchers on the Government side that deals with social services. Many honorable members opposite claim to be dissatisfied with the means test. I should like the Minister to inform me what has become of the plan to abolish the means test announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the joint Liberal Party and Australian Country Party policy speech in 1949. It is now 1960, and we are still waiting for something to be done about that. Has the Minister ever studied the plan to abolish the means test which the present Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) said, when he was Minister for Social Services, would be introduced within a short time?
Did such a plan exist? If it did, what has the present Minister for Social Services done about it. Has he ever looked at it? Does he intend to do anything about this matter? Or are we to witness in the next Budget session the same spectacle of make-believe, with honorable members on the Government side putting up a sham fight about the means test and the Minister for Social Services telling us what is being done about it? I want the Minister to tell us squarely whether the Government has any intention whatsoever of abolishing the means test. When the Prime Minister made his electioneering speech in 1949, did he make that statement about the means test only in order to mislead the people of Australia? When the present Minister for Defence was Minister for Social Services and said that he and the Government had a plan for the abolition of the means test, was he deliberately misleading the people? I think that the Minister ought to tell us what are the Government’s intentions in this matter. He should give us that information honestly at this stage.
We could also ask the Minister to inform us what is to happen in relation to the level of child endowment when the Budget is being prepared. The Government has been in office for more than ten years. Let the Minister tell us now whether he intends to increase child endowment. Let him be honest about it. If he does not believe in child endowment, then let him abolish it. Do not make sham pleas for people receiving child endowment while still leaving the rate of benefit at the level it has been at for so many years.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) is now interjecting. If the honorable member does not keep quiet I will tell the House about many rumours that are circulating about him. I say to the Minister for Social Services that the problem of child endowment is a serious one. Not only have the mothers and children of this country been neglected in respect of child endowment, but the children have been completely neglected by this Government as regards their education. It is no good for the Prime Minister and other spokesmen for the Government to tell us that the States do not ask for assistance in regard to education. Last week, the Minister for Education in South Australia took to task a Liberal over there for criticizing the State Government in regard to education, and said that the gentleman would be better employed if he urged the Commonwealth Government to accept its obligations and give some assistance to the States in regard to primary and technical education.
– They ought to apply.
– The honorable member says that the States ought to apply for some assistance. I believe that they have applied. I also believe that this Government is not concerned about the situation of primary and technical education in this country. It did a good job in relation to the universities when it appointed the Murray committee. A similar committee should be set up to consider the problem of primary and technical education.
One other matter which concerns the Minister for Social Services is the employment of physically handicapped people. For once I will commend the Minister in this direction. His department, in its efforts to rehabilitate the physically handicapped, is doing a very good job as far as it can go, but so far as the Commonwealth Employment Service is concerned-
I see that the Minister is leaving the chamber. It is indicative of the contempt that Ministers have for the Parliament that, when matters concerning their departments are raised, they do not want to listen. If Ministers are not jaunting around overseas while their departments are being discussed in this chamber, but are here on the spot, they walk out as soon as an honorable member raises a matter that concerns their departments. That is all right. The fact will go on record, and I hope that the people, as well as members of this Parliament, will make a note of it.
We on this side reiterate that the Commonwealth Public Service will do nothing about employing the physically handicapped. The Boyer committee’s report on the Public Service set forth certain recommendations for action that should be taken in this respect. This Government pleads with private industry to employ the physically handicapped, but under its own regulations will do nothing itself to employ such people. We have Commonwealth employment officers seeking employment in industry for the physically handicapped and asking private employers to take such people on and give them a chance, but the Commonwealth itself - one of the biggest employers, if not the biggest employer, of labour in the country - does nothing about itself employing such people.
– That is not true.
– It is true. If it were not true you would implement the recommendations of the Boyer committee.
– There are 100 such persons employed in my department alone.
– You have not done anything about implementing the Boyer report. That report set out what you should do. It was a very concise document showing you what you ought to do, and up to date you have ignored it. Let me quote to the Minister-
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Last week, or the week before, the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) was stated to be developing a reputation as a “ hit-‘em-with-everything “ backbencher.
It is obvious from his contribution this morning that he has read that description and feels that he has to live up to his reputation.
My object in speaking .this morning is to support wholeheartedly the suggestions and comments made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) regarding the sitting hours of this Parliament. I believe that the present system, Sir, is sheer madness in the context of Australian conditions, and in the context of the present-day situation that we have to face in this Parliament. I cannot believe that any one could make a logical and rational case to establish that the hours that we sit in the Parliament now are in the best interests of the country; as the honorable member for Perth said, they are certainly not in the best interests of honorable members. I do not believe that a member can properly cope with the present complexities of Government activity and legislation when he must travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to the Parliament, enter into the hurly-burly of debate and of the other matters to which he must attend, stay for no more than three days, sitting very long hours, travel back to his home and then return here to follow the same pattern during the ensuing week. That is the system which obtains now for four weeks at a time, with a break then of one week.
I believe that it would be much better if the suggestion of the honorable member for Perth were adopted. Instead of working on a cycle of five weeks, we should work on a cycle of three weeks. I suggest that we should sit here on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of one week and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the following week. The House should then rise until the Tuesday week. This would give honorable members a clear, uninterrupted period of ten days in their electorates in every cycle of three weeks. It would also enable many honorable members, if they so desired, to stay in Canberra for the intervening week-end, and that would be in the interests of honorable members and of the Parliament. It would help them to make contact with senior public servants and diplomats, and help them to do even a bit of work.
This system would mean that the House would either never have to meet in the evening, as suggested by the honorable member for Perth, or alternatively never have to meet in the morning. I would prefer that we did not meet in the morning, but either suggestion is good. Honorable members would have a clear morning or evening on each of four or five days a week in which to undertake the many duties that they have in addition to sitting in this chamber. One of the results of the complexity of modern government is that honorable members have felt it necessary to develop a committee system - some committees of the Parliament and some committees of Opposition or Government parties. At present these committees just have not the time during the sittings of Parliament to do their work properly.
A member of Parliament has two main functions. The first is to legislate in this place in the interests of the country. Under the present system, with these sittings of Parliament, that function, which should be the most important, is in fact subordinated to the other function, which is to keep contact with the constituents in his electorate. But even under the present system, many of us find it almost impossible to make any contact with our constituents for weeks at a time. This is not so difficult for members whose electorates are not far distant. They reach home on Friday and have three days in which to see their constituents and in which to take part in constituency activities. For those of us who live in distant parts, particularly those of us who have widespread country electorates, the week-end during the sittings of Parliament is not sufficiently long to make effective contact with our constituents. It would help enormously if, instead of being able to make contact with our constituents only every fifth week during the sittings, we were able to make contact every third week, as we would be under the proposal of the honorable member for Perth.
I believe that this .is an important matter. I believe that we are completely out of step with modern realities and conditions. I hope that the Government and the parties which comprise the Parliament will have a really good look at this matter with a view to introducing some reform.
– It is not very often that I grieve, but to-day I feel very sorry about the bad physical condition of honorable members opposite. Sustained hard work throughout my life has kept me physically fit and has enabled me to do the job for which I was elected by my constituents. My constituents know that their member is in fine condition, both mentally and physically, and know that he is fully capable of doing the job that they have given to him. However, I feel that I must extend my sympathy to the poor, puny objects on the other side of the House.
Have they forgotten that the Parliament is the forum of the people and that my constituents and their constituents work hard all day to pay taxes to keep them here? When our constituents have finished their work for the day, they certainly like to hear what their members are doing in Parliament. I shall leave these poor individuals to the mercy of their constituents. Or are these honorable members opposite afraid that the time is coming when even their constituents will wake up to them? I leave that also to their constituents. I believe that this is a well-paid position. After 36 years as a boilermaker, producing in the interests of mankind and to keep the economy of the nation on an even keel. I believe that my reward as a representative in Parliament of my constituents is quite sufficient.
– You are tough on your constituents, are you not?
– My constituents are well looked after. I do not bring them up here and make them the butt of my remarks. My constituents elected me to look after them and I look after them, despite that long journey in the aeroplane.
– A long journey! It is only a hop, step and a jump for you!
– Now, be calm; do not get upset, because your physical condition is such that you may collapse, and I certainly would be sorry if I were responsible for working you into that condition.
I want to say something about aeroplanes. Having mentioned these long air journeys, I wish to bring to the notice of the House a very insulting letter written by a fellow called Ansett to many of my constituents, who are incensed that a man of this low calibre should do so. He is financed by public money raised by taxation. He received it, through this Government, by an overdraft of £3,000,000 from the Commonwealth Bank. It was given to him to try to rehabilitate an organization that was in the doldrums. As a matter of fact, it was equipped with war-disposal, decrepit aircraft. In order to enable the airline run by this fellow called Ansett to compete with Trans-Australia Airlines, the great, efficient and safe airline, this Government contributed £3,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money to rehabilitate Ansett. Who is this Ansett?
– How much did the Government put into Trans-Australia Airlines?
– T.A.A. belong to the people of Australia. It is not a private concern trying to hinder the good job done by our airmen on their return from the 1939-45 war. After the war, the Labour Government established the great organization of Trans-Australia Airlines in order to rehabilitate the men who had come out of the Royal Australian Air Force. And what a wonderful job those men have done.
– How many of them?
– Hundreds of themthousands of them. They were of such high calibre, such intelligence, such intellectual capacity and such great mechanical skill that quite a number of T.A.A. pilots were lent to Ansett in order to teach his so-called skilful pilots how to fly Viscount aircraft. That happened after this Government had established a phony commission with a retired public servant at the head of it. Sir Giles Chippindall had reached the age of 65, of course, and had retired on a big pension after having been for many years a stooge for this Government, as he had demonstrated by reducing the wages of Post Office employees and destroying their conditions and all kinds of amenities that they had enjoyed. This gentleman received his pay-off when this beneficent Government gave him a knighthood, and he was then appointed to a phony commission. He represented the imbalance in that commission and he was expected to bend over backwards in granting to AnsettA.N.A. all the concessions that it required.
That airline is not owned by Ansett. The organization which trades as AnsettA.N.A. is owned by the Lockheed corporation of America, the head of which is a Colonel Ryan, who came to Australia in 1942 with General MacArthur and stayed here for some time. He is now in a position of affluence because his organization has received grants of taxpayers’ money. What did Sir Giles Chippindall do? He was responsible for a masterstroke - an act of genius: He decided that three Viscount aircraft were equal to two old war-disposals aircraft of the DC6 type.
– They are not wardisposals aircraft.
– They are war-disposals planes. They are decrepit and useless and cannot be flown properly any more.
– The DC6 is a post-war aircraft.
– The honorable member need not get excited. That is how Government supporters get themselves into such poor physical and mental condition. The DC6 aircraft are decrepit old planes.
– They are not war-disposals aircraft.
– You say they are not. I say they are. These are war-disposals aircraft which have been brought out of oblivion by Sir Giles Chippindall. Would Government supporters compare them with Viscounts?
– If Government supporters make statements like that, they also are decrepit, like war-disposals material. We found that the Ansett-A.N.A. pilots were not capable of flying Viscount aircraft. What happened? T.A.A. pilots were assigned to Ansett-A.N.A. And let Government supporters deny this if they can: Those pilots are still working for AnsettA.N.A. and are being paid by T.A.A.
– The honorable member cannot substantiate that, and he knows that it is not right.
– Never mind about substantiating it. Let the honorable member substantiate it if he wants to. I remind Government supporters that £3,000,000 has been thieved from a socialist bank in order to bolster up this dead-beat organization which we know as Ansett-A.N.A. I say that it is a dead-beat, unsafe organization, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– On a point of order: Surely the licence of this House does not extend to describing as unsafe an airline which has proved its safety.
– Order! Honorable members are entitled to make any statement in this House. The proof or otherwise of a statement is the responsibility of the honorable member concerned.
– As to the safety or otherwise of this airline, we have only to compare its safety record in the last ten years with that of T.A.A. I think that should settle the argument. We have seen the audacious manner in which this Ansett confidence man, with the help of this beneficent Government, has got what he wants. Now, knowing that he has succeeded in exchanging Viscounts for DC6 aircraft, he has had his route charges-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to introduce my grievance by supporting the remarks -
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Gippsland made a statement which is offensive to me, and I should like it to be withdrawn. He said that I ought to be arrested. I remind the honorable gentleman that I am a cleanskin. Is he? The remark is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Did the honorable member for Gippsland make the remark?
– The remark is offensive to me. It impugns my character.
– If the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith would keep quiet for a moment, I might be able to hear what the honorable member for Gippsland was saying. I ask the honorable member for Gippsland to withdraw the remark.
– I have no objection whatever to withdrawing it. No one can honestly complain that I do not obey the Chair, I simply remarked that a man who makes statements such as the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith made without substantiating them ought to be arrested and made to substantiate them if he can. That is what I think.
– The honorable member is defying the Chair.
– The honorable member for Gippsland has been asked to withdraw the remark; that is all.
– I have done so.
– That is not enough.
– Does the honorable member want me to fall on my knees?
– Order! The honorable member for Gippsland has withdrawn the remark complained of by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. I call the honorable member for Hume to resume his speech.
– And I call your attention to the state of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. [Quorum formed.]
– It is very significant, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) never wants to hear what I have to say. To refuse to listen to some one else is to be undemocratic.
On this occasion, I want to direct the attention of the House to the continual attack - the snide and evil attack - by the Opposition on our Australian way of life. I have spoken about this before. As long as you give a dog a bad name, it has a bad name. The Opposition would replace the Australian way of life with a system which was devised by Karl Marx. The British Labour Party experimented with the socialist programme when it was in office. It nationalized the steel, transport and coal industries, and we all know the disastrous history of those industries under nationalization. The Australian Labour Party wishes to introduce this wonderful philosophy into Australia.
Socialism is being practised in the world to-day, and we find that men try to get away from it if they can. In East Germany, we have a living example of the way in which men hate the socialist system. About 3,000,000 people from East Germany have fled from socialism. Every week, 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 persons escape from East
Germany through Berlin. That is why Khrushchev wants the Berlin issue settled.. In Berlin, the capitalist system and thesocialist system can be seen at work side by side. Under the socialist system, the standard of living of the people is drab and drear with fear, while in West Berlin there is brightness and a fine standard of living.
The Australian Labour Party wants to destroy the Australian way of life. The maligned Australian capitalist system and its alleged rapacity have been constantly under attack from the Opposition, but let us compare the cost of living for the ordinary worker in Australia with that of the Russian. The Australian workman has to work for seven or eight hours to buy a pair of shoes. Under the socialists, a man would have to work for 50 hours to buy the same shoes. An Australian can buy a new suit with the product of forty hours’ work but a socialist would have to work 300 hours, lt is all very well for the theorists among the socialists to talk, but we need to study socialism in practice and compare it with our own way of life.
The old-fashioned arguments that are produced by the Opposition were used 50 years ago. They have a constant desire to equalize wealth. That was the sort of theory that was sponsored by Sidney Webb in 1900, and supporters of the Labour Party find that it appeals to the amoral instincts of man to try to take wealth from one and give it to another. If you study the trend of the capitalist system there has been a steady tendency towards equality, and the wageearners of Australia have bettered their position considerably over the past ten years. How many wage-earners to-day do not own a motor car? Many own their own homes. A great deal of change is appearing in the system and the Australian workers are enjoying a much better way of life, but the socialists who support the Labour Party want to destroy it. They want to take the people back to the Russian system and to slavery.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) referred to land speculation, and I agree with him substantially. I do not agree that land should suddenly appreciate in value because a new suburb is to be built. Such land should be resumed at reasonable agricultural values. But I remind the Opposition that a Labour Government is in office in New South Wales.
Why does it not do something about land speculation instead of following its present policy of throwing open green belt zones? Actually, what is happening is this: The Labour Party is attacking this problem of land speculation with two voices. We have the snide left wing saying one thing in this Parliament while the right wing in office in New South Wales speaks with another voice. This is the united Labour Party which hopes to swing the poll in the Bendigo electorate and in Queensland. Where does it expect to get with its constant attacks on the Australian way of life?
I do not support restrictive trade practices which the Opposition has attacked. I think such practices are evil; but legislation will be introduced to deal with this problem, although it is difficult to tackle because of our Constitution. What worse example of restrictive practices can we find than those which are exemplified in the trade unions? They are a complete monopoly. The Opposition members keep on saying that they do not believe in State enterprise in a capitalist country. There is nothing wrong with State enterprise, but that is not socialism. The socialism that the Labour Party would introduce would bring us down to the level of the Russian peasants.
The Opposition attacks profits, but from profits come the means to increase employment. High taxation draws off profits. Supporters of the Labour Party talk about equalizing the wealth of the nation. How did the Australian Labour Party equalize wealth when it was in office? We have a living example of the equalization of wealth in New South Wales where a Labour Government is in office. It proposes to build a State Opera House by taking millions of pounds from the little people at 5s. a time and then giving £100,000 to one person in a lottery prize derived from that source. That is Labour’s way of equalizing wealth. Members of the Opposition attack the Australian way of life in this House, but they will not do it on the hustings. If the Labour Party ever gets into office, and puts the socialist system into practice, the virile expansion that is taking place in Australia under this Government, and which is associated with the highest employment figures in the world, will be destroyed. The socialists would drag Australia down to the lowest level.
If you want to see a wide difference in wealth and living standards, you do not go to a capitalist country, but to the socialist countries. In Russia, from three to five families occupy one home, but the higher members of the Communist Party have country homes outside Moscow and chalets by the sea at Yalta. They enjoy the highest living standards while the workers are depressed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to bring before the House several matters relating to repatriation. The first concerns the granting of pensions to dependants of ex-servicemen who have died from cancer. Generally, the Repatriation Department refuses to admit that the disease was due to war service. This matter has been raised from time to time by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and other honorable members and I think there is a case to be made out to the Repatriation Commission for a review of this matter and the publication of figures relating to the number of servicemen who have died from cancer and whose death was said not to be due to war service. Such statistics would be interesting because undoubtedly men are dying of cancer who could attribute the onset of the disease directly to war service.
I have had submitted to me the case of the widow of an ex-serviceman who died from cancer. On 21st September, 1959, I directed the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) to the case and informed him that this widow was receiving a pension of 28s. 5d. fortnightly. In the course of my letter I said that the husband died of cancer on 3rd June, 1955. The widow maintained that the disease was caused by war service. As a matter of fact, her husband was discharged as medically unfit because of the same ailment. Subsequently I received a letter from the Minister for Repatriation dated 27th October, 1959, in which he reviewed the claim and stated -
Following investigations which included the perusal of clinical notes received from the Canterbury District Memorial Hospital where this patient had been treated during 1955, a Repatriation Board on 15th September 1955 determined that death on 1st June 1955 from carcinoma of the lung was not due to war service. Subsequent appeals were disallowed by the Repatriation Commission and a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal.
