House of Representatives
24 May 1965

25th Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 11.50 a.m., and read prayers.

page 1893

QUESTION

THE PARLIAMENT

Mr SPEAKER:

– The arrangement was made on the basis of common sense, in accordance with practice, and to meet the convenience of honorable members.

Mr Daly:

– I raise a further point of order, Mr. Speaker, on the same question. I shall read portion of Standing Order No. 41, which is in these terms -

The Chair shall be taken at the time appointed on every day fixed for the meeting of the House; but if a quorum of Members is not present, and if within five minutes, the bells having been rung, a quorum is still not present-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! Is the honorable member canvassing my decision? If so, he is out of order.

Mr Daly:

– I move -

That Mr. Speaker’s ruling be dissented from.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I point out to the honorable member that I gave only an interpretation.

Mr Daly:

– On a further point of order, Mr. Speaker, do you say that you do not give a ruling on Standing Order No. 41? If so, does this mean that every ruling that you give shall be regarded as an interpretation when a motion for dissent is proposed?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! No ruling was given.

page 1893

QUESTION

PREMIERS’ CONFERENCE

Mr L R JOHNSON:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the

Treasurer a question. Is a grave disservice being done to the Parliamentary institution by the premature winding up of the current sessional period to enable this chamber to be used as the venue for the Premiers’ Conference? Are the resources of the Commonwealth in such a depleted or disordered state that no adequate facilities can be provided to accommodate the Premiers’ Conference, other than Parliament House itself?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Treasurer · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– I do not agree with the suggestion that any violation of normal democratic procedures is involved. For as long as I can recall it has been the practice of Australian Governments, of all political complexions, to hold Premiers’ Conferences and meetings of the Australian Loan Council in this chamber, at times, of course, when the Parliament itself has not been in session. When it became known that the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London would be held on a certain date, the forthcoming Premiers’ Conference was arranged to ensure the making of decisions prior to the departure of the Prime Minister for London towards the end of next week. The Premiers’ Conference was set down for the latest possible time which would enable such a result to be achieved. I think it will be agreed that at a conference at which the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States are to be determined for a number of years, it is highly desirable that the head of the Australian Government be present and that he take the chair at these very important discussions. We had set aside this week for necessary Cabinet discussions leading up to a meeting of officials of the Commonwealth and State Governments preparatory to the Premiers’ Conference next week. It had been hoped that the business of the Parliament would have been disposed of in an orderly fashion to enable this to be done. I still believe that with the co-operation of all honorable members we shall be able to conclude the business in an orderly way which will enable us to go ahead with the programme as planned.

page 1893

QUESTION

VIETNAM

Mr ERWIN:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– My question to the Minister for Air refers to a previous report of a Royal Australian Air Force Caribou aircraft which made a forced landing south of Saigon. At the time the crew were reported to be under enemy fire. Is the Minister now able to tell the House of the final outcome of this incident?

Mr HOWSON:
Minister for Air · FAWKNER, VICTORIA · LP

– I am happy to tell the honorable member for Ballaarat that after overcoming quite a number of problems the ground crew were able to effect temporary repairs to this aircraft and it was flown out at the end of last week back to Vung Tau, where it is being put into first class order again. I think the incident reflects great credit on all concerned and I am happy that all are well and back home again.

page 1894

QUESTION

HOUSING IN GLADSTONE

Mr GRAY:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND

– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing, who is no doubt aware of the rapid expansion that is taking place at Gladstone in Queensland owing to the establishment in that town of the aluminium industry, which will employ some 1,600 men on construction work. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the fact that little or no accommodation is being provided for married men who are employed, or who are to be employed, on this work. Has his attention also been directed to the fact that already - before the main construction work has commenced - families are using buildings on the local showground constructed to house livestock and other exhibits? Is the Minister aware that some families are paying as much as £12 a week to hire caravans to house their wives and children, owing to the lack of other facilities? If applications from the normal sources in Queensland are made to the Minister for additional finance to construct housing at Gladstone, will the Minister consider such applications in a sympathetic manner, more particularly as those houses scheduled for construction now or in the near future are for the use only of persons of the rank of foreman and above?

Mr BURY:
Minister for Housing · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– In the first instance, this would be a matter for the people who are undertaking the construction work, and, as far as public authorities are concerned, for the Government of Queensland. Naturally, any representations made to the Commonwealth Government are always considered on their merits. Finance is provided on a generous scale to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and representations are received in connection with that agreement. The matter raised by the honorable member must be regarded primarily as one for the State of Queensland and perhaps for those immediately concerned.

page 1894

QUESTION

CANBERRA AIRPORT

Mr TURNER:
BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. Is it a fact that plans were made many years ago to construct an airport in a fog free area a dozen miles from the city of Canberra? Is it also true that the terminal building at the present airport - a kind of enlarged Army hut - not only is somewhat lacking in grandeur, but often does not even afford enough seating capacity for waiting passengers? Can the Minister say when steps will be taken to reduce the effect of fog on the nation’s business?

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I will be happy to refer the question to the Minister for Civil Aviation within whose administration the Canberra terminal and the aerodrome come.

page 1894

QUESTION

IMPORT OF MOTOR CARS

Mr CLARK:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. The Government was reported to have had a scheme to achieve a 95 per cent. Australian component in cars sold in Australia. Is it a fact that the value of cars and car parts imported is more than £100 million and represents the largest single item in our import bill? Does the Government now propose to take any action to remedy this position? If so, what action does it propose to take, and when does it propose to take such action?

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– I am not in possession of details of the total value of the cars and car parts which are imported into Australia. No doubt substantial quantities of components of cars have been imported. It has been the practice, ever since the commencement of the manufacture of cars in Australia, to aid those who are assembling cars partly from Australian components and partly from imported components. The aid has been given by a reduction of taxation through the by-law procedure. There has been no set rule, but this practice has always been followed. The Government now feels that the practice should be regularised and it has put a series of propositions to car manufacturers, the principal one being that those manufacturers who will undertake to produce within five years a car which is 95 per cent. Australian made will be accorded by-law entry for their components progressively up to that point. Others who. for various reasons, may not be able to engage to make a car of 95 per cent. Australian content may get varying degrees of aid through by-law entry. This is the Government’s proposal.

In the meantime, and concurrently, the Government has referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report the question of what protection, if any, is necessary for completely built-up cars and for the various components of cars. The Tariff Board is engaged in these studies and has not yet reported to the Government. However, the Government has said that those manufacturers who will engage to manufacture in accordance with an approved programme, whether it involves a 95 per cent. Australian content or otherwise, will be given aid through by-law entry for a period up to five years, notwithstanding what the Tariff Board may report.

page 1895

QUESTION

SOCIAL SERVICES

Mr PETTITT:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an article in the current edition of the “ Bulletin “ which quotes an amount of £8 6s. as the median income for a nonworking widow with children and relates this figure subsequently to a widow with three or more young children? Will the Minister advise the House of what his Department currently pays a widow with dependent children?

Mr SINCLAIR:
Minister for Social Services · NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I have seen this article in the current edition of the “ Bulletin As I understood, the figures related to a survey conducted in 1960. Since that time the Government benefit paid to a widow with three children has been changed. At present, a widow with three children would receive in the vicinity of £12 5s. a week, made up of pension, allowances, special assistance and endowment. In addition, if she so desires, a widow may go out to work and earn up to £5 a week, and for each additional child that she has she may earn an additional 10s. a week. If a widow has more than three children she may, of course, receive an additional amount of £1 10s. a week for each additional child. That sum is made up of 15s. a week additional pension and 15s. a week additional endowment.

page 1895

QUESTION

NATIONAL SERVICE TRAINING

Mr HAYDEN:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND

– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. To test the sincerity of a large number of young people who have been demonstrating in organised bodies in support of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war, will he arrange for a letter to be sent to each of these young persons, almost all of whom are of military age, inquiring why they have not volunteered their services for combat in Vietnam, if they feel that this war is so necessary and justifiable, thus easing the demand for conscripts considerably, if not entirely? The names and addresses of these young people can be obtained from the Brisbane headquarters of the Young Liberals and the Democratic Labour Party organisations.

Mr McMAHON:
Minister for Labour and National Service · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

- Mr. Speaker, I think one matter that honorable members will be pleased about is the small number of young people who have taken part in demonstrations supporting the Labour Party despite the fact that there has been widespread agitation by some sections of the trade union movement and by many members of the Australian Labour Party. As to writing to the young people referred to by the honorable member, there is one fact that he should learn. That is that people have a perfect right to” demonstrate and to speak if they want to. They have a right of dissent from’ the opinons expressed by the Labour Party or the trade unions and may exercise it. It is not my responsibility, nor is it the responsibility of any other Minister, to write personally to them and ask them for their reasons.

page 1895

QUESTION

WHALES

Mr DRURY:
RYAN, QUEENSLAND

– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Has any official protest been made with regard to the reported action of Russian whaling ships in denuding Australian whaling grounds in disregard of the international treaties concerning the preservation of whales?

Mr ADERMANN:
Minister for Primary Industry · FISHER, QUEENSLAND · CP

– When the Russian whaling fleet passed our shores recently, the Minister for External Affairs arranged for consultation with the Russian Embassy and the embassy promised to submit the matter to the Russian Government for further consideration. This was done, and I think the Russian Government adopted quite a sensible and responsible attitude in response to my colleague’s representations on the matter. Since that time there has been a special meeting of the International Whaling Commission and it has been unanimously agreed that there should be a substantial reduction in quotas in the Antarctic field. Both the Russian Government and the Japanese Government have agreed to this reduction. Indeed, there is a complete embargo on the taking of any humpback and blue whales, except in a small area in which the pigmy blue whale may be taken. No quota has been fixed for the taking of sperm whales, so Australia will bring this matter up again at the annual meeting of the Commission to be held on 28th June next. We are desirous that there should be some protection for the sperm whaling industry.

page 1896

QUESTION

THE PARLIAMENT

Mr E JAMES HARRISON:
BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– My question is directed to the Treasurer and is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Hughes. It is related directly to the answer that was given to that honorable member. At what time were all the arrangements now being put forward as reasons for rushing through 16 bills on the last sitting day of this session, known to Cabinet? Can the Treasurer say what is the basis for the failure of the Government, at Cabinet level, to prepare the business of this Parliament properly so that the House could be called together with sufficient time for it to deal with the matters to be considered instead of the House being in recess for such a lengthy period - between early November last year and March this year?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

Mr. Speaker, the honorable member can be assured that all the factors of the parliamentary year were taken into consideration in planning the programme for the year. As to the great number of bills to which the honorable member referred, he will be quite aware that this statement gives an entirely misleading impression to the public, as it is intended to do. I say that, because several of these bills are grouped. The group involving the dairy industry contains five or six bills in one substantial piece of legislation. There are two bounty bills which do nothing more than carry forward the existing programme for a limited period. I do not know how long honorable gentlemen would require for those bills. But what became obvious towards the closing stages of last week’s sittings was that some members of the Opposition had made up their minds to stonewall the business of the House in order to make it more difficult for us to complete an orderly programme. I leave it to the fair judgment of those who were sitting here at the time to decide whether or not that was the case. We hope that - with the co-operation of members exercising some sense of responsibility in these matters - we can arrange for representative viewpoints to be given adequate expression before the sessional period concludes, and that will be the objective of the Government.

page 1896

QUESTION

INDONESIA

Mr HAWORTH:
ISAACS, VICTORIA

– I address a question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the recent compulsory acquisition of Australian property in Indonesia by the Government of that country. Can the Prime Minister tell the Parliament whether, to date, any arrangement has been made to compensate the owners of the property concerned in this acquisition?

Sir ROBERT MENZIES:
Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– That matter, I gather, is still under discussion. As soon as I know, I shall make the public aware of what the decision is.

page 1896

QUESTION

WIDOWERS

Mr CROSS:
BRISBANE. QLD

– In addressing a question to the Minister for Social Services, I refer to the answer given to a previous question this morning. Will the Minister look into the position of widowers who are invalid pensioners and who are responsible for the care of young children, with a view to paying them the same allowance as is paid to widows in similar circumstances?

Mr SINCLAIR:
CP

– I shall have a look at the position. Presumably, this matter, has been investigated in the past, but I can assure the honorable member that, as a result of his inquiry, I shall raise it again at the time of the budgetary deliberations. To widows, of course, the Government has provided considerable assistance in the past and continually looks at their position in order to ensure that they are receiving fair and adequate help from the Government.

page 1897

QUESTION

PORT OF PORTLAND

Mr TURNBULL:
MALLEE, VICTORIA

– I address a question to the Treasurer. At the Premiers’ Conference to be held shortly, will the right honorable gentleman give due consideration to any appeal by the Premier of Victoria for financial aid to assist, as a national project, in the building of suitable rail links to the port of Portland so that producers, even those as far in the hinterland as the Mallee, in southern New South Wales and in the south east of South Australia, may be able to ship and receive goods through this decentralised deep water port?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is undoubtedly an important one. Any proposals which reach the Government from the Premiers of the States are, of course, always carefully considered and the Commonwealth’s views on the merits of such proposals are always expressed. I point out that discussion of a project such as that put forward by the honorable gentleman would not normally be a matter for a Premiers* Conference. If it is advanced in the course of whatever proceedings may be held - a Premiers’ Conference, or perhaps more appropriately a Loan Council Meeting - I can assure the honorable gentleman that it, and whatever other proposals are put to us by Premiers, will receive our careful consideration.

page 1897

QUESTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Mr STEWART:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I address a question to the Treasurer in his capacity as Leader of the House. Is it a fact that discussion of a large number of bills, including the Broadcasting and Television Bill, the Commonwealth Electoral Bill, the Defence Bill, the National Service Bill and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill is listed for today’s proceedings? Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the intended timetable for discussion of these Bills? Does the Government intend to use the guillotine or gag to limit discussion on the measures before the House? At what time tomorrow morning is it intended that the House should adjourn for the winter recess? Finally, does the Government give any consideration to the staff of the House when setting out its programme?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– -The honorable gentleman has referred to a member of legi slative items, the substance of which, I believe, is well known to honorable members on both sides of the House and which, in addition, has been considered in the party meetings of both sides of the House. It should not be difficult, therefore, for representative viewpoints to be expressed on behalf of members in relation to the programme. Obviously, if every member of the Parliament were to seek an opportunity to offer a view on every piece of legislation, the Parliament would become unworkable. I do not know of any parliament in the world which could operate under such a system. Certainly the Mother of Parliaments - the House of Commons at Westminster - does not so function. I noted with interest that the House of Commons found it necessary to sit continuously for over 14 hours one day last week to dispose of an item of business. With the co-operation of honorable gentlemen opposite, it should not be necessary for us to sit such uncomfortable hours.

page 1897

QUESTION

VIETNAM

Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP

– Has the Prime Minister seen a recent statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the effect that Australian troops were not being sent to South Vietnam as a result of any obligation under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation pact and that if they had been committed under that agreement the Australian Labour Party would have supported the Government’s decision? Will the Prime Minister once again tell the House the true position?

Sir ROBERT MENZIES:
LP

– I have not seen the statement referred to but I follow the matter raised by the honorable member. I shall re-state the position that we have adopted throughout: We are a party to S.E.A.T.O. We regard the obligations under S.E.A.T.O. as several as well as joint. In other words, if we, encountering a situation such as exists in a protocol State, to wit, South Vietnam, are invited by the Government of South Vietnam to come to its aid, we regard this as an invitation properly issued under S.E.A.T.O. and our action as being properly performed under S.E.A.T.O. We have made this perfectly clear over a lengthy period.

page 1898

QUESTION

RESTRICTIVE TRADE PRACTICES

Mr JAMES:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I preface my question to the Attorney-General by stating that he will recall that some months ago a matter was raised in this House relating to Melbourne brewery interests acting in collusion with the major breweries in New South Wales to withhold liquor supplies from Mrs. Rowen, manageress of the Jindera Hotel in southern New South Wales. Is the Minister aware that Mrs. Rowen has today been forced to close the hotel as a result of the actions of the brewery interests? Will the restrictive trade practices legislation which he introduced correct this apparent grievous injustice by the powerful monopolies to which I have referred against a person in business in a small way?

Mr SNEDDEN:
Attorney-General · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– A complaint was made to me in relation to the Hotel Jindera. As a result of that complaint, I asked my Department to carry out investigations under the terms of the Australian Industries Preservation Act to see whether there were grounds for instituting any prosecution. Very exhaustive investigations were made to see whether a prosecution should be launched. After seeing the results of the investigations, I determined that no such prosecution should be launched. However, there is provision in the Australian Industries Preservation Act for an individual to bring a private, civil suit if he wishes to do so, but before taking this step he is obliged to obtain the consent of the Attorney-General. I do not give any indication whatever of the outcome of any application made to me for that purpose. However, I indicate to the House that both my predecessor and I have adopted the practice of requiring a person seeking to bring a civil action to submit with his application a copy of the statement of claim and an opinion from counsel that a cause of action exists. If such application is made to me in this instance, I will of course consider it.

As to whether this case would be covered by the Bill introduced into this House last week, I would remind the honorable gentleman that, in framing his question, he used phrases which, by their very terminology, indicate a predisposition to believe that a certain set of facts exists. Whether such a set of facts really exists would be a matter for a court to determine, not for me to decide. As to whether the situation men tioned would be covered by the Bill, I have conscientiously, on all occasions, declined to indicate whether a specific set of circumstances would be covered by the Bill that has now been introduced. I have done this for the specific purpose of ensuring that nobody in the community will have any belief, whether properly or improperly founded, that there has been any predetermination of the existence of a set of circumstances. It is my firm intention to maintain, throughout my period in office, this practice that I have so far adopted.

page 1898

QUESTION

DRUGS

Mr FOX:
HENTY, VICTORIA

– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Health. Has he any information regarding a new method of taking drugs of different types in one capsule or tablet instead of singly? Can this system be used in Australia?

Mr SWARTZ:
Minister for Health · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– This system has been in use in Australia for some time, although I understand that, strange to say, it is being introduced in the United Kingdom only now. The principle is that a number of drugs, or other substances, are retained in micro capsules, which are pressed together in one tablet or capsule of normal size. The micro capsules melt at various degrees of temperature and are dissolved at various stages and allow the substances to be released into the body at varying times after the tablet or capsule has been swallowed. This is a satisfactory way of taking, within a specified period, a number of different drugs.

page 1898

QUESTION

SUPERANNUATION

Mr COSTA:
BANKS, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that the Superannuation Board, last September, as a matter of urgency, recommended the distribution to contributors and superannuated pensioners of the surplus in the Superannuation Fund, the amount being £5.6 million? Why was legislation to effect this distribution not prepared for introduction in the Parliament during the last sessional period? Why is such legislation not being brought in during this sessional period? Will the right honorable gentleman say when legislation for this purpose will be introduced?

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
LP

– I think this question indicates that the Government provides, when the circumstances enable it to do so, ample opportunity for consideration by the public and the Parliament of the matters that have to be dealt with. Legislation for the purpose mentioned by the honorable member would affect a great many officers of the Public Service. Legislation was not introduced previously because it was considered desirable to gather the view of as representative a body of people capable of expressing the opinions of public servants as could be arranged. As the honorable gentleman will be aware, talks with representative Public Service organisations have been held. I expect that legislation will be introduced during the Budget sessional period and I am working towards that end.

page 1899

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH BUREAU OF ROADS

Mr TURNBULL:

– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. As he has intimated that some difficulty is being experienced in obtaining suitable executive officers for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, which is to be established under legislation already approved by both Houses of this Parliament, I ask whether he will accept, and give due consideration to, written suggestions regarding appointments to these important vacant posts.

Mr FREETH:
Minister for Shipping and Transport · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answer is “ Yes “.

page 1899

QUESTION

VIETNAM

Mr GALVIN:
KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– I address a question to the Prime Minister. If Australian forces are being sent to South Vietnam under the terms of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, will he inform the House whether Australia has acted in the way required under the terms of that Treaty by making certain declarations and notifying the United Nations that this action is being taken under the terms of the Treaty?

Sir ROBERT MENZIES:
LP

– We have certainly notified the United Nations. I have not before me the precise form of the notification, but I will be perfectly happy to make it available to the honorable member.

page 1899

QUESTION

CIVIL AVIATION

Mr BOSMAN:
ST GEORGE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he is aware that both the Boeing Aircraft Corporation and Douglas Aircraft

Corporation are constructing super versions of their Boeing 707 and DC8 aircraft? Is he aware also that these aircraft will be up to 40 feet longer than the largest model flying at present and will carry a maximum passenger list of between 200 and 250, and that the Corporations expect to develop before the supersonic era versions which will carry up to 300 passengers? In view of these remarkable trends prior to the supersonic era, will the Minister be prepared to review the proposed lengths of the new runways at the Sydney Kingsford-Smith Airport and the Tullamarine Airport to ascertain whether they are adequate for present and future demands?

Mr FAIRBAIRN:
Minister for National Development · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Minister for Civil Aviation will visit Sydney on Thursday to discuss with the Premier of New South Wales a civil aviation matter other than that referred to by the honorable member. However, I am sure that if the Premier requires the Kingsford-Smith Airport to be discussed, the Minister will be only too happy to give him the opportunity. I am not aware of the later developments of Boeing and Douglas aircraft, but I know that the history of the Kingsford-Smith Airport is a very long one. About two years ago the Department of Civil Aviation intended to extend the northsouth runway to 7,500 feet with 400 feet over-run. The Parliamentary Public Works Committee examined the matter and heard evidence from a great many people, including Captain Shields, who gave evidence on behalf of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. Captain Shields strongly recommended that the runway be extended to 8,000 feet with 500 feet over-run. The Public Works Committee agreed to this proposal and the Commonwealth Government accepted its recommendation. Consequently, that is the length of runway being built at present.

The east-west runway at Kingsford-Smith Airport is just under 8,300 feet in length and has proved to be adequate for all aircraft using it, including the big intercontinental Boeing 420. I am sure that if the Premier of New South Wales is anxious to raise the matter with the Minister, my colleague will discuss it with him.

page 1900

QUESTION

RUM

Mr HANSEN:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND

– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Has his Government’s prejudice against rum, as appears from the discrimination shown in excise duties on rum and brandy, extended to the catering for official functions where neither rum nor rum based drinks are offered to guests? As the Prime Minister is an air traveller of considerable experience, can he suggest any reason why rum is not available to passengers on aircraft?

Sir ROBERT MENZIES:
LP

– I must say that we are accused of many things in Parliament, but I did not know that we were suffering from this frightful prejudice against rum. I am grateful to the honorable member for letting me know of it. I do not even know whether rum is carried on Qantas and other aircraft. Perhaps I drink other things, but for all I know it is not my fault. I will find out whether rum is carried on aircraft. So far as I am concerned, I invite all honorable members who like rum to keep on drinking it. So that shows there is no prejudice at all in my mind.

page 1900

QUESTION

WOOL

Mr HUGHES:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Can he inform the House whether it has been decided that voting in the proposed referendum on wool marketing is to be compulsory? If a decision has been made, what is it? If voting is not to be compulsory, will this mean that legislation to authorise the holding of the growers’ referendum will not be necessary? Should it be decided that voting in the referendum will not be compulsory, will the Minister make a statement in the House before the referendum is held so that members may have an opportunity to debate this important question before the growers cast their votes?

Mr ADERMANN:
CP

– The Wool Industry Conference, after its last meeting, made certain recommendations to me, including the one mentioned by the honorable member, which I have not yet taken to Cabinet for final Government determination, the reasons being that it is not possible to institute legislation during this sessional period on this matter and that it would not be possible to arrange immediately a referendum on the proposed reserve price scheme.

It is considered that any legislation to be enacted concerning this subject will be introduced during the Budget session. Furthermore, there is to be another meeting of the Wool Industry Conference which may raise other matters. I will refer all matters to Cabinet at the one time.

page 1900

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY

Mr PETERS:
SCULLIN, VICTORIA

– As the Prime Minister has now had in his possession for some considerable time the Vernon committee’s report on the Australian economy, as the Parliament is shortly to go into recess, and as he states that the document is rather lengthy, will he be so good as to make it available before the recess so that honorable members can study and consider it during the recess?

Sir ROBERT MENZIES:
LP

– Frankly, I see no prospect of that, because Ministers themselves have by no means completed their looking at this very long document. I apologise to my friend. I really should have devoted Saturday afternoon to getting through a bit more of it, instead of which I went to see our boys win.

page 1900

QUESTION

NATIONAL SERVICE TRAINING

Mr IAN ALLAN:
GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service ensure that recruits called up for Army service receive a full month’s notice so that they may have adequate time to arrange their affairs? I ask this because a young man of my acquaintance has been notified that he will probably be called up on 28th June next. Will the Minister explain what the word “ probably “ means in this context?

Mr McMAHON:
LP

– After his medical examination, the national serviceman is given as much time as is reasonably practicable before he is actually called up for service. It is true that we have had some teething troubles which have meant that we have not been able to get all notices out as quickly as we would have wished, but I can assure the honorable member that they will go out quicker in the future. They will go out somewhat more quickly than they did on this occasion. As to his question concerning the use of the word “ probably “ in this context, I do not know what it means, but I will find out and let the honorable gentleman know.

page 1901

QUESTION

SHIPPING

Mr BEATON:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has a report of an attack upon the British Nominated Shipping Conference by the Victorian Employers Federation been brought to his attention? Is he aware that the Victorian Employers Federation complains of the rigging of freight rates in favour of British exporters and against Australian merchants? Will he instigate an investigation of such charges in order that Australian exporters may be protected from any disadvantages which would apply if the charges were found to be correct?

Mr McEWEN:
CP

– What the honorable member describes as an attack has not been brought to my notice but as he has mentioned it I will familiarise myself with whatever has been said. The position is that freight rates and general conditions of handling cargo between Australia, Britain and European continental poTts are negotiated between the Australian overseas shipping representative and the exporters of Australia. The attitude of the Government has been that if the exporters elect to handle their own negotiations - as, indeed, they have elected to do since 1956 - we want the exporters to be as adequately organised and equipped as possible to conduct these negotiations. The Government suggested this to the organised exporters and over a period of years has supplied funds to ensure that they have had a secretariat constantly on the job of watching their interests. This is a controversial issue. I would not like to say that I am satisfied by any means with what has been done.

Mr Beaton:

– Will the Minister investigate this complaint?

Mr McEWEN:

– I will investigate the specific complaint that has been made but I really must look for an official view on this from the body representing Australian exporters which was set up with the aid of Government money. I shall inquire whether it has a view it wishes to put to the Government.

page 1901

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Mr HAROLD HOLT:
Treasurer · Higgins · LP

– by leave - I have conferred with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on a satisfactory disposition of the business of the House in the time available, having regard to the disruption of the planned programme because of fog which affected air services. The fog having now cleared both outside and inside the chamber, I inform honorable members that it is proposed that the House sit until 11 p.m. today and that we then suspend the sitting of the House until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow. So that satisfactory transport arrangements can be made it is proposed to conclude by 4 p.m. tomorrow. I hope these arrangements will prove acceptable and satisfactory.

page 1901

AUSTRALIAN INVESTMENTS OVERSEAS

Ministerial Statement

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– by leave - The Government proposes to introduce legislation during the next session of Parliament to authorise the insurance of Australian investors against the risks involved in investing in overseas countries. The legislation will provide for insurance against three types of risks, which are, expropriation, or the takeover of investments by a foreign government; inability to transfer capital or earnings back to Australia; war, insurrection and similar types of disturbances in the foreign country.

The Government’s main purpose in providing this type of insurance is to foster the growth of exports by encouraging the establishment of factories overseas, particularly in the developing countries of Asia. Many Australian manufacturers already realise that in order to avoid the restraints on imports which are needed to protect the foreign exchange reserves of most of these countries, it could become necessary to set up plants inside the countries themselves. The Government feels that the development of this form of investment on a broader front is most desirable and hopes that the introduction of insurance facilities will encourage more manufacturers to examine the scope for preserving and expanding their export markets by investing overseas.

The investment of more Australian capital and know-how will, of course, assist the industrial development of these countries, particularly if Australian manufacturers invite local capital or management to participate with them in the undertaking. In the long run this joint venture approach to overseas investment is in the best interests of all parties and, in recognition of this, the new insurance facilities will be designed to encourage investments of this kind. Like most insurance of this type, the insured investor will be obliged to carry a small part of the risk involved and the Government liability will generally be limited to 90 per cent. of any loss that might arise. Investments will generally be insured for a maximum period of 15 years.

Consideration is being given to making the legislation applicable to investments entered into at an earlier date this year, so that, where this may be found justifiable, investments made fromthat time which would normally qualify for insurance, under this new legislation could be covered. The insurance will be provided by the Government backed Export Payments Insurance Corporation. Special consideration has been given to the position of Papua and New Guinea in relation to this general scheme. The Government’s conclusion, however, is that at this stage, while Australia is still the administering authority of the Territory, a scheme principally to cover expropriation and transfer risks is obviously not applicable. The Government is, of course, fully conscious of the needs of the Territory for new investment from Australia and is keeping the Territory investment situation continuously under review.

Sitting suspended from 12.42 to 2.15 p.m.

page 1902

INTERNATIONAL WHEAT AGREEMENT (EXTENSION) BILL 1965

Assent reported.

page 1902

BROADCASTING AND TELEVISION BILL 1965

In Commitee.

Consideration resumed from 21st May (vide page1867).

Clause 7.

Division 3 of Part IV. of the Principal Act is repealed and the following Division inserted in its stead: - “ Division 3. - Limitation of Ownership or Control of Commercial Television Stations.

” 91.-(1.)

92.-

” (6.) In this section, ‘ the prescribed date means the seventeenth day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four. “92c. - (1.) A person shall not be a director of two or more companies that are, between them, in a position to exercise control of three or more licences.

Penalty: One hundred pounds, and Ten pounds for every day on which the offence continues. 92f.- (l.) “ (4.) The Minister shall not refuse to grant approval under this section, and shall not give a notice under the last preceding sub-section, unless there has been a report by the Board upon such matters as, subject to any directions of the Minister, are determined by the Board to, be relevant to the application of this sub-section in relation to the transaction and the Minister, after considering the report of the Board andany recommendation made in that report -

Upon which Mr. Stewart had moved by way of amendment -

In sub-section (6.) of proposed section 62, omit “ seventeenth day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four “, insert “eighth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty “.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Failes:
LAWSON, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Order! The honorable member has already spoken to the amendment.

Mr Daly:

-I am speaking to the clause.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– We are not dealing with the clause. We must dispense first with the amendment. The question immediately before the Chair is -

That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause.

Mr Daly:

– That is right. I submit that I may exercise my right to speak to the clause or to the amendment.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– The question before the Chair is -

That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause.

When that question is disposed of the honorable member will be in order in speaking to the clause.

Mr Daly:

– Do you rule, Sir, that I cannot at this stage address my remarks either to the amendment or to the clause? If you do it would mean a variation from the procedure that was adopted last week?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member has already spoken twice to the amendment. I rule that he is not entitled to speak to the clause at this stage.

Mr Daly:

– I have spoken twice to the amendment and once to the clause. In the debate last week the Chairman asked me, when I rose: “Are you speaking to the clause or to the amendment? “ I nominated one but now find that I could have nominated either. Your ruling, with respect, is different from the procedure that was adopted last week.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– If the honorable member were speaking to the amendment he could address remarks to the clause, but he has already exhausted his right to speak to the amendment.

Mr Daly:

– Do you suggest that I cannot speak either -

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– I think I have given a very plain ruling.

Mr Daly:

– On which Standing Order is your ruling based?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– I have given a plain ruling. The honorable member has already spoken twice to the amendment and now seeks to speak to the clause.

Mr Daly:

– May I speak to the clause when the amendment has been disposed of?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– Yes.

Mr L R JOHNSON:
Hughes

.- I must confess that in the several minutes during which the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has been attempting to clarify his position-

Mr Killen:

– Cut it out. He was in a state of utter confusion. He has been that way ever since he fell in love with Mavis Bramston.

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– While on the subject of the Mavis Bramston Show, I think the Committee could afford to have a lot more togetherness than was evident earlier in the debate.

I agree with the honorable member for Grayndler that honorable members have had difficulty in following the procedure adopted during this debate. Because legislation is being pushed through so rapidly members of the Opposition have had little opportunity to collect their scattered thoughts. It is apparent that honorable members opposite are in a similar dilemma, because the Government Whips have had difficulty in finding speakers at short notice to keep the debate going in a coherent fashion. I have been impressed by the fact that at least the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) was wide awake and realised the need for an important amendment to the measure that has been introduced by the Government. I support the honorable member and I also support the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler. The amendment is designed to make the provisions of the new section retrospective to 8th June 1960. We hope that our efforts will prevent a person from obtaining more than 15 per cent, of the ownership of a television station.

Both the Government and the Opposition are concerned about the fact that, by devious means and apparently by other than reputable means, some people associated with the management of television stations have been able to circumvent not only the provisions of the legislation, which are probably fairly obscure to many laymen, but also the declared spirit of the legislation, which has been the subject of unambiguous public statements by the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) and his predecessor on many occasions. The Bill is designed to tighten up provisions which have been exploited, especially by the Brisbane television station and also by several others. The Opposition is anxious to cast a wide net with a small mesh to pick up anybody who sets about deliberately defying the declared attitude of the Government and the Parliament. I am sure the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who is interjecting, would agree that many slick operators have breached the declared spirit of the law. But the Government seems quite willing to let the big fish through the net. The mesh provided for them is considerably wider than the mesh we propose.

I want to refer to a statement made by the Minister on 17th December 1964. ‘He said -

The Government’s policy with respect to the control of television stations has been clearly stated on several occasions.

It was clear enough for every honorable member, whether he had legal training or not, to understand and I have no doubt it was clear to the entrepreneurs of major television interests throughout the length and breadth of the country. The Minister said -

It is, broadly, that no person or company should be in a position to control more than two licences and that licences for country stations should be held or controlled by local interests. The existing provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act had been framed with the intention of giving effect to this policy.

He went on -

Notwithstanding the comprehensive provisions of the Act, situations have developed, particularly m relation to shareholding and voting rights, in licensee companies which, although not in breach of the law, are in conflict with the policy intentions of the Government. The Act deems a person to be in control of a licensee company if he is in a position to exercise control, directly or indirectly, of more than IS per cent, of the voting rights.

He also said -

Some companies have circumvented the intention of this requirement by amending their articles of association to limit the voting rights of a shareholder, no matter how high his shareholding, to a maximum of IS per cent.

The Minister has indicted these people for deliberately circumventing - I emphasise the word he used - the provisions of the legislation. What we must decide here is whether they are to go scot free. To me, this shows an intention almost to hold the Parliament in contempt.

The essence of our present discussion is the degree of retrospectivity that will be laid down for the new law that will come into effect as a result of the passing of this Bill. The issue of retrospectivity is conceded to a certain degree. The honorable member for Moreton who is now, I think, starting to take an intelligent interest in this subject, readily understands, I am sure, that the Government is prepared to make this legislation retrospective to 17th December 1964.

Where did the Government get that date - 17th December 1964? What significance does it have?

Mr Killen:

– The Minister told the honorable member.

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– Perhaps the honorable member for Moreton could tell me, by way of interjection, whether the date, 17th December 1964, has any relevance at all. The Postmaster-General would be the first to admit that soon after assuming his responsibilities as Postmaster-General - a job which, I must confess, he does with a fair degree of distinction- lie was faced with a dilemma. Soon after he took over his portfolio I asked him what he proposed to do about Ansett’s circumvention of the relevant legislative provisions in regard to the Brisbane television licence. At that time he was concerned and he said that an inquiry was in progress to ascertain the facts. He said something to the effect that if the inquiry showed that the law had been circumvented appropriate action would be taken. I remember pointing out to him later that the committee of inquiry had ascertained that there had been manipulation to a major extent, and I mentioned the degree of takeover involved. I asked the Minister whether he considered this sufficient justification for his taking the urgent action that he had foreshadowed.

