House of Representatives
1 September 1964

25th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · KooyongPrime Minister · LP

– I wish to inform the House that the Treasurer has left Australia to attend a meeting of Commonwealth finance ministers and the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and associated institutions. He will be absent until 27th September. Until his return I will act as Treasurer. The Minister for the Army, who assists the Treasurer in Treasury matters, will assist me during the Treasurer’s absence.

The Minister for Supply will visit the United Kingdom and Europe to undertake personal negotiation at the ministerial level of several matters relating to his portfolio. He will leave Australia on 4th September and return on 2nd or 3rd October. Over that time the Minister for Shipping and Transport will be Acting Minister for Supply. Under present arrangements the Minister for Supply represents the Minister for Defence in this House. While he is absent the Minister for External Affairs will represent the Minister for Defence in this House. The Minister for Civil Aviation will also be making a brief visit overseas on government business. He will be away from 2nd to 23rd September. During that period the Minister for Defence will act as Minister for Civil Aviation.

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Dr J F Cairns:

– Is the Minister for Social Services aware of the many requests by and on behalf of pensioners for removal of the means test which prevents pensioners with an additional income of £2 a week or more from getting the benefits of the medical scheme? Will he tell the House that there is some possibility of looking at these requests again so that they will not be continually rejected as they have been over the years? I ask him this because of the accumulation of evidence of the great difficulty experienced by pensioners whose in- come is just a little above the maximum allowed and who lose the benefit of that income because of having to pay medical fees.

Minister for Social Services · RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The honorable member for Yarra should know that the conditions that apply in respect of the granting of a pensioner medical card and the qualifications necessary for a person to receive one are laid down in the National Health Act. The Minister for Social Services has no power to alter the position in any way.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. Is there any truth in the report that the Minister and his Department are studying a scheme under which the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund would be used to provide large amounts of money to finance home building under the proposed housing loan insurance scheme?

Minister for Housing · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I have seen newspaper reports to this effect. I understand the position is that the investment of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund is at the sole discretion of the members of the Superannuation Board, who exercise an independent statutory authority. Neither I nor the officers of my Department have had any discussions with the members of the Board and, in fact, we do not have any such matter in contemplation.

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– Has the AttorneyGeneral’s attention been drawn to recent statements by members of the judiciary, wherein the judges have expressed concern at the manner in which the costs of litigation have increased? Is he aware of the statement of one learned judge in divorce who respectfully suggests that there is a most urgent need for law reform in this field? Is he also aware of a statement, made by another learned gentleman, that costs have effectively closed the doors of justice to the ordinary man? In view of the fact that it appears that justice is in danger of being priced out of the range of the ordinary citizen, can the Attorney-General indicate whether he proposes to take action in this matter? If so, can he inform the House of his plans.

Attorney-General · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– The honorable gentleman has referred to two separate and distinct matters, one of recent origin and the other arising a month or more ago. The first relates to the costs of divorce. The judge who made the comment had the courtesy to send me a copy of his judgment, which I received today and to which I am giving consideration. As to the matter raised, there are really two aspects - first, high costs and, secondly, the question of uniformity. The Matrimonial Causes Act provides rules which prescribe fees for filing documents, as distinct from costs. At the time of its introduction my predecessor decided - and I am bound to say that I agree with the decision - that it was undesirable to set a scale of costs, because to do so would mean that there would be different scales of costs for divorce proceedings and for ordinary civil litigation. The Act provides that rules of court as to costs may be made by judges.

The question of a uniform scale has been raised at different times. On each occasion it has been rejected after consultation with the State authorities. On the last occasion it was raised, the Law Council of Australia, which represents the constituent bodies of all States, very strongly represented that there should be no uniform scale of costs. As to whether the costs are high, I think I am bound to say that the legislation was drafted so as not to make divorce easier. At the same time, it was drafted on the basis that all ancillary matters could be pleaded beforehand so that when a case got to the court a final order would be made, not just as to the substance of the ground for the suit for divorce - desertion, adultery or whatever it might be - but also as a determination of the ancillary matters. There have been increases in costs that would have been caused to some extent by the changed procedure under the Act, but also by a second factor, which is that since the Act was brought into operation, if my memory serves me correctly, in November 1962, there have been increases in the costs available for civil proceedings in courts. But, for all that, the question of costs is basically one for the taxing masters who are officers of the respective Supreme Courts. I think what I have said will deal, in large measure, with the second question asked by the honorable gentleman by emphasising that the question of costs is one for the taxing master.

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Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has India made a plea to Australia for a n.ore immediate delivery of wheat by the diversion to that country of four ships which are now carrying wheat to Great Britain? Is it not possible to give India the same extended terms of credit on wheat sales as Australia grants to those who still threaten that country’s northern borders?


– I am not aware of any such request. All I know about this matter is that, as I understand the position - I speak subject to correction by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry - the terms for which India asked were acceded to. On the other point raised by the honorable gentleman, I would be glad to have the chance of finding out whether any such request has been made or something has arisen in that way. I will advise the honorable member about that.

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– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to a widely publicised statement by a certain Dr. Sproule who recently was fined £1,500 by a Medical Services Committee of Inquiry. Is the Minister aware of Dr. Sproule’s claim that be gave his pensioner patients the same treatment as he gave his private patients? Is it true, as he claims, that he was informed that he was too kind to his pensioner patients and did not discourage them sufficiently, and also that the standards for his private practice did not apply to pensioners? Are pensioners only entitled to lower standards of treatment? If so, why? If not, will the Government institute an urgent inquiry into the allegations and ensure that pensioners receive the best possible treatment, as they should?

Minister for Repatriation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– Answering the last part of the question first, I say that there is no discrimination in treatment. I have no knowledge of the matters contained in the first part of the question, but I will see that the question is referred to my colleague, the Minister for Health, and that an appropriate reply is given.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Has the building site for the new satellite tracking station on Gove Peninsula, in the Northern Territory, been chosen? If so, has due consideration been given to the locality of the station and its juxtaposition to the bauxite exploration project? Can the Minister give an assurance that the station will be sufficiently separated from the bauxite mining activities so that industrial hazards will have no detrimental effect on the proper and successful operation of the space research programme?

Minister for Supply · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– Extensive surveys have been made in the Gove area to locate a suitable site for the installation of this tracking station. One site which has been chosen is about seven or eight miles south of the aerodrome at Gove. That would put it clear of the mining area and also outside the area attached to the Yirrkala Mission. The honorable gentleman may rest assured that when a station is established there it certainly will be free of noise areas and the right’s of the local citizens will be amply taken care of.

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– Has the Minister for Immigration investigated the case of a Dutch family, consisting of mother, father and 14 children, who recently returned to Holland because, it is said, they were unable to afford the cost of medical attention in Australia and they considered the scheme in Holland to be cheaper and more comprehensive than the Australian scheme? If he has, having in mind the rather unusual size of the family, the efforts being made to attract migrants from Holland and the damage that may be caused to our immigration programme, will he give the House the facts of the case and at the same time state what action, if any, has been taken to prevent in the future the loss of similar families because of the inadequacy of our health scheme?

Minister for Immigration · CORIO, VICTORIA · LP

– I am afraid that some of the statements of the honorable member are merely inferences and are without foundation. The family in question came from Holland more than two years ago. The father underwent a head operation, and he believed that it was necessary for him to go back to Holland for further treatment. Admirably enough, the family is closely knit. That is a feature of Dutch migrants. The father was employed as a cleaner and some of the family have been working. As an indication of their purposefulness, they have been able to accumulate more than £1,300 to enable them to go back to Holland. Members of the family want to remain together. No immigration authorities would want to intervene in such a situation. According to the newspaper report, which I am quite sure was not entirely accurate, one of the reasons that they gave for paying this amount of money to go back to Holland was that they might again be able to migrate to Australia under the assisted passage scheme. I assure the honorable member that we wish to keep as many people as we can in this country. We will be happy to assist these people to come back to Australia, if they want to, by giving them the necessary priority.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to reports that certain organisations are demanding that a referendum of growers be held before any change is made in the marketing of Australian wool? Is it true that the Minister has clearly stated that it is Government policy that where there is to be a major alteration to the system of selling wool there should be a vote of the growers concerned before it is implemented, and that that policy still stands? In the face of this definite announcement, which has been widely circulated, is the recent action of the organisations concerned tantamount to what is generally regarded as jumping on the band wagon?

Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I have read Press reports such as the honorable member has mentioned. Let me make it quite clear that, when representatives of the wool industry first approached me to discuss wool industry plans, they indicated that it was their desire that a referendum should be held on any major marketing proposal. I intimated to them that the Government agreed with that approach. We have not altered our policy in that regard; that is where we stand today. I do not think I need to say any more.

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(Mr. James having addressed a question to the Minister for Territories)-


– Order! The question is out of order. The Minister for Territories is not responsible for the actions of the honorable member for Robertson.

Mr Daly:

– I rise to a point of order. I do not wish to enter into the pros and cons of the question, but do you rule that a member may not ask whether another member of the House is to be appointed to a position which is under the jurisdiction of a Minister?


– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The matter mentioned by the honorable member was not even raised by the honorable member for Hunter.

Mr Calwell:

– I rise to a further point of order. The first part of the question asked by the honorable member for Hunter directed attention to a report that the honorable member for Robertson was to be appointed to a certain position. I suggest that that part of the question was in order and that the Minister might be required to answer it.


– Order! I ruled the question asked by the honorable member for Hunter out of order for certain reasons, and I still rule that it is out of order.

Mr Calwell:

– Is it still out of order, having regard to the point that I raised? I ask for a ruling: Is that part of the honorable member’s question out of order in which he asked the Minister to say whether the honorable member for Robertson is to be appointed to the position?


– The question asked by the honorable member for Hunter is completely out of order.

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– I address my question to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the recent changes in the immigration policy of France? Influenced by the racial disorders in other parts of the world, the De Gaulle Government is now restricting immigration from its former African colonies. Does the Minister consider that these developments emphasise the wisdom of our immigration policy - the policy of a developing country that knows how to control its growth for the betterment of its people without fostering internal hatreds?


– Quite candidly, I am not aware of the alterations made by the French Government to its immigration policy. I have enough worries with my own portfolio without being concerned about the problems of France. Our policy of integrating immigrants into the community follows in practice the policies adopted by other principal countries that encourage immigration. I think the fact that more than 1,500,000 immigrants have come to this country and have settled here with a minimum of friction shows that our immigration policy is quite satisfactory.

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– My question, which relates to education, is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is he aware of the considerable difficulties that confront fifth year students of economics in obtaining copies of the Budget Papers, including the “National Income and Expenditure “ and the “ Australian Economy “, which are essential to those who undertake this course? Will the Government consider presenting copies of these papers to the students? If not, will the Prime Minister ensure that ample copies are printed so that the students can purchase them through the Education Departments of each State?


– -Is the honorable member referring to one particular university or to universities generally?

Mr Devine:

– Mainly to schools and to pupils in fifth year who are studying economics.


– Then the honorable member is speaking about them generally?

Mr Devine:

– Yes.


– I have no idea of the magnitude of this task, but I will certainly be quite willing to have a look at the proposition on the basis that the wider the dissemination of information the better.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. On behalf of the wool growers in my electorate, I ask for an assurance that genuine and substantial wool growers who are not members of either of the major wool growers’ associations will be included in the referendum to be held in regard to the proposal for a floor price for wool.


– I think I can give the honorable member an assurance that all wool growers who meet the requirements of- the definition of wool grower - the definition will be determined by the Government - will be entitled to vote at the referendum.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. I remind him that the 1961 census showed in New South Wales a 50-50 division between male and female population. Did the same census show that in 1961 in the City of Greater Wollongong there were 69,883 males and 61,871 females or 54 per cent, males and 46 per cent, females? Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to statements by leaders of the migrant community as to the obvious disparity between the intakes of female and male migrants? To what extent has he contributed to that disparity in intakes, and what are his proposals for correcting the situation, in view of the obvious social stresses which arise from it?


– The honorable member cites the variation in numbers between the sexes in a particular part of Australia today. The fact that Wollongong is an industrial area, which at the present time is endeavouring to get as much male labour as it possibly can, would account for the disparity there. Speaking from memory, I find on balance that of the migrants the proportions are 100 female to 102.2 male, if one may divide them in that way. When I was in Wollongong on Friday, I noticed any amount of motor transport, and I should think that the males of Wollongong would not be confined to barracks after they left their industries each day, but that as there is obviously a large number of females elsewhere, they would go and look for partners in some other part of New South Wales. Last night I appeared on a programme with Father Rafter, of the Catholic Immigration Office, who has had particular experience of this problem. He said that while the preponderance of males was a factor some years ago the numbers were evening up. The Department of Immigration is bringing single girls to Berri in South Australia for cannery work there, and perhaps it would be advisable for the honorable member to indicate to the males at Wollongong that there is a preponderance of female migrants at Berri.

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– Will the Minister for the Navy obtain for the House figures, if such are available, relating to collisions between destroyers and capital ships or aircraft carriers when the destroyers were engaged in screening or plane guard duties, with special reference to the post war activities of the Royal Navy and the United States Navy? If possible, will he also get some statistics relating to the causes of such collisions? Finally, will he endeavour to obtain this information prior to any discussion in this House relating to the loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “?

Minister for the Navy · PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I have a very strong idea that the information sought by the honorable member in respect of the Royal Navy is classified. However, I shall investigate the matter and if the Royal Navy will allow the information to be tabled in the House this will certainly be done.

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– I direct to the Prime Minister a question concerning the absence from the new decimal coins of the Latin inscription meaning, “ By the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith “. Is it the intention of the Government to have a suitable exscription in English included on the coins? Is the Prime Minister aware that several prominent church leaders are quite alarmed at the proposed removal of this inscription?


– Is this a question for the Prime Minister?


– Yes, I am aware of this. In the view of the designers of the decimal coins, because coins are not of illimitable size, it would be difficult to have in English some reproduction of the old Latin abbreviation which is on the coins at present. As the honorable member recalls, the first syllable of each Latin word was put on the coins, and I take leave to doubt whether this conveyed very much to people. Like the honorable member, I deplore the decline in Latin studies, but it is a fact which we must recognise.

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– I address my question to the Minister for Territories. Did the Minister state recently that the future of Papua and New Guinea lies chiefly in farming? Will the Minister give an opportunity to a limited number of selected Australians, well versed in farming, to take up land in that Territory so that their operations may be a continual practical example which will point the way to more efficient production in the Territory?

Minister for Territories · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– I did state recently, while attending the opening of a show at Goroka, that the future of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea lies in agricultural production. As to the suggestion made by the honorable member in the second part of his question, I believe that experienced Australian farmers should be encouraged to go to the Territory. But, of course, there is one drawback in that regard. The system of agriculture there is completely different from that in which Australians have gained skill and experience. From time to time, there will be opportunities for Australians to take up land in Papua and New Guinea and I think it is essential that Australians should set the pace - set the example as it were - for efficient agricultural production. I will consider the matter raised by the honorable member.

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– My question to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Batman. As the right honorable gentleman is aware of the concern expressed by some sections of the public over the proposal to omit from the new coins the words “Dei gratia “, will he bear in mind the fundamental principle and value of the teaching inherent in these words, usually conveyed to young Australians during their earliest years, and will he reverse the Government’s decision? As the Latin words arc not fully understood by so many, will the right honorable gentleman consider asking the experts to find a device, if possible, which will enable the use of the words “ by the grace of God “?


– 1 am not going to be put in the position of saying that we have engaged in some act which denies either divinity or the Christian faith. I refuse to accept that. The fact is that people have been able to read on the periphery of coins in ‘the past, if they wanted to, the letters “ D.G.” The honorable member is fortunate; he knows that this means “ Dei gratia “. How many people do? This is the point I was making: To have on coins a few symbols - letters, broken words - which convey nothing to 999 people out of 1,000 is not a very great tribute to our common faith. The Government has stated its position in this matter and this Parliament has approved it in passing the necessary legislation for the Royal Style and Title which begins “ Elizabeth by the Grace of God “ etc. I do not need to recite all the words of the Royal Style and Title. And to this we adhere. But when coins are being designed, particularly for a new issue, it is necessary to consider what you are to put on the coin. There is the effigy of the Queen and something about Australia; that must be so. Were we to try to squeeze in on these coins some of these rather cabalistic symbols which would remind people of earlier inscriptions? I say, with great respect to the honorable member, that all of us who had to consider this matter, in no way departing from the faith - our own or that of our people - decided that it would be a better coin if it had the name of the Queen and the name of th; country on the obverse side. And that is what we did. 1 hope this is not going to be regarded as some indication that we are moving into a species of paganism. That would be the last thing I would want to do.

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Mr J R Fraser:

– I wish to ask the Minister for the Interior a question. Has he any information as to the efficiency and probable cost of filters which, when attached, to water meters, would remove fluorides from the water supply? Since the Commonwealth is preparing to expend many thousands of pounds to place fluorides in the water supply of Canberra, for those who want fluorides, will it recognise its obligation to provide filters to remove fluorides from the water supply of those who do not want fluorides?

Minister for the Interior · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– If the honorable member would like some information on the cost of filters for his own use I will be happy to get it for him.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Supply. Is it a fact that there has been a series of strikes at the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen’s Bend? If so, what effect are these strikes having on the production of the new Mirage jet fighters? Is their production behind schedule and, if so, to what extent?


– -We have, in recent times, had a series of what might be called half day stoppages at the Government Aircraft Factory. Unfortunately they have been on issues that I would regard - and which I am sure most people would regard - as too petty to justify a stoppage of work at a factory engaged in urgent defence work. To this point of time the Mirage delivery programme is on schedule, but it may well be that in the near future, if the strikes go on and if we continue to have the same difficulty in the supply of skilled labour, the programme will slip. Such slippage as we can foresee will be attributable to modifications of the aircraft rather than to difficulties of production. But we are having these difficulties with stoppages.

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– I ask the Minister for Territories: Are the current rumours that the honorable member for Robertson is to be appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory correct? Does he consider that the honorable gentleman has the qualifications that would fit him to discharge the responsibilities of this position?


– The appointment of the Administrator of the Northern Territory is a matter of Government policy. When an appointment is made it will be announced, and when it is made, the capacity of the person appointed will have been taken fully into consideration.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he inform us whether discussions between the tobacco growers and manufacturers are now completed? If they are, is he in possession of details of the discussions and the decisions arrived at or the resolutions passed? If the Minister has this information, will he say whether the decisions are of a nature that will enable the Government to frame legislation to assist in stabilising the tobacco industry? Will he support a proposal for an increase in the proportion of Australian leaf to be used in the manufacture of tobacco and cigarettes, if such a proposal is in the interests of the industry?


– So far as I am aware, the discussions between the growers and the manufacturers are not yet completed. The two parties exchanged views in discussions about the overall grades to be determined and the prices to be assessed as a consequence of the grades determined, and another meeting was to take place. So far as I know, that is where the matter stands.

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– I wish to ask the Minister for the Navy a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Evans. Is the Minister aware of the fatal collision between the United States aircraft carrier “ Wasp “ and the minesweeper, U.SS. “Hobson”, in May 1952, when the “Hobson” was acting as plane guard to the “ Wasp “ in circumstances similar to those of the recent tragedy involving H.M.A.S. “Voyager”? What were the findings of the U.S. Navy inquiry?


– Yes, I am aware of the occurrence of which the honorable member speaks. From memory, I believe that the finding of the United States Navy inquiry was very similar to that arrived at in relation to the “ Voyager “ incident by the royal commissioner whose report was presented in this House last week.

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– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that the item “interest”, amounting to £19.9 million, constituted 21 per cent, of the total expenses of the Telephone Branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the financial year 1962-63? Is it a fact also that without this interest charge, which was instituted in 1959-60, the Telephone Branch would have made a profit of almost £2 million in 1962-63? Is the capital on which this interest charge is made derived exclusively from taxation revenue, on which, of course, the Commonwealth pays no interest? Does the interest burden imposed on today’s users of telephone services apply to all capital allocated to the Telephone Branch right from its beginnings? Finally, if these are facts, will the Minister urge an immediate review of this policy before implementing the harsh increases in telephone charges indicated in the recent Budget?

Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP

– The honorable member has taken quite an interest in this matter in recent times. For his information, I point out that the present policy was adopted by the Government after a committee had been appointed to Consider the question of charging interest on advances made by the Treasury. That committee was appointed as a result of recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee, on which representatives of the Australian Labour Party sat. I think that the honorable member for* Melbourne Ports was a member of the Public Accounts Committee at that time. If this interest were not paid by the users of telephone services, the Treasury would receive correspondingly less iri each financial year, and the burden of finding this sum would have to be transferred to the general taxpaying section of the community. The Government believes that the users of the facilities should pay for the expense involved rather than that the general taxpayers, many of whom do not use the telephone services, should meet the cost.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the public schools in the Australian Capital Territory are, by arrangement with the Commonwealth Government, staffed and conducted by the New South Wales Department of Education? Has the right honorable gentleman noted that the New South. Wales Minister for Education recently introduced* in the primary schools a new syllabus on general religious teaching which relegates Christianity to the position simply of another religion such as Buddhism or Mohammedanism? Is the Prime Minister aware that the new syllabus has been received with lack of enthusiasm by every branch of the Christian Church, that it has been temporarily suspended and that the New South Wales Minister proposes a review by a committee of departmental officers and representatives of the New South Wales Teachers Federation? Finally, will the right honorable gentleman say whether he proposes to put any views on this matter to the New South Wales Government on behalf of the Australian Capital Territory?


– I am, of course, through the medium of the Press, familiar with the argument - if I may so describe it - which has been going on about the new syllabus. I know that my colleague who represents me in education and research, and who is in another place, has been going into this matter. I have not done so myself directly. I will find out from him what the position is. I hope I will be in a position to answer the honorable member either tomorrow or the day after.

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– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -

The need to protect the interests of Central Australian Aborigines induced to leave their tribal lands for inadequately prepared Government settlements.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -


.- In April of this year patrols from the Western Australian Native Welfare Department, the Northern Territory Welfare Branch and the Commonwealth Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera made contact with Aborigines in Central Australia near the junction of the Western Australian, South Australian , and Northern Territory border. The Press information that we have seen on this matter shows that 71 Aborigines were contacted in Western Australia, and 42 were taken at their own request to the Papunya native settlement, 300 miles away in the Northern Territory. This episode seems to the Opposition to raise questions. The first is: Were the Central Australian Aborigines informed through competent interpreters of their intended position at Papunya, and were they correctly understood by the expedition? We ask this because the Yirrkala affair showed that linguistic difficulties were the basis of the misunderstanding between the Commonwealth Government and the Aborigines there. The second question is this: If these Aborigines are dissatisfied at Papunya, will they be transported back to their homelands? Trucks have taken 42 of them 300 miles. If they are dissatisfied, will they walk back?

The third question is perhaps the most vital. Is this whole operation being carried out in their interests or in ours? The Northern Territory section of the area from which they are being removed contains the beautiful Petermann Ranges, which are now being developed for tourists. The Western Australian section contains a corridor of the rocket range and apparently, further out, an area where oil exploration is taking place. It looks as though the needs of the Aboriginal people are not basic as motivating the policy; tourism, oil and science seem to be the considerations. Quite clearly, there are safety factors involved in the rocket range. Some weeks ago I wrote about this matter to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), who referred part of my letter to his colleague who administers the rocket range project. On Sth August the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) wrote to me concerning the elaborate nature of the safety precautions and he spoke about the attempts of patrols from his own Department to contact the Aborigines. In his letter he wrote -

Further attempts to make contact failed, as with each move by the native patrol officer the Aboriginal party retreated. Realising that further attempts were useless, and knowing that the Aborigines were by now outside the possible impacT area, the native patrol officer camped in the vicinity of Lake Perceval and remained there.

This, clearly, was not the removal of people. What we are interested in is the removal of people to Papunya. We are very interested in why they are being removed and how they are being received. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is not able to be present at this moment; he cannot arrive until 5 o’clock. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) also is not able to be present. Both of these honorable members were to have been associated with this motion. However, I thank the Government for the arrangements which it has made.

On 30th July Dr. Charles Duguid, an authority on Aboriginal affairs, spoke at the University of Adelaide. In the course of his speech he referred to these patrol contacts with the Aborigines and he said that differing methods were employed by Western Australian patrols and Northern Territory patrols. He said that Western Australian patrols gave food to the nomadic people, who were then asked whether they wished to leave their home country and go where such food was available. If they did not, they were told through an interpreter that the patrol would return within three months. Northern Territory patrols left the welfare settlement at Papunya in a truck loaded with foodstuffs and secondhand clothes. The Aborigines, when found, were given food and were told that food was plentiful at Papunya but that in future they could not have it in their own country. Dr. Duguid said that if this were correct it constituted inducement and pressure rather than free choice and it left one dissatisfied as to whether the real issues were clear to the Aborigines.