As that correspondence shows, the Repatriation Department has refused to accept the disability as due to war service. On 29th April, 1960, I received a long letter from the widow of this ex-serviceman in which she referred at length to the development of the ailment after her husband’s discharge and gave almost uncontradictable evidence that it was due entirely to war service. I do not intend to read the whole letter, but in view of her claim, she cannot understand why the Repatriation Commission still restricts her pension to 13s. or 14s. a week. I think this case emphasizes the need for consideration of this serious aspect of war service entitlement. I have all the papers relating to the case and I ask the Minister for Repatriation to give serious consideration to this claim. I hope that the Minister will also publish statistics concerning the number of exservicemen who have died of cancer and who have been refused a repatriation pension.
I wish now to join with other honorable members in urging that an examination be made of the sitting hours of this Parliament. I think they are long overdue for review. In view of the size of Australia and the long distances that honorable members have to travel to attend sittings of the Parliament extending over only two or three days in a week, consideration should be given immediately to an alteration of the sitting arrangements. Considering that it takes, say from 2.30 in the afternoon to about 10.30 at night to do six or seven hours’ work in stops and starts, it could easily be that, by sitting five days a week, from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock during the day we would get as much time in each sitting as we are getting, in round figures, between 2.30 and 10.30 at the present time.
I see no reason why, in a country of this size in which great expense is involved in bringing members from one side of the continent to the other, we could not sit for a five-day week in alternate weeks or even for a month on end, and, in that way, get through considerably more work. I do not see why there should be sittings late at night. I think that, properly organized, this Parliament could be run as the American Congress is run, without any night sittings. There would be plenty of time for party meetings, Cabinet meetings and matters connected with the administration of the Parliament.
Recently, we had the spectacle of the Government bringing members back from all over Australia for two days in the Anzac Day week. This was fantastic. It was also a waste of travelling expenses, because our sitting time was only, virtually, a day and a half. I do not see why we could not have sat for an extra two days in the following week. Not only would it have saved members a lot of inconvenience, but it would have saved the Government considerable expense. I do not know whether the Cabinet wants to make the decision on this matter, but what would be wrong with a round-table discussion with members of the Opposition, or the formation of an allparty committee to decide these matters?
I think that every member would prefer to be here for a month for a five-day week than to sit for two or three months under the present conditions. I am in agreement, probably not in detail, but in general, with the suggestions that have been put forward. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, by themselves, are strange days on which to sit. I do not see why we cannot sit for the full week. For weeks of this session we had the amazing spectacle of the Government having no business for the Parliament. Its bills were stone-walled by its own supporters. There was practically nothing in the legislative programme ready for the Parliament when it met. Then, in the last stages of the sittings, the most important bills were brought down.
Whatever side of the political fence one sits on in this Parliament, long deliberation is required on measures such as the television legislation. We should not have had to consider it at all-night sittings. It was not a rebellion by Government supporters, but consistent opposition from this side of the Parliament to the television legislation that forced the Government to re-assemble the Parliament this week instead of finishing all business, including even the appropriation measure, a fortnight ago.
The Government must take some responsibility for not having had business ready for Parliament, and when it tries to put bills through in the middle of the night it is a real negation of democracy. I support those who have put forward ideas on this question. I hope that something will be done to get a committee of both parties to discuss this subject with the Cabinet.
The day may well come when it will be necessary to review the practice of members travelling all over the continent once a week at considerable expense and coming back for three-day sittings. Therefore, I hope that the suggestions which have come from the Government side and which are broadly supported by many members on this side, will receive consideration. I hope that in the Budget session, particularly when we want time to develop points in relation to the Estimates, consideration will be given to having at least one five-day week and not less than four sitting days in any one week in order to avoid the lengthy hours and the late sittings which prevail now. This would give members the opportunity to debate with, I think, considerably more knowledge, many of the important things that come before us.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I support the remarks which have been made by the honorable members for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), Perth (Mr. Chaney) and Kingston (Mr. Galvin) in regard to the sittings of this House. I agree entirely that this is a matter which should be approached in a bi-partisan spirit. The convenience and facilities of members on both sides of the House should be taken into consideration. There are two parties to this matter: There are the private members and there is the Government. We must not forget the necessity to conform with the routine of Cabinet and the administration. But, broadly speaking, this emerges: Members have two duties. They have their duties in this House; and they have their duties in their electorates. Because of the present position, we can discharge neither of those duties effectively. We spend far too much of our time in travelling. This statement does not apply in such great measure to members from Sydney or Melbourne. We are more fortunately placed than other members of the House. For us, the journey to Canberra is not a long one. Although it is time consuming, the journey to Canberra does not consume as much of our time as it consumes of the time of country members from Victoria or New South Wales or members from other States.
Because we are spending all this time, as well as money, in travel we do not discharge with full efficiency our duties, either in this House or in our electorates. Surely it is not too much to ask that we should come together in some kind of committee. I think that the suggestions of the honorable member for Grayndler are worth examining. It may be that a select committee should be appointed. I do not know. At any rate, let something be done in this regard. It is time for a change. It is time, as honorable members on both sides have said, that we should adapt the routine of this House to new conditions - present conditions - in order to get the maximum efficiency from members. We should study to the full the way in which they can discharge their duties to the best advantage of their constituents and of the country as a whole.
A suggestion has been put forward that the House should sit for two weeks at a time with a break of one week in between such sittings. That would mean that, in every three weeks, members would have a clear week in their electorates. They would be able to clear their table, meet deputations, see constituents, and discharge their functions in their electorate. It would mean that members would reduce by onethird the amount of travelling that they do at present. That is very important in terms of money and is much more important in terms of time and the efficiency of members.
I do not want to labour points that have been well made by previous speakers. I support them. I have spoken to a number of private members in all three major parties. While there is no unanimity about details, there is almost unanimity that some change should be made. I know the Cabinet has its very important and essential duties. In any change, we have to make certain that we allow the Cabinet the full time required to carry out its work.
But the changes that we have in mind will be to the benefit of Cabinet members and the benefit of private members because, after all, Cabinet will have to spend less time in travel and therefore will have more time available to devote to its important duties. These are facts which I am sure do not need re-stating time and time again. Let us make this resolution that when we come together after the recess we shall have either an informal party meeting or a formal select committee to consider the interests of members on both sides, as well as the interests of the Cabinet, and make some reasonable adjustment of the present quite unreasonable situation.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 291.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 18th May (vide page 1836), on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is the twelfth bill that the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has introduced during his term of office. It is designed mainly to put into statute form what, hitherto, has been only in the form of regulations. The subject-matter of the bill is to regulate surface motor traffic at airports. It is a subject which is becoming more and more important as more people travel by air and more airline passengers travel to the airports in their own cars instead of by airways buses and more airline employees also travel there in their own cars. Airports are now becoming quite a tourist attraction and congestion, accordingly, particularly at the week-ends, has grown acute.
The regulation of parking has been a subject discussed by all the State parliaments at some length and with great vigour in the last few years. The subjects of owner-onus, parking notices and towing away have been thoroughly thrashed out in every legislature in this country. It now seems that there is general acceptance of the necessity for the principles involved.
It is usually difficult to sheet home responsibility to any individual for the parking of a motor car, when no individual is with the car. The owner should, prima facie, be responsible for what has been done with his car. I do not apprehend that there is any longer any objection to that principle. There is provision in this bill, of course, as in all the State measures, for the owner to show who else was responsible for his car being parked at a particular place or, if it was stolen from him, of showing that he could not reasonably have been responsible for it being parked where it was found.
Secondly, there is now a general acceptance of the principle that there is no injustice to a car owner in encouraging him to pay a fine without a court hearing, so long as he is given - as he is in this bill - the option of asking for a normal trial, with the consequent delay and expense, if he wishes. I do not think that anybody any longer entertains the fears expressed in many State parliaments. Those matters of principle can be properly embodied in Commonwealth legislation. For that reason we, in the Opposition, do not oppose the bill.
I take this opportunity to comment on one particular feature. It is, that the State or territorial laws with regard to the registration and equipment of vehicles, the licensing of their drivers and the rules to be observed by them when they are driving or are in charge of vehicles - and I notice the bill includes the words “ or animals “ - or of pedestrians on the road will be preserved at Commonwealth airports unless this Parliament expressly passes some law dealing with them.
It might, therefore, be appropriate to point out that the six Australian States and the two mainland Territories all have different traffic codes and registration requirements. In no part of Australia are those requirements the same. Accordingly, the anomaly arises that people using Commonwealth airports, even though they are Civil Aviation officials, will have to follow different traffic laws at different airports. It is an extraordinary feature of our federal system that even on such non-political, nonfinancial matters as traffic laws, the States cannot get together. I am not criticizing the States there any more than I criticize the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth is unable to decide on the same traffic laws for the Australian Capital Territory as for the Northern Territory. I would defy anybody in this country to make a right-hand turn at an intersection or describe the process involved, or to make a turn in the other direction - a “ U “ turn or whatever it has to be - in any State or Territory, with complete propriety and legality. Nobody in this country can, offhand, so describe the traffic laws; they are in such confusion. Of course, they are being altered very frequently. Members of this Parliament travel about the country more often than most of the people we represent. One is amazed upon visiting a State capital after a lapse of a few months to find that, in the meantime, some alteration to the traffic laws has been made.
I do not know who is going to take the lead in this matter. I should hope that the Commonwealth would see that the subject is put on the agenda at Premiers’ Conferences. I am not suggesting that we should institute a model code at the Commonwealth airports, for that would obviously be confusing to people who are driving to them along surrounding State roads. But it ought to be possible for Australian legislators to agree to what is the safest or most convenient way to conduct themselves when driving on the roads. The States have never been able to agree up till now and in this measure concerning the registration of vehicles and the driving of them at our airports the Commonwealth has to accept this position. With those few comments I reiterate that the Opposition does not oppose this bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Four amendments of a very minor character have been circulated, and I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the committee, if leave is granted for me to do so, to move the four together and explain them briefly. [Leave granted.] The clauses affected are as follows: -
Clause 6 - (1.) The Director-General may determine and, by means of signs or notices prominently displayed, with or without reference to lines or marks, indicate or notify - (5.) Where the sign or notice indicating a parking area or parking positions has inscribed upon it the words “ Meter Parking “, or otherwise indicates or directs that the parking fee is to be paid by means of a meter, a person who parks a vehicle or causes a vehicle to stand in such an area or position shall pay the parking fee by inserting the necessary coins in the meter nearest to the vehicle or, in the case of a parking area entry to which is controlled by meter-operated gates, in the meter operating those gates.
Clause 8- (1.) A person shall not - (2.) Where a person leaves a vehicle parked or keeps a vehicle standing in a parking area or parking position referred to in sub-section (5.) of section six of this Act (other than an area entry to which is controlled by meter-operated gates) at a time when the parking meter nearest to the vehicle is displaying the indicator bearing the word “ Expired “, that person shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to have failed to pay the parking fee.
Clause 13 - (1.) Where an authorized person has reason to believe that a parking infringement has been committed in respect of a vehicle, he may serve or cause to be served a parking infringement notice in accordance with this section. (2.) A parking infringement notice may be served -
I move -
In sub-clause (5.) of clause 6, after “ entry to “ insert “ or exit from “.
In sub-clause (2.) of clause 8, after “ entry to “ insert “ or exit from “.
At the end of clause 8, add the following subclause: - “(3.) In the case of a vehicle that is parked or kept standing in a parking area exit from which is controlled by meter-operated gates, a person shall be deemed not to have committed an offence under paragraph (b) of sub-section (1.) of this section if he has paid the parking fee before removing the vehicle from the area.”.
In sub-clause (1.) of clause 13, omit paragraph (b), insert the following paragraph: - “ (b) by securely affixing the notice to the vehicle in a conspicuous position; or”.
The bill at present contemplates that parking fees be paid at the entrance to a parking area which is controlled by a meter-operated gate. The amendment to clause 6 provides that, in appropriate circumstances, the fee can be paid at the exit gate. In the same manner and for the same purpose clause 8 is likewise amended. As to the last amendment, the bill as it now stands does not provide that the notice shall be affixed to the vehicle in a conspicuous position, and the addition of those words is desirable.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Act 1913-1960, I bring up the report relating to the following work: -
The proposed construction of a new nurses’ home and training school at the Canberra Community Hospital, Australian Capital Territory. and move -
That the report be printed.
The nurses’ home at present in use at Canberra provides accommodation for 152 persons. It has associated with it a training school, conducted in a prefabricated building which will shortly be required for a new ward that will be necessary because of the growth of Canberra ahead of the provision of additional accommodation in the new hospital for which the House accepted a recommendation this morning. In 1956 the committee had referred to it a proposal for a new nurses’ home, but at that time it did not proceed to study the design in great detail. Nevertheless, the committee suggested that emphasis should be placed on completing the nurses’ home as early as possible in anticipation of the new hospital. Having regard to population trends in Canberra and the fact that the House has already been good enough to accept the committee’s recommendation for the construction of a 600-bed hospital, it is evident that there will be need for additional nurses and, therefore, additional living accommodation for them.
The proposal before the committee at the moment is that a new nurses’ home should be provided, to incorporate the training school and to accommodate an additional 254 nurses. The present nurses’ home in association with the Canberra Community
Hospital houses approximately 152 persons and it is fully occupied. The overall requirements for staffing the new 600-bed hospital are estimated by hospital authorities at 545 nurses. Of this number, 123 nurses would live out, so that accommodation is required within the hospital precincts for 422 nurses. Some 80 additional staff will have to be provided for - wardsmen, kitchen staff and others in that classification. When these figures are worked out, it will be seen that the nurses’ home to be constructed will need to provide accommodation for 350 nurses.
One of the big aids to the recruitment of nursing staff these days was suggested to be the provision of good training facilities. Therefore, a good deal of care has gone into checking the design of the training school to be associated with the nurses’ home. The site of the proposed building is 150 yards north-west of the new hospital block, and the flood level has been taken care of. The floor level will be located at the 1,836-ft. level, giving more than ample protection against flood. The building will have seven floors, including two service floors, and the dining roomlounge will be separate from the accommodation proper in order to provide isolation for nurses who require to catch up on their sleep during daylight hours. All the necessary amenities have been provided for and every effort has been made, with due regard to economy, to produce a homely atmosphere within the nurses’ home. The form of construction of the building will be generally similar to that recommended for the new hospital block.
The cost of the building is estimated to be £915,000, including £84,000 for site works. I point out to the honorable member who had a question to ask this morning on the cost of the new hospital block that the estimate for nurses’ quarters compares favorably with all costs that we have been able to check. One new home that we had the advantage of inspecting was a new nurses’ home now under construction at Newcastle. The committee is satisfied in all respects that this proposal is not only necessary - it is, perhaps, overdue - and therefore recommends the report for acceptance by the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill designed to achieve three objects. In the first place, it will give effect to recommendations of the committee appointed to review the working of the Patents Act 1952. Secondly, it will amend the Patents Act to enable the Commonwealth to subscribe to the Lisbon Revision of the International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, so far as patents are concerned. In addition, it will make a number of other amendments of the Patents Act.
At the beginning of 1957 a committee, under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Dean of the Victorian Supreme Court, was appointed by my predecessor, Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, to review the results of approximately the first three years experience of the working of the Patents Act 1952. This act was a comprehensive new act which came into operation on 1st May, 1954. The other members of the committee were the Parliamentary Draftsman, Mr. Ewens, the then Commissioner of Patents, Mr. Wilmot, and two patent attorneys, Messrs. R. K. White and L. B. Davies, who are also past presidents of the Institute of Patent Attorneys of Australia. Thus the Government has had the advantage of full consideration by a representative and qualified committee.
The committee considered all suggestions forwarded to it and others made by the members themselves. In its report the committee has recommended a number of amendments of the Patents Act. Some of these are of a substantial nature, while others are, in effect, drafting amendments either to correct a defect not previously observed, or to obtain greater clarity of expression.
Amendments of a substantial nature recommended by the committee, and included in the bill, relate to the repeal of the existing provision which provides for publication of a complete specification; an extension of the classes of persons who may make applications for a patent; an extension of the time allowed for accepting a patent application, and the Commissioner’s power to extend the time laid down for doing certain acts. The most important of these is the proposal to repeal the section that provides for the publication of a complete specification, namely section 43. This proposal is in clause 7 of the bill. I shall deal with this matter first.
Section 43 provides that, at the expiration of six months after a complete specification has been lodged at the Patent Office, the Commissioner of Patents shall publish in the official journal a notification that the complete specification is open to public inspection and, upon publication of the notification, the application, complete specification and provisional specification, if any, become open to public inspection. The section also goes on to say that when a complete specification has become open to public inspection under the section, the specification shall be deemed to have been published. Under legislation in force up to 1946, a complete specification lodged in connexion with an ordinary application was not published until acceptance. A convention application - that is, an application based on an application made abroad - became open to public inspection on the anniversary of the date of the application abroad.
In the immediate post-war years, considerable arrears of work accumulated in the Patent Office. This was due to shortage of staff during the war. and to a heavy influx of applications during this period. One result of these arrears of work was that the publication of complete specifications of ordinary applications was greatly delayed.
In 1946, the then Patents Act was amended to include a provision which corresponds to section 43 of the present act. The early publication of the specification has the advantage to applicants for patents that the date from which an infringer becomes liable for damages is advanced, since this liability dates from the date of publication. It also has the advantage to Australian manufacturers that they can ascertain at an early stage whether they are free to use processes or manufacture products in which they are interested.
When the provision was introduced, it was intended as an administrative expedient, and it was recognized that the early publication of the specification had a number of disadvantages. These include a restriction on the right of the applicant to amend his specification, a premature disclosure of information to competitors, and a lack of uniformity with other countries.
As far as an applicant is concerned, early publication restricts the scope of the amendments that he can make to his complete specification. This is particularly disadvantageous, since examination of an application and its complete specification, at present, follow publication of the specification and, in general, it is only after examination that the need for amendment becomes apparent. An applicant is further handicapped by early publication when he makes an application in Australia and wishes to file a similar application overseas. Unless he can claim a priority under the International Convention, he often finds that it is not possible to file a valid application in the overseas countries due to the early publication of his specification in Australia.
Another disadvantage to applicants is that early publication enables manufacturers and others to ascertain from the Australian Patent Office, much earlier than they can from other sources, the fields of invention in which the applicant is interested. This effect of early publication has been strongly criticized abroad, but it could equally operate to the detriment of Australian investors and manufacturers. Other minor disadvantages of early publication are, first, that it reduces the incentive for the diligent prosecution of applications, for the reason that liability for infringement commences at the publication date, and secondly, that early publication involves a great deal of work and expense in the Patent Office. The question whether, in all the circumstances, the disadvantages of publication before acceptance outweighed the advantages was very carefully considered by the committee. In its report the committee has recommended the repeal of section 43. This, together with an amendment to section 52, will have the effect that a complete specification will be published immediately after acceptance of the application.