The question I am leading up to is this: Why is the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lang being opposed by the Government? The amendment is designed to give full retrospectivity to the point of time when the 1960 legislation received Royal assent. What is the significance of the date, 17th December 1964? The honorable member for Moreton indicated a moment ago, by way of interjection, that this date had some significance. Let me tell the honorable member that this Government has not been at all reluctant to provide retrospectivity in regard to many other matters. The Government does not worry about the degree of retrospectivity when some poor unfortunate pensioner is being hounded for repayment of social service benefits, or when someone else is called upon to repay unemployment or sickness benefits. The Government is not greatly worried about retrospectivity in regard to taxation legislation. It has hounded people almost into the grave for repayment of social service benefits and for income tax due in respect of earnings gained in previous years. Why is it that special dispensation is being given to such people as Ansett? I know that rumours are going around the Parliament that some members of the Government are hoping to sponsor Ansett as a future Governor-General, and that in the meantime they do not want any black marks against him from the legal standpoint. We on this side of the House are intent on ensuring that the means of public propaganda do not become the playthings of entrepreneurs and speculators, and sometime racketeers.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Failes:

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

Mr CALWELL:
Leader of the Opposition · Melbourne

– I wish to discuss this clause. There are two points that give me concern. There is no provision in this clause to alter the Act in regard to the ownership and control of broadcasting licences. I believe that broadcasting licences, like television licences, should be operated upon by those to whom they have been granted. I do not believe that any owner of a television station or any owner of a broadcasting station should be allowed to lease a licence to somebody else. I believe that grave evils could follow such a practice. We already know what happened in respect of the Brisbane television licence. The people who succeeded in obtaining the licence sold their shares in the relevant company to the people who the Australian Broadcasting Control Board said should not have the licence and to whom the Board refused to grant the licence. This highlights the whole iniquity of the proceedings that took place under the Act as it now stands. Maybe the Postmaster-General will listen to my suggestion that trafficking in licences under all circumstances should be prevented and that there should be no leasing of licences for either broadcasting or television stations. I do not know that it will do the Ansett interests any good to own the Brisbane licence they they bought. The organisation is already losing about £16,000 a week operating Channel 0 in Melbourne, and the station is Brisbane has not yet started.

There does not seem to have been the thought given to these matters that ought to have been given over a long period of years in order to devise the best system, if we are going to continue to have a commercial and a publicly owned section in television and broadcasting. Probably the time has arrived when more television station licences should be issued. In this scientific and technological age we ought to devise some way whereby every university and every Department of Education could have a station of its own in every capital city. These authorities might not be able to run a station at a profit, but if we are to do the best we can for our children in the scientific age the universities and the Departments of Education ought to have separate licences and separate stations. As I said the other day in debating another Bill, Mr. Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, remarked that of all the scientists there have been since the days of Euclid, Pythagoras and Archimedes - that is, since thousands of years B.C. - 97 per cent, are living today.

We have not all the science teachers that we need if we are to give our children the type of education they will need. Television therefore could be a very useful instrument for imparting knowledge from the best brains we have to all the schools which teach science and to all the technological institutes that we have. We have not so many teachers in Australia that we can afford to waste any of them. Their talents and abilities can best be used, in many cases, on the television screens and over the the broacasting networks. But nothing has been done yet to ensure that teachers can make use of television screens to teach children in all schools throughout Australia. I believe that one of the challenges of our period is how to use the television system to inculcate information and teach those in their formative years who need so much guidance at this present time.

I have said in this House and elsewhere that a phenomenon of this age is that half the population of Australia alive today is under 30 years of age, and therefore capable of obtaining a better education than any of them have had, even those who have gone through universities and obtained degrees. These people could go on and obtain further degrees. Those who have diplomas can go on to university courses.

This Bill gives us an opportunity to say these things. I think that what I have said ought to have been said, and I hope that the Minister will give earnest consideration to the suggestions I have made. The television system ought to bc improved and developed as quickly as possible. We now have three commercial television services in most capital cities. As I have already remarked, some of those services are having a bad time and may continue to have a bad time, but that should not prevent us from having other channels on the spectrum for the purpose of issuing new licences if we can use them or if an additional channel can bc used advantageously for the people of Australia. The benefit so far in television has not been one that would win high praise among the Australian people. Most of the television screens these days do noshing to educate people and do very little to inform people; they merely provide cheap American westerns which have been thrown out almost entirely. Yet what is shown is supposed to cater for the entertainment of the public. I believe that more and more Australian programmes should be shown and that people who own the principal television stations and who are reaping huge rewards from them should be obliged to make a greater contribution to the development of Australian culture than they have been doing up to date. I hope that the Minister will take into consideration the things I have said.

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– I should like to make one or two comments concerning matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and also by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). At some points both honorable members touched on the same subject matter. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Hughes was not present on Friday afternoon when I gave some explanation concerning the Brisbane licence which virtually, as to 49 per cent, of the shares, came into the hands of the Ansett group because of purchases on the stock exchange. I tried at that stage in the debate to give to honorable members an understanding of what had in fact happened. However, I think it is desirable that I should perhaps cover those points briefly again.

The honorable member for Hughes mentioned a few moments ago that he had asked me, at the time the shares were purchased, whether action might be taken if Ansett had in fact circumvented the Act, and he said that I had given an undertaking that such would be the case. However, there was no circumvention of the Act by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. at the time those shares were purchased. The honorable member read from a statement which I had made on 17th December and which indicated that at all times the Government policy had been that nobody should have control of more than two stations. If the honorable member will remember, when the third station became available in Melbourne the Ansett group, under the name Austarama Television Pty., applied for it and was allocated that station. So far as I know, that was the only interest which it had in television at that point of time. Applications were called later for an additional licence in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. When the Australian Broadcasting Control Board issued its report in relation to the Brisbane station it set out the names of the applicants, of which Ansett interests was one, but it stated that it was not giving the licence to the Ansett group as it believed it desirable that it should be given to local interest. It was given to local interest. But the Control Board knew at that time that since it was to be a public company and since the shares were to go on the stock exchange and be available for purchase by any member of the public, there could be no guarantee that it would stay a local station, unless the local shareholders decided that they were going to hold on to their shares and were not going to sell them. But they did not decide to do this. When an offer of 6s. was made for each 6d. paid share when they were first quoted on the exchange, many shareholders decided that they would sell them. Over the next two or three days the market varied between 6s. and approximately 3s. 6d. for a 6d. share.

There was nothing in the Act to prevent the issue of this licence, because, apart from any amendment of the articles of association to restrict voting rights to 15 per cent., control of the Brisbane station would have given Ansett possession of only two licences - one in Melbourne and one in Brisbane. But the very fact that the articles of association were amended - not by Ansett but by the local interest - to restrict voting rights to IS per cent, meant, under the terms of the Act and, therefore, in accordance with the then law, that Ansett was not in control of the Brisbane station. This was the problem that then arose for myself and the Government in considering the overall situation.

Applications for the new licences in Adelaide and Perth revealed that the Ansett group would take up 5 per cent, of the shares in the Adelaide station and 4i per cent, of the shares in the Perth station. Had the statement not been made on the 17th December, when the shares came on the market in the following week it would have been open not only for Ansett but for other substantial television interests to purchase shares on the stock exchange and so gather up another station within their television group. Both the new licensee companies had articles of association restricting voting power regardless of the size of a shareholding. That is why the statement was made on 17th December. We aimed to stop any wholesale purchase of shares by one of those substantial groups seeking to take over either of these new stations.

I hope that members of the Opposition will not persist in the attitude that there was no virtue in the statement of 17th December. Rather do I hope that they will agree with me that there was substantial virtue in the statement of 17th December. That is the date to which certain provisions of this Bill relates, hat is the date on which I indicated to the public the type of control which would be exercised when the proposed amending legislation had gone through Parliament.

Mr L R Johnson:

– The Minister could have made the statement a lot earlier.

Mr HULME:

– The statement was clear. I referred to it in my second reading speech and again during the committee stage of this Bill last Friday, when dealing with the position of the Ansett station in Brisbane. One of my difficulties is to know when I should make a statement simply because there is some new person wanting to understand it. But every honorable member knows that he can contact me and I will make the position clear to him. I emphasise that any movement away from local interests in the Brisbane station was the result, not of anything I had done and not of the Act, but of the desire of the local people to take a substantial profit from the sale of their shares. 1 pass from that particular matter to one or two points raised by the Leader of the Opposition. He mentioned that in relation to broadcasting stations there should not be any leasing of the licences. I have not looked into this matter. The Bill now before the Committee relates exclusively to television and it was my desire that it should relate to television. But I hope that in the next session, or in the autumn session of next year, having been able to give consideration to other aspects of the Act, I shall have some amendments to bring forward. Whether this point would be the substance of one of them remains to be seen from the investigation to be made. But I believe that the Leader of the Opposition will accept the assurance that I will look into the matter.

The honorable member also mentioned the making available of additional television licences, particularly for education, and I think I should comment on this. I know that there are people who are interested in this aspect of television. I want to point out to the honorable gentleman that at present television in Australia operates in the very high frequency range. In each of the capital cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide there will now be four stations, in Perth three and in Hobart only two. Within the very high frequency range, only five stations are possible, and therefore only five licences can be given. So, in each of the four principal capital cities, only one further licence can be issued. I know that the people who are interested in the educational aspect of television wish to have education considered in the granting of this remaining licence.

I think the Leader of the Opposition will agree that at present our endeavours in relation to educational television have had a very limited basis - only an experimental basis. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is the only licence holder that has moved into this field. I believe that it is a field that should be entered into gradually rather than at substantial speed. It will not be very easy to establish a television station just for educational purposes and we could not expect immediately to have available teachers capable of using television for the teaching of students, whether in secondary schools or at the university level. In addition, we must be careful not to upset the personal relationship that must exist between a teacher in the classroom and the pupil by using over the television system teachers unknown to the pupils.

Furthermore, there is the problem of coordination between schools, the Departments of Education and the curricula within the schools. Headmasters have told me that it is very difficult at secondary school level, even within the one school, to establish a programme and lay down a timetable for the various subjects to be taken in the various periods. An attempt to relate these difficulties to a television operation in which one half hour or hour will cover a physics lecture and another period mathematics, and so on, throughout the system, will bring us face to face with tremendous problems. I believe that we shall have to deal with them gradually rather than attempt to move into this field hurriedly. If in fact the State Departments of Education, with the universities, want to undertake the responsibility for television for educational purposes, they have a right to approach the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. At the present time the Government is looking at proposals. But let us not under-estimate the cost that they will incur in trying to run television stations especially for this purpose.

I believe that, at this stage in the debate, I should also make clear again the situation relating to the Ansett interests and indicate that, before this Bill was introduced, the Ansett group was not in contravention of the principal Act. When the amendments of that Act provided for in this measure become law, Ansett will still not be in contravention of the Act.

Mr Calwell:

– In regard to the past?

Mr HULME:

– No, in regard to the present. At the moment when this Bill becomes law, Ansett will have control of two television stations and he will not have more than a 5 per cent, interest in any other station. Several organisations in Australia will be in a better position than the Ansett group from the standpoint of overall ownership.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Which are they?

Mr HULME:

– The Packer group, the Fairfax group and the Herald and Weekly Times Ltd. group. I am not sure about the Murdoch group. The other three will in fact not be in contravention of the Act, because their interests will be protected. They used the IS per cent, limitation on voting rights by changing their articles of association under the previous law to enable them to get shareholdings which certainly were greater than they would be allowed to have under this Bill.

Mr Calwell:

– This Bill does alter that situation?

Mr HULME:

– If I might answer the Leader of the Opposition, let me say that the Bill does not interfere with the holdings which people had as at 17th December. The provisions of the Bill will, in fact, apply as from 17th December. Apart from taking up a new issue which is available to each shareholder in the same proportion as shares already held, and apart from bonus shares, any companies or persons who come within the ambit of the freezing provision and who want to purchase more shares must consider their position under this particular Bill.

Mr L R JOHNSON:
Hughes

.- Mr. Chairman-

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order! Is the honorable member speaking to the clause or the amendment? He may speak to either the clause or the amendment.

Mr JOHNSON:
HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I am speaking to the amendment.

Mr Daly:

– I rise to order. An injustice has been done to me. I rose to speak on the clause a few moments ago and the Temporary Chairman ruled that I could speak only on the clause or the amendment. I do not want to delay the honorable member for Hughes but, could I have the same kind of go now that you are back in the Chair?

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler was in a different category. He did not have the right of recall. He did not have the right to speak a second time. The honorable member for Hughes has a right to the call. The Chair was merely seeking to make it clear whether the honorable member for Hughes was speaking to the clause or to the amendment.

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– I do not want to delay the Committee and I am grateful to the Minister for explaining an important situation that has crept up and giving a further explanation of this very complex and intricate problem. But there still seems to me to be some ambiguity about the retrospectivity aspect of the matter.

The point at issue is that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has moved an amendment seeking to make this provision retrospective to 8th June 1960. I think I am correct in saying that that is the date when the measure received the royal assent. If the amendment is accepted, then it will mean that the misdemeanour - call it what you like - which took place with regard to the transfer of ownership of television licences will have to be dealt with. The Minister and other spokesmen for the Government have made it perfectly clear that the retrospectivity provisions are clear cut - that the provisions are quite definite and easy for anyone to understand and that certain companies now stand in breach of them. In the statement which he made on 17th December 1964 the Minister said -

Consideration has been given to the position of a person and company who, by virtue of their present shareholdings, would be in breach of the Act when amended. It is proposed that any shareholding arrangement existing as at 17th December 1964 will not be invalidated and will not constitute an offence against the Act. Any applications subsequent to that date for the approval of the PostmasterGeneral to proposed share transactions will be dealt with in the light of the foregoing proposals.

Am I to understand that, simply because the Minister made a belated statement on 17th December 1964, which was quite a long time after all these misdemeanours with relation to the transfer of shareholdings and so on took place, despite the fact that all the people concerned must have had a very clear understanding of the requirements of the legislation, the date provided in the Bill is to be the starting point - the date from which the new provision is to operate? Why did the Minister choose 17th December 1964 as the day on which to make his statement?

Mr Hulme:

– In an attempt to shut out takeovers in Adelaide and Perth. Would the honorable member have wanted such a situation?

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– I think the statement is a very good one and it was very necessary for the Minister to make it; but I cannot see why it becomes necessary to make this legislation operative only from the time when that statement was made.

The Minister, in the statement, was simply giving expression to a very apparent fact about which the whole country knew, which the Press had been publicising at great length and which the Parliament had discussed time after time. The Parliament and the Minister had indicted certain companies previous to 17th December 1964. Why are these people being allowed to go scot free up until that date? That is what we find very difficult to comprehend. I know that the Minister has spoken at considerable length, but I should like him to tell the Committee exactly why he is at variance with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lang. He has indicated in the Bill that he is not opposed to the principle of retrospectivity. But, simply because the statement was made, out of the blue, on 17th December 1964, at a time when the Parliament was not even in session, the matter suddenly takes on a newfound significance. In my view, that is completely and utterly absurd.

There has been manipulation. There has been activity which closely resembles fraudulent endeavours to circumvent the declared intentions of this Parliament. I believe that if people other than these great entrepreneurs who control the Press, radio and television in Australia were involved the Minister would go to great pains to see that they were brought to justice. Sufficient explanations have not been given. It is not good enough just to say that the legislation will be retrospective to 17th December 1964 because the Minister happened to make his belated statement on that date. I ask him again to consider accepting the proposal which has been made by the honorable member for Lang on behalf of the Opposition and supported very ably by my colleague, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and other members of the Opposition. The people of Australia have shown great concern about this matter. If the Government is to make fish of one and fowl of the other in respect of retrospectivity in legislation of this kind, I believe that it will bring the institution of Parliament into a degree of disrepute.

Mr SNEDDEN:
AttorneyGeneral · Bruce · LP

– The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) raised a couple of matters about which I believe a few words ought to be said. First, he talked about misdemeanours. Let there be no misapprehension in the Parliament; there was no misdemeanour at all. What was done was done lawfully.

Mr Stewart:

– Snidely.

Mr SNEDDEN:

– I think it is improper to say that it was done snidely. The transactions occurred according to law. The word “ misdemeanour “ is used in a broad sense to indicate some wrongful action. The first and foremost point about this matter is that there was no wrongful or unlawful action.

The honorable member for Hughes went on to say that by adopting 17th December 1964 instead of the date proposed in the amendment, namely 8th June 1960, we were letting some people go scot free. That allegation deserves some detailed attention, too. The point about it is that the majority of the television station licence holders to which attention is being directed are public companies whose shares are listed on the stock exchanges of Australia. The number of people throughout the Australian community who hold shares in television licensee companies is very great indeed. All of those people have acquired their shares on the market at a buying and selling price which has been worked out between the vendor and the purchaser in the marketplace. To suggest that these people are going scot free in any way is to misconstrue the situation completely, because what they did was to buy shares at a market value that had been determined by a series of lawful actions which preceded their purchase. To suggest that the freeze date - if I might so term it - should be 8th June 1960 would require certain large shareholders to find themselves retrospectively in breach of a law whereas, in fact, when they committed the act it was not unlawful. For centuries it has been a well guarded principle of parliaments that certain things can be made retrospective, but one thing parliaments have always refused to do has been to make retrospective legislation which would cause a person to have committed an offence when at the time he did the act it was not an offence. That would be the effect of this amendment. I say this in a friendly spirit. The honorable member for Hughes does not understand the consequences of the amendment. Not only would it require divestiture by big holders of a great number of shares.

Mr Stewart:

– How many?

Mr SNEDDEN:

– The honorable member can have his go afterwards. The amendment would mean that more shares would have to be divested and if more shares were to be divested then the small shareholders, who purchased shares at market value, would suffer. My colleague the Postmaster-General knows very well - and I am sure that if members of the Opposition gave thought to it they would realise it too - that the small investor holding a parcel of 100 to 200 television shares would be likely to find the value of those shares considerably diminished.

Mr Stewart:

– How would that happen?

Mr SNEDDEN:

– The point is that at the moment there are certain persons willing to sell shares and certain persons willing to buy shares, and as a result the price is at a level determined by the market. However, if there were a forced sale of some hundreds of thousands of shares the value of each individual share would topple, and a lot of small people in this community would suffer badly. The honorable member for Lang is smiling. If his attitude to the small shareholders of this country is that he is prepared to sit and smile at a plight that they may be put in, it is no wonder the Opposition has been in opposition for so many years. Is the honorable member prepared to sit and smile at a proposition that would make a lawful act, committed at any time between 8th June 1960 and 17th December 1964, an offence, because that is what the Opposition is asking the Parliament to do? It is making it an offence retrospectively.

As to the question put by the honorable member for Hughes why the date 17th December 1964 was selected, I think, with the concurrence of my colleague, that I can explain the reason. That date was selected because that was the date on which the Minister was able to clear the policy issues. As soon as he cleared the policy issues he made his statement. He took the first opportunity to notify people that if they acquired shares after that date they would not be covered by the freezing of the provisions at that date. The statement was made by my colleague as soon as the policy was determined. The Parliament was not then sitting, but my colleague reminds me that he made the statement forthwith because of its importance. My colleague the Postmaster-General reminds me that a particular company’s shares which cost between 12s. and 15s. two years ago are now selling at 6s. or 7s. If there were a forced divestiture of 100,000 or more shares, what would be the value of those shares?

Mr Daly:

– About £6 10s.

Mr SNEDDEN:

– After observing the performance of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in the last two or three days I understand how little he knows about this proposition. I cannot take the explanation of this point any further.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

.- It is quite true, as the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has said, that the Ansett group and the newspaper companies which defied the Government’s policy as enunciated in June i960, did so without breaking the law. The law is now being altered to see that from at least last December, when the Minister made his statement, the Government’s policy of 1960 will be followed. This is quite clear. I do not think anybody on this side has disputed this fact. The Attorney-General has very rightly said that Parliament should be most reluctant to create retrospective crimes - to deprive people of rights which they have acquired under the laws as they stood at the time. f do not think, however, that there is much sympathy in this case with the people who acquired these rights. After all, the Government’s policy was enunciated quite firmly in 1960. The Government at no time indicated that it would relax the policy or that it would wink at breaches of its policy. The Government realised some time ago that the law needed to be amended if all of the loopholes in it were to be filled. But these people - the newspaper companies and the Ansett group - went ahead and took their risk. They were willing to gamble that the Government would not alter the law. There was never any indication that the Government would change its policy. The Opposition certainly did not give any indication that it thought the Government’s policy in this respect was unfair or harsh. Nobody in the Parliament has suggested that this policy would be relaxed - that the trend to monopolisation in this, the most recent and popular of mass media, would be allowed to continue. Everybody was out to stop it. To that extent everybody supported the Government’s 1960 policy. Why then should we sympathise with these companies that defied the policy and trusted that the law would not be tightened up? Why should we sympathise with those companies which thought that they would not be made to conform with the policy? I do not think there can be any sympathy for the people who went ahead in those circumstances. This is not a matter of protecting little people. The Government is protecting the biggest people in the field. In these cases we are always told that it is the widows and orphans who will lose their small pittance-

Mr Hulme:

– I suppose the honorable member is not interested in them.

Mr WHITLAM:

– I do not think any case has been made out that they would suffer. Very few would want to sell their shares. They are chiefly interested in income, not capital. It is to be thought that these shares will be less valuable than they are now if they are spread around more widely? Are shares valuable only if they are in the hands of monopolists? I do not think this is a general proposition. I do not see why it should have application in this particular case. It may be that this amendment would be too harsh. It may be inexpert. It may be that the Opposition is expected to devise in the course of five hours amendments which will be better than it has taken the Government five years to frame. But this situation may be overcome by the Government’s making an amendment itself or amending our amendment. After all, the Government has today circulated about seven amendments to a bill which, after five years cogitation, it introduced ten days ago. If the Government wanted to do so it could produce an amendment which did justice in this matter and which, in fact, effectuated the policy it announced five years ago. The matter does not become crucial until the licences come up for renewal. If we are to accept that these licences are immutable and eternal, why bother making them for a term of years? Why attach any conditions to them? If is is found that certain conditions are in accordance with the law, although in breach of the Government’s policy, we may as well say: “There is nothing we will do about it. You may continue to hold the present licence and you may have it renewed.” The 1960 policy of the Government could be restored as from the time the licences come up for renewal or, if that date is too close, the policy could be brought into force over a term of years.

The commercial television stations are in the hands of too few people. They are in the hands of fewer people than is the case in any country where companies, as distinct from governments, conduct television. The 1960 position should be restored. It could be restored over a space of years.

There is a very clear instance, which I believe honorable members will remember, involving a big company which had come in to buy a controlling interest in a newspaper and which was forced to divest itself of that interest. About 15 years ago the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) moved that in the opinion of the House no foreign company should control an Australian newspaper. The motion was carried. It did not have the force of law; it was an expression of the sense of this House. At all events, the Government saw to it - or the company, in fact, agreed - that the controlling interest should be sold. This was a case in which all Government supporters and, I think, those on this side, agreed that it was in the public interest that the shareholding in the “ Argus “ newspaper -I think that was the company - should be held more broadly, that the newspaper should not come under foreign control and that newspapers generally should not be further monopolised than they were. There had never been a previous statement to this effect by any political party or government. It was a new principle. It commended itself to the House and to the country. How much stronger is the present case? In June 1960 the Government announced a policy. In the course of the following five years the policy miscarried and the Government now proposes amendments to thelaw to effectuate that policy in the future insofar as future changes in shareholdings may be attempted. But all of the people who in the intervening quinquennium flouted the Government’s policy are now being guaranteed their holdings in breach of the policy. Is it necessary in the interests of business morality or criminal justice that this provision should be written in for the indefinite future? Would there be anything wrong in saying that when a licence came up for renewal or when it came up a further time for renewal the Government’s policy of June 1960 should be enforced?

This is not a matter of the share market being glutted. The disposal of shares could be made over the course of months or years. In that way, our mass media would be more competitive and more widely held than they otherwise will be. I do not imagine that this amendment is any closer to being perfect than are the amendments that the Government pours into the Committee. However, the general intendment of it is correct and we will persist with it to a vote. We believe that the Government’s policy of June 1960 should, within a reasonable period, apply to Australian commercial television. There should not be the present gross monopolisation of our television. Not only do too few people control the medium, but they do too little to produce Australian films for it.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:
LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES

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

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Stewart’s amendment) stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 59

NOES: 40

Majority . . . . 19

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– by leave- I move-

After sub-section (1.) of proposed section 92c, insert the following sub-sections: - “(1A.) Where-

a person has a prescribed interest in each of three or more licences; and

by virtue of sub-section (3.) of section ninety-two of this Act, that person is not to be taken to be in contravention of that section in relation to those licences, this section does not operate to prohibit that person, or a nominee of that person, from being a director of two or more companies by reason only of the fact that those companies are, between them, in a position to exercise control of all or any of those licences. (1B.) For the purposes of this section, a director shall be deemed to be a nominee of a person if that person has certified in writing that that director is a nominee of that person.”

In sub-section (4.) of proposed section 92F., omit “, subject to any directions of the Minister,”.

Honorable members will recall that proposed new section 92c includes a freezing provision relating to the interests that may be held. We have discussed that subject already. The provisions of the Act relating to directors would apply where, in fact, there is no freezing provision or a freezing provision did not apply. However, it is felt that, where the freezing provision applies in relation to shares, there should be ex tended to those companies the right to appoint directors as they were previously able to do under the Act. The other amendment simply removes a few words from proposed new section 92f (4.). The words are: “subject to any directions of the Minister “. This leaves the Board in an unfettered position when making a report in relation to certain matters. It is believed that the members of the Board should be allowed to exercise their judgment without directives or instructions from the Minister. That is why the amendment has been moved.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.-The Opposition does not intend to oppose these two amendments. It is not that we are in complete agreement with them. As the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has said, these are amendments to the very Bill that we have been discussing, and while I appreciate the Minister’s explanation I think he should give due credit to the Opposition for being able to deal with a very complicated Bill that even the Minister himself sees fit to amend after having arranged for the drafting of it and after having studied it for the last couple of years. I thank the minister for his explanation and for not endeavouring to ram these amendments down our throats, but in giving our approval to the amendments we are even firmer in the belief that a special select committee should be appointed to examine the ramifications and the working of the Act, for the appointment of which committee we moved during another section of the debate.

When the Opposition today is making constructive suggestions with regard to the legislation it should be remembered that we are doing so during a discussion of a Bill which has had to be amended by the Minister even though it was introduced after many months of deliberation. I merely direct attention to the difficulties involved in consideration of such a measure andI hope that in the future the Minister will allow more time for the discussionof amendments of the kind he has now referred to. I remind the Minister and hi; colleagues, in particular the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) and others, who have given us the benefit of their limited wisdom, that anything worthwhile in this legislation was arrived at by the Minister after years of study and investigation and advice from his colleagues in the Cabinet, and that the Opposition, with little time at its disposal, is doing its very best, in a commendable way, to let the public know what is intended by the Bill.

Mr STEWART:
Lang

.- I am at a loss to understand exactly what is intended by the new provision that the Minister has now moved to insert. It seems to me that this is meant to provide that a person may be a director of three television companies. I cannot see that there is any need for this at all. I believe that the wider the control of television companies the greater is the possibility of constructive consideration being given to such matters as the Australian content of programmes, the development of educational services and the curtailment of time taken up by advertisements. If directors become entitled to take part in the deliberations of those controlling three television stations - I think I am right in concluding that three will be the prescribed number - it is obvious that there will be fewer opportunities for the introduction of new ideas in respect of television programmes.

I wanted also to point to the fact that the Minister has evidently decided to reduce his own authority by deleting from paragraph (4.) of section 92f of proposed new Division 3 the words “ subject to any directions of the Minister”, and also by omitting from paragraph (d) of proposed new section 134. - (1.) the words “after considering a report of the Board and any recommendation contained in the report”, and leaving the authority with respect to such recommendations on the shoulders of the Board. I have looked at the reports of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for a number of years and its seems to me that up to the present time the Board has certainly not exercised the authority that has been granted to it. In practically every report of the Board one finds expressions of displeasure at the general production and presentation of programmes by television stations, suggestions of the lowering of standards set with regard to advertising time and mild complaints about the Australian content of programmes being not as great as it should be.

I do not know the members of the Board. I have not met any of them, but I feel that the Board needs to be bolstered by the Minister to a much greater extent than it has been bolstered in the past. To allow the Board to make recommendations without the Minister’s concurrence and approval seems to me to be reducing the Board’s confidence in the Minister. Perhaps at this stage I should remind the Minister that there have been occasions on which the Board, after lengthy legal inquiries, has recommended the granting of one licence in certain capital cities and the Minister has subsequently overridden the Board and decided to issue two licences in respect of such capital cities. I cannot help but feel that the Board does not now know whether it is Arthur or Martha. The Board is not confident that the Minister will give it the wholehearted support that he is capable of giving and that the Government will back it in its decisions. When the Minister sheds the authority that he previously had I believe that he will simply leave the Australian Broadcasting Control Board up in the air. I think that in all these cases the recommendations should be approved by the Minister.

Amendment No. 2, the amendment to clause 7 of the Bill, providing for the insertion of proposed new section 92c, seems to me to be a move in the wrong direction. I believe it will pave the way for tighter control of our television stations by people who until now have not shown that they have the welfare of the nation or of the people at heart.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- It seems to me that this amendment shows a running away from the issue by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) and his Department. Let me say, first, that I am disappointed that the Minister should deem it necessary to bring down another amendment to his original amendment. After all, the Bill itself is an amendment of the original act, an attempt to catch up on a deteriorating situation which has been apparent to anybody who has watched it over the last three or four years. Now we have this very complicated description of when a person is or is not in conflict with the Act. I am prepared to admit that I cannot follow the line of thought that prompted this description. I sympathise with the Minister and with the Parliamentary Draftsman and I realise that they have had a difficult job to do. What have they been trying to do? First of all, they have been trying to describe when a person holds a prescribed interest, what is meant by two or three directorates, and so on.

The fact that the amendment has been brought forward shows that the Minister has realised that the first definition, the one in the Bill, was inadequate. Are we now to feel assured that the amended description will do the job? It is my view that we, as a Parliament and as a Government, should take a definite step to assume control of all the share operations and of the registration of every shareholder in television companies. We should establish some kind of national registry of television shareholdings. If we do not take some such step there will be no possibility of our keeping up with the situation. We are dealing with a group of people who have established themselves in Australian commerce and industry as very fast operators, people of great skill in management and even greater skill in the organisation of holdings in companies so as to gain control of Australia. As the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has pointed out, it is these men who will now be given the opportunity to become directors of three different television companies. What is involved is an Australian network of television stations comprising, according to the last report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, 24 or 25 commercial stations. The Minister pointed out earlier in this discussion that the opportunities for the establishment of new stations were very restricted. In cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, with between 2 million and 2.5 million people, there are only five possible television channels. A number of them are allotted to the national network and a number are allotted to commercial operators, and one is still held in reserve. We are dealing with a very restricted field of public ownership when we are dealing with the television channels of the nation. We have 24 or 25 commercial television stations which we have chosen out of all the applicants for licences in Australia; now we are told that a man may be a director of two or three of these stations. Personally I believe that no person ought to be a director of more than one. These stations have control over a very large field of public entertainment and public communications and we ought not to tolerate them getting into a few hands.

The first point I would make is that we ought to restrict directorships and make it possible for a person to be a director of only one television station. I do not know exactly, from the last report, how many directors are involved in the directorships of stations, but I presume that if there are between five and seven directors for each station we would have somewhere between 120 and 150 people in effective control of Australian commercial television.

Taking the next amendment, the Minister is prepared to concede some of his authority to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in the belief that it might then act more effectively. As has been pointed out, we do not know the members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. They do not sit in this House to answer directly questions put to them. First, the question of parliamentary control is important. I do not often agree with the Minister and his political philosophy, but I admit that he sits here and is answerable directly to the people and the Parliament as their representative. I am very reluctant to surrender parliamentary control, which in this case is ministerial control, over any of the public activities of the country. I am very reluctant to support this concession by the Minister to the Board.

The Board is one of the creatures of this Parliament. It ought to be answerable directly to the Parliament. It ought to be so constructed that it is under parliamentary direction through the Minister. I again contend that Ministers do not take enough notice of the Parliament. They do not place enough confidence in the Parliament. Neither do they give the Parliament sufficient notice or sufficient information to allow adequate discussion of most matters that come before us. But the fact is that the Minister is ‘a parliamentary man and the Board is, as it were, a non-parliamentary being. I am doubtful whether it is an advantage for the Minister to concede his power and authority in this way.

Then on the other side we have the concession to the directorships of the television companies. I am deeply concerned about this matter. I will not bore the House by trying to get some lucidity into this set of words - that is all they are - but I shall quote some of them. Proposed new section 92c (1.) provides -

A person shall not be a director of two or more companies that are, between them, in a position to exercise control of three or more licences.

That seems reasonable enough; it is almost clear. Then I move to one of the amendments of this clause. A new sub-clause (b) is to be added which reads - by virtue of sub-section (3.) of section ninety-two of this Act, that person is not to be taken to be in contravention of that section in relation to those licences, this section does not operate to prohibit that person, or a nominee of that person, from being e director of two or more companies by reason only of the fact that those companies are, between them, in a position to exercise control of all or any of those licences.

It seems to me that you would have to put that set of sentences through a computer to find out what they mean. I realise that there is a contest going on between the very skilful operators on the stock exchanges of Australia and the not too diligent operators who own and control Australian broadcasting stations and television channels to bring these matters before the House. I should like an assurance from the Minister that this provision is a step in the direction of complete control over share dealings and management and an effort to gain knowledge of the directorships of these companies, before I am prepared to give the amendment my full support.

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– I do not know that I can really give the assurance that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) desires. If we go back a little into the previous debate on this section we discover that what the Government has tried to do over the years is to restrict to two the number of licences which any person may hold. The purpose of the present Bill is to make it more difficult - I would hope, impossible, but I do not like to go to quite that extreme - for anybody to obtain licences beyond two in number.

Between 1960 and the present time, as previously indicated, a number of com- (panies were able to obtain more than two licences. They obtained them, as the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) reminded us, quite lawfully. Because they obtained them legally they were entitled to appoint representatives to the boards of the stations.

In some cases where they had complete control they had the right to appoint all members of a board. Under section 92c. we have given protection to those companies. We have not asked them to disgorge surplus holdings to bring them back to ownership of only two companies, with a restriction of 5 per cent, of shares in any other company. We have said to them, in effect, “ What you have obtained over the period you are able to keep.” Having gone that far it would create a substantial difficulty for these companies if we were to tell them that no person could be a director of a company holding more than two licences.

Mr Stewart:

– By having directors control three licences you cannot bring in any new ideas.

Mr HULME:

– I think the honorable member for Lang will appreciate the broad issues. There may be a holding company with four or five subsidiaries whose policies all down the line are, in fact, determined by the board of the holding company. That is the very point I make to the honorable member. It would not matter how many directors you had in the subsidiary companies, it would be their responsibility to carry out the policies determined by the board of the holding company. To do what the honorable member suggested would be no real improvement, as far as protection is concerned, on what it is suggested should go into the Bill through this amendment. Of course this will only happen in relation to two or three holding companies which I mentioned earlier, which are protected by the freezing provision under section 92c.

As to the other point, I think there is no need for me to make any further comment except that it is wrong to suggest that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is, in fact, not free to express its views to the Minister or to the Government. I would resist any suggestion made by the Opposition - if it is its suggestion - that a government must always accept a recommendation made to it by a board set up to investigate particular aspects of a matter, as in this field. I believe that Parliament in those circumstances would be giving to a board complete authority in relation to what might be called policy matters. I do not believe that the Opposition, during its period of office, would have accepted that proposition.