Other pressures mentioned by Dr. Duguid concerned activities in the oil exploration areas, where, he said, bulldozers were ripping up the land, sacred objects were being taken and spiritual damage of a serious nature was being done to the Aboriginal people. Then, in connection with other activities, he referred to the buzzing of Aborigines by aircraft. This buzzing had taken place so often that the Aborigines were going into biding and were not lighting fires because the smoke revealed where they were. These statements were made by a man - a responsible medical practitioner - who has for 30 years been a leading thinker on Aboriginal affairs and a moving spirit in the Ernabella Presbyterian Mission.

I draw attention now to the Papunya native settlement. Some of us saw this settlement when wc were on the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines. I remember the mild respiratory disease which was fairly obvious among the Aboriginal children. It was an area of running noses, This superficial impression was perhaps indicative of something deeper, and I am speaking now of the adequacy of Papunya as a place to which to take these nomadic people. F. Lancaster Jones, in his “Demographic Survey of the Aboriginal Population of the Northern Territory”, published in 1963 after work under the auspices of the Australian National University and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, wrote this of Papunya -

Outbreaks of bowel diseases are almost inevitable in the crowded and often unhygienic conditions under which Aborigines live at some missions and Government settlements. As recently as April 1960 an epidemic bowel disease broke out at Papunya settlement in Central Australia in which six babies between six and ten months old died. Mere than SO of the 90 children under two were infected by the disease, which the coroner attributed to the very poor sanitary conditions and low standards of hygiene.

Mr. Lancaster Jones went on to comment

The connection between overcrowding and the spread of disease need not be laboured.

The entire situation in Central Australia is unsatisfactory. The same demographic survey states -

On any reasonable assumption the infant mortality rale among Aborigines remains extremely high. In Central Australia, indeed, the registered infant mortality rate was 208 per 1,000 live births, which must be among the highest infant mortality rates in the world.

Mr Barnes:

– Is this in one year or is it an average?


– The figure is not given as an average. The survey covers many years. In it Mr. Lancaster Jones shows that by 1963 the infant mortality rate for the Northern. Territory had leapt to 176 per 1,000 live births but he singles out Central Australia for comment. In discussing causes for this infant mortality rate he states -

The rapid increase in the number of Aborigines at many Government settlements and Mission Stations has tended to foster conditions conducive to the rapid spread of diseases such as gastroenteritis, dysentery and pneumonia, all of which have caused excessive mortality among Aboriginal infants and children. Unless higher standards of hygiene and sanitation can be achieved - and this is admittedly no simple task - mortality at young ages may well increase quite substantially before it ultimately declines.

Having studied over a number of years every reference I could find in the “ Medical Journal of Australia”, in “Oceania” and in “ Health “, which is the journal of the Commonwealth Department of Health, I find that all commentators on Aboriginal health agree unanimously that in the nomadic state contagion and infection are uncommon. The mere spread of the people means that contagion is difficult. But the moment you concentrate them a number of problems arise. The Aboriginal people have adequate ideas of hygiene for a nomadic people. If they are constantly on the move they befoul no locality but if you take them from a nomadic way of life and hold them as a stationary population, with no elaborate or powerful organisation to change their habits of sanitation, you get these epidemics which arise from insanitary conditions. There has been an exchange between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) on the subject of leprosy. The Minister admits to a leprosy rate in the Northern Territory of 36 per 1,000. In 1950 the rate was officially given as 37 per 1,000. This means that new infections have been keeping pace with the population growth. Dr. Humphry, who was employed by the Northern Territory Medical Service, has pointed out that leprosy did not begin to spread rapidly among Aborigines after its introduction by Chinese brought into Australia by the South Australian Government until there were concentrations of population at Goulburn Island and Oenpelli. Until the beginning of the century natives were living tribal lives within tribal traditional areas, free of transmissible disease, despite what would be, for a stationary population, an insanitary way of life.

Writing in the “Medical Journal of Australia “in 1952 Dr. Humphry estimated the probable incidence of leprosy among Aborigines of the Northern Territory at 56 per 1,000. Comparable figures he gave for Uganda were 33.5; French Oceania 30.1; Tanganyika 26.5; Nigeria and the Congo 20; and Fiji 13.9. As for the origins of the disease, Dr. Humphry wrote -

Crowded living conditions and poor hygiene are big factors. There are comparatively small numbers of Aborigines and large areas in which to live. Most of them are now living at missions, native settlements or cattle stations, crowded together in tiny humpies devoid of windows or ventilation of any kind.

He states that these conditions form a set of circumstances ideal for the spread of leprosy.

At about the same time S. D. Watsford Deputy Director of Health in the Northern Territory, said -

The general health of natives in the Northern Territory leaves much to bc desired. Most natives in the northern half have hookworm and the incidence of leprosy is the highest in the world.

The American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, in a report that was published by the Melbourne University in 1960, dealing with four places, said -

Leprosy is considered to be endemic at all four settlements visited. Its spread is enhanced by the prevailing conditions of non-segregation and general lack of hygiene. At one station leprous children with open sores mingle freely with other children in ill-ventilated over-crowded .dormitories. Such a practice cannot be too strongly condemned.

We say these things about the background of recent years, because we are concerned about any policy of concentrating Aborigines in inadequately prepared settlements. Our understanding of the situation is that Papunya was designed for between 200 and 300 natives, but that in fact 750 are there. Their existence seems to be entirely pointless. There is no employment there. There does not seem to be adequate adult training of the women in domestic science or of the men in trades. Concentration seems to be entirely on the children. We cannot regard as satisfactory the reasons given for bringing in nomads without being certain that that no health hazards are involved when all past history shows that there are health hazards. The Minister for Health recently said that Aborigines had the lowest tuberculosis rate of non-Europeans in the world, but the significant fact is that the rate is estimated to be higher than that among the European population. The devastating fact is that Dr. Crotty and Dr. Webb of the Northern Territory Medical Service, writing in the “ Medical Journal of Australia “ in September 1960 pointed out that 20 per cent, of deaths in the Northern Territory of Aborigines over 20 years of age were due to tuberculosis. Mr. Packer of the University of Adelaide pointed out that a survey of Aborigines in the north of South Australia, close to the Northern Territory border, where they have not been concentrated, revealed not one case of tuberculosis in 440 Aborigines examined.

The facts that I have outlined are a prima facie case against concentrating Aborigines in any place unless you are utterly certain something entirely more adequate for their health has been done than has been normal practice in the Northern Territory Administration in the past. We are alarmed at the prospect of overcrowding at Papunya and we would like to be re-assured on this matter.


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Minister for Territories · McPherson · CP

– The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has dealt with a number of matters. I do not think he has based his premise on adequate grounds. I share his concern for the interests of the Aborigines. As he ha; admitted, this is not an easy matter to handle.

One of the matters of major concern to the honorable member is whether the situation that exists at Papunya was explained fully to these nomads, who came from the south-west of the Northern Territory and probably from around the borders of Western Australia and South Australia. I assure the honorable member that no force or false persuasion was used to get those people into Papunya. I think I should explain that a very severe drought, which has lasted for three years, is being experienced in that part of Australia from which these people came. Living conditions in these circumstances become extremely difficult. For those people who want a more eloquent picture of this part of Australia

I suggest they read Douglas Lockwood’s recent book “The Lizard Eaters”, which was written as a result of Mr. Lockwood’s experiences on an expedition into this part of the country. This is a very sparsely populated area. Only about 100 nomads in this area have not come into Papunya. During droughts, some of the very scanty wells in the area dry up. The water situation sometimes gets desperate, but apart from that, malnutrition is a very serious matter. The honorable member is perfectly correct in saying that a patrol recently went out. A lorry was loaded with food and secondhand clothing. The patrol found that there was a severe shortage of food and water and that malnutrition existed amongst the Aboriginal children. The patrol left food and clothing for the people there. No force was used on these people nor were misrepresentations made to induce them to come in. The situation at Papunya was explained to them and they made their own choice.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Were they told that the situation was as bad as it really turned out to be?


– I do not suggest that it is bad, but I will come to that aspect in a moment. I shall turn now to the next question asked by the honorable member for Fremantle: “Will these people be returned?”. Again I say: “Yes”. They will be permitted to go back to the areas whence they came, if they so desire.

Dr J F Cairns:

– Permitted to walk back?


– You must understand that journeys of hundreds of miles are nothing to these people who will walk forty miles a day when hunting.

Dr J F Cairns:

– Will you offer them a ride back?


– This is quite possible. A hundred miles journey on foot may concern the honorable member but it would not concern the Aborigines.

The honorable member for Fremantle seemed to me to imply the question: Did we remove these people from their areas in our interests or in their interests? In view of the arid nature of the country we are speaking about, where there is no future for the inhabitants, I think every effort should bc made to give the younger people an opportunity to live better lives. They have been brought into Papunya. I admit that at the present time Papunya is overcrowded, but that apart, a lot of the Aborigines will not accept the conditions of housing there, excellent though they are. I visited Papunya at the same time as the honorable member for Fremantle and I found that the housing, and the opportunities for schooling, for food and for their community kitchens and gardens were excellent. However, a large section of these people does not want that sort of life. In the area outside they live in their own conditions in their wurlies and from the point of view of hygiene the situation is extremely difficult.

The honorable member mentioned the high death rate amongst Aboriginal babies. In one year there was a very high incidence of mortality amongst the Aboriginal infants, but many of the Aboriginal women will not come into the hospitals to have their babies. Temperatures vary greatly from a very hot sunny day to a night of extreme cold. In these extremes of temperature Aboriginal women having their babies in the open obviously are in very difficult circumstances. Great efforts are being made to bring these people in to the hospitals provided. In a year of adverse conditions the supply situation is not easy. Further, the Aborigines will not make use of the normal hygiene facilities on the stations.

Overall, you have to bear in mind that there has been a very large increase in the Aboriginal population of Australia, particularly at Papunya. The Administration faces a very difficult problem: What are we going to do with the increasing Aboriginal population in settlements such as Papunya? Are we to increase the facilities available in the settlements in order to keep the Aborigines away from the areas where they have no future whatsoever? The area is extremely arid and there is no opportunity to establish industry through which the Aborigines may support their ambitions. To my way of thinking the best course is gradually to induce the younger groups to go to the northern areas of the Northern Territory where we are embarking on very large forestry schemes, to which the Aborigines are particularly adapted. At Snake Bay, Maningrida, Murgonella Creek and other places they are given an opportunity to acquire skills. We hope to establish at

Maningrida a saw mill to be run by private enterprise. The work force, we hope, will be supplied by the Aborigines.

Mr Jones:

– What will be the rates of pay?


– They will be determined at the time. We are to consider an amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and to the Northern Territory (Administration) Act by which the Aborigines will come within the award system of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

Mr Jones:

– Will they receive the rates paid to Europeans?


– That will be determined when the amendment becomes law. Under our planned programme royalties will be earned for the Aboriginal trust funds. The honorable member seems to be suggesting that an award rate should be determined for Aboriginal settlements. I believe that the settlements are places where the Aborigines acquire skills. To this end, we are initiating a programme under which the Aborigines will build their own houses instead of them being built by the Department of Works. In the process they will acquire building skills which will enable them to leave the settlements and obtain employement as skilled workers. I hope that they will be able to work for award wages in the more closely settled areas of the Northern Territory.

If we do not provide opportunities for the Aborigines to acquire skills they will remain at the settlements and we will have established a type of apartheid in the Northern Territory. I do not think anyone wants that result. The honorable member for Fremantle referred to figures quoted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was very unfair to Australia and to Australians in quoting the figures and saying that leprosy had a greater incidence In the Northern Territory than anywhere in the world.

Mr Whitlam:

– Should I have suppressed the information? It was true.


– No, you could have given a correct account. I have figures which were given to me by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade). It seems that where the Deputy Leader of the Opposition erred was in failing to note that once a person has contracted leprosy in the Northern Territory he is never taken off the register of lepers, even though he is cured. If allowance is made for the people who have been cured and removed from the leprosariums - and still checked - the incidence of leprosy in the Northern Territory is six in a thousand, a proportion considerably lower than in many countries of the world.

Mr Beazley:

– Six in a thousand of the whole population or the Aboriginal population?


– Of the Aboriginal population. That is a total of 700 Aborigines who have contracted leprosy out of 19,000. This figure includes those Aborigines who have been cured.

The Minister for Health has also supplied figures in relation to tuberculosis which do not confirm what the honorable member has said. The Minister has said that the incidence of tuberculosis among the Australian Aborigines is probably lower than among any other non-European native people in any part of the world.

Mr Beazley:

– That is exactly what I said.


– It is not what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. I think that was a very unfair, and a very rash statement to make. It was unfair to Australia.

Mr Whitlam:

– I did not say that the incidence of tuberculosis there was the worst in the world.


– You are quoted in the Press as saying it.

Mr Whitlam:

– I said that the incidence of leprosy in the Northern Territory and of malaria in New Guinea were the worst in the world. I did not say that the incidence of tuberculosis was the worst in the world at either place. I said it was bad at both places.


– I am sorry. I was not aware of that. I read the Press report and I believe that tuberculosis was put in that category, also. Every endeavour is being made to better the situation of these people but, as I pointed out before, it is a very difficult situation in the arid south western area. Are we to leave these people out in these remote areas, as was suggested by the honorable member, and have patrols going out regularly with clothing and food supplies over from three hundred to four hundred miles of most difficult country to feed these people, as we would have to do under the present seasonal conditions? I suggest that is the wrong approach. Not only is it a waste of the taxpayers’ money but it is not being very fair to the Aborigines themselves. To agree with the honorable member for Fremantle would be tantamount to saying to them: “You are nomads out in the desert, and that is where you will have to remain.” The honorable member for Fremantle made allegations about sacred places being invaded in the Woomera area. I have heard no word of this whatsoever.

Mr Beazley:

Dr. Duguid said it.


– I am sorry. The honorable member quoted Dr. Duguid. I have heard no word of this. I feel sure that this has not happened because we have impressed on all those who have taken out mining and oil search leases that they must respect those sacred places. Reference was made also to buzzing of these people. Great efforts were made to see that no Aborigines existed in those areas in which a missile fired from Woomera might possibly land. I would like to know where Dr. Duguid got his information from. I suggest that to know this he would have to be on the spot and I do not think he could have been there. It is obvious that if you are going ito keep tab on all the people in a wide area such as this, the only way to do it - the only way to see people if they are there - is to fly low over it. This could be called buzzing. I do not know.


– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


.- The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has initiated a discussion of a matter of public importance. This is a device allowed by Standing Orders. Hitherto, such a matter has been known as a matter of urgency. A proposal to discuss such a matter requires the support of eight members. When you called for that support, Mr. Deputy Speaker, every man on the Opposition benches rose, as they usually do. I find it completely contradictory to note, on the one hand, every member on the Opposition side rising to support the discussion of the matter but not one of them supporting the honorable member for Fremantle in the debate.

The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) who is in charge of the House gave the honorable member for Fremantle the extraordinary courtesy of allowing him to speak first and arranging that, after two speakers from our side had debated the question, the honorable member for Fremantle should sum up. Because he was paid that courtesy, I would have thought that he would have been fair and that he would have stated his full argument in his first speech So that at least we might have an opportunity of replying to all his arguments. At the end of his first 15 minutes, when he was criticising the Government for having these unhappy people at Papunya I tried, at the last moment, to find out what the honorable member for Fremantle would do with these Aborigines. By way of interjection, I asked him what he would do with these people - whether he would shift them back to the desert or keep them at Papunya and build a bigger and better settlement there for them. He would not reply. Instead, he went on detailing some tedious statistics with relation to health. So we find ourselves in the extraordinary position of not yet knowing what we are defending and, no doubt when he has last say in a moment or two, the honorable member will charge us with not having defended it. I am led to look carefully at the terms of his proposal for this discussion. It reads -

The need to protect the interests of Central Australian Aborigines induced- “ Induced “ seems to be the key word here - to leave their tribal lands for inadequately- ; “Inadequately” is the other key word - : prepared Government settlements.

I take it that the honorable member alleges that these people were induced - he seems to be putting a sinister connotation on the word - to leave their natural habitat and were put into an inadequately prepared government settlement at Papunya. It is necessary to have a look at the background of the situation of these people. The tribe mainly concerned is the Pintubi, an extraordinarily primitive group of people who are unsophisticated in the extreme. The honorable member for Fremantle said that recently 71 of them were interviewed. This is so. The survey showed that for at least half the natives encountered by the expedition it was their first sight of white men but they had obviously heard of the existence of white men. He said they were in a completely primitive state, completely naked except for human hair belts and occasional lap laps. For food they relied on goannas supplemented by kangaroos, wild turkeys and wild fruit and seed. As the Minister has said, there has been a fearful drought in this area for three years. Many of the Aborigines were diseased. They were emaciated and they suffered from malnutrition. The honorable member for Fremantle and others including myself who have served on a select committee found that some were suffering from the dreadful disease yaws and from eye disease. We found that generally they were in very poor shape.

The Government, through its patrol officers, sent food to these people. It sent a truck out to transport them into Papunya because they were in this state. If the honorable member for Fremantle puts a sinister connotation on the word “ induced “ and if he would criticise, then let him come out and say so. Let him say what we should have done. Should we have left them there? Should we have kept on taking supplies to them? What should we have done? In a cynical manner he asked: “Were they removed in their interests or our own “? Then, in the next breath, he referred to the tourist potential of the Petermann Ranges. The obvious inference there is that the Government moved people in its own interests, not in their interests. What does he want? Does he want us to leave them at Papunya? Does he want us to build this settlement up, as he suggested it should be, to a stage where it is not overcrowded? We have already heard the Minister say that the people themselves are not using the facilities at Papunya.

No-one doubts the honorable member’s intentions towards these people. Indeed, everyone admires the stand that he takes on this matter. But is it not time that he, at least, had clear in his own mind what he want done with the Aborigines who are placed in this hapless position in which they find themselves? Does he imagine that in the sophisticated 20th century they should be left completely to their own devices to withstand the ravages of drought and disease? I remind the honorable member that before the Government took action, before the war, this particular tribe was dying out - and dying out quickly. I agree entirely with what the Minister has said. I do not believe in propping up a stone-age civilisation way out in the middle of the desert merely for the sake of propping it up. It is my belief that they should be looked upon as human beings and I believe that at least the young men are young enough to be able to adjust themselves to a sophisticated economy, so that they can be made to feel that they are doing something useful in a community of their own and for their fellow men. I commend the Minister’s plan to encourage the young men of this tribe to go north to engage in reafforestation, to work in saw mills and to take part in other activities up there.

The one question I would desperately like answered by the honorable member for Fremantle relates to this philosophic point: Here is an honorable member who champions the education of, and encourages the raising of the intellectual capacity of, the Australian Aboriginal. He wants the Aborigines to be given further and higher education. Indeed, so do all of us. But, while he advocates this on the one hand, he seems to have, on the other hand, a mania about preserving all their cultural and natural habits. Included in these are their tribal customs, among which is going walkabout and other unsophisticated, primitive acts. How can you equate people educated to leaving or matriculation standard, or even beyond that standard, with people living in that sort of civilisation? Can you imagine the educated ones still going walkabout and completely shedding the responsibilities which civilisation has taught them? I am not saying that if we impose a twentieth century civilization on an Aboriginal it will make him a happier man. I have never said that, and I do not think anyone in this House would be prepared to say that a sophisticated human being is happier than a primitive one. What I am saying is that you cannot have the best of both worlds. No man can live in the stone age on Monday and in the twentieth century on Tuesday. I just cannot follow the honorable member for

Fremantle when he pushes that particular line. I know that the various groups of immigrants in Australia manage to maintain part of their culture, history and activities. But all these are part of twentieth century sophistication. They do not date back to the stone age. I hope that the honorable member for Fremantle, if he has the right of reply, will tell us at least what his objective is, what he in fact advocates for these hapless people.

Mr. BEAZLEY (Fremantle). - by leave - Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) has asked a number of questions. I think he put into my mouth words which I have not used. I have not said anything about keeping these people in the stone age, or anything of that kind. It is, of course, desirable that Aborigines should leave the nomadic state. But when they leave the nomadic state they should not go to inadequately prepared settlements. This is our point.

The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) has said that the settlement at Papunya is overcrowded. As for the reason being given for contacting the Aborigines concerned, I find it hard to accept that the Commonwealth would wait for a drought to last three years before it would send an expedition to these Aboriginal people. Even if the drought was the motivation, there were many other reasons for sending a patrol. One of them was to get the Aborigines out of the wa’y of missiles that might be fired from the Woomera rocket range. This is quite clearly admitted, and, generally, the patrols were made because of this factor. So I find it difficult to accept the story that the patrols were sent out just because of the drought. The same drought applies on the South Australian side of the border. The South Australian Government sends out expeditions which supply food to the nomadic people. South Australia follows a slower process of bringing Aboriginal people into settlements precisely because it feels there should be more preparation for them. The Commonwealth Government’s action appears to be part of a crash programme of assimilation.

I might say to the Minister that there is a difference between infant mortality and nco-natal mortality. What the Minister said about Aboriginal women not wanting to go into hospital relates to neo-natal mortality, where a child dies at birth or in a period very close to birth, say within a month.

Mr Barnes:

– It is a higher rate.


– Yes, but infant mortality is mortality among children under the age of one year. It is not related to whether or not the Aboriginal mothers went into hospital to have their babies. In point of fact, the Lancaster Jones survey showed that in the Northern Territory neo-natal mortality, infant mortality and child mortality were rising. I realise that there is a high birth rate, that the downward trend in the Aboriginal population has been arrested. But what depresses me is the opinion expressed b’y some of the experts of the Commonwealth Department of Health, such as Dr. Humphry, on leprosy. Dr. Humphry writes in the “ Medical Journal of Australia “ that he estimates that the leprosy rate in the Northern Territory is 56 per thousand of population, and that in Uganda the rate is 33.5. If he is using different scales - if there is a special Australian scale and a different scale for elsewhere - this is a very incompetent piece of scientific writing. One would assume that Dr. Humphry, as a responsible officer of the Commonwealth Department of Health, would not compare what is incomparable. All I say is that Dr. Cook, who was Commissioner of Public Health in Western Australia, and then a senior medical officer in the Northern Territory, has spoken of this factor of concentration in settlements as a factor in raising the incidence of disease. Everyone who has written on this subject has said this.

It is no use brushing aside what the AustralianAmerican scientific expedition to Arnhem Land said about four stations where it saw conditions conducive to the spread of leprosy. It is very hard to accept the figure of six per thousand under treatment for leprosy in the Northern Territory. There are 17,000 Aborigines in the Northern Territory. If six in every thousand are being treated for leprosy, that means there would be 102 cases in the Darwin leprosarium. The head of the Darwin leprosarium wrote an article in the “ Medical Journal of Australia” in August 1963 which was a survey of the 300 cases at that time in that institution. Those figures give immediately a higher percentage of people under treatment than the suggested .6 per cent. I come back immediately to this proposition: In 1950 - and I presume the same method of assessment was used then as is used today - the rate of leprosy was given as 37 per 1,000. The Minister last week gave the rate as 36 per 1,000. Surely this must mean that as the Aboriginal population rises the new infections are keeping pace. It is concentration of population under inadequate preparation that leads to these things. Of course, I do not want Aborigines sent back now. If they want to go back, they should, as the Minister agrees. But I do not want them to be taken from a nomadic state, where they are not in danger of infection, to overcrowded conditions where they are in danger of infection. In answer to the question of the honorable member for Higinbotham, I say I would prefer in drought conditions to go to the expense of sending out expeditions to feed Aborigines rather than to bring them into a settlement which was not adequately prepared. I do not want them brought into a settlement which is overcrowded.

Mr Chipp:

– Do you really think that is practicable or achievable?


– South Australia finds it so, and I am impressed, I say again, by the fact that Crotty and Webb, who are two of the top men in the Commonwealth medical service, say that 20 per cent, of Aborigines in the Northern Territory over the age of 20 who die die from tuberculosis, while Packer of the University of Adelaide points out that a survey at the same time, conducted in the north of South Australia from Leigh Creek in comparable conditions found 440 Aborigines none of whom had tuberculosis. The figures given by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) concerning Aborigines having a lower tuberculosis rate than any other non-European people are very impressive. But had Captain Cook conducted a survey among Aborigines in 1770, he would have found no incidence of tuberculosis. This is an introduced disease which they do not meet in the nomadic state in spite of the fact that in the nomadic state there are all the variations in temperature to which the Minister referred.

They meet infection once they crowd together. They remain still and in contact and therefore become liable to infection.

We are not interested in denouncing. We asked certain questions. All I can say is that the Government’s own experts who write in the “ Medical Journal of Australia “, when they are free to write as scientists, say the kind of things that I have said. Dr. Watsford, the Deputy Director of Health in the Northern Territory, writing in “ Health “, which is the journal of the Commonwealth Department of Health, made the statement that most natives in the northern half of Australia have hookworm and that the incidence of leprosy is the highest in the world. Tuberculosis is becoming much more common than it was, and its spread is being assisted by the difficulties of treatment and the unhygienic conditions in which the natives live. The whole context of his statement on unhygienic conditions relates to settlements. I repeat that the statement to which I have referred was made by the Deputy Director of Health in the Northern Territory. He cannot be brushed aside. He made positive statements.