I now turn to deal with other recommendations of the committee. Section 34 of the Patents Act sets out the persons who are entitled to make an application for a patent. However, there are certain persons who are entitled to the benefit of a patent once it has been granted but, as the act stands at present, they are not entitled to make an application. One example of such a class of person is an employer who is unable, at present, to apply in his own name for a patent in respect of an invention made by his employee in the course of his employment. The committee recommended that these persons should themselves be entitled to make an application.
I pass now to the matter of the time within which the Commissioner can accept an application. If an application has not been accepted within a certain time it lapses. This time is, at present, fifteen months from the examiner’s first report on the application. It has been found that, in practice, this time is inadequate, particularly having regard to the large number of applications lodged on behalf of foreign applicants. The committee recommended that the period for acceptance should be extended to 21 months from the examiner’s first report. Clause 10 of the bill amends section 54 so as to give effect to this recommendation. The committee nevertheless considered that applicants should be encouraged to proceed with their applications without delay, and recommended that if an application was not accepted within eighteen months, an additional fee should be charged. I have accepted this recommendation and a fee will be prescribed by the regulations.
I now pass to the power of the Commissioner to extend the time set down for the doing of an act. Under section 160 of the act, he can extend the time where the act has not been done by reason of circumstances beyond the control of the person concerned. The committee considered representations that through pressure of business in offices of patent attorneys, errors do occur that result in acts that ought to be done not being done. It recommended that an error or omission on the part of an applicant, or of his agent or attorney be made an additional ground for extending the time for the doing of an act. Clause 29 restates section 160 to give effect to this recommendation. Provision is also made by the amendment to protect persons who are adversely affected by an extension of time under the section.
Australia has from the beginning been a party to the International Convention for the protection of industrial property. A separate part of the Patents Act deals with applications made under the convention. I shall refer to these as convention applications, and to the countries of the convention as convention countries. In respect of convention applications the committee has recommended that the classes of persons by whom a convention application may be made should be enlarged. At present, for a person to be entitled to make a convention application, he must be the applicant in the convention country, or derive his title from that applicant, and the applicant in the convention country must fall within a class of person who may make an application in Australia. This section, as already mentioned, sets out the persons who may make an application for a patent in Australia. Consequently, if an application is made in a convention country by a person not specified in section 34, no convention application can be made in Australia based on the application in the convention country. To remove this anomaly, clause 23 of the bill would enlarge the classes of persons who may make a convention application to include a person who derives his entitlement to apply from the applicant in the convention country, and is a person specified in section 34 of the act.
As I have just mentioned, Australia is a party to the Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. In October, 1958, a diplomatic conference to revise this convention was held at Lisbon. This, I may say, was the first such conference to be held since 1934. At the conference Australia was represented by a delegation led by Mr. Ewens, the Parliamentary Draftsman. This conference agreed to a number of amendments of the convention and in order that the Commonwealth may subscribe to the Lisbon revision of the convention, and as far as patents are concerned, a number of amendments of the Patents Act are needed. Let me pause here to say, without going into any detail, that the result of the Lisbon conference was of substantial “benefit to Australia. The amendments that were agreed on - both in the field of patent law, with which this bill is concerned, and in the field of trade marks law, which will be the subject later of another bill - were of advantage to Australia and a number of proposals that were put forward that would have been to the disadvantage of Australia were not approved of at the conference.
Even before the Lisbon conference, under the convention, where an application for the grant of a patent has been made in a convention country, and a subsequent application for a patent is made in Australia, a right of priority is given to the applicant in Australia, provided the application in Australia is made within twelve months of the first application in a convention country. Prior to the Lisbon revision the term “ the first application “ was taken to include any application for a patent in a convention country even if the application had been withdrawn, abandoned or refused. The Lisbon revision requires that, where there has been more than one application then for the purpose of deciding which is the first application, an application that has been withdrawn, abandoned or refused, without being open to public inspection and without leaving any rights outstanding and has not served as a basis for claiming a right of priority, shall be disregarded. Clause 23 of the bill gives effect to this provision of the Lisbon revision.
Again, even before the Lisbon conference the convention allowed each country to take legislative measures to provide for the granting of compulsory licences to prevent abuses of the exclusive rights conferred by the granting of a patent. Part XII. of the act is such a measure, and provides for the granting of a compulsory licence in cases where, after the expiration of three years from the sealing of a patent, the reasonable requirements of the public have not been satisfied. However, the Lisbon revision of the convention requires, amongst other things, that such a compulsory licence shall be non-exclusive and shall not be transferable except with the part of the enterprise or good-will that uses the licence. At present, section 108, which deals with the granting of compulsory licences, does not include this limitation, and clause 20 of the bill gives effect to this part of the Lisbon revision. The complete specification accompanying a convention application may include a claim to matter which was not disclosed in the convention country application. It has been the practice of the Patent Office to accept these applications even though the position under the present act in this regard is doubtful. Under the Lisbon revision of the convention these applications are required to be accepted. Clause 27 provides accordingly.
Having dealt with the recommendations of the committee and the Lisbon conference, there are other amendments of the act which are considered desirable. These are mainly amendments which are consequential to the more substantive amendments proposed, or drafting amendments to correct a defect not previously observed. I should like to say, however, that it is proposed to increase the renewal fees set out in the patents regulations. Section 176 of the act, at present provides that the renewal fees in respect of a patent granted under the repealed acts are fixed as under those acts. Consequently, in order to increase those fees, this section needs an amendment to remove this restriction. Clause 30 gives effect to this. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments):
Clause 3 -
Section three of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting the words “ Division 3. - Inquiries by the Board (Sections 18- 25).” and inserting in their stead the words - “ Division 3. - Inquiries by the Board (Sections 18-25a).”;
Senate’s amendment No.1 -
Leave out paragraph (a).
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 1 be agreed to.
This amendment is simply a drafting amendment made necessary by some amendments in the original bill which caused re-numbering of the paragraphs.
– The committee has been asked to consider this amendment, which seems a reasonable one; but without any consideration for the convenience of honorable members, the bill has just been rushed in. We have had about half an hour of adjournment to spend on it and members of this chamber are expected merely to rubber-stamp what has been done in another place. That is unfair to members of the Parliament, and I think it is a reflection on the Government. It is a botched and bungled bill anyhow, and for us to be asked to put it through at this particular time is completely unfair and improper.
– Why not adjourn it until to-morrow?
– I would not mind adjourning it until next week. No proper consideration can be given to any of these amendments by this chamber. Honorable members only got the debates from the Senate at 11 a.m. to learn the arguments advanced in that chamber and the criticisms made by senators who are backbenchers. I have no desire to bring honorable members back unnecessarily, but I think the Government has treated the Parliament with complete disdain and discourtesy. This amendment seeks to strike out proposed new section 25a, but we are now told no such section was proposed in the bill, and that it was a draftsman’s error. I do not like this custom of blaming the draftsman for the Government’s mistakes any more than I like blaming the typist for the secretary’s mistakes. But that is what has happened in this case, and I suppose we had better get the position righted as quickly as we can.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Clause 30 -
Division 3 of Part IV. of the Principal Act is repealed and the following Division inserted in its stead: - “ Division 3. - Limitation of Ownership or Control of Commercial Television Stations.
Proposed section 91 - “91. - (1.) In this Division, ‘licence’ means a licence for a commercial television station. “ (2.) In this Division, ‘ control ‘ includes control as a result of, or by means of, trusts, agreements, arrangements, understandings and practices, whether or not having legal or equitable force and whether or not based on legal or equitable rights. “(3.) The express references in this Division to companies shall not be taken to indicate that references to persons do not include references to companies.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
At the end of proposed section 91 add the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (4.) For the purposes of this Division, a licence granted by way of renewal of a licence shall be deemed to be a continuation of the firstmentioned licence.”.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 2 be agreed to.
Proposed section 92h places an obligation on the chairman of directors, the secretary or the manager of a company that holds a licence for a television station to make an annual statutory declaration concerning certain aspects of the shareholding of the company. The section, as framed, presupposes the continuance of the licence from year to year. Licences are renewed after the initial period of five years by the grant of fresh licences each year, and the purpose of the amendment is to make it quite clear that a licence granted by way of renewal is, for the purposes of Division 3, to be regarded as a continuation of the original licence.
– That seems sensible, but why was this provision omitted in the first instance? Why was not this amendment made when the bill was before this chamber originally? Why was it left to the Senate to make the amendment? The Minister has not told us what happened, after the bill left this chamber, that caused the Government to discover that there was something wrong with the original drafting.
– Discussion is taking place all the time on bills, and various improvements were found possible. That is quite common.
– That, too, seems a reasonable explanation, and I know that discussion about bills is quite common. But it is happening in connexion with this bill in a mysterious way. Was the amendment made as the result of protestations by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) and others of his friends, who felt that the bill was unsatisfactory? Is the amendment a concession to some interest about which we know nothing at this particular moment? Why was it necessary to make provision that the licence should be deemed to have been in force from the original granting? It is very hard to follow it all. The Minister said that the section, as framed, pre-supposes the continuance of the licence from year to year. Where does it actually say that? I take it that the renewal of the licence is for a year only.
– It is a case of annual renewal after the first five years. This merely makes it quite clear that the licence is extended for a year only.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Proposed section 92d -
A licence is subject to a condition that, at all times during the currency of the licence -
shares representing not less than eighty per centum of the issued capital of the licensee will be beneficially owned by persons each of whom is either a resident of Australia (other than a company) or a company controlled by persons (other than companies) who are residents of Australia; and
shares representing more than fifteen per centum of the issued capital of the licensee will not be beneficially owned by a person (other than a company) who is not a resident of Australia or by a company controlled, directly or indirectly, by persons who are not residents of Australia.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
At the end of proposed section 92d add the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (2.) Where, upon the commencement of this section, there arises a contravention of the condition specified in the last preceding sub-section by reason of facts or circumstances that would not have constituted a contravention of the condition specified in paragraph (a) of section ninety-two of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1956, those facts and circumstances shall be deemed not to constitute a contravention of the condition specified in the last preceding sub-section unless they continue after the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-one.”.
– I move-
That Senate’s amendment No. 3 be agreed to. [Quorum formed.]
The amendment relates to the operation of proposed section 92d in respect of existing licences. Section 92d makes every licence subject to a condition requiring a specified measure of ownership, by Australian residents, of capital of the licensee company. The section is in terms identical with those of paragraph (a) of section 92 of the present act. However, the actual operation of the provision in relation to an existing licence could’ be affected by the extended meaning of control “ that is provided’ for in the new Division 3-. In these circumstances, it is considered that a licensee company which, when the bill becomes law, is complying with” section 92 (a) of the present act, but which finds itself, upon the commencement of the new act, in breach of the condition contained in section 92d as affected by the new concept of “ control “, should be allowed a period of approximately twelve months in which to adjust its capital structure in such a way as to comply with the new law. Amendment No. 3 is designed to achieve this purpose. We submit that that is a fanprovision. It was already included in the other three sections, and is now to be included in this section.
– Again after a very hurried glance at the amendment, but without having had any opportunity of hearing the detailed argument in the other chamber, the committee is expeced to accept the dictum of the Minister, and to regard the amendment as merely of a drafting nature. We have our suspicions about all the activities of the television companies in Australia. As we have said repeatedly, and have shown by our votes, we do not believe in newspaper companies or big organizations being allowed to own and control television stations. I speak subject to correction, because, as I have said, I have had no chance to study the matter and to inquire from officers of the department the exact meaning of the words used - but section 92a (1) seems to have been inserted to protect the interests of a body like the Melbourne Herald and Weekly Times Proprietary Limited, and to give it an opportunity to comply with the provisions of the act. The present amendment seems to be designed to help another company, and I suppose, like 92a (1), helps every other existing licensee with the exception of one - Channel 9, in Melbourne. I have a feeling that this particular alteration is designed to help that particular company because the controlling interest in it sold out recently to the English company, Pye of London, which has taken control of Electronic Industrie?. Limited of Melbourne. Quite obviously, that English company could not be” allowed1 to- hold! a television licence if the overseas content of the ownership were more than1 1-51 per cent. Of course, if Pye of London owns Electronic Industries Limited, and that company owns Channel 9, then one television station, is completely owned by an overseas concern. It seems to me that the Government has decided to give these overseas concerns another twelve months in which to dispose of their interest above 15 per cent, of the share capital to some Australian interests. If that is so, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) should have told honorable members of the fact. The amendment has not been drafted to meet a hypothetical case that may arise in the future; it has been drafted to deal with an actual case and to accommodate these overseas people.
– Do you say they are given an undue advantage over an Australian company?
– I think they may have a substantial advantage if they are given another twelve months in which to shuffle their shareholding. We are not at all happy about this whole question of control. We believe that such things as proxy shares could be operated at shareholders meetings, and that the bill as drafted will be evaded at some future time. There are loop-holes which can be used and those holding an interest of less than 15 per cent, can, in the ordinary way of business, arrange for a sufficient number of proxies to give them effective control. This would defeat the purpose of the bill.
The Postmaster-General has not told us why the amendment, to which he asks us to agree, had to be made in the Senate in the first instance. He has not told us why the position was not thought about whilst the bill was in this chamber. He has not told us whether outside influences were exerted on the Government to cause it to make this alteration. Now that the bill is back in this chamber, he has not given us the argument that was used in the other chamber and he has not given us any criticism of this provision that may have been offered. Again, we have been asked to push the provision through, as if it were of no consequence. We on the Opposition side feel that television is vital and that the control of television stations is of enormous importance to the Australian people. Elections may be won or lost on television performances in the future. Business people may be defeated because of the use of the television screen. Some people may secure unfair advantages by the use of the television screen, even though they may use it legitimately. The public is entitled to some protection against the misuse of this great medium of propaganda and information. This is the public domain that is being used. The ether belongs to the people and it is through the ether that all the images are transmitted.
I suggest that the committee should be most careful to ensure that overseas interests, which are coming here in everincreasing numbers, are not allowed to evade any of their legal obligations. They may try to avoid their obligations. When I think of Pye of London, my naturally suspicious nature immediately raises the question of monopolies, because I think of a wool pie, which is a means of robbing producers of the full value of their product. Pye of London is a ruthless monopoly in England, and it can do a lot of harm in this country. I hope the Postmaster-General will be a little more enlightening than he has been. I believe that this provision was inserted for the benefit of overseas interests and for those who will purchase existing licences from time to time. The earlier provision was inserted for the purpose of giving companies, which originally complied with the law, time in which to comply with the provisions of this legislation.
– Do you not think that that is fair?
– I am coming to that point. I think that is fair, and that would apply to the Herald and Weekly Times Limited and to some other companies. However, this amendment seems to me to be specially devised to help Pye of London, and I do not think it is entitled to this protection. The original provision laid down that no overseas interests could own more than 15 per cent, of the shares of a television or radio company. When Electronic Industries Limited of Melbourne sold out to Pye of London, the question immediately arose of how far Pye of London should be allowed to hold the licence for Channel 9.
– But it did not hold the licence. Electronic Industries Limited held the major shareholding.
– That is true, and it sold out the whole of its interest to Pye of London. The London concern is now the legal owner.
– Sir Arthur Warner did that.
– He is Electronic Industries Limited. I did not want to mention this for fear of creating further suspicion, but Sir Arthur Warner happens to be the leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria. Perhaps he made representations or perhaps some one else made representations, but I shall leave Sir Arthur Warner out of it. Electronic Industries Limited sold 100 per cent, of its shares to Pye of London. Pye of London now owns and controls Channel 9, although the legislation forbids it to do so. It owns more than 15 per cent, of the shares; indeed, it owns 100 per cent. This concern is now to be given another twelve months in which to dispose of 85 per cent, of its shares. Why was it not required to dispose of that 85 per cent, at the moment that it purchased the Melbourne undertaking?
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I shall not detain the committee for long. While the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was expressing the Opposition’s great fear of this provision and of control of television stations generally, his alternate Deputy Leader, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), was at his rear engaged in light chatter and in intervening. I do not think that the Opposition is really serious when it says that it opposes this clause. The amendment imposes a chronological limitation. The time is limited to 30th June, and the companies must act as they are required to act before that time is reached.
– Having listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), I should like to make one or two comments. I was somewhat astonished to hear him oppose this amendment at all, but I was more astonished when I realized how far out his facts were, t should have thought that the Australian Labour Party would agree that, if we introduce a law which brings into breach a man who was not in breach before, common justice would require that he be given time to comply with the law. If the factor bringing him into breach is possession of a large block of shares, we should realize that he cannot dispose of his shares quickly in large numbers if he is to get the just value of his property. This provision is not brought into the bill by amendment to meet any specific case, but it does, of course, cover actual cases.
– Including the one that I mentioned.
– That is so, and let us have the facts of it straight. Pye of England owns less than 50 per cent, of the voting shares of Electronic Industries Limited. The public of Australia has nearly £6,000,000 of capital in that company without a vote. Electronic Industries Limited holds 63 per cent, of the shares in the company that is licensed to operate television station GTV. As the bill stood before this amendment, the Pye company of England would not breach it at all. The Government felt, however, that in truth and in the spirit of things ft would not be right for some one who is not a resident of Australia to be able to have such an influence over the station as to own 49 per cent, of the voting capital which controls 63 per cent, of the shareholding in the licensed company.
If you ask a lawyer what controls a company, he will say, “ Fifty-one per cent, of the voting strength, and nothing short of it “. But the Government has been at pains to depart from that in this bill, and has said that any shareholding of more than 15 per cent, will be regarded as controlling the company in which those shares are held as well as the company in which the first company itself has a 63 per cent, shareholding.
The amendments to the bill mean that if the Pye company holds more than 15 per cent, of the shares in Electronic Industries Limited, immediately on the royal assent to this bill being given, the Pye company will be deemed under the terms of this measure to be in control of Electronic
Industries Limited and in control of that company’s shareholding in the company that operates television station GTV. The Pye company must reform and get rid of any shareholding exceeding 15 per cent, in Electronic Industries Limited or find some other way of complying with the law. When proposed new section 92 (2.) of the principal act was drafted to cover the case of people who were in breach in other directions, specific provision was not made to afford people in the position of the Pye company a period in which to bring themselves out of breach. This amendment is really only the counterpart of the provision contained in proposed new section 92 (2.).
I should like to correct one observation made by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that the definition of the term “control “ contained in proposed new section 91 (2.) could be dodged by the employment of proxies at a meeting. I am prepared to assure the honorable gentleman that that is not so. The term could not be defined more widely than it is there. That provision is expressly drafted to provide that a person who holds proxies - that is to say, can control the voting power, though not necessarily owning the shares - if those proxies give him control of more than 15 per cent, of the voting power is deemed to be in control of the company and will be in breach of this measure. If he holds proxies that allow him to control the voting rights of more than 15 per cent, of the shares at any point of time, he will be in breach, and he will remain in breach for every day during which he retains that control. If one studies the definition of “ control “ one sees that it is quite clear that it means control by any means. If you apply that to these other provisions, the result is as I have indicated.