What we are saying about this relationship is that the Board should be unfettered in that it should not have to wait for directions from the Minister. It should be able to move ahead into various fields and make what it regards as essential investigations, then report to the Minister the results of its inquiries. It seems to me desirable that it should do that rather than wait for me to ask it for an investigation of, and report on, particular matters.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- I think the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has clarified for me that last point. In other words, the Government is giving the Australian Broadcasting Control Board more authority to act on its own initiative, but the Board is still directly responsible to the Minister. That satisfies the doubt I was expressing. The Minister may take that as a limited compliment to himself. May I point out, however, that there are a handful of people involved as directors of Australian television stations. I would think, as I said earlier, that there are probably not many more than 100 or 150 people involved anyhow. A number of bodies have very large holdings in Australian television. The Minister mentioned a few of the names earlier - Packer, the Fairfax Group, the Melbourne “ Herald “ and the Ansett Group. These interests between them control, perhaps, a third or a quarter of Australian television stations. So we are dealing with a limited number of television stations, a small number of directors and a large body of shares which are mostly in the hands of a few people.

Why cannot we establish for a publicly created benefit such as this - that is what it is; it is endowed by the Parliament through its various acts on a limited number of people - a national share registry in which every share transference is registered with the authority, which in this case could be the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I realise that this would be a breach of all the traditions of share marketing, stock exchanges and so on to which ‘honorable members opposite seem to be so dedicated; but it seems to me that this is a special field. It has been publicly created, the licences are endowed by the Parliament, and there are relatively few people involved in the whole operation. The nation has a great deal of administrative skill in handling records of this nature. There are records of mining claims, land ownership and all the other things in the community, and it seems to me that there will be no solution to this question of interlocking directorates and holding companies, share deals, beneficial interests and all the other things with which the issue is clouded, until we take control of the registration of all the machinery that is involved. Is there anything which would really prevent an authority taking over that responsibility? I do not mean that it would deal with the stock exchange.

Mr Killen:

– Which authority does my friend have in mind?

Mr BRYANT:

– I should think it would be a function of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board or a body of that nature. I am thinking of the way in which a pretty firm control is now descending upon, say, the trade union movement. Once there is a court controlled ballot and things of that nature the whole administrative machinery is placed at the disposal of the authorities. We have had a fair amount of administrative experience in Australia in handling records of this nature. I cannot see how we can handle this problem - with all the terminology, technology and bureaucracy that come into the verbiage - unless every bit of paper involved has to go past the eyes of the authority. I feel that this is a benefit publicly endowed on the shareholders and that it ought to be under the closest possible public scrutiny at every moment of its operations.

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– I have just a few points to raise in relation to this matter. If the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) were to look at proposed section 92f, which deals with changes in ownership of shares - there is no need for me to read the proposed section in detail - he would see that there is a responsibility on companies to advise the Minister and the Board of important changes in shareholding. The onus ls thrown on them in relation to a person who may have control of two stations and who is purchasing shares. For example, a person who had a 4.95 per cent, interest may, with the purchase of 500 shares, have more than 5 per cent, interest in a company: It is the responsibility of the company receiving the transfer in favour of this person to advise the Board immediately. In those circumstances the Board or the Minister, must give approval to the transfer. Of course, if the purchase takes that person’s interest beyond 5 per cent, the Minister would not give approval. So the honorable member will see that under the provisions of the Bill there is an opportunity for full control by the Board and by the Minister in relation to share transfers which take place from time to time.

I think most honorable members will agree that the thing with which we are principally concerned is not each individual transfer - the person who might be completely new in the field of investment in a television company and who will say that he will take 200, 500 or 1,000 shares in a company. What we are really concerned with are, if I may use the term, the tall poppies. We want to ensure that beyond a certain point people do not get control over too great a proportion of the interest. This is the way in which the Bill has been built up. I refer also to the proposed section 92g which indicates what the articles of association of a company must include. As a result of this provision many companies will be required to alter their articles of association to conform with the new requirements. Taking the two proposed sections together, I believe that there is an opportunity for the Board and the Minister to know exactly what is happening in this area of which I spoke - the important area of those who are likely to come into control, or are in control, of licences of television stations.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) reminds me, and I did mention this a little earlier, that honorable members should realise that there is a provision in the Act which provides that people who have an interest in more than two television stations and whose control in the balance of the area exceeds 5 per cent, .have only two areas in which they can get new shares. One is to take up a new issue in the same proportion as that in which other shareholders may participate, and the other is to take out -bonus shares, which again would be on a like basis. But if they were to purchase even 100 additional shares in any one company other than the two in which they have control, they must immediately divest themselves of everything which gives them more than a 5 per cent, interest in any other company. Therefore, apart from new issues or bonus shares, virtually any of these operations which are outside the new Bill but which are protected because the interest was obtained under the existing Act would have to be brought into relationship with the new Bill at the point of any purchase of shares. I believe that this is a valuable provision and, at least, it will hold static the situation in which some of these people were able to get themselves between 1960 and the present time.

Mr STEWART:
Lang

.- 1 wish to raise a specific case mentioned by the Postmaster-General in his second reading speech. I refer to a person who met the requirements of the legislation at 17th December 1964 and who has since divested himself of his interests. Is he now entitled to participate in any new issue or bonus issue, if the new issue or bonus issue takes him above the allowable interest prescribed in the Bill? Would it be necessary for him to obtain approval from the Minister to retain those shares? Does the Minister intend, as I gathered from what he said earlier, that if this issue takes a person beyond the interest that is permitted under this measure, the Minister would not give approval? I ask the same question in respect of a person who at this stage is riding very close to the line of having a greater interest in television licences than he is allowed to have. If a new issue or a bonus issue takes him over the allowable limit, will he be given ministerial approval to retain those shares or will he have to divest himself of that interest?

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– In those circumstances there would not be a requirement of divestiture. In general terms, and assuming that this is one class of shares, it would mean that the person would take up in a new issue, or would obtain under a bonus issue, a similar percentage of the new shares so that in relation to the total capital his percentage would remain the same. In that case his interest would not exceed 5 per cent. But there could be a situation, as the honorable member will appreciate, having read the Bill, in which there could be a combination of share interests, loan interests, debentures and so on. The issue may be in relation to shares or it may be in relation to debentures or loans of some sort. He is protected in relation to that particular class. I think most honorable members will appreciate that he is only entitled to take these up by virtue of some issue in that particular class, so that he retains a similar percentage.

Mr Stewart:

– He could not purchase rights?

Mr HULME:

– He could not get any rights to purchase the shares. He could acquire shares only by way of a bonus issue or a new issue that was available to every other shareholder.

Amendments agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 8 to 10 - by leave - taken together.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.- Clause 8 appears to be a comparatively mild clause. It merely says -

Section 105a of the Principal Act is repealed.

The Opposition points out that this simple statement again covers a multitude of sins. In the principal Act, section 105a covers from page 45 to page 48. Clause 8 removes that section, which deals with monopolisation of programmes, and leaves monopolisation of programmes to be dealt with by regulation under section 134. As the Minister stated in his second reading speech, the desires of the Government were not achieved by section 105a. It is felt now that, with the developments to take place in programming, this matter should be dealt with by regulation. This is a change of attitude on the part of the Government. I do not say that its intention has changed but rather that the change of procedure has been made necessary because of the methods adopted by those who seek to get round the provisions of the legislation. I hope that the change made by clause 8 of the Bill will enable the Government to achieve its purpose. The fact that a radical change such as this has had to be made in an Act of this nature, within a comparatively short space of time, shows the lengths to which some people will go to defeat the purposes of legislation. I hope that the regulations will be wide enough to cover any loopholes that existed in the section of the Act that the Government is now abandoning.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

.- Mr. Chairman, there has been much more debate than usual at the committee stage of this Bill. My colleagues and I appreciate the fact that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has been willing to deal with every matter brought up by the Opposition even though, probably, he thought - and even showed at times - that we would not, with greater wisdom or deliberation, have made the points we did. The honorable gentleman is a man of great commercial skill and experience and is acknowledged as such in this House and outside. I was not a member of this House long before I was convinced that as a private member he was one of the best debaters on the Government side. When he became a Minister - and now that he is a Minister again - I am still of the same opinion. I believe that he makes debates at the committee stage of bills an actuality. Any complaints that my colleagues and I make about this Bill are certainly not personal. We are convinced that the Minister has tried for many months - in fact for years - to carry out the policy which he inherited and in which he believes. Today we, too, give him support. He has to put a collective point of view and he has done so cogently and rationally.

I rise because I feel it is not inappropriate, once again, to let the House know - and, so far as the public is interested, to let it know - the difficulties under which honorable members have to work. The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in his earlier intervention did not seem to give due weight to this fact. After all, he and his colleagues have taken a great deal of time to devise means by which to carry out the Government’s policy and they have taken two bites at the cherry in this very Bill. The previous clause which we were debating was clause 7. By that clause, 12 sections of the principal Act were deleted and 17 sections were inserted. It was quite an undertaking for any person to understand both the sections being omitted and those being inserted. If Parliament is to do its job, honorable members have to comprehend the faults or virtues of the sections being omitted as well the faults and virtues of the sections being inserted.

The next clause - the one I am now debating - is clause 8 which states -

Section 103a of the Principal Act is repealed.

That is short enough. It is pithy, terse and clear. Nevertheless, if honorable members are to make a sensible decision on that clause they have to look at section 105 a of the Act. As my colleague, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), has pointed out, it consists of three and a half pages of the principal Act. Not only that, but it was the subject of a judgment by the High Court which heard arguments in May 1963 and delivered judgment on 28th August 1963. Three separate judgments were delivered and they covered 28 pages of the Commonwealth Law Reports. If honorable members are conscientious they should at least make some reference to the 28 pages of the High Court judgment and to the three and a half pages which are being omitted from the principal Act and which are being replaced by less than one line in this amending Bill.

The last of the clauses which we are currently debating, clause 11, repeals section 134 of the principal Act - amounting to seven lines - and inserts a new section amounting to 59 lines. Not only that, but today, only 11 days after the Bill was introduced, further amendments have been circulated and half a page is devoted to further amendments to this section 134 which is being substituted by clause 11-

Mr Hulme:

– The Committee has not reached clause 11 yet.

Mr WHITLAM:

– I thought we were debating clauses 8 to 11.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The Committee is considering clauses 8 to 10.

Mr WHITLAM:

– Perhaps I shall be permitted to conclude my remarks and then I will not have to rise again. None of the amendments was considered by members of the Opposition as being a matter which we should oppose. The Committee will realise that it is not very satisfactory, in a deliberative body, to be faced with a second set of amendments so soon after the presentation of a long amending Bill. In these circumstances, clearly, it is impossible for a party meeting to discuss the matter or for any experts in this field to be consulted. These are matters which we believe quite seriously - and have consistently believed - should have been considered by a parliamentary committee. The suggestion that they be con sidered by such a committee, however, was disposed of at the second reading stage.

If it has taken the Government five years to devise legislation to give affect to the policy which it announced in 1960, and to which it still adheres in the face of challenges in the courts and manifold actions by the great newspaper interests and now the Ansett interests, and, moreover, if it has taken the Government only 11 days to discover faults in its most recent proposals, it is not unreasonable to think that honorable members should have adequate time to discuss these matters. I know how our debating matters like this on the penultimate day of the sessional period is resented. Indeed, it is bad form to debate a matter at all at the Committee stage. Nevertheless, the Minister, by his actions, has shown that he believes the Committee stage is valuable, and nobody has made it more so than he.

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to inform the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that I have no objection to the debating of the provisions in question. But, on Friday last, I felt as if we were not so much debating these provisions as conducting a full scale second reading debate at the Committee stage. I accept it as my responsiblity to inform the Committee of the meaning of the provisions. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members will look at section 105a of the principal Act, they will find that sub-section (3.) provides -

The Board shall not make an order under this section if the Board is satisfied that the person against whom the order is sought has a reasonable ground of objection to the making of the order.

Sub-section (5.), the whole of which I shall not read, dealing with reasonable grounds of objection, mentions terms or conditions “ not, in any wise related to an intention “ to control. This question of an attempt to control becomes an issue in relation to appeal. All that a person has to do in court is to say: “We were not trying to control the station through this programme operation “. If that is said, a charge immediately fails. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned what happened in the High Court of Australia. There is another matter that I should perhaps mention - the overlapping of station viewing areas. Nobody has really given a determination on whether in fact the viewing area of one station overlaps the viewing area of another.

These are problems associated with this matter that I believe require clarification. Section 105a was not doing what it was intended to do when it was inserted in the principal Act. I do not intend to debate what we are trying to do now. I merely mention it. We say that, rather than have section 105a amended - a course that we believe would not be of any real validity - we should remove that section and have power by the making of regulations to do what we want to do. The regulation making power will be dealt with in clause 11. I believe that, by taking power under regulations, we shall achieve much more satisfactory results in the control of programmes than we get under the provisions of existing section 105a or, alternatively, of that section as it could be amended. From day to day, we do not know the sort of circumstances that will arise, and we cannot anticipate every circumstance and provide for it in the Act. This is where we fell down in the High Court. The Act made certain provisions and the conditions that we tried to impose laid down something else. As a consequence, the High Court said: “ No, you cannot have it “. We believe now that it will be better if we have power, from time to time as may be necessary, to promulgate a regulation covering the exact circumstances of any situation. In this way, control will be better than that which we have at present.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- Will the proposed regulations cover content as well as monopolisation? There is mention of Australian content and various other things. Where do they come into it?

Mr Hulme:

– As I promised at the second reading stage, I shall be looking at the matter of Australian content in the near future. We shall find the appropriate provision under which to deal with that. It will not be dealt with by regulation.

Mr BRYANT:

– I consider that an act such as the Broadcasting and Television Act should have the kind of provision made in section 105a, which we now propose to remove. However, 1 agree that regulations are a much more effective weapon against people who are trying to dodge the provisions of the law. They enable quick changes in methods to be made. But I am a little reluctant to remove this matter from the hands of the Parliament and submit it to the field of regulation, which does not come under scrutiny by the Parliament, except on occasions in another place. However, I suppose that, if we have the Minister’s assurance that he will pursue the matter with ruthlessness and vigour, we can let it rest there.

Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– I cannot just place my finger on the section, but I am sure that the principal Act gives the Australian Broadcasting Control Board authority in relation to advertising and programme standards and the like. Those matters will be dealt with under the relevant section at the appropriate time.

Mr STEWART:
Lang

.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I may be out of order, but, if I am, before you give your ruling I should like to say that the matter of Australian content and the general makeup of the content of programmes on television in Australia, which has been raised by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), is very important. The Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television presented its report to the Senate on 29th October 1963. We have done nothing about it yet, although certain recommendations were made. This week’s issue of the “ Australian Internationa] News Review” contains criticism of the large proportion of American material included in the programmes presented on Australian television. The Opposition would have liked an opportunity to discuss this matter more fully during the consideration of this Bill, which is clearly headed -

A Bill for an Act to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1964.

So the debate on the Bill would have been fairly wide had the Opposition taken the opportunity to discuss matters such as this. I hope the Minister appreciates that whatever has been done at the Committee stage has been done with honesty and sincerity, even though, perhaps, on occasions on Friday, he may have had the wrong impression. I suggest that he gained that impression because some of the things that he had said and done gave the impression that he did not want this aspect of television in Australia debated at all. In my view, it is a very important feature of Australian television. We should have, in a very short time, an opportunity in this chamber to discuss fully the make-up of the television programmes that are presented and the encouragement of Australian script writers, actors and artists generally.

Mr L R JOHNSON:
Hughes

.- I should like to echo the sentiments expressed by my colleagues, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). It seems to me that some very dramatic things have been revealed as a result of the Senate select committee’s examination of the television industry, and it is high time a full scale parliamentary debate took place with respect to it. The Minister has indicated that this may not be the appropriate time to talk about such matters, although apparently the whole of the principal Act is being recast and we are considering now proposals to repeal a very substantial section of the legislation.

There is no question but that to some degree there is an overlapping of these provisions and such matters as the content of Australian production. Nevertheless, as the Minister has given an assurance - 1 believe that is what he said - that the matter will be carefully watched, I do not propose to carry out the detailed examination that I had intended originally to undertake. I was interested to note a question asked by Senator McClelland in another place recently about the purchase of programmes for television screening in Australia. To give honorable members some indication of the extent of this problem and the manner in which importations are increasing as each year goes by, I should like to mention briefly the figures which he obtained by courtesy of the Minister. It is staggering to note that, whereas in 1956-57 the purchases of programmes for television screening in Australia amounted to £275,000, that figure had moved up to £4,407,000 in the year 1962-63.

I am sure everyone here is concerned with the standard of programmes. We are particularly concerned with the demand to develop an indigenous television industry in this country. It was not long ago that Sir Frank Packer made a statement with regard to the Government’s insistence that 45 per cent, of the total hours of television screening must be devoted to the screening of programmes of Australian origin. There would not be one honorable member in this place who would disagree with the proposal that at least 45 per cent, of our programmes should originate in Australia. It is interesting to note what Sir Frank Packer had to say about this. He said -

This 45 per cent, compulsory quota will not apply to the new stations starting in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, which puts existing stations at a distinct and unfair disadvantage.

Here is an example of how this 45 per cent, quota works:

Suppose TCN9 decided to become nearly as sophisticated as the rest of the world and put on a 90-minute movie at 10.30. if we did this seven nights a week this would make a total of 101 hours. To meet the Government’s 45 per cent, requirement we would have to find Australian material to fill in an additional 4) hours. Where would we find it, and if we did find it, would anybody look at it? As there is a limit to the amount of acceptable live Australian programmes that can be produced to maintain 45 per cent, of Australian content, the only solution for the existing stations to comply with the Government’s 45 per cent, regulation is to reduce the total hours television is on the air.

This seems to me to be a blatant denial of the spirit of Parliament’s intention. To comply with what has been laid down, it is now Sir Frank Packer’s declared intention to reduce the total showing of programmes, so that the proportion of 45 per cent, will probably diminish. He went on to say that Channel 9 does screen its share of Australian programmes and referred to such programmes as “ Sound of Music “, “Here’s Dawn”, “Bandstand”, “Project 64 “, and “ It Could Be You “. He said-

These five shows overall are looked at by more people in Australia than any other group of live Australian shows.

Finally he said this -

The probable way this will be achieved is by still further reducing the overall number of hours that television is on the air - again less for the public. Don’t blame the TV stations for this reduction in general television service. Blame your local Member and the Government.

Mr Daly:

– Who wrote that?

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– That was a statement made by Sir Frank Packer. I do not think I am giving it incorrect emphasis. The Minister must have seen it. It is a tremendously important statement to come from one who is Chairman of TCN

Channel 9. It indicates an intention, more orless, to negate the declared intention of this Parliament so far as the provisions relating to the Australian content of programmes is concerned.

In the few minutes available to me, and because we are not able to deal with this matter in a coherent fashion - the Minister has indicated that this is not the appropriate occasion - I should like to mention that recently we had a visit by a Mr. John Huntley, a British film lecturer and writer who was visiting Australia under the auspices of U.N.E.S.C.O. and the Commonwealth Co-operation in Education Scheme. I shall read part of an article appearing in the magazine “ Newsletter “, the official organ of the Film Editors Guild of Australia, about what he had to say concerning the report of the inquiry by the Senate select committee into television. It reads - “ In any other country of the world with any real freedom of the Press”, said John Huntley in a quiet discussion following the last lecture of his Melbourne visit, “your Senate Report would have been front page news; but here it has been suppressed so that people do not even know the Report exists. The only parallel to this is the Pilkington Report in Britain which was savagely attacked by the Press, but certainly not suppressed.”

This, of course, is simply a matter of identifying the very real factors contributing to the situation. Our Senate committee of inquiry identified some remarkable deficiencies and glaring problems associated with our young indigenous television industry. One would have thought that these matters would have received a great deal of amplification and publicity and that the Government would have been tremendously enthusiastic about giving effect to the Committee’s recommendations. This might have been the appropriate time to do that. In fact, I am not at all certain that some of these matters are not affected by the sections that are now being repealed. I should like to have from the Minister a clear cut assurance that in the not far distant future this Committee will have the opportunity to consider all the ramifications in great detail.

Just let me mention in summary some of the matters which give me cause for concern. When ATN Channel 7 applied to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in 1959, it proposed that 67 per cent. of its programmes would be live productions and, therefore, Australian productions. When we turn to the report of the Australian Broad casting Control Board for the last financial year, we find that, after engaging in this industry for seven years, the quota achieved by ATN 7 was not 67 per cent. of live productions, and therefore Australian productions, but only 37.7 per cent.

Let me say, too, that in its original application Channel TCN 9 made a proposal for 50 per cent. of the programmes to be live productions and, therefore, Australian, but today, seven years later, it is showing the Australian people only 35.3 per cent. instead of the 50 per cent. proposed originally. One could go through all the various channels such as HSV 7, Melbourne, GTV 9, and so on, and find a similar position. We have figures relating to all these stations and almost without exception there is a falling down from the level of the undertakings given at the time of making application. It is tremendously vital to this country that we do give some opportunity to our own musicians, our own artists, our own actors, our own producers and our own writers. To my way of thinking, this Government has not laid sufficient emphasis upon this very apparent need. I hope that we might have an opportunity to discuss it in the not far distant future.

Clauses agreed to.

Clause11. (1.) Section 134 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ 134.-(1.) The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters required or permitted by this Act to be prescribed, or necessary or convenient to be. described for carrying out or giving effect to this Act and, in particular, for - (a)……

  1. empowering the Minister, after consider ing a report of the Board and any recommendation contained in the report, to direct a person (including the licensee of a commercial television station) to grant rights to the use of any material or matter in televised programmes to the licensee of a commercial television station in accordance with the direction and upon terms specified in the direction, and dealing with matters incidental to such directions; and
  2. preventing interference to the transmission or reception of the programmes of broadcasting stations, television stations or television translator stations. “ (2) The regulations empowering the giving of a direction referred to in paragraph (d) of the last preceding sub-section shall -
  3. give to every person affected by such a direction a right to have reviewed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court the question whether the terms specified in the direction are just and reasonable; and
  4. empower that Court, upon such a review, to vary those terms or order the substitution of other terms.
Mr HULME:
PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– by leave - I move -

In paragraph (d) of proposed new section 134(1), omit “ after considering a report of the Board and any recommendation contained in the report ‘’, insert “ upon the recommendation of the Board “.

In proposed new section 134, omit sub-section (2.) and insert the following sub-section: - “ (2.) The regulations empowering the giving of a direction referred to in paragraph (d) of the last preceding sub-section shall make provision for-

conferring on every person affected by such a direction a right to have the direction reviewed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court upon the ground that -

he has a reasonable ground of objection to the granting of the rights referred to in the direction; or

the terms specified in the direction are not just and reasonable, or on both those grounds; and

empowering the Court, upon such a review, to quash or vary the direction.”.

The first amendment means that, instead of giving some authority to the Minister and imposing some obligation on the Broadcasting Control Board - that is the position under the clause as it stands at present - the responsibility will be thrown completely on the Board. I do not think the Committee will have any objection to that amendment. The second amendment relates to the appeal provisions. As the clause was drafted originally, there was only one ground of appeal. We would set down rights and terms in relation to the purchase or leasing of a television programme. The clause gives a right of appeal only in relation to the terms. The amendment provides for an appeal in relation to each aspect of the transaction. I believe that this amendment will be acceptable to honorable members, too.

I discussed this clause a little earlier, when discussing the repeal of section 105a. This clause repeals section 134 of the existing Act. That section deals with regulations. In future we will have virtually a combination of the present section 105a, which deals with programming, and the present section 134, which deals with regulations. Proposed new section134 gives the right to bring down regulations in relation to the programming problem which I covered at some length a little earlier. I think it can be said that, whilst regulations may not be regarded as being completely satisfactory because they have not quite the same force as an act of parliament, there isa preference for a regulation rather than the right of a Minister to make certain determinations. If the Minister has that authority, what he does may be done without the Parliament knowing about it; at least, when a regulation is made the Parliament, or either House of it, has the right to disallow that regulation. So the making of a regulation gives to each member of the Parliament the opportunity to have the regulation brought directly under his notice and the right to move, within a certain number of sitting days, for its disallowance.

I accept the criticism, which might be made, that we should not take unto ourselves too much responsibility to make regulations instead of putting things in acts. However, I think the Committee will agree with me, after examination of the matter, that in this field it is impossible to know each individual circumstance which would have to be covered by a section of the Act. But each individual circumstance can be covered by regulation as it arises from day to day or from month to month. I give the House an assurance that in relation to the larger station owners in the capital cities making programmes available to small country stations there is no problem. No such problem has been brought under my notice since I have been a Minister.

I give an assurance that it is not intended that we should bring down a large number of regulations immediately. There is no need for them at this point of time. This power is to be regarded as a reserve power, to be used if the necessity arises. I say that to the Committee not only as an assurance but also as an explanation. We should not get the idea that immediately this power is given the Minister will start to bring down a whole volume of regulations in relation to programme control.

Mr STEWART:
Lang

.- The Opposition does not object to the clause or the inclusion of these amendments in the

Bill. We have been endeavouring to prove to the Minister that he is dealing with a fairly powerful set of individuals and companies which are prepared to pay for the best legal advice in order to find their way around the provisions of the Act. It was quite amply demonstrated that they have done things of that sort in respect of the Act as amended in 1960. Giving the Minister authority to make regulations certainly gives him much wider scope in controlling these matters than he has had in the past. So, the Opposition congratulates the Minister on having taken this step in order to give himself more room in which to move, and so that, if steps are taken by any of the television station licensees to get around the provisions of the Act as it will stand after this Bill has been passed, he will have some means of defence at his disposal.

In the earlier stages of this debate I omitted to ask why the Minister had repealed section 16 (3.) (e), which deals with networks. One of the television stations regularly announces itself as the National Television Network. The Minister says that it is difficult to say precisely what a network is. If one of the television operators can call itself the National Television Network the Minister may be able to find out its definition of “ network “ and use that definition. If the Minister would be good enough to explain why it was so difficult to define “ network “ precisely, I would appreciate it.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.- I do not wish to speak at great length. I wish to support the views expressed by the honorable members for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) and Lang (Mr. Stewart) on the question of programmes and their content. The assurance given by the Minister - namely, that the aspects that they raised will be considered and will be constantly under his review - is most welcome. In common with the honorable member for Lang, I think the Minister might explain the difficulty associated with defining “ network “. Why cannot a definition of “ network “ be incorporated in regulations in order to make impossible evasion of the Act, such as has occurred since the 1960 amendments were made. As the honorable member for Lang said, we do not oppose the provisions that are under discussion now. They appear to be more or less routine and to bring the

Act more into line with the way it should be. However, we would like it to be known that we would have liked more time in which to consider these provisions, particularly the amendments that the Minister has just moved.

In making a general comment at the conclusion of this debate, let me thank the Minister for the trouble to which he has gone in explaining and answering many of the questions that have been raised by the Opposition. It is true that in the heat of debate and the turbulence that is generated in this chamber, particularly late at night, we had our thrusts and so on across the chamber a few nights ago. However, it was a very welcome change to see ‘hat the Minister was prepared to answer questions or to endeavour to give explanations to members of the Opposition and, for that matter, to members of the Government parties. Quite frankly, I did not always agree with what he was saying and I do not say that his statements were right; but he was giving the Committee the respect to which it was entitled and was endeavouring to explain very complicated sections of this Act, which deals with one of the most important developments of our time - television. Therefore, whilst I disagree with what the Minister said from time to time, I am grateful to him for the trouble to which he went in order to explain matters to us and to accept some of ;he suggestions that were made.

I do not think I am saying anything unusual when I say that the Minister displays a very close knowledge of the workings and general administration of his Department. This helps us, in a deliberation of this kind, to get a greater knowledge of a complicated subject. I would not like the responsibility of policing these people who are endeavouring to get -round the provisions of the Act relating to programming, administration of stations and control of networks. Some go to great lengths and pay considerable sums to those able to tell them how to evade the provisions of the Act. At one time this was a very acrimonious debate and I received probably more insults to the minute than I have received for many years. However, as it finishes I pay a tribute to the Minister and thank him for his explanations. I hope that in the Budget session he will provide adequate time for discussion of this important subject, on which many honorable members have displayed a real interest and offered constructive criticism.

Mr KILLEN:
Moreton

.- I join with my friend, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), in what he has said. I find myself quite astonished to be in the same frame of mind as he. What I said to him the other day about his infatuation with “ Mavis Bramston “ I now modify a little. I also congratulate the Minister most warmly. This has been a complicated piece of legislation. He has been most patient and he has shown a thoroughgoing understanding of the provisions of the Bill.

Mr HULME:
Postmaster General · Petrie · LP

. -I thank the honorable members who expressed some appreciation to me in relation to these matters. I endeavour to take my responsibilities seriously and if this has produced some legislation of value I am delighted. I come to a comment made by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) in relation to the deletion of section 16 (3.) (e), dealing with the definition of “network”. I think the honorable member will clearly see that in relation to broadcasting it is comparatively easy to connect up a network. There has to be some physical association one station to the other, which does not have to happen in relation to television. So that is taken out of the Act at that point, but it is virtually covered in proposed new section 134, which concerns the making of regulations. Sub-section (1.) (a) relates to - prescribing matters relating to the making of, and the terms and conditions that may be included in, agreements or arrangements for or in connexion with rights to the use of any material or matter in broadcast or televised programmes or for or in connexion with the broadcasting or televising of advertisements . . .

I think that under this provision we would have adequate opportunity to make regulations in relation to networks which are not very clearly definable in the television field.

Amendments agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr. Hulme) read a third time.

page 1926

PROCESSED MILK PRODUCTS BOUNTY BILL 1965

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 19th May (vide page 1663), on motion by Mr. Adermann - That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is it the wish of the House to do as suggested? There being no objection, this course will be followed.

Mr POLLARD:
Lalor

.- While the six measures before us may appear relatively simple and unimportant they are of very substantial importance to the dairy industry of this country. Anything that is of importance to the dairy industry is, of course, important to all the people. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures show that the total value of all dairy production in Australia last year amounted to £228 million, which is not much below the export value of our wool.

The six Bills which we are considering in conjunction are the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill, the Butter Fat Levy Bill, the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill, the Dairy Produce Export Charge Repeal Bill and the Dairy Produce Levy Repeal Bill. Let us see what the first Bill is all about. Going back in history, it has some association with the fact that many years ago the Australian dairy industry was not receiving sufficient return from the consumers of this country and from the export markets - and it exported about one-third of its total production - to enable those engaged in the industry to live at a level in accord with Australian genera] living standards. In those circumstances, away back in 1947 the Chifley Labour Government, determined that it was desirable to set up an inquiry to endeavour to ascertain by what manner or means the industry could be assisted and those engaged in it lifted from slavery - in what was generally known as the Cinderella of all primary industries. I want briefly to trace this situation. In due course a committee was appointed to inquire into the actual cost of production, or as near as it could be ascertained.

Mr Robinson:

– Who forced the Labour Government into that?

Mr POLLARD:

– Of course it does not matter. The dairy industry and its elected and respected representatives all over Australia - no doubt in the electorate of the honorable member also - made a request to which the Government readily acceded. In due course a report was accepted with a minor alteration by the Government.

In no case has the Government which the honorable member for Macarthur supports accepted in toto the recommendations that have been made to it by this industry. However, the end result was that a basis was suggested on which a guaranteed price, based on the result of research, would be paid to dairy farmers in respect of butter and cheese. Part of the machinery of the guaranteed price involved an annual survey to ascertain any variation in the base year price. The operation of the plan was guaranteed for five years.

The honorable member for Macarthur doubts whether that was a popular move. If he wants testimonials to the scheme I will give them to him later. It he knows anything about the history of the dairying industry in this country he will be aware of the splendid tributes paid to the scheme by leaders of the industry. The scheme was accepted by the late Mr. Howley and by officers of every dairying organisation in the country. The scheme set the pattern upon which succeeding governments based their schemes for assisting the dairying industry. However, with the passage of time and the disappearance of the advantageous contracts that we were able to enter into with the United Kingdom and with a fall in the overseas price of dairy products, this Government departed from the practice of basing the guaranteed price on the cost of production. Today the cost of production is no longer guaranteed to the dairy farmer. Today the farmer is guaranteed up to 40d. per lb. But the cost of production, based on a standard very similar to that adopted in 1947, is now about 56d. per lb. So the honorable member, who thinks he is being clever, finds that the Government guarantees to dairy farmers a price which is substantially less than they were receiving in 1948 and 1949, even taking into consideration the subsidy of £13± million.

I do not quibble with this situation. I realise that there has been a change in economic circumstances over the years, but anybody who seeks to ridicule and condemn what was done in 1947, when the very basis of the current plan was laid down, is balanced on a pretty ricketty beam, lt is true that the legislation we are now debating deals with a section of the industry other than that concerned with butter and cheese manufacture. This is due to the fact that when the guaranteed prices were being fixed by the Labour Government the processed milk products manufacturers were not prepared to participate in what is known as the equalisation plan. Consequently, they were not able to claim any bounty. In the export markets of the world - this was an export industry principally - the manufacturers cf processed milk products were able to obtain prices substantially higher than they would have obtained had they joined in the equalisation plan. With the passage of time and the serious decline in overseas prices they have approached the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and stated their willingness to participate in the equalisation plan.

Mr Adermann:

– Their decision was influenced also by the fact that their competitors in other countries were subsidised.

Mr POLLARD:

– The plain fact is that they were being squeezed on the export market and now want to participate in the equalisation plan and get their share.

Mr Adermann:

– They are still separate from the plan.

Mr POLLARD:

– But they still contribute to it.

Mr Adermann:

– Yes.

Mr POLLARD:

– In the circumstances, the Government saw fit in 1962 to pass an act providing for the payment of bounties on exports of butter byproducts in the form of processed milk and so on. The bounty was first made available in 1962. The legislation providing the bounty was renewed in 1963 and again in 1964. We are now considering a proposal that the legislation be renewed for another two years to cover the seasons 1965-66 and 1966-67. The Minister has told us that £350,000 was paid in bounty in 1962-63. In 1963-64 the amount paid was £500,000. It is estimated that in the current year £400,000 will be paid. The Act provides that the final rate of bounty paid in respect of processed milk products shall not exceed the final rate of bounty payable in respect of butter and cheese. In 1963-64 the rate paid in respect of processed milk products equalled the final rate paid in respect of butter. About £60,000 of the total bounty available for milk products was unexpended.

The Opposition endorses the principle of this bounty. We consider that it is desirable. We are conscious of the fact that overseas prices are low. We know something of the subsidies that are being paid in other processing countries. We agree with the Minister that the bounty has been successful since 1962-63 because exports of this product have increased. Of course, it may be that some of the increased demand in the last couple of years has been due to the fact that members of our Army, Navy and Air Force are engaged in Asian countries. I hope that the Parliament will agree to the Bill. I note that the principal beneficiaries under this Bill will be 18 manufacturers, half of whom are co-operative manufacturing companies and the other half of whom are private enterprise concerns. There are safeguards in the principal Act which should be effectively policed. I support the measure relating to processed milk products.

I come now to the other Bills. Some time ago, levies were imposed, two of them by separate acts. One was to provide funds for the development of overseas markets and the other was to provide funds for research and sales promotion in Australia. The first levy, that designed to provide funds for overseas market development, was imposed on exports of butter and cheese when the Australian Dairy Produce Board was first established in 1925, and the other levy was imposed in 1958. The levy proposed by these five measures is 5s. per cwt. of butterfat. It is intended to divide the 5s. in this way: 2s. per cwt. for overseas market promotion, 2s. 2id. for local promotion and 9£d. for research. Apparently the authorities have found that it is rather awkward to work with two separate funds and that it would be desirable to merge them. This would clarify the situation and make the administration of the funds easier. The Minister told us that the industry supports the proposal that the Australian Dairy Produce Board be provided with additional funds and that the Government welcomes the agreement of the Australian Dairy Industry Council to the consolidation of the dairy levies. I understand that the present levies will be increased slightly. With the increase in the cost of advertising, promotion, clerical work and so on, this appears to be entirely sensible.