Mr Buchanan:

– Should we get rid of all settlements?


– I think that the proposal made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during the last election campaign that there should be resident medical practitioners on each of these settlements is the answer. There is no town of 1,200 Europeans in the Northern Territory that does not have a doctor, but there is the equivalent of a town of 1,200 Aborigines on Bathurst Island without a doctor. I want the Commonwealth Government to put into these Aboriginal settlements exactly the same medical services that it would put into a European town of the same size. This is the point: If they are Australian citizens - for international consumption we are always saying that they are - then there must be on the spot supervision. One does not have to be in the Northern Territory for long to realise that periodically rapiers flash between two departments - the Department of Health and the Department of Territories. My main concern is the frightful child mortality rate of Aborigines. The former Minister for Health once gave me a very detailed answer to a question relating to child mortality in the Northern Territory which showed a slight downward trend. Lancaster Jones quoted the Minister’s reply to me in the House and then pointed out that the year after the Minister stated that the mortality rate was 102 per 1,000 live births, there was a leap to 176 and, in Central Australia, to 208. An epidemic can sweep the area, and they are particularly liable to epidemics in these concentrated settlements. We feel they are not adequate settlements in terms of training, hygiene or medical services.


.- It would be a pity if any feeling in this matter were engendered across the House. We are debating, not as parties, a subject in which I think we all are genuinely interested. I had the opportunity to speak to someone who had been on the expedition which has been mentioned in the debate, and to see some very detailed photographs. I obtained a detailed account of what occurred. The fact of the matter is that the natives did want to come in. I think they were perhaps regrettably overkeen to come in. They had been contacted previously and the people who had been out to see them had not had transport. They were reproached for not bringing transport to take the natives in. The natives were taken to Papunya very much at their own insistence.

Those are the facts in this case. I think they are facts which make the problem very, very difficult. When you bring the natives in, what happens? We do not know what happens because we do not understand. We have not yet found a way to deal satisfactorily with this problem. This is not a reproach to this Government. It is not a reproach to the preceding Government. It is not a reproach even to the Australian people because no nation, white or coloured, has yet found a satisfactory means of dealing with this situation in which you are in contact with Stone Age people. The Hottentots and the Bushmen in South Africa were destroyed, not by the whites but by the Bantu. The hill tribes in India have suffered the same kind of fate. We are facing a problem to which we have not a solution and to which I do not think anyone else has yet found a solution. But that does not mean that we should not try to solve it.

The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) made two points - I thought they were very good points - which should be followed up. The first point he made was that when we brought people in, the places to which we brought them required rather more facilities than we have been providing. Let me say that these places require not only material facilities. I believe there is not one officer of the Administration at Papunya who is capable of conversing with these people in their native tongue. This is perhaps of even greater importance than material facilities. I do not say that material facilities should not be provided, but we should look at this matter from the point of view of these people who are called upon to make a transition in their way of life which is almost incredibly difficult. One of the ways in which we can help them is to have people who know their language and are capable of speaking to them in their language.

I have had an account, and I have seen photographs, of these people brought in. They were camped a few hundred yards from Papunya still in their group. But I wonder how long their tribal group will continue. The day that they came in they were carrying out their normal tribal activities. A tribal fight occurred. These things are an inseparable part of their way of life. How long will it be before this kind of organisation is broken down? What will then be put in its place?

Here I come to the second point made by the honorable member for Fremantle which I thought was a good and vital one. It is not enough just to bring these people in, to feed them and to give them some kind of rudimentary shelter and clothing. You must give them an object in life. Therein, I think, lies our great failing. I do not talk of the Government’s failing but of our failing in dealing with our Aboriginal people. We have not succeeded, perhaps because we do not understand how to go about it. Whatever the reason, we have not succeeded in giving them an object in life.

Surely what is needed at Papunya and at other Government settlements is something which will restore to the natives their idea of an object in life. We should not have them just drifting around or just sitting down and being fed. I am not saying that we should not give them material things. Of course we should give them material things, but in addition let us try to do a bit more to understand them and to give them the things which are not quite material but which in the end will enable them to take their place in the normal life of our community.


.- Today’s debate has produced some differences of opinion on facts between the Government and the Opposition. It has, however, produced some proposals from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) which were not dealt with by any of the three Government speakers except the last, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who has acknowledged the problem which the honorable member for Fremantle was principally minded to introduce. Over the last five years there have been several occasions on which the House has debated various matters concerning the Aborigines. On two occasions committees of this House have been appointed to investigate certain matters concerning the Aborigines and to report on them. Those reports have been accepted by the House. That matter on which there is dispute between the honorable member for Fremantle and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) as well as the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) concerns the means by which Aborigines in a nomadic state came to live in Government settlements. How they came to be there is not so important as what happens to them now that they are there. The Minister and the honorable member for Higinbotham omitted to deal with that latter aspect, but the honorable member for Mackellar frankly acknowledges that it raises a problem.

I think that it has to be taken further than the honorable member for Mackellar took it. He stated that nomadic people who have been brought into contact with relatively more settled indigenous people in southern Africa and India have suffered in their numbers as a result of that contact. Now, however, Australian Aborigines in the nomadic state have come to live rather more frequently and in larger numbers in recent years on Government settlements in the Northern Territory, and it is not sufficient to say that because losses have occurred in other places they will, therefore, occur here too. This is a problem which we must try to solve now. The objective, as the honorable member for Mackellar has said and as the honorable member for Fremantle has said today and on many other occasions, is to give the Aborigines a sense of purpose in their lives. We must see that they have the same social capital and social confidence, as well as the same individual capital and confidence, as their fellow citizens of European origin. Parliament may take some years to solve this overall problem but it must immediately deal with the problem of health and loss of numbers. This is something that we can deal with here and now.

As the honorable member for Fremantle said, the problem can be dealt with by having Government medical officers resident on Government settlements. The diseases to which Aborigines in the Northern Territory are more prone than are Aborigines living in the States or other Australians anywhere in Australia are diseases which were introduced to this country last century. There was no tuberculosis and no leprosy among Aborigines before Europeans settled in Australia.

Mr Hasluck:

– Leprosy came from a different source.


– I was coming to that. As far as I know, leprosy did not come from the Europeans who settled here; it came from people who followed the Europeans and who laboured for Europeans on public works.

Mr Beazley:

– The Chinese worked on the Northern Territory railway.


– Yes.

Mr Hasluck:

– Leprosy would have come slightly earlier than that.


– I have not done any recent reading on this subject. My knowledge of leprosy in the Northern Territory was first gained during my last extended visit there, in October or November 1962. Commonwealth medical officers in the Department of Health in Darwin and other places in the Northern Territory alerted me to the position concerning leprosy. My impression was that leprosy was introduced amongst the Australian Aborigines by indentured workers who were brought in from South East Asia and from China. It seems to be agreed on ail hands that there was no tuberculosis among the Aborigines before the Europeans settled in this country. I do not think that anybody has asserted that there was leprosy amongst the Aborigines before the Europeans settled here. Europeans brought tuberculosis, and leprosy, it is believed, came with people who followed the Europeans.

It seems to be fairly plain that the circumstances in which Aborigines are infected with tuberculosis and leprosy are associated with the conditions in which they are living in crowded Government settlements. They are carrying on with nomadic ways, which did them no harm when they were living in a nomadic condition, but which are very dangerous - in fact, lethal - in close community dwelling. That is the situation now. Aborigines are particularly prone to these two diseases, the spread of which is being promoted by living conditions in Government settlements. We should not wait to attack this problem until we have given social confidence to the Aboriginal community. It can be dealt with now in the Government settlements by vigilant and urgent attention to health and sanitation requirements. Furthermore, vigilant and urgent attention should be given to carrying out individual medical inspections of Aborigines living in these settlements.

Mr Chipp:

– You should not make it sound as though nothing is being done.


– I am not saying that nothing is being done. However, this is a much more urgent problem that Australians in general realise or than the honorable member for Higinbotham and the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) acknowledge. If an identifiable section of our community, residing in an identifiable area, is being infected with these two avoidable diseases, we ought to act urgently. The fact that no doctors are living on the settlements is an indication that too little is being done. We have to act urgently.

Mr Buchanan:

– That is a gross overstatement.


– There are no doctors living on the settlements.

Mr Barnes:

– But the Aborigines can still obtain adequate medical attention.


– The incidence of these diseases seems to indicate that adequate attention is not being given. The Opposition makes no apology for raising this matter in the House, as it has raised the matters of social services, voting rights, mineral rights and constitutional rights for Aborigines. The question of constitutional Fights for Aborigines has not been settled and is still on the notice paper. The subject of health is urgent. We hope that, as a result of having initiated this urgency” debate this afternoon, it will be dealt with. The Opposition will co-operate on that subject as it has done on previous occasions in the consideration of voting rights and the protection of mineral rights. We will cooperate in any investigation which the Government might make of this matter, as we have done on those two previous occasions. We believe that fellow citizens should have the safeguards which it is possible for the Australian community to provide here and now. This identifiable section of people in this identifiable area could be given assistance immediately.

Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -

That the business of the day be called on.

page 792


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 25th August (vide page 534), on motion by Mr. Swartz -

That the Bill be now read a second time.


.- The second reading speech on this Bill, delivered last week by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), must have been one of the shortest second reading speeches on a Repatriation Bill that has been delivered in this chamber. The Minister, of course, chose to deal with the general increases announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) during his Budget Speech, and for which this measure provides. I believe that a bill to amend the Repatriation Act is one of the most important measures that can come before the Parliament. Such bills can be complex. They can deal not only with normal increases in pension rates, but also with a vast number of the other matters that affect the lives of ex-servicemen.

I refer to hospitalisation. I refer particularly to Assessment Appeal Tribunals and Entitlement Appeal Tribunals, and I also refer to rehabilitation.

None of these matters was referred to by the Minister in his second reading speech. This Parliament is entitled, during a debate of such an important nature, to have before it information concerning some of these matters. It should certainly have information concerning tribunals. The Minister must be aware that the subject of these tribunals has been raised over a number of years, not only by honorable members on this side of the House but also by interested organisations outside the Parliament. The Parliament is entitled, then, to expect from the Minister a second reading speech dealing with more than the mere increases in various rates of benefit provided under the Repatriation Act. But the Minister has chosen to ignore everything except these general increases, and the Opposition therefore believes that the Bill must be regarded as completely inadequate.

The payment of pensions to exservicemen generally, important though it is, represents only a very small part of the functions flowing from the Repatriation Act and I believe the Minister should have taken the opportunity to give the House some information concerning other matters, particularly the very important matter of tribunals. The Opposition, as well as interested organisations outside the Parliament, believe that there are anomalies in the repatriation legislation that react against ex-servicemen generally. I hope to have the opportunity later in the debate to refer to these anomalies. I am sure that my colleagues support my attitude because these anomalies are apparent. We also believe that our views are shared by outside organisations which accept responsibility for returned servicemen in Australia. We intend at the committee stage to move certain amendments with a view to correcting a few of these anomalies. We believe that the Government has a case to answer and that the Minister for Repatriation has a case to answer. We think that he should try to answer it. He has chosen not to do so in his second reading speech but we hope that at the committee stage he will answer some of the charges that we will make.

Since I am speaking of charges let me say, not only for myself but also, I am sure, for every other member of the Opposition, that a well deserved tribute should be paid to the officers of the Repatriation Department. If honorable members on this side of the House offer any criticism, it is certainly not criticism of officers of the Department. In my opinion they are most generous towards ex-servicemen and sympathetic in their approach to the problems of exservicemen. Speaking of my experience in my own State, I can say that successive Deputy Commissioners of Repatriation in Tasmania have followed a policy of being most sympathetic when problems are brought before them, and of being most generous whenever it is possible for them to be so. Therefore I pay what I believe is a well deserved tribute to the Deputy Commissioners and the other officers of the Repatriation Department. But these officers merely administer the provisions of the legislation and are therefore not responsible for the anomalies which we believe are apparent.

I said at the outset that the Minister has chosen to refer only to the general pension increases that were announced by the Treasurer only a short time before the Minister’s second reading speech was delivered. The Opposition, therefore, takes the opportunity to state its attitude - we believe that it is also the attitude of the Returned Servicemen’s League and other interested organisations - on the question of rates of benefit for repatriation pensioners generally. The first question one might reasonably ask the Government is: Are these rates based on the ability of the Government to meet its commitments? I believe that the answer is, quite clearly: No. In the Budget the Government has not provided an adequate proportion of the national revenue for this most deserving section of our community. Having in mind the Treasurer’s very generous remarks about the state of our economy, one would have expected the Government at least to accept the recommendations of returned servicemen’s organisations which, earlier this year submitted a plan requesting certain improvements in the various pension rates. These recommendations have largely been ignored.

There is a second question with which the Opposition must concern itself: Has the purchasing power of these pensions been maintained? In 1949, when the parties which form the present Government were in opposition, the Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) told the ex-servicemen of this country that repatriation would be accepted as a proud responsibility. I do not suggest that I have quoted exactly the statement made at that time by the Prime Minister, but that is the general effect of it. He went on to say that not only would pension payments be maintained but that they would also be increased. One could assume that he meant not only that the rates applying in 1949 would be increased but also that the value of the pensions would be increased. I hope to be able to demonstrate very shortly that pensions, far from increasing in value, have actually deteriorated.

Let me deal, first, with totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen who receive what is generally referred to as the special rate pension. Under the legislation now before us the rate of this pension will be increased by 10s. a week to £14 5s. a week. It should be clearly understood, as I am sure it is by all honorable members on this side of the House, that the phrase “ totally and permanently incapacitated “ means just what it says, and that the exserviceman receiving this pension is totally incapacitated. In other words, after his case has been submitted to the Repatriation Department, has been considered by the Repatriation Board, probably in turn by the Repatriation Commission, and ultimately by a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal or a War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal, the ex-serviceman is considered to be totally and permanently incapacitated and, therefore, is in no position to engage in active employment. As such his rate is fixed on the basis that he cannot in future supplement his income in any way on the labour market.

Under this legislation the Government increases that rate from £13 15s. a week to £14 5s. a week, an increase of 10s. a week, and also increases the rate for his wife by 5s. a week, from £1 15s. 6d. a week to £2 0s. 6d. a week. How does the increase in the wife’s pension compare with the amount requested by the Returned Sailors Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia on the occasion earlier this year when that organisation submitted a pension plan to the Minister for Repatriation? It did not request an increase of 5s. a week. It’ requested an increase of £2 4s. 6d. a week to bring the weekly payment into line with what it regarded as a figure commensurate with the responsibilities that must be accepted by a wife of a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner. But this Government completely ignored the submissions of the R.S.L., it completely ignored the submissions of the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen’s organisations, and it granted an increase of only 5s. a week. Back in 1920 the wife of a T.P.I, pensioner received 18s. a week. Under this legislation she will receive £2 0s. 6d. a week. In other words, in a period of 44 years the pension of the wife of a T.P.I, pensioner will have increased by £1 2s. 6d. a week. If one relates that increase to the period of 44 years, one must concede that the governments of this country have certainly not been overgenerous to the wife of the T.P.I, pensioner.

Under this legislation the rate for the T.P.I, pensioner will be increased to the extent of 10s. a week. I have no doubt that the people of this country, when listening to the Treasurer deliver his Budget Speech in which he announced this increase, assumed that it would, in effect, mean an increase of 10s. a week for the T.P.I, pensioner and 5s. a week for his wife - a total gain in their weekly pensions of 1 5s. a week. How wrong could the people be? I am not suggesting that this Government has been responsible for a confidence trick in recent years, but we on this side of the House can appreciate immediately that unless the Government is prepared to make some adjustment to the ceiling limit, which now affects the rate of pension that can be paid to a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman, he will not be able to gain the full benefit of the increase announced by the Treasurer. Today there are a considerable number of special rate pensioners whose incomes are supplemented by the service pension. As consequence of their disabilities, the T.P.I, pensioners immediately become eligible for the service pension which, as honorable members know, corresponds with the invalid pension paid under the Social Services Act. The service pension has the same means test applied to it as has the invalid pension’.

Prior to the introduction of this legislation the special rate pensioner and his wife could supplement their incomes to the maximum of £17 10s. a week. If I remember correctly, in 1955 the Government adjusted the ceiling limit for age pensioners to enable them to earn a certain income in addition to their weekly pension payments. The position that applied last year was that a married pensioner couple could have an income of £5 5s. each, giving them a total of £10 10s., and additional income from some other source of £7 a week. In effect, they could receive £17 10s, a week. That was also the ceiling limit for the special rate pensioner. So if the T.P.I, pensioner’s income was supplemented by the service pension, it was, together with his wife’s income, the amount of £17 10s. a week.

This year the Government provides for an increase in social services of 10s. a week for a married couple - 5s. each. That means that the ceiling rate will be raised to £18. To put it precisely, I point out that there will be £5 10s. for each pensioner and permissible income of £7 from other sources, making a total of £1 8 a week. Under this legislation the special rate pensioner will be restricted to the same ceiling limit. It will apply to the increase which was announced by the Minister for Repatriation in his second reading speech. It will mean, in effect, that the service pensioner’s rate will be reduced by the amount that would normally be granted to the wife.

Mr Turnbull:

– You could not get it at all under the Labour Government.


– I will deal with that aspect very effectively in a moment. The fact remains that there will be an increase, not of 15s. a week for a special rate pensioner and his wife, but of only 10s. That will apply to a great majority of special rate pensions. If the Minister disagrees with my argument, he will have an opportunity, of which I am sure he will avail himself, of refuting this argument when he is closing this debate. I believe that the Government should tell the people plainly where it stands on this issue. If there is to be an increase of 1 5s., why not say so? If there is to be an increase of 10s. for the great majority, then I believe that the Minister should also say so. The fact remains that the Minister and the Government have left the people believing that there is to be a magnanimous increase of 15s. a week applied to the special rate pensioner who is married and who is in receipt also of a service pension. I acknowledge at once that an increase of 10s. a week will be granted to the ex-serviceman pensioner in that position. Only the special rate pensioner who is married and who is not in receipt of the service pension will benefit by the 15s. increase announced by the Minister.

The Opposition contends that this principle is clearly wrong. Therefore, we on this side of the House believe that the ceiling limit ought to be adjusted if the Government believes that an increase of 15s. a week is necessary. I would like to point out that earlier this year the Minister for Repatriation met a deputation from the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen’s organisation, which requested him to increase the T.P.I, pension to £15 a week. That is still less than the basic wage. We on this side of the House believe that the pension should be at least equivalent to the basic wage. The organisation requested that it be increased to £15 - not quite the present basic wage - and that, in addition, the wife’s allowance be £3, making a total of £18 a week. That would eliminate the need for a special rate pensioner to apply for a service pension in addition to the special rate pension. I believe that special rate pensioners have a reasonable case to put before the Minister. Surely the Minister could have taken this opportunity to adjust these rates in order to grant special rate pensioners a total of £18 a week. It is still possible for him to do that under this legislation.

A few minutes ago, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) suggested that certain things were not possible under Labour governments. If I have found members of my party or previous Labour governments at fault, I have never hesitated to say so. If they have been at fault in other years, that certainly does not excuse this Government in 1964. For that reason I want to refer to the rates of special rate pension which have been paid by various governments from 1920 to 1964, the year with which we are now dealing and the year for which this legislation provides. In 1920, the special rate pension was £4 a week; it was then 9s. in excess of the basic wage. In 1943 it had risen to £4 16s.; it was then 2s. less than the basic wage. In 1948 it was £5 6s: it was then 14s. less than the basic wage. So there had been some deterioration. The honorable member for Mallee might quite properly interject to say 1948-49 was the last full year for which a Labour government introduced a Budget. I do not deny that and I do not excuse the government of that day.

But let us look at what happened after 1948: In 1955 the special rate pension was £9 15s.; it was then 51s. less than the basic wage. So between 1948 and 1955 - a period of seven years - it dropped from 14s. less than the basic wage to 51s. less than the basic wage. In 1959, the special rate pension was £11 10s.; but it had fallen still further in relation to the basic wage and was then 54s. less than the basic wage. The honorable member for Mallee accuses Labour governments of not accepting their responsibilities. Yet during that short period from 1948 to 1959 the special rate pension fell from 14s. less than the basic wage to 54s. less than the basic wage.

Some improvement has been effected in recent years. Perhaps the Minister for Repatriation who is sitting at the table is responsible for that. I hope he is. I do not think he is ungenerous in these matters. He is probably sympathetic. I hope that if he is responsible for the recent improvement some further improvement will be effected in the future. In 1964, with a ruling basic wage of £15 8s., the new special rate pension of £14 5s. is certainly an improvement, but it is still 23s. less than the basic wage. If the special rate pension, which is the most important of the pensions paid to recipients of repatriation benefits, was 9s. in excess of the basic wage in 1920 and in the intervening period of 44 years it has been allowed to drop to the extent that it has, there is something wrong with our administration.

I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will take the opportunity to reconsider his attitude and the Government’s attitude to the special rate pensioners. The Opposition has maintained, not only in this House but also in the policy speeches that have been delivered by the leaders of the Australian Labour Party, that the special rate pension should not be less than the ruling basic wage. Today, the average of the basic wages of the six State capital cities is £15 8s. Therefore, we believe that the Government should move immediately to increase this pension to that figure. ^

I pass on to the war widow’s pension which, under this legislation, is being increased by 5s. to £6 a week. The domestic allowance remains at £3 10s. a week. The Minister indicated in his second-reading speech, as other Ministers have indicated iri other years, that the great majority of war widows receive the domestic allowance. But the fact remains that there are some war widows whose only income is the ruling rate of war widow’s pension, which will now be £6 a week. Why does not the Minister give us the figures? Why does he not tell us how many war widows are in receipt of only £6 a week? We believe that it is shocking for a government to be prepared to leave the war widow’s pension at £6 a week, having regard to the great sacrifice that has been made, not only by the widow, but also by the serviceman who served in defence of his country and made the supreme sacrifice on behalf of his country. Here in 1964, in a Budget which according to the Treasurer points to a record year of prosperity ahead of us, this Government maintains this pension at £6 a week.

Now let me turn to the Returned Servicemen’s League’s plan. The Minister has been dealing with figures. Therefore, I believe that it is fair enough at this stage to submit the point of view of the organisation which speaks for these people. We take the opportunity to put our point of view before the House. On this occasion I find myself in accordance with the point of view that has been expressed by the League. I do not believe that the pension plan that it submitted this year requested more than one would expect to be provided for the various people who qualify for benefits under the Repatriation Act. Indeed, the League has not been over-generous in its requests to this Government. Yet, in every case except that of the special rate pensioner, the Government has chosen to ignore the recommendations of the R.S.L. and other organisations.

The League, in its plan, requested that the war widow’s pension be increased from £5 15s. to £6 10s. - not an increase of 5s., as is granted under this legislation, but of 15s. The League also requested that the domestic allowance be increased from £3 10s. to £4. But, as I said a few minutes ago, no increase in domestic allowance is granted under this legislation. The Government again has chosen to ignore the requests of the returned servicemen’s organisations. They have been completely disregarded. The only increase granted has been one of 5s., which is comparable with the increase that bas been granted to all other classes of pensioners, including age, invalid and widow pensioners.

I pass on to the general rate pension which is normally referred to as the 100 per cent, war pension. Again, an increase of 5s. has been granted. Right through this legislation one can see that no special consideration has been accorded to exservicemen. An increase has been applied generally to age and invalid pensions, but I repeat that no special consideration has been given to any of these people who qualify for a pension under the Repatriation Act. The 100 per cent, or full general rate pension is to be increased by 5s. from £5 15s. to £6 a week, with proportionate increases for those who receive less than a full pension. For example, a person in receipt of a 50 per cent, pension will receive an increase of 2s. 6d. a week, a person in receipt of a 25 per cent, pension will receive an increase of ls. 3d. and a person in receipt of a 10 per cent, pension will receive an increase of lOd. One leaves it to the judgment of those who are in receipt of a 10 per cent, war pension for an accepted disability to decide whether the Government is generous in giving an increase of lOd. a week. I do not think that either those people or the R.S.L. would regard the increase as generous. In point of fact, the R.S.L. asked that the general rate pension be increased by 15s. from £5 15s. to £6 10s. a week, and that the wife’s allowance be increased from £1 15s. 6d. a week to £3, an increase of £1 4s. 6d. The Government has decided that the increase to be paid to the wife of a general rate pensioner who is in receipt of a full pension should not be more than 5s. a week. The 100 per cent, war pensioner finds himself in special circumstances, and any member of this House or any outsider who has had experience of the operation of this part of the Act will appreciate the way in which the smallness of the pension can react against those people.

Let us consider the position of an exserviceman who is in receipt of an 80 per cent, war pension for an accepted disability.