I should have thought, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that, in common fairness and common justice, particularly in view of the Australian Labour Party’s claims to a reputation for fair dealing, the Leader of the Opposition would have supported the amendment.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not accept the explanation of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield
Barwick) of the meaning of the term “ control “ in this bill. The definition is very wide. It is quite wide enough to allow anybody to manipulate control of a company. The term is defined in proposed new section 91 (2.) of the principal act, which is contained in clause 30 of the bill, in these terms -
In this Division, “ control “ includes control as a result of, or by means of, trusts, agreements, arrangements, understandings and practices, whether or not having legal or equitable force and whether or not based on legal or equitable rights.
I suggest that a court would rule that a person owning only 12 per cent, of the shares of a company who happened at a meeting to produce sufficient proxy votes for him to direct the voting in respect of more than 15 per cent, of the shares, and who claimed that he had simply been asked by the owners of those votes to vote for them, was not in control of the company within the meaning of this definition. The definition refers to trusts, agreements, arrangements, understandings and practices.
– Would not the term “ arrangements “ cover that?
– it may and it may not. It would be up to the Crown to prove that there had been an arrangement, that there had been an agreement, that there had been a trust, that there had been an understanding or that certain practices had arisen. If an employee of the company or some person or other, either associated or not associated with the firm, had given the owner of the 1 2 per cent, shareholding a proxy vote, that would not necessarily mean that the proxy vote had been cast in pursuance of some trust, arrangement or other procedure stated in the definition.
The Attorney-General nods his head, but even he cannot be certain on this matter. I know, and everybody knows, his eminence in law, but even he has lost cases before the High Court of Australia and before the Privy Council, as has every other distinguished lawyer. The attitudes of the justices of the High Court being so unpredictable, and the opinions of the court changing from time to time as they do, a person having less than 1 5 per cent, of the shares in a company could evade the provisions of this bill.
– Surely we should have power to rectify that when it was found out.
– I think it ought to be guarded against now. There ought to be in the bill a provision forbidding any person holding less than 15 per cent, of the shares of the company from casting sufficient proxy votes to give him more than 15 per cent, of the total voting power.
This bill has been the subject of a lot of consideration. I understand that there have been at least eight drafts of it. It was amended in this chamber, and it was further amended in the Senate. We are now asked, at a few minutes’ notice, in the dying hours of this sessional period, to consider all the alterations that have been made in the measure and to give our comments on them.
– We have heard the honorable gentleman’s protest on that.
– The honorable member may hear a few more protests of this sort. He may attend this place merely to record his vote, hoping to get away as quickly as possible, but he need not expect other honorable members to agree with him in that attitude.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has directed my attention to what the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) had to say. I have not had a chance to read it earlier, but I shall now refer to it, paraphrasing the Minister’s remarks in order not to contravene the Standing Orders. The Leader of the Government in the Senate said that if proxies were obtained as the result of solicitations, as the result of representations, those proxies would come within the provisions of proposed new section 91 (2.) of the principal act, which is contained in clause 30 of the bill. He stated that if the proxies were lodged in any circumstances that were not tainted, if they were lodged merely in the genuine, honest and everyday manner in which shareholders send proxies to meetings of their companies, there would be no objection to the practice.
– There would not be, if there were no arrangement.
– What the Leader of the Government in the Senate said seems, to me at any rate, to run contrary to what the Attorney-General has said. I take it that what the Attorney-General said was that a person holding less than 15 per cent, of the shareholding could not in any circumstances use proxies to gain control of the company. But the Leader of the Government in the Senate said that if the proxies came to that person in the ordinary way of business there would be nothing wrong in his exercising those proxies.
The position is still up in the air. I suggest to the Attorney-General and to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) that when the matter was being explained in this House we should have been told of the circumstances that impelled the Government, first of all, to put in the bill a provision that would place people in a position in which they could comply with the law under reasonable conditions. We should have been told, also, about this overseas transaction, which will be the first of quite a number in respect of which time will be required for the adjustment of shareholdings in order to comply with the provisions of this bill. I would not be surprised if some of the big American companies or some of the big British companies were buying up television licences. I am wondering whether the provisions of this amendment will cover their position or whether there will be need for further amendments later. We are struggling in an attempt to understand the meaning of the legal verbiage with which the case is presented. The case histories that we would like to hear, and the details of the circumstances which required the alterations, are being squeezed out of the Government only with difficulty. However, I do thank the Attorney-General for what he has had to say, and the PostmasterGeneral also for his consideration so far.
.- The difficulties of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in this matter can be appreciated. I think it must be pointed out to him that, despite what he might say about the validity df proxies, this amendment assumes that if proxies in certain circumstances are invalid, then the company concerned shall have a reasonable period of time in which to straighten out its affairs. This amendment does not attempt to change the legal position regarding the validity of proxies. The honorable gentleman’s arguments should have been raised earlier on the motion for :the second reading of the bill in this cham ber. This amendment provides purely and simply that if a proxy does have the effect outlined by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), then time shall be given to the company concerned to straighten out its affairs. For that reason, I think we are arguing at cross-purposes if we start now to discuss the validity of proxies in certain circumstances.
.- I should like the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to inform me when an application was made to him for his approval, and when he gave that approval, for the transfer of Sir Arthur Warner’s shares in Electronic Industries to Pye Limited. I asked the Minister a question on this matter on 25th August last year. At that time, the question was based on a newspaper report that Pye Limited had bought a controlling interest in Electronic Industries, which owned 79 per cent, of the shares in the company operating television station GTV. The reference to 79 per cent, of the shares in the operating company was taken from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s annual report at that time. I asked the Postmaster-General whether he had been informed of and had approved this very large sale of shares to a foreign company. The Minister told me that I should know that, before any such transaction could be approved, it must be referred to the Postmaster-General, and he added -
No application has yet been made to me in this matter. If, as he states, a foreign company is proposing to obtain general control of this station, GTV, of course, in the terms of the act, approval will not be given.
There is no doubt that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s statutory report showed that at that time Electronic Industries owned 79 per cent, of the shares. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has now told us that it owns 63 per cent, of the shares. At that time, newspaper reports told us that a controlling interest - I do not know how much, but certainly well over half the shares in Electronic Industries - was being sold to Pye Limited. The Attorney-General has now informed us that 49 per cent, of the shares were sold to the Pye company.
– The newspaper report was wrong.
-It was a press release made either by Sir Arthur Warner himself or by his family at that time; it was not just a leak. All I am asking is: When did Electronic Industries’ shareholding drop from 79 per cent. - the figure given in the statutory report which was then the latest to hand - to 63 per cent., the figure that the Attorney-General has given us now? Secondly, when did the Postmaster-General receive an application, and thirdly, when did he approve of the application? When did the Minister get the application? If the approval was given for something other than was sought in the application, what was the history of the intervening negotiations?
– In reply to the questions that have been asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), I point out that this matter of the transfer of shares in Electronic Industries to Pye Limited was first introduced by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It was not referred to me because those who were concerned knew that it was not a breach of the act as it then stood. Nevertheless, they were buying less than50 per cent, of the shares of Electronic Industries in television station GTV. To make sure the transaction was a proper one, I had the position thoroughly investigated. That is why the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) and I can say definitely that those concerned did not buy more than 50 per cent. of the shares as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said. I conferred with the Attorney-General to make certain that there was no breach of the law. When it was determined that there was no breach, no approval was required and none was given. The position is that, at present, those concerned are still not involved in any breach of the act. When this bill is passed, they will be in breach of the law.
.- I thank the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). His explanation clearly indicates the need for this amendment and why we should support it.
– In actual fact, this amendment is protecting the Australian shareholders. It was designed to ensure that they will not be controlled by overseas interests.
– There is one other point: When did the shareholding of Electronic Industries in the company operating television station GTV drop from 79 per cent. to 63 per cent.?
– That is not a material point.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No.4 -
At the end of proposed section 92f add the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (3.) The Minister shall not refuse his approval under this section except for the purpose of ensuring observance of, or compliance with, this division or with a condition of the licence (including a condition applicable under a provision of this division other than this section).”.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 4 be agreed to.
As I told the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), these amendments were framed as a result of discussions with various honorable members when the bill was going through the second-reading stage in this chamber and in another place. The introduction of the amendments demonstrates that this Government is prepared to listen to reasonable suggestions made by its own supporters and by other honorable members, and that the Government is not afraid to submit amendments to its legislation. This is a difficult measure. We recognized that almost certainly amendments would be brought forward and we were prepared to accept them. In this case, we considered that the section as it stood conferred an unnecessarily wide power on the Minister in that he could exercise the power given other than to deal with substantial changes in the beneficial ownership of the shares in a company. Therefore we have proposed this amendment which we believe will adjust the position and prevent any excessive use of ministerial power in matters which are not really covered by the section. Therefore, we commend the amendment to the committee.
.- The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) has accused the Opposition of stonewalling.
– That is right.
– The honorable member for Moreton would not know what stonewalling was. Since the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) briefed him he has never been the same. We are not stonewalling the bill. We are seeking information. The Postmaster-General is steamrolling the bill. His pious claim that the Government is prepared to listen to reasonable suggestions from honorable members on both sides of the chamber and, after mature consideration, to attempt to do the fair and just thing, registers no impression upon us because not one amendment - at least none that I can recollect at the moment - that we have ever suggested in the last ten years has been accepted by any Minister in this Government. There could have been the exception that proves the case.
This Government has been under pressure from its own backbenchers and it has surrendered. It was not very greatly impressed with the validity of the arguments, but it was afraid of Senator Wright and a few others in another place and it decided to compromise in order to save its proposition. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has been most active in the interests of monopoly capitalism ever since he has been in this House. This amendment would, of course, accord with his philosophy that every Minister should have a minimum of power with which to protect any piece of legislation. What was wrong with the original provision that the Minister could do certain things in a certain way?
– In accordance with the act.
– Yes, and the act was framed to protect monopoly interests. The Minister can only do most of the things that he wants to do on a recommendation from the board. The board, which was handpicked, has been operating for years and has given licences to the friends of the Government. It has been a scandalous performance. There will be more hand-outs to the wrong people when the country licences are distributed but the dumb-stricken members of the Australian Country Party will not protest. They will tag along behind the Government which does the very things against which they protest. The Minister can have this particular amendment but his explanation was not convincing, and it was not a correct statement of the reasons why the Government surrendered to certain pressures that were exerted either in the Senate or by people outside. Of course, the honor able member for Moreton is another lackey of the capitalist class who is always pushing forward amendments to protect big business at the expense of the generality of the people.
.- I want to take a minute to make what I think are a few brief and well justified observations concerning the extraordinary remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). During the last 24 hours he has been driven to rush into press referring, I think in singular terms of impropriety, to “ wobbly “ backbenchers - the honorable members for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) and Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). He accused us, during the original committee stage of the bill, of having stonewalled. Yet, this afternoon, we have been listening to what amounts to a priceless display of humbug. He has emerged in great colours.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! I remind the honorable member that there is an amendment before the Chair.
– I am quite conscious of that, but I had hoped that you would be indulgent enough, Mr. Chairman, at least to let me refer-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. Has this anything to do with the clause under discussion?
– Apparently the colleague of the honorable member for Moreton regards him as disorderly.
– Order! The interjections of the Leader of the Opposition are quite disorderly. It is quite right to say that the remarks of the honorable member for Moreton have nothing to do with the proposed amendment.
– Speaking to the point of order, I submit that the Leader of the Opposition was not in order in referring to the honorable member for Mackellar and myself as “ lackeys of capitalism “. There should be opportunity for us to refute that statement. With great respect, I submit that as the Chair tolerated those observations, the Chair should tolerate some refutation of them.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 5 -
At end of clause add the following subclauses: - “ (2.) Where-
before the date of commencement of this section, the Minister referred applications for a licence to the Board out the Board had not, before that date, made its recommendation as to the granting of the licence;
the circumstances in relation to a company that has applied for the licence, or the articles of association of such a company, are such that section ninety-two e or sub-section (3.) of section nine-two g of the Principal Act, as amended by this Act, would prevent the granting of the licence to that company; and
it appears to the Board that the company is able, within a reasonable time, to cause those circumstances to cease to exist or its articles of association to be altered to the necessary extent, and is willing, in order to obtain the licence, to do so, then, notwithstanding the provisions referred to in paragraph (b) of this sub-section, the Board may recommend the grant of the licence to that company, and the Minister may grant the licence to that company. “ (3.) Where the Minister grants a licence in accordance with the last preceding sub-section -
he shall do so upon such conditions as are, in his opinion, necessary to ensure observance of, and compliance with, Division 3 of Part IV. ofthe Principal Act, as amended by this Act, and the conditions applicable under that Division, at the commencement of a television service in pursuance of the licence or at the expiration of six months from the commencement of the licence, whichever is the earlier; and
the circumstances referred to in paragraph (b) of the last preceding subsection, or the failure of the articles of association of the company to contain provisions referred to in section ninety-two g of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, shall be deemed not to give rise, by reason of the grant of the licence, to a contravention of, or failure to comply with, the Division referred to in the last preceding paragraph, or the conditions applicable under that Division, before the commencement of a television service in pursuance of the licence or the expiration of six months from the commencement of the licence, whichever is the earlier.”
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 5 be agreed to.
The object of this amendment is to deal with the existing situation in which a number of applicants have been before the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in recent months seeking licences for country television. The object of this amendment is to ensure that an application which has been made for a licence for a country centre and is under consideration by the Broadcasting Control Board will not be rejected by the board merely on the ground that the applicant organization does not, at the moment, conform with the provisions now being placed in the act. The amendment states that if an applicant would be in breach of these new provisions if his application were granted, and if it appears to the board that that applicant is a desirable one, worthy of recommendation, and could and would within a reasonable space of time remove the conditions which do not conform with the new legislation, the board is free to make a recommendation in favour of that applicant.
The amendment further provides that if the board’s recommendation is accepted by the Government, the Minister may grant a licence to that applicant on condition that anything which is in breach of the act must be removed either within six months of the grant of a licence or before the commencement of the station, whichever is the earlier. We say that this is a fair and proper provision to put into the act. Hearings are proceeding at present and an applicant should not be debarred because of the existence of an element which was not in breach of the act when his application was lodged. I commend the amendment to the committee as indicating the fairness with which the Government approaches this matter.
– There can be no objection to this amendment. I hear Government supporters interjecting, but I am addressing you, Mr. Chairman, not the wobblies. This amendment is unobjectionable, but the thought arises, “ Why was not it included in the original draft? “ It is further evidence of the half-baked form in which the bill was presented. It is now being licked into some sort of shape, but I would like to know what genius among the backbenchers thought up this particular line of argument that had not presented itself to the great legal luminaries in the Government or to the distinguished non-lawyers who constitute the Government. Why did we have to wait until the bill went to the Senate before the amendment was made? I hope that independent interests will obtain licences in country areas, but I have some very grave doubts as to whether they will.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
After section one hundred and five of the Principal Act the following section is inserted in Division 5 of Part IV.:- “ 105a. - (1.) The Board may, upon the application of the licensee of a television station, by order addressed to a person who -
has the right, by virtue of ownership or otherwise, to make a television film available, or to procure another person to make a television film available, to that licensee for use by that station; and
has not complied with a request by that licensee that he make the film so available, or procure the film to be made so available, or has, in response to such a request, required the licensee to accept terms or conditions that are not acceptable to the licensee, direct that person to make the film so available, or to procure it to be made so available, in accordance with the order and on terms and conditions specified in the order, being terms and conditions that appear to the Board to be just and reasonable in all the circumstances. “ (3.) The Board shall not make an order under this section if the Board is satisfied that the person against whom the order is sought has a reasonable ground of objection to the making of the order. “ (4.) Without limiting the generality of the last preceding sub-section, where an application under this section relates to a television film made or procured for the use of, or previously made available or contracted in the ordinary course of business to be made available for the use of, a particular television station or of particular television stations, the person against whom the order is sought shall be taken to have a reasonable ground of objection to the making of the order if he satisfies the Board that the making of the order would -
enable the television film to be used by a television station serving an area coinciding to a substantial extent with the area served by that particular station or one of those particular stations;
enable the film to be used in Australia before there had been a reasonable opportunity for it to be used by that particular station or all those particular stations;
prevent the film from being available at a time when it was bona fide required for use by that particular station or one of those particular stations; or
cause a breach of a reasonable condition imposed by agreement by an advertiser or other person who had sponsored the television of that film by that particular station or one of those particular stations.
Senate’s amendment No. 6 -
In sub-section (4.) of proposed section 105a, after “ Board “, insert “ , or the Commonwealth Industrial Court upon an appeal,”.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 6 be agreed to.
This is a simple amendment and is consequential upon the Government’s action in providing for an appeal in the section which deals with the control of programmes.
– This amendment is not so innocuous as it seems. The Government has very rightly said that nobody shall be allowed to monopolize a programme. Although I do not mind judges hearing appeals in certain cases, I think that if an aggrieved person has a right of appeal to the board there should not be a right of further appeal to another body. Such an opportunity will only add to costs at the expense of little people who will not have much chance of fighting big interests.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 7 -
After sub-section (4.) of proposed section 105a insert the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (4a.) Without limiting the generality of subsection (3.) of this section or the operation of the last preceding sub-section, the person against whom the order is sought shall be taken to have a reasonable ground of objection to the making of the order if he satisfies the Board, or the Commonwealth Industrial Court upon an appeal, that his failure to comply with the request of the licensee was not, or the terms or conditions that he required the licensee to accept were not, in any wise related to an intention or attempt to obtain, for himself, either alone or in association with any other person or persons. or for some other person or persons, control, either in whole or in part, of, or of the management of, or of the selection of the programmes of, any television station or stations (whether already established or not).”.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 7 be agreed to
Briefly, this amendment sets out to protect particularly those producers of programme material in Australia who are building up an industry and who, we felt, might have been penalized to some extent if they found themselves in a position where they had to dispose of their production in a way which would be against their own interests. This refers also to licensees who in certain circumstances have programmes, but in the main the provision is designed to prevent the cornering of programmes or the obtaining of control of a station by such action. We make it perfectly plain in this amendment that it shall be a reasonable objection that the action of holding a programme does not arise from any intention, desire or attempt to control wholly or in part a television station from which the programme is being obtained. This does not limit the generality of sub-section (3.) but will be of great value to some programme producers.