I want to make a few concluding remarks. For a fairly long time now, the Parliament has been enacting legislation to impose levies on various people. Frequently, the people concerned have not the slightest idea of what it is all about until the account comes in and they find that a deduction has been made to meet a levy for promotion, research and so on.

Mr Jeff Bate:

– The levy does not appear on the account. The producers do not know it has been levied.

Mr POLLARD:

– If it does not appear, the position is worse than I thought, because it looks like a sleight of hand trick.

Mr Adermann:

– It does appear.

Mr POLLARD:

– Now we have the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who is a dairy expert, and the Minister disagreeing.

Mr Adermann:

– He sells milk and I sell cream; that is why.

Mr POLLARD:

– Then he is on a better wicket than you are. The fact remains that the levy is deducted. The rank and file members of the organisations are not consulted. The organisations simply come to the Minister and tell him that an executive meeting held in Sydney, Melbourne or somewhere else decided it was desirable to impose an increased levy on the products of the members. The Parliament then agrees to the proposal. This state of affairs arose when a levy was imposed to finance activities designed to make wool popular throughout the world. A levy of 1 7/8ths was imposed. A man with a bale of wool worth £100 - it would be worth this only if it was superfine wool - would pay a levy of 37s. 6d. a bale, and in many instances he would not know anything about it until he received the account sales and found that the levy had been deducted by the woolbroker This was also the situation with the meat industry. A levy was imposed by the Parliament and in due course it was deducted from the amount due to meat producers. 1 frankly confess that I have supported the imposition of these levies, but I sometimes think that they have been imposed in a rather arbitrary manner. Perhaps some means could be adopted some day to find out whether the rank and file members of the organisations agree with the imposition of the levies. Members of the organisations who are active could perhaps - it is a big perhaps - educate the members who are not so well informed. It could be said in justification of the imposition of the levies that those who do not take an interest in their organisations should pay the piper nonetheless. Having to pay may wake them up and make them find out what really is being done with the funds that are raised by these levies on their incomes. I trust that the legislation will work effectively in the interests of the dairying industry and of Australia generally.

Mr JEFF BATE:
Macarthur

.- Some of the remarks of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) were slightly critical, and it ill becomes him to be critical. The gravamen of his remarks was that the Government in which he was Minister for Commerce did a better job for the industry than this Government is doing, that it held inquiries and acted in a way that this Government has not. The facts as I remember them - I hope the honorable member for Lalor will remember them - are that his Government appointed a Prices Commissioner, who determined the price of butterfat in butter and cheese. In the years between the end of the war and the advent of this Government, the Prices Commissioner twice refused well based applications for an increase. The price then returned between ls. and 2s. a lb. to the farmer. The Prices Commissioner, acting for the Chifley Government, in refusing the first application, said that the war was over, materials would become plentiful and the dairy farmers were having good seasons. Two years later, he refused the second application for an entirely different reason. He said that there had been two bad seasons, that the application had been made because the farmers had suffered from the effects of droughts, that the droughts would soon end and the farmers would enjoy good years again.

We understand that the Chifley Government was pegging the prices of dairy products so that the basic wage and costs would not rise. The dairying industry was the means used by the Chifley Government to keep down prices. The basic wage then was very much affected by the price of butter, cheese and other goods that went on to the breakfast table. We asked for a price for dairy products that would enable the dairy farmer to live as reasonably as other people in the community did. As I said, the Commissioner refused the first application for an increase because in his view shortages of wire netting, other materials, chemicals and labour would be overcome and these goods and services would become plentiful. To our stunned surprise, two years later he refused another application for an increase because we had passed through bad seasons. He refused the first application because there would be good seasons. On the second occasion he said: “You have had two bad seasons now.” In other words, his prediction had been wrong. He said: “ We cannot give this increase because you are basing your application on drought years and that is unfair.” In other words, although he had predicted good conditions, those conditions had not been forthcoming, and so he said: “ I am going to refuse the increase because there has been a bad season.” This was the experience of the industry in those days.

When the Menzies Government came to office its first act was to give the dairy farmers something approaching justice. I think the first thing the Executive did was to raise the price of butter which had been held down between 1945, when the war ended, and 1949 when the danger ended - that is, When the Labour Government went out and the Menzies Government came in. The price was raised at that time and conditions generally improved considerably,

Mr Pollard:

– Of course that is not true The price was not held down between 1945 and 1949. It was increased.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– I have given a statement of the facts. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Lalor saying that he had evidence to support his contentions. I was surprised to find his being even mildly critical of this Government. If he had said that it was a great day for the dairy farmer when the Liberal-Country Party Government came in, that would have been a true statement of the position. To claim, as he did, that an inquiry was held and that his Government did all these things for the dairy farmer is just preposterous. It would be preposterous to say that the Labour Government did anything at all for the dairy farmers except to render them impoverished. These are the facts of life Let us accept them as facts.

Having disposed of the Labour Government, which, of course, is not likely to damage the dairy farmers for a long time, let me say that there is another danger to the dairying industry, and it is represented by people who produce theories about nutrition. We have had a spate of theories which have not been proven and cannot be proven authoritatively. We have heard all these theories over the last 10 years propounded by people who are in the habit of putting out advertisements which are quite dangerous. The result has been that the consumption of butter in the community has been lowered from about 32 lb. per head per annum to about 24 lb. per head per annum. Because some scientist rushes into print with a theory, because we are very well fed people, and because some of us over eat and take too little exercise, the people who advise us about diet pick on butter and say that it is a dangerous food. This is most unwise, because in making these criticisms they damage the cause of the most important dietary item that a community has.

In support of this contention, I can produce figures obtained recently from the World Health Organisation which show how important the dairying industry is to a community. Referring, first, to one of the most important aspects of national health, infant mortality, let us see how the figures differ as between countries which have and those which have not good dairying industries. In India, in some of the African countries, in Thailand, and in some of the other South East Asian countries, the rate of infant mortality is from 100 to 130 deaths per 1 ,000 live bom infants. In India the rate is 83 per 1,000. The dairying industry in India is in a very primitive state, although we are at present trying to assist in improving it. In Denmark, on the other hand, there are only 21 deaths per 1,000 live born infants. In the Netherlands the rate is only 15 per 1,000. Figures available for the West Indies and South American countries show that the rate of infant mortality there is five times the rate in countries where ample milk, butter and cheese are available, and where there are highly developed dairying industries. In other words, the dairying industry, which we are told is of great importance because of high export yields, because it nourishes a large population and permits intensive land use, is important also because of its contribution to a nation’s health.

One cannot over-emphasise the importance of an industry which keeps the national nutrition at a high level. We are told, on the basis of false theories or unproven theories - and an unproven theory is a false one - that the consumption of butter has a relation to the incidence of heart disease. This is unproven. If we look again at statistics we find that those countries in which consumption of butter is low have quite a high incidence of arteriosclerotic heart disease. In America the consumption of butter has fallen to as little as 6.3 lb. per head per annum, and America has about the highest incidence of heart disease in the world, with well over 300 deaths per 100.000 from arteriosclerotic heart disease. In New Zealand, the consumption of butter is very high indeed because the price per lb. is kept down by a subsidy, and in that country the death rate from heart disease is low. Figures obtainable for countries throughout the world follow the same pattern; in other words, the relationship between the consumption of butter and this type of heart disease is not proven. In fact, available statistics show the reverse - that there is no relationship at all between this type nf heart disease and the consumption of butter.

These Bills are designed to consolidate the levies. A moment ago I said that the dairy farmer does not see the levy. When a dairy farmer gets his return from a butter or cheese factory that he supplies, the only indication of Commonwealth intervention is that a rate per lb. is paid, through the Commonwealth bounty, which slightly increases the price to the producer or reduces the price to the consumer. In fact, the bounty can be regarded as a subsidy to the consumer. It was meant by the Chifley Government to be a subsidy to the consumer, the purpose being to keep down the price to the consumer so that the basic wage would not have to be increased because of increases in the price of butter. In other words, the community was subsidising itself to prevent any rise in the price of butter which might affect the level of the basic wage.

Butter is a substance which has been cruelly treated in the community. No other substance has been so widely imitated. Being such an important nutritive item, butter is so widely imitated that we find large quantities of butter substitutes being offered to the community, backed by all sorts of very expensive advertisements. Naturally, the people making butter substitutes can, because of their high profits, pay for extensive advertising campaigns. Butter has been adversely affected in this way. The sale and consumption of butter in Australia have been adversely affected by these advertising campaigns. It has been suggested that we should stop cigarette advertising which creates a false atmosphere in the community. Should we allow the tobacco companies to go on advertising cigarettes on television, when we know cigarettes are dangerous, particularly to young people? People who advertise butter substitutes claim that their products have the qualities of butter. They make all sorts of claims for the value of butter substitutes, and these claims affect adversely the sale of butter.

These questions are pertinent to these Bills because part of the money to be collected will go towards promoting the sale of butter in Australia. The Australian Dairy Produce Board claims that the levy has prevented a fall in butter consumption. Butter is important on two counts. The first is its nutritional value. If people are told of the nutritional value of butter they will put it on the breakfast table for their families. It is an important article of diet. The second important reason for promoting the sale of butter is that it assists an industry which has been cruelly treated as a result of high pressure advertising in the Press, on television and so on. We see these advertisements and we know that their claims are unproven. The research to be carried out with the money collected through this levy will be of immense importance on both the counts I have mentioned. It will assist in the nutrition of the community and it will assist the people engaged in the industry.

Everybody who attacks butter still knows its value. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) knows very well that if he can get a good thick slab of butter on his bread he is being well fed. The honorable member may make certain remarks about butter, but at the same time his wife makes sure that his five splendid children have as much butter, cream, cheese and milk as they can consume. The honorable member for Mackellar is known as one who likes to pick up new ideas. He is attracted by these unproven theories of the scientists. He boosts them, yet he knows in his heart where the truth lies. When it comes to nutrition, he and his wife and family are among the best purchasers of butter, cheese and milk that we have.

The Dairy Research Foundation at Camden invited a number of university professors and medicos to Camden. It placed before these people plates piled high with thick cream and butter. To the surprise of the Foundation these men, who have attacked the use of butter on the grounds of the unproven theories I have mentioned, cleaned up the butter and cream in almost the first minute of their being there. That is real proof. I should like the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) to face up to the facts of life in relation to this matter. It is of immense importance to know the true position in regard to the substitutes for butter and cheese. The community ought to be sensible in reading these phoney advertisements, whose claims are based on theories which the directors of the National Heart Foundation tell us cannot be proved for at least ten years.

Frequently new theories are propounded, but when followed up are found to be false. During the last few days publicity has been given to a new type of acid which may be of nutritional importance in relation to heart disease, but its value cannot be proved for 10 years. I am referring to poly-unsaturated fatty acids which are being studied at present. It will take 10 years to prove any theory in relation to them. We ask the community to be sensible and to remember that the products of the dairy industry are of immense importance in nutrition, not only for the health of children and the health of the nation generally.

We claim that we are a vigorous nation. We have done well in sports such as tennis, cricket and swimming. This is because of the nutrition that has come from our dairy products. I hope that the honorable member for Mackellar will mend his ways and not go along with the new theories just because they are new. That sort of thing reminds me of the people of Athens who thought that the Christianity that St. Paul brought to them was just something new, but they came to grief. The Australian Dairy Produce Board will have a much greater amount of money to spend as a result of the levy to be imposed. As I have said before, the levy is a means of painless extraction. The levy is different from the poultry levy to meet which each producer pays so much for each hen he owns. The money to be levied under these Bills is to be taken at the point of sale. The export charge at present in force will be abolished. This levy will be collected at the point of sale at the co-operative factories. I repeat - perhaps I will be corrected - that I have not yet seen any account sales or statement issued by a dairy factory which shows the amount of the levy. The levy is collected by the dairy factory, the equalisation committee or the dairy board at the point of sale, and the only record on the account sales is an item showing so much per cwt. of Commonwealth bounty paid on the butter.

This is a painless method of extraction. The levy is small from the point of view of the producer, but because 200,000 tons of butter and 55,000 tons of cheese are produced each year the amount collected is a large one. The figures given by the Minister show that the maximum amount of levy will increase the Board’s income from £900,000 to £1,100,000. All of that money does not come from the industry. Some contribution is made from other quarters. A trade publicity committee in England which receives contributions from all types of Australian commodity marketing boards has created a better atmosphere for the sale of Australian goods. The Kangaroo brand of butter has been established, and the committee ensures that the Tooley Street blenders do not blend Australian butter with other products so that it loses its identity. The promotion that is going on creates a good atmosphere for the sale of Australian goods.

One of the effects of this research and promotion in Australia will be a greater diversification of dairy products. A campaign will be held to increase the manufacture in Australia of non-cheddar varieties of cheese. Today it is becoming socially acceptable to place a cheese board on the table on which is a number of different types of cheese.

Mr Irwin:

– People must know their cheeses.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– People sometimes get into a state of mind when they do not know anything and they would not know whether the cheese was good or bad. That is the time that people buy and eat more than they should. Today there is a tremendous demand in Australia for non-cheddar varieties known as exotic cheeses. Here in Parliament House we have access to Stilton, Blue Vein and many other different cheeses which are either imported or are Australian-made fancy cheeses. I understand that the amount of fancy cheeses imported into Australia is increasing. This, of course, is because of the migrants who have come to this country. It is natural that the 2i million migrants in Australia want the cheeses they have been used to. Migrants eat more cheese than Australians ever did. The consumption of cheese in France is 30 lb. per annum. In Australia it is nearly 7 lb. Because this is one of the habits which has been brought into Australia by migrants, our consumption of cheese has risen from 6 lb. to 6.4, 6.5 and 6.6 lb. per head per annum. If one has breakfast with one of our new arrivals one will find that instead of bacon and eggs and cereals, they will put on the table five different types of exotic cheese. This is their breakfast. For this reason the Australian producer of dairy products has an opportunity, if he is prepared to take it, to make fancy cheese and to make the types of cheese which are attractive to migrants and which are now becoming a social gimmick in the community.

If an Australian throws a party he wants to have some different types of cheese for his guests, not just the ordinary Australian varieties of cheddar, which are very good, but cheese of the type that is available in the country from which these people come. I refer to Roquefort from France, three different types of Edam from Holland, Tilsit from Denmark, the cheese which is popular in Germany or the Greek cheese known as feta. The consumption of all these cheeses is rising, and we have been told that the cheese departments of the big city stores show the greatest expansion. The surveys of consumption reveal that the share of the market enjoyed by Australian non-cheddar varieties of cheese - not imported noncheddar varieties, but Australian - has increased by 75 per cent, and has done so within a very short time. This is an important way to diversify the sale of dairy products. Many factories and co-operative societies have not been anxious or in a hurry to make these cheeses because in the early days when they tried to do so they were not successful and it cost them a great deal of money. But today there is an availability of migrant cheese makers who can make these cheeses with the better type of milk that is now available to them.

The Minister explained in his second reading speech the use to which the £1 million will be put. It will be used for overseas promotion of Australia butter and cheese, internal promotion, such as advertising butter and new types of dairy products on television, in the newspapers and on the radio, and research. The Government subsidy will match £1 for £1 the contribution made by the industry for research. I believe that there is a good case for an increase of the Government contribution for research into different ways of disposing of dairy products, improving quality and methods of presentation to the consumer. This Bill will do away with the former method of raising the levy. As the Minister said, there have been several different methods in the various Acts. There was one method in 1925 and another in 1958. These Acts have now been consoli dated. One of the Acts repealed is the old Export Charges Act. By this and the associated Bills all levies will be brought into one so that collection will be easier. The Bill tidies up the departmental approach to the collection of levies. No industry in this modern age can succeed without research and no industry can succeed without promotion. Honorable members have seen the effects of advertising by the Australian Dairy Produce Board. They have seen the art work in the coloured sheets put into magazines like the “ Australian Women’s Weekly” and in newspapers showing the presentation of cheese and butter and the use that can be made of them. The advertisements show how these products can be used in diets. This type of promotion will be helpful to the consumer and will be very helpful to the industry. I support the Bills.

Mr COUTTS:
Griffiths

.- I wish to associate myself with the discussion on the six very important Bills that are now before us. I commend the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on the resolution that he has moved to allow the six Bills to be discussed concurrently. Of course, that will allow us to proceed with the discussion of the six Bills and to dispose of them in a reasonably short space of time. That will allow honorable members to discuss other important legislation, but not necessarily more important than the Bills which are before us. I enter into this debate as a detached observer, unlike the previous speaker, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who spoke on behalf of a milk producing electorate. Very little butter is produced in my area because very few cows are to be found in the electorate which I have the honour to represent.

The Bills now before the House are very important and the way in which they have been presented to us for debate allows almost a complete review of the dairying industry, because all phases of the industry are involved in the measures that we are debating. When introducing the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill the Minister informed us that it was the intention of the Government to maintain the bounty which is now paid and which has been paid for some time in respect of the processing of milk products. That Bill was introduced in 1962 because of a crisis in the butter industry. It was introduced in an effort to divert butter fat from its use in the production of butter and to divert milk to other uses. We have been exporting this product to some of the eastern countries where firms have been established to convert the processed product back into milk so that it is available for consumption in those countries. This, in itself, is a good thing. I believe that it is good to encourage people to use dairy products and particularly to encourage young people to drink milk. We know that in Australia milk is made available free for consumption by school children. I believe that that is having a good effect on the health of children. In view of the alarming figures that have been published by world health organisations about the low standard of health among children in other countries and the high death rate among children less than 12 years old, it is good if something can be done to make milk available in those countries.

Mr James:

– Do dairy products create cholesterol in the blood?

Mr COUTTS:

– The honorable member for Hunter has asked a very important question. Although that contention has been disputed by the honorable member for Macarthur, an excellent publication “The Fats of Life”, which has been published with the assistance of a heavy subsidy from the Commonwealth Government, suggests that the use of dairy products - particularly butter and certain types of cheese - tend to produce cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Mr Griffiths:

– What about eggs?

Mr COUTTS:

– I have made my point on eggs; I do not propose to be diverted by eggs being thrown into the debate. Enough eggs were thrown in Centenary Place in Brisbane yesterday afternoon. It is worth noting when considering these Bills that the people, through taxation, are being asked to subsidise this industry heavily. I think it is only right that I should make some comments about the conditions that exist in the industry as far as I can ascertain them from reports and statements made by dairymen’s organisations. I am reminded of some statements made at a recent conference of the Queensland dairymen’s organisation held in Brisbane to discuss matters concerning the industry. One very vocal member of the organisation described dairying as a slave industry. He painted a gruesome picture of children having to work very hard in the industry, both before they went to school and on their return from school. He said that this was necessary if the industry was to be continued. Mr. Speaker, none of us, I am sure, not even the hard hearted conservatives on the Government side, would do anything to maintain a slave industry in this country. If the accusation is correct, everything must be done to get the industry out of that position. As the charge was made by a member of the Queensland dairymen’s organisation, I must accept it.

I really feel that I can, with evenness of temper, support the Bills that are before the House because they will do something to maintain the industry and give a reasonable return to the producers of dairy products, particularly butter. I am sure all honorable members know that the butter industry is very heavily subsidised. We are paying a subsidy of £13.5 million a year for butter production. This is a very heavy burden falling on a population of 11 million. Every man, woman and child, even a new born baby, is paying a subsidy of £1 2s. a year for the production of butter. Butter from other countries could be sold in Australia at a very reduced price.

Some week or so ago there was a very well informed debate in this House on a suggestion that Australia should enter into a common market agreement with New Zealand. Some members of the Country Party were very concerned about this. I should imagine that the price of New Zealand butter would cause some concern to them because butter from that country could be sold in Australia at about 2s. 6d. a lb. - that is, if the Government did not impose a heavy duty on it - compared with just under 5s. a lb. for Australian butter. Mr. Speaker, there has been a very solid outcry from members of the Queensland dairymen’s organisation against the proposal to introduce a common market with New Zealand. The butter producers are strongly opposed to such a proposition. They do not want it at any price.

I feel that whereas the Government has been prepared to give heavy subsidies to the dairying industry it has not given the right assistance to the industry by way of publicity in the Press, on the radio, and ia publications. 1 must again remind honorable members of an official publication issued some time ago by the Department of Health, under the auspices of the then Minister for Health in the Menzies Government. That booklet suggested that quite frequently margarine was just as good as butter, lt said that margarine was just as effective as butter from the point of view of health, and contained as much nutriment. The writer suggested that people should use margarine in the same way as they use butter. From the dairymen’s point of view this is an alarming state of affairs. 1 am not saying that these statements arc true or are not true. However, if they are true and margarine does contain the same amount of nutriment as butter, then the Government is encouraging Australian consumers to purchase a product for 3s. a lb. compared with a product costing 5s. a lb. This is an important factor when families in the cities are faced with high living costs. If those people can cut down on their expenditure without reducing their intake of nutriment and without impairing the health of their families, it can well be understood why consumption of butter in Australia has dropped to about 20 lbs. a head and why the consumption of margarine has increased. Large sums of money are paid to commercial television stations for advertisements such as the singing of that famous ditty “Butter Makes it Better”; yet the Department of Health publishes a booklet claiming that margarine is better than butter. That means that the butter campaign is being nullified by the Department. Apparently the popularity of margarine is increasing; more and more people are buying more margarine and less butter.

I refuse to accept the argument of a previous speaker in this debate that one should eat bread with a thick layer of butter on it merely to assist the dairy industry. Butter should be used within reason and for the benefit of the people using it. A very important document - the Report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry - was published some little time ago as a result of an investigation into the industry authorised by this Government. I regard the industry as a sick one. That being so I think methods should be adopted whereby the sickness can be eliminated so that the industry will be reasonably prosperous for all concerned. The inefficiency in the industry should be eliminated. I know that the Country Party wants to see this brought about because the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) stated recently in this House that in certain respects the dairy industry was not efficient. He went on to say -

But I make it quite clear that I have never sought - nor will I ever wish to do this - to perpetuate any inefficient industry in Australia, be it the dairy industry or any other industry.

Mr ROBINSON:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP; NCP from May 1975

– The honorable member has taken that remark out of context.

Mr COUTTS:

– I have not taken the remark out of context. I have quoted the whole sentence fully. It is idle for the honorable member to try to save his Leader, because those were the words used by him. I was referring, Mr. Speaker, to the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry. It is a most informative document. It is rather unfortunate that the Government has not taken more notice of this report, because it deals with all phases of the industry. In particular, it deals with the shocking situation of family labour on dairy properties. The Committee’s findings coincide with the statement that I mentioned a little while ago by a member of the Queensland Dairymen’s Organisation, who said that there was an element of slavery in the industry.

Mr Giles:

– Slavery?

Mr COUTTS:

– He described it as being a slave industry. The Committee of Inquiry, as appears at paragraph 751, at page 72 of its report, mentioned the high percentage of family labour being used in the dairy industry. In this modern age, we should be getting away from the use of child labour in an industry such as this. Children should be able to go to school in a fit condition to absorb the teaching given to them instead of being so tired after performing their tasks on the farm that they fall asleep over their desks from sheer exhaustion, as I have seen happen in my younger days, which were not long ago, really.

Mr Hayden:

– What was-

Mr COUTTS:

– That happened in the area represented by my honorable friend who has just interjected.

The Dairy Industry Committee of ‘Inquiry made some interesting findings concerning the productivity and size of dairy farms in the various States. I find that Queensland has not a good record as a producer of dairy products. In 1953, the average annual production of commercial butter per cow was 147 lb. in Queensland, 208 lb. in Western Australia, 237 lb. in Tasmania, 264 lb. in South Australia, 158 lb. in New South Wales and 250 lb. in Victoria, giving an average over the Commonwealth of 192 lb. This appears in table 54 at page 74 of the Committee’s report. This table contains many other figures, but I shall not read them to the House, because I am sure that honorable members have read them for themselves, although those on the Government side, particularly, have chosen not to mention them.

I want to point out a very important finding by the Committee concerning the economic characteristics of farms, with which this table deals. The Committee pointed out that high cost regions in which net costs are above the Commonwealth average are very numerous in Queensland, and it lists West Moreton, North Burnett, South Burnett, central Queensland, northern Queensland, Mackay, West Downs, Wide Bay, East Downs and East Moreton. These areas cover a considerable portion of Queensland. A similar situation does not exist in other parts of the Commonwealth where, apparently, the land is better suited to dairy production.

The report of the Committee contains numerous recommendations for the promotion of efficiency in this important industry, and I want to mention one or two of them. I am sure that honorable members will bear with me while I do that. There is a very interesting survey of artificial breeding in the industry, which is Appendix 11 to the report. I do not propose to bore honorable members by reading the advantages of artificial insemination stated by the Committee. It made the point that a bull is wasted on the farm because it requires as much nutriment as do two cows. It suggested that the State Governments should make greater provision for artificial insemination in the dairying areas.

The Committee found that many farms are inefficient and cannot be made efficient because of various local conditions such as the unsuitability of the soil and rainfall, and for a host of other reasons. It proposed that the Commonwealth Government in association with the States, make an effort to improve the efficiency of the industry. It is suggested that some areas should go out of dairy production and that this could best be brought about by adequately compensating those at present engaged in the industry in those districts and encouraging them’ to dispose of their dairy herds. By means of subsidies, grants and loans, they could be encouraged to engage in other fields of primary production. I believe that if this were done the industry would benefit considerably, Mr. Speaker. Efficiency would be promoted and costs would be reduced. We all know that there is urgent need to reduce costs. This industry is a large exporter. At present in the English market, we face severe competition from producers on the European continent. Consequently, we must endeavour to dispose of our dairy products as cheaply as possible. In the eight months ended in February of this year, we exported butter to the value of more than £24 million and cheese to the value of about £5 million. The total value of these exports - more than £29 million - is no small sum. When we realise that the dairy industry involves the Commonwealth in the expenditure of a great deal of money on bounty, we can see that anything that can be done to improve the efficiency of the industry and reduce costs will be worthwhile.

I now want to mention particularly what I consider to be a very stupid state of affairs with respect to cheese. I know the value of cheese. One honorable member said earlier that it is socially important to know the right cheese and when to eat it. I admit that some of the cheese now on the market is of tempting appearance and attractive taste. It is a pleasure to visit the food halls of the big stores in our principal cities, and in Canberra, too, and to see the display of cheese in refrigerator cabinets, attractively packaged, appealingly labelled and temptingly priced. Being a lover of cheese, I became alarmed, when, after closely scrutinising the labels of the cheeses displayed, I found that, almost invariably, the product on display was imported. It is admitted that a large percentage of our population is comprised of migrants who have brought their taste for

Imported cheese into this country with them. I feel that there we have a challenge to the dairying industry. It should be endeavouring to produce a cheese which these people like. There is a ready market for it here and the industry must not be content to continue producing the old Australian types of cheeses hoping to sell them to Australian consumers while the migrants continue to encourage the importation of the delightful cheeses which are made in other countries. Indeed, there is a very grave danger that the Australian consumer himself might develop a liking for these cheeses that are made in overseas countries.

Let me quote my own case as an example. I am sure you will bear with me while I do this, Mr. Speaker. I sometimes patronise the Parliamentary Refreshment Room, and I have been tempted to eat a very delightful cheese known as Camembert. I have developed a liking for it and continually call for it in place of a sweet. But I was alarmed the other evening when I was informed in the Parliamentary Refreshment Room that this Camembert cheese which is sold at Parliament House is an imported cheese. I immediately cancelled my order for Camembert and, since that time, I have denied myself the pleasure of eating it merely because it is an imported cheese. I think other honorable members should set a lead to the nation by refusing to eat imported cheese. I think also that the members of the Country Party, through their organisation, should encourage the dairying industry to produce cheese comparable in taste with imported cheese, but made from the products of our own dairy herds.

Like my colleague the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), I support these Bills. I hope that they have a speedy passage. As I said earlier, I realise that the industry is inefficient. I hope that the continual handing out of subsidies will decrease and that measures will be taken to improve the efficiency of the industry. I can make no better suggestion to the members of the Government than that they disregard their love of votes and pay more attention to a body of experts which has provided a blue print for efficiency in the dairying industry in Australia.

Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House. I realise that there are many bills to be debated and that time is short. However, I wish to speak in support of the Bills that are before the House. One of them - the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill - is designed to provide a bounty on processed milk products for the next two years. The other Bills are all related to the dairy industry, too. I wish to refer particularly to the bounty of £400,000 which is to be paid on processed milk products containing butter fat.

The payment of this bounty is very timely. It comes at a time when it appears that the production of butter and butter fat throughout the world is on the increase once more. In the last two years we have been fortunate in that there has been quite a decline in butter fat production throughout the world. In the United States of America production has declined to such an extent that the Americans are buying margarine and putting it in their reserves for use in the event of a national crisis. In the United Kingdom there has been quite an increase in the demand for butter and the price has risen to a reasonable level in the last two years. It has gone up to 350s. a cwt. In May last year, only 38,000 tons was in stock. At the moment the amount available is 71,400 tons, tlahough the price is 20s. less than it was a year ago. Those figures show that there is an increase in the production of butter fat.

Although we have had adverse seasons in various parts of Australia this year - notably in New South Wales and Queensland - we will still have a very large production of butter. Most of the butter is coming from Victoria. It is expected that we will produce about 203,000 tons this year. That is quite remarkable. One would have thought that because the production in New South Wales and Queensland was down by more than 50 per cent, the overall Australian production would be much less but Victoria is becoming such a strong producer of butter and other dairy products that it is making up any leeway that might exist in the other two States that I have mentioned.

The dairy industry consists of four sections: First, the whole milk section which produces milk for human consumption; secondly, the section that produces milk for cheese making; thirdly, the section that produces milk for processed milk products containing butter fat; and fourthly, the butter section and associated industries that use solids, not fat, such as for calf and pig raising and processed milk products free of butter fat. The whole purpose of the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill is to pay a bounty on processed milk products that contain fat. Within the four sections of the industry to which I have referred, there are two distinct groups as far as prosperity is concerned. There is the section that produces whole milk for human consumption, and then there are the other three sections. In the milk section there is a degree of prosperity and a high social status because of that prosperity.

Some honorable members make sneering remarks about the inefficiency of the dairy industry, and particularly the butter section of it. I would like them to compare the income and prices received in the milk producing section of the industry - the section that produces milk for human consumption - - with those received in the butter producing section. If there is inefficiency, why are we able to produce butter for about 4s. per lb. while the milk producers receive 8s. to 9s. per lb. for the milk that they produce? After all, both groups of producers are producing exactly the same product. To say that the butter producer is inefficient and should not be given any subsidy or bounty is nothing less than ludicrous, because he is producing a product that is exactly the same as the milk that is used in the capital cities and is producing it at half the price. If people only understood that, they would not make these sneering and stupid remarks about the inefficiency of the dairy industry.

The dairy industry, including the butter industry is a very important one. It provides employment which disperses population throughout the nation. It develops many large tracts of country which would not be developed or populated if there were no dairy industry. No industry in Australia employs more people and has more people associated with it than the dairy industry.

Mr Curtin:

– What rot.

Mr ANTHONY:

– That is a big statement, but it is quite true. That is a good reason why this Government should continue to give its support to the industry. Since some people choose to talk about inefficiency, I point out that only one country produces butter at a lower cost than Australia does, and that is New Zealand. Other countries have price support schemes under which the producer receives a higher price by his standards than does the Australian producer.

The important point about the milk industry in Australia is that State authorities fix a price and people seem to be prepared to pay a high price for daily supplies of fresh milk. Fortunately for the milk section of the dairy industry, there is no substitute for milk. If a person does not want to have milk or is not prepared to pay a high price for it, he has no alternative. But, unfortunately for the butter section of the industry, if members of the public decide that the price of butter is too high they can always turn to margarine, an organic substitute. There is no comparison between these two products. One is a substitute and the other is nature’s product.

The Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill provides a subsidy on butter fat that is used in processed milk products. I think it was an oversight on the part of the authorities not to provide such a bounty before. There was a deterrent to many processors producing dried milk powders with a fat content, because they did not receive any bounty. We know today that if we want to dispose of our butter fat we have to use every possible means. We have to sell butter oil, ghee, dried milk products containing butter fat and so on. From time to time there is a world surplus of butter fat. Whether or not there is a surplus depends largely on the seasons.

As I said earlier, it appears that we are running into another period when there will be a surplus of butter fat. Fortunately, this Government has made arrangements with the United Kingdom to ensure that there is a quota of Australian butter on the English market. At the moment this quota amounts to 66,000 tons. Although this does not give us a guaranteed price it gives us a guaranteed outlet for a large proportion of our export butter. There were occasions, not many years ago, when it seemed as though it would be difficult for us to sell our surplus production and it was only by these quota arrangements that Australia secured a guarantee of placing a big proportion of its exports on the British market - a market which has been a traditional importer of Australian butter this century.

The trend of giving bounties to processed products will, I think, develop. It has been wrong to place all the emphasis on butter fat in butter. It is inefficient to be developing a dairy industry where solids not fat, or the dairy proteins, are used to the least advantage, namely, for rearing calves and for feeding pigs. Dairy proteins are far too valuable for these purposes. They are among the best proteins available to mankind and their nutrient benefit is unsurpassable. We should be utilising these proteins instead of feeding them to pigs and calves. There are plenty of substitutes that could be fed to calves and pigs - grains, other animal proteins, offal from the slaughter works and offal from flour mills. Dairy proteins should be used for human purposes, in the production of baby food, ice cream and the 101 other products that can be made from dairy products.

Mr COUTTS:
GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– Why does the Government not do something about it?

Mr ANTHONY:

– The very purpose of this Bill is to encourage producers to produce processed articles with butter fat and to use the solids not fat. It is pleasing to see this industry expanding. We now have export markets other than the United Kingdom. The figures reveal that in 1963-64 we exported to markets other than the United Kingdom 94.1 per cent, of our full cream powder exports, 87.7 per cent, of skim milk powders, 84.4 per cent, of invalid foods and 92.2 per cent, of casein. This indicates that we are developing substantial markets other than the United Kingdom. These markets are in South East Asia, Japan, and in countries where people want products other than butter. These are not traditional butter importers. They are not familiar with butter, but they know of the great value of dairy proteins and dairy fats in raising infants and in helping invalids, nursing mothers and others who need this valuable protein.

I have much pleasure in supporting this legislation which puts the accent on the proteins in milk. I can visualise the dairy industry developing to the stage where no producer of butter actually separates on the farm but sends his bulk milk into a factory where each day the article produced is in accordance with the demand. If there is a world demand for butter, the accent will be on butter; if the demand is for processed milk products containing butter, the accent will be on production of those; if it is for cheese, the factories will manufacture cheese. In handling bulk milk, proper refrigeration will be necessary and consequently a higher quality dairy product will be possible. At present producers feed half their milk to pigs and half is sent as cream to the factories. With the consignment of bulk supplies to the factories the producers will get a better price because the factories will utilise the product to better advantage.

Mr HAYDEN:
Oxley

.- The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) raised an interesting and factual point, namely, that butter producers receive 4s. per lb. and milk producers 8s. per lb. for their product. He adopts the attitude that there is something censorious in this and that it should not exist. Indeed, he suggests that there is reason for butter producers to feel that they are ill done by when they make this comparison. I ask the Minister: Whose fault is this? His Government has been in power since 1949 and surely if it is so concerned - if the milk of human kindness for the dairy farmers flows so richly in its veins - something should have been done by now. The honorable member also mentioned that we sell the greatest proportion of our butter exports to Great Britain. He seems to want to peg his hat, or the hat of the future of the dairy industry, on this export of butter to Great Britain. I seriously suggest to him that the future of our exports to Great Britain is rather doubtful at best. In fact, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) when he presented these Bills mentioned that in Europe the dairy producing areas are now recovering from two bad seasons. They have experienced severe winters but are commencing to get on their feet again. We can expect that there production will bloom and that we will meet serious competition.