His ability to engage in employment is affected. He becomes known as a person who is suffering from a war caused disability and consequently is not in a position to supplement his income. The fact that he is in receipt of an 80 per cent, pension means that he is not able to supplement his income even with a service pension. So, even though in effect he is suffering from 100 per cent, incapacity, under this legislation he must be satisfied with an increase of 4s. a week. As I have already indicated, the Government has accorded to the recipient of a full general rate pension an increase of no more than 5s. a week. We believe that there arc very good reasons why the Government should reconsider the amount of that increase. It certainly does not accord with the plan that was submitted by the R.S.L. to the Government earlier this year.

I now come to the last rate of pension that was dealt with by the Minister in his second reading speech. I refer to the service pension, which I have already indicated might be compared with the invalid pension that is payable under the Social Services Act. The same means test is applied as is applied to age and invalid pensioners. The service pension may bo granted to an ex-serviceman who has reached the age of 60 years - that is, five years earlier than an age pension would be paid to a male under the Social Services Act. The service pension may be granted to an ex-serviceman who suffers from a number of disabilities which in the opinion of the Department render him permanently incapacitated but which are not accepted by the Department as being due to war service. That brings us back to the subject of entitlement. I, my colleagues, and very many people in the ex-servicemen’s organisations who are interested in these matters often wonder whether the disabilities of many of these men might well be accepted as being due to war service. No doubt these men have come before a Repatriation Board, the Repatriation Commission and a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal which have decided that their condition has not been aggravated by war service. In such cases the ex-serviceman is advised to apply for a service pension. It is proposed under this legislation that the service pension shall be increased by 5s. from £5 5s. to £5 10s. a week. The wife’s allowance is to remain at £3 a week. One may well submit that there must be very grave doubts about the disabilities of many ex-servicemen, and that they really might have been caused by, or aggravated by, war service. We believe that in common justice the wife of a service pensioner should receive the same amount as is granted to the pensioner himself.

The R.S.L. pointed out to the Minister for Repatriation in the plan it submitted that it did not believe there should be any disparity between the rates applicable to a single service pensioner and that applicable to a married service pensioner. It suggested that in the case of both the single and the married service pensioner the pension should be increased to £6 a week. But again the Government has ignored the organisation’s recommendation. I believe, in common with other honorable members on this side of the House and with members of interested organisations, that the Government might well have been more generous in fixing pension rales under this legislation. No doubt other Opposition members will take advantage of the opportunity to point out the anomalies to the Government. Most of the rates payable will be inadequate. Even at this late stage the Government ought to effect a decided improvement.

In the few minutes that remain available to me I want to refer to one or two other matters that will be dealt with by the Opposition at the Committee stage if not at this stage of the debate. I wish to bring before the Government anomalies that have been referred to in previous years when similar legislation has been before the House. The first relates to the onus of proof provision, which is section 47 of the Repatriation Act. I would, of course, need far more time than I now have to deal fully with this matter. However, I can say that the Opposition believes that the section is not being applied and has never been applied in the generous way that the Parliament originally intended it should be applied. The Opposition will, during the Committee stage, deal more fully with this subject.

The Opposition will move a number of amendments during the Committee stage. One of these will deal with the provision of medical treatment for the wives of special rate pensioners. This matter has been dealt with fully by honorable members on this side of the House in recent years. Time does not permit me to enlarge upon the amendments that the Opposition will move. Some of them have been moved in former years. Although they were rejected by the Government, I am sure that some honorable members on the Government side of the House really favoured them and certainly they had the support of organisations outside the Parliament which must accept responsibility for repatriation matters. The Opposition does not see any reason for not submitting these amendments again in 1964. The need for them has been stressed time and time again by the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association and the R.S.L. I referred earlier in my speech to some of the anomalies that the Opposition wishes to correct. We believe that the Government has a case to answer and I hope that during this debate the Minister for Repatriation and some honorable members opposite will try to refute our claims. If the Minister does not have an opportunity to answer our claims during the second-reading stage, he will certainly have an opportunity during the Committee stage to answer the arguments that will be advanced, and convincingly advanced, by Opposition members.


– We have listened for three-quarters of an hour to a speech made with great sincerity by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). I am sure that from the bottom of his heart he believes that all his suggestions should be adopted, but, of course, it is very easy to give the lie to this thought. This is a good Bill and the Opposition will be struggling to justify any criticism of it. The measure gives effect to the repatriation benefits that were outlined in the Budget. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) and the Government, in my view and, I am sure, in the view of all honorable members on this side of the House, are to be commended for increasing the assistance already given to exservicemen. The Bill increases a wide range of pensions. The total and permanent incapacity rate pension is increased by 10s. to a weekly rate of £14 5s. I think the honorable member for Bass criticised this and said that £14 5s. a week, with the allowances for a wife and other dependants, is still too low. The direct lie to this assertion will be given by honorable members on this side of the House who will follow me. The Bill increases the war widow’s pension by 5s. a week and brings the rate to £6 a week. The general rate pension also is increased by 5s. to £6 a week. These are the general provisions of the Bill. lt was rather amusing to hear the honorable member for Bass say that the Minister for Repatriation had ignored certain aspects of the pensions and benefits that are granted to ex-servicemen, and had not mentioned them in his second-reading speech. Quite obviously, if the Minister referred to all the benefits that are granted to ex-servicemen, he would not have sufficient time in which to complete his second-reading speech. But the Minister has not ignored the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Bass. In his own good time and in his own way, he will effectively reply to the Opposition’s criticism.

The honorable member referred to certain anomalies and said that these anomalies had been mentioned in previous years. He claimed that his party had the right to raise them again this year. Of course, the Opposition has the right to deal with any anomalies it may find year after year. 1 understand from the honorable member that the Opposition will move a series of amendments to this Bill. One can anticipate that these amendments will refer to section 47, the onus of proof provision, and to other aspects of the repatriation system with which we are well acquainted. It is unfortunate, however, that Opposition members who seek to make a political football of ex-servicemen should claim that the Returned Servicemen’s League and other organisations are deeply disappointed with and gravely concerned at the provisions of the Bill. In my experience I have not been able to find evidence of this disappointment by a large body of R.S.L. members. The executive officers of the various branches are fully aware of the responsibilities that must be borne by the Government in determining pension rates, and they are prepared to accept the provisions of the Bill without a great deal of hot-headedness.

Contrary to what the honorable member for Bass has been trying to say, this Government has vastly improved the repatriation system, and it continues to do so. Perhaps at this point. I could anticipate by saying that one of the amendments to which the honorable member referred will state a claim for the establishment of a committee to make a very comprehensive inquiry into our repatriation system. I do not believe there is any need for such a committee. This claim is a hardy perennial, as we know. It was made last year, by way of an amendment. Frankly, speaking as one member on this side, I would have no objection to a committee looking into all aspects of the repatriation system if I felt there was justification for establishing such a committee, but in my view that would be a complete waste of time. It has been and still is the cherished responsibility of the Minister and this Government to keep the repatriation system continually under review.

On the matter of expenditure, I think it is worth while to look at what has been spent in the past and to see how we are measuring up to our responsibilities now. In 1949-50 - which, of course, was the year in which the Menzies Government took over from the Labour Government - the appropriation for repatriation, made by the Labour Government, was £30 million. By way of comment on that appropriation, I direct attention to the fact that in 1963-64 the expenditure on repatriation bad increased quite substantially, to £120,500,000. The estimate for 1964-65 is over £122 million. Those figures speak for themselves. They show the attention which this Government has given to its responsibilities in relation to repatriation.

Eligibility for pensions has been considerably widened, new benefits have been provided and existing benefits have been increased. It is worthy of note that since 1950 there have been great increases in pension rates. Naturally we do not hear about these things from the opposite side, but the improvements effected by this Government over the years are worth telling to all who are interested to listen. As an example, the T.P.I, pension has been increased by £8 9s. a week and the general rate pension has been increased by £3 a week. I think the honorable member for Bass referred back to what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had to say some years ago - that is, that the Government would accept the care of repatriation pensions as a proud responsibility. I say without any equivocation whatsoever that the Government has discharged that proud responsibility by year after year gradually increasing pensions and providing better conditions for those who aire entitled to benefits under the repatriation system.

As members of the Opposition claim that higher pensions should be paid, it is only natural that in trying to make out a case against this Bill they should charge the Government with being niggardly, with not providing adequate or appropriate pensions, and that they should say that pensions should be shillings and even pounds more than they are. The honorable member for Bass, like all other members of the Opposition, is quite without responsibility for the spending of the taxpayers’’ money, so it does not matter to him what figure he names. The figure X is as good as the figure Y. We on this side, however, are charged with the responsibility of spending the taxpayers’ money in a justifiable and wise manner. I am sure that R.S.L. claims have been very carefully examined, with the desire for increases in terms of top ambit very carefully weighed, and that a decision has then been taken by the Government on the merits of the claims, in the light of the many other financial factors that have to be considered. One would rather expect that if the Opposition came to occupy the treasury bench - let us hope, in the interests of Australia, that it does not happen - then, in respect of claims submitted by the R.S.L. and by pensioner organisations, it would say: “Whatever you claim, we will pay”. You cannot run a country in that way. Obviously, claims have to be dealt with in a businesslike manner. It is not just a question of currying favour by saying: “ We will pay anything you ask “. Quite obviously, a Government which did that would be completely without responsibility and could not be trusted to handle the taxpayers’ money. I say to members of the Opposition that each claim which is submitted by the R.S.L. is treated with human understanding and as liberally as the taxpayers can afford, other financial factors being considered.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, in supporting the Bill and in paying tribute to our repatriation system 1 should like to illustrate how the system has expanded since its inception.

For instance, war pensions in force at 30th June 1917 totalled 45,191. The cost of pensions in that year was £1,212,632. By the 30th June 1963, the number of pensioners had increased to 671,215 and expenditure was £670 million.

Obviously the needs of ex-servicemen have been kept in mind by the Government and it has accepted the responsibility of looking after their interests. The Repatriation Department is <a humane organisation, as we all know. I agree with the tribute paid by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) to the staff of the Department because at all times I have found the officials, from the Commissioners down, ready to ensure that the interests of any ex-serviceman are properly looked after. Therefore the tribute does not go astray. It is also my privilege once again to pay a tribute to the Minister in charge of this Department - a tribute for his administrative zeal and untiring efforts. I am not trying to curry favour; I am impressed by the great administrative ability shown by the Minister and am amazed at the close contact he keeps with the Repatriation Department and its far flung branches, as well as with the numerous branches of the R.S.L.

The Repatriation Department performs two very significant and worthwhile functions. First, it restores ex-servicemen to physical or mental health, or relieves their suffering. Secondly, it compensates men and their dependants for war sustained disabilities. I am satisfied that our repatriation system is the best in the free world. It is always under review by the Government, and the Department itself has grown into one of the largest and most complete hospital organisations in Australia.

These are aspects of the Repatriation Department’s work which we should keep well and truly before us. From personal experience, I know that ex-servicemen are proud of the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord in Sydney, for example. They realise that the treatment given to them there is the best available. We should appreciate the remarkable facilities provided under the repatriation hospital system. For example, provision is made for psychiatric, dental and optical services as well as surgical and general medical treatment. Pharmaceutical benefits also are available. No-one on the Opposition benches makes any mention of these services. After listening to Opposition supporters making hard work of their criticisms of bills such as this, one would think that the Repatriation Department was not doing a great deal.

Mr Pollard:

– You have only heard one Opposition speaker so far.


– I was here last year and the year before. Tribute must be paid to the repatriation administration for the training of doctors, nurses, social workers and specialists in such courses as geriatrics. No wonder ex-servicemen arc proud of the Department! I make bold to say that there will be further extensions of the system to meet the demands of ex-servicemen who reach the 60 to 70 years age group by 1970.

Since Opposition members insist on reiterating grievances, I would like to mention my own grievance. I mentioned this matter last year. I would like to see all ex-servicemen of the First World War given entitlement to free treatment in repatriation hospitals. Under the Act as it stands this service is available only in respect of war caused injuries.

Mr Reynolds:

– You are going to vote for our amendment?


– I anticipated that amendment from the Opposition. The R.S.L. has asked that free hospital and medical treatment be extended to all returned servicemen of the First World War and earlier war. I hope that in the near future we will be able to say to these returned servicemen from the First World War: “ Very well, our hospital system is available to you, even though you cannot claim that your incapacity is due to war injuries.” I have five letters on my office table in Sydney from ex-servicemen claiming that because their ailments or incapacity does not fall within the ambit of the Repatriation Act, they cannot go to Concord for treatment; they have to go to private or public hospitals, away from their mates. Apart from the fact that they are separated from other ex-servicemen, this means that these men have to face heavy expenses. One’s heart must go out to those men. I hope that the Government, in its wisdom, will be able to do something about this matter at some time in the future.

Mr Pollard:

– How far in the future? Don’t let them all die.


– I leave that to the wisdom of the Government. I understand there are about 100,000 men alive today in Australia who served in the First World War. Some of these are already receiving treatment at repatriation hospitals and therefore the number involved, if the benefits were extended, would not be as large as expected. 1 make that plea and I hope it will not always fall on deaf ears.

Another point which I think will be raised by members of the Opposition relates to section 47 of the Repatriation Act, the onus of proof provision. Here, again, is a hardy perennial. Honorable members opposite will never let this question rest, although no doubt they have read very closely and carefully the various opinions which have been given on the matter by certain eminent members of the legal profession, in which it is shown that the wording of section 47 requires that where there is a doubt the onus of proof must be determined in favour of the claimant. The legal men to whom I have referred have been unable to find any meaning in the present wording of the Act other than that the onus of proof must be determined in favour of the claimant.

It is important always to bear in mind that the Repatriation Department has no power to accept or reject a claim that an ex-serviceman’s death or incapacity is due to war service. The Act specifically reserves this power to a series of independent determining authorities. I refer, of course, to the Repatriation Boards, the Repatriation Commission and the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. Those bodies comprise qualified and skilled men who are able to analyse evidence and give informed judgments, so decisions quite likely must remain in their hands. Like other honorable members in similar circumstances, I am greatly disappointed when submissions made on behalf of some of my constituents are rejected and the claims do not succeed. In conclusion, I am sure that the general opinion is that the Government, through this Bill, is discharging its responsibility to the ex-servicemen with a good conscience, and with justice. It must be borne in mind that repatriation pensions are not acts of charity, but a recognition of the claims of justice and the provision of some assistance to those who have fought and suffered for their country. I support the Bill.


.- At the outset I will deal with the inadequacies of the Bill now before the House. Briefly, all it provides is that returned soldiers who are in receipt of total and permanent incapacity pensions shall receive an increase of 10s. per week; that recipients of the 100 per cent, general rate pension shall receive an increase of 5s. per week and that people coming under other provisions of the Act - service pensions and so on - shall also receive an increase of 5s. per week. In addition, the measure contains provision for more generous treatment in the matter of expenses for people who are required from time to time to travel to attend, and lose time while attending, various repatriation tribunals. Those matters are about all that the measure provides for. In days gone by we have had rather comprehensive repatriation measures before us and since all that this Bill provides is an increase of a few shillings per week in pensions, it could perhaps be claimed that we have achieved everything that is desirable as regards other features of repatriation.

Every honorable member of this Parliament and every returned soldier in this country knows that there is still a wide range of anomalies in the Repatriation Act which ought to be rectified and that there is ample need to expand repatriation benefits other than in respect of increases in pension payments per week or per fortnight. I do not think I have ever spoken on a repatriation measure in this House without indicating that I thought the debate ought to assume a non party character. I repeat that opinion, but it is very hard to follow that course when an honorable member like the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) gets up and, before anybody on this side of the House other than the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) who led the debate for the Opposition, has an opportunity to speak, suggests that the Opposition is being party political. I frankly admit that any debate in this Parliament, because of the different opinions held by honorable members on either side of the

House, is to a large extent party political, but there are facets and features of this legislation which need not be party political. But ever and anon, the political problem arises. While the honorable member for Bass was on his feet I heard the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) - of all people - rudely interrupt him and make a remark along these lines: “But we could not get that out of the Labour Party “. I am not quite sure what he was referring to.

Mr Turnbull:

– Why do you not quote me correctly?


– Let me tell the honorable member that he will not put me off the track as he attempted to put the honorable member for Bass off. Let me tell the honorable members for Mallee and Warringah that when the Labour Party was the Government, in most difficult circumstances during the currency of a war and for a number of years thereafter, it acted in what was, in that period, a particularly generous manner. When I heard the honorable member for Warringah say that he would not support a move to have an all-party committee appointed to investigate whether anything better than what this Parliament does in party fashion could be done, I remembered that it was the Labour Government which, in 1943, appointed an all-party committee of the Parliament to investigate the need for bringing the Repatriation Act up to date in the light of the fact that nearly 20 years had elapsed since it became operative. Some honorable members might say that 20 years was a long period, but in the years from 1921 to 1943 there were no inflationary trends. At one stage during that period the cost of living figures actually went down, but that has not occurred while this Government has been in office. On the contrary, the cost of living figures have more than doubled since 1949.

Despite the fact that there was very little variation in the cost of living figures between 1921 and 1943 the Curtin Labour Government did appoint an all-party committee to inquire into and make recommendations in respect of repatriation matters. Let us see what that committee did to remove anomalies from the legislation. I do not want to deal with the matter exhaustively, but I will quote the percentage increases in pensions which were recommended by the committee, accepted by every member of this Parliament, and became law in 1943 or 1944. Overall the recommended increases were about 25 per cent, or 26 per cent, in the case of the general rate pension and varied from 20 per cent, to 21 per cent., 19 per cent., 20 per cent., and 19 per cent, in regard to items in the Second Schedule. An increase of 20 per cent, in the ruling rate of pension was a tremendous advance at that time. Honorable gentlemen opposite may say: “ Yes, but taking the increases since 1943 in total, one can see that they amount to as much as the increases of about 20 per cent, granted by the Labour Government.” Maybe they do. Maybe they df not. I make bold to say that they probably do not. However, even if the increases since 1943 amount in total to as high a percentage as the increases given by the Labour Government, the reason probably is only that the present Government has allowed long years of inflation in the period since 1943.

What nonsensical utterances we heard from the honorable member for Warringah. He stated that at the time when the Labour Government went out of office, expenditure on repatriation totalled £30 million a year. Then, as an illustration of the generosity of the present Government he said that expenditure on repatriation now totals £122 million annually. Of course expenditure has grown to this degree but that is only because of inflation. It now costs at least three times as much to live as it did in 1949 when the Labour Government went out of office. Therefore, the total sum required for repatriation is now much greater. But, despite the greater expenditure, repatriation benefits now are not on a par with the benefits that were paid by the Labour Government in 1949.

There is another factor in all this, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. Australia’s wealth has increased out of all recognition since the Labour Government went out of office. The capacity of the individual, whether he be a labourer, a scientist, a professional man, a farmer, an industrialist or anything else, to produce more wealth has increased out of all recognition. Indeed, only yesterday I saw some figures that indicated that in the United Kingdom today one farmer, alone and unaided, produces enough food for 23 people. 1 make bold to say that in 1949, when the Labour Government in this country went out of office, one farmer in the United Kingdom could have produced only sufficient food for, perhaps, 15 or 16 people. This kind of increase in productivity applies to the productivity of all mankind. In the light of the facts that I have mentioned, the Government has been extremely miserable in granting increases in pensions of only 10s. a week to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen and of only 5s. a week to general rate repatriation pensioners. These small increases are mean.

Furthermore, Sir, let us not forget that in 1939 437,000 women were employed throughout Australia. There are now 1) million women employed in Australia. Family incomes in general have risen enormously, for mum works and dad works. But can the wife of a T.P.I, pensioner go out to work and earn a living? She cannot, for she is required to be at home looking after her house, husband and family. The husband may be able to give her some assistance in looking after the home, but is it suggested that the wife of a man who has lost the whole of his working capacity by serving his country in war should be required to get out to work and supplement the family income? Let us not forget that the T.P.I, pensioner, had it not been for his war disability, might have been capable of entering the ranks of executives in commerce, or the medical, legal or other professions, where men today are earning as much as £8,000, £9,000 or £10,000 a year. Yet the Government expects him to be content with an additional 10s. a week, making his pension only £14 5s. a week.

What I have said about T.P.I, pensioners can likewise be said about general rate pensioners. The Government will give them only an additional 5s. a week. In days gone by, of course, a pension increase of 5s. a week may have seemed almost the equivalent of a mountain of gold. These days, however, 5s. will buy only one packet of super quality cigarettes or two packets of cigarettes of inferior quality. Many of us, of course, consider that all cigarettes are of inferior quality. This Government parades its virtues as a generous administration while it ladles out this sort of treatment to the returned servicemen of this country. I am not impressed by supporters of such a Government who criticise what a Labour Government did in times of extreme stress. I have pointed out to the honorable member for Mallee that, at the most critical period of the war, the Labour Government increased repatriation pensions by as much as 25 per cent. What percentage of £13 15s. is represented by the 5s. increase granted in this Budget?

Mr Turnbull:

– What about the service pension?


– I am asking the honorable member for Mallee to work out the percentage. I am not a mathematician. Five shillings is so small a percentage of £13 15s. that one can hardly see it. The Labour Government, as I have pointed out, increased repatriation pensions by as much as 19 per cent., 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, throughout the whole range of pensions existing in 1943. Yet the present Government thinks it has done enough if it passes out a miserable 5s. a week.

Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.


– Before the sitting was suspended I was pointing out the inadequacy of the increased pension rates provided in this measure. I admit that it is unfortunate that it may appear that every time the Parliament discusses this subject there is much disputation between the opposite sides as to whether this Government or the former Labour Government treated returned servicemen as generously as it should have done. It is my considered opinion that the Parliament has never treated returned servicemen who suffer as» a result of wartime injuries as generously as it should have done. At this period in our history the Parliament is certainly not treating them in a way that has any relationship to the increased productivity of our country.

Much talk is usually indulged in about the relationship of the pension rates to the cost of living. I have with me a copy of the 48th Annual Report of the National Executive of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia for 1963, in which is an excellent graph showing a line proceeding upwards from 1951 indicating the higher earning rate of the Australian employed male. Taking 1951 as the starting point, it shows that by 1963 the earnings of male employees in Australia had increased by 110 per cent. I do not know of any figures that can show that during the same period the total and permanent incapacity pension rate increased by an equal amount. In other words, we are going backwards. The graph also shows that the Commonwealth basic wage for the six capitals increased from 1951 to 1963 by 85 per cent. It also shows that the average for the six capitals of the cost of the commodities comprising the consumer index increased from 1951 to 1963 by 68 per cent. On the other hand, the general rate pension for the returned serviceman increased by only 65 per cent. At one point only on this graph does the general rate pension ever get above the consumer index, and that is in respect of 1959. It has since dropped back. We find, too, that from 1952 to 1963 the special rate war pension increased by only 56 per cent. So all along the line, in terms of purchasing power and earning capacity, the T.P.I, pensioner has lost out. On one occasion only did the general rate war pensioner come into his own. This cannot be justified. I emphasise that about li million women, many of them wives, are earning today. I do not think sufficient consideration has been given to the families of disabled ex-servicemen. I ask for leave to incorporate the chart in appears in “ Hansard “.

Mr. Drury

– Is leave granted?

Mr Swartz:

– No.


– Leave is not granted.


– The Minister in charge of the Bill is afraid of this evidence, which was produced by the National Executive of the R.S.L. and not by me, who could be called a political partisan - a member of the Opposition party endeavouring to extract some benefit from it. The Minister is afraid that there shall go on a record a chart prepared by the National Executive.

Mr Swartz:

– Read my speech, which appears in “Hansard”.


– It does not matter whether the chart appeared before. Did you include that chart in “ Hansard “?

Mr Swartz:

– You can if you want to.


– The Minister is trying to bamboozle me and to make it appear that the chart has already been included in “Hansard”. Clearly is has not. He now refuses permission for it to be included in “Hansard”, His is not a very creditable performance. Let us have a look at the situation of the thousands of men, particularly men from World War I, who consider that their physical disabilities are due to war causes. It has been claimed by the Opposition - and, I am glad to say, by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) to whom I give full marks, and by other members - that the physical deterioration of these men is due to their war service. Some of these men are suffering from neurosis as a result of such service. They go to the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal, which is tangled in a web of legalisms, due to the lack of clarity in section 47 of the Repatriation Act. Since the end of World War II this problem of interpretation and how this section should he used has remained unsolved, with the result that thousands of men have been refused pension compensation. The honorable member for Warringah said that he favoured all men of World War I being accepted for medical treatment and hospitalisation notwithstanding lack of proof that their troubles are due to war service.

Mr Cockle:

– I said that.


– That is a very generous gesture on the honorable member’s part. The Opposition has been saying it for years, but it has never been able to get any support. I think the honorable member indicated that if we moved an amendment on these lines later in the piece he would support it.

Mr Cockle:

– I did not say that.


– The honorable member is wriggling. He said he was prepared to support it, but when a member of the Opposition said that we would move the amendment the honorable member quibbled, and what one could call “ squared off “. He expressed the pious hope that at some time in the future - in the sweet by and by - returned soldiers from World War I would be accepted for free hospitalisation and free medical treatment irrespective of whether their injuries were war caused. We will all be dead by then. There is hardly a World War I man alive who is not 70 years of age or over. When would the honorable member visualise granting this concession in the future - in five years or 10? I appeal to him to support our amendment when it is moved.