– Although the argument advanced by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) is convincing and the amendment should be accepted for the reasons he has given, is it not also possible that under this provision big interests could demand that some small operator should give them a programme and by the use of their money and the various pressures that they could exert on that person, make it very difficult for him to refuse even though there is this protection? Conversely, is it not possible that even if these big companies themselves have the ownership of a large selection of films which they do not want to let out - and this is the thing I fear most - the small man would have very little chance of fighting them successfully and getting the programmes that he might want?
The board could issue an order and if the board does not satisfy him or the company concerned, there can be an appeal to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. That would mean additional legal expense and the small person could be put to a great deal of trouble by the big, powerful group. 1 cannot see why the decision of the board should not be final in these matters. If an appeal to the Industrial Court is allowed, the Government might have to allow an appeal to the High Court of Australia. I do not know whether an appeal to the High
Court is ruled out by this particular provision.
– It would fall under the ordinary appellate provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I do not like a provision which allows such an appeal to the Industrial Court or brings the Industrial Court into determinations of fact. In matters of this sort, the court should be involved only in questions of law. But questions of fact will be determined by the court in this case. Decisions of that kind might very well be made by the Minister or by anybody else if the Minister does not want to make a decision.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Senate’s amendment No. 8 -
At the end of proposed section 105a add the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (16.) For the purposes of this section, the area served by a television station is the area or areas within which consistently reliable reception of the programmes televised by that station can be obtained.’.”.
– I move -
That Senate’s amendment No. 8 be agreed to.
This amendment has been made because in section 105a reference is made to the area served by a television station. It has been put that that is rather vague and indefinite; it would be difficult to define what would constitute an area served by a television station. We have, therefore, been looking for another term which would clarify what is meant by “ an area served by a television station “. After discussing this with our technical advisers we decided the best way to express it was in the language of the amendment, that is - the area or areas within which consistently reliable reception of the programmes televised by that station can be obtained.
It may be argued that that still leaves room for some doubt in the definition of an area, but this is the best way that we have been able to find to define it. Of course, this is a matter that would be under consideration by the Broadcasting Control Board, whose competent engineers are all the time watching and monitoring programmes that are put out and who are in the best position to test the reliability of reception in any area. We have not been able to find any better way of defining an area than by these words. We therefore submit the amendment to the committee.
Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
.- by leave - I move -
That the following paper, laid on the table of the House on 25th November last: -
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 48th Conference held at Warsaw, September, 1959 - Report of Australian delegation - be printed.
This report is an account of the most important matters which took place at Warsaw. It is by no means a complete account. The secretariat of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, whose headquarters are at Geneva, will publish later this year a document that covers fully the speeches made at the fortyeighth conference. In view of the fact that the Inter-Parliamentary Union is not as well known as its opposite number, the United Nations Organization, I should like to take this opportunity to say something of its origin, as well as to make some reference to the spring council meeting at which the preliminary work of the annual conference is carried out and the agenda for that conference is completed. Last year the spring council meeting was held at Nice, when Australia was represented for the first time. A report of those discussions was made by me directly to the Australian group. I had the honour of attending, as leader, both the spring meeting and the annual conference of the union at Warsaw. The deputy leader was my parliamentary colleague, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan).
The Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was founded in 1889, is an association of the elected representatives of the people of all nations who have the right to vote. It is a union of parliaments, as distinct from a union of governments, and in this respect it differs from the United Nations, which is a union of governments. In other ways the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference is like the United Nations, but not too much like it. The decisions of the union are not, and are not intended to be, binding on member nations, and this provokes very frank discussions. The Inter-Parliamentary Union tries to ascertain whether there is any degree of agreement between nations, particularly those with strong ideological differences. In this respect it is unlike the United Nations, where the reverse is true, and differences between nations are emphasized. It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that the Interparliamentary Union conference in September of each year precedes the opening meetings of the United Nations Assembly. Many of the European and Asian delegates attend both assemblies. Observers from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the International Labour Office and the World Health Organization, as well as the personal representative of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, attend all council and conference meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
At the spring council meeting in Nice last year, Mr. Toumeoja delivered a personal message to the session from Mr. Dag Hammarskjoeld. He said, inter alia -
Every item on your agenda relates to matters of concern to the United Nations.
The Secretary-General is deeply conscious of the importance - often, indeed, the decisive importance - of national parliaments in supporting the work of the United Nations. He is gratified at the excellent relations which now exist between the union and the United Nations, and trusts that these relations may be strengthened and developed.
Mr. Toumeoja went on to say that InterParliamentary Union meetings were of real importance, both for their practical accomplishments and because of what they represent as a unique form of international contact in our shrinking world.
The spring council meeting is most important because it is at this gathering that the agenda for the annual conference and any alterations to the statutes and rules of the union are drafted. At this meeting, on behalf of the Australian group, I moved an amendment to the statutes for an alteration to the numerical membership of the executive committee of the InterParliamentary Union. The existing rules provided only for eight elected members and the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Council, who is ex-officio chairman. The Australian group felt that in view of the fact that the increase in member nations since 1955 had been so considerable, it would be appropriate for the existing number of executive committeemen to be increased also. The council, after long, contentious discussion, agreed that the Australian proposal should be referred to the political committee for a report at the spring meetings of 1960 at Athens. I have just heard from the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson), who is the leader of this year’s group, that the council has decided to recommend to the annual conference at Tokyo that the number of elected members of the executive committee be increased by two. In view of the fact that the council is conservative in its approach to any alteration of its statutes, the Australian group feels that it has made an impact on this age-old international organization.
During the 1959 spring council meeting at Nice between five and six study committees sat and deliberated on subjects referred to them by groups all over the world. The Australian delegates, because of their numbers, found it possible to take part on only the Political and Organization Committee, the Committee on Reduction of Armaments, the Economic and Financial Committee and the Committee on Nonselfgoverning Territories. The contribution of the honorable member for Kennedy to the work of the Committee on Reduction of Armaments earned his nomination to the Drafting Committee. The draft resolution which he helped to formulate was placed before the Warsaw conference. On the Committee on Non-self-governing Territories I found myself defending Australia. The criticism was for teaching English instead of native languages in New Guinea schools. It was important for Australia that European, Asian and African nations should be told the facts in regard to our New Guinea trusteeship. I am satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that if we were not present at this council meeting to defend ourselves from such baseless charges they would be considered proved.
Owing to the representatives of Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan having lost their parliamentary mandate, three members were required from the council to fill three vacancies on the Executive Committee. The Australian group nominated me as a candidate for one vacancy, but we were unsuccessful. The candidates elected were from Israel, the United States of America and Iran. The representative from Iran was defeated at the Warsaw conference, while those from Israel and the United States of America were appointed for one and four years respectively. The meeting at Nice lasted six days, sitting for from ten to twelve hours each day.
The Inter-parliamentary Union has fixed the number of delegates that a nation may send to the annual conference, calculated on the basis of population, the size of the lower House of the Parliament and the number of members of the group who belong to the national House. Australia is entitled to send thirteen delegates, but has never sent more than six. Each of the 58 member nations is entitled to send two members to council meetings and one to each Study Committee. At the spring meetings most member countries have a different delegate for each study committee, but as Australia sends only two delegates it is necessary for one delegate to attend several committees. Many of the member nations have permanent secretariats attached to their groups. At both spring meetings and conferences the delegates of these countries are assisted by strong teams of able secretaries and technical advisers.
At the spring meetings the study committees appoint their various office bearers. The period of appointment is for three years. At the Nice meetings I was asked if I would allow my name to be submitted for office. The appointment suggested was president of the Economic and Financial Committee of which I was a member. I had to decline nomination because the Australian group, unlike most other national groups, does not conform to the principle of continuity, each of our delegates being appointed for one year only. However, I did allow my name to be included in the ballot for vicepresident, and was duly elected by a comfortable majority. The purpose of referring to this incident is to direct attention to the fact that unless the Australian group approves some measure of continuity for its delegates between one conference and the next, it will never be able to accept office in the union. This, I believe, would be a great loss for our country because, apart from other reasons, our continued association with the Inter-Parliamentary Union can do much to foster good relations with other countries, particularly with our near neighbours in South-East Asia.
The 48th conference was held at Warsaw from 27th August to 4th September, 1959. The delegation comprised myself as leader, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) as deputy leader, Senators Vincent and Sandford, the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). Mr. Loof and Mr. Renouf provided the secretarial assistance. In a country like Poland where interpreters are scarce and where living is difficult, our secretarial team was understaffed and was called upon to sacrifice a great deal of its leisure hours. The Australian secretarial staff was one of the smallest at the conference.
All members of the delegation spoke at the plenary conferences and took an active part in committee work. A full account of their speeches appears in the report. Amendments were proposed to the draft resolution on the subject of the removal of obstacles to international trade. As Australia has always supported measures for the expansion of international trade and for the conduct of international trade by fair trade rules, it was right and proper that we should take an active part in this debate. I am pleased to say that we were able to get the conference to accept our amendments. The amended resolution has been referred to the 58 parliaments of the world for implementation.
I think that I should make special reference to one address which is contained in the report. It is the speech of Mr. Rapacki, the foreign minister of Poland. It was not surprising that he made reference to the regional plan of nuclear disarmament which has become associated with his name. Mr. Rapacki reviewed the sufferings which Poland had undergone as a result of the Nazi invasion and occupation twenty years ago, and went on to outline Poland’s role as a socialist State which played, as far as possible, a positive part in easing international tension, bringing about constructive co-existence and ensuring lasting peace. Polish foreign policy rested on international co-operation. However, as Mr. Rapacki stressed, it is difficult to imagine peaceful co-existence without an end to re-armament and an agreement to disarm. It was at this point that the Polish foreign minister turned to the question of partial solutions of the disarmament problem and, more particularly, to his own plan.
He remarked that one of the most realistic of possible solutions was that these problems be solved in the regions bordering on the two main military groups. When making the proposal to create an atom-free zone in Central Europe - Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic - the Polish Government felt that this territory was of particular importance from a political and military point of view, and that the concentration of nuclear weapons in this territory would be most dangerous.
The Polish Government was ready to continue discussing this proposal and to consider all constructive suggestions, as it had done after the broad discussion in the world press of the first stage of the proposal. It continued to hope that its proposals might bring about an increased feeling of security among the nations concerned. The intention was not only to safeguard Central Europe against the results of thermo-nuclear war but also to ease international tension and to make all countries feel secure. The Polish Government felt that the only just method of solving the various international problems was to have constructive discussions and patient negotiations, and to continue to seek solutions even if they were only partial solutions. It was necessary to re-establish the importance of diplomatic negotiations. The more direct contacts that there were between politicians of different countries, the better. Mr. Rapacki concluded by underlining the importance of such international organizations as the United Nations, the specialized agencies and the Inter-Parliamentary Union where representatives of the different countries could meet together.
Members of the council were called together at Warsaw for a special meeting to consider a submission by the Tunisian group to the effect that it be allowed to place before the plenary conference the following special resolution: -
That all national groups work for the holding of a round table conference on decolonization, thus eliminating seeds of conflict, reinforcing peace, security, and the spirit of collaboration.
The representatives from Tunisia opened up a very contentious discussion because it was considered by many experienced councillors that such a resolution would overload the agenda. My colleagues and I considered that in view of the disturbed conditions in
Africa, it would be wrong to reject such a resolution. I thought it wise also that I should support the resolution by a short statement. The resolution was carried with much excitement from the representatives of the African and South-East Asian countries. It was discussed only briefly at the plenary conference, and carried.
I believe that whenever possible a representative from the Department of External Affairs should be attached to the Australian delegation, as is the case in most of the member countries. With other countries, the additional member is a representative of the relevant Foreign Office or State Department. Australian members of Parliament, as distinct from those of other countries,, do not get the opportunity for experience in the conduct of international conferences. Another reason why a representative from the Department of External Affairs should be attached to the group is that some countries try to get through Inter-Parliamentary Union conferences matters which they cannot get through other international meetings. I have mentioned previously the matter which was raised at the Nice council meetings of teaching English instead of native languages in New Guinea schools.
One of the main interests in the Warsaw conference, was Australia’s candidature for election to the Executive Committee. Twelve candidates stood for six. seats. The consensus of opinion is that we polled very creditably, considering that we have been a. member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for only four years and that, length of membership is a criterion for election. The general comment was that: we had done surprisingly well. At the Nice council meetings we received only six votes for election to the temporary vacancy. At the conference she months later we received 26 votes.
V believe that our participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union is extremely worth while. The organization serves a most useful purpose in enabling Australian members of Parliament to become acquainted with international conferences and major foreign policy issues. It enables them also to meet prominent politicians from other countries. A large number of Ministers and ex-Ministers was present at
Warsaw. If Australia is to make a maximum contribution to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and to obtain the greatest possible benefit from it, as I think we should, 1 believe that provision must be made in the future for some continuity of representation whereby the delegates of one year are linked with those of the following year. Without this continuity it is difficult to see Australia ever obtaining election to executive positions of the L.P.U.
.- I do not propose to speak at length. I support the motion moved by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth). The report, as honorable members may see for themselves, is comprehensive. The honorable member indicated some of its contents and made certain personal suggestions in the light of our experience at the council meeting and conference of the InterParliamentary Union. It is true, as the honorable member indicated, that the union was established as the result of suggestions by certain members of the British Parliament who linked: up with certain members of the French Parliament in about 1886. It has been suggested that the action taken then was’ prompted by a desire to see established what might be called a parliament of. the world. The Inter-Parliamentary Union was a forerunner of the old League of Nations, and before the formation of the league it did much in the field of international politics.
The forty-eighth conference of the InterParliamentary Union, which this report covers, was held at Warsaw, and it was the first international conference to be held behind the iron curtain since the conclusion of World War II. All the resolutions carried at the conference have been forwarded to the United Nations. There is a close liaison between the United Nations and- the union, and representatives of the United Nations attended both its council meeting and its conference as observers. Intercourse in the community of nations is effected at various levels. First, there is the summit, the top level; secondly, the foreign ministers’ level and, incidentally, since October, 1958, there have been discussions at the foreign ministers’ level at Geneva of certain matters with regard to disarmament; thirdly, the United Nations level, or the government level, where all delegates represent governments; and fourthly, the inter-parliamentary level, or parliamentary level as distinct from the United Nations level. The United Nations is a union of governments, whereas the Inter-Parliamentary Union is a union of parliaments. At the United Nations the delegates represent the governmental point of view but delegates to the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference represent neither governments nor oppositions; they are untrammelled in any way and may speak as they see fit on resolutions that are submitted. As a result, discussions at these conferences are frank and open.
It is true that at times, particularly at council meetings, discussion becomes lively; it is certainly intense. These delegates, not representing either a government or an opposition, are bound in no way and can speak their minds. It would be impossible to suggest that any resolution carried at a conference of this nature could he binding; there is no machinery whereby the decisions of the conference would be binding on any of the nations represented. Because of that fact delegates can discuss frankly the propositions that are submitted. Honorable members will note, also, that the final resolutions carried at the recent Inter-Parliamentary Union conference were agreed to unanimously, although, as I said a while ago, only after intense and lively discussion. The delegates of major nations at these conferences are assisted by teams of advisers.
In fact, at Warsaw there were more advisers than delegates. At the council meeting there were two representatives from each nation, who were also assisted by large teams of advisers to help them on whatever the proposition might be and to give them background. But the Australian delegates, like those of other smaller nations, went to the council meeting with no advisers. I suggest to the Government that arrangements should be made for advisers to accompany delegates not only to the council meeting but also the conference itself, if only for the purpose of giving delegates background information which, in international discussions, is of vital importance. I noted that one particular major country made available its top- level advisers at Warsaw, as a member of the Australian Embassy informed me who they were and where they stood in the affairs of their particular country.
The 58 nations represented included such new nations as Ghana and Liberia. The attendance of delegates from the new nations enabled them to get a little experience and knowledge of what transpires at an international conference. It is obvious that any delegate who attends one of these conferences, irrespective of the country he represents, learns much and experiences plenty. The fullest possible advice should be given to Australian delegates who are appointed to attend any international conference, regardless of its purpose. Australia may rank small among the nations of the world, but it should be represented at every international conference. We talk about growing up and taking our place among the nations of the world and about Australia no longer being a small nation. If we are growing up, it is incumbent upon this Government to see that Australia is represented at every international conference so that our point of view, no matter what the subject might be, can be placed forcibly before the nations of the world. We should be represented at every conference at the international level and our delegates should have assistants who can give them helpful advice, even if it be only background information. Further, the Australian delegation to any conference should be the maximum number of delegates that it is permitted to send. We should not be cheese-paring in this regard. If we are to be represented at an international conference let us be represented to the maximum. It gives me great pleasure to second the motion.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). It is evident that consideration is not given to these conferences to the degree we feel is justified in the light of the benefit that Australia receives from representation at them. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) in moving that the report be printed, dealt with the business that was carried out at the recent conference. We are well served by the representatives that we send overseas to various conferences. Unfortunately, that fact is not always recognized; but my experience and I think that of those who attended the Warsaw conference and earlier conferences of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is that tremendous value is obtained from the social aspect of such conferences and the opportunity of mixing with members of other nations, particularly in the I.P.U., where nations outside the British Commonwealth are represented.
The co-operation between the delegates at the conference was of the highest order. We journeyed as an Australian team and lived both in our business activities and our social activities as an Australian team. I should like to say - and I think everybody will agree - that we were received, as Australians, very favorably wherever we went. That brings me to a point that deserves to be considered. Australians abroad are well received in the various countries they visit, and I think that they should carry some insignia to show that they are Australians. It is idle to say that an Australian abroad will be recognized as such after a while because of his speech and his dress. I believe it would be better to strike some sort of badge which a traveller could wear to indicate that he was an Australian, and proud of it.
I had the opportunity to visit a number of our posts while I was abroad, and I think that I may safely say that they are staffed with people of a very high quality. One thing that struck me, however, which I think worthy of consideration by the Government, is the need for some amalgamation of the various posts that exist in different parts of the same cities. In some of the cities we visited I found that the diplomatic posts are away from the trade posts, and the immigration offices are somewhere else. There was none of the concentration of effort that would be possible if they were under the one roof. In London, Australia had an opportunity to take over Bush House, adjoining Australia House, which would have been sufficient to house all the Australian overseas posts, both the Commonwealth posts and posts of the various States, under the one roof, with great advantage. That opportunity was lost, but I still think that there is an opportunity to do something in this direction. I am not suggesting for one moment that our public relations over there are not being well looked after, but it is not possible at present to concentrate all efforts. If all Australian representatives were brought under the one roof, and a committee were appointed to oversee what was done, our public relations abroad would be on a better basis.