The problem of the dairy industry internationally - and this applies to Australia, which is the third biggest exporter of dairy products in the world - is that there has been an over-supply of dairy products. According to Mr. Roberts, the Chairman of the Australian Produce Board which has carried out an investigation of the situation, the equivalent of 900,000 tons of whole milk was the average annual surplus in the 1955-1960 base period. He predicts that in 1965 there will be a surplus of 6.8 million tons and in 1970, 9 million tons. This is fairly important to Australia. In itself this poses a challenge for the Australian Government and for the dairy section of our primary industry. What are we going to do to meet this problem, particularly with European production increasing, as it undoubtedly will continue to do? There seem to be two or more readily available sources that we have no choice but to exploit. The first would, I believe, bring beneficial returns in the short term. The other would be beneficial in the long term.

The first, of course, is that we must undertake a more aggressive sales promotion campaign on the Australian consumer market. We must build up consumption at home. I have seen some of the television advertisements of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. They are singularly uninspiring. I do not think they would be responsible for any significant response from the general public. They are not positive or aggressive, as they should be in the campaign the dairy industry must undertake if it is to increase its sales. The industry must also look at ways of reducing production costs. We have had an amazing success in increasing the production per cow. In 1938-39 the production was 354 gallons per cow per annum. In 1962-63 annual output was 453 gallons per head. We could achieve an annual output of 1,000 gallons, but unless we reduce the cost of producing this commodity we will continue to face difficulties.

It has been suggested by some honorable members that the production cost problem faced by the dairy producer stems largely from his own fault. I contest that suggestion. In common with most primary producers in this country the dairy producer finds himself squashed in a vice manipulated by the middleman. The dairy producer produces a perishable product that must be sold fairly quickly. Accordingly, he is largely at the mercy of the people with whom he does business. This applies not only to the sale of butter and milk but also to other sections of primary industry, such as pig raising. So these people must con stantly employ new production routines. They cannot frequently defer their production obligations. The result is that very high prices are charged for the implements that they use on their farms. Primary producers tell me that one of the major problems with which they must wrestle is the cost of spare parts for the various implements that they use. They suggest that if they were to build a tractor or some other farm implement solely from spare parts the total cost would be five or six times as much as the actual cost of purchasing the completed article.

This is an aspect of primary production that we must consider. We must consider whether the restrictive trade practices legislation could be used to reduce the cost of these things. It is not only the primary producers who feel the brunt of these tactics. There is generally in the community an extortion of the public by the concentration of economic power through monopoly interests. Other honorable members and I have given figures in this regard. About 2 per cent, of companies in Australia earn more than 60. per cent, of company profits. This is the way economic power is coagulating into fewer hands. The result is that these people largely control production in our community and fix prices for themselves. But they object strongly to any suggestion that the elected representatives of the people should fix prices. These are the people who have no responsibility themselves to the public but who fix prices to suit themselves.

Mr Maisey:

– It is mostly overseas capital too.

Mr HAYDEN:

– Yes. The profits of those companies are going out of the country into overseas hands rather than circulating in this country and helping to develop it. A couple of years ago in a paper entitled “The Matter of Prices” Dr. Coombs said that in this country there has been an automatic process of increasing prices each year by between 2 per cent, and 3 per cent, regardless of whether we are going through a period of boom or a period of economic decline. In times of economic decline, monopoly groups within the community do not reduce prices in order to sell their commodities. Instead, because of this basic power that is peculiar to monopoly groupings in an economy, these people, rather than reduce prices, cut back productivity and increase prices. They not only maintain their existing profit margins but also increase them. These trends have been substantiated by economists as occurring in the community.

It has been suggested that one way to improve returns to the dairy producer so as to reduce the price of his commodity to the public and so that it may compete more successfully on the market is to improve the efficiency of some dairy factories, many of which are fairly old. It has been suggested that many of these places should be renewed and also that other improved productive processes should be introduced. I suggest that it is the responsibility of the Government to conduct a survey to ascertain what is needed and to provide the necessary finance. If this is not done the primary producer will have to carry the financial burden and suffer the economic loss. We are not producing as efficiently as we should and it is in the national interest that we tackle this problem and accept our responsibility.

Dealing with the matter of sales promotion, I am sure that the promotion of cheese within our community as a consumer item has not been pushed as hard and as successfully as it could have been. We have hardly scratched the surface as regards avenues available to the housewife for including cheese in her cooking. Cheese can be a most appreciated additive to a meal if properly included. This is a matter that we should look at. In an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” on 7th August last year Mr. Buchanan, a dairy scientist, warned of the problems looming for the dairy industry. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) touched on some of these tonight. Basically, they have suggested that we should place less emphasis on the production of butter fat and branch out more into the production of milk proteins. Mr. Buchanan has pointed out that unless we are prepared to do this we will face serious problems, such as over supply of butter fat products throughout the world. Such a situation will have a serious effect upon us unless we have moved early enough and extensively enough into the marketing of milk proteins.

Some honorable members referred to the inroads that margarine has allegedly made into the dairying industry. I have obtained some comparative figures on the consumption of margarine and butter during the period 1959 to 1963. Those figures show that although the per capita consumption of butter has decreased, it is not correct to say that the consumption of margarine has proportionately increased. From 1959 to 1963 the per capita consumption of butter in Australia decreased from 26.2 lb. per annum to 23.9 lb. That decrease seems to be a fairly common trend in advanced economies of the Western world, such as Canada and the United States.

Mr Robinson:

– What is the source of that information?

Mr HAYDEN:

– The most recent annual report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. Between 1959 and 1963 per capital consumption of margarine in Australia increased from 9.1 lb. to 9.5 lb. per annum.

Mr Robinson:

– What is the source of that information?

Mr HAYDEN:

– Those figures come from the same source. This is a fact that the dairy industry must accept. We must be realistic about this. It is no good being declamatory and ignoring the existence of this situation. We are living in an affluent society. People are eating less of the starchy foods such as bread. If they eat less bread they will eat less butter. In this affluent age people are developing more expensive tastes and seeking new experiences in foodstuffs. They are demanding other things. What the dairy industry must do, I suggest, is find ways in which to satisfy those tastes. This seems to be the age of pre-packs - tinned goods and frozen goods which need only be heated to provide a meal. This in itself is a good thing for the housewife, not to mention the bachelor who probably would not go to the trouble of preparing a dessert which may involve significant quantities of dairy produce as ingredients. It is usually too much trouble for a bachelor to try to solve the theoretical problems involved in preparing a good pastry. The dairying industry should look at ways of using pre-packs for desserts that would require the use of dairy products.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell:

– The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research

Organisation is conducting research into that.

Mr HAYDEN:

– I think that is a good idea for the dairying industry and for bachelors. Within the industry itself, the Government should conduct a socioeconomic survey and try to establish the areas that will be most responsive to inputs. It should then try to make finance available on much more reasonable and more easily accessible terms than is now the case. I know of very many young farmers in dairying areas in my electorate today who have the ability, the intelligence and the experience to be first rate farmers and who have land that will respond to the farming of which they are capable, but they cannot get the money that would allow them to produce in the most efficient way. Unfortunately, it is a truism that the only time money can be obtained from the banks easily is when it is not really needed; when money is really needed, it is difficult to obtain it from the banks.

Scientific advice should be more freely available to dairy farmers. The Labour Government when it was in office in Queensland made such advice available on a most valuable basis. This service is being continued, but I suspect that it is not being done as efficiently as the Labour Government did it until 1957. It is obvious that there is room for much more of this type of advice to be made available to dairy farmers. For instance, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) said that artificial insemination in the dairying industry should be encouraged. Sometimes the bull is taking up pastures which should be available for productive cows and on some farms the bull is allowed to move through the cows indiscriminately. The result is that the maximum production of milk is not being obtained from cows which are too frequently in calf.

Another problem is presented to dairy farmers by the billy can producers. A person with a regular job in town keeps four or five cows. He milks them and sells the milk to householders in the suburbs. This is fairly valuable pocket money for him, but, when we realise how many people in the community do this, we can appreciate how their activities are undermining the economy of the dairying industry. I suggest to the Minister that, instead of using the report of the McCarthy Dairy Industry Committee as a cudgel with which to berate and intimidate the industry, he ought to work hand in glove with members of the industry in a socio-economic survey in an effort to do something of benefit for the industry. A survey should be undertaken in co-operation with members of the industry. It is undeniable that there is some inefficiency in some sectors of the industry. The Minister for the Interior denied this, but the honorable member for Griffith has reminded me that when the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is Leader of the Australian Country Party, was speaking about a common market between Australia and New Zealand, he said - . . the Australian dairy industry - which, admittedly, in certain sectors is not an efficient industry. . . .

He also said -

But I make it quite clear that I have never sought - nor will I ever wish to do this - to perpetuate any inefficient industry in Australia, be it the dairy industry or any other industry.

This statement is fair enough. But we have a responsibility. We cannot simply make such a statement and then say: “ Those who are not fortunate enough to be efficient today must fall by the wayside”.

Mr Robinson:

– He did not say that.

Mr HAYDEN:

– Yes, he did. It is in black and white in “ Hansard “. What we have to do is to investigate the industry and see what we can do for those people in it who have the capacity to improve themselves but who are prevented from doing so by factors beyond their control. These factors are largely excessively high prices for the implements they require, for spare parts and for fertilisers. The way that the fertiliser combines are allowed to exploit the primary producers by obtaining high prices is a disgrace to the community.

The Government could help the dairying industry by putting a restraining hand on the importation of cheeses. The amount of cheese imported is as follows -

The amount imported is continually climbing. This presents a difficulty to the dairy farmers who are supplying the cheese factories in Australia. Domestic production cf cheese varieties apart from cheddar is falling because of these imports. I think it is quite fair to mention here in a discussion of these dairy Bills that the import of pig meats from New Zealand has disrupted the equilibrium of the domestic pig meats market. It is well known that local producers of pig meats have been compelled by certain processors to accept low prices. It has been suggested by numerous producers in the dairying industry, quite seriously and quite sincerely, that the Government always seems to allow an influx of imported pig meats from New Zealand whenever they seem likely to get a fairly reasonable price for the home products.

Mr Robinson:

– Humbug.

Mr HAYDEN:

– The Government of which the honorable member is a supporter is responsible for this. Why does it not stop the import of pig meats? The honorable member was running around the north coast of New South Wales during the last Federal election and State election campaigns saying that one of the reasons why the dairying industry was not getting on to its feet today was because of the consumption of margarine. I have just given figures to show quite clearly that that is not so. The consumption of margarine per head of population has been static. Other factors are responsible for the difficulties in this industry. But what is the Government doing to prevent the importation of cheese and pig meats, which has disrupted the prosperity of local producers? It is doing absolutely nothing. The honorable member for Cowper, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, has been significantly silent on this subject. We must be honest and we must accept the responsibility that is ours. The problems facing the dairying industry today have developed during the past 15 or 16 years, during the term of office of the present Liberal Country Party Government. Government supporters regularly deliver homilies on the needs of the dairying industry and on the problems that face it, but they do nothing to improve the situation of the industry.

I want to mention another matter which has relation to the returns we may expect over the longer term. We must develop markets in the East. I have some figures here on this, subject, but I do not intend to prolong the discussion by giving them now. They are readily available from the statistical service in the Library. They show that we have been building up markets in the East to which we can export our dairy products. These markets are small, but nevertheless they are developing. This country, not only from the export of dairy products but also from the export of many other primary and secondary products, could derive a great amount of wealth and prosperity by helping these countries to raise their standards of living to the level where they could afford to purchase the goods that we produce. At the moment, they cannot purchase many of our products, simply because their present standards are those of peasants. We have a responsibility to involve ourselves in substantial aid for these countries, so that their development will be hastened. Excluding Papua and New Guinea, where we must accept responsibility - a responsibility that we would not want to avoid - our total aid to other countries is less than one-eighth of 1 per cent, of our gross national products. We are capable of doing much more than this. The Government finds no difficulty in rushing into all forms of military commitments with other countries. Let us rush into a few more commitments in the way of aid through trade and other forms of assistance to the underdeveloped countries to lift their living standards to decent levels. We should help these people to enjoy a much higher standard of living. Although in the short term this would be a burden for us, in the long term these people would be able to afford many more of our products and would provide us with a much better standard of living.

I want to refer finally to the statement that is made regularly in various sections of the community that dairy foods cause heart disease by increasing the concentration of cholesterol in the arteries. It is by no means established that dairy foods have this effect. A recent article, and a fairly interesting one, in the American magazine “ Newsweek” pointed out that although it is felt that there may be a possible connection between consumption of dairy products and the incidence of heart disease, there is no certain tie-up. The article went on to say that the fault lies not so much with dairy foods as with our failure to take enough exercise. What we should do is not to cut out dairy foods but to engage more actively in physical exercise, for it is lack of this which causes the building up of fat tissues in the arteries to the heart, leading to hardening of the arteries and eventually to coronary disease.

Statements concerning the alleged dangers of dairy foods are usually based on comparisons of consumption of dairy foods with the incidence of heart disease in particular communities. I saw a report recently to the effect that by making comparisons of a slightly different kind one could claim that heart disease was related to television viewing or going to the races. Definite findings cannot be made on the basis of such empirical observations.

I support the Bills that are before the House, so far as they go. What we contend is that the Government should not be simply handing out money and leaving it at that. It should continue this sort of bounty, we agree, because we do not want to see the living standards of any section of the community going down. The objective of the Government should be to undertake a vigorous campaign to lift up the standards of the people in the dairying industry so that they will not have to depend on this bounty. This is something that they earnestly desire, and there are quite obviously many matters connected with the dairying industry that are holding back the development of the industry and the standard of living of those connected with it. We believe that these things can be overcome by positive and vigorous action by the present Commonwealth Government.

Mr ROBINSON:
Cowper

.- In supporting the six Bills that are before the House I want to say right away that the contribution made to the debate by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) disclosed a lamentable lack of knowledge of this very great industry. The honorable member challenged the Australian Country Party and its leader and put forward some propositions which I steadfastly refute. First, he quoted out of their context certain extracts from the “ Hansard “ report of a debate last week when the Leader of the

Country Party (Mr. McEwen) referred to inefficiency and said that he did not believe this should be perpetuated. This was a very valid comment, and if the honorable member for Oxley cared to peruse in detail reports of statements made in this House by the Leader of the Country Party, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Industry, he would see right away that a very well merited comment was made on the problems of this great industry and the difficulty of maintaining a general level of economy. The Minister’s views in this connection were made apparent in the debate on another subject, the possibility of a common market with New Zealand, and they have been disclosed very clearly by the approach of the Minister and the Government to the problems of the dairying industry, as can be seen from the measures with which we are now dealing. First of all, a bounty is provided on processed milk, and then there are related measures providing for levies for the purposes of promotion and research.

Any suggestion that the importation of cheese is detrimental to the industry must at once be refuted. We have in Australia a very great cheese industry. We export a considerable quantity of cheese, and in order to satisfy home consumers with the blends they expect to receive it is necessary for us to bring in certain quantities of various kinds of cheeses. This is sensible business, good business, the kind of business which will help us sell the produce of our farms. It is sheer humbug for the honorable member for Oxley to make statements such as those he made earlier tonight in this House.

It has always been recognised that the dairying industry is one in which individual producers do not all come up to the same general standard. There are great disparities between producing areas, brought about by climatic conditions and by all sorts of variables. These have to be taken into account when we deal with the problems and the needs of the industry. The honorable member’s reference to the need to eliminate what he called billy can producers is evidence of a lack of appreciation of the circumstances of the industry by a member of the Opposition.

At the outset of this debate the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) spoke of the efforts of his party to promote the industry. We should recall right away that the proposals for a guaranteed price were opposed by the party that the honorable member represents-

Mr Pollard:

– That is untrue.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The McGirr Government in the State of New South Wales refused to allow the rise in price that had been recommended by a Federal committee. The honorable member for Lalor should never forget this. There are many other background facts which could well be kept in mind when we are considering the needs of the dairying industry today.

The legislation with which we are dealing provides for a bounty of £400,000 for the current year and for the following year on the production of processed milk. This is an essential requirement for the maintenance of the economic stability of the industry. Let me say immediately that there are many things that the industry needs and for which it is fighting, but that surely this legislation is further evidence of the sincerity of this Government in its desire to play whatever part it can in improving the condition of the industry in the jurisdiction in which it has power to operate. There are other fields that are within the ambit of State Governments and various State instrumentalities, but time will not permit me to touch on those in this debate.

I want to direct the attention of the honorable member for Oxley, who spoke about conditions in Queensland, to the current proposals in New South Wales by the new Liberal-Country Party Government which will give the dairying industry a great impetus, which will sponsor efficiency in the industry and encourage and promote a new approach to those aspects of it which come within the ambit of State and regional authorities. This is one way in which the industry can be helped. There are certain aspects that can be approached at the national level and there are others which require consideration at State and regional levels. This industry can be taken forward only if the whole pattern is looked at with this concept in mind. It is for this reason that the Government is bringing down a measure which renews the bounty on processed milk. Here is one compartment of the industry which needs special assistance. Here is a special requirement by a section of the industry located in the manufacturing field which needs financial assistance to bring it up to the overall level achieved as a result of the grant of subsidy for butter production. This is a sound approach and I commend the Government for the action it has taken.

Let me move on from that subject and, very briefly examine the proposals for promotion and research embodied in the legislation to continue levies for these purposes. Those who spoke earlier in the debate referred very fully to the objectives of this section of the legislation. I believe it is very important that extension work, flowing from the funds made available from the levy for research, be increased in this country. Part of the policy of this Government is to step up extension work. During the next sessional period we will be dealing with legislation to revolutionise extension work in primary industry in this country, and the dairying industry will be foremost in the proposals that will be put forward. The measure with which we are now dealing will provide the industry with the means of extending scientific research and making available to individual farmers a whole range of methods of assistance. When we debate a measure of this kind we must always remember the interests of the individual farmer. The honorable member for Oxley made a curious statement. He said he believed that the dairying industry was suffering from the effects of the inroads of the middle man. He claimed that there is a middle man in the dairying industry. Surely he must be aware of the great cooperative movement - the co-operative organisation which sponsors the factories owned by the dairy farmers for production purposes. How does he discover a middle man in that facet of the operations of the industry? Obviously his statement discloses his complete lack of knowledge of this great industry.

If time permitted I should be very glad to answer the honorable member on many things which he inferred because of his lack of knowledge of this industry. The dairy farmers of Australia are the salt of the earth, if I may use that analogy; they have to toil seven days a week; they have no day off. A cow has to be milked seven days a week, and by far the majority of those engaged in this industry do not have the hours and conditions which other people are able to enjoy. For this reason a strong case exists for stepping up the economic security of the dairying industry, particularly in relation to the owner-operator, the share farmer and the person who depends upon a comparatively small income. Any criticism of these people discloses lack of justice and lack of consideration.

My colleague the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred earlier to the disparity in the return for butter as against the return for milk. These are matters, as I indicated a little earlier, which fall within the ambit of action by State Governments. I hope that we will see a broadening of the activities which come within this sphere, to bring about a better balance between those two streams of income within the dairying industry. There is a great need for something to be done to correct this difficulty in the economy of the industry. The first step is currently being taken in New South Wales, where it is proposed to pay a special development payment of 3d. per lb. on commercial butter as an incentive to create a. better economy outside the milk producing areas. Along with that, funds will be made available to try to boost efficiency within the industry.

When we talk of boosting efficiency let us not for one moment assume that there is gross inefficiency in the industry. The honorable member for Richmond very clearly showed that if everyone in the industry was getting the same comparative income as is received from the sale of milk there would be no problems.

We have to face up to the sheer practical considerations of an industry that is beset by many difficulties. These six Bills provide the means for continuing action in what is a major task to keep this industry progressing, to keep it on the road, as it were, and to keep it going for the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of people who are engaged in it. The industry is very vital to this Commonwealth. It produces a vast export income. It sustains a huge number of good Australians. It employs indirectly a great number of people, and any industry that does that is certainly worthy of the support of the Commonwealth Government. The Government today recognises this very clearly. 1 shall mention very briefly one 0’her aspect which I think is important in considering the welfare of the industry. Mention has been made of the possibility of world surpluses of butter. I think we should analyse this aspect. The facts today disclose that the very large world surplus which existed two years ago has been absorbed. There was in the United States of America a vast build up of surplus butter. This has been, drawn off and no longer exists. Due to seasonal conditions there is a lower surplus in European countries than there has been for years. Naturally, seasonal conditions may change this picture in Europe, but from the point of view of the overall world situation we do not today see the surpluses that existed a few years ago.

One of the reasons for an improvement in the general stability of the industry, from the standpoint of the Australian producer, was the success of the Government in renegotiating arrangements for sales in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom agreed to modify the duty on foreign butter as against the free entry of Australian butter, and in its place to arrange for a quantitative arrangement. This has increased returns for Australian butter by more than 100s. a cwt., and was good business for the Australian dairy farmer. Many other equally valuable contributions have been made by this Government and will continue to be made. For the Opposition to suggest that the Government is neglecting the industry is, as I said earlier, sheer humbug.

I want to close my contribution to this debate by saying that it is important to recognise that at present an economic survey of the dairying industry is nearing completion. This survey will give us the means to review further the problems and needs of the industry. It is being carried out in the interests of the industry. The survey is a further example of the Government’s sincere desire to assist the industry and to endeavour at all times to care for its needs economically, in matters of trade and in matters relating to its general welfare. I believe that the six Bills with which we are now dealing are of great value. They make a real contribution to the industry and I very strongly support them.

Mr CONNOR:
Cunningham

.- I felt impelled to make a contribution to this debate after hearing the speech of the

Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony). The Minister laid special stress on favorable conditions which are being experienced by milk producers whose supplies are going to the various capital cities: I think it should be placed on record - and it is a complete answer to the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) - that it was a New South Wales Labour government, at the instance of the late Mr. William Davies, my predecessor when a State member, which introduced the Milk Act in New South Wales in 1926. That was the start of the millenium for the city milk industry in that State. That fact shoud be put on record to the credit of the party I have the honour to represent. lt has been said that Australia’s greatest export is grass, whether it take the form of animal flesh, wool or dairy products, in every case the grass being converted by the metabolism of the particular animal. I have the honour to represent a district which has made a notable contribution to the dairying industry, and which has even evolved its own type of cattle - the Australian Illawarra Shorthorn, a general utility breed based on a cross between the Ayrshire and the Devon with perhaps a little dash of Jersey. It has been said that this is the agc of steel, lt is also the age of cattle, and future historians will undoubtedly classify the age thus. We are apt to forget the importance of animal husbandry. The English speaking peoples, and the people of the United Kingdom in particular, have excelled and led the world in this field. Practically every breed of dairy cattle and every breed of beef cattle had its origin in Britain or was developed to world standards in that country as the result of the aptitude for animal husbandry of the British peoples.

When we first populated this country we had the advantage of a huge area of land. The grazing of cattle, in particular, can be associated only with relatively vast tracts of land. When it comes to the extensive use of land, it is very difficult indeed for certain countries to have the advantages of grazing cattle. Honorable members are apt to forget that perhaps 3 per cent, only of the world’s area is occupied by the human race today. The other 97 per cent, is waste or is unsuitable for cultivation or for grazing. I think it was Charles Lamb who said that the world can be divided into two groups of people - those who borrow and those who lend. There is another classification that can be made so far as the Australian people are concerned, and it is simply this - we divide them into those who can afford to buy butter and those who cannot.

I have heard a lot of rationalising today in the course of this debate, but the hard and fundamental fact is simply that with butter at a retail price of 4s. lid. or 5s. per lb. the average working man cannot afford to buy it. We can talk in terms of prejudices against the use of butter, but let me remind honorable members that in New Zealand the consumption per capita per annum of butter is still 42 lb. In Australia the consumption per capita has dropped to 24 or 25 lb. per annum. If butter were sold at a reasonable price in Australia, I do not say that the export difficulties would disappear, but at the very least I think there would be a remarkable stimulation in the sale of butter. I suggest that this situation would be brought about if it were sold at a median price somewhere between its present retail price and the price at which we are dumping the best of our butter on the London market, which is in the vicinity of 3s. per lb. If butter were offered to the Australian people at about 4s. per lb. - the figure would be a matter of actuarial calculation, but it could be done - I would say that there would be a remarkable stimulation in the Australian consumption of butter. It is nothing more than the price which is responsible for the present situation. There is not a working man in my constituency who would not be glad to buy it if he could afford it, but needs must when the devil drives and it is a case of buying margarine and nothing else but that for the great majority of people today.

Very little has been said about the report of the Dairying Industry Committee of Inquiry. Of course, silence is golden at times. Whilst I have a great respect for the industry and although I come from farming stock myself, it seems to me that we have not come to grips with the real problem which is the considerable number of people in the industry who are trying to work a farm and get a living from an area which is substandard and from which, as a matter of common charity and in their own best interests, they should be removed. It is very easy to talk in arbitrary terms, but that was one of the fundamental recommendations of the Committee. That cannot be done in a day and it will have to be planned. Fundamentally we are in a difficult position. I know that in terms of the export trade we must continue to subsidise the export of butter - and subsidy it is. Let honorable members, particularly those from the rural areas who from time to time choose to blackguard the trade union movement, remember that it is thanks to the working man and the existing consumption of butter that the producers are able to dump their export surplus on the overseas market and dump the best of our butter. Export quality goes abroad and it is the lower quality which remains in this country for consumption by our people.

There are many faults with the dairy industry and there is a wide variation in talents and skills. Some of the men engaged in the industry are shining examples of intelligence and a scientific approach to farming. In many cases there are men who are highly capitalised. They are men who, above all, if they were fortunate enough to have inherited their farm or to have acquired it in a period prior to World War II are able to make a go of it and get along very nicely, but I think it is one of the outstanding facts of the dairying industry that butter fat values are crystallised in the form of land values. The minute there is an increase in the price of butter fat, correspondingly there is an increase in the price of land. One of the besetting problems of the dairy industry today is the relatively excessive price of land and the heavy burden - self imposed in most cases - for a younger generation which has chosen to go into the industry.

The matter that has concerned me most - I speak in terms of my own constituency and my own district - has been the gradual drain over the years from the soil of certain soil chemicals, in particular calcium, by the over-grazing of the soil. There is a remarkable association of dental caries and dental decay in certain old dairying districts with the fact that in former years, when there was not a complete understanding of chemical requirements, the lime in the soil was not replenished. The statisticians say that an acre of land fully grazed continually by a dairy cow loses about half a ton of lime a year. Australia is one of the oldest contin ents and lime, in particular, and phosphorus too, have been leached away by the rain and needs to be replaced. Again, as an example of inefficiency in this industry, we have the grass farmer, the man who is prepared while there is a flush of grass - paspalum - in the summer time to produce more, but in the winter he dries off the cows and has a spell. Our average production of butter per cow in Australia is, I understand, 190 lb. It is a shame to compare that figure with production in New Zealand. I know that different climatic conditions are involved and there are also differences in soil, but the fundamental point is that if we are to achieve anything in this industry we must put it on a rational and economic basis.

That brings me to my final point, which is that we definitely need an increase in population! It is only by internal consumption that we will be able to meet the problems in this industry. In the meantime, unless any person has any real prospect of advancement he should be discouraged from going into the industry. Further, the standards should be raised for the people already in the industry. I think the dairy industry as a whole will find that the Opposition and the Australian Labour Party are just as sympathetic to its problems as any other section of the community.

Mr ADERMANN:
Minister for Primary Industry · Fisher · CP

– in reply. - There has been an interesting debate on this and the associated Bills. It is always interesting to me that so much advice is given to dairymen by those who have never been game to undergo the experience of actual operations. I want to correct one or two points that have been mentioned. The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor), who spoke last, did a great disservice to the industry when he said that all the second grade butter that is produced here is sold on the Australian market.

Mr Connor:

– I did not say that; I said that the export quality goes overseas.

Mr ADERMANN:

– The position is that 94.3 per cent, of our butter is choice and first grade. It is to the credit of the industry that we have such a high percentage of first grade butters. The 5.7 per cent, of second grade, pastry and whey is sold overseas. It is for a particular market and not for edible purposes. So no-one is losing through that, but we are getting a market for it. I want everybody to know that the butter sold on the Australian market is no lower than first grade.

Mr Pollard:

– What becomes of the choice grade?

Mr ADERMANN:

– I know from actual experience that in Queensland butter factories are selling much of their choice butter on the Australian market. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) was extravagant in his statements. He said that the report of the committee appointed to inquire into the dairy industry was used by me to intimidate the industry. Does he know what he means when he makes a statement like that? But, of course, he is always going about making such extravagant statements.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Why does not the Minister wait until the honorable member comes into the chamber before maligning him?

Mr ADERMANN:

– Why is the honorable member not in the House? Why did he run away as soon as he made that statement? He did so because he knew it would be answered. The honorable member is not game to hear the answer. That is why he is not present in the House, so his colleagues need not try to defend him in that way.

I want to make a positive statement to show what this Government has really done for the dairy industry. Over a succession of years the Government has paid a subsidy of £13.5 million to assist the industry and to assist the consuming public of Australia. Last year’s figures indicate that the consumers in Australia bought their butter for 7.96d. per lb. less than they would have paid if the dairymen had been getting the same returns, but without the subsidy. Therefore this is a consumer subsidy. We accept the position that it greatly assists the industry because dairymen are able to sell their butter cheaper and therefore in greater quantities. So the butter subsidy benefits both sides. But we have not confined our assistance to that subsidy. We have indicated in this legislation that we are prepared to continue for the next two years the bounty of £400,000 a year on processed milk products. That bounty has greatly assisted our exports. Three years ago it prevented the near loss of our export markets. Exports of processed milk products went down to a very low level due to subsidies paid by other countries on their exports to markets which hitherto had been ours. Our own bounty helped producers to recapture our markets. That is why I am sure honorable members will support these measures.

In addition to the butter subsidy of £13.5 million and the £400,000 bounty for processed milk products, the Government is giving £350,000 as a grant to the States for extension purposes. This, too, has assisted the industry in a practical way. Further, the Government is providing the industry with £142,000, on a £1 for £1 basis, for research purposes. That means that the industry is spending upwards of £142,000 on research. That is real assistance. Then there is the sum of £62,500 voted to the industry - again on a £1 for £1 basis - through the Department of Trade for promotion overseas. That sum is used by the industry for promotion in the United Kingdom. Then what about the contribution made by the Government to new markets? Australia has sold approximately 13,000 tons of butter to markets other than the United Kingdom. We have markets in practically every continent - South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. This shows that the Department of Trade, operating in conjunction with the dairy industry, is really trying to find markets in other countries. In some of them the quantities sold are small but they give us a starting point. The fact that we sold approximately 13,000 tons of butter to countries other than the United Kingdom shows that the Government is on the job.

The Government has established processed milk factories in Manila, in Bangkok and in Singapore. We hope that these will give us practical results. The factories at Bangkok and Singapore are operating only at half strength at the moment because the modern machinery required has not yet been installed. Manila is taking skimmed milk powder from us at the moment and in the future will undertake fuller production. So, the Government has diversified our markets and taken practical steps to assist this industry. In addition to the large sums of money given by way of subsidy, and grants for research and promotion, we are giving very practical assistance to an industry of which we are all proud and which makes an important contribution to Australia’s economy.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -

That the Bill be now read a third time.

Mr POLLARD:
Lalor

.- I do not think I should let this Bill, the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill, be read a third time without making just a few concluding remarks. First of all I want to address myself to the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate).

Mr Jeff Bate:

– What about addressing the Chair?

Mr POLLARD:

– I say this through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the honorable member for Macarthur. In 1925 I was the proud owner of 70 dairy cows. I was able to keep 40 cows in full milk all the year round. For my milk at the gate of the property I received the handsome sum of 4½d. per gallon, the equivalent of about 11¼d. per lb. for butter fat. The administration of the day was the Lyons Government - a Liberal Government or whatever name the Liberal Party used in those days. The honorable member for Macarthur spoke about the fixing of butter prices during wartime by the Prices Commissioner appointed by the Labour Government. Let me remind the honorable member that in 1941 the Labour Government inherited from the Menzies administration the then Prices Commissioner, Sir Douglas Copland. Sir Douglas Copland operated under national security regulations put through this Parliament by the Menzies Government. I have no criticism of Sir Douglas Copland or the Menzies Government in that respect. But the Labour Government inherited Sir Douglas Copland and at that time the price of butter was about1s.1d. or1s. 2d. per lb. I concede that Sir Douglas was an efficient Prices Commissioner during wartime, operating under all the difficulties that then existed. Farmers purchased their supplies at pegged prices and, in turn, the prices of their products, including butter, were pegged. It ill becomes the honorable member for Macarthur to blame the Labour Administration for the pegging of prices throughout Australia’s economy.

With the coming of peace in 1945, naturally the dairy farmers sought something better. It was the Labour Administration that initiated the inquiry into the industry. It was the Labour Administration that accepted the recommendations of the inquiry, and it was the Labour Administration which brought into this Parliament legislation for a guaranteed price for five years, based on the cost of production - the first that Australia had known in its history. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) said about the lack of co-operation of the Labour Government of New South Wales, that guaranteed price to the dairy farmers, based on the cost of production, required the assent of every State Government. Mr. Eddie Graham was Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales at the time and I received his assent to the price determined by the inquiring committee. That was done at the request of the dairy farmers of Australia and with the concurrence of their organisation. Those concerned offered their heartfelt thanks to the Labour Governments, both State and Federal, at that time. I leave the matter there.

Furthermore, the Commonwealth Labour Government introduced, for the first time in Australia’s history, legislation for the appropriation for five years of £250,000 per annum to assist the dairy industry in its struggle to produce under more economic circumstances. The present Government, to its credit - I give credit where it is due - has continued that assistance and has even added something to it. But what it has done has not been sufficient to maintain the purchasing power of that financial assistance in view of the inflation that has taken place since the original appropriation was made. The honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Macarthur can whinge and cry as much as they like, and make all sorts of accusations, but it has never been necessary for me in this Parliament to tell falsehoods to answer those who today are telling downright lies about the history of the dairy industry of this country and the assistance rendered to it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock:
LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Order! May I remind the honorable member for Lalor that the purpose of the third reading debate is normally to allow honorable members to speak on a bill as reported and not to make the kind of speech that is usually made at the second reading stage. I suggest that the honorable member has now made the point that he rose to make.

Mr POLLARD:

– Not quite, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I conclude by saying that, prior to the Australian Labour Party’s taking office in 1941, the level of dairy production reached a peak never hitherto known. 1 refer particularly to 1935, when Labour was far removed from office. Do honorable members know why production was so high then? It was because of the bad economic position in Australia. Unemployment was so high that the children of dairy farmers who were fitted by nature and ability to be lawyers, doctors and engineers had to remain on the farms and pull tits to make a living. Those are the facts, and I leave the matter there. Honorable members opposite need only look at the statistics.

Mr JEFF BATE:
Macarthur

.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, notwithstanding any exhortations that we should let the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) go, I want to make it clear that I was not elected to this House to listen to the sort of stuff that he has tried to put over. His memory of earlier events has become a bit foggy in the quarter of a century that has elapsed since 1941, and he stands condemned by what he has said about the dairy industry. He stated that the Labour Government inherited Sir Douglas Copland as Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. Then, fearing that this remark may have been taken as a reflection on Sir Douglas - which it was - the honorable member tried to make out that anything that Sir Douglas had done was the fault of the Government from which the Labour Administration had inherited him. That is what the honorable member sought to tell us. Then, thinking it over quickly, he suddenly said, in effect: “ Of course, I find no fault with Sir Douglas Copland “. What did he mean? Did he mean to reflect on Sir Douglas for what he had done, or did he support him? The honorable member appeared to twist his meaning in two sentences. He says that what we on this side say is false, but he cannot get his facts straight.