We have a horrible state of affairs. After all, if this concession is granted it will mean simply that it will cost the revenue something. If it is not conceded by the repatriation authorities, and the physical disabilities of the men are not catered for, they will have to be treated somewhere. If they are not men of financial substance, they will, of course, go to the public wards of the public hospitals. No vast amount of money is involved. I ask the honorable member for Warringah to put his original promise into effect and, when a vote is taken, to support the Opposition’s move for this concession.

There is bitterness in the hearts of thousands of men. After all, who can determine whether a man’s physical condition is due to deterioration following his wartime experiences, particularly when he is perhaps 68 or 70 years of age? One of the ironical features of this problem is that the medical men who were attached to the battalions in World War I all are dead. They were the only men in authority who really knew the hardships, the privations and the sufferings endured by men who served in the First World War, but they are all gone now. I do not wish to cast aspersions on the younger generation of the medical fraternity but they just do not know what the men went through in the First World War. The War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals, acting in accordance with the provisions of section 47 of the Repatriation Act, and having regard to the medical evidence that is presented to them, say in many cases that the disabilities now being suffered by ex-servicemen are not due to war service. The ex-servicemen are sent away to grieve and to suffer deprivations because they are not receiving an adequate pension. This situation is just not good enough.

It is true that some concessions are granted to these ex-servicemen but they are not as generous as they should be. Some note should be taken of that fact. One authority has stated that if the Repatriation Commission were completely honest it would freely admit that over the past 40 years tens of thousands of returned men have suffered because medical treatment has been denied them. That is a shocking state of affairs. The same authority has pointed out that a Dr. Pearson returned recently from Russia with a report of the free medical treatment available there to the community generally. Dr. Pearson expressed the opinion in a Press and television interview that Australia, too, would some day have to provide free medical treatment for people. He was referring to all of its people. I hope I will see the day when everybody in the community, notwithstanding the origin of his or her physical disability, is entitled without question or discrimination to the same treatment in our hospitals by doctors as is currently available to the returned soldier whose disabilities are due to war service. The loss of a man to industry is as important in the economic sense as the loss of a man to the Army in wartime. During wartime the injured man receives medical treatment so that he may go back into service. It is equally important to get the civilian back to work.

Dr. Pearson is reported to have said that in Russia treatment is afforded not because one has the money to pay for it but because it is needed. Money does not come into the picture. Dr. Pearson said -

Expense is no bar in Russian hospitals to treatment to get a patient back into employment. Sickness is regarded as nationally uneconomic, to be overcome as soon as humanly practicable.

That is the view of other countries. I hope that this Government will have a change of heart and will, not a long way in the future, as the honorable member for Warringah suggested, but immediately accept our proposed amendment and provide free medical treatment for these people.

The other matter at issue is the provision of free treatment and hospitalisation for returned soldiers suffering from cancer. We know that we have made some progress in the field of repatriation in that exservicemen suffering from tuberculosis are granted repatriation benefits irrespective of whether their condition is due to war service. Is there any real reason why a returned soldier suffering from cancer should not be treated similarly? Is there any absolute proof that a returned soldier’s con dition of cancer was not caused by his war service? Recently I submitted to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) - he does his best as he finds the law, but, of course, it is within his province to initiate steps to improve the law - the case of a man who was suffering from all the stomach trouble imaginable and whose condition had been accepted as due to war service. It was discovered that the man had a cancerous condition. He appealed to the Commission to have his cancerous condition treated as a war-caused disability. The Commission said that it had accepted the three or four stomach troubles as being due to war service but it was not prepared to accept his cancerous condition as being due to war service. How strange. What an anomaly. How can any human being say that that man’s cancerous condition was not brought on by his stomach trouble, which has been accepted as due to his war service? He still has a right of appeal to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. Taking the long view, why not obviate all these delays and all these legal problems by amending the Act so that where there is a doubt it is resolved in favour of the exserviceman? We propose to move an amendment to provide for cancer to be accepted as war caused. If an ex-serviceman’s condition of cancer is not accepted as war caused he still becomes a charge on the community. The cost of treating him in hospital is eventually borne by the public.

There are many problems associated with the provision of adequate repatriation benefits. I hope that nothing I have said tonight will be misconstrued as being said in the party political spirit. We are here to endeavour to amend the laws of this country. We all know that from time to time the Government introduces bills that are designed to improve existing legislation. The Opposition supports those bills and, on appropriate occasions, seeks further to improve the legislation by moving amendments. This is our responsibility in this Parliament. I hope that there will not be too much harping on party politics. AH governments have done something to improve the laws of this country. All oppositions likewise have done something to improve our laws. In the future all governments and all oppositions could do something to make conditions infinitely better than they are today, particularly in the light of the physical and financial capacity of this Commonwealth of Australia.


.- I agree with quite a number of things said by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I agree that we all would like to do everything possible for ex-servicemen who are not enjoying the health they would have enjoyed had it not been for their war service. I support the bill because I believe that the Government is attempting seriously to do what it can, having regard to all the circumstances, to extend relief to exservicemen and their dependants. Already we are spending about £120 million a year on repatriation benefits. This Bill proposes to increase the benefits paid to special and general rate pensioners, their widows and their dependants.

Our repatriation system endeavours to provide adequate support and adequate pensions to all those who are entitled to them. It provides medical treatment in many cases. Where necessary, specialist medical treatment is provided. I do not think sufficient emphasis has been laid on this fact in this debate. If an ex-serviceman is seriously ill every endeavour is made under our repatriation scheme to provide him with adequate and satisfactory specialist treatment. He is provided with hospital treatment as well as general medical and dental treatment, plus many other benefits. In many cases where there is some doubt whether the ex-serviceman’s disability is due to war service, the treatment is nevertheless provided for him. The general attitude of the Repatriation Department is to be as generous as possible and to provide maximum rather than minimum benefits. I think most returned men will agree that many ex-servicemen are today suffering from disabilities that were not evident or recognised at the time of their discharge as being the direct result of war service, irrespective of whether they were discharged 100 per cent, fit or very nearly 100 per cent, fit, or whether they were prisoners of war. No doubt many of those cases deserve very generous and sympathetic consideration. In view of the fact that most of our Repatriation Boards are composed almost 100 per cent, of returned men I think there can be little doubt that generally speaking the ex-serviceman gets that consideration.

I think many sick ex-servicemen can receive tremendous psychological assistance from their former comrades in arms. Most of us who have been in the Army will appreciate how association with old mates, talking over old times and helping one another, can lead men back to better health. Any doctor will tell you that the mental attitude of the patient has a tremendous influence on his return to health. Possibly this applies more to returned soldiers than to other patients. I think that we should be generous in putting into repatriation hospitals ex-servicemen whose illness cannot definitely be related to war service. We could help such cases considerably in a psychological sense. Ex-servicemen who have been 100 per cent, disabled are certainly cared for to the limit of our resources. So, too, are nurses who served in the 1914- 18 war. These women are treated differently for repatriation purposes from nurses of the last war, who are considered to have been members of the Services. The widows and children of servicemen of the first World War and the last war also receive all the benefits we are able to provide. The honorable member for Lalor has stated the position of sufferers from tuberculosis.

Ex-servicemen whose claims are rejected by a Repatriation Board have the right of appeal. If the appeal is disallowed and fresh evidence can be produced, a further appeal may be lodged. Many honorable members have had the experience of assisting ex-servicemen to bring forward fresh evidence after their prior claims have been rejected. Many of us have had the experience of getting cases reopened and obtaining benefits for ex-servicemen. Almost every repatriation tribunal is composed of returned servicemen, who naturally are sympathetic to other returned servicemen and understand their difficulties. In the administration of the Act, I think we agree that generally the legislation is interpreted in an understanding manner and every possible assistance is given to claimants. I think we must all agree also that the standard of treatment in our repatriation hospitals is high. No effort is spared to give patients the very best attention and treatment.

I am quite sure that our repatriation system is superior to repatriation systems overseas. Many honorable members haw had experience of British ex-servicemen who have emigrated to Australia and found great difficulties in maintaining themselves on the British repatriation benefits, which are less favorable than Australian repatriation benefits. A general pensioner who is completely disabled and also receives a service pension may, if he has a wife and two children, receive an amount of over £18 a week, which is considerably more than the basic wage. Since 1949 the number of repatriation benefits has been greatly increased. I shall mention one or two of the additional benefits. Many widows of ex-servicemen, on remarriage, have been given a special allowance equal to 12 months’ pension. Pensioners who have had both legs amputated are provided with a car and an allowance to run it. Many widows of disabled ex-servicemen receive training and rehabilitation assistance to enable them to earn a satisfactory living. Medical benefits have been extended to all widows and children of ex-servicemen. The eligibility provisions have been widened over the last few years. As an illustration, men who served in the Torres Strait area are entitled to repatriation benefits.

In dealing with repatriation benefits we must face the fact that there are considerations of economics. In addition to repatriation pensions the Commonwealth Government pays social service pensions of all kinds. When considering the cases of returned servicemen we must remember that a lot of men and women outside the services contributed considerably to the national war effort. A considerable number of people worked extremely long hours, performing valuable work for the nation’s war effort. Many of them are suffering as a consequence. Those of us who are on the land know of many women, who ran properties and worked as hard as any man could work to play their part in the national war effort. These people are also entitled to consideration. When considering repatriation pensions we must consider the matter in an. overall light. Certainly we owe our ex-servicemen a debt but we must not forget those people who stayed at home in reserved occupations and gave everything they could.

I believe the Bill is an honest attempt to improve, as far as is economically possible, the pension payable to returned servicemen and to develop the repatriation system. It is a serious attempt to help repatriation pensioners. One could delve deeply into figures and deviate from the real purpose of the Bill. One could spend a lot of time on side issues, but, as I see the Bill, the critical issue is whether we are doing the best we can. We are all aware that that is never quite enough, but we are bound by economic considerations. I support the Bill.


.- After listening to the speech of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt), I believe he is fortunate that in the main exservicemen’s organisations are non-political bodies. If they were political bodies, 1 am certain that the distribution of the honorable member’s speech in his electorate would not gain him many votes.

In his second reading speech the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said -

The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals on repatriation, which reflect our intention to maintain at appropriate levels the rates of benefits available under the repatriation system to ex-servicemen and their dependants.

I stress the words “ at appropriate levels because there is no doubt that the present Minister and some of his predecessors have not maintained at appropriate levels the rates of pensions payable to ex-servicemen and their dependants. Only a few minutes ago the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) sought permission from the Minister to have included in “ Hansard “ a comparative table supporting claims for increased pension rates as outlined in the 1964 pension plan submitted to Cabinet by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. There is no doubt that the Minister refused permission for the table to be incorporated in “ Hansard “ because it shows quite clearly that it is not possible to sustain his statement that the Government intended to maintain at appropriate levels the benefits payable under the repatriation system. I was hoping that the table would be incorporated in “ Hansard “ because its inclusion would have saved’ me the troubles of quoting the figures again. Obviously, the Minister does not wish to have this evidence used against him, but I propose to quote some of the figures to show that his statements cannot be supported by facts.

In 1951-52 the rate payable to the 100 per cent, pensioner was £3 10s. a week. In that same year, the average of male weekly earnings amounted to £11 12s.; so that the 100 per cent, pension represented 30.17 per cent, of the average of male weekly earnings. The basic wage for the six capital cities at that time was £7 10s. a week. The general rate pension at the moment is £5 15s. a week, while the average of male earnings today is £24 4s. 6d. a week. If the general rate pension were to bear the same relationship to the average of weekly male earnings today as it bore in 1951-52, the pension would be £7 6s. 2d. instead of £5 15s. If it were to bear the same relationship to the Commonwealth basic wage, which is now £ 14 8s.. as it bore in 195 1-52, it would bc £6 9s. 6d. The Returned Servicemen’s League asked that the general rate pension be £6 10s. a week; the amount to be paid after this Bill becomes law is £6 a week.

I remind the House that since this table was published the Commonwealth basic wage has risen by £1 from £14 8s. to £15 8s. a week; so that if the figures were brought up to date we could prepare a comparative table which would be even more unfavorable to the Government than the tabic from which I am quoting. All through this table, the R.S.L. has given the percentages which the pensions bear to the average of male weekly earnings and to the Commonwealth basic wage, and in every instance the amount of pension being paid to ex-servicemen or their dependants is far below the amount that should be paid. Only one of the recommendations made by the R.S.L. in its pensions plan has been agreed to by this Government which claims that it maintains at appropriate levels the rates of benefits payable to ex-servicemen and their dependants. That is the T.P.I., or the special rate pension. The League asked that this be increased to £14 5s. a week, and that is what it is to ‘be, but I point out that if this pension were to maintain its proper relationship to the Commonwealth basic wage it would be £17 4s. 6d. a week

Before the latest increase of £1 a week the Commonwealth basic wage, which then stood at £14 8s., had been increased by 85i per cent, while the consumer price index had increased by 67£ per cent, and the average of male weekly earnings by 109 per cent. As against those increases, the general rate pension had increased by only 63i per cent, and the special rate pension by only 55i per cent.

If we turn from the plan that was submitted to the Government by the R.S.L. and consider the submissions presented by the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association we find again that the Government has failed to maintain at appropriate levels the benefits payable to ex-servicemen and their dependants. Let me deal first with the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, who deserve far greater consideration than any other returned servicemen. Originally, their pensions were assessed according to the effect that their disabilities had on their earning capacity and upon their inability to lead normal lives. Under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act of 1920, which consolidated the War Pensions Act of 1914 and the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1917, the rate payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen was 9s. above the basic wage. In 1932 that rate was increased to 18s. 4d. above the basic wage. The pension payable now is £14 5s. a week while the basic wage for the six capital cities is £15 8s. a week, so that the present pension rate is £1 3s. below the basic wage. The Association asked for an increase to £15 a week, or a rise of 25s. in the rate of pension. But even if the request for £15 a week had been granted, the T.P.I, pension would still have been 8s. a week below the present basic wage.

The new rates to be payable under this Bill will be £14 5s. a week for the T.P.I, pensioner and £2 0s. 6d. a week for his wife, making a total of £16 5s. 6d. for the husband and wife. If they qualify under the means test for social services benefits, some of these T.P.I, pensioners can draw part social services pensions to build up their joint weekly incomes to £18. That £8 a week is also the maximum which a married couple in receipt of social service pensions may receive. I point out, however, that to those T.P.I. pensioners and their wives who are entitled to a part social services pension, the increase in war pension rates means that the part social services pension will be reduced by an amount equivalent to the increase in the war pension, with the result that their maximum income will still be £18 a week. In other words, the money is being taken out of one pocket and put into the other. The ceiling of £18 applies whether the income is made up of social service pension plus outside income or of part war pension and part social service pension. There are over 6,000 married pensioner couples in the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association who are affected.

Another indication of the Government’s failure to pay an appropriate level of pension is to be found in the rate allowed for the wives of T.P.I, pensioners. These wives are allowed £2 0s. 6d. a week whereas the wife of a civilian invalid pensioner receives £3 a week. There can be no doubling that T.P.I, pensioners are invalids and the same rate should apply in both cases. T.P.I, pensioners need a great deal of nursing attention and treatment from their wives over a great many years, yet this Government has been so remiss in its duty as to neglect to increase the wife’s allowance to £3 a week. In 1951-52 the allowance was £1 10s. a week. Even with the increase of 5s. proposed by this Bill that wife will receive only £2 0s. 6d. a week; so that in a matter of 12 years, there has been an increase of only 10s. 6d. a week in the amount paid to the wife of a T.P.T. pensioner.

The Government has been guilty of neglect again in connection with medical treatment for the wives of ex-servicemen. When the National Health Act was amended in 1955, a great number of wives of T.P.I, pensioners were excluded from receiving free medical treatment. This was because they and their husbands had over £4 a week by way of pension or income outside their social service pension.

I turn now to the rate paid by way of funeral benefit. A rate of £25 has been paid for the funeral benefit since 1952. The Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association together with the Returned Servicemen’s League has asked that the benefit be increased to £50. In 1952, the basic wage was £7 10s. per week. Now it is £15 8s. per week. But there has been no increase in the amount of £25 paid as funeral benefit. We can examine many benefits and indicate quite conclusively by comparison with the cost of living index, with the average weekly earnings or with the Commonwealth basic wage, that this Government certainly is not maintaining a proper level of pensions to ex-servicemen and their dependants.

The Opposition will move a number of amendments in the Committee stage. One of them will call for the setting up of a joint committee on repatriation to investigate entirely the Repatriation Act and regulations thereunder. No official committee has been set up by this Government to investigate repatriation since it was elected to office. I understand that the last all party committee was appointed around about .1943. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who spoke before me in this debate from our side, was a member of that committee. It is true to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that a Cabinet committee was set up around about 1950 by the present Government, but Cabinet committees do not have to accept evidence from, or the advice of, any organisation of any type or any individual. The Labour Party will move an amendment, in Committee, asking for the establishment of a joint committee on repatriation so that interested organisations such as the R.S.S.A.I.L.A., the Legion of ExServicemen, and Navy and Air Force organisations, together with members on the Government side, will be able to give their views to the members of that committee.

It is always quite noticeable, during the course of a repatriation debate in this House, that, although the Government has a large number of members who are exservicemen and who are proud to wear the badge of their organisation, there are very few speakers on the Government side who are prepared to use all the time that is allotted to them under the standing orders. There are one or two exceptions. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who will follow me. is one of those exceptions. He certainly stands up in this place and makes known his beliefs as far as the treatment of ex-servicemen is concerned. But there are a number of members on the Government side who fail on occasion after occasion to voice any opinion or to advance any argument in support of any increase in line with the suggestions of the R.S.L. or the plan of the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association. Yet, those members certainly make good use of these organisations when it comes to obtaining votes or carrying out public relations in their electorates.

It would be the purpose of the joint committee to bc proposed by the Opposition to look at the great delay that occurs in the hearing of appeals by the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals and the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals, and also at the time that elapses between an application for the acceptance of the disability being made and a decision being given by the Repatriation Board or the Repatriation Commission. The committee could look at the decline in the value of the rates of pensions and could see whether the Minister’s words that the rates of pensions are being maintained at the appropriate level can be sustained. The committee could look at a number of anomalies in the Repatriation Act. It could consider whether there are any amendments which might be moved that could improve the workings of the Act. One thing at which I would like the committee to look is whether it is really worth while paying the small pensions such as 10 per cent., 15 per cent, and 30 per cent. If the pension rate commenced at 50 per cent, of the general rate, the committee could consider whether the amount saved could be used to better purposes for other ex-servicemen and their dependants.

The committee could investigate the interpretation of the onus of proof provision, which is section 47 of the Act. Various legal opinions have been expressed on this clause. Returned soldiers organisations have made representations to the Government time and time again claiming that the Act is not being interpreted in the way that it was intended that it should be interpreted. The Opposition, at the Committee stage, will move an amendment asking for the onus of proof clause to be improved so that it can be interpreted in the way in which it was intended to be interpreted.

If this joint committee were established, it could look at the automatic acceptance of certain illnesses of unknown origin for the payment of repatriation benefit’s. One of the illnesses, of course, is cancer. In the last three or four debates on repatriation in this House, the Opposition has moved amendments in committee designed to secure the automatic acceptance of cancer as a disease inviting the payment of a repatriation pension. The automatic acceptance of cancer for such benefits has been opposed by vote by every member on the Government side. The R.S.L. and other such organisations have made repeated representations on this matter. Looking through the annual reports of the R.S.L. I find mention of this matter being brought to the attention of one of the predecessors of the present Minister for Repatriation as early as 1954. The opposition intends to move an amendment to this effect because the cause and origin of cancer are unknown. Section 47 of the Act says that if there is any doubt as to the cause or origin of a disease, then the benefit of doubt should be given to the ex-serviceman. Above all, there is the further point that no medical man can say with any certainty whether the origin of cancer was 10 years, 15 years or 20 years ago, because there seems to be a great delay between the first sign of the disease and the appearance of definite symptoms.

A further point that motivates the Opposition to move this amendment is the lack of uniformity in decisions by the various repatriation authorities. Some ex-servicemen have had certain types of cancer accepted as a war caused disability. Other exservicemen have applied for the acceptance of similar types of cancer and they have been rejected. If one ex-serviceman is given the benefit of doubt in relation to a particular type of disease, surely other ex-servicemen with a similar type of disease should be given the same benefit of the doubt. Until such time as medical opinion can show that this disease is not caused by war service, the Opposition, supported by various returned servicemen’s organisations, has the right to move an amendment in this House to have cancer accepted for the payment of repatriation benefits. I know that the Minister for Repatriation will be unable to give any water-tight reasons for the decision by the Repatriation Department and himself to reject the number of representations that have been made for the automatic acceptance of cancer.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the few minutes that are left to me, I would like to turn to something that has been worrying to me for some time. When I talk about the returned soldiers organisation I refer specifically to the Relumed Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I believe that this is the only organisation in Australia that has direct access to Cabinet. This access to Cabinet has been mentioned on various occasions by the present Minister and by his predecessors. They have referred to the wonderful benefit and privilege that this access is to the R.S.L. But I wonder whether it is not time for the R.S.L. to re-assess its relationship with the Government.

Has the preferential treatment that it has received been of any great advantage to it? ] feel that it has not been anywhere near the advantage that the Minister and his predecessors and others have endeavoured to make out. I feel, also, that this concession of having direct access to Cabinet, together with receiving a few knighthoods, a few C.B.E.’s plus a few honeyed words from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and various Ministers for Repatriation, has tended to draw the teeth of the R.S.L. and to turn it into a tame cat organisation. When I refer to the honeyed words of the Prime Minister and others I mean such statements as that made to the 1953 annual conference of the R.S.L. in which he said -

I have had a great deal to do with you, or you have had a great deal to do with me, over a number of years, and I cannot imagine a more pleasing association’. Looking back, I can never remember a spokesman of the R.S.S. & A.I.L.A. coming to my Government and advocating something that was plainly wrong. I have certainly never had the experience of being told by you - as I have been told by some bodies, and in the plainest possible terms - to “ do this or there will be trouble “, or to “ do that or we will line up political forces against you”; and that is a very great compliment to the League.

If we turn to the R.S.L.’s 48th annual report for the year ended 31st December 1963, we find that the present Minister for Repatriation is reported in these terms -

I conclude by restating some thoughts T have expressed on other occasions about the link’ between the Government and the League, and the responsibility which this implies for the League if that Association is to continue on the same happy basis as in the past.

Do I read into that an implied threat that if the R.S.L. should ever criticise the Government for not doing what it should do for ex-servicemen and if the Government does not take as much notice of the pension plans or other submissions made to it by direct access to the Cabinet, the direct access will be taken away from the R.S.L.?

Mr Duthie:

– It was a different story when we were in Government.


– On other occasions, as the honorable member for Wilmot has reminded me, ex-servicemen’s organisations wore not remiss in criticising the Labour Government for its failure to do something about their plans. With the direct access that the R.S.L. has to the Government and to the Cabinet, I wonder how long it will bc before it appreciates the fact that the Government is taking very little notice of it.

Mr Luchetti:

– Are you referring to the national body?


– Yes. I am talking about the governing body of the organisation and not the members of the organisation because, after all, it is the national body that has the direct access to Cabinet. In 1962, when the R.S.L. put forward its pension plan, not one item of that plan was agreed to by the Government. Of the pension plan submitted in 1963 the Government granted only one request and partially granted another. Of the 1964 pension plan the Government granted only one request. The rate paid to T.P.I, soldiers and to a couple of other groups certainly has been increased, but only one increase has been to the level requested by the R.S.L.

The R.S.L. has been conducting a publicity campaign on the menace of Communism. Although it has been crusading against Communism the Government does not seem to be . taking much notice of it. The Government certainly is giving it very little encouragement to continue its campaign. The R.S.L. is also conducting a crusade on the introduction of national service training. I think, perhaps, the honorable member for La Trobe might agree with me on this point because the other night he really blew his top and said that the Government was taking no notice of the R.S.L.’s efforts to have national service training introduced. The Government seems to be taking very little notice, also, of the honorable member for La Trobe. He is not the only honorable member on the Government side who is criticising the Government in this regard.

Recently, the Minister mentioned the large number of ex-servicemen that the R.S.L. represents and the power for good that it could wield in the community. Although the R.S.L. represents so many exservicemen, the Government does not seem to be taking any notice of it. The R.S.L. represents about 60 per cent, of returned servicemen whereas other organisations represent the remainder and those servicemen who are not classed as returned servicemen. I wonder whether it should not reassess its position and decide that perhaps it could do a lot more for its members - if it criticised the Government for its lack of consideration for the League’s requests for increases in pensions, assistance in its publicity on the menace of Communism and for the reintroduction of national service training. When members of the R.S.L. on the other side of the House have the opportunity to vote for the amendments which will be proposed by the Opposition and which are in line with the plan submitted by the T.P.I. Association and the R.S.L., J ask them to indicate their belief in the fact that the R.S.L. is moderate in its requests by voting for the amendments.