I should like now to refer to the hospitality that Australians receive when abroad, and to the opportunities that are provided to Australian visitors abroad, particularly in America, to see the best that offers. We do nothing in Australia in that way. Admittedly we have our National Travel Association and our various travel agencies, and all sorts of individual efforts for the entertainment of visitors; but nothing whatever is done in the way of a concentrated effort to get the traveller who arrives in Sydney, Melbourne or one of the other capital cities, out into the outback, where Australia’s wealth really lies. I do not mean to cast any reflection on our capital cities, but it seems a great pity that people visiting Australia do not have an opportunity to see the outback. The ship on which I returned to Australia spent four days in Sydney and four days in Melbourne, and then went on to its next port. Four days in each of these two ports was long enough to have permitted an organization, had one existed for the purpose, to ensure that travellers who wanted to see inland Australia were given the opportunity to do so.
I believe that there is an opportunity to do something here similar to what is done in America under the educational exchange programme. A person arriving in a capital city would be taken care of, and sent out to various points of interest according to what he wanted to see. He would be given the same sort of opportunities and hospitality as are given to travellers in other countries, particularly the United States.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the report. I regret that this debate is occurring at such a late hour of the sessional period, because that fact cramps the opportunity of honorable members who speak to deal with this very important proposition fully, and prevents other honorable members from participating in the debate.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union conference attended by the delegation was most informative and most interesting. The Australian point of view was presented by every member of our delegation, and we, in turn, gained much from studying and being informed of the points of view of the representatives of other countries at the conference. We learned many things that we had not known, and I feel sure that members of parliament from other countries learned much about Australia that they did not previously know. Not only was the conference of importance because it enabled the exchange of different points of view, but the private discussions between members of the parliaments of various countries gave us an opportunity to learn of the problems of other people, about which we might -not have learned within the ambit of the discussions at the conference proper. I feel that nothing but good resulted from these private conversations.
I should like to congratulate the Polish Government on staging the conference, and on .the manner in which it did so. I am grateful for the hospitality extended by that government, and also for the hospitality of the Polish people, who did everything in their :power to make, our stay enjoyable and interesting. We visited various parts of Poland, and we were invited by other delegates ito visit their countries also. It was regretted that, because of the pressure of time, we could not avail ourselves of all the opportunities offered to visit other countries and learn of their problems. Most of the delegation took the opportunity to visit Czechoslovakia by invitation, and we had -very interesting experiences there. We were shown all over the country by the Czechoslovakian Inter-Parliamentary Union group, whose guests we were. I think we all came away much ‘better informed on the Czechoslovakian point of view, and we left the Czechoslovaks much better informed of our point of view than they had been. 1 proceeded to Russia and had a very interesting few days there, also as a guest of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The same invitation was extended to all members of the delegation, but, unfortunately, travel commitments prevented the other members from accompanying me.
I regret that because this debate has -come on so late we are not able to take full -advantage of it. Much good could have resulted from a fuller discussion of the conference and from the narration of the personal experiences of members of the delegation. These conferences are certainly most valuable. They are worth the effort involved, and the comparatively slight expense that they are to the taxpayer. As my friend, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) said, we have to participate in these conferences to the fullest extent. We should not attend them half-heartedly and seem to show a lack of real interest in them. These conferences are earnest and important, and they play a considerable part in arousing friendly feelings among members of the parliaments of different nations, whether they be from the Western nations or the iron curtain nations. They provide some of the few opportunities that members of parliament of the nations of the free world have of getting together on a common level with members of parliament from iron curtain countries. I think that they should be continued. There should be some continuity threading its way through these conferences. That has already been suggested, and I think that it is time earnest consideration were given to it.
I should like to thank the leader of the party, the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), and I also want to pay a tribute to my colleague, the honorable member .for Kennedy, who was deputy leader of the delegation. They made the task of the ordinary members of the delegation very easy, and we owe a debt of gratitude to them. I should like to thank all the members of the delegation, because everybody played his part, and I think that the co-operation among them was very considerable indeed.
I want to stress the importance of these conferences, and to do everything that I can to ensure that they do not fall into the limbo of forgotten things. Some earnest consideration must be given to keeping them alive and to seeing that they are conducted on a sound basis.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Earlier to-day, 1 intimated in answer to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that if circumstances permitted before the House adjourned, I would make a statement concerning the tragedy in Port Phillip Bay in which there was loss of life. There was, of course, great public and parliamentary interest in this tragic incident. In accordance with practice, the Army immediately instituted a court of inquiry into the circumstances. During the time that this was proceeding, and subsequent to its conclusion, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) was asked in Parliament to make a statement on the whole incident. He very correctly then took the stand, as had been done on, unfortunately, numerous occasions before, that he could not do so because the coroner’s court in Victoria had by then commenced its inquiry into the incident and it would be improper for him to make a statement before the coronial inquiry had been concluded. Honorable members will not, I am sure, challenge that attitude.
– We agreed with it, actually.
– Yes, the Leader of the Opposition agreed with it. The coroner has now concluded his inquiry and I had hoped that the formal conclusion and the text of the coroner’s views would be available. If they had been, they would have formed the basis with the conclusions of the Army court of inquiry, of a statement. I am informed, in reply to inquiries that I have initiated, that the coroner has told the Commonwealth Crown Law authorities that he may not be in a position for at least two or three days to make available the transcript of his inquiry and of his formal conclusion. Therefore, in these circumstances, the position at this moment is that I am not able to make a statement that pays regard to the conclusions of both the Army court of inquiry and the coronial inquiry.
I had told the Leader of the Opposition that if there arose circumstances which prevented me from making a full statement before the Parliament adjourned, I would see to it that the Minister for the Army, having regard to the public and parliamentary interest in the matter, would make an appropriate and full public statement. I give an undertaking that that will be done. This makes it inevitable that the statement of my colleague, the Minister for the Army, will be released to the press before it is made to the Parliament. I immediately assure honorable members that the fact that it has been made, in the first place, outside the Parliament will not be permitted to inhibit in any way such discussions as honorable members may wish to have when the Parliament resumes.
– by leave - The Opposition waited for some time for the coronial inquiry to take place. It seemed to have been, perhaps, unwisely delayed. We had hoped that the Parliament would have had an opportunity to discuss dispassionately this very grave result of an Army exercise. We had hoped that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) would have been here to-day, the final day of this sessional period. I do not know where he is. I do not like to be too critical, but I think that he has failed in his duty in not being in Parliament during this week, even though he may be spending time in an Army camp in New South Wales.
He must have known that we were meeting. He must have known that the coronial inquiry was being held. He should, therefore, have been in his place. I say that because I remember well the assurance that he gave to the House that immediately the coroner had delivered his finding, the Army had the fullest answer to present to any charges or suggestions of neglect in relation to this unfortunate incident. He gave me the impression, at any rate, that he had a fully documented case that would be presented to the Parliament immediately the court - the coroner’s inquiry, of course, is a court - had concluded its business. We accepted his assurance that it would be improper for him to make a statement concerned with an incident of this sort before the coroner had concluded his inquiry. As a matter of fact, on 8th March last, the day the Parliament met, I asked the Minister to make a statement concerning these tragic happenings.
– The incident occurred on 17th February.
– As the Deputy Leader reminds me, the drownings occurred on 17th February, and four months elapsed before the coroner delivered his finding. The press reports indicate that the decision was that the deaths were due to misadventure, that a certain major who was named had failed to understand or appreciate the flow of the ebb tide at a particular time, and that a warrant officer had failed to transmit certain information. These are human errors; one in judgment and the other may have been, to a certain extent, a matter of neglect. I do not know and I am not passing judgment on that. We must have the fullest possible information from the Minister for the Army as to how this incident occurred, because it is not the first of its kind.
– A similar tragedy occurred at Stockton Bight.
– As the honorable member for Shortland remarks, there was an earlier tragedy at Stockton Bight, in New South Wales.
– And another at Carrow Brook, near Singleton.
– That was a second one. Both occasions were referred to during question time and in debates in this chamber. The Opposition would like to have a statement from the Government at the earliest possible moment. We know that it cannot be made to the Parliament now and we appreciate the circumstances in which it will be made to the press. However, we would like an assurance from the Government that at the earliest convenient moment after the House resumes, an opportunity will be afforded to honorable members to debate the statement that we hope that the Minister for the Army will make to the Parliament when it resumes. There will be complications and difficulties, because the Budget will be presented during the next sessional period, and the Government may not want to interrupt the Budget debate. But there should be an opportunity, between the time when the Budget is presented and the resumption of the debate on the first item, for honorable members to debate fully not merely this occurrence and other occurrences but the whole system of Army organization and the reasons why these dangerous exercises are attempted.
– And the reasons why they are continued.
– Exactly. Why are they continued? lt seems, to the layman at any rate, that they are not always necessary and that some of them are attempted in circumstances which are subsequently proved never to have warranted the attempts at all.
Anybody who knows the Rip in Port Phillip Bay knows what a treacherous piece of sea it is. To try to cross it at night was to attempt what could hardly have been less than a hazardous exercise, even in the best possible conditions. In this instance, tragedy stalked the seaways and took three lives. We ought to be thankful that more men were not lost in all the circumstances, and much praise must be given to the men who survived for their courage and their resource. Much praise must be given also to the lighthouse keepers and all the others who intervened in an endeavour to mitigate the tragedy and who helped to save a number of precious lives.
At this time, I wish to say no more about the matter on behalf of the Opposition. We appreciate the action of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in making this statement at the earliest possible moment, and we accept his assurance that an opportunity will be provided for an early and full debate to which honorable members on both sides of the House who are qualified to speak on these matters may contribute.
– The ones who are qualified. That is an important point.
– That is so. I said that.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, within the next hour the House will adjourn for the winter recess. However, the winter will not be a pleasant one for most of the people of Australia. It will be a winter of economic hardship and difficulties which this Government has failed to face fairly during the present session. I want to mention one or two matters which 1 believe to be of exceptional importance. In particular, I want to discuss the need for a more enlightened policy in regard to home-ownership and the building of necessary accommodation throughout the country. I desire to refer, also, to some matters concerning the Government’s pharmaceutical benefits scheme, and I should like to discuss the national health scheme and social services, too. Quite obviously, time will not permit me to deal adequately with all these matters.
The Commonwealth Government ought to come to grips immediately with what is possibly the most serious problem facing this country at the present- time - the provision of sufficient homes for all our people. I have made repeated representations for financial aid for building societies. It is not very comforting, to those in need of homes to hear the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) espousing the great virtues of the co-operative building society movement if the Government fails to take action to make sufficient funds available, for our building societies. Quite recently, I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to provide more funds for the cooperative building societies in the rapidly developing Blue Mountains area of my electorate, which extends from Springwood down to Penrith.. In view of the championing of the cause of the. building society movement by the Minister for National Development, I expected the Treasurer to respond sympathetically to my representations and to take action through tie Commonwealth Banking Corporation to assure the people of additional funds for housing. But the Treasurer’s reply to my representations merely pointed out that some funds had been made available for building societies on the Blue Mountains and at Penrith. They were all lumped together with a complete disregard of the real needs of the people.
What I am saying this afternoon has the support of many, not only among the masses of the people, but also among the leaders of the various States. At a recent conference in Adelaide, the various State Ministers responsible for housing, Labour and non-Labour alike, agreed that the Commonwealth Government ought to do more and provide additional finance in order that this growing problem could be solved and home-building could be brought to a level commensurate with the expanding needs of our increasing, population. This is an urgent and pressing matter, and I raise it because I have received representations from people who find themselves in serious financial difficulty. In desperation, these people signed contracts that they should never have had to sign, and pledged themselves to make repayments on the purchase of homes at such high rates as to leave them with little hope, of keeping up the repayments. Some people on the Blue Mountains, where this problem is so acute, signed contracts with hire-purchase companies under which they were required to repay substantial amounts weekly - up to £12 or £14 a week. These repayments can be met only if both husband and wife work and. remain in good health.
I should like to see the Commonwealth Banking Corporation giving leadership in this field, and I should like to see the other banks also giving a lead. I cannot truthfully describe the banks as lending institutions any more. I believe that these financial houses have a responsibility to do the right thing, and that the Treasurer, as the agent of the Commonwealth Government, has a duty to use his position as Commonwealth Treasurer to see that additional funds are made available for the building of homes.
The need for adequate funds for the various State housing authorities is well known. That need has been described by the various State housing Ministers. I appeal to the Treasurer to make more money available, especially for homebuilding in rapidly developing communities. I ask him to try to raise the level of homebuilding so that it will be in harmony with the needs of Australia’s increasing population. I appeal to him, above all, to save the people who are being compelled to sign agreements with hire-purchase companies, at prohibitive interest at flat rates, from being ensnared and forced into such unfortunate circumstances. This is indeed a social cancer that ought to be cured, Mr. Speaker, if this Government will face up to any responsibility at all.
In view of the facts that I have put to the House this afternoon, I once again ask the Treasurer, first, to consider more sympathetically the need of co-operative building societies for additional funds to satisfy the applications that they receive from people who need homes. I ask the right honorable gentleman, secondly, to see to it that additional funds are made available to the State housing authorities. I ask him, thirdly, to see that the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is altered so that the State authorities may be able once again to provide housing at economic rentals which pensioners, people who are sick and those on modest incomes, will be able to pay.
Medical benefits are another subject which requires considerable discussion, but time will not permit me to embark upon it. My attention has been directed to an editorial in the “Daily Mirror” of 10th May last, which was headed, “The Great Drug Bungle”. That is a true description, Mr. Speaker. Everybody who has had any contact with this matter knows that on 1st March, the very day the revised pharmaceutical benefits scheme was to come into operation the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) published no fewer than seventeen pages of amendments to his own proposals. Those extensive amendments were delivered to the doctors and chemists for study on the day the scheme was introduced. What sort of a half-baked scheme must it have been when the Government had to take that action?
The views of the doctors and chemists are well known. I have a letter that was circulated by the British Medical Association from Sydney to the doctors in which the B.M.A. referred to the various unsavoury features of the scheme. If the Government wants to discharge its responsibility to look after the needs of the people, it should at least straighten out the anomalies affecting the pensioners, and see that justice is done to all the people. This is no longer a free medical scheme. If payments are to be made for prescriptions there is need for uniformity so that all pensioners, irrespective of whether they receive the full pension or only partial assistance are given the samepharmaceutical benefits. The necessity resign forms makes it more difficult for the doctors and chemists. It seems that thisGovernment, with a doctor of medicine as Minister for Health, is not prepared to trust the doctors or the chemists. All sorts of” confusing rules and regulations are applied’ to the medical and pharmaceutical benefits.
I should like to say something about social services, but time will not permit. However, I wish to express my disappointment and dismay at the failure of the Government during this sessional period to improve the lot of the pensioners. The pensioners wereled to believe before the Parliament met that some action would be taken to lift pensionrates in keeping with the general increases of income that were granted to most sections of the people in one form or another. Thefailure of the Government to do this is disturbing. I have a large number of people in my electorate who need help.
– Order! The honorable member’s time hasexpired.
– T wish to refer to a matter which comes under the administration of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in his capacity as Minister for Trade. On several’ occasions I have referred to him the problems of the flour industry in South Australia. I have been asked to refer to him again the need of the South Australian industry for a greater share of the export trade in flour. I should like the Minister to tell me whether the Australian Wheat Board has any control over the allocation of orders for flour or whether it is a matter between the millers in the various States to make their own bids and try to get the- trade. Those engaged in the industry in South Australia believe that they are not getting a fair share of Australia’s export trade in flour. They appreciate the efforts of the Acting Prime Minister in expanding the export trade in flour, but they would like a bigger share of it. I should like the Minister to supply the relevant information about markets to me in writing, and to inform me whose responsibility it is to allocate orders for flour.
– I will undertake to write to. the honorable member.
.- I listened with interest to the statement by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) on the Rip tragedy, and I endorse the expressions of appreciation that were voiced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I should also like to support the Leader of the Opposition in deploring the absence from the Parliament of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). During the past few months, the Opposition has been particularly concerned about this matter and has raised various points in public and in private discussions with the Minister for the Army.
The coroner’s inquiry seems to have been concerned exclusively with the responsibility for the decision that was made by Army personnel at the time. The coroner apparently sought to determine whether there was any error of judgment or any lack of proper consideration on the part of Army personnel. From the very beginning, honorable members on this side of the House have emphasized that there should be concern with other matters which apparently were not considered by the coroner. In the absence of any knowledge of the line of investigation at the Army inquiry into the tragedy, we are completely unaware at this stage whether those points have been considered at all.
I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will ensure that when the Minister for the Army makes a statement on this matter, he will state whether there was a proper inquiry into the condition of the ducks and other vessels which were actually used in the attempted crossing of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, whether the vessels were in good condition and whether they were suitable for the purpose. We have had no information on those points up to date.
Another question is whether the Army, the Minister for the Army or the department under his administration were at fault in still relying upon the ducks since the design of these amphibious vehicles has been unchanged since 1940 or 1941. Have any steps been taken to discover whether more efficient and powerful vessels of that type are available for use in manoeuvres of this kind, which involve considerable risk to troops? We know the risks that were involved in previous exercises of this kind, and we would like to know whether the Army or the Administration is at fault in not taking steps to obtain vehicles or craft better suited to the purpose. If they are not obtainable overseas, could they be built in Australia?
It seems that various boats are available, such as the Queenscliff lifeboat, which can enter the surf at the Rip and successfully negotiate the waters there. If a lifeboat of that type is available, why cannot the Army be equipped with a similar vessel capable of making such a crossing? It is possible that no such vessels are available in other parts of the world. If that is so, since we are faced with particular problems in Australia, we should design and produce such vessels ourselves. I should like to have information on these points.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is this: In Victoria recently, rent controls affecting some 75,000 to 100,000 homes occupied by pensioners and families in the low income groups were relaxed. This has resulted in great hardship. At the same time, the number of houses built by the Victorian Housing Commission has fallen from 4,500 to approximately 2,500 in four years. The waiting list for housing commission homes has increased from 11,000 to 17,000 at a time when persons who have been adversely affected by the relaxation of rent controls have to rely increasingly on the housing commission for some sort of accommodation.
I should like the Acting Prime Minister and the Government to take this situation into account if the Victorian Government asks for some assistance prior to the revision of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement next year. Any such agreement will not come into operation for nearly two years. I hope that this Government will do what it can to enable the
Victorian Housing Commission to increase the construction of houses to meet the emergency that has resulted from the relaxation of rent controls.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I sincerely regret that there is such a sparse attendance of Government members when very many important subjects are being raised by members of the Opposition. I have no doubt at all of the futility of raising these matters, knowing the general attitude of the Government and the contempt of Ministers for the Parliament and the people, but I think there are one or two things that it is wise to put on record.
One of the matters that I want to bring to the notice of Ministers, if they are interested at all, is the continued statement by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) that telephone tapping commenced in this country during the regime of the Chifley Government. I remember that, in his second-reading speech, the Attorney-General said that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization was established in March of 1949 and that phone tapping commenced three months later, which would be about June, 1949. Every remaining member of this Parliament who was a Minister in the Chifley Government has denied any knowledge of any such happening. Knowing Mr. Chifley as we did, we are therefore entitled to say to anybody who makes a statement which, in my opinion, could be a smear on his reputation, that evidence should be produced in support of the charge, and laid on the table of the House. Is there any evidence? If you examine what the little fuehrer said, you will recollect that-
Mr- WARD. - I did not refer to any member of this House.