Mr Pollard:

– Work it out for yourself.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– Let us work it out. The honorable member said that the Labour Government inherited Sir Douglas Copland as Prices Commissioner. It kept him for eight years, from 1941 to 1949.

Mr Pollard:

– Yes, and he did a good job, too.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– This is it: He did do a good job. He did a good job for the Chifley Government in helping it to peg the price of butter. That was the job that he had to do. And the Labour Government kept Sir Douglas as Prices Commissioner. Yet the honorable member suggested that anything that Sir Douglas had done was the fault of the previous Government, from which he had been inherited.

Mr Pollard:

– Work it out for yourself.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– Let the people who are listening to the honorable member this evening work it out, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Sir Douglas Copland did the dirty work for the Chifley Government by pegging the price of butter. He helped that Government almost to ruin the dairy industry of this country. It is only just recovering from the job that he did. In 1945, Sir Douglas Copland, who had been inherited by the Labour Government from the previous Administration as Prices Commissioner, pegged the price of butter. He gave false reasons for not agreeing to an increase in the price. In 1947, he gave more false reasons for not agreeing to an increase in the price. He tried to emulate Lennox Walker, the weather forecaster. Sir Douglas said, in effect: “ You will have good seasons; so T shall not raise the price of butter “. But we had bad seasons after he made that decision.

This was done by a man whom the Labour Government kept for eight years as Prices Commissioner. Yet the honorable member for Lalor now wants to blame the Government from which it inherited Sir Douglas. The fact is that he nearly ruined the dairy industry. The honorable member for Lalor has not a clue about these matters now. He cannot remember what happened in the days of which he speaks. The Labour Government stands condemned for nearly ruining the dairy industry. If anybody was responsible for getting the industry into trouble, it was the Labour Government. The honorable member for Lalor was the instrument of that Government and Sir Douglas Copland, as Prices Commissioner, was his tool.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

page 1952

BUTTER FAT LEVY BILL 1965

Second Readings

Consideration resumed from19th May (vide page 1665), on motion by Mr. Adermann -

That the Bills be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bills together read a second time.

Messages from the Administrator recommending appropriations for the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1965 and the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill1965 announced.

Third Readings

Leave granted for third readings to be moved forthwith.

Bills (on motion by Mr. Adermann) together read a third time.

page 1952

PRINTING COMMITTEE

Mr ERWIN:
Ballaarat

– I present the seventh report of the Printing Committee.

Report - by leave - adopted.

page 1952

BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE

The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -

Defence (Re-establishment) Bill 1965.

Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1965.

Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1965.

Gold Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1965.

Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1965.

page 1952

SULPHURIC ACID BOUNTY BILL 1965

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 19th May (vide page1665), on motion by Mr. Bury -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock:

– There being no objection, that course will be followed.

Mr POLLARD:
Lalor

.- These two measures, the Bill to amend the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act 1954-60, and the Bill to amend the Pyrites Bounty Act 1960 are, of course, inter-related in that sulphuric acid is produced from iron pyrites and the purpose of paying a bounty on the production of both these products is to assist the production of sulphuric acid in Australia from Austrlaian products. Pyrites is, of course, a product of the mining industry. It is the produce from which sulphuric acid can be manufactured. It is of vast importance to every field of production in Australia.

In primary industry, sulphuric acid produced from pyrites is used in the main for the reduction of phosphatic rock to superphosphate. Without sulphuric acid for that purpose, primary industries in Australia would be hard put to it to produce to the extent that they produce today. In the field of secondary industry, sulphuric acid is used in a very wide range of industrial production indeed. It is used in the textile industry, in the tyre industry, the rubber industry and the chemical industry. In fact, there is hardly any field of human endeavour that is not directly or indirectly concerned with the production of sulphuric acid.

Unfortunately, Australia has no natural resources for the production from the earth of the base material that other parts of the world have available to them. I refer to sulphur. The United States of America is fortunate indeed in that, many long years ago. it was discovered during a search for oil that in the areas known as the sulphur domes of America there were at great depths vast areas of underground rock of a porous nature in which was secreted pure sulphur. As I have said, these deposits were at a great depth. The big problem was how to bring the sulphur to the surface for use in industry, and for other purposes. A Frenchman - I forget his name for the time being - conceived the idea of putting down bores, lining them with steel casings and then, inside those casings putting a pipe of smaller diameter. On the surface, he proposed establishing vast steam generating stations from which to force steam down the central pipes at high pressure, his theory being that the steam would permeate the porous rocks, melt the sulphur and force it up the bore to be collected in dams on the surface. For a long period of years, Australia and many other countries had been dependent for their supplies of sulphur on sources such as that used in the production of sulphuric acid.

It is true that sulphuric acid can be produced from a wide variety of other materials. As is illustrated by this particular measure, it can be produced in Australia from iron pyrites, a product derived from the mining of a very wide range of metalliferous ores, particularly in the Mount Garnet, Mount Lyell and Norseman areas. It is actually a by-product derived from the smelting operations of those mines. Over the years, vast quantities of this sulphuric acid bearing product have been accumulated. It would be undesirable, as we know to our cost, to leave Australia entirely dependent upon imports from overseas for this most essential industrial product. The history of this matter goes right back to the days of the Chifley and Curtin Govern ments and I am not raising a party issue here. All governments have rendered some assistance to encourage the captains of Australia’s mining industry and fertiliser companies to instal plant and equipment for the conversion of iron pyrites to sulphuric acid, thereby obviating the necessity to import raw sulphur from overseas for the purposes for which we require it.

It is true that for a period of time sulphur was taken from rock in the island of Sicily and other countries. I suppose their deposits would be almost cut out now. Today we are to some extent, at least, dependent upon and encouraging production from our own resources. That is desirable. For that reason, the Opposition proposes to support these Bills which provide for the extension of the existing bounties for another period of six months. It appears that the Tariff Board has had a reference made to it by the Government requesting that it make an investigation into and report upon the justification for payment of a bounty for the production of sulphuric acid. Unfortunately, the Board has not been able to produce a report up to date, so the Minister says. Consequently, the Government says it is desirable to continue paying the bounty. We offer no objection but we do offer certain comments.

Perhaps it has some foundation, but this story about the necessity for continuing bounties because the Tariff Board is too busy to consider the position is not new. Perhaps some investigation should be made into why the Tariff Board is not able to produce reports more expeditiously. Does it need more staff? Is there need for the creation of more tariff boards? I remind this Parliament that in the field of repatriation we have appointed assessment tribunals to overcome a similar problem. Today we have a number of courts all operating in the same field of crime. It may be that we have reached the stage in Australia where we should have a number of tariff boards, perhaps sectionalised. Some of them could be inquiring into bounty problems; some could be inquiring into excise problems; and some into tariff problems. It appears, from the rate at which one single board is turning out reports on a wide range of subject matters, that there is something wrong and that some reforms are required.

Before I go any further, I should like to put on record some technical details relating to the use of sulphuric acid. I refer, first, to the extent to which Australian pyrites is used by the fertiliser industry. I remind honorable members that we must remember that the main fertilisers essential for the growth of all plants and crops are phosphorus, nitrogen and potash. Phorphorus for all practical purposes, is superphosphate and is the main fertiliser used for all cereal crops such as wheat. It is manufactured by mixing ground phosphate rock shipped from Nauru, Ocean Island and other places, with sulphuric acid and this constitutes by far the greatest use of sulphuric acid in Australia. In other words, phosphate rock with sulphuric acid produces superphosphate.

I come now to nitrogen. This is essential for the green growth of plants and is used in balanced fertilisers for orchards, for sugar cane, and so on. It is mostly marketed in the form of sulphate of ammonia which is derived from two principal sources. The first source is gas works from which it is a byproduct. The other means of production is the direct manufacture of ammonium sulphate by mixing sulphuric acid and ammonia. Ammonia is now becoming available in increasing quantities as more oil refineries proceed to produce it as a byproduct. In other words, sulphuric acid plus ammonia equals ammonium sulphate.

Potash is a naturally occurring chemical which is mined mainly overseas. It is effective for all root crops, such as potatoes, and also for vineyards, orchards and crops requiring a mixed or balanced diet. However, the quantities used are comparatively small. Our ability to produce food at a low cost is thus determined to a considerable extent by our ability to produce low cost sulphuric acid. I sum up what I have said so far in this way: There are three main fertilisers with which we are concerned - superphosphate, sulphate of ammonia and potash. Both superphosphate and sulphate of ammonia require the manufacture in Australia of very large quantities of sulphuric acid.

Let me deal specifically with sulphuric acid. In general it can be said that for at least the past 60 years the measure of the industrial development of any nation can be gauged by its annual production of sulphuric acid. Few people realise that. That statement is true because sulphuric acid is the starting chemical for vast numbers of processes producing products endless in variety and, in some instances, such as superphosphate, vast in quantity. In the face of the extraordinary rate of development now proceeding in Australia, one thing is sure. That is that the rate of increase of the production of sulphuric acid must keep pace with that rate of development. So, whatever policies are laid down have important and far-reaching effects in later years.

Sulphuric acid is made by burning sulphur in some form or other - either imported or locally produced - in order to produce the gas sulphur dioxide. That gas is oxidised and dissolved in water to produce sulphuric acid. So sulphur, plus heat, plus air, plus water, equals sulphuric acid. In the past, most of the plants were chamber plants. They produced acid of nearly 80 per cent, strength, which is just about right for making superphosphate. However, for the manufacture of explosives and other special processes, or where the acid is transported in rail or ship tankers, the contact process is used to make acid of 100 per cent, strength.

Now I turn to brimstone and pyrites. The sources of sulphur dioxide to make acid by either process may be many and varied; but, apart from the production of the gas as a by-product of some other process such as the sintering of zinc-lead concentrates at Port Pirie and Cockle Creek, the two prime sources are brimstone and pyrites. Brimstone, or crude sulphur, is supplied to the world mainly by the United States from great deposits in Louisiana, Mexico and elsewhere. Those deposits, although at great depths, are recovered by an ingenious process, which I have outlined, and shipped to Australia as from 98 to 99 per cent, pure sulphur. When I looked into this matter about 8 or 10 years ago, the cost was about £21 a ton of sulphur at the main Australian ports and was paid for in United States dollars.

Mr Bury:

– The cost has gone up since then.

Mr POLLARD:

– Yes. Sulphur costs about twice as much as that now. At that time the purchase of sulphur caused a terrific drain on Australia’s supply of dollars. That was why the previous Government endeavoured and the present Government is endeavouring to produce the very maximum possible production. The plant required to burn this brimstone is simple and of low cost. It requires a minimum of maintenance. There are no technical problems due to dust and so on entering the acid plant with the sulphur dioxide gas. After burning, there is practically no residue of unburnt material to dispose of.

That covers sulphuric acid made from brimstone or crude sulphur. Pyrites, of course, is a different proposition. It is a sulphide of iron, a naturally occurring mineral which is found in Australia in countless millions of tons. It is approximately half sulphur and half iron, and may be mined solely for acid production as at Nairne Pyrites in South Australia and Norseman in Western Australia, or produced as a vital by-product, as at Mount Morgan - a mine which is vitally important to Queensland - and at Mount Lyell in Tasmania. The immediate problems associated with the use of pyrites instead of or in lieu of brimstone are: First, pyrites consists of only half sulphur and the familiar bogy of rail freight rears its head; secondly, the roasting of pyrites requires the investment of greater capital for the burning plant, and consequently greater maintenance costs are incurred; and thirdly, after burning off the sulphur as sulphur dioxide gas, there is a residue of oxide of iron, equal to half the weight of the original material, to be disposed of or stacked.

In time, of course, when the phenomenal high grade deposits of iron ore are more depleted, this residue or cinder, being a high grade ore of iron, will be used for the manufacture of iron and steel. This requires the installation of sinter machines. Of course, in view of more recent discoveries of iron ore deposits, I would not think there is much danger of our ore being depleted to an extent that would render us deficient in pyrites. Overall, it is more difficult and more costly to make acid from pyrites than from brimstone. This is not apparent at plants which are experienced in burning pyrites, but there is additional cost involved. This additional cost is referred to by the acid makers as the “ pyrites penalty “. If the acid maker can buy brimstone or sulphur at a certain price, he can break even with his cost of acid manufacture and/or superphosphate manufacture, only if he can get his pyrites sulphur for something less.

In the broadest sense, this is what the pyrites bounty does. In effect, it makes up to the acid maker the extra cost incurred in making acid from pyrites instead of brimstone. That is important. When it works this way, we are using our own natural resources of mineral wealth and spending the money in our own country. We are not spending dollars. We provide more employment and we move further towards national independence of the natural resources of other countries. In the not so long term - possibly 40 years or less - despite the great deposits in America, the world will have used up its total resoures of brimstone, anyway. Eventually, the deposits in America, Sicily and other places from which pure sulphur is relatively easy to obtain, will cut out.

I turn now to the history. Until the war years, practically no pyrites was burnt to make sulphuric acid and, except for a few plants which had to remove the sulphur from lead and zinc concentrates as part of the process of the recovery of those metals, practically all acid previously made in Australia was made from brimstone. Consequently, it took good reasons and pressing ones to persuade some of the acid makers to change over to pyrites. In the following years more plants went over to pyrites and the bounty was introduced to encourage plants to do so. On the whole, it seems that a sort of panic position arose, in which some of the acid makers were standing on the brink of conversion, surrounded by doubts about whether the price increase for brimstone and the doubtful supply position from the United States were a short term or long term picture at which they were looking. Some took the leap and some stayed behind. Those who stayed behind found in a year or two that all was well once more. The price of brimstone was down and ample supplies were available.

However, this is relatively a passing phase and the problem will recur. Unless the matter is pressed and talked about in all quarters we will simply defer the time when we shall be forced to produce the right answer for Australia. The answer is to create pressure towards making Australia virtually independent of sulphur imports. It is for that reason that the Government has now introduced these measures, the purpose of which is to continue the bounties. It is also for that reason that, as in the past, the Opposition is supporting the measures. I have other particulars relating to freights, but I will not weary honorable members with them.

I point out that the production of sulphuric acid was so important to Australia that during the war the then Government erected plants at Albion, Ballarat, Villawood and Mulwala. These were constructed to produce nitrogen from the air. When the war ended it was decided by the Chifley Government to convert these plants to the production of sulphate of ammonia and sulphuric acid, and they were so converted at considerable cost. They had an estimated output of about 12,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia per annum, but lo and behold, the present Government came along and decided that it would abandon the ownership and control of these plants, and it handed them over to the Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd. We now have an anomalous situation, which I will not go into fully. During the last couple of years the principal users of sulphuric acid, the fertiliser companies, have been swallowed up by a vast amalgamation of the fertiliser producing firms of Australia. Wishart and Company, Mount Lyell Fertilisers Ltd., and, I think, Nobel (Australasia) Pty. Ltd. merged and became Commonwealth Fertilisers Ltd. This company merged with Australian Fertilisers Ltd. More recently, Australian Fertilisers Ltd., which included Cuming Smith and Co. Ltd. merged with LCL, and this in turn merged with Shirleys Fertilisers Ltd. and some other concern in Queensland. Quite recently Cuming Smith Farmers Company Ltd., in association with some other firm operating in Western Australia, merged with BP Aust. Ltd. which, through its petro-chemical interests, produces sulphuric acid.

So we have these vast associations of fertiliser producers, who are the largest users of sulphuric acid in Australia, getting together and endeavouring whenever possible to increase the price of fertilisers to the primary producers of Australia. We pay a bounty on the production of fertilisers and we pay a bounty on the production of brimstone from which is made sulphuric acid. It is high time the Tariff Board produced a report on the machinations not only of those who produce sulphuric acid, including the fertiliser monopoly or near monopoly, but on the operations of the fertiliser monopoly itself.

We support the Bill and hope it will do something to ensure the production of this vital commodity. We hope also for an expedition of the work of the Tariff Board and an early report to the Parliament on what is going on in this industry so important to Australia’s welfare.

Mr DAVIES:
Braddon

.- The main content of the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill has been well covered by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I wish briefly to deal with some aspects of the Pyrites Bounty Bill. Its purpose is to extend the operation of the Pyrites Bounty Act 1960 for a further six months. The bounty is at the rate of £3 a ton of sulphur contained in the pyrites. This basic rate is increased or decreased by the same amount as the landed duty on sulphur falls below or rises above the price of £16 a ton. This rise or fall clause is provided because the disabilities of pyrites producers vary with the cost of imported sulphur.

Pyrites mines, as the honorable member for Lalor pointed out, are found at Norseman, operated by the Western Mining Corp. Ltd., in Western Australia; Nairne in South Australia and, in the eastern States, at Lake George and Mount Morgan which supply three acid manufacturers in Queensland and New South Wales. In Tasmania production is at Mount Lyell on the west coast. Its production is sent to Commonwealth Fertilisers Ltd. in Victoria. This organisation has now been taken over by Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd. When this legislation was first introduced in 1960 to provide for this bounty at the basic rate of £3 a ton for the sulphur content, Tasmania was exporting 70,000 tons of pyrites each year to Victoria. I pointed out then that we needed the bounty as the sulphur content of our pyrites was about 50 per cent. Five years ago we qualified for the bounty on about 35,000 tons of our production.

An interesting picture has unravelled over the past five years. Our share of the market has fallen from 70,000 tons to 30,000 tons annually - a drop of more than 50 per cent. We qualify for a bounty on about 15,000 tons. This situation has been brought about by two factors. First, the price of imported sulphur has fallen drastically and, secondly, more sulphur is available to Austraiian importers. The figures are interesting and revealing. Our main sulphur imports are from Mexico and the United States of America. In the past five years our imports from Mexico have risen from about 54.000 tons to about 78,000 tons, and from the United States from 106,000 tons to 172,000 tons. Our total imports have risen from 174,000 tons to 304,000 tons. I have a short table relating to our sulphur imports, including the totals from the United States and from Mexico, and with the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate it in “ Hansard “.

The cost of these imports must represent a fair drain on our overseas balance of payments. I point out that it is in the interests of this country to continue to promote the manufacture of acid from Australian pyrites rather than spend dollars on these imports. I emphasise one or two examples to show how this drain on our overseas reserves continues to increase. In March 1964 the cost of sulphur imports was £134,000. In March 1965 it amounted to £340,000, an increase of about 160 per cent, in one year. More revealing, and more interesting, are the figures for sulphur imports for the nine months ended March 1964, when the cost to this country was slightly less than £2 million. For the corresponding period of this year, for the nine months ending March 1965, the cost had risen to £2i million. These rising imports have caused a reduction in the production of the Australian product used in the manufacture of acid. This is not in the best interests of the country.

The Government should ensure that the Tariff Board studies the implication of this situation because greater use of the indigenous material would help to conserve overseas reserves and to preserve important anu valuable industrial concerns in Australia. The Government recognised its obligation to those established concerns in the terms of reference of the Tariff Board hearing on 21st May 1959, while at the same time stating a change of policy. The Government’s change of policy is of great importance and is causing a great deal of concern to people who mine pyrites. The Government stated that in its view it was inappropriate to continue to pursue a policy of encouraging the use of Australian pyrites. It pointed out to the Tariff Board, however, that this change of policy should not operate to avoid its obligations to the Australian concerns which had expanded in recent years and co-operated with the Government when overseas supplies of sulphur fell away because of a world shortage. We should never lose sight of the efforts of those companies over the years when sulphur was not plentiful.

In 1950 there was a world shortage of sulphur. This could have led to a shortage of sulphuric acid and a consequent shortage of superphosphate, thus adversely affecting primary industry in this country. We are dependent to a great degree on our primary industries for export earnings overseas, so the Government, in this time of world shortage of sulphur, encouraged mining concerns in this country to expand their activities and so lessen our dependence on overseas supplies of sulphur. A promise was given by the Government that acid produced from local pyrites would be protected against acid produced from imported sulphur. So companies producing acid in Australia increased production, using more of the local product. However, about four years later the price of imported sulphur fell considerably and the Government was obliged to step in and honour its undertaking to producers. It asked the Tariff Board to recommend the payment of a bounty. The resulting legislation took the form of the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act of 1954, which fixed the rates of bounty on acid made from pyrites mined in Australia.

In the legislation now before the House we are considering the extension of the provisions of the principal Act for a further six months. The Opposition supports the measure. However, it is worthwhile to recall that another report into the industry was presented by the Tariff Board in September 1958. In response to Government policy the Board offered more positive incentives to acid manufacturers to use Australian supplies of pyrites. The increased bounty recommended in the Board’s report was never given legislative effect for the reasons I have already mentioned. Those reasons were the fact that there was a fall in the price of sulphur overseas and the fact that more deposits have been opened up overseas, especially in Mexico and the United States of America.

So on 21st May 1959 the Government sent a new reference to the Tariff Board, indicating its new policy in relation to the use of imported sulphur, but at the same time indicating that it recognised its responsibility to. Australian producers of acid and pyrites, who had put so much capital and effort into expanding their plants. This expansion had taken place so that this country could be assured of supplies of acid and the very important superphosphate instead of having to rely on imported sulphur. We are aware, of course, of the great concern that was felt in the early 1950’s when there was a world shortage of sulphur.

The position is far different today. In the live years during which the present legislation has been in force the amount of sulphur imported into this country has increased from 174,000 tons in 1958-59 to more than 300,000 tons last year. The I.C.I, organisation, which takes the Tasmanian output of pyrites, is undergoing a big programme of expansion. It is changing its plant from pyrites burners to sulphur burners, using imported materials. The honorable member for Lalor has already adverted to the cost of manufacturing acid from pyrites compared with manufacture from sulphur, not to mention the extensive residue resulting from the use of pyrites. The honorable member for Lalor has also pointed out that pyrites contains only 50 per cent, of sulphur so that the use of pyrites instead of sulphur involves a 100 per cent, increase in freight costs to obtain a given weight of sulphur.

I do not think one can blame the LCL organisation for its action because, after all, this is an economic proposition. It is changing its plants from pyrites burners to sulphur burners because of the availability of sulphur from overseas and because of its lower cost. What concerns me and the people in my area, particularly those in Queenstown, is that exports of pyrites from the area have dropped from 70,000 tons a year five years ago to 30,000 tons a year now as a result of this policy. I hope that the Tariff Board and the Government will realise that the Mr Lyell company needs the bounty for its pyrites. Apart from recognition of past expansion and past services to the nation in this regard, the bounty should be increased in order to guarantee and to safeguard our share of the market in the production of acid.

Mr Lyell is primarily a copper producing mine. Using the open cut method it is estimated that deposits will last a further 10 to 12 years. Officials of the company have studied underground mining methods in other countries in recent years and have adopted those methods. If those methods can be developed economically, experts tell us that the life of the mine at Queenstown can be extended to 20 years or longer. In other words, the life of the mine can be almost doubled. At the present time, using open cut methods of mining we can expect no more than 10 or 12 years of mining on the west coast of Tasmania, but if underground mining methods can be employed economically we can extend the life of Mr Lyell to 20 or 22 years.

I must point out that the company is still encountering technical difficulties in endeavouring to carry out underground mining. I do not think any company in the world today mines such low grade ore as we have at Mr Lyell. Because of this, the company needs any revenue it can get, particularly from such by-products as pyrites. In its latest report on this subject, the Tariff Board has referred to multi-metal mines and the fact that additional revenue from the sale of pyrites makes the mining of low grade ores economical. Witnesses at the Tariff Board inquiry showed that any decision to cease encouraging the use of pyrites would affect mines such as ours, where the sale of pyrites assists with the economic production of other metals. About 5,000 people in the towns of Queenstown, Gormanston and Strahan are dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the wellbeing of the Mr Lyell company. In addition, huge funds are invested in the area in public utilities, such as port and harbour works, schools, hospitals and other State and local government undertakings. Foi these reasons I support the extension of the bounty for a further six months. For the other reasons I have dealt with earlier I hope that the Tariff Board at its current inquiry into the industry, and later the Government, will give consideration to the need for increasing the bounty and for increasing the amount of Australian pyrites used in the manufacture of sulphuric acid.

Mr WILSON:
Sturt

.- I support the extension of this bounty until the report of the Tariff Board is received, but I would like to point out that whatever may be the result of the Tariff Board inquiry, I believe the Government is under a solemn obligation to protect the industries which were built up as a result of an undertaking given by the Government to protect them if they were established. Pyrites and sulphuric acid companies were established in South Australia at a time when the whole basis of superphosphate production was threatened. Sulphur or brimstone was extremely hard to get from overseas. The price was extremely high and it was at that time believed that there would be a world shortage of sulphur. Realising how dependant we were on superphosphate, the government of the day encouraged the production of sulphur from pyrites, which is a by-product of the industries at Port Pirie and Mr Lyell.

The industries making sulphuric acid from other than brimstone would never have been established had it not been for the Government’s undertaking. There is, therefore, a contractual obligation upon the Government to honour the undertaking that was given when vast amounts of capital were put into these industries to establish them for Australia at a time of need. Not only do I believe that the Government is under a contractual obligation to honour the undertaking then given, but also I think it is sound in the interests of Australia that we should never again allow ourselves to be in the position that the essential product for the manufacture of superphosphate should be dependant upon overseas supply. I realise - it is common knowledge - that brimstone or sulphur can be bought overseas more cheaply today than we can manufacture it in Australia. During the last few years, vast resources of brimstone have been found overseas, with the result that the price has substantially fallen. But if once again we became solely dependant upon the imported product, in the event of war all our primary industries could be threatened if we were unable to obtain supplies from overseas. Therefore, I suggest that we not only have a solemn obligation to protect the sulphuric acid industries in Australia, which are using local sulphur instead of imported sulphur, but it is also good business. It prevents a drain on our overseas funds and it protects us against an increase of price overseas or a shortage of brimstone from overseas at any time. From a defence point of view, it gives us the security of being able to maintain our great primary industries with our production, and it is an insurance against control over our great industries from outside.

I therefore support the proposal of the Government to extend the bounty for a period of six months, and I urge the Government to ensure that our industries are protected in conformity with the obligation given at the time the industries were established. In doing this, our primary industries would not be put in the position they were in when the sulphuric acid industries were first established of having to face the possibility of superphosphate production ceasing or the price being so high that our farmers could not pay it. Therefore, I think that the Government should not only extend this bounty but also, whatever the result of the Tariff Board inquiry, it should see that the undertaking that was given is honoured.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.

page 1959

PYRITES BOUNTY BILL 1965

Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 19th May (vide page 1665), on motion by Mr. Bury -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.

page 1960

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL BILL 1965

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 12th May (vide page 1432), on motion by Mr. Anthony -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Haworth
Mr CALWELL:
Leader of the Opposition · Melbourne

– I move -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “this House is of opinion that amendment of the law relating to the distribution of a State into Electoral Divisions should be deferred until the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review with respect to this matter have been submitted to the people for their approval “.

The members of the Constitutional Review Committee were Sir Neil O’sullivan, who was Attorney-General until just before he retired from the Senate; Senator Wright, who is still here; Senator McKenna; Senator Kennelly; Mr. Drummond, who was the member for New England and a very distinguished member of this House; Mr. Hamilton, who was the member for Canning and also a distinguished member of this House; Mr. Downer, who was the Minister for Immigration and is now the

Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom; Mr. Joske, who is now Mr. Justice Joske; the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam); Mr. Ward, who was the member for East Sydney; the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and myself.

The Opposition opposes this Bill because it is a backward step in Parliamentary democracy’s long and difficult journey. In such a case, I believe we must turn to first principles and attempt to understand the foundations of our system. The essence of democracy is that the will of the people must prevail, that government must rest upon the consent of the governed and that no voter must be favoured or discriminated against in the exercise of his vote.

Democracy must rest on the principle of majority rule. That principle presupposes that as far as is practicable each vote cast to elect members to any representative assembly, be it national, State or municipal, must be equal in value to the vote of every other citizen. It has been said that there is nothing sacred about the principle of majority rule, and that it is a principle of order rather than of exact justice. But it is the only principle which provides an alternative, on the one hand, to autocratic and authoritarian rule, and on the other, to anarchy. It is clear that if the principle is to prevail, then the principle of one vote one value must also prevail. These are twin and inseparable principles. In practice they merely represent different ways of stating the same thing. Only very special exceptions can be made to this basic principle, and when they are made, they should be recognised as special exceptions, but under no circumstances should the particular exception be made a general rule. That is why the House should reject this measure. It makes a general rule of abandoning the one vote one value principle, whereas previously this Parliament has permitted variations carefully, jealously and rarely.

The second reading speech on this Bill made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) was, if I may say so, either a very ingenious or a very ingenuous effort. And because I do not think the Minister is naive, I come to the conclusion that he could be very clever. If the purpose of his speech was to hide more than it revealed, if its purpose was to make the noxious appear innocuous, if its purpose was to lull the suspicions and gull the innocent, then the Minister must be complimented on his effort. But if its intention was to reveal the real purpose of the Bill, and the desires of one particular section of the Government, then he failed. For there can be no doubt as to the effect of this Bill. The effect and intention of this Bill are to qualify the principle of one vote one value in a way that has never happened in the past. The destruction of that principle could lead to a legal gerrymander. Is this Bill designed to legalise a gerrymander?

Briefly, the Bill instructs the Distribution Commissioners to apply the 20 per cent, discretionary margin below the quota provided by the Electoral Act in favour of rural electorates. The Minister will, of course, contest that interpretation. He presents the Bill as if it did not signify very much at all, but we will remain suspicious and uncertain until the redistribution plans are presented to this Parliament at some time more than two years hence.

The Minister emphasises that the 20 per cent, margin has been provided by the Act since its first enactment, and that, Sir, is uncontestable. The new factors which the Commissioners are to consider - community of economic, social and regional interests, means of communication and travel with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness and distance, the trend of population changes, the density or sparsity of population and the areas of the proposed divisions - are dismissed as being of “ no significant change in procedure “. The Minister says: “ They are factors in respect of which some allowance has invariably been made by the Commissioners in the past”. All that this Bill means, according to the Minister, is that it “ will provide a legal basis for what has been normal practice “. Really, does the Minister expect the House to swallow that? If the new factors are as innocent as the Minister says, why bother with the Bill at all? Does the Minister suggest that what he calls the “ normal practice “ of the past has in some way been illegal, or even of doubtful legality?

There has never been any question of the legality of any of the previous Commonwealth redistributions. It is a question that has just never arisen, and the Minister gives no evidence of any new factors that might give rise to the question in the future. Therefore, we cannot accept the Minister’s smooth and easy dismissal of this Bill as being of no real significance. Fortunately, we do not have to rely on guesswork or intuition to find out the real intention of the Bill, because if the Minister has been reticent in his speech in Parliament he has been more forthcoming outside the Parliament. I quote from the Murwillumbah “ Daily News “ - that great organ of public opinion - of 15th June 1964, and I do not think the Minister will question the accuracy or authenticity of this report, because I understand his family owns the newspaper.

Mr Daly:

– He wrote the leading article.

Mr CALWELL:

– Well, this is a report of what he said in a speech. The report reads -

The Minister for the Interior, Mr. J. D. Anthony, told a Country Party dinner at Murwillumbah that, in carrying out the proposed redistribution of the Federal seats, he would make sure fewer people were required to elect representatives in country areas than in the cities. He said, “ Australia’s electoral system was the finest in the world, but lacked territorial representation. Representation was now based on population, not area, with the result that power in Parliament was confined to the heavily populated areas”. Mr. Anthony said, “ the task of electoral reform was probably one of his worst jobs as Minister for the Interior, and one on which his political future hinged “.

I hope that in reading that report I have not misquoted my honorable and young friend, for whom I wish a distinguished career. I think you will agree, Sir, that what I have read is a statement of such engaging frankness that comment from me would be superfluous. But let us examine the philosophy behind the Minister’s statement, which is obviously the philosophy behind this Bill. He complains that representation is based on population, not area. In other words, he complains that this Parliament is elected by people, not acres. He complains that the bulk of the voters are where there are the most people. He says, “ Power in Parliament is confined to the heavily populated areas “. Now, power in this present Parliament happens to be confined to a coalition government composed of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. If he complains about the composition of power in this Parliament, then we can only assume that he thinks there are too many Liberals in the Government, and too many Liberals in the Parliament.

The idea of “ territorial representation “ which the Minister adumbrated at Murwillumbah last year is the very antithesis of the principle of majority rule; it is the very reverse of one vote one value, and it represents a view which is unknown to our Constitution, which is inimical to true democracy and which is a departure from the practice that has been followed since Federation.

The Joint Committee of Constitutional Review gave great attention to this matter. The Committee agreed that the principle of one vote one value had been fairly and properly applied in the seven redistributions since Federation. And yet, so strongly did the Committee believe that the principle should be guaranteed that it proposed, not merely an alteration to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, but that the principle should be enshrined in the Constitution itself. The Committee therefore proposed that the permissible variation from the quota of 20 per cent in the Electoral Act should be reduced to a 10 per cent, permissible variation, and that this should be written into the Constitution. And such importance did the Committee place on this matter that it believed that such a constitutional amendment was a satisfactory substitute for a Bill of Rights written into the Constitution, like the Bill of Rights that was written into the American Constitution.

The report says, on page 47, paragraph 328-

The Committee concluded that the absence of constitutional guarantees in the Commonwealth Constitution had not prevented the rule of law from characterising the Australian way of life. The Committee believes that, as long as governments are democratically elected, and there is full responsibility to the electors, the protection of personal rights will in practice be secure in Australia. The Committee has not chosen, therefore, to recommend the writing into the Constitution of a charter of individual liberties.

Instead, -

I emphasise the word “ instead “ - the Committee considers it appropriate, at this stage of Federal history and having regard to recent and contemporary world events, to recommend a constitutional amendment to protect the position of the elector and the democratic processes essential to the proper functioning of the Federal Parliament.

The report then goes on -

Thus, the Committee concluded that it should recommend the inclusion in the Constitution of provisions ensuring the regular review of the electoral divisions of each State and also accord near uniformity to the value accorded to the votes of the electors for each of the States.

The report concludes with this general and most eloquent comment -

One form of gerrymandering is the creation of electoral divisions in which there are substantial disparities in the number of enrolled voters, so securing for a political party greater representation than it should have. In all its forms, the device is thoroughly subversive of the democratic process. In making possible minority governments, the majority can be deprived of the government of its choice and the way is opened for arbitrary action impairing the freedom of the individual even though that action stands condemned by the majority of the people who comprise the electors of the Commonwealth.

What could be plainer than that? Every member of the Committee agreed with this section of the report. I have read their names. The Committee, consisting of two Country Party members, four Liberal Party members and six members of the Labour Party, was unanimous on this. The four Liberals were lawyers and the two members of the Country Party were distinguished people. One had been a school teacher and a Minister for Education in New South Wales and the other a man who had succeeded on the land in Western Australia. Of the six members of the Labour Party two were lawyers and the other four were not. but we all agreed with that portion of the report, as we did with most other portions of the report. The two members of the Country Party signed this report.

Mr Turnbull:

– What were the other four members of the Labour Party.

Mr CALWELL:

– The other four, I am reminded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), had all occupied ministerial office.

I have made the point that this was a unanimous recommendation of the Committee and I ask the House: What could be plainer than what the Committee reported? If I might go back for a moment, this recommendation was not only unanimous but it was made only after much thought. I have already read the names of those who signed these recommendations and I recommend the views of these people, who gave three years of thought to presenting the report to the Government.

The Minister says that by instructing the commissioners to apply the 20 per cent, differentation in favour of rural electorates he is only establishing a fact that has been contained in the Electoral Act for forty years. But what this Bill really does is to breathe life into a provision that has been a dead letter even since its enactment. The Constitutional Review Committee showed by analysis in the last three distributions - 1937, 1948, 1955- that on only one occasion did the size of an electorate fall more than 17± per cent, below the quota. That was the electorate of Kennedy in 1955. Only three times have electorates been more than 15 per cent, below the quota, only 6 times more than 121 per cent, below the quota, and only seven times more than 10 per cent, below the quota.