.- I listened to the first threequarters of the speech of the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) with quite a deal of interest because it seemed to me that he was talking a lot of good sense with which I agreed. But in the latter part of his speech his party politics overcame his approach to what should be a national subject - repatriation. In short, he was trying to imply that since this Government has been in office no alterations or improvements have been made to the Repatriation Act.

Mr Daly:

– Pretty right too.


– I propose to show to the honorable member for Grayndler that there have been quite substantial improvements in the Repatriation Act since wc have been in office. I want to turn briefly to the fact that the Bill before the House is designed to give effect to certain Budget proposals.

I do not think it can be claimed by anyone anywhere that the Repatriation Act, in itself, is perfection. Perhaps this is demon strated by the fact that, from time to time, the Act has been amended. In the main they have been minor amendments, but sometimes they have been of a substantial nature. Since the Second World War we have had the Korean campaign and the Malayan emergency. Those two events, of some consequence in themselves, have meant that amendments have had to be made to the Repatriation Act. However, I think it can be stated quite confidently and accurately that the Australian repatriation system, taken as a whole, is superior to that of any other country in the Western world. I do not think that any member on either side of this Parliament would argue against that proposition.

This year a number of increases in repatriation pensions are to be made which will bring the total to be spent on repatriation services to £122 million. The increases, which I shall itemise shortly, provide for a wide range of the main pension rates of ex-servicemen. Before I itemise the rates to be increased I should like to say that the general purpose of any repatriation system is to offset the difficulties of those who have suffered as a result of war service, and in the case of those who have died as a result of war service, to make adequate provision for their dependants. That is the basis on which the Repatriation Act rests.

I propose now to itemise the increases in pensions under the Bill we are now discussing, because I think it is well to remind the House, and others, of exactly what was proposed in the Budget. By an amendment to the Second Schedule of the Repatriation Act it is proposed to increase the special (T.P.I.) rate by 10s., thus bringing the rate to £14 5s. a week. This rate is payable to those whose war caused incapacities are such as to prevent them from earning more than a small percentage of a living wage, and to the war blinded. The new rate will be paid also to ex-servicemen who are temporarily totally incapacitated, and to certain sufferers from tuberculosis.

The pension known as the class B rate for tuberculosis, which is paid under the Second Schedule to tuberculosis sufferers who are capable of only light or intermittent work, is also to be adjusted to provide an increase of 7s. 6d. a week to £10 2s. 6d. a week. In addition, following the increase in the special rate of pension, the additional amounts payable to certain amputees under the first six items of the Fifth Schedule to the Repatriation Act, are to be increased by 5s. to £8 5s. a week. Those amputees will receive also an increase of 5s. a week proposed for the 100 per cent, general rate pension, making a total increase for these pensioners of 10s. a week.

The general rate increase of 5s. a week will itself be provided by an amendment to the First Schedule of the Act. Pensioners eligible for the full 100 per cent, rate will now receive £6 a week. Proportionate increase will follow for those on lesser rates of pension. At the same time, the Third Schedule will be amended to provide a war pension increase of 5s. per week to £2 0s. 6d. for the wife of an incapacitated exserviceman receiving the 100 per cent, general rate pension or higher, which includes, of course, the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner. In this case, too, there will be a proportionate increase for those whose husbands receive less than the 100 per cent, rate. The increase in the rate for wives will apply also to the widows of general rate pensioners whose pensions are continued after the death of a husband from causes not attributable to war service.

Following the increases in the special and general rates of pension, there will be increases in the rates of medical sustenance. Sustenance payments are made to exservicemen at appropriate rates in respect of inpatient and out-patient treatment, and during investigation of a pensions claim. The Bill also provides for an amendment to the First Schedule to give effect to an increase of 5s. a week in the rate for war widows, the new rate being £6 a week. War widows with children, or who qualify by reason of age or infirmity, also receive the domestic allowance of £3 10s. a week. The great majority of war widows qualify for this benefit, so that the widow herself will in these circumstances now receive £9 10s. a week. I accede to the point made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) earlier this afternoon that there are some widows to whom this does not apply. I think that that is one gap in the legislation that ought to be filled, I quite agree with his proposition on that.

There will be increases also for member service pensioners parallelling those for social service pensioners. The full rate of pension for married service pensioners will increase by 5s. to £5 10s. a week, and for single service pensioners by the same amount to £6 a week. It is proposed also that the provisions for fares, subsistence and loss of earnings for appellants attending hearings of appeals at tribunals will be brought into line with the corresponding provisions for attendance for other repatriation purposes, for example, for treatment or for pension review. These allowances are to be provided under the regulations, and a small amendment is being made to section 72 of the Act to enable this to be done. This, Sir, I suggest is a distinct step forward because many appellants attending tribunals are out of pocket.

I should like now to point out to the House the improvements the present Government has made to the repatriation system since it has been in office. The matters I am about to mention are quite opart from any pension increases that have been granted. It becomes almost axiomatic that at Budget time certain increases will be made, but I should like to point out - I think the House should be aware of them - the substantial benefits which have accrued under this Government since 1949. First, I should like to cite the case of the war widow’s remarriage gratuity. The amount that is now paid is equal to one year’s pension. Secondly, a gift car - plus an allowance of £120 a year towards running expenses - is given to ex-servicemen with double amputation above the knees, or those who are complete paraplegics. This, I think, was one of the most - if I use the word wrongly 1 hope I shall be forgiven - merciful acts of the Government. As a member of the Government Members Exservicemen’s Committee I had something to do with this and I was very glad the Government was able to accept the. Committee’s recommendation.

I pass to the Disabled Members and Widows Training Scheme which provided rehabilitation training for ex-servicemen of the 1939-45 war and for widows of exservicemen of that war fulfilling the conditions of the scheme. I do not need to go into the details; they are sufficiently well known. Then there was the provision of medical benefits for war widows and children of ex-servicemen of the First World War who did not serve overseas but whose deaths have been accepted as due to war service. Then there has been a widening of eligibility of a substantial character. First, there was the restoration of eligibility for a war and service pension to a wife married after 30th June 1938, and children born after that date to ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 war. Secondly, time limits restricting eligibility for step children and adopted children of all ex-servicemen have been removed. Thirdly, the provisions of the Repatriation Act and the Re-establishment and Employment Act have been extended, with minor modifications, to ex-servicemen and ex-service women who served in Korea and Malaya, and in prescribed special areas overseas.

I might point out that medical benefits in respect of disabilities not due to war service have been extended to all nurses of the 1914-18 war and to all member service pensioners. Those matters cover amendments to the Repatriation Act which have been’ made by the present Government since it came into office in 1949. They are of substance and are of real value to those who have benefited. Some comment has been made about the T.P.I, rate. I have no hesitation in saying quite bluntly - even though 1 may be criticised for doing so - that in my view, and in the view of many of the pensioners themselves, T.P.I, pensioners are not hardly done by. The T.P.l. pensioners feel that they are getting a pretty fair deal.

There is one aspect of the repatriation legislation that I would personally criticise, and that is the provision covering the allowance for wives. While there is to be some increase in the wife’s allowance, which I think will be of some help, I believe quite sincerely that there ought to be a more substantial increase in the allowance. One does not have to go very far to find situations in which this becomes important. There are many cases of wives nursing very sick husbands. This is not infrequent these days because, as the honorable member for Lalor said, many of these ex-servicemen are now in their late 60’s and many have entered their 70’s. It is my view, and the view of the Government Members Exservicemen’s Committee, of which I am a member, that we ought to make a more substantial increase in the allowance to the T.P.I, couple.

Let me point out in passing that the rate for a T.P.I, ex-serviceman will now be £14 5s. a week, and for his wife £2 0s. 6d. The combined weekly amount, £16 5s. 6d., will be in excess of the basic wage. We had some discussion earlier this afternoon about the relationship of pensions to the basic wage. The amount paid to a married T.P.I, pensioner and his wife will clearly be greater than the amount of the basic wage. Let me give one example of the way in which the new provisions will operate. Let us take the war pension and education allowance for a normal family unit depending on an economic pension - this is the phrase used by the Repatriation Department. The total amount received weekly by a T.P.I. pensioner with a wife and two children aged 12 and 14 years will be £20 0s. 9d. I do not think that this can be regarded as a niggardly payment. I believe from my experience - and, I think, many other honorable members who have had as much experience as I have, if not more, would agree with me - that people in such a situation are not hardly done by.

The general rate pension came in for some criticism earlier. But if one were to hark back - and I do not particularly like harking back - to the past one would find that in 1949 the 100 per cent, general rate pension for an ex-serviceman was £2 15s., while his wife received £1 4s. and a child 9s. The pensioner will now receive £6, being £3 5s. more than in 1949, the wife’s allowance will be increased by 16s. 6d. to £2 0s. 6d., and the allowance for a child will be increased by 4s. 9d. to 13s. 9d. I believe that these increases are quite commensurate with the increases in the cost of living.

It is almost an annual exercise in this Parliament - it certainly was when I was in Opposition - to talk about Section 47, the onus of proof section, of the Repatriation Act. Nobody is really satisfied with this section, but 1 believe that as it is administered by the members of the Repatriation Commission and its officers and tribunals, justice is done. It is probably reasonable to point out that almost every member - certainly every senior member - of the Repatriation Commission and its tribunals are ex-servicemen who understand the cause of the ex-serviceman. I have heard it suggested sometimes that they may be a little hard on their own, but I do not believe this. The experience of members of this Parliament has been, I believe, that the individual members of the Repatriation Commission and the tribunals do adopt a genuinely sympathetic attitude towards exservicemen who appeal from a tribunal’s decision or who ask for a review of pension or who first make out a case for a pension.

I am bound to come down on the side of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) and, I think, other honorable members on the opposite side of the House, who said that free hospitalisation should be provided for all ex-servicemen of the First World War. The argument can be easily adduced that there are not very many of them left, but, frankly, I do not know that this is a very good argument. The fact is, however, that they have now become quite old and I do not think we ought to deny them free treatment in a repatriation hospital. I think this is a concession that must bc extended sooner or later. But there is one other point that must be looked at. If you are going to extend this concession, what of the ex-servicemen of the Second World War? Are you going to deny them the same rights and privileges? I throw this into the ring because I know, or I assume, that we will have a discussion on this subject at the Committee stage. If you are going to give this privilege - and I believe it ought to be given - to ex-servicemen of the First World War, are you going to deny it to ex-servicemen of the Second World War? Not all of them are as young as I am. Quite a few are getting into their SO’s and 60’s now. This is a matter that should be carefully considered.

One other question that was raised a little earlier in the debate was that of delay in the hearing of appeals by tribunals. Frankly I just cannot accept the proposition that was put forward in this connection. After a considerable number of years in this Parliament I can say that I have not discovered that there has been any undue delay in the conduct of hearings before tribunals - certainly not recently - and so I reject this proposition because I just do not believe that these delays occur. I imagine that delays could occur in very large States such as New South Wales, but I think we have enough tribunals to deal with these hearings quite comfortably.

The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) said that the Returned Servicemen’s League pension plan had been ignored. This is not so. The honorable member himself admitted that the R.S.L. had direct access to the Cabinet. Let me say also that it has had at all times, as I well know, direct access to the Minister himself and, at a somewhat lower level, it has always been granted, with the greatest goodwill, access to the ex-servicemen’s committee of the private members on the Government side of this Parliament. I completely reject the argument that the R.S.L. pension plan was ignored or has been ignored over the years. If one wants to hark back - and, as I say, I do not like doing this - one recalls that between 1946 and 1949 there was a pretty substantial rejection of every plan put up by the R.S.L. But that is by the way. It is now history and is of no great importance.

Mr E James Harrison:

– There was a joint parliamentary committee.


– -There was. A joint parliamentary committee might appear to be desirable, and I do not reject the idea, but I remind the House that there is a regular overhaul of the repatriation system year by year. This is proved by the amendments to the legislation and the changes that are made. Frankly, I do not think there is a useful purpose to be served by a parliamentary committee of that kind, but I do not completely reject the idea.

I cannot conclude without saying that I ‘ for one am grateful for the assistance I get from the officers of the Repatriation Department in my own State and from the officers in the Commission itself. These officers, as a whole, tend almost to overreach themselves in trying to be sympathetic and helpful. I am sure that all honorable members will agree with me when I say that their co-operation is very much appreciated by all of us.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I agree with quite a lot of what the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) had to say, and particularly with the tribute that he paid to the officers of the Repatriation Department. I have had exactly the same experience of them. They have been most co-operative and considerate. But that is not to say that I am not going to make some criticisms, and possibly trenchant criticisms, of the repatriation system. The honorable member said at the commencement of his speech that he believed we had the best repatriation system in the world. I have heard Government supporters make similar claims about our health services, our social services and maybe a few other services as well. I hardly think that this claim ought to be made. It may be pardy true, but I venture to say that no member of the Government parties or of this Parliament is in a position to know accurately and comprehensively all the aspects of other repatriation systems in the world.

Mr Falkinder:

– Which other country has a better system?


– I am not rejecting that claim outright, but I think you are too glib when you say. “We are the greatest”. You remind me of a celebrated boxer, with his arms raised above his head, saying: “ I am the greatest “.

Mr Falkinder:

– I said it was not perfection.


– You said it was not perfection, but you also said it was the greatest. That is a pretty fair claim to make. However, I do not think that aspect is terribly important. What is important is whether the repatriation system that the Government is offering today is as good as it ought to be, and as it could be, having regard to the natural resources of this country. ] think that is what we have to convince ourselves of. Is the system as good as it ought to be, having regard to the other commitments of the Government?

The honorable member for Franklin referred to delays in hearings. I suppose he was referring to the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. I do not wish to denigrate his State, but the honorable member comes from Tasmania. This might well explain the fact that his experience in these matters is different from mine in New South Wales. From what I have been told, from my own observations and from correspondence that I have had with the Department, I know that it is quite common for people to wait five or six months to have appeals heard. Whether the honorable member regards that period as being not long, I am not too sure. I think that six months is too long for sick people to wait for a determination on whether they will be eligible, not only for pensions, but also for repatriation hospital and medical services. I think a new tribunal is being organised now in an endeavour to solve this problem.

The honorable member said that the pension plan of the Returned Servicemen’s League had not been ignored by the Government. I think that makes the Government liable to even stronger criticism. If the plan has not been ignored, it has been substantially rejected. If that is the way the Government wants to put the matter, it is welcome to do so. We have all been informed of the details of the R.S.L. pension plan that was submitted to the Government. We on this side have our own exservicemen’s committee, which hears evidence from interested bodies. I think that implementation of the plan, dealing with pensions and allowances alone, would cost £16,977,000. That was the estimate by the Repatriation Department of what it would cost to provide all that the R.S.L. was asking for in terms of pensions and allowances. In round figures, the sum is very close to £17 million. That is the estimated total cost for one year. In addition to increased pensions and allowances, the R.S.L. asked also that all World War I ex-servicemen should be given repatriation hospital and medical benefits. The Department’s estimate of the cost of this was something of the order of £3 million. I know that we have a big problem in trying to deal with different money values, costs and so on, but I am taking a broad view. Adding the two major requests from the R.S.L. together, the cost would be £20 million for one year. The R.S.L. wanted to stress - and I think it was justified in doing so - that these were very modest requests that it was making to the Government. They were not outlandish requests. In fact, the suggested increases would not even bring pensions up to the 1951 level in relation to either the basic wage or the average adult earning rate. Even then, the estimated cost of giving effect to the plan is £20 million.

The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his Budget Speech, said that the repatriation proposals in the Budget would cost £2,950,000 in 1964-65. To give effect to the requests which were No. 1 priorities in the R.S.L. pension plan would cost £20 million a year. Out of a total Budget expenditure of about £2,500 million, £2,950,000 is provided for repatriation benefits for 1964-65. I suppose that in a full year the Government’s repatriation provisions would cost about £4 million. Putting the matter in a way that might be more readily understandable, only about 20 per cent, of the R.S.L. pension plan is met by the Budget provisions. To put it in another way, 80 per cent, of what the R.S.L. asked for was rejected by the Government.

I do not know what the attitude of the R.S.L. will be to the Budget provisions, I am more concerned about what the rank and file ex-serviceman will feel about them. Most of these requests were, put to the Government last year, and most of them were rejected. The R.S.L., in its 48th Annual Report, had this to say -


Meaning the pension plan - did not even seek to completely restore the pension values that had existed ten years ago.

It went on to say that the Budget was a disappointing result following on the League’s submissions. I quote again from the report -

War and service pensions have lost value over the last decade.

The report presented - very attractively, if I may say so - a graph showing pensions and allowances, compared with the upward trend in prices and in wages, as measured by the average adult weekly earnings. The graph showed that between 1951 and 1963 the average of weekly earnings of male employees, or the average adult weekly take home wage, increased by 109 per cent.; the Commonwealth basic wage, which provides just the bare necessaries of life, rose by 85i per cent.; and the consumer price index, which relates to the absolute barest necessities, increased by 67 i per cent. As against those figures, the total and permanent incapacity pension increased only by 551 per cent. - substantially less - and the general rate pension increased by 63i per cent. I know that it is not easy to grasp all these figures; but, stated simply, the position is that pension increases nowhere near kept up with the increase in the prices of the minimum necessaries as indicated by the consumer price index, let alone with the upward trend in the average take home wage of the ordinary male worker in the community.

In debates on the Budget and consequential legislation, although we have not proceeded very far, already we have heard much mention by Government speakers of the unmatched prosperity that Australia is enjoying at the present time. The record export earnings are quoted to us. We are told that our overseas balances, which stand at £850 million, have reached an all time record level; that primary production is at its peak; that profits are on the way up; that wages, including both the basic wage and margins, have been increased; that many people are working overtime; and that the gross national product has increased very substantially. In brief we are told that we are in a period of great prosperity.

Yet, having told us that, the Government metes out very inadequate pension increases. One thing that we have to grasp right at the beginning is that a repatriation pension is not some kind of hand out or charity; it is a form of compensation. Men who sustain disabilities as a result of their war service are making claims to be recompensed for those disabilities, for their lack of earning capacity and for their lack of opportunity to enjoy life as they would have enjoyed it but for their disabilities.

The person who has sustained the greatest incapacity is the T.P.I, ex-serviceman. For him the R.S.L. asked for a rise of 10s. He was one of the few people who received what was asked for. He received an increase of 10s. bringing his pension to £14 5s. But we have to recognise that that amount is still £1 3s. below the current basic wage. We are supposed to be compensating these repatriation pensioners; but the T.P.I, pensioner, who has lost virtually all of his capacity to work, is being compensated at a level lower than the basic wage. It is important to recognise that. It is no good saying that his wife receives something else to supplement the pension. Plenty of T.P.I, pensioners have never married or have become widowers. They receive £14 5s. in a year of what the Government calls un-r matched prosperity. If T.P.I, pensioners are not dissatisfied with this position, I will be extremely surprised. That is not the kind of reaction to these modest increases that I have received from them.

The request of both the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association and the R.S.L. was that the wife’s allowance be increased by 24s. 6d. to bring it up to £3. Instead of receiving an increase of 24s. 6d., she receives a meagre increase of 5s. - about one fifth or 20 per cent, of the increase asked for. The Association and the League both asked for an increase in the allowance paid in respect of dependent children of T.P.I, pensioners. They asked for an increase of 6s. 3d. a week for each child. That would have ensured that each child received an allowance of £1 a week. Instead of receiving an increase of 6s. 3d., they received nothing.

Other honorable members have directed attention to the fact that if the request made by the Association had been granted - namely that the T.P.I, pensioner receive a pension of £15 and that his wife receive £3 - they would, together, have received £18 a week. That just happens to match the amount received by people who are subject to a means test and who arc entitled to a part service pension for the exserviceman and a part age or invalid pension for the wife. If the requests made by the Association and the League had been granted, a T.P.I, pensioner and his wife would automatically have received £18. The Association is asking that a married T.P.I, pensioner receive £18 a week irrespective of a means test. He will not receive that amount under the present proposal. He is receiving £14 5s. plus £2 0s. 6d.- £16 5s. 6d.instead of £18.

Another matter about which T.P.I, pensioners and their wives are very concerned is hospital and medical treatment for the wives. They make the point - I think very properly - that the wife of a T.P.I, pensioner spends a lot of her time looking after her sick husband and thus saving the hospital authorities from having to do that task. Some wives of T.P.I, pensioners are able to receive medical, hospital and pharmaceutical benefits because they were in the lucky position of receiving their pensions before October 1955 when the Government imposed a means test on the pensioner medical service. Some of the wives receive these benefits-, but many of them do not. They also point out that when (he ex-serviceman dies his wife automatically becomes entitled, as a war widow, to receive repatriation hospital and medical treatment. Most of these wives are fairly elderly even at this stage. I believe that the Government ought to stretch a point and make sure that T.P.I, pensioners are not worried into more sickness than they have already and made more insecure by worrying about expenses that might be incurred in respect of sick wives.

For the general rate pensioner, or the 100 per cent, rate pensioner as he is called, the R.S.L. asked for an increase of 15s., to bring his pension up to £6 10s. Such an increase would not have brought the pension up to the level commensurate with wages and the cost of living that existed in 1951. But general rate pensioners have received an increase of only 5s. - onethird of the amount asked for. The League asked that the pension of the wife of a general rate pensioner be increased by 24s. 6d. in order to give her a pension of £3 a week. Instead of receiving 24s. 6d., she received only 5s. I point out that this is the first increase that the wife of a full general rate pensioner or a part general rate pensioner has received since 1952 - 12 years ago. Of course, the wife of a man on a 50 per cent, pension will receive an increase of 2s. 6d. a week. The increase scales down so that the wife of a 10 per cent, pensioner will receive an increase of about 6d. a week.

The League asked that the child of a 100 per cent, rate pensioner be given an increase of 6s. 3d. in order to bring the child allowance up to £1 a week; but no increase whatever was given. If the plan submitted by the R.S.L. in respect of the general rate pension, the wife’s allowance and the children’s allowance had been accepted, the cost would have been about £11.7 million. The actual expenditure provided for in the Budget will be only approximately £2,491,000. In other words, only 21.2 per cent, of the value of the League’s proposal is provided for in the Budget. To put it in another way, I point out that 78.8 per cent., or nearly 80 per cent., was not provided for.

The request made in respect of war widows was very modest. The League sought an increase of 15s. a week to bring up to £6 10s. a week the pension of a woman whose husband’s death has been accepted by the Repatriation Department as being due to war service, but the Government has granted an increase of only 5s. That will bring her pension up to £6 a week. The R.S.L. asked for an increase of 10s. a week in the domestic allowance for the war widow, but she will receive nothing whatever. It was requested that the pension of all children of a war widow be brought up to £2 a week. Instead, the pension has been left at £1 193. for the first child and £1 7s. 6d. for subsequent children. A request was made that the pension of double orphans be increased by 8s. 6d. a week, but nothing has been granted. The cost of the request of the R.S.L. in respect of war widows and their dependants would have been £2,548,000, but only £506,000 has been provided for in the Budget. In other words, in respect of war widows and their dependants, the Government did not go even as high as it did in relation to the other categories. It granted only 19.8 per cent., or less than 20 per cent., of the amount sought. Of the total claim, 80.2 per cent, was ignored, or, if it was not ignored, was rejected by the Government.

The position of the service pensioner is equivalent to that of the age or invalid pensioner, except that he is paid by the Repatriation Department and he receives a couple of other concessions. For example, if he can satisfy the means test, which is the same as that for the age or invalid pensioner, he may obtain his service pension at 60 years of age. Moreover, he is entitled to repatriation hospital and medical benefits. In all other respects, he is in the same boat as is the age pensioner. The R.S.L. thought it was being particularly modest when it sought an increase of 15s. a week for those who were in receipt of the married rate of £5 5s. a week and an increase of 5s. for single pensioners who were in receipt of £5 15s. In effect, the R.S.L. and other organisations, including the age and invalid pensioners association, asked that married pensioners be paid exactly the same as single pensioners, namely, £6 a week. But that request was not granted. The Government decided to give an increase of 5s. a week to bring the single pensioner up to £6 a week, but the poor old married pensioner will get only £5 10s. a week, or 10s. less than the single pensioner. The R.S.L., together with many other people, including members of the Australian Labour Party, has protested strongly about this differentiation based upon marital status. We believe that all pensioners are entitled to £6 a week, paltry though that is.

It was requested that all children of such pensioners be given a pension of 15s. a week. As it is, the first child receives 15s. and subsequent children receive only 2s. 6d. a week each. The position is to remain unchanged; nothing has been done about it in the Budget. I have been reminded that last year the Treasurer’s Budget Speech occupied nine and a half pages of print but that this year’s Speech occupied only three and a half pages. The Government must have known last year that an election was in the offing. Now apparently the election is out of sight and so is any consideration of the circumstances of these unfortunate people. To grant the request of the R.S.L. in respect of service pensioners and their dependants would have cost the very modest sum of £1.8 million in a full year, or much less than the price of one of the bombers we will be buying. But only 30 per cent, of that modest request has been granted.