– That remark will have to be withdrawn.
– Very well. I withdraw it. I say that this gentleman who has fuehrerlike characteristics-
– Who was that - the AfiDrney-General?
– Yes - the gentleman who introduced phone tapping on an official basis in this country. What does the Attorney-General say in respect of this matter? The Attorney-General has said to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), “ I will put you in touch with living persons who can verify my statement “. Who are the living persons? Are they people who can be depended upon to speak the truth? Is there no official record in this country that can be shown to the Leader of the Opposition to support the Attorney-General’s statement or is it merely based on hearsay? Is it possible only to produce some person who, in order to support the Attorney-General’s statement, is prepared to say that he was art horized to tap telephones? Does anybody in this Parliament who knew the late Mr.bChifley believe that he did business in such a slipshod manner? r:.
If there were any authorization here would be documents to prove it. Hvhere are the documents? They cannot be produced because the Attorney-General has not said that there is any documentary evidence in existence. All that he has undertaken to do is to put the Leader of the Opposition in touch with living persons who are able to support this allegation. This is not evidence that any reasonable member of this Parliament could accept. I say, quite frankly, that I do not believe the Attorney-General. Why does he not make the same offer to any other member of the Parliament? Other members of this Parliament were Ministers in the Chifley Government. Why does the AttorneyGeneral not offer to put us in touch with the living persons whom he says can substantiate his allegation?
There is no- doubt in the world that anybody who cares to examine the records will discover that, time and time again, the Prime Minister of this country, jn answering questions by myself and some of my colleagues, said repeatedly that there had been no phone tapping. If the AttorneyGeneral has the information that he claims to possess, surely it would also be in the possession of the Prime Minister, who is allegedly in charge of the security service. If the Prime Minister had that knowledge when he was answering our questions, what a very effective reply he could have given if he could have said that the Labour Government that preceded him had been engaged in telephone tapping! But he did not say that. He led this House to believe that there was no telephone tapping. He allowed the brand of untruthfulness to be placed on honorable members of this chamber. Then he skedaddled out of the country overseas because he did not want to be here when we were dealing with legislation to legalize telephone tapping. He did not want to be questioned on the lying replies that he had given to question after question in this Parliament.
I repeat, and I shall continue to repeat, that it is despicable, now, for the AttorneyGeneral 3 go after a dead man to substantiate his claim that the Chifley Government ha tapped telephones. If Mr. Chifley were alive and able to defend himself, the statement would never have been made. I say > s a damnable reflection on the reputation f an estimable Australian citizen to suggest that during his term of office - a period of peace - he had authorized the tapping of telephones.
I feel that I am not the only one who holds this viewpoint and who does not believe what the Attorney-General has said. I believe that the Attorney-General has deliberately misled this House because he wanted to create the impression in the Australian community that phone tapping was a practice of which all political parties approved. He recognized that the introduction of telephone tapping might have very drastic political repercussions, so he wanted to tie every political party to it. He has not produced any evidence to substantiate his claim, but has depended on using the name of a dead man who was the Prime Minister of this country at the time, alleging that he authorized phone tapping. The people of this country will be fully informed that there was no evidence to support the statement made by the AttorneyGeneral in this Parliament.
Let me turn to another subject-matter: I do not disagree with the replies that were given at question time this morning concerning assistance to those who suffered in the Chilean earthquake disaster. I do not argue that the Government should not do more for these people. But in considering the misery and distress that we all regret has occurred in that country, we must not lose sight of the fact that many unfortunate people in this country are now called upon to face mid-winter conditions without any material assistance being given to them by this Government.
If any honorable members doubt my word in this subject I invite them to accompany me to any of the underground railway stations in Sydney where they will see unfortunate women and men who have not anywhere to go. They have no shelter and they await their opportunity to get a railway seat. It is only because of the consideration and co-operation of railway employees that they are able to use the facilities of the railways in order to get a wash to freshen them on the following morning. In a recent television programme, an officer of the Sydney City Mission declared that every night the mission caters for approximately 120 homeless men and that it has to turn from 30 to 50 away because it has not beds available for them. The officer who appeared on this session declared that at least one person died every night because of malnutrition and exposure to the elements.
I want the Government, instead of telling us how much money it has spent on pensions, to look at this subject from the viewpoint of the unfortunate person who probably has to pay £2 or £3 a week in rent for a room and then has insufficient left to provide himself with food and clothing. That is the situation in which many people find themselves to-day. This Parliament is going into recess and we are doing nothing about it. The Government has given an undertaking that it has the Chilean situation constantly under review and that when it knows the magnitude of the disaster it will consider giving further aid. The Opposition invites and encourages the Government to do that. We do not want to take aid away from those unfortunate people, but we want the Government to provide aid for these unfortunate Australian citizens who find themselves in such great need. Let me turn briefly to one other matter.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to put one or two things straight before Parliament goes into recess. First of all, if members of the Opposition think that the whole of the Australian population are up in arms about the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Bill they are very wide of the- mark. I understand that the leading members of the Opposition wanted to adopt a certain course with regard to that measure, but that certain backbench members, and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), were not agreeable, as they thought it would stir up strife throughout Australia. Since the bill passed this House I have travelled fairly extensively throughout the country and have made it my business to engage in conversation with various people to ascertain their opinion on the “ phonetapping” provisions. Everywhere I went I found that it was a dead letter. The people were not apprehensive about it. Those to whom I spoke said, “ Yes, if the authorities think that something is going to be said that is prejudicial to the welfare of the Commonwealth, then every means should be used to bring those people to account according to the law “, That is the story.
A few moments ago the honorable member for East Sydney referred to a statement made by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) concerning the late Mr. Chifley. The honorable member knows quite well that if the information is on record that Mr. Chifley did permit phone tapping, it cannot be tabled because it is an aspect of the security service. Of course, nothing would please the honorable member better than to have the Attorney-General bring forward this information. He would then immediately ask, “What is the good of the security service? “ Obviously, the AttorneyGeneral is following the right course in not producing this information. It is very clear that that is all the honorable member for East Sydney wants, and every honorable member of this Parliament should know it; but that is also the very reason why the Attorney-General will not make the details available.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) referred to the plight of pensioners and others during the approaching winter. Every honorable member is sympathetic with people in their condition. The honorable member suggested that the Government should make more money available to help these people. I do not doubt that in respect to many cases he is right. However, about three weeks ago I listened to a broadcast from Melbourne entitled, “ Victoria’s Labour Hour “, in which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who has also spoken here within the last hour, was the speaker. He stated that the Labour Party had put forward a proposition at each election to spend large sums of money on social services, pensions, child endowment and all manner of things. I regret that the honorable member is at present not in the chamber because I wish to quote his exact words, which I wrote down, and I should like him to be here while I do so. Members of the Opposition frequently remark on the fact that members on the Government side are absent at times from the chamber, but possibly the honorable member has been called to the phone as is often the case. When speaking in this broadcast he said, speaking of the social service benefits promised by the Labour Party-
We have never been willing to say how they can be paid for.
Any one who cares to obtain a copy of the script of that broadcast will find that I have quoted the exact words the honorable member used. He said that the Labour Party had never been willing to say how these election baits in the form of social services would be paid for. Of course, members of the Opposition know that that is very true. It is very easy for Labour supporters, at election time, when they have no responsibility, to talk in astronomical figures about all the benefits they will provide, but at the same time, make no reference as to how they will be paid for. Because of that very fact Labour has suffered the same fate time after time during the last ten years. But worse things than that are happening. I listen to this broadcast regularly because I get information and find out what Labour men and women are saying. As a result of hearing one of these broadcasts, I asked in a question to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) whether he would confer with the Leader of the Opposition in an endeavour to eliminate the foreign language broadcasts in this session seeing that we want migrants in this country to speak the English language. I am happy to say that, as far as I know, there have not been any foreign language broadcasts on that session since, ?nd I have listened fairly regularly. At least my question had some effect.
I want to refer to one other matter connected with this broadcast session. It is obvious that those responsible for it in some instances do not worry about the truth at all. Recently a lady spoke in the session. Perhaps I should express sympathy for her, but I will not mention her name now. Obviously she was reading a script which had been prepared for her. Among other things she said that the Australian Labour Party has a written platform and policy which is available to any one. I should like to have a copy. But then she went on to add that the Labour Party is the only political party in Australia that has a written platform and policy. I do not want to use words that are too harsh, but if any honorable member can tell me of any statement that is more inaccurate than that I should like to hear it. The Liberal Party has a written platform and policy and so has the Australian Country Party. Every member of the Labour Party knows that, even if this lady did not and was speaking in error. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Bird), Darebin, (Mr. Courtnay) and Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), all of whom have spoken on this session, know that both Government parties have written policies. Why do they not put this lady right?
– I did not know you had a policy.
– The honorable member is the only member of the Labour Party who does not know. These prominent members of the Labour Party whom I have mentioned all know that the Country Party and the Liberal Party have a written policy. I have heard them quote from them in this House. Still, they are prepared to allow this lady to read a script of this sort which is completely untrue. Why should these things be allowed to happen? Is this what honorable members opposite call clever political propaganda? If it is, I should say that it is not appreciated by people who know what is happening. But that is the sort of thing that is going on all the time during this “ Victoria’s Labour Hour “ broadcast.
The Leader of the Opposition, in one of the broadcasts, said that the only salvation for eastern countries is a democratic socialist government. Eastern countries have had enough of democratic socialist governments. Some people say that socialism is the stepping-stone to communism. Let us make no mistake about it - it is the springboard. Members of the Opposition are careful what they say in this House and they would not dare allege here that the Goverment parties have not a written platform and policy, because we would produce copies. But whenever they broadcast on “ Victoria’s Labour Hour “ they are much bolder. I shall continue to listen to that broadcast, and I will also continue to expose in this House inaccurate statements that are made during the session.
– I will not take very long, but I feel impelled to rise and say something in reply to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). He said that nowhere in his electorate has he found any one who is the least bit interested in the Government’s decision to tap private telephones and intercept conversations.
– I said that no one was apprehensive about it.
– I will accept the honorable member’s correction, but all I can say is that he has not been mixing with the type of people who are represented by the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, the Rev. Alan Walker and Father Ryan, a Roman Catholic spokesman in Sydney. These three eminent gentlemen and others, whose names do not come to my mind readily at the moment, indicated in this morning’s press, in both the “ Daily Telegraph “ and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in no uncertain manner, their objection to and apprehension of this intrusion on the civil rights of the individual. The Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, who has since been supported by most, if not all, of the Anglican priests in that locality - at least none has disagreed with him - has gone to the trouble of delivering a lecture on the subject condemning the practice of the Government and saying how much it militated against his conception of decency and the rights of man. The Rev. Alan Walker, who is recognized all over Australia as one of the main spokesmen for the Methodist Church has likewise condemned the practice that this Government has now decided to legalize.
– He would! He and the honorable member for Yarra speak the same language.
-I agree, and I am glad the honorable member has made that interjection, because he has provided the answer to those who suggest that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and Khrushchev are speaking the same language.
– That is right
– You agree with that?
– The honorable member for Griffith agrees that Khrushchev and the honorable member for Yarra and the Reverend Alan Walker speak the same language.
– That is right.
– It is well to have that on record. I do not think that in the future any member of the Methodist Church in Australia will take much notice of views expressed by a person who states publicly in this House that the Reverend Alan Walker is a man who speaks the language of Khrushchev. The honorable member’s statement indicates to what extent he and his colleagues are prepared to go.
– The Reverend Alan Walker was the leader of the Mission to the Nation.
– As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reminds me, the Reverend Alan Walker was the leader of the Mission to the Nation, and now it is being suggested that he speaks the language of Khrushchev. It is a most despicable charge to make and it indicates just what notice we can take of the smear campaign that the honorable member and his fellow members are engaged in. It indicates the way they are prepared to smear decent, honorable, upstanding men like the honorable member for Yarra, and it shows that we can disregard them altogether.
It is important also to remember that the Reverend Father Ryan, who is described as being a spokesman of the Roman Catholic Church, said this morning that there was no justification, except in time of war and in proved cases of espionage, for the tapping of telephones. We know, however, that the telephones of trade unions are being tapped - unions that no one could be justified in thinking were carrying on espionage activities. Every one knows that within very recent times the telephones of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) have been tapped. How else would “ News Weekly “ have obtained information for its published statement that the telephone of the honorable member for Parkes was being used to ring up the Reverend Keith Dowding and also to ring up Mr. Joe Chamberlain in Perth? How would “ News Weekly “ have been able to discover that the telephone was being used for these purposes if that telephone had not been tapped? This gives clear and absolute proof that the telephone of a member of the Federal Parliament has been tapped. It would not have been possible for the publication concerned to have obtained the information if the telephone had not been tapped, and honorable members opposite know very well that what I am saying is absolutely true.
– Answer my other charges.
– I will come to your other charges later. I have a note here, “ Answer the other ridiculous charges “, and I will come to them in a moment. I want to deal, first, with the controversy that has arisen on the question of whether or not Mr. Chifley authorized the tapping of telephones. Well, I do not know whether he authorized it or not. I, like the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) would be very surprised if it were subsequently revealed that telephones had been tapped on the authorization of Mr. Chifley. I would be even more surprised if I were to discover subsequently that such authorization was given as indicated in the press statement for the purpose of listening in on telephone conversations of trade unionists who were involved in the coal strike of 1949, because that would be one of the most reprehensible uses of the power to intercept telephone conversations. The coal strike was a purely industrial dispute, and no one could possibly have authorized the tapping of the telephone of a trade union involved in that dispute on the ground of suspected espionage.
I want to make a suggestion to the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). I am not accusing the Attorney-General of telling lies, because somebody might have told him lies. I do not know whether that is so, and in any event what the Minister was told may not have been lies. Nobody knows. But in view of the controversy that has arisen from these charges, I suggest that the Attorney-General should make the security file, which allegedly reveals the authorization of telephone tapping by the late Mr. Chifley, available to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Does the Government take the view, in its reckless disregard for truth and its Mccarthyite attempts to smear members of the Opposition at all times, that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, who, if a Labour government were returned, would become the Prime Minister of this country and have charge of the security service by virtue of his office, is not to be trusted with such information? I say that such a belief could constitute the only justification for the Government’s refusal to give the Leader of the Opposition access to this file.
I am sure that the Director-General of Security would not take up a position in which he would not be prepared to trust with this information the person who will become the future administrator of his department. Of course he would not. Therefore I suggest that the Government ought to clear up this matter once and for all, in the interests of the people of Australia at large, who have now become most concerned about this whole business and who are very interested in the charges made by the honorable member for East Sydney. Many people who are not Labour supporters, but who are supporters of the Liberal Government, but not so completely prejudiced as to agree with everything the Government says, are starting to take the view that it is entirely wrong to accuse a former Prime Minister of having agreed to the interception of telephone conversations without giving some proof of it. Those people believe that the stage has been reached at which the Government ought to dear the air once and for all, and that the only way to do this is to let the Leader of the Opposition see the file. The honorable member for East Sydney asks for no more than this. He does not want to see the file himself; he is prepared to allow the matter to be dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition. But the Attorney-General says quite plainly that he is not prepared to give the Leader of the Opposition access to these files, and that is the point we want to clear up.
Now I want to talk about the charges made against the security service. Every time a charge is made against the security service, people in this House, who, incidentally, have no right to say such things about members of Parliament, have the audacity and the hide to suggest that such charges are irresponsible. They actually have the cheek to use that word in describing such charges. The plain truth of the matter is that nobody in this House has authority to deny charges about security interference. No member of this House has the right to describe these accusations as being irresponsible, because unless he, himself, is a member of the security service, he cannot possibly disprove the charges.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 had not intended to rise in this debate, but I must say that the protestations of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) about decency and the rights of men make every decent member of this House sick. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has, during the last fortnight, done what I believe to be one of the most despicable things ever to have come to my knowledge during my membership of this Parliament. The honorable member talks about decency and the rights of men, but during the debate on the tapping of telephones he saw fit to drag into the debate the name of a completely innocent junior employee of the Parliament. He was quite willing to bandy that person’s name about and to make accusations against him which have caused him deep distress, although, on later investigation, not one single shred of evidence was found to substantiate the honorable member’s accusations. The honorable member had not the slightest evidence available to him before making his charge; he made the charge purely for the sake of strengthening the point he was trying to make.
The honorable member has done this kind of thing previously. He probably makes more irresponsible and baseless charges against individuals than any other member of this House, with the possible exception of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Usually they are made against the people who can look after themselves. But this man cannot look after himself. He is a new Australian who, I am reminded by a colleague, came from Latvia. He is in a very humble position. Those two points may have some significance. All of us who know him know that he is a migrant. He is extremely proud of the position that he has established here. He is a small man - the sort of man we welcome to the country and for whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh is always trying to imply the Labour Party stands. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has brought that man’s world - the position that he has established here after his former life on the other side of the world was shattered - down around his ears for nothing more than his own purposes.
We know that when this matter was investigated by Mr. Speaker the honorable member for Hindmarsh was unable to produce to him any evidence in support of his allegations. But that is not all. Two members of the honorable member’s own party - the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) - have publicly stated that there is no substance in these charges. I think that all of us, whatever we may think of this Parliament before we come to it, after a little while here - and it does not take very long - absorb some of the atmosphere of the place. All of us feel that, in this institution, there is something worth preserving, and when one of our colleagues makes charges such as these he detracts from the dignity and the position of this place. I suggest, Sir, that as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has taken this course of action, any attempt he makes here in the future to refer to such things as principles, decency, dignity and the rights of man will certainly receive no credence among other honorable members.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has just made a personal attack on the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) based mainly on newspaper allegations about a general statement. There is no evidence of what was actually said. I have read in the newspaper, with my own eyes, word for word, the allegations made against the honorable member for Hindmarsh. They were newspaper allegations. The honorable member for Hindmarsh can substantiate everything that he has said in this Parliament because the whole thing is such a cloak-and-dagger business - security and phone tapping and trying to create diversions by making allegations. The remarks made by the honorable member for Barker were a personal attack against the honorable member for Hindmarsh and in no way did he answer the criticism levelled against the Attorney-General, this telephone tapping and the security service.