The table giving these details is on page 49 of the Constitutional Review Committee’s report. I recommend it to honorable members on both sides of the House for study. That is to say, in aggregate, out of the 317 divisions covered in the three redistributions, only in 17 cases have the Commissioners thought it necessary or desirable to depart from the quota by more than 1 0 per cent. And yet, knowing that the onefifth margin permissible under the Act had never been abused by the commissioners, the Constitutional Review Committee thought it desirable that an additional safeguard should be written into the Constitution itself to make 1 0 per cent, the greatest permissible variation.

It is obvious, therefore, that this Bill runs completely counter to the spirit of that report. That is why I describe the Bill as a retrograde step. Indeed, in view of the Constitutional Review Committee’s optimism that the rule of law would be preserved without constitutional safeguards, I might describe the Bill as reactionary, rather than retrograde.

The Minster has not deigned to support his measure with any reasons. As his second reading speech gives no explanation as to why rural electorates should be favoured we must look elsewhere for them. We all know these arguments quite well, as we have heard them often from the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and other members of the Country Party. lt is argued that a country member has much greater difficulty in traversing his electorate and dealing with the problems of his electors. This hardly bears examination, for the fact is that problems vary from elec torate to electorate, and distance is one of the least of these difficulties and problems. Take my own electorate, the electorate of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) and the electorate of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope). These three electorates are quite small in area and now well below the quota. But they both contain a very considerable number of old people and a very considerable number of migrants. These two groups, honorable members will agree, have the greatest personal problems that make the greatest demand on the time of their representatives. That is true of every other honorable member who has a compact electorate, no matter where he may live and what electorate he may represent in any part of Australia. Is it suggested that there should be a special provision in the Electoral Act to cover electorates of that sort? I have never heard of any such suggestion. Indeed, a country member has certain advantages over a city member. The local Press will report his speeches verbatim and be glad to do so. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) knows that this will happen every time that he sends out copies of his speech to the local newspaper. The “ Sunraysia Daily “, for instance, does him proud, and so does every other country newspaper in respect of every other member of the Country Party.

Mr Daly:

– It is the same with the Minister’s newspaper in Murwillumbah.

Mr CALWELL:

– Yes. All these members have advantages over city members who cannot even get their names into the metropolitan Press no matter how important they may be in the scheme of things. But in the country Press the local member always gets a pretty fair deal. Not only will his Press statements be published, but even his photograph as well.

A country member, be he a member of the Australian Labour Party, the Country Party or the Liberal Party, has regular occasions on which he comes into personal contact with his entire electorate at sheep and cattle sales, shows, race meetings, social functions and the like. He is an honoured guest on such occasions. In the case of the honorable member for Mallee, he is something of a celebrity - at least he is a very important person. Compare this situation with the lot of the city member, most of whose electors work miles from their place of residence. Their social and cultural activities are also enjoyed almost certainly miles from the address given on the electoral rolls. There is, of course, the special case of the great electorates of Kalgoorlie, Darling, Kennedy, Leichhardt, Grey and Maranoa which, together with the Northern Territory, occupy well over half the entire continent of Australia. All these, with the temporary exception of Maranoa, are, I am proud to say, held by the Australian Labour Party.

If we were, to accept the Minister’s Murwillumbah dictum of representation for area rather than population, this chamber could scarcely hold the Labour Party’s majority. But what variation of the quota can make any real change in these electorates? What help would it be to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) if we were to lop off 100,000 square miles, or twice that area, from his 900,000 square miles?

Mr Cope:

– He could not do a door to door canvass then.

Mr CALWELL:

– In some places he would have to do it by camel. Then there is the argument favoured by the honorable member for Mallee that this will help decentralisation. This argument also scarcely bears examination because the electorate of the honorable member for Mallee and the electorate of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) are only pocket handkerchief electorates compared with the electorate of Maranoa or the other electorates which I have mentioned.

Mr Turnbull:

– My electorate is onefifth of the area of Victoria.

Mr CALWELL:

– -But Victoria is only the cabbage patch State, according to Sir John Robertson, a former Premier of New South Wales. Victoria has less than 100,000 square miles of the total 3 million square miles which comprises the area of Australia. Yet the honorable member for Mallee wants a 20 per cent, division in his favour.

Mr Turnbull:

– Hear, heart

Mr CALWELL:

– I know he does, but he ought not to get it, nor should anyone else in Victoria get any more than 5 per cent, at the outside. Victoria is the most closely settled area in Australia, and all electorates in Victoria, with the possible exception of the electorate of Gippsland, should be of the same size.

The worst gerrymander that the British Commonwealth has ever known occurred in South Australia under a Liberal Party premier. In that State electorates were weighted something like seven to one against city electorates. No wonder the Labour Party could not win election after election, even when it polled 56 per cent, of the votes cast. I make the point that South Australia is the most centralised State in the Commonwealth. Representation in Parliament has absolutely nothing to do with population trends so far as South Australia is concerned. There we had a gerrymander electoral system, and yet South Australia became the most highly centralised State in the whole Commonwealth of Australia.

The favourite argument of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) is that because primary industry provides twothirds of our export earnings, those engaged in this industry should have greater representation in the Parliament. If we are to accept this as standard there would be no end to the anomalies that would thereby be created. Steel is an important export item. Are electorates in the Newcastle and Wollongong areas of New South Wales, which are represented by my colleagues, to have special consideration? Or are industrial areas in Sydney producing exportable items of great value to have smaller electorates than those on, say, the North Shore of Sydney, whose vast multitudes of white collar workers, professional and businessmen, have never sent anything abroad except, perhaps, their daughters on world tours?

But this consideration brings us to the real flaw in the Deputy Prime Minister’s argument. Where does trade begin and where does it end? Surely the clerk who makes out the invoice is a vital part of the whole transaction. It is true that wool is our most important industry, but the grower alone is not responsible for the production of that wool. The machinery that shears the sheep, the wire that builds the fences, the hessian that provides the bales, the trains ;h.:: transport the wool - ali these are manufactured in the cities. The car the grazier drives, the materials and furnishings for his home, much of the food he eats - all these essential things to life also come from the city. The wool broker, the wool clerk, the transport driver, the storeman in the sheds, the wharf labourer who finally puts the bale on a ship - all these people, all city dwellers, are as vital to the whole transaction as is the grazier. They need each other. They are interdependent. To choose one particular stage in the whole complex process, and say “This is so important to our export trade that it deserves a weighted vote “ is ridiculous. And the same applies to every industry.

The city and the country are not two hostile domains. They are complementary. They each depend on the other. The people who live in these two domains are all Australians, and the vote of one Australian, whatever his occupation of standing, should be as good as that of any other Australian. The value of the vote of a policeman, a railway employee, a schoolteacher, a lawyer or a clergyman, should not differ between town and city, or between inner and outer suburbs of a city. It is sometimes urged that the principle of one vote one value is already broken in the case of the Senate and in the case of Tasmanian representation in this House. The Senate, of course, is not a representative chamber and was never meant to be one. Its constitutional role is entirely different from that of the House of Representatives. In the case of Tasmania, its guarantee of at least five seats, irrespective of its population, is an essential part of the contract of federation and is written into the Constitution, therefore, in my view, both those arguments are irrelevant to the basic principle of one vote one value.

Section 24 of the Constitution says -

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth . . .

If the Parliament is to be elected by the people of the Commonwealth, then place of residence is immaterial. Our Constitution says that the House of Representatives shall be elected by these people. In this regard I accept the interpretation of the Chief Justice of the United States of America, Mr. Justice Warren who has said -

Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests … To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. The weight of a citizen’s voice cannot be made to depend on where he lives.

That judgment, of course, has excited some interest in the United States to the extent that in some States where there have been gerrymanders, the Supreme Court has ordered a redistribution to agree with the principle of one vote one value. I do not say that the Minister, or any Minister of the Government, intends to gerrymander electorates, but this Bill does open the door to gerrymander.

The States have been notorious for their gerrymanders. In fact, it is hard to find any State other than Tasmania where there have not been very many gerrymanders. Tasmania is excluded because in that State seven members are elected to the State Parliament - previously there were six - on the basis of every Federal electorate. The five Federal seats in Tasmania are always adopted as the State boundaries for the election of seven members on the Hare-Clark system - or as our departed friend Ben Chifley used to say, the “ March Hare “ system. The Commonwealth has gloried in its freedom from gerrymander and corruption of the electoral system. That is our proud boast. No gerrymander has occurred and we do not want one to occur. We have seen what has happened in South Australia and in Victoria. We see what is about to happen in Victoria.

Mr Turner:

– What about New South Wales?

Mr CALWELL:

– I am not apologising for anyone. I said that there had been gerrymanders in the States. I made the exception that I thought I ought to make, but I do not think there has ever been a really fair representative system in any State of the Commonwealth. I want to see a fair system in this Parliament. Unless we have the principle of one man one vote, and unless we recognise the right of everybody to an equal say in the Government of his country then we are negating democracy. The Commonwealth should never, by its action, encourage the abandonment of the principle of one vote one value. Although I say that I still support - and so do all my colleagues and so does my party - the principle that there can be a 10 per cent, variation, it should never go beyond that. It can be defended in relation to the big electorates of 100,00 square miles or more. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has an electorate covering a quarter of a million square miles. I have said to some of my colleagues that their mental faculties must be diminishing if they want to continue to try to represent vast areas such as that.

The fact is that the great mass of the Australian people are huddled around the south-eastern section of the continent. We are all crowded along the seashore in a narrow fringe extending from somewhere round Cairns, down through New South Wales and Victoria and then over to South Australia. The rest of Australia is more or less unoccupied. If special consideration is to be given to people elected to represent vast areas, such consideration should be confined to the representatives of those who might be called the wardens of the outer marsh - the people who are holding the very vulnerable or almost defenceless parts of Australia. But the principle should not be extended to the more or less settled areas on the eastern fringe.

We have all been proud of the principle of one vote one value. I do not know what is going to happen - nor does anybody else - when the Distribution Commissioners make their report a couple of years hence. The Labour Party hopes for the best but fears the worst. We do not think that any system that might be devised by the Commissioners should deny the majority of the people of Australia the right to govern through their representatives in this Parliament. No party or combination of parties should have to win 52 per cent, or 53 per cent, of the votes in order to exercise the right to govern. If that should ever happen it would be a bad day for democracy.

Mr Daly:

– What have we done to deserve a Country Party?

Mr CALWELL:

– I do not want to get into any cross-fire. I have a few friends who have very decided views on this matter and I have no doubt that members of the Country Party also have some very strong views which they want to express. It is for what this Bill may lead to as much as what it actually does that it should be and must be opposed. I have moved an amendment. It is to be seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I hope that the House will ultimately divide upon the question. The Opposition also has some amendments to move at the Committee stage in order to make clearer our intentions in regard to the factors that ought to be considered by the Distribution Commissioners.

I compliment the Minister on including one additional factor, and that is trends in population. In the past that has not been a factor that Distribution Commissioners have had to consider, but quite illegally, they have considered it. They have given advantages to the growing suburbs in the cities and have discriminated against the older settled areas, particularly those areas in which there is a trend back in the way of new flats and new development. I think that the new provision is a good one. We do not oppose it. However, we have suspicions about certain other matters in the Bill and I would like to hear from the Minister in due course on these questions when the Bill is considered at the committee stage.

Mr Whitlam:

– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak to it.

Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP

.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has given us a deal of entertainment for the last 45 minutes concerning the Commonwealth Electoral Bill and its amendments. It has been worth while to be here to listen to a good humoured, jovial speech, seemingly without much rancour. Honorable members can only presume that fresh from his successes at both Townsville and the meeting of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party, he is extremely happy with the way in which things are developing in his own organisation. But behind the joviality of that speech there were one or two assumptions and one or two implications that are worth explaining. The Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that he-

Mr Daly:

– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Under the commonsense rules announced this morning by the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt)-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:
BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Order! The honorable member is now out of order.

Mr Daly:

– Under the arrangements announced by the Leader of the House this morning, we were to adjourn at 11 o’clock. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) is proceeding with his speech, although it is now 1 1 p.m. I ask the Government whether it intends to honour the arrangements made or whether it intends to repudiate arrangements entered into, as it has done before.

Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP

– Running through the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition was the theme of his first statement that he was not concerned about the 20 per cent, variation in the number of voters in electorates, a margin that has applied for many decades. The honorable gentleman then proceeded, on the basis of that statement, to develop a case establishing that, as a result of the passage of this Bill, there would be a continuing and at times giant gerrymander. When provision for this margin was inserted in the principal Act many years ago, it was clear that there were to be variations in the number of electors enrolled, and there have since been reasonable margins. The Leader of the Opposition quoted the opinion of Sir Neil O’sullivan as evidence in support of his case. The honorable gentleman claimed that Sir Neil O’sullivan was against this kind of measure. The Leader of the Opposition, however, did not know that on a television programme in Brisbane recently Sir Neil was asked about variations in the sizes of electorates and conceded that there ought to be variations in the numbers of voters enrolled. However, he drew the line at any situation in which the number of voters in one electorate was half or less than half the number in an adjoining electorate. The Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, the report of which the Leader of the Opposition quoted, certainly made it clear, in a way, that he was happy with the present situation. If the Leader of the Opposition wished to quote the views of Sir Neil O’sullivan in support of his case, he should have been aware of the views expressed about the existing situation by Sir Neil as Chairman of that Committee.

The Leader of the Opposition, endeavouring to develop his case concerning the possibilities of a gerrymander, naturally, I think, forgot about the types of redistributions that have occurred in the past. Somehow or other, it was presumed throughout his speech that the Australian Country Party had been unduly favoured by redistributions in the past. Indeed, he virtually charged the Country Party on this issue. Somehow, there crept into all his assumptions the claim that the electorates represented by members of the Country Party had disproportionately small numbers of electors compared to the quotas fixed. Is this in fact the case? I can only compare the honorable gentleman with those 19th century philosophers who were wont to build up a delightful theoretical case about any matter. I have only to mention Hegel, of course, to win the support of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). Another of these philosophers was Nietzsche. Men like these usually build up a delightful case, but, once it was looked at against the realities of what had occurred and what was occurring, it clearly fell apart. We do not want to wish on the Leader of the Opposition the kind of fate that befell Nietzsche and others, but I suggest that his case that the Country Party has been unduly favoured in the past falls apart and the case that members of the Australia Labour Party who represent highly industrialised electorates with great densities of population have been put at a great disadvantage is correct.

At this point, I refer the House to a question asked recently by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), who sought information about the electorates in which a margin of 10 per cent, above or below the quota had been applied in redistributions in a number of decades. The information that he received enables us to compare redistributions made when the Labour Government was in office and redistributions during the term of the present Government. If we consider the electorates in which the number of voters has varied significantly from the quota, we come up with some interesting and quaint conclusions. A redistribution of electoral boundaries was made in 1948. The Leader of the Opposition said that he was not in favour of a gerrymander. Yet we find that, in that redistribution, 15 electorates had a number of voters either 10 per cent, above or 10 per cent, below the quota. In other words, if the quota were 100 voters, 15 electorates had 110 or more or 90 or fewer. That was the position under a redistribution proposed by the honorable member’s own party and supported by it.

Redistributions are very independent kinds of arrangements. Under the redistribution made in 1955, only eight electorates exceeded the margin of 10 per cent, above or below the quota. So we can come to the conclusion - I do not think it is a particularly valid one, though it is a suggestive one - that the margins allowed in the redistribution made in 1948 when the Labour Government was in office and the present Leader of the Opposition was a Minister were considerably greater than the margins allowed under the redistribution made in 1955 when the present Government was in office. If we look at the situation a little more closely, we see that the eight electorates that exceeded the 10 per cent, margin are indeed worthy of close scrutiny. On the argument advanced this evening by the Leader of the Opposition, one would presume that, somehow or other, these were electorates represented by members of the Australian Country Party. Of these eight electorates, six had numbers more than- 10 per cent, below the quota, and four of these were held by the Australian Labour Party. So if any charge is to be laid at anybody’s door, it should be that, in the redistribution of 1955, the Labour Party was unduly favoured, because it held 66 per cent, of the electorates in which the number of voters enrolled was more than 10 per cent, below the quota. These were the constituencies represented by the honorable -member for Darling (Mr. Clark), the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the former honorable member for Bonython, Mr. Makin, and the former honorable member for Kalgoorlie, Mr. H. V. Johnson. This situation, I think, should lay very clearly the charge that there is any disposition to weight electorates unduly one way or the other or to depart from the tradition that was supported by the Australian Labour Party when it exercised the responsibilities of government.

A very worthwhile provision concerning movements in the trends of population is to be written into the principal Act. Population movements have become far more important since the rate of growth of Australia’s population has, over a number of years, exceeded 2 per cent, per annum. We can say that the higher is the rate of growth of population in the country, the greater will be the differentials between rates of growth of population in various electorates. For example, during [he decade of the 1930’s, two electorates like Bruce and Melbourne Ports could not have developed a differential of 70,000 voters. This kind of differential, which has developed in only a little more than 10 years, could not possibly have occurred in the 1930’s when the growth, of population was far less and differentials between the rates of growth of populations in particular areas were far less.

The provision in proposed new section 19 of the principal Act under which Distribution Commissioners will be required to give due consideration to the trend of population changes is realistic. I believe it is defensible, and it certainly faces the facts and acknowledges the events that have occurred in Australia over the last 15 years or so. What I should like to say further with relation to the Electoral Act relates to a rather narrow problem which was illustrated very cogently in December 1964 and January 1965. In December 1964 we had a Senate election. In that election, and subsequent to it, many people were concerned about the method of counting Senate votes. As I have said, this is a rather narrow problem, but I think it is worth looking at. The voting at Senate elections is the outcome of the old preferential system. That system has applied for many years in a number of countries and it has applied in very many forms. It is applied in countries such as Belgium and France and it was tried in New South Wales during the early 1920’s. Quite rightly, I think, it was decided in 1948 to bring the proportional method of voting into Senate elections from the 1949 election onwards. I think this method of voting and the method of counting has been supported by citizens ever since that date. But the events of December last year and January this year illustrated that under certain circumstances we can have a rather questionable attitude to the complete and concise accuracy of the votes as they are counted. Dr. Evatt pointed out in 1948, when introducing the Bill which enshrined the present conditions, that he would have liked any method of voting to have been marked by its simplicity. [Quorum formed.] As I have said, the method of voting should be noted for its simplicity and, as Dr. Evatt expressed it, those people who vote ought to appreciate the process of counting which is involved. Perhaps it may be too much to attempt a universal understanding of the process of counting. It was only after considerable difficulty that I was able even to try to understand at least some of the voting provisions. But I think we can look at this matter of random selection of votes as it applies to Senate elections. I do not think its difficulty can be sufficient reason for us to ignore what in fact does occur. It is beside the point to argue that informal votes are significant, and it is beside the point to argue about whether we should have square ballot papers, circular ballot papers or oblong ballot papers. What we would like to obtain is a method of voting which registers precisely and accurately what were the deliberate intentions of those people who cast their votes. This leaves out all matters concerning human equations in casting votes, and other extraneous matters.

Does this random selection of votes, which occurs at a particular position in Senate counting under certain circumstances give cause for any significant error in the votes which are subsequently recorded? I think it does. After conversations with a number of people who have been concerned in a very eminent way with the counting of those votes I believe it does, in certain circumstances, give cause for significant error. When I mentioned the random selection of votes, I do not want it to be thought that this is a completely new problem which was unknown and unheeded. As far back as 1948 we find that the honorable member for Reid at that time - I think it was a gentleman known as Mr. Lang, a very famous premier of New South Wales - was also concerned with the random selection of votes. In 1948, he referred to the provision of the Act which remains in the legislation at this moment. He introduced an amendment to set up a commission to investigate a satisfactory system of Senate voting. The commission he suggested was to consist of the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth and the chief electoral officers of the respective States. But, apart from the composition of that commission I suggest it is worth our while looking at comments that were made by him about this section of the counting of the Senate votes. He said -

The commission- which i suggest should be appointed might inquire whether the method suggested in the Bill does not introduce the elements of a lottery into the electoral system and fails to provide a true reflection of the votes cast.

This is a non-party matter, and I point out that the provision at that time was supported by the present Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) who said very clearly at that time -

Sufficient doubt has been cast on the procedural processes of counting and allocating votes to warrant the holding of an inquiry by a commission.

The Opposition at that time voted for that particular amendment. For very many years, then, this doubt with respect to the counting of the votes has rested. It was never inquired into, and I think it was rather unfortunate that it was not inquired into.

Later during the debate, a further amendment was moved to sub-paragraph (v) of paragraph (e) of sub-section (5.) of section 135. It was moved by the honorable member for Barker, Mr. Archie Cameron. This was supported by the Opposition and for the same reason as it had been moved by the then honorable member for Barker. That reason was that it was not desired to introduce the elements of a lottery into the counting of votes. My contention is that in certain circumstances a lottery is introduced into the counting of votes. It is agreed that it would be small, but, what are the cases in which this margin of error would become apparent? I think that they are several. In a Senate election in which it is desired to elect five candidates, when the votes of any of the principal parties got significantly beneath 40 per cent, of the votes and when the preferential votes were handed on in the usual way, one would find that in the subsequent distribution of the first and second preferences of those candidates who had been elected, the margin of error would increase. It would increase in other circumstances as well. The random selection would not be a faithful representation in cases where the number of candidates increased significantly beyond five. For instance, if the number of candidates were seven which is quite possible. We have had a number of elections at which we have had six vacancies to fill. If the number of vacancies to be filled increased beyond six to seven, the chance of error would increase rather more. I suggest that the chances of error would increase when the surplus of votes to be handed on from the second and third elected candidates was but a small proportion of the preferential votes which had been obtained by those second and third candidates. I agree that this applies only in certain instances. In the examples which are provided to electoral officers in explanation of the method of Senate voting and the procedures to be observed in such voting, this type of case is not mentioned. The surplus votes to be handed on are always quite a significant proportion of the preferential votes which have been obtained by elected candidates. Furthermore, when Dr. Evatt was explaining the Bill that he introduced in 1948 he gave a number of examples. But, probably accidently, they always avoided the situation described:

So, 1 ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) to consider at some suitable time - either when this Bill has been passed by this House and before it reaches the other place, or when the Commonwealth Electoral Act is next amended - an amendment which might cover the circumstances that I have described. I emphasise that in Senate elections since 1949 there have been only two cases in which a significant error could have developed. One of them was in the Senate election for Tasmania in 1953, I think it was; and the other one was in the Senate election for Victoria in 1958. I am not suggesting in any way that the results of those elections were invalid or incorrect. I am suggesting only that the circumstances in which a margin of error could occur applied in those elections. The error may have made a difference of only 10, 20 or 30 votes; but many an election has been won or lost by far fewer than 10, 20 or 30 votes.

This is the type of amendment that the Minister might consider at some future time: Insert the following sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph (vi) of paragraph (e) of sub-section (5.) of section 135 -

Where the number of ballot papers to be transferred from an elected candidate is less than one tenth of the number of votes received by the elected candidate, sub-paragraphs (i;) and (v) of this paragraph do not apply.

That is rather imprecise, but I am not a legal man. Under those circumstances one can only adopt the Hare-Clark method of counting Senate votes. If the Hare-Clark system, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, were not adopted in full, there could be a reference to the original parcels of votes which had been cast for candidates elected on first preferences. By perusing those votes continually for the distribution of subsequent preferences we could overcome the difficulties that exist in these very special and rather rare circumstances to which I have referred.

I think one has to labour this point, first because as this section of the Act is not to be considered at the committee stage no other opportunity to discuss this matter may be given, and secondly because if people have even only a vague idea that the method of counting does not register their desires completely and accurately they may become rather disenchanted with the democratic process, their confidence in the voting process may be destroyed and our democratic procedures may suffer. One of the arguments presented against this proposal is that voting would continue for months or for another number of weeks. I think that could be avoided by the use of the fast methods of transportation that are available today and the facilities that are available for bringing votes from the various divisional offices to the central electoral office. The counting process need not be delayed beyond a week or a week and a half.

I have put forward this matter at this stage because another opportunity for doing so just does not exist. I hope that when the Minister considers this matter, either after this Bill has been passed by this House or when he decides to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act further, he will look at the imprecision that has developed in the counting of Senate votes. Failure to do so might weaken the faith and hope that the voters have in our present impartial electoral system, which is impartial not only in relation to counting but also, as we must emphasise, in relation to the redistribution of electorates.

Sitting suspended from 11.26 p.m. to 9.30 a.m. (Tuesday).

Tuesday, 25th May 1965

Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.

page 1971

PASSPORTS AND TRAVEL

Ministerial Statement

Mr BURY:
Minister for Housing · Wentworth · LP

– by leave - Mr. Speaker, having regard to the situation in Vietnam, the Government has decided that until further notice passports will be issued with an endorsement “ Not valid for North Vietnam “, except in very special circumstances.

Mr Bryant:

Mr. Speaker, may I make a short statement?

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the honorable member for Wills wishes to make a statement he must obtain the leave of the House.

Mr Bryant:

– I ask for leave to make a short statement.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is leave granted?

Mr Hulme:

– No.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Leave is not granted.

page 1971

DEFENCE FORCES RETIREMENT BENEFITS BILL 1965

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 21st May (vide page 1886), on motion by Dr. Forbes -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

.- Mr. Speaker, the Opposition supports this Bill. It is one of the very frequent amendments which have been made to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act since it was first introduced in 1948. The subject matter of this Bill is quite limited. The measure appears to be wholly beneficial. It appears to be wholly in line with the wishes of the officers and men who will benefit from it. A very great deal of preparation has been put into the securing of these benefits. I believe that even the assistance of the Governor-General was enlisted to secure them.

This is not the first time that a bill on this subject has come into the House in the concluding days of the sessional period. In 1950 a bill amending this Act was introduced on 5th December, debated on 7th December and the House rose on 8th

December. In 1957 an amending bill was introduced on 4th December; it was debated on the same day and the House rose on 5th December. In 1963 the amending bill was introduced on 28th October, debated on 29th October and the House rose on 30th October. On this occasion the Bill was introduced last Friday - a completely exceptional sitting day - and the debate is being resumed today. There has been one intervening sitting day, and the House will presumably rise in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Unfortunately this has become the pattern with this legislation.

Mr Harold Holt:

– We could easily have deferred it and so deferred the benefits. Further amendments will take place in the Budget session. The legislation will be introduced early in that session so the Opposition will have ample time to deal with it.

Mr WHITLAM:

– It would have been equally easy to accelerate the introduction of the Bill. The Opposition was willing to debate this Bill as soon as it was introduced and it would have been given a proper passage through the Parliament. The Government is not asking for a proper passage for a measure by introducing it on a Friday and resuming the debate on the following Tuesday, the last day of the sessional period. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is becoming very sensitive about these things. I do not suggest that this is the only time he has done this. It has happened twice since he became Leader of the House.

Mr Harold Holt:

– The Opposition was informed of the substance of the Bill before it was introduced.

Mr WHITLAM:

– The Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), on behalf of the right honorable gentleman, delivered a speech extending over two pages of “ Hansard “ in which he explained what the measure would provide, and in fact it makes the provision outlined. But it was not until last Friday that honorable members saw the Bill. It extends over 13 pages. Furthermore, it will amend an Act that extends over 223 pages as printed.

Mr Harold Holt:

– Why not get on with the subject? The honorable member ought to know that we are at least giving some benefits under the terms of this measure.

Mr WHITLAM:

– I presume that, if the right honorable gentleman interjects, he wants me to comment on his interjection.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:

– Order! This private war ought to come to an end. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has the call.

Mr WHITLAM:

– To sum up, Sir, the Bill which we are discussing came in on the third last sitting day of this sessional period. It comprises 13 pages and it will amend the principal act which, as printed by the Government Printer, extends over 223 pages. Therefore, it is not to be wondered at that the debate on this measure will not be very protracted. Honorable members have not been able to frame any amendments. The Treasurer always takes the attitude that, once the Government has made up its mind on a matter, even if it takes months to do that, and even if the Governor-General and other exalted persons have had, in effect, to lobby to have legislation introduced, the Parliament should just rubber stamp the Government’s decision. Since this measure is designed to amend the principal Act, it would be perfectly permissible for any honorable member to propose amendments within the terms of the principal Act. Many honorable members would like to do this. But, frankly, there has been no time to frame such amendments or to consult with the very great number of persons who are interested in this legislation.

I thank the Minister for the Army for having met my suggestion that a table be prepared to show the comparable benefits for retired servicemen in Britain, the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand. I believe that this document will be of very great interest to the thousands of men who already benefit under the terms of the Act and the thousands more who will benefit from it in future. The production of this table will mean that on future occasions - for instance, during the Budget sessional period - honorable members and those who advise them will be able to frame their comments in the light of much fuller information than they have ever had before.

Sir John Allison and the other members of a committee appointed in 1957 were asked to report to the Government on defence forces retirement benefits. The Government received their report in 1959, but it has never been published. I think that this is a proper subject for inquiry o> a parliamentary committee. Serving members of the forces are particularly reluctant to become involved in what might be thought to be political action. They do not like to go to the Government as individuals. Still less do they like to get together in groups or organisations and approach the Government or members of the Parliament on this subject. Retired members are free to do so, and many of them have done so. There was some trouble imminent for a group captain in the Royal Australian Air Force who had prepared a document which was circulated very widely in the community. Disciplinary action was contemplated but was later discontinued. This, however, illustrates the difficulty with which serving members of the forces are confronted on this subject which concerns them and their dependants now and which will concern them and their dependants after they retire. I would think that this is an appropriate subject for a parliamentary committee. Such a committee could receive evidence with complete propriety from serving members and from retired members of the forces. .

Constantly, new features are coming up in this legislation. Only recently it came to my notice that a benefit which we thought we had conferred on serving members who were re-enlisting, in fact, was very greatly modified by the operation of the tax laws. In the particular session in which the measure was introduced, there was very little opportunity for honorable members to realise the problem involved, and I do not believe that they did realise it. If a contributor to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund retires completely from the forces and receives a gratuity, then, under the tax laws, he pays tax on only 5 per cent, of that gratuity. If he is reengaged, or re-enlists, he can receive a payment of £300. He is, however, taxed on the whole of that amount, not just 5 per cent, of it. This means that the £300 is very often reduced almost to £200. I am certain that no honorable member realised, when we conferred this benefit of taking an advance of gratuity on re-enlistment, that this penalty was imposed. I blame no honorable member for failing to see it. I did not see it and nobody else did. In the time available, how many of us could have picked it up? Yet, this position continues until the income tax laws are amended.

Another instance occurs where serving members are asked to join the Reserve. If they decline to join the Reserve, they lose much of their gratuity. Since this provision was made, there have been new provisions as regards the nature of service in the Reserve. This is a matter which has been dealt with in other acts. Here, again, the operation of this Act is involved. We clearly ought to look at consequential reforms in this Act when we make amendments to other acts.

I have cited two instances only because they happen to have relation to one particular aspect. I know the overall position is well in hand. The whole of this legislation is becoming of much more concern than previously because Australians must accept the fact that in their part of the world, and in the light of the responsibilities they have undertaken, Australia will need to maintain much larger standing forces than ever before in her history. One of the necessary provisions in having such forces is that servicemen will have proper conditions when they go back to civilian life. Regular soldiers inevitably retire from their essential occupation at much younger ages than those at which most people retire from their main occupation in life. The serviceman naturally is worried if, at the time he goes back to civilian life, he enjoys a lower standard of living than he would have enjoyed at the same age had he always been a civilian. This affects the serviceman and it affects his dependants, particularly in the matters of accommodation and education.

Other Acts deal with matters other than pensions under the Commonwealth’s powers. There is no reason why the war service homes legislation, the repatriation legislation and the rehabilitation legislation should not be greatly extended to enable people who have been in the forces to go back to civilian life without any disadvantage as compared with their contemporaries. This legislation deals with their pensions or gratuities. It deals with the additional money that is required to supplement their incomes or to provide them with working capital. This legislation is becoming much more important for the general welfare of this country than it was thought to be at any previous time when we have dealt with amendments to it. We support this Bill. We thank the Minister for the Army for providing the information which enables us much more clearly to compare the position in Australia with that in countries with which we usually compare ourselves in other respects. We look forward to a more comprehensive bill in the Budget session and a more ample time in which to prepare to debate the whole subject of this legislation.

Mr STOKES:
Maribyrnong

.- As I understand the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), the Australian Labour Party supports this legislation and his criticism is based mainly on the timing of it. I will deal with that aspect of the matter a little later. At the outset I make it clear that, as far as I can recall, all the amending bills which he said were brought in at short notice were ones which gave effect to decisions to increase pension rates and so forth and which were introduced for the benefit of the officers and men of the Services. I think he will accept that statement. I am pleased that members of the Opposition are in complete agreement with what is being done in this instance. Some of them have indicated that to me personally.

We are considering a pensions scheme which is in two parts. That is why we have had the difficulties that have occurred in the operation of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. It is in two parts because it covers people who formerly were under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act and who did not enter the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund until the period between 1949 and 1959, and people who entered the Fund after 1959. The people in the latter group have a jolly good scheme. I would say that it is one of the best in the world. If the House will do me the favour of permitting me to have incorporated in “ Hansard “ a table setting out the salaries and pensions for various ranks, I will be very grateful.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! I point out to honorable members that the Standing Orders Committee, in its last report which the House has adopted, suggested that a suitable arrangement in respect of the incorporation of material in “ Hansard “ would be that the Minister or member seeking leave to incorporate material should first show it to the honorable member who is leading for the Opposition or to the Minister at the table, as the case may be.

If that is not done, an honorable member will be seeking leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ material of which other honorable members have no knowledge.

Mr STOKES:

– I am asking for leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ a table of salaries and pensions for various classifications.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Leave is granted.

Mr STOKES:

– I thank the House for allowing me to incorporate the table in “ Hansard “.

I might quote a few figures from it to confirm my assertion that this is a very good scheme, particularly for the post- 1959 entrants. If we examine the positions of rear admiral of the Navy, major general of the Army and air vice marshal of the Air Force we find that at age 57 they can retire on a pension of £2,673 per annum, but if they serve through until age 60 they retire on £3,003 per annum. The lieutenant commander in the Navy, major in the Army and squadron leader in the Air Force who retire at age 47 receive a pension of £1,340. If they serve until age 55 their pension becomes £1,737 per annum. It is a good pension scheme. However, the Government was conscious that a number of anomalies existed in relation to entrants to the scheme prior to 1959. A Government members’ committee, which was set up by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), examined these anomalies thoroughly and in June 1964 made submissions to the Treasurer, lt was not until some months had elapsed and the effects of the June pay rises were highlighted that it was realised that many contributors who were making increased contributions found their take home pay seriously affected. The Government and members of the committee realised the situation and decided that this matter should be dealt with in isolation and quickly so that the men concerned would not be disadvantaged by continuing to pay higher contributions. Consequently this legislation was not delayed to enable the incorporation of all amendments necessary to remove anomalies affecting entrants to the scheme before 1959.

The Government amassed much detail for submission to the Parliamentary Draftsman to assist him in preparing legislation to give effect to the cessation of increased contributions and to enable refunds to the men, to give them an immediate benefit. If we delayed the legislation until September or October it would be next year before some of the men received any benefit or relief from the payment of increased contributions. It is most heartening that the Government has acted now and that it has also sought to include in this Bill a number of other amendments, four of them being amendments recommended to the Treasurer by the Government members’ committee. Not only has the Government gone that far but it has also promised to include further amendments during the Budget session, and has undertaken to bring in entirely new legislation in two parts, which was another recommendation of the committee.