Perhaps I made this point last year, but I want to make it again: The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is now in the chamber, has stated that twothirds of the age pensioners are single people. That may or may not be so, but I shall accept the Minister’s word unless any evidence to the contrary is forthcoming. However, such is not the position with respect to service pensioners. Indeed, the position is almost the reverse. So the giving of an additional 10s. a week to single pensioners as against married pensioners creates more hardship among service pensioners than it does amongst recipients of social service pensions. The Minister for Repatriation has indicated that as at 15th October 1963 there were 46,700 service pensioners in the community, of whom only 14,000 were single pensioners. In other words, 32,700 were married pensioners who suffered the disadvantage of receiving a pension of only £5 10s. a week.

Mr Mackinnon:

– What did their wives get?


– They might have got £5 10s., too. If the honorable member is suggesting that single pensioners should get more than married pensioners, he is entitled to his view. I am contesting that view, and so are many other people in the community.

I refer now to a matter which I do not think has been raised and which came to my notice just recently. I refer to the limitation that is imposed upon repatriation hospital treatment which is available to pensioners, even totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. In the past I had always been under the impression that a T.P.I, pensioner could be treated for all his disabilities while in a repatriation hospital. I have discovered that that is not so but that in the case of illnesses that are not accepted as being war caused a T.P.I, exserviceman, a 100 per cent, rate pensioner or a service pensioner may stay in a repatriation hospital for a maximum period of three months. I had the unhappy experience of learning of a T.P.I, pensioner in my electorate who had fought in both World Wars and who, after having spent three months in a repatriation hospital suffering from a disability which was not accepted as being war caused, had to leave and enter a local convalescent hospital where he paid 18 guineas a week. That was the treatment that we gave to a man who contributed all but his life for the benefit of his country. Actually for this man it was a living death. He has now passed on.

My time has almost expired, but other opportunities will be afforded to discuss other matters. I certainly want to talk about the onus of proof at the Committee stage. I always feel very unhappy when a woman comes to my office and tells me that her husband, an ex-serviceman, died of cancer but that her claim for a pension has been rejected by the Repatriation Department. It is anything but gratifying to note that, in respect of one-half of the exservicemen who have died of cancer, the disability has not been accepted, during their lifetime or upon their death, as war caused. My colleagues and I have raised this matter in the House each year, and I just cannot understand why the Government rejects the proposal that cancer be accepted as a war caused disability. Medical authorities do not pretend to be able to say what causes cancer. Yet our tribunals are able to say, in the words of section 47, without any reasonable doubt at all, that cancer is not caused by war service. I cannot comprehend such a decision. I have heard a succession of Ministers try to explain it, but not one has convinced me that the decision is right and I do not think many people outside have been convinced.

In service life, a man is exposed to a variety of circumstances. He is exposed to gas, to tropical conditions, to harsh conditions, to insanitary conditions and to other conditions. These conditions could not be supervised and the effect of them could not be assessed. But half the cancer cases are rejected because the tribunals are convinced that, whilst they do not know what caused the cancer, they know that the war service with all its variable conditions did not cause it.

Hon. W. C. Haworth

– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


– A week ago, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) presented this Bill, which amends the principal Repatriation Act in the way outlined in the Budget presented last month by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). I would like to take this opportunity - I think I speak for my colleagues on this side of the House - to convey my gratitude to the Minister for Repatriation for the work he has done on behalf of exservicemen. I should like to convey my gratitude, also, to the Chairman and the various other officers of the Repatriation Commission who have taken an active and continuing interest in the welfare of exservicemen. When we compare the Australian Repatriation Act with similar legislation in other countries we can see immediately how much has been done for the ex-service men and women of Australia. The legislation has been related to problems in Australia and people throughout the world recognise its value and the generous and kindly way in which it has been administered. I should like to record frankly my appreciation of the efforts of the Minister. I am sure that every honorable member on both sides of the House can go to the Minister or to the Chairman with a problem and say: “ Can you help me with this?” In these circumstances, they will lean over backwards in an effort to find a solution. This is worth while and an attitude of which we are all proud.

The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), in his rather querulous and slightly unhappy style of debate, made some reference to the pensions programme of the Returned Servicemens League. He tried to make out a case - he did not succeed - on the basis that the submissions of the R.S.L. had not been accepted. I would refer him to the League’s pension plan for 1964. The pension with which we are vitally concerned and which has the full support of the public is the special rate - the total and permanent incapacity rate. If the honorable member looks at submission No. 4 concerning its pension plan on page 9 of the League’s “ 48th Annual Report “ he will see this -

That the Special Rate (TPI) pension be increased from £13 15s. to £14 Ss. with Dependants’ increases as for the General Rate.

Unfortunately, the honorable member has left the House. He should be interested to learn that the Bill before the House gives effect to the submission by the R.S.L. I know that there has always been the closest liaison between the headquarters of the R.S.L. and the Government; and may it long continue.

In his brief remarks before the suspension of the sitting, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that it would be a good thing if the subject of repatriation benefits generally were not placed on the anvil of party politics. I agree with him entirely. I think he is right. But unfortunately in this debate the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), who led for the Opposition, in a disconnected speech that lasted for three-quarters of an hour, criticised the Government in a way that immediately introduced party politics. As the honorable member for Lalor said, it would be better for ex-service personnel if party politics were excluded from these discussions. It is interesting to note that over the years, despite the Opposition’s criticism of the scale of benefits generally, of hospital services, of hostels and of other provisions of the Repatriation Act, the public and the ex-servicemen’s organisations have had confidence in the Government and have stuck by it. I do not want to introduce party politics into this discussion - that would bc the worst approach I could make to the subject - but the fact is that the Government has won the confidence of exservicemen’s organisations. Honorable members opposite should examine the situation again and they should recognise all that the Government has done for ex-servicemen over the past 14 years. The ex-servicemen’s organisations support the actions of the

Government. They have expressed the view that the Government has done a recognisable and reasonable job for ex-servicemen. But they view with a certain amount of suspicion the claims put forward by the Opposition.

Not everyone is completely satisfied with the treatment of all ex-service personnel. We all know of cases in which, in our opinion, ex-service personnel should have been given some benefit that has been denied to them. We all know of ex-servicemen who have had difficulty in establishing claims for pensions, and some applications may, in our opinion, have been unjustly rejected. I will say a little more about this subject later on. You and I, Sir, know of the serviceman whom we admired in action and who rejected the opportunity to go out sick or injured because he wanted to stay with his colleagues in a moment of crisis. He was the person who, in moments of stress, would not let the side down. Yet, because he refused to report sick or injured, he suffered a lasting disability resulting from has not having a record of the sickness or injury. I believe that all of these exceptions go to prove how good is the general administration of the legislation and how comprehensive is the act itself.

The Minister, in his second reading speech, mentioned that the whole of the Government’s policy in relation to repatriation was not covered by the Budget, although it provided for the upgrading of certain repatriation benefits. He mentioned, quite rightly, that there were certain ancillary bills which persons who had been in this place for some time would realise conferred certain benefits upon ex-servicemen.

Mr L R Johnson:

– You are putting everybody to sleep.


– Order! The honorable member for Hughes will have an opportunity to speak later.


– There are very few honorable members with any knowledge of what is contained in recent legislation who will not recall the many additional fringe benefits which have accrued through legislation introduced by the Minister for Repatriation. Act No. 47 of 1963 was legislation to make retrospective benefits claimed by persons by way of appeal to the Board, the Commission, or the Appeal Tribunal. In this connection, I should like to refer to the latest report of the Repatriation Commission.

Mr Daly:

– You are making heavy weather.


– Not as heavy as you will, old man. At page 7 the report refers to amendment of the Repatriation Act. It states -

During the year, the Repatriation Act was amended to provide a uniform commencing date for war pension and associated benefits where a claim has been allowed, irrespective of whether the claim was accepted in the first instance by a Repatriation Board or, subsequently, by the Repatriation Commission or an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal.

In other words, the applicant had not to wait until his appeal came before one of the bodies to establish a claim for entitlement. The Minister, in his wisdom and with the approval of the Government, decided that the entitlement should be from the date of the original appeal. That was a marvellous thing from the point of view of ex-servicemen. Act No. 91 of 1962 authorised eligibility for the repatriation benefits which this Act provides of members of the strategic reserve forces which we have to furnish under the South East Asia Treaty and persons on special overseas service. These are things that some people fail to remember. They do not realise how wide this legislation is. It covers a vast and expanding number of persons who served Australia in World War I, World War II and in various other operations in which we have been involved.

I should like to refer honorable members opposite to that part of the excellent report from which I have quoted which outlines the vast range of activities under this legislation. Some of these activities have been introduced since the present Minister took office. First, I mention the extension of medical services. This has become a vast and useful service to ex-servicemen. I know personally how useful it has been. One thing for which I think credit is due to the Minister is the extension of visits to country areas by officers of the Repatriation Department so that they can move about and get down to tin tacks by discussing problems with the people concerned. I take this opportunity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to congratulate the Minister on that particular feature.

This year the Budget provides for an expenditure of £122 million on repatriation services. This is £3 million or £4 million more than last year and is a vast sum of money. In the course of his speech the Minister mentioned that the T.P.I, pension, which concerns people who cannot take up any useful occupation in civil life, was to be raised by 10s. to £14 5s. a week. The new rate also will apply to exservicemen who are temporarily totally incapacitated. The class B tuberculosis pen;; sion is to be raised by 7s. 6d. a week and will be £10 2s. 6d. a week, The general rate pension is to be raised by 5s. a week. The rate for war widows and for ex-servicemen receiving the 100 per cent, pension and their wives has been raised by 5s. a week.

These increases are pretty substantial contributions to repatriation generally. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) said that the Government had not subscribed sufficiently to the submissions made by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. That brings me to another thought. During the course of my discussions on this matter -

Mr Stewart:

– What do you think of the wool plan?


– I was given this information and it is completely correct. When we think of the T.P.I, pension of £14 5s. a week - I suggest that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) might listen to this - we should realise that a pensioner who is married and whose wife is receiving the normal social service pension has an income of £18 a week. If the ex-serviceman and his wife have two children who are within the age limit, they can have an income of £23 7s. 9d. a week including educational allowance. I am not criticising the T.P.I, pension rate. I think this is a matter that the Government has to face. We have an obligation to look after these people. Because of their war service they are completely unable to support themselves in later life and we have a real responsibility towards them. When we examine this matter we realise that a married pensioner whose wife is eligible for the social service pension, who has no other income and who has two children, will receive £23 7s. 9d. a week. This is not unjust, although I would never suggest it is commensurate with the service the man has given.

Another matter that I want to raise concerns the operation of section 47 of the principal Act. This is one of the most difficult questions facing any Administration. Few of us have had cases where determinations under this section did not give rise to great difficulties. 1 have gone to some trouble to secure the latest figures relating to this question. As you know, Sir, in the first approach to secure entitlement to a pension the applicant goes before a Repatriation Board. Of the 40,204 applications lodged with the Boards in the last calendar year, 19,399 - the equivalent of about 48 per cent. - were successful and the claims were accepted. We come next to those people whose claims were rejected by the Boards and who appealed to the Repatriation Commission. Of the 14,236 cases concerned, 2,141 - or the equivalent of about 15 per cent. - were accepted. Then we have the third stage, which is an approach to an Appeal Tribunal. Of the 8,698 cases which went to the Appeal Tribunals, 1,552 - or 18 per cent. - were accepted. In total, 23,092, or 57 per cent., of the 40,204 cases considered were accepted in these three processes. It could be expected that the percentage of claims allowed at the Board level would be the highest, because that is the first stage. In fact, 48 per cent, of the claims were allowed there. It is reasonable to expect that cases rejected by the Boards and subsequently dealt with by the Commission or the Appeal Tribunals would have the lowest percentage of acceptances. A lot has been said about the operation of section 47 of the Act, but in fact approximately 80 per cent, of all applications are accepted by either the Boards, the Commission or the Entitlement Tribunals.

I would like now to mention a recent case in my electorate, because I think it is a classic instance of how the system breaks down at times. It concerns a person who had been sick after World War I. He is an elderly man, who has been treated by medical people. There bad been a fire in the records office of the establishment where he had been treated and one of the doctors who had treated him had left and gone elsewhere. As a result, no official record of his condition was available. When he applied for acceptance of his condition as a war caused disability, first the Repatriation Board and subsequently the Repatriation Commission rejected his application.

Then a friend of mine took up the matter in the interests of this applicant. My friend had personal knowledge of his condition and went to the trouble of getting statutory declarations from people who had had personal knowledge of the applicant’s health in the early 1920’s. When all this information was obtained, an appeal was lodged with the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, but this, too, was rejected. Subsequently, it . was discovered that the doctor who had left the establishment where the ex-serviceman had been treated for his condition, and who had been thought to be dead, was still alive. Although the applicant’s medical records had been destroyed by fire, this doctor was able to give evidence before the Appeal Tribunal and, as a consequence, the ex-serviceman’s claim was successful and his condition was accepted as war caused.

The point that I am trying to make in this rather tangled discussion of the problem, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, is that there are cases in which, despite all the evidence produced by decent people, a claim cannot succeed without the right evidence - in this instance, the evidence of the doctor who had been thought dead and who was prepared to give evidence that he had treated the applicant at a certain place in the early 1920’s. I have spoken to the Minister for Repatriation on this subject. He is very receptive of the idea that information concerning specific cases of this kind be correlated and presented to Appeal Tribunals. This is a matter of some significance, I believe. One finds it very difficult to discuss the problem from the standpoint that every appellant is right and that his “appeal should be allowed.

In the case that I have mentioned, statutory declarations made on behalf of the applicant were rejected. They were made, not by professional men, but by his own ex-service colleagues. It was only by a fluke that a doctor who had treated him in the early 1920’s was found and was able to give technical evidence to the effect that the condition had been recognised and treated then. On this evidence, the claim was accepted. I suggested to the Minister, who was very receptive of the idea - I am sure the Repatriation Commission, too, will be receptive of it - that information relating to specific cases such as the one I have mentioned be correlated and made available to Appeal Tribunals for study so that they may see the specific instances in which, by luck or some fluke, the necessary evidence becomes available and a claim is established beyond doubt.

Mr Cope:

– That is a good point.


– I think it is a good point. 1 suggested also to the Minister, who was receptive of this idea also, that there should bc a conference of the members of the Appeal Tribunals to discuss the various cases that have come up. I should think there have been many of them. If it had not been for a fluke in the case that I have mentioned, the evidence given by the doctor who had treated the applicant years before would not have been available to the Tribunal and his claim would not have been accepted. This is a point worth considering. I think the idea that I have proposed is valuable from the standpoint of the administration of section 47 of the Repatriation Act.

All the information that is available concerning cases such as this should be circulated among the various people involved in the difficult tasks of the Appeal Tribunals so that their tasks may be made easier and ex-servicemen with just claims may more readily establish them. The job of the Tribunals is not easy in any sense. I am glad that the Minister has accepted this suggestion, and I hope he will carry it on. I understand that at the moment the same information is available in conference with these Appeal Tribunals. I hope it will continue to be so with all these specific cases that come up, and that they will be considered so that it will be realised what goes on with some of the really difficult cases.

It has been a pleasure for me to serve and act with the Minister for Repatriation. He has one of the most receptive minds in this Parliament. He has a tremendous grip of his subject. He has a wonderful team sup porting him, and I hope that he continues in the next few years to support the ex-servicemen of Australia. [Quorum formed.]


.- Apparently the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) has been fairly well placated about the needs of the ex-servicemen of this country. I take the opportunity to remind honorable members that the Budget provisions which are the subject of this Bill are designed simply to give effect to the meagre repatriation arrangements which my colleague the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) described in an interjection this afternoon as a five shillings more complex. I thought it was very appropriate, because when one looks at the Budget papers he is able to see that except for the decision in respect of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners, who are to receive an increase of 10s. a week - an amount which was well their due since, incidentally, it is still substantially below the basic wage - the only increase to be given to exservicemen is 5s. The general rate war pension is to be increased by 5s. as is the war widow’s pension. The total cost of these limited concessions will be no more than £3.9 million in a full financial year.

I remind honorable members that the pensions plan of the Returned Servicemen’s League was costed by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), and the entourage of experts that he has at his disposal at £16.9 million. These figures in themselves arc sufficient to throw into sharp relief the extent to which the R.S.L.’s claims have been denied by this Government. There it is in simple terms: £3.9 million is the cost of the concessions given to ex-servicemen in this Budget, and the cost of the plan put forward by the R.S.L. is £16.9 million. At the present time there must be a great number of disappointed ex-servicemen in Australia, regardless of the degree of placation that was demonstrated by the honorable member for Corangamite in his speech a short time ago. After all, we are debating a bill which gives effect to a part of the Budget which provides for a surplus of no less than £181 million. If memory serves me correctly, last year there was a surplus of £28 million after budgeting for a deficit of £58 million. We were told in the Budget Speech that this will be a prosperous year, that everything is overflowing, that the coffers are full and that our export earnings have never been at a higher level. We were told, similarly, that our overseas reserves are in a very healthy state. The last Commonwealth loan was filled in record time. Yet despite this prosperity the needs of the exservicemen and their dependants are not being adequately met.

Not everybody is impressed with the pension plan put forward by the R.S.L. Nobody can tell me that the rank and file member of the R.S.L. is pleased with the efforts of the hoi polloi in their annual pilgrimage to the Parliament. It is a long time since these people came to the Opposition to seek support for their case. Usually the Minister for Repatriation receives the executive members of the R.S.L. I have before me the annual report of the R.S.L. It contains photographs of some of the members of the national executive of the organisation. It is interesting to note how many of these people have been awarded honours since this Government came to power. If ex-servicemen are to receive justice they will have to fight a little harder than they have in the past. They will have to do more to make Government supporters aware of their needs. There are many glaring anomalies in the present repatriation system. The Budget applies no new concepts to repatriation. The anomalies remain substantially unrectified

I wish to deal with some of these matters because when this Bill passes into law the problems at present giving concern to exservicemen will remain. Ex-servicemen will continue to be denied proper compensation for disabilities sustained in the service of their country, lt is a fair contention to make that you can get better compensation if you are injured in industry than if you are injured in the service of your country. Even some Commonwealth legislation provides better compensation than does the Commonwealth’s repatriation legislation. A number of State Acts and industrial awards give a far better deal to workers who are injured in industry than the repatriation legislation gives to ex-servicemen.

Let me refer to some of these aspects. The ex-serviceman has his first adverse relations with the repatriation authorities from the moment he loses his first hour from work to seek admission to a repatriation hospital for diagnosis. Look at the amount of money he is paid to compensate him for the time that he loses from work. At present the rate paid to an ex-serviceman when he starts to ferret his way through the maze of tribunals is Ss. an hour. Most honorable members know the process. Some thinning out procedures are involved. On the basis of a 40-hour week, 5s. an hour does not represent a very high income. It is no more than £10 a week. Over the years, the R.S.L. has sought, in correspondence with the Minister, an increase in the hourly rate. The R.S.L. has not sought a flamboyant figure; it has asked that exservicemen be paid 8s. an hour instead of 5s. an hour. On the basis of a 40-hour week this would mean that ex-servicemen would receive, not the £10 that they receive at present, but £16 a week.

Mr Curtin:

– The basic wage.


– Yes, the basic wage. Are ex-servicemen asking for too much in respect of their travelling time for repatriation purposes? They are substantially discouraged by their introduction to the Repatriation Department and they receive a great deal more discouragement from that point onwards.

Another anomaly which has caused great concern to many people is the fact that medical sustenance for out-patients is paid at a lower rate than the rate paid for inpatients. The figures are quite startling. Medical sustenance - or ITI as it is usually designated - payable to in-patients is £13 5s. a. week. Out-patients receive only £5 15s. a week. What is the purpose of this discrimination? There is no differentiation in the rates paid to wives and children of outpatients and in-patients, yet the out-patient receives only £5 15s. as against £13 5s. paid to the in-patient. I do not know how many people are involved, but at 30th J une 1963 there had been no fewer than 489,707 out-patient attendances at repatriation establishments.

This matter has been the subject of consistent representations through correspondence to the Minister and is deserving of a greater degree of consideration than it has received to date. I respectfully ask the

Minister to be good enough to explain why this differentiation in payments to outpatients and in-patients has been permitted to continue for so long in the face of the foolproof case put to him time after time by representatives of the Returned Servicemen’s League.

Another anomaly worth mentioning concerns war pensions paid to children, which at present are terminated at the child’s 16th birthday. I believe this practice to be very unreasonable, especially where a war widow has to finance the secondary or tertiary education of her child. I have personal knowledge of these difficulties, which make pretty tough going. Why does the milk of human kindness turn sour? We tell members of the R.S.L. that we will remember them, but it seems we remember their dependants only up to the point when they turn 16 years of age. There is at present a trend to higher education, and I believe that war pensions for children should be paid as long as the children are being educated as full time students. This principle has already been adopted for the payment of child endowment, which is paid in respect of student children after they turn 16 years of age provided they are engaged in full time education. It is apparent that the principle should bc applied to the children of war widows. There is no doubt that the expenses involved arc much heavier after children turn 16 years and attend a university or high school. If there is a need to give a war widow special assistance for children under 1 6 years there is certainly a need to increase or maintain the assistance for student children of war widows after they have turned 16.

At 30th lune 1963 about 205,000 children were dependants of incapacitated exservicemen and there were 7158 children of deceased ex-servicemen. Obviously some people in very difficult circumstances are affected. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is now at the table, has been invited by the R.S.L. year after year to do something about this situation, but never has he given in this chamber any reason for his rejection of the requests. I respectfully suggest that those who have made representations to him on behalf of so many worthy people are entitled to a little more courtesy and consideration. If the Minister is adamant that he will do nothing on this score, an indication of his attitude and some justification of it, if he has any, would certainly be appreciated. Then we have an anomaly in relation to the treatment of veterans of the Great War and of earlier wars. Heavens above, they must be getting on. The pension plan submitted by the R.S.L. contains a proposal covering these veterans, and inquiries I have made of the Minister reveal that the estimated cost of giving repatriation hospital treatment to the 1914-18 diggers and veterans of earlier wars would be £2.2 million. If a soldier enlisted in the 1914-18 war in 1914 at 1 8 years of age, he would be 68 years old now. If he joined at the age of 18 in the last year of that war, he would be 64 years of age now; so that the youngest 1914-18 digger would now be 64 years of age. The tragedy of it all is that it is virtually impossible to decide what complaints suffered by these people are war. caused and what are not war caused, and I believe that this matter should be given far. more consideration than it has received, hitherto. In the United States of America this problem is given far more sympathetic consideration than it is in Australia.

I remind the House that a number of. countries give hospital treatment without charge and medical care without charge to every citizen. Those of us who advocate free treatment for the 1914-18 war veterans find the Government’s repeated refusal to co-operate in this regard completely unaccountable. My colleagues, the honorable members for Bass (Mr. Barnard), Barton (Mr. Reynolds), Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and others have moved amendments on thispoint year after year. Very often when amendments have been moved the Minister has not even replied; he has sought sanctuary behind the forms of the House. If honorable members on the Government side are strongly and steadfastly in opposition to this benefit, let them stand up in Parliament at some time and say openly: “We do not believe that the 1914-18 diggers are entitled to free treatment in repatriation hospitals.” Are they prepared to do so, or do they prefer to hide behind the forms of the. House? We believe that the ex-servicemen have every justification for their complaint in this matter. ;

I come now to the case of the incapacitated ex-serviceman who receives the 100 per cent, general rate pension instead of the

T.P.I, pension. We all know that many exservicemen who are in receipt of the 100 per cent, general rate pension are classified by the Department of Social Services as being sufficiently incapacitated to entitle them to an invalid pension from that Department. The criterion upon which the Repatriation Department bases the T.P.I, pension is that the ex-serviceman concerned must have an 85 per cent, permanent incapacity. Many of the incapacitated ex-servicemen in receipt of the 100 per cent, general rate pension have not been able to take employment for a number of years. The disadvantage suffered by these men in terms of money is quite considerable. The new rate of T.P.I, pension proposed by this Bill is £14 15s. a week whereas the 100 per cent, general rate pension is only £6 a week. In many cases there is no difference between the two types of recipients so far as capacity to work is concerned because neither of them can take a job.

I suspect that there is a tendency for the Government to hide behind this 100 per cent, classification. The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) has mentioned this point time after time. He has exhibited details of individual complaints for everybody to see. At the present time, there are 23,387 ex-servicemen receiving the 100 per cent, general rate pension. How many of these should be in receipt of the T.P.I, pension? How many of them have no capacity to work? How many are not in fact working? I believe that this question has to be looked at very carefully indeed. Quite recently I had brought to my notice the case of an ex-serviceman who was confronted with this very problem. He was told by the local Commonwealth Employment Office that he could not be given the unemployment benefit or the sickness benefit. He was unemployable and was dreadfully ill. His illness had been accepted as a war caused disability. The Commonwealth Employment Office said to him: “You had better go along and get yourself an invalid pension.” He refused to do that on principle because the illness from which he was suffering was a war caused disability. Instead of being paid the 100 per cent, general rate pension of £6 a week he obviously should be receiving the T.P.I, pension of £14 5s. a week.