I rose to deal with a snide accusation made against a man who cannot answer for himself in this Parliament, and I take to task the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) for the allegations that he made about the Reverend Alan Walker. They constitute a smear on that gentleman’s reputation by implying that a man of his courage is the same as Khrushchev - a Communist. I ask that the honorable member for Griffith get on his feet and apologize, for if there is in this country one man who should be respected on all sides it is the Reverend Alan Walker. I say that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), who is a personal friend of the Reverend Alan Walker, should be on his feet to defend him. The honorable member in personal discussions has told me he is a friend of the Reverend Alan Walker. If any friend of mine were attacked in this Parliament I would be on my feet in an instant to defend him. We all know this Sane Democracy League with which the honorable member for Griffith is lined up. He is a “ oncer “ in this Parliament. I will go up to his electorate to make sure that these allegations about the Reverend Alan
Walker are known there. As for the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), eveybody knows my respect for him. He is a tried and proven man and in the Budget session he will answer for himself.
I want to get some new thinking among members of the Government in these closing stages of the session, for the next three months will be a critical period in the history of the world. Has any Government supporter read the editorial in this morning’s issue of the Melbourne “ Age “, headed “New Thinking About China”? Even capitalists can re-think, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should do some rethinking. We know he once went around belting the war drums, but he is now a man of great conciliatory powers. He knows that there must be world peace and he is striving for it. However, he does not have the courage to tell the Americans that they have to change their line and recognize red China. I wish to read portion of the editorial quoting the Prime Minister’s words -
Communist China is still “numerically and potentially “ a greater Power than the Soviet Union, … its population is increasing so rapidly that many of us may live to see it with 1,000 million people . . .
That is common sense. Many other honorable members have said the same thing. It is unreal that America has not recognized people’s China. The editorial goes on to say -
The causes of this antipathy are already historical, but they have been built into the structure of American politics, and it would need a brave President to announce a national change of front, even if he were not waiting upon a Presidential election in six months’ time. But sooner or later such a change of front must be made if the U.N. is to continue to operate as a world parliament and not as a sectional group.
Those are true words. If we are to have world disarmament and world peace, all realistic people must strive to ensure that continental China becomes a member of the United Nations. As far back as 1955, the Labour Party at the Hobart conference announced that we believed that continental China should be recognized and admitted as a member of the United Nations. This editorial in to-day’s paper says the same thing, and I ask Government members to prod the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers. For Heaven’s sake get some viewpoint of your own and abandon the American policy - a policy of foolish men - that will not face up to this problem! The editorial continues -
But the time has come when some of America’s allies should indulge in a little plain talking on this urgent topic. The Prime Minister has reminded his Seato colleagues that the nation which has the greatest population and potentially the greatest power in the world lies in the Pacific, and it is a simple corollary of his remarks that no disarmament agreement can have any binding force while China remains an uncommitted outlaw.
That is true enough. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) can smile, but he knows that at the recent Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference held in this chamber the Indian and Ceylon delegates asked the visiting United States senators to recognize red China because the only way in which this problem can be solved is for all the nations of the world, the great nations in particular, to gather round the table and discuss it. The only way in which we can solve the problem of disarmament in this nuclear age is to get together and discuss the matter. Long ago this Government should have had the courage to urge that continental China be recognized and admitted to the United Nations.
We know there is confused thinking on the Government benches. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) says we must trade with red China. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) says that we should not trade with red China. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) says the money in the Country Party’s pocket is blood-stained through trade with red China. I know that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) is not in favour of the recognition of red China. I must say, however, that despite his many failings, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) does seem to be changing his thinking a little. I hope that soon he will have sufficient courage to stand up to our American allies and say, “We have just about had this. We realize that the only realistic way to achieve world peace is to recognize continental China.”
Frankly, I do not think the boisterous speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is deserving of an answer, but this may be an opportune time to relate to the honorable member a story which is very much in circulation. The story is that the honorable member has been knocked out so frequently that the advertising rights on the soles of his feet have been sub-let. 1 was fascinated by the fevered plea he made for an understanding of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). According to him, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, this saintly soul who wears a red carnation in his buttonhole - possibly to identify the colour of his politics - is much maligned by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). I think the honorable member for Barker showed his customary restraint and his remarkable sense of charity because I thought that what the honorable member for Hindmarsh did to an employee of this Parliament, a very humble person but nevertheless an Australian citizen, was scandalous.
What are the facts? A cleaner in this building who was driven out of Latvia by oppression and cruelty - the very things that the honorable member for Hindmarsh protests that he opposes - who is very grateful that he has been able to come to Australia, and who carries out his duties to the best of his ability, is maligned by a member of the Commonwealth Parliament! He cannot stand up in this place and defend himself. He cannot write to the columns of the more powerful Australian daily newspapers in the hope that his views will be published, and I suggest to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that his stature both as a Parliamentarian and a man would be enhanced if he were to go to the man whom he has maligned in this grievous and wicked way and say to him, “ I am sorry for what I have done “. Having said that, I just want to make one other observation about the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– What about the honorable member for East Sydney?
– I shall deal with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in a fortnight’s time, and I am looking forward to that. I want to deal with the honorable member for Hindmarsh who pulled in, as it were, the authority of various church spokesmen in the matter of telephone tapping. I do not think that does him very much credit at all. When he says that the Anglican Bishop of New castle prepared a paper on this matter and delivered it, he is talking complete nonsense. It was merely in the course of his charge to the Anglican Synod that the Bishop of Newcastle made what I think were extremely superficial and fleeting references to telephone tapping. With the greatest of respect to my lord bishop, I strongly suspect that that gentleman has not read the legislation relating to telephone tapping and certainly has not read the report of the parliamentary debate upon that legislation. It is the simplest thing in the world for some one to go out of his way to invoke the authority of a church dignitary and then imagine that from there on he has a most attractive argument, which, while being capable of being attacked, is not capable of being destroyed.
While it is perfectly true that churchmen have not only a right but an obligation to take an interest in political matters, it must not be presumed that any member of a church speaks for all the adherents of the church in these matters. I say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and to the honorable member for East Sydney, who is going to move in strange company in a few weeks time - and I think he will benefit greatly by that - that the charges they have made this afternoon concerning telephone tapping have been grossly extravagant and undeserving of them. I am sure that any person looking sensibly and realistically at the problem would not for one moment attach to the legislation the same fears that they do.
.- I suppose it is at least with some cold comfort that we retire into the recess with the knowledge that two of the rather reactionary, conservative and cautious types who sit on the Government benches have at last risen to their feet in defence of the rights of the common man; to know that at last the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) is stricken with some sympathy for the ordinary person’s civil rights. The same can be said of the honorable member tor Moreton (Mr. Killen). During the four and a half years that I have sat in this Parliament they have proceeded with vigour to trespass upon every civil right and every political right of the rest of the community.
It is progress indeed to see this changeof attitude on their part.
This has been an interesting afternoon of contradictions. We have had the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) standing here - speaking to us,I suppose, although hardly at us-
– Mumbling to us.
– Mumbling to himself. I do wish he would use some of the skill he ordinarily displays in preparing his matter, to speak to us so that he may be more easily heard from this side. He was giving an account of an international conference he attended in Warsaw. He attended it with some pride; he attended it as our Australian representative, yet he attended it as the representative of a Government which is doing its best not to recognize Poland’s existence. This again is one of the contradictions with which the country is beset. As we move into recess we are beset with the concern of the ordinary people of the country at the fact that many of the world’s problems and many of the domestic problems facing us are being ignored by the Government.
When I speak on the subject of phone tapping, I believe I speak for thousands of ordinary people. We do not need to read the legislation, we do not need to get out the law books, we do not need to look up precedents, to know that there is something fundamentally wrong with spying and peeping upon ordinary citizens for a reason which is concealed even from the alternative Prime Minister. That is one of the things that offend me as an ordinary member of this Parliament. On this side, there are some five or six former Ministers of the Crown. On the other side, apart from the Ministry, there are some two or three who have held portfolios. These are all people who, by a quirk of the ballot, a turn of fate could have been entrusted with the role of Prime Minister, but apparently nobody is to be entrusted with the information which I believe ought to be available to Parliament itself, and most certainly to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is the fundamental distrust which this Government shows not only of the public but also of the leading members of this Parliament, which ought to cause the people of Australia grave concern. I have no doubt that what the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) said inadvertently when he was trapped-
– He was not trapped.
– Then the position becomes even firmer. He has said in this House, by way of interjection, that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), Mr. Khrushchev and the Reverend Alan Walker speak with one voice. Then to make sure of it, he admitted that he meant that the Reverend Alan Walker and Mr. Khrushchev speak with one voice.
-I said they speak the same language.
– The honorable member has said that he used the phrase, “ the same language “. This is probably an even greater transgression upon semantics. But I will avoid a discussion on that point. The honorable member can rest assured that the people in his electorate will be told between now and the end of next year how expert is their representative in advocating telephone tapping, trespassing upon human rights, and the use of McCarthy’s technique in smear tactics. He is an exponent of those techniques.
I rose principally to deal with my friend, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull).
– You left it a little late.
– Honorable members can see his friendly, tolerant approach; he is still a friend of mine even though he is a member of the Australian Country Party. The party for which he speaks has been notorious over thelast 40 years of its existence for its fight for the preservation of the right of minorities to trample on the rights of the majority and to control and obstruct the Parliament of Australia.Over the last eight or ten years we have heard some historic statements on the redistribution of electorates. The honorable member for Mallee is one of the leading supporters of that policy.
– The Country Party is in a bad way now.
– I admit that it is suffering badly, but that is the way things go. The honorable member supports the principle that four people in the City of Melbourne should have only the same voting power as one person who lives in a country electorate. He believes that sandhills, spinifex and skeleton weed are more important than people. He is an advocate of the principle of space taking the place of people in the deliberations of this Parliament.
That is only one of the crimes in the Country Party’s political calendar. During the last five or six years in Victoria the party has been guilty of hanging three people at once, one of whom was a woman. It has been associated in the last few years to my knowledge in all the mischievous political policies possible, the gerrymandering of electorates, the use of Mccarthyite techniques, floggings, hangings and all the brutalisms of the old convict system. The Country Party has fought for the preservation of all those things. And the Liberal Party cannot dissociate itself from these things. The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) - that advocate of General Motors-Holden’s Limited’s domination of Australian industry and friend of Syngman Rhee - interjected a moment ago with some statement about unity tickets. He does not understand much about the principles of unionism, solidarity, and sticking to your mates, but he also can rest assured that the people in his electorate will be told all about him. His unity ticket is with the supporters of the South Korean Government who have developed some of the most pernicious political doctrines in Asia. However, I do not wish to discuss that matter further. I simply raised it this evening to make it quite clear to honorable gentlemen opposite that in the next eighteen months there will be a very forthright campaign to make sure that the people in their electorates know what they have stood for, espoused and advocated in this place - telephone tapping, of which they are such ardent supporters - the domination of Australian industry by monopolies like General MotorsHolden’s Limited, which was the theme of the speech of the honorable member for Ballaarat - and the support of reactionary, nasty and the most mischievous characters in history like Syngman Rhee, Chiang Kai-shek and all the rest of that brood.
I should like to deal now with the matter of naturalization, something which the Ministry can consider during the recess. I know that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is one of the most liberal and conservative members of the Ministry - one can be a Liberal and a Conservative at the same time - and he has proved that he has a humanitarian approach to matters which come before him.
– He shines like a good deed in a naughty world.
– Yes, but he hides his light under a bushel or whatever people hide their lights under these days. I hope that his attitude towards the people whom I have in mind will be a little more humanitarian in the future than it has been in the past. I refer to the right of people already in Australia to bring incapacitated and physically handicapped people from overseas. I hope that he will personally examine every rejection by his department of an application for naturalization. If he does that, I promise not to work against him in his electorate during the next election campaign as vigorously as we shall work against some of his colleagues in their electorates.
.- The Opposition has taken its share of the time which has been made available for this adjournment debate, so I do not need to apologize for detaining the House for a moment or two. I should not like the House to go into recess with the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) thinking he had prompted me to rise to my feet because of what he said. I trust that I shall deal appropriately with the pointed references which he made to myself. I wanted particularly to rise because of the comments of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). My friend and colleague, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) most appropriately and very forthrightly dealt with the despicable attitude of the honorable member for Hindmarsh in and around this place. Apparently, he likes not only to wear a red flower in his button hole but also to introduce into his contributions in this chamber many red herrings. That is what he did a little while ago so that he would have the opportunity to criticize further the legislation in relation to telephone tapping. He is interjecting now. Apparently he does not like things thrown at him in this way. He used the name of a churchman in his usual fashion.
The honorable member for Reid, remembering that I had met and had a friendly conversation with the Reverend Alan Walker in the precincts of this House thought that he had a chance to get me to my feet. I am happy to oblige him and to make the point that my friendship with the Reverend Alan Walker does not necessitate my rising to defend him for anything that he may say. The Reverend Alan Walker is quite capable of fending for himself. If I am to have a friendship of any quality with members of the Opposition, or with people who do not think in politics in the same way as I do, that is all right. The honorable member needs to be reminded that we do not all follow the same line of politics. As all honorable members know, the politics which I follow are widely divergent from those which are followed by the Reverend Alan Walker. But I can still be friendly with him. I can still, in a democratic country and in a Church which is highly regarded, have fellowship with a man whose politics are poles apart from mine. That is the situation.
I am happy to call the Reverend Alan Walker a personal friend. I have been in his home and I have been on his platform, as has the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam); but the difference between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and myself is that while, last Sunday afternoon, he was using the Reverend Alan Walker’s platform in Sydney for political purposes, I was on the same platform a week before as a delegate to a Church conference, and I did not touch in any way on any political subject. I notice that my statement has prompted the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to come to the table, but he may not have the opportunity to reply. I was there as a churchman, my friend, and if you listen to me I hope to do you some good.
– Ah, I am saved at last.
– Perhaps so. The one point I must make clear is that the Reverend Alan Walker must state his own opinion. He holds no office in the general conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia. That conference concluded about ten days ago in Sydney. He does not speak in the name of the Methodist Church of Australia. I want to remind the honor able member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for Reid, and all those associated with them - the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) should, because of his long association with the same church, nod his head in agreement with what I say - that such men speak in the name of the church only when they speak in accordance with resolutions that have been carried and sustained by the church in general conference. At the conference in Sydney only a few days ago, there was no resolution at all on the subject of telephone tapping.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh speaks as if telephone tapping is a major item, which is the subject of thousands of complaints. I have not mentioned the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is a close associate of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but he is in the same category. This is the significant point. The member for Swan has not received one complaint in any form about the legislation to which honorable members opposite have been addressing their comments. I guarantee that there is a host of other members on my side of the House who are in a similar position. This subject, therefore, is a red herring introduced by the honorable member for Hindmarsh so that he could take the opportunity of having another political dig at the government of the day.
– Honorable members will pardon me, I hope, for intervening at this stage. I do so only because the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) quite gratuitously mentioned my name in reply to the taunts which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) had levelled at him. The honorable member for Reid said that the honorable member for Swan had, on Sunday week, spoken at the church of the Reverend Alan Walker and should repudiate the things which the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) had said about the Reverend Alan Walker. The honorable member for Swan then dragged my name in, because I had spoken at the Reverend Alan Walker’s church last Sunday. The honorable member for Swan went on, quite wantonly, to suggest that the difference between him and me was that I talked politics. I did nothing of the sort. I completely reject the suggestion, and I resent it.
– Going by press reports, you did.
– The honorable gentleman who has dragged my name into this says that he was going by press reports. He should know, as anybody in Parliament should know, that a man in public life who speaks in any forum or in any medium can control what he says, but he cannot control what selection is made from what he says. I am prepared at any time to stand up to anything I say in this Parliament or to anything that I authorize in any publication, but I am not responsible, nor is anybody else so situated responsible, for what is selected by the newspapers from what is said in any forum or in any medium. I did not speak politics on that occasion. The subject that I talked on was suggested to me by Mr. Walker.
– What was it?
– The relationship of the church to society. Quite appropriately, I spoke on some aspects of social morality. I appreciated the invitation to speak at the Central Methodist Mission on its seventysixth anniversary. I appreciated that invitation not least because it came from Mr. Walker. I do not believe that I trespassed on the goodwill of the people who asked me to speak or of the hundreds of people who heard me in the church or of the thousands who were listening on the radio.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 6.10 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. I am not aware that any of the papers listed in my answer to the honorable member’s previous question, which appeared in “ Hansard” on 5th April, 1960, are “political” publications in the sense that they are controlled by political parties.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Apartheid Policy in South Africa.
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, 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: -
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. I remind the honorable member of what Mr. Chifley said in this House on 10th March, 1949 (see “Hansard”, volume 201, page 1258). He said, in answer to a question with respect to the operations of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization - “ I certainly will not answer questions asked about the organization merely for political party propaganda purposes.”
I also refer the honorable member to my own statements in a like connexion (see “ Hansard”, 18th May,1960, pages 1808 and 1809, and 19th May,1960, pages 1915 and 1916). I propose to follow the course indicated and do not intend to answer the honorable member’s question.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What residents of Australia, temporary or otherwise, are exempt from the provisions of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
This question can be answered by repeating what I said in my second-reading speech on the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Bill, namely - “ Honorable members will have observed that there is no group in the community whose telephone services are exempt from the operation of this bill”.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What sum would have been collected for national welfare (a) since the end of 1949 and (b) during each taxation year since 1949, if the method of assessment and collection of income for this purpose had not been altered?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Presumably the honorable member is referring to the “ social services contribution “ which first became payable on 1st January, 1946. Amounts equivalent to the proceeds of this tax (along with amounts equivalent to the proceeds of the payroll tax which had been introduced in 1941 to assist in financing child endowment) were appropriated to the National Welfare Fund in the financial years 1945-46 to 1951-52, inclusive. The following amounts have been paid into the National Welfare Fund since 1949 in respect of these collections: -
On 1st July, 1951, the social services contribution was merged with income tax and other arrangements were made for the financing of the National Welfare Fund. It is not possible to say what amounts would have been collected as “ social services contribution “ if it had continued as a separate levy.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 5. In a public statement on 27th May, I indicated that the Government has agreed to the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission that the Commonwealth Government should establish an expert salaries committee to consider university salaries and other related matters and also that the Government is prepared to meet its share of a rise in basic professorial salaries in State universities to £4,000 per annum from 1st July, I960. I have informed the Canberra University College that these recommmendations will apply to the college.
t. - Further to the answer given to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), in response to his question of 11th May, concerning Part II., Division 1, of the Banking Act 1959, I am now able to provide the following information: -
As I indicated on 10th May, 1960, in my reply to an earlier question by the honorable member, the implications of the provisions of Part II., Division 1, of the Banking Act 1959 in relation to certain forms of business activity are under consideration. Broadly speaking, the forms of business activity concerned are those which involve the borrowing of money from the public and the use of the money so borrowed for the making of loans.
The question whether the results of the study will be stated will be considered at the appropriate time.
On 12th May, the honorable member for Yarra asked me the following questions: -
On 31st May, I informed him -
The honorable member’s question is under consideration and a reply will be forwarded to him by letter.
I now have the following information: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 June 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600602_reps_23_hor27/>.