The Government has recognised that there will have to be two Acts, one of which will carry on for the post-1959 entrants. lt will be a clear cut, concise Act, easily understood and in respect of which a booklet can be issued so that servicemen will know exactly their rights, conditions and pension allowances. It will not have the adverse effect on morale which has existed for so long because of a lack of understanding of the conditions which appertained to their pension entitlement. The transitional legislation will cover the pre- 1959 Act entrants and will, I hope, streamline the operations of their scheme and remove some of its existing anomalies.. The transitional legislation will ultimately disappear from the statute book. These provisions have been needed for a long time.

I am pleased that the Government has gone so far to remove the anomalies that were pointed out to it and to clear up what has been a running sore in the Services since an earlier government, by hastily produced legislation, plucked these chaps out of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act and brought them under this scheme. It is in a spirit of co-operation that I appeal to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board and to the Treasurer to act with the utmost despatch when it deals with cases where a pre-1959 contributor has elected not to continue to pay increased contributions and seeks a refund. I ask the Board to see that that refund is made promptly. I ask the Board to see, having in mind that this amendment has been introduced to relieve the distress suffered by pre-1959 contributors, that they are not further hampered by lengthy delays when they seek their refunds. In his second reading speech the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) said -

The impact of such high fortnightly contributions upon pre-1959 entrants was alleviated by the provisions under which, in certain circumstances, contributions may be deferred and paid in a lump sum on retirement.

The exact provisions, however, would have necessitated a member hypothecating his furlough pay, either wholly or in part, to offset the total of his contributions up to retirement. On the other hand, he could have set off that part of his increased furlough pay arising from his increase in pay in June last. He could have commuted one-third of his increased pension under the June 1964 pay code provisions. He would still have had to pay some contributions and would have received only two-thirds of his increased pension.

The Government’s scheme, however, is an excellent one. It provides that any pre-1959 entrant to the scheme may, within three months of this legislation receiving royal assent, elect not to contribute for the increased pension arising from the pay increases of June 1964. Once he makes the decision it is final and irrevocable. Any contributor who so elects will be entitled; in addition to the pension for which he was contributing prior to June 1964, to a noncontributory pension equivalent to the Commonwealth supplement for the rate of pension to which he was entitled. As this supplement averages 77i per cent, of the increase payable to a full contributor, honorable members will see that such a person would be much better off than by hypothecating part of his furlough pay and commuting part of his pension.

Once the decision is taken to accept the non-contributory portion of his pension the participant in the scheme will be bound by that decision at any time when his pay is increased, whether by promotion or by statute. But in the event that a member failed to take up his full entitlement to pension when he received an earlier promotion, he may now decide to take up all or part of the previous entitlement. But this is restricted to the non-contributory basis.

I ask the Minister to clarify one point. I am a little concerned about members who, since June 1964, have made some contract with the Board with regard to a commutation or deferment of their payments against furlough. I think that such members, who could have had no knowledge of this legislation, should not be placed under a disadvantage by being prevented from changing the previous arrangements they had made. They should be allowed to accept the benefits now extended to those people who have not made such a composition with the Board.

Although the Minister described the other amendments as minor, I think they are quite major. I will not weary the House by going through them all. Everyone of them confers a benefit. Let me mention the incentive payment of £300. If a married member died, the Board did not try to recover the amount from his widow, but if a single man died in service, the amount was recovered from his estate or his relatives. The amendment removes the right of recovery, and this right of recovery of the incentive payment is now waived if a single member dies. If the amount is to be repaid on re-engagement, the period over which it may be repaid is now extended from four months to twelve months. This means it will not be so difficult for a serviceman to repay the amount.

Quite a number of amendments are still to come. The Minister said that they will be brought down during the Budget session. I sincerely hope that the Government will accept the recommendation that the allowance for the children of deceased servicemen be increased. At present it is £1 a week and is payable only to children under 16 years. My committee felt that it should also be paid to student children up to 21 years. This would be in line with the present provisions of the social services legislation. We also felt that the amount should be increased. Although orphans now receive a greater amount than they did formerly, I still think the amount is insufficient. Orphans should not have to accept charity and should not have to live on a meagre amount. They should receive an amount that will to some extent compensate them for the loss of their parents.

There is another matter that I hope the Government will consider when it is preparing the amendments that will be introduced later. The present provisions discriminate against a retired member who seeks employment and is employed by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority. The relevent section is section 69 (1.) of the principal Act. The pension of a member who takes a job with the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority is reduced. He can take a job in a State Government department without his pension being affected, but not a Commonwealth job. In many cases a retired serviceman is better fitted for a job in one of the Services than a civilian who has never been a serviceman. I believe that retired servicemen should not be placed at such a disadvantage, and I hope that this will be attended to by the Government.

I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that until the final legislation is introduced we cannot judge what the effect of it will be, particularly in regard to the pre-1959 entrants. However, I am quite satisfied that the Government has shown a willingness to clear up all the anomalies that now exist in the Act. The Minister said in his second reading speech that the drafting of the final legislation will take a considerable time. This may well be, and this we accept. But I hope thai the drafting of the new legislation will be considered a matter of some urgency so that we may expect to have it introduced into this Parliament early next year.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- There have been three noteworthy characteristics of the operations of the Parliament this morning. First, we are dealing with the security of Australia’s servicemen and their families in their retirement, and we are dealing with these matters in the usual offhand, dilatory way in which the Government frequently deals with important matters, bringing them before the Parliament late in a sessional period. I think it was on Friday that the legislation was presented to us. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed out, we have to consider first a lengthy principal Act, and secondly a very long series of complicated amendments to it.

What excuse does the Government present for asking the Parliament to deal with this legislation in such a fashion? The excuse advanced by the Government involves the Government’s own faceless men, the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff - these poor unfortunates who are supposed to have some kind of crystal ball into which they can gaze and produce various kinds of legislation by some strange legerdemain in the last few weeks of a sessional period. We had 17 weeks of parliamentary recess, then a few weeks of drifting, with nothing being done. If honorable members opposite had any concern at all for the 60,000 servicemen-

Mr Irwin:

– We have been working on it for 1 8 months.

Mr BRYANT:

– The honorable member for Mitchell says, “ We have been working on it for 18 months.” All I can say is that it must have been a novel experi ence for the honorable member to have been working on anything in this place. We in this Parliament are now considering a measure dealing with the financial security of 60,000 servicemen, and we are deeply concerned about our recruiting programme. Let me tell the Government that it will not be able to recruit permanent career members for any of the Services unless it accepts full responsibility for their welfare.

I started off by referring to three characteristics of our operations this morning. The first is a disregard for the Parliament and its procedures, and the second is a disregard for the welfare of our servicemen. I must have a filing cabinet full of complaints raised by servicemen over the last few years, most of them in retirement, about anomalies in the existing legislation, although I realise that it is not easy to resolve all these anomalies when faced with the difficulties of running defence Services. However, legislation of this kind is invariably introduced in the last stages of a sessional period, and when it is introduced, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) invariably tells us that it is a preliminary measure, an interim measure, a rush measure or a late measure. It is never something for solid consideration by the Parliament.

The third point I wanted to make is this: When we are considering any pension scheme, whether it is the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund itself, the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act or the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, with which we are concerned now, we seem to be afflicted with actuarial neurosis. We are dealing with a mammoth Fund. Somewhere in the report that I have before me there is an indication of the amount of money in the Fund. The report is the last one available to us. It is for 1962-63 and it shows that at 1st July 1962 the balance in the Fund was £19,711,607 - a tremendous amount - and that the contributions for that year were £3,229,505. So we have a little more than £3i million going into the Fund every year. The Fund is increasing at a rather fast rate. Pensions paid out in the year I have referred to amounted to less than £2 million, so that we can expect the Fund to increase by about £1 million or so every year. I agree therefore with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) that there is absolutely no necessity for us to be niggardly in the benefits payable to ex-servicemen. We are concerned with the 43,899 contributors as at the date of the information that we have, but of course the figure will have increased by this. Some of these people are career officers but there are also general servicemen who serve for varying terms.

Honorable members on this side of the House, as indeed on the other, are just as well aware as anybody else of the difficulties of this scheme. I was interested in the comments of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to the effect that several other proposals submitted by the Government members Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund Committee are being considered by the Government. I suppose that it is our job on this side of the House to take the initiative and to get into business on this question. Whether or not we are ignored - we customarily are - we should do something about it. It might have been a courteous gesture on the part of the Government to the representatives of 50 per cent, of the people of Australia to give them some line on the Government’s thinking on this question and to ask them to participate in that thinking. This is a job for the Parliament. It is not an Executive responsibility. Neither the Executive nor the Government parties own the armed forces. Each one of us has as much concern as anyone else with the recruitment of the Services. Therefore this is a job for all of the Parliament. It is not a secret service job for the other side of the House, nor is it one on which honorable members should attempt to score political points.

I am continually concerned with the problems that face the widows and families of retired servicemen and the men who had long service in the Army and retired perhaps 10 or 12 years ago. I shall refer to them in a moment. It seems to me that some of these problems have not been faced in this legislation. Tremendous problems, of course, have to be overcome in attempting to introduce a sensible, sensitive and flexible pensions scheme for Australian servicemen. One problem arises because of the varied lengths of service. People enlist for different periods. Some serve for four or five years. I suppose that under the national service scheme some people who will be called up for two years will eventually elect to make the Army their lifetime career. They will not do that with any particular long term in mind as they re-enlist or re-engage on each occasion. The people compiling a Service pensions scheme face that exceptional difficulty.

A Service pensions scheme is not like the schemes which prevail in the various Public Services where people enter the Public Service as a lifetime career. The Service pensions scheme is more like the parliamentary pension scheme. It contains the same inconsistencies and lack of security that prevail in that scheme. The varied lengths of service make it difficult to produce a flexible scheme. Then, of course, the Commonwealth Actuary is involved. He continues to get a neurosis if there is any threat to the £19 million or £20 million which is aggregating every year by another million or so.

I suppose that one of the most bothering things in the production of any successful scheme has been the lack of any continual, forward looking defence policy. The continual changes in defence policy have produced, both in the Services and in the public mind generally, a sense of insecurity about undertaking military service. People enter the Services with extreme doubt about their future in terms of length of service. We are faced with an alteration of the Defence Act in this Parliament at present which could fundamentally change the terms of service of people while they are in the Services.

Questions that a serviceman must ask himself are: Am I going to be part of a thorough going service which will mean I have a lifetime career ahead of me? What kind of facilities are to be accorded as to living conditions, the welfare of my family? And so on. Many of the problems have been created by the Government itself through its failure to establish a long term, continuous defence policy.

The problem of retiring ages continually bedevils the defence services. I am not too sure whether in this modern age the retiring ages we have specified are satisfactory. This problem faces other armies too. I do not suppose that other defence forces or the governments of other countries are likely to be any more forward looking, or any more progressive, than are our forces and our Government. I am not too sure that the retiring ages for the ranks of lieutenant, captain and major at 47, lieutenant-colonel at 50 or even full colonel and brigadier at 55 are valid any more. I am not too sure that this is not a waste of the tremendous body of wisdom and experience that servicemen acquire. There are some fields of life - I think politics is one, to a certain extent - in which there is no substitute for experience.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Does physical capacity affect the position?

Mr BRYANT:

– No. Most of these servicemen are not the kind of folk who will be sneaking through jungles taking shots at the enemy. A big proportion of these people - of course I am speaking particularly of officers - are the staffs of our Australian Services. The continual outflow of people at this level of experience is, I am sure, not to the continuing advantage of the Services.

I realise that everybody who looks at the problem thinks of every serviceman as somebody who has to dash ashore against enemy opposition and capture strongpoints, and so on. However, with the continuing complexity of defence forces, it is necessary to have a certain administrative tail or staff machinery behind the Forces, and they must be people of greater wisdom and experience and all that goes with those things. I am not too sure that the retiring ages that were valid in previous times are valid any longer. I realise also that there have been different retiring ages for different arms of the Services. I think that people serving in special arms need longer terms of service available to them than others, and I do know that this is part of the problem that faces a man as soon as he joins a Service and establishes his career. He sees a limit to what his promotion is likely to be. Not only does that limit apply to his promotion but also it suddenly puts a curtain on his length of service.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Do they give any priority for public service?

Mr BRYANT:

– No, so far have not. I thank the honorable member for his assistance; I have that matter noted as one of the points that I wish to raise. So this creates problems, but the biggest problem facing the defence forces retirement benefits scheme has not been any of these factors, serious though they are. The most serious consideration has been the actuarial basis of the fund, the consideration that it must remain actuarily sound. But I do not think this is an argument either. First, all pension funds in Australia seem to be able to retain their solvency - every one of them. Most of the large superannuation funds are mounting, million by million, year by year.

It is one of the factors of Australian life that we live in an expanding economy and an expanding community, and with the population rising there is an increasing number of contributors to almost every pension fund, excluding, perhaps, that of the Parliament. Even the parliamentary pension funds, on the whole, with a small number of contributors with a varying length of service, still seem to retain their solvency. So we ordinary mortals, the laymen in the machine, have to get hold of the actuaries and give them a new set of instructions. Until we have done that we will not do much for the short term serviceman, the early retiring serviceman or for the families themselves. I like to look at a pension scheme like this one to see how it takes care of the family, in particular, to see how it cares for the person in retirement who may not be doing so well once he retires, and to see what we do for the serviceman once he has retired from the Service. First let us examine the question of families. I am not sure that it is right - in fact, I am convinced that it is a wrong policy - that a widow receives five-eighths of the class A invalidity pension which would have been payable to the member at the date of death, plus £52 per annum in respect of each child under the age of 16. Guardians of orphaned children receive £156 per annum. The Commonwealth also provides other benefits such as furlough, compensation, etc. But that does not make them any more fortunate than anybody else in the community. This is a specialised group in the extremes of service from whom we demand the ultimate in sacrifice.

In the ordinary run of service we demand from the Service people the daily sacrifice of family life, and so on, which we do not demand of most other people who serve in the various services. Going back to the point that actuarily we ought not to consider that as an important matter, we ought to consider what our duties are to the serviceman and his family. Is there any reason why widows of servicemen or persons retiring with benefits under a pension fund, particularly if they have children, should not receive the same pension as they would have received with the husband alive? As a matter of fact, it is pretty obvious that the widow with children faces more difficulties with the husband gone than the simple fact of having to maintain the husband in the household. Whether a husband is worth only three-eighths or costs three-eights of the pension to support is open to doubt. I would say that in any consideration of pension funds, particularly this one, the widow ought to receive the full pension, particularly if she has children to maintain.

Who determines the figure of £52 per annum for each child under 16 years of age? Why £52? That is £1 a week- a reasonable sum to be spent on cigarettes by those people who have not yet heeded what the doctors say, probably correctly, about the cause of lung cancer. How much is £1 a week these days? How much does it contribute towards paying rent? An average person living in a Housing Commission home in Australia pays between £4 and £5 a week in rent, so £1 a week considered as the cost of a child’s keep is a piece of nonsense. That figure belongs to the past. Of course, most honorable members on the Government side live in the past, but one would not expect the Actuary to do so. The Opposition assumes that even actuaries have children.

The next question to be considered is the age of 16 years set by this Bill as the age at which the payment of £52 a year shall cease. For many years parents in Tasmania have been compelled to keep their children at school until the age of 16 years whereas, until comparatively recent years, the age in most other States was lower than that. In some of the more advanced societies of the world the school leaving age is 18 years of age, and I express strong approval of that social habit. In this country people are keeping children at school longer and longer and the average school leaving age is rising to 17 or 18 years. Innumerable young people in Australia still attend school until they are 19 or 20. Even if they do not get to university, by the time they have matriculated or undertaken some post secondary education they are getting into the 19 to 20 years age group. It is almost impossible to prepare a young person for life in an advanced community if education is not continued beyond 16 years. Therefore, who arrives at the conclusion that the age of 16 is reasonable for the purposes of this legislation? I believe that this is a matter which should be given early consideration. We on this side of the House will do our best to prepare ourselves. There may even be points on which we could commune with honorable members opposite so that the Parliament could bring effective pressure to bear on this question.

The next point I want to deal with is that guardians of orphan children receive £156 a year under this Act. That is a piece of nonsense, too. I have not looked the matter up recently, but I understand that three or four years ago the Department of Territories was paying £6 a week for the upkeep of aboriginal students brought from the Northern Territory to the city areas. If it is good enough for one department to determine that £6 a week is the cost of maintaining a child, surely it is good enough for anybody else to do so. I believe it is a reasonable proposition that the families of servicemen should be the first charge on the Commonwealth, even if it makes this Fund insolvent. I would be quite happy to pay extra tax in order to meet a commitment of this kind. Family security is part of the social objective of the country. The nation places serious obligations on servicemen and their families and no purely actuarial considerations should apply when we are discussing this matter.

I want now to refer to the ultimate retirement and employment of servicemen. I thank the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) for this magnificent chart he has given to the honorable members. It is a bit of a battle, Mr. Speaker, at times like this, to handle all these documents, faced as I am with such an interested audience in the House. But let us examine the reemployment position as it is set out in this document. It states -

On employment by the Commonwealth Government the pension of a person in receipt of a pension in excess of £500 10s. per annum is reduced to £500 10s. per annum or half the pension which would otherwise be payable whichever is the greater. In the case of a person who has commuted portion of his pension the pension is reduced as above less the amount commuted -

If any honorable member is able to follow this he is doing very well -

If the employment is permanent he may contribute to the Superannuation Fund.

What is the significance of that? I suppose if one looked at it in the cold light of logic and reason one would say: “All right, the fellow walks out of the Army today and into the Commonwealth Public Service tomorrow. He is then drawing his pension and his pay.” But one would then say: “ Wait a bit; the Commonwealth is paying for both his pension and his salary.” Why do we reduce his pension just because he chooses to work for the Commonwealth? Many people retire from the Services every year. These are a special group of people. Most of them, during their service, have received specialist training. Many have had up to 20 or 30 years of service, with experience of a very responsible kind. They are people whom we ought to welcome into the Commonwealth Public Service. Therefore, I regard this restriction as a piece of miserliness on the part of the Commonwealth. It is the kind of miserable attitude to the welfare of other people which bedevils much of our legislation in the Commonwealth, and it affects the retaining power of the Commonwealth so far as its own employees are concerned.

Mr STOKES:

– This was brought in by the government of the day in 1949.

Mr BRYANT:

– That is right. But the great disadvantage faced by this Parliament in 1948 or 1949 was that I was not here. It is not often that the honorable member for Maribyrnong is right. However, he was very close to being right in some of the remarks he made about this Bill. Harking back to 1948 or 1949 might be some sort of comfort to the honorable gentleman in order to excuse some of the things that have been done since then. Under this Government the workers have made little progress in the 15 years since that time. It is time that this generation imported the outlook of this generation into these matters. The world of 1948-1949, or of 1938-1939 was completely different from the world of today.

We live in one of the richest countries in the world. Its strength is revealed by the fact that it has been able to acquire that status despite the Government that it has had. The disability that we impose on servicemen under this Act is deplorable. If exservicemen are to be deprived of pensions when they join the Commonwealth Public Service, they should be deprived of pensions when they join any of the State Public Services. The Government might, as it were, exclude them from any office of profit under the Crown. I believe that this is another piece of actuarial nonsense and that we should do all in our power to remove it from the Statute Book. The honorable member for Maribyrnong spoke about this. As I pointed out earlier, it is not often that I am in agreement with him but I give him my support on this point, realising that he has probably given much thought to the question.

I taught in the Victorian teaching service for many years and I know that at the end of World War II, the Victorian Public Service Board had to make a decision in regard to retiring teachers. Before the war, teachers who decided to serve beyond the retiring age and went back into the service did not receive any superannuation. At the outbreak of war, it was decided that retired teachers should receive part of their superannuation as well as their salary. Later, because of the shortage of teachers, the only way to secure staff was not to deprive teachers of any of their superannuation if they elected to continue to teach. Superannuation should be completely inalienable. The superannuation paid to ex-servicemen should be of no concern to the Commonwealth, no matter where he works or what he does. If an ex-serviceman goes to the Public Service Board and offers his service, then no matter what position is given to him his pension should not be affected. This is part of the actuarial neurosis that afflicts the administration of this country. It is time we laymen - the Minister and other honorable members - got hold of the actuaries and economists and gave them a good shake and pointed them in the direction of social advancement.

I support the suggestion made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that perhaps a Parliamentary select committee ought to be set up. One of the features of this Parliament has been that on the few occasions that honorable members from both sides of the House have examined difficult questions together, they have come to almost complete agreement. For instance, on the Constitutional Review Committee, honorable members from the Government side of the House turned from their ordinary conservative attitudes under the persuasive influence of honorable members on the

Opposition side and produced a report which was progressive, forward looking and which ought to have been implemented. Unfortunately - perhaps because of those characteristics - it has not been implemented. Other matters on which honorable members from both sides of the Parliament have agreed include the voting rights of Aboriginals and television programmes. I suggest to the Minister for the Army and to other Service Ministers that there are a number of matters associated with the terms of service of servicemen, including the pension scheme, which might well be referred to a select committee of this Parliament.

This is not an Executive proprietary interest. The Parliament is responsible for all the people, and therefore it is responsible for all servicemen. I hope that the Government will consider adopting what may be described as acts of grace for the benefit of people who retired under existing or earlier provisions of the principal Act and who are now labouring -under a serious disadvantage or a sense of injustice. I am thinking particularly of the widows and families of former servicemen and of former contributors who, because of inconsistencies in the Act - a number of these occurred because of wartime service - or because of failure to elect at the right time to contribute for the required amount of pension, are today at a disadvantage. I see no reason why we should not examine the position of such people and attempt to iron out existing anomalies by resorting to acts of grace of some sort. If we did this once, we should not have to do it again.

I again raise my voice in protest against the methods by which this measure is being pushed through the Parliament. This institution is being treated as if it were even less than a rubber stamp. The Government regards it as having not even the status of the ink on a rubber stamp. Honorable members opposite, I believe, are too tolerant of the Ministry that they support. They put up with too many inconsistencies on the part of the Treasurer, who is Leader of the House. I hope that the servicemen of Australia will be conscious of what is being done at a time when the Defence Act, the National Service Act and many other items of defence legislation are under consideration in the Parliament. Despite the circumstances, this measure relating to retirement benefits for members of the defence forces is being rushed through the Parliament at the last minute for the convenience of the Ministry. There is no reason why we could not meet for many more weeks. This Parliament meets much less than does any other democratic national legislature. The records of the House of Commons, the United States Congress and the Lok Sabha, in India, and most other democratic parliaments show that this Parliament meets less frequently than other democratic national legislatures meet. There is no sound reason for this. I hope the 60,000 members of the regular forces in Australia will take heed of the way in which their financial security and general welfare are regarded by this Government.

Again, on behalf of honorable members on this side of the Parliament, and, I hope, voicing some of the sentiments that honorable members opposite would like to echo but, apparently, are not game to express, I take strong exception to the hurrying through the Parliament of legislation of this sort. I think it is reasonable for the Ministry, if it wishes to bring down legislation on matters of the kind dealt with in this Bill, to give the Opposition notice of the general details long before, not in a Press release, but in a direct and specific way. At least three weeks should be allowed for consideration before the Parliament makes its final decision on matters such as these. I have no doubt that this Bill will create all sorts of anomalies. This sort of thing always happens. The Minister for the Army, who is now at the table, would do well to submit to his ministerial colleagues the proposition that the Parliament itself could assist a great deal in solving many of the problems relating to defence forces retirement benefits and that, therefore, the appointment of a select committee of the Parliament may provide the most appropriate way to have the question considered.

Mr LINDSAY:
Flinders

.-Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) seems just a little bitter because it was a Government members’ committee that obtained the improvement in retirement benefits provided for in this Bill. I am sure he fully realises that there is nothing to prevent the Opposition from appointing its own committee. If Opposition members had thought about this, they, too, could have submitted recommendations to the Government. I do not wish to take up much of the time of the House. As Secretary of the Government Members’ Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee, I wish merely to put a couple of points on record. First, I should like to express the thanks of the Committee for the very great co-operation given to it over an extended period by both the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Department of the Treasury. Above all, I congratulate the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) on his efforts. We all know his tenacity of purpose. He has been absolutely untiring in his endeavours to obtain justice and improved benefits for retired servicemen. We have already heard from him of the benefits to be provided under the terms of this measure, and he has foreshadowed further benefits in the future. There will in future be two acts - one providing for those who entered the forces before 1959 and the other provided for those who joined in 1959 or subsequently. As the men who joined prior to 1959 gradually fade out of service, the situation will become very much more simple, and only one act will be needed.

I should just like to say that, having had 21 years’ service in an army that was subject to a non-contributory pensions scheme, I believe that a non-contributory scheme is very much better. There are two reasons for this. First of all, in a non-contributory scheme, a serviceman, at any time in his career, knows exactly what his pay will be. There are no hidden payments, as it were, being taken out of it the whole time. Secondly, at any time in one’s career, if one knows the pensions scale and takes account of rank and service, one can ascertain exactly what pension one can expect on retirement. The figure, naturally, will be a minimum, because, as time passes, scales are altered. I think one can safely say that, in these days, alterations will always be upwards.

I support this Bill, Mr. Speaker. I believe that it will fill a need that has been obvious for a considerable time. I look forward to the introduction of further legislation to provide still more benefits.

Mr DEVINE:
East Sydney

.- Mr. Speaker, this Bill is important to Australia as a whole and particularly to members of the armed forces, for it pro vides for additional benefits for servicemen on retirement from the forces, as well as for their widows and families. Like other honorable members on this side of the chamber, I think it is unfortunate that the measure was introduced at such a late stage in the present sessional period. The Opposition has not had enough time to consider all the concepts envisaged in the Bill. Like other legislation with which we have dealt during the last couple of weeks, this measure is now to be rushed through at the end of the sessional period.

My main purpose in taking part in this debate is to discuss section 69 of the principal Act, which makes provision concerning the pension of a retired serviceman who becomes an employee of the Commonwealth as defined in section 4 of the Superannuation Act. So much of the pension as is payable by the Commonwealth out of its own contributions is cancelled. I believe that this is an anomaly that should be completely removed. If a person contributes to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, he should be entitled, on retirement, to the benefit commensurate with the contributions that he has made. Whenever we pick up a newspaper nowadays, we see advertisements by the Army, the Navy and the Air Force calling for men to join the forces and make careers in them. But what happens? An apprentice may enter the Army at the age of 17 and become a carpenter, a bricklayer or a tradesman of some other kind. After serving for 20 years, he may retire from the Service. He is immediately told by the Government: “ We do not want you in the Commonwealth Public Service. Go and work for private enterprise.” If a tradesman, on retirement from one of the Services, does take a position with a Commonwealth department, he loses most of his pension rights. This is an anomaly that should be corrected, and I appeal to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to remove it from the principal Act.

What is the position of a young man who joins the Army as a signalman and retires at the age of 40 after 20 years’ service? The Postmaster-General’s Department, for example, tells him: “ We do not want you. Go and find a job with private enterprise.” This is the sort of thing that happens because of the existing provisions of the Act. The Treasurer should have a closer look at it and do something to correct these anomalies. Today we are told that the Australian Army is a specialised army and we train its members to become specialists in certain fields. Then, when they have completed their time, we still say: “ We do not want you. You can go and work for private enterprise.” As an example, I mention the case of a doctor who rose to the rank of rear admiral. After completing 40 years of service in the Navy, he retired and went to work for the Repatriation Department. Because he was working for the Repatriation Department, his pension was cancelled. It cannot be said that this is fair treatment of any person who has served for 40 years in our defence forces.

I should like to refer also to the case of a widow who suffered through her ignorance of the position. She and her husband had an accident while driving in a motor car. The husband was killed and she spent a considerable time in hospital. When she came out of hospital, she was paid a pension under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. After a certain period of time, she went to work for the Department of the Army. She worked for that Department for a fairly long period in Melbourne. She was then transferred to Sydney and notified the Department both of the transfer and of the new address to which to send her cheque. After about three years had passed, the Department discovered that, according to the Act, this widow was not entitled to receive any superannuation benefit and it said to her: “You have received an overpayment of £806. You have to pay this back.”

Mr Benson:

– Has the honorable member a letter concerning that?

Mr DEVINE:

– Yes. I have a letter received by the widow from the Secretary of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board. It says - . . Section 69 of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act provided that, where a person in receipt of a widow’s pension under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act becomes an employee as defined in Section 4 of the Superannuation Act, so much of the pension that is payable to the Commonwealth shall be cancelled during the period of employment.

It goes on -

On 14th December 19S9, the Act was amended to provide that where a widow was entitled to a pension in excess of £312 16s. 3d. per annum, the pension shall be reduced to that amount or half the pension that otherwise would have been payable whichever is the greater.

The letter then goes on to inform the widow of the amount of pension she should have received and then informs her that as from 4th July 1963 she had been overpaid £806 19s., and states -

I regret it is necessary to ask you to repay this amount.

She is still repaying that money because the Commonwealth has withheld her pension until the amount by which she was overpaid is repaid. The point I emphasise is that this woman could have worked for anybody else in Australia other than the Commonwealth Government and still have received the superannuation benefit. She could have worked for a State government, or for private enterprise. But she cannot work for the Commonwealth Government and still receive this benefit. The same position applies to members of the forces who have been in the Services for many years and who become eligible for benefit. If they do not want to lose the superannuation benefit for which they have contributed, they must work for private enterprise.

I made representations on behalf of the widow to whom I have referred with a view to having the injustice rectified. I made representations to both the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The reply I received was that there was no evidence that the widow had given notification of her change of address. It was also said that, even if she had notified her change of address such action, in itself, would not have been sufficient to rectify her position. I suggest that the Government should issue a special booklet informing these people of exactly what benefits they are entitled to receive under the Act. If such information were made available, I am sure that it would be of great benefit because members of the forces would then know exactly what to do when they go back into civilian life in order to guard against becoming ineligible for benefit under the Act.

I know that the Government intends to introduce further amendments to this legislation in the Budget session. I sincerely hope that the Minister and the Government will give some consideration to section 69 of the Act because, as it now stands, that section is causing a great deal of dissension among members of the forces. I am sure that if the consideration I suggest is given to the matter, the Government will see a way to rectify the anomalies that now arise.

Mr WENTWORTH:
Mackellar

– I think, perhaps, the Opposition has been a little ungenerous to the members of the Government members committee, who have done an excellent job in relation to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board. They have succeeded in persuading the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to accept wholesale amendments to the principal Act. Indeed, they have persuaded him completely to recast parts of it. I do join with the Opposition in regretting that this has not been done before, and I also join with the Opposition in regretting that this measure, piecemeal as it is, did not come forward at an earlier stage. But 1 think the Government must be given credit, at least, for having announced, as the Minister has done, that there will be a complete overhaul of this scheme, for such an overhaul is long overdue.

I pay tribute to the work done by the members of the Government members committee, particularly the chairman, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) and the secretary, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay), who deserve the congratulations of the House, of the members of the forces and of the public, for the work they have done. Let me say that I feel some sympathy for the point put forward by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) with regard to Opposition committees on matters such as this. Such committees could, I think, do more constructive work than has been done. I have been a little astonished, myself, in the years during which I have been in Parliament, to see just how little constructive work emanates from the Opposition. Members of the Opposition do have the opportunity to do this type of thing. One hopes that they will make much better use of it in the future.

There are just two observations that I should like to make. They arise in this manner: I think that the general concept of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board or its successor, the new fund - a non-contributory fund, in a sense - which the Minister will bring in when he overhauls the legislation has to be seen in perspective with the other benefits available. I think one of the things the House has to look at when considering this legislation is its intermeshing with the Social Services Act because there may be a time when the superannuation pension does not mean very much in point of fact because it simply involves a corresponding abatement of a social services pension which would come without the defence forces retirement benefits.

The means test, here, is of very great importance, and I think the intermeshing of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and other benefit acts with the Social Services Act has not received sufficient consideration. This is particularly so with regard to people on low incomes - the people at the bottom of the scale, who are dependent upon their pensions alone. This is a matter which I think should engage the attention of the House when the major overhaul of the Act comes before it. But I think it should also engage the attention of the House particularly in another aspect. I refer to the whole question of the means test because here we see one of the injustices caused by the present means test. We cannot think of this Act in isolation from the other Acts.

The second matter I raise - and here again I look at the other benefits available against which we must measure the adequacy or inadequacy of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act - is the question of housing. I do believe that the Government should have a housing fund available for married persons in the forces and for those members of the forces who are discharged and who subsequently marry. If there were a housing fund of this character, it would be a very welcome supplement - perhaps the best supplement we could have to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. This is not the time to go into details, but I shall take the opportunity at the appropriate time of putting the matter before the House in greater detail. I commend this suggestion to the Minister for the Army not only in relation to national service trainees but also in relation to serving members of the forces. We should have some kind of housing fund to supplement the defence forces retirement benefits scheme.

I will not take up any more of the time of the House. I emphasise that this is an important matter. Unhappily, we are going to be more and more dependent on our forces in the future. One says that with a great deal of regret. One can have nothing but regret when one sees the deterioration of Australia’s strategic situation. Since we will he more and more dependent on our forces, the defence forces retirement benefits scheme, which has been the cause of dissatisfaction in the forces, needs wholesale amendment. I welcome the initiative shown by the Government members’ committee on this matter. I also welcome very much the statement made by the Minister for the Army implying that the Government is accepting that committee’s recommendations.

Mr REYNOLDS:
Barton

.- At the outset I reject the submission made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that the Opposition has not interested itself in the defence forces retirement benefits scheme. As a matter of fact, I think it can fairly be said that the Government’s recent belated activities would not have come about except for the good deal of pressure that has been exerted by the Labour Opposition. We have referred not only to the deficiencies of this scheme but also to the service conditions of the Services generally. The honorable member for Mackellar has just referred to another deficiency, namely housing. Other people talk about deficiencies in respect of schooling, servicemen’s pay and servicemen’s pension requirements.

I do not want to say very much, but I want to make a few points which I do not think have been made so far. I indicate at the outset that I support the view of the Opposition that the defence forces retirement benefits scheme is tied too closely to the provisions of the Superannuation Act, which covers the Commonwealth Public Service. This close connection, which assumes that the conditions of service are somewhat similar, is not valid. It has been indicated already that the conditions of service for servicemen - including their housing and their movement from one State to another, the schooling requirements of their children and the inherent dangers of Service life - are somewhat dissimilar to the conditions of public servants.

One of the most important points to note in this regard is that the serviceman’s expectation of gainful employment is at least 5 to 10 years shorter than that of a public servant. I am wondering what consideration the Government and Government members’ committee have given to this matter. Has any consideration been given to adopting the schemes that operate in Great Britain and the United States of America? Both of those countries operate a noncontributory scheme. Such a scheme could well be another inducement in getting a greater volunteer force instead of relying on short term conscription measures.

I am also wondering what consideration has been or is to be given to the provision of lump sum payments to retiring servicemen. Servicemen complain bitterly that under the present provisions they are restricted to receiving, at most, three-eighths of their pension in the form of a lump sum payment and that they also have to satisfy a board that is set up for the purpose of examining the financial intentions of retiring servicemen who ask for such lump sum payments. It will be understood that many of these men, who retire as early as at 4”’ years of age or a little later, might well want to set up some kind of business or enterprise of their own after they retire from the Services. They are not given the opportunity to receive a full lump sum payment in order to do that. This is why some people accuse the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board of ensuring security from womb to tomb and of adopting the attitude that Big Brother knows best. Why are not these people able to receive the lump sum payments that they require in order to set themselves up in business?

Altogether, the feeling of servicemen is that a very conservative attitude is adopted in the handling of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. As has been stated already, £20 million has accumulated in the Fund up to the present time. When one remembers that those reserves are earning compound interest and that after the scheme had been in existence for 15 years there were 42,467 contributors but only 4,402 surviving pensioners, it means that usually a pensioner cannot live long enough to have returned to him his own contributions plus the compound interest that the Fund has earned on those contributions. The reserves are increasing at a totally unwarranted rate. There is an overprotection of the Fund. I agree with the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) when he says that, as in so many other public insurance funds - such as the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust - there is