There are too many people in the 100 per ‘ cent, war pension category now and there has been a diminution in the number of people in the T.P.I, pension category. This is another matter which justifies very careful examination by the Minister when he is replying to the points made in this debate.

I studied this afternoon the annual report for 1963 of the Administrator of Veteran Affairs of the United States of America. It is staggering to see the concepts of repatriation that prevail in that country, in comparison with those that exist in Australia. Time will not permit me to deal with all these matters this evening, but 1 commend a consideration of this report to honorable members. If they read it as thoroughly as I attempted to do today, they will appreciate that there is a great deal more to be done in this field in Australia. We need some new frontier in repatriation, despite the fact that the last war is so many years behind us.

Mr Stewart:

– Will you lend that report to the Minister for Repatriation?


– I think the Minister might be stimulated by reading it. He might get some new ideas. How many new ideas have there been in the field of repatriation in this country? Can any honorable member name one solitary new repatriation provision which this Government has initiated? It might have tampered with some provisions, but what new concept is - there so far as repatriation is concerned?

Let me tell the Minister that, in many respects, disabled ex-servicemen are disadvantaged. One disadvantage is in regard to their capacity to obtain insurance cover. An ordinary citizen can go to an insurance company to take out a policy. If he has a bad heart, he will be told: “ You are too great a risk. We will not insure you.” An ex-serviceman, who is in receipt of a 100 per cent, pension, and who goes to an insurance company, seeking a policy, is not going to have much success in obtaining insurance coverage. This has been appreciated in many part of the world so far as war veterans or ex-servicemen are concerned. In the United States, the Administration of Veteran Affairs operates four insurance programmes for veterans and their beneficiaries. It is staggering to note that in the peak year there were no fewer than 16 million policies covering United States ex-servicemen. Dividends paid amounted to 435 million dollars. Beneficiaries of deceased policy holders received payments totalling 368 million dollars. This scheme was begun back in 1917. Its purpose is to provide insurance protection for servicemen and ex-servicemen who cannot -obtain such protection from commercial companies at peace time rates without war time exclusions applying. This protection is available to veterans with disabilities connected with war service. The liabilities associated with the extra hazards of military service are underwritten by the United States Government. This is a very important thing.

There should be provision for an exserviceman whose disability is such that he may have to cease employment at an early age and who would be discontented with his remuneration under the Repatriation Act. The receipt of a war pension does not mean that one is living in the lap of luxury. It is reasonable that an ex-servicemen should have the chance to insure against early death or the cessation of employment at an early age. It is very difficult to do that in this country. Private insurance companies will not provide coverage if a person has a wartime disability. This Government has failed to do what the United States Government has done on such a grand scale in regard to repatriation. I repeat that, in the peak year of 1945, there were no fewer than 16 million policies for ex-servicemen in that country. This is worthy of consideration by the Minister and the Government. This is a new frontier that could be looked at. I can tell the Minister from my own personal experience that many exservicemen are feeling quite vexed and put out because they do not have the right to insure themselves as the ordinary citizen does, and this is as a direct result of the disabilities they have sustained during their war service.

I want to make brief mention of the fact that the Government will not accept automatically a claim based on cancer as a war caused disability. Last year I think it was the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) who moved to amend section 37 of the Repatriation Act to include cancer with pulmonary tuberculosis for automatic pension entitlement. Of course, this proposed amendment was rejected then as it had been on previous occasions. Automatic acceptance of cancer as a war caused disability is R.S.L. policy. The League advocates automatic acceptance not only of cancer but also of heart disease, mental ill ness, bronchitis and several other complaints, but cancer has the priority.

Surveys have already shown that there is a very real pattern of susceptibility to cancer especially among ex-prisoners of war. Even if few take a step in the direction of conceding that in a prisoner of war or in any person who has been in such adverse circumstances there could be a susceptibility to cancer, wc will be doing no more than granting justice. After all, who knows what causes cancer? I have had cases brought to me - no doubt other honorable members have had a similar experience - concerning ex-servicemen who were in areas where gas was used and who have claimed for acceptance of cancer, but to no avail.

The then honorable member for Lilley, Mr. Wight, was told by the Minister for Health on 11th August 1959 that to 30th June 1958 there had been 2,705 applications by living ex-servicemen of the 1939-45 war to have cancer accepted as a war caused disability. Of this number, 886 applications had been accepted. What criterion is used to discriminate amongst these applications? If cancer is not caused by gas, what causes it? I do not think anyone has been able to give a sensible explanation. For some time, Dr. Cameron, a Minister for Health who was a medical practitioner, was the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Repatriation. If ever we have seen a Minister in a dilemma it was the Minister for Health who, when challenged to state what he thought caused cancer, was unable to ‘give any real answer to the question.

Time is running out and I wanted to deal with so many matters. I wanted to refer to the R.S.L. pension plan but I do not think that I will have time to do so tonight. Fortunately, my colleagues have covered a number of these points with considerable effectiveness. Before I terminate my remarks I want to mention the onus of proof provision of the Act. In 1920 an all party Committee set out to find a provision which would relieve the ex-serviceman claimant of the onus of proof. In 1943 another committee was set up, I think under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Lalor, which provided an improvement in the form of very generous wording of section 47 of the Repatriation Act which is now known as the benefit of the doubt or the onus of proof provision.

It is interesting to note that even Government supporters are at variance with one another about the manner in which this provision is ‘being applied. A former Attorney-General, Senator Spicer, said -

Ordinarily the onus lies on the party who makes the claim, to prove the facts necessary to support it. . . . In the Repatriation Act, Parliament has completely reversed the normal process.

Section 47(2) of the Act states specifically -

It shall not be necessary for the claimant, applicant or appellant to furnish proof to support his claim, application or appeal . . . . in all cases whatsoever the onus of proof shall lie on the person or authority who contends that the claim, application or appeal should hot be granted or allowed to the full extent claimed.

Another eminent legal gentleman, Mr. Joske, who was then the honorable member for Balaclava and is now presiding as a justice of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, also had something to say about this. I remember him well because he either preceded or followed me in the debate on Sth October 1957. He said -

The proper way in which tribunals administering this Act should apply the law, is to follow theopinion of the Attorney-General of the day, which has been put before them by the Minister as acorrect interpretation of the law.

The Minister for Repatriation, who is at the table, has already indicated in a letter to the R.S.L. that he is perfectly happy about this situation. An amendment was proposed by the League to clear up this onus of proof controversy. I have a copy of the amendment here but I will not have time to read it. The Minister was satisfied with the position and dissatisfied with the proposed amendment. Apparently in his view the onus of proof clause needs no clarification, but it does in the view of the R.S.L. It does in the view of Mr. Justice Joske, Mr. Justice Spicer and Dr. Evatt. Honorable members opposite must accord Dr. Evatt recognition from the legal standpoint even though they may differ from him politically. In September 1959, referring to the onus of proof clause - I remember this perfectly - Dr. Evatt said - it has not been given and there is no way of checking it at present by appeal to any tribunal.

There is no way in which a doctrine of that character can be given effective enforcement except by the presence of some tribunal which will say to the entitlement tribunal: “ You have not really - given the benefit of the section to the ex-serviceman.

That was said by a very learned gentleman. He advocated that there should be a tribunal looking at nothing but this benefit of doubt provision.

As we go through the annual reports of the Repatriation Department we can see that ex-servicemen are disillusioned and disappointed as they go to the various tribunals. In regard to the Repatriation Board and the Repatriation Commission, I find that out of 46,000 cases no fewer than 20,805 were rejected. Taking all the tribunals together I note that an overwhelming number of applications to them were rejected. Some of the unsuccessful ones are from men who participated in the Korean War. In the prime of their lives they were prepared to go to Korea and fight there. They are not spongers who will ask for something to which they are not entitled. The vast bulk of the Korean veterans, let alone the poor old veterans of the 1914-18 War seem to be getting this raw deal. I ask the Minister to have a look at the onus of proof provisions and to give consideration to the several points made by me and by my colleagues on this side of the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Turnbull) adjourned.

House adjourned at 10.53 p.m.

page 830


The following answers to questions were circulated -

Beef Roads. (Question No. 332.)

Mr Mortimer:

r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. How many applications have been received from the South Australian Government during the last two years for the construction of beef roads in South Australia?
  2. What are the dates of any such applications, and what was the amount of financial aid sought in each case7
  3. What was the Government’s answer to each application?
Sir Robert Menzies:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

Since 1962 the South Australian Government has made several requests for Commonwealth financial assistance for the construction of beef roads. Other Stales have also made similar requests. The whole question of the further development of beef roads within Australia and the associated question of Commonwealth assistance towards this work are at present being carefully examined by the Government.

Fisheries Research. (Question No. 336.)

Mr L R Johnson:

son asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

What are the principal headings of research and experimentation currently being undertaken at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation fisheries establishment at Cronulla, New South Wales?

Sir Robert Menzies:

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -

Fisheries research by C.S.I.R.O. is being undertaken under the following principal headings - Population studies of the following species of fish found in Australian waters -



Australian salmon



Studies of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the main water masses off Australia, which are thought likely to influence the occurrence of fish.

Public Service Act. (Question No. 343.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. When was the provision for three weeks annual recreation leave written into the Commonwealth Public Service Act?
  2. Will he consider amending the Act to increase the provision to four weeks?
Sir Robert Menzies:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. In 1902, by Section 71 of the Public Service Act 1902.
  2. Representations by the union movement on the question of four weeks leave in the public service are at present under consideration by the Public Service Board.

Constitutional Review Committee. (Question No. 345.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has he finalised his consideration of the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review?
  2. When will he advise the intention of the Government with respect to the recommendations of the Committee?
Sir Robert Menzies:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

The matter has been under consideration but I am not in a position to announce any decision.

Desalination of Sea Water. (Question No. 362.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention been drawn to reports that the United States has achieved an economic breakthrough in producing power from nuclear reactors which offered the prospect of transforming seawater into water suitable for domestic and industrial use?
  2. If so, will he have investigations made to see if the discovery will assist in the desalination of salt and brackish water in areas of Australia where shortage of fresh water is hindering development?
Mr Fairbairn:
Minister for National Development · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. I assume that the reference is to a speech by President Johnson on 9th June 1964 in Worcester, Massachusetts in which he did speak of an “-economic break-through “. The President was referring, however, to the production of electricity by nuclear plants for normal domestic and industrial purposes. The term “economic breakthrough “ was not used in reference to the application of nuclear energy to the desalination of water.
  2. My Department is aware of statements which have been made regarding the use of very large nuclear reactors as an energy source for desalination. We are following developments but at present the proposals we have seen are principally of a speculative nature. Also, the size of plant envisaged in these proposals is far too large to have as yet any practical application to Australian conditions. The Australian Water Resources Council has approved the setting up by its Standing Committee of an Advisory Panel on desalination. Its terms of reference are “ to make a survey and appreciation of desalination methods and of their relevance to Australia “.

Schering Pty. Ltd. (Question No. 396.)

Mr Crean:

n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. For what period has Schering Pty. Ltd. been conducted by the Commonwealth?
  2. What is the nature of its operations?
  3. Does it hold any patents?
  4. What has been the financial result in each year under Commonwealth control?
  5. What is the balance sheet position for the latest available financial year?
  6. Is it the intention of the Government to dispose of the company?
  7. If so, why?
  8. How many people are employed by the company?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. The business of Schering Pty. Ltd. has been carried on under a Controller appointed by the High Court on 18th October 1940 pursuant to the Trading with the Enemy Act 1939. The shares in the company were vested in the Controller of Enemy Property in 1957.
  2. Distribution of pharmaceutical preparations.
  3. Not to my knowledge.
  4. The net profits, before provision for taxation, were -
  1. At 30th June 1964, the Balance Sheet of the company showed fixed assets of £24,511, current assets of £382,413, current liabilities and provisions of £194,932 (including proposed dividend of £75,000) and shareholders funds of £211,992.
  2. Tenders have been invited for the purchase of the shares vested in the Controller of Enemy Property.
  3. lt has been the general policy of the Government to dispose of assets held under Enemy Property legislation in respect of both World Wars as soon as practicable.

Banking. (Question No. 407.)

Mr Gray:

y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

What is the total of the deposits, including fixed deposits, held by the (a) Commonwealth Trading Bank, (b) Commonwealth Savings Bank, (c) Commonwealth Development Bank and (d) Reserve Bank?

Mr Harold Holt:

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -

  1. The weekly average of deposits wilh the Commonwealth Trading Bank in June, 1964, was £375 million, (b) Deposits with the Commonwealth Savings Bank at the end of June, 1964, totalled £1,028 million, (c) Nil. (<1) A separate figure for all deposits with the Reserve Bank is not published. However, in the amount of £786 million shown against the item “Deposits, bills payable and all other liabilities (including amounts provided for contingencies) “ in the Reserve Bank’s aggregate balance sheet as at 30th June, 1964, are the following Central Banking Business published deposits: £338.1 million - statutory Reserve Deposits of trading banks; £24.9 million - term loan fund accounts of trading banks; £26.0 million - other deposits of trading banks; £216.2 million - deposits of savings banks; and £10.2 million– deposits of overseas institutions. The remainder is made up of deposits of Australian Governments and other Reserve Bank customers, provisions for contingencies and miscellaneous liabilities.

Aborigines. (Question No. 465.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -

How many Aborigines are receiving age and invalid pensions, wives’ allowances and widows’ pensions on government settlements, church missions and pastoral properties?

Mr Roberton:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

Social Service benefits are paid to Australian citizens who qualify for them under the provisions of -the Social Services Act without regard to their ethnic origin. Where benefits are paid direct, no attempt is made to identify the beneficiaries, nor would it be possible to do so. However, the number of pensioners on government settlements, church missions and pastoral properties - where benefits arc not paid direct - at 30th June 1964 were -

Schering Pty. Ltd.

Mr Harold Holt:

t.- On 11th August 1964, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) asked me a question without notice concerning the sale of the shares in Schering Pty. Ltd., which are vested in the Controller of Enemy Property. I can now confirm the advice I then gave him that the normal procedures and practice have been followed in relation to the disposal of the shares by tender. The net profit of Schering Pty. Ltd. for the year ended 30th June 1964, before provision for taxation, was £161,164. It has been the general policy of the Government to dispose of assets held under Enemy Property legislation in respect of both World Wars as soon as practicable.


Sir Robert Menzies:

– On 12th August the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) asked me some questions without notice concerning Press reports of opinions attributed to the Victorian Teachers Union. These opinions concerned the method to be used in Victoria for selection of Commonwealth Secondary Scholarship winners. As I then promised I have consulted my colleague, Senator Gorton, who has provided the following answers -

Before dealing with the matters raised in the questions 1 wish to make it clear that it was and is the Commonwealth which requires that in all Slates winners of its scholarships shall be selected by an external examination common to all competitors. The kind of examination to be used will vary from State to State and in Victoria the type to be used was suggested by the Victorian Education authorities and agreed to by the Commonwealth.

In commenting on this particular type of examination the Victorian Teachers Union did not reach any conclusions of a kind which can be checked for accuracy. In fact that Union did not reach any conclusions at all; it expressed opinions.

Those opinions are contradicted by other responsible sources. The Victorian Education Department is of the opinion that the type of examination to be used will avoid “ cramming “ or special coaching and the Australian Council for Educational Research which is designing the examination believes that the examination will result in the selection of those students who are most intellectually able, irrespective of the background from which such students come, lt believes also that results at such an examination will depend less on accidental factors such as inferior teaching than do other types of examinations.

The Commonwealth believes that the purpose of creating scholarships is so that they may be awarded to the most capable scholars and ensure that such scholars receive every encouragement to complete their education. If a child is helped to become such a scholar by a good home environment and by parents who encourage and take an interest in learning, the Commonwealth has no intention of disqualifying or handicapping such a child because of this home background. Such a home background is not, of course, necessarily related to the wealth of a family.

The Commonwealth docs not intend suggesting to the Victorian Education Department that it use a different type of examination than that at present contemplated.

Army Accommodation. (Question No. 443.)

Mr Beaton:

n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. What will be the Army’s quota of the £14,500,000 services housing programme?
  2. How many houses will be built under this programme?
  3. Where will these Army homes be built?
  4. When will construction commence, and how many houses will be completed at each centre in each of the next three financial years?
  5. How many houses will be built for the Army under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement in the Bendigo and Seymour areas in this financial year?
  6. Will he ensure that all houses built for the Army in Victoria contain hot water storage systems which may operate on the cheaper night power rates charged by the State Electricity Commission?
Dr Forbes:
Minister Assisting the Treasurer · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. The Army’s allocation under the Service Housing Programme was 1716 houses estimated to cost £6,612,000.

  1. Planning is firm for 1421 houses only at this stage as set out below -
  2. Construction of the homes is to be undertaken by the Department of Works and the State Housing Commissions. The commencement of construction in each location will depend on availability of suitable land in required locations, provision of roads and services, date tenders are called,, tenderers meeting their obligations in the specified time and other factors. Until tenders are let it is not possible to forecast the number of houses to be completed at each centre in each of the next three financial years. However, current planning is for a total of 770 houses to be commenced in 1964/65 and 651 in 1965/66, with all houses being completed before June 1967.
  3. Bcndigo - 17. Seymour - Nil. However 65 houses, authorised to be built in the financial year 1963-64, are currently being completed. In addition it is planned to build 81 houses at Puckapunyal, under the New Works Programme in 1964/65.
  4. Houses built by State Housing authorities, under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement are fitted with hot water services specified by the State authorities, and the Army does not have the authority to vary the States arrangements. However, where houses are to be constructed by the Department of Works on Armyland, it is the usual practice for that Department to specify that homes will incorporate a hot water storage system capable of operating on the cheaper night electricity tariff.

Civil Aviation. (Question No. 445.)

Mr Clyde Cameron:

n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

What is the total number of unduplicated air route miles operated by (a) Ansett-Transport Industries Ltd. (Airline Group) and (b) TransAustralia Airlines?

Mr Fairbairn:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -

The unduplicated air route miles operated by each of the airline companies in the Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. group are as follows -

There are however duplications to the extent of 174 miles between the air services of Ansett-A.N.A. and Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd. along the Queensland Coast. The unduplicated air route miles of Trans-Australia Airlines are 28,240 which include 4,964 miles of air routes within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. .

Department of Civil Aviation. (Question No. 446.)

Mr Clyde Cameron:

n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that an officer of the Department of Civil Aviation recently resigned from the Department to take a seat on the Board of Directors of an Ansett Transport Industries Company? .
  2. If so, what is his name, what were his duties with the Department of Civil Aviation’ and specifically, did he at any time prepare the answer to a question asked in Parliament concerning the Ansett group of airlines?
Mr Fairbairn:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -

  1. No. However, an officer ofthe Department resigned with effect 10th July to take up a salaried’ position with Ansett Transport Industries.
  2. Dr. H. W. Poulton, First Assistant DirectorGeneral. His duties related to the policy and legal aspects of air transport.

In the course of his normal duties, Dr. Poulton would have been required to provide material for consideration by the Minister in connection with the preparation of his replies to Parliamentary Question on Notice.

Civil Aviation: Damage by Aircraft. - (Question No. 455.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

  1. Have all States and Territories now passed uniform laws to cover surface damage caused by aircraft?
  2. When did the respective laws enter into force?
Mr Fairbairn:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -

  1. No. Only three States, namely New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, have laws dealing with this subject. In addition, the Commonwealth Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Act 1958 refers to damage on the surface caused by aircraft engaged in certain international operations.
  2. New South Wales- 28th November 1952.

Victoria - 10th November 1953.

Tasmania - 1st January 1964.

Hospital Benefits Organisations. (Question No. 458.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. What payments were made to registered hospital benefits organisations by (a) their members and (b) the Commonwealth in the year 1963-64?
  2. What payments of (a) organisation and (b) Commonwealth benefits were made to, or in respect of, their members by the organisations in 1963-64?
  3. How many claims qualified for (a) organisation and (b) Commonwealth benefits in 1963-64?
  4. What was the average amount paid in (a) organisation and (b) Commonwealth benefits?
  5. What were the principal reasons for refusing organisation benefits?
  6. What are the (a) reserves and (b) operating expenses of the organisations?
  7. How many persons arc employed by (ho organisations?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers - 1. (a) Payments made to registered hospital benefits organisations by their members during the financial year 1962-63 amounted to £21,279,660. Figures for 1963-64 are not yet available. (b) Payments made to registered hospital benefits organisations by the Commonwealth during the financial year 1963-64 amounted to £11,202,971. (This figure includes payments of £1,874,623 towards Special Account deficits.) 2. (a) Payments of Fund benefits (including ancillary benefits) to members by registered hospital benefits organisations during 1963-64 were £21,640,939 and (b) Commonwealth benefits amounted to £9,328,348. 3. (a) Claims that qualified for Fund benefits totalled 1,019,577 in 1963-64. (b) Claims that qualified for Commonwealth benefits totalled 1,000,386 in 1963-64. 4. (a) The average amount of Fund benefits paid per claim during 1963-64 was £2013s.1d. (b) The average amount of Commonwealth benefits paid per claim during 1963-64 was £9 6s. 7d.

  1. The principal reasons for refusing organisation benefits were -

    1. Hospitalisation during an ordinary waiting period or a maternity waiting period;
    2. Maximum annual benefits previously paid;
    3. The claim was not submitted within 12 months of the period of hospitalisation. 6. (a) The aggregate reserves of registered hospital benefits organisations were £20,350,569 as at 30th June 1963. The 1963-64 figure is not yet available. (b) The total operating expenses incurred by registered hospital benefits organisations for the financial year 1962-63 amounted to £2,505,163. The 1963-64 figure is not yet available.
  2. Details of the total number of persons employed by the registered organisations are not available.

Medical Benefits Organisations. (Question No. 459.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. What payments were made to registered medical benefits organisations by (a) their members and (b) the Commonwealth in the year 1963-64?
  2. What payments of (a) organisation and (b) Commonwealth benefits were made to, or in respect of, their members by the organisations in 1963-64?
  3. For how many individual professional services were claims (a) accepted and (b) rejected by the organisations in 1963-64?
  4. What percentage of the cost of the services for which claims were accepted was met by (a) the organisations, (b) the Commonwealth and (c) the members?
  5. What were the principal reasons for rejecting claims?
  6. What are (a) reserves and (b) operating expenses of the organisations?
  7. How many persons are employed by the organisations?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies - 1. (a) Payments made to registered medical benefits organisations by their members during the financial year 1962-63 amounted to £19,882,986. Figures for 1963-64 are not yet available. (b) Payments made to registered medical benefits organisations by the Commonwealth during the financial year 1963-64 amounted to £12,424,143. (This figure includes payments of £307,718 towards Special Account deficits). 2. (a) Payments of Fund benefits (including ancillary benefits) to members during 1963-64 totalled £18,075,230, and (b) Commonwealth benefits paid amounted to £12,116,425. 3. (a) Claims were accepted for Fund benefit in respect of 24,307,852 services during 1963-64. (b) Claims were rejected by the Funds in respect of 174,345 services.

  1. The percentage of the cost of services met by each party during 1963-64 was: -

thesefiguresdo not include paymentsin respect of contract medical organisations.

  1. The principal reasons for refusing payment of. Fund benefits were -

    1. The service was not rendered by a doctor in private practice;
    2. The service was rendered during an ordinary waiting period or a maternity waiting period;
    3. The claim was not submitted within 12 months of the date of service;
    4. The member was not insured for the optional schedule of benefits. 6. (a) The aggregate reserves of registered medical benefits organisations were £9,548,514 at 30th June, 1963. The 1963-64 figure is not yet available. (b) The total operating expenses incurred by registered medical benefits organisations for the financial year 1962-63 amounted to £2,710,441. The 1963-64 figure is not yet available.
  2. Details of the total number of persons employed by the registered organisations are not available.

Passengers in Qantas Aircraft. (Question No. 488.)

Mr.Whitlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

What proportion of Qantas passengers are Australians?

Mr Fairbairn:

n. - The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -

Statistics concerning the nationality of passengers carried by Qantas on its various overseas services are not collected by my Department. It is, therefore, not possible to state what proportion of Qantas passengers are Australians. Information is available, of course, on the number of passengers uplifted and set down in Australia by Qantas. In l’;63-64, a total of 186,500 passengers was carried into and out of Australia on Qantas’ scheduled services.

Department of Civil Aviation. (Question No. 489.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -

When Dr. H. W. Poulton resigned as First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Civil Aviation, did he seek or receive the Minister’s approval to become a director of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.?

Mr Fairbairn:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -

I was informed on 26th June that Dr. H. W. Poulton, First Assistant Director-General of the Department, intended to resign to take up an executive position with Ansett Transport Industries. He resigned from the Commonwealth Public Service with effect 10th July. There is nothing in the Public Service Act or Regulations which requires a public servant to obtain Ministerial approval to his resignation from the Service in order to take up a position in private enterprise. Therefore, my approval was not sought or given in this case.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 September 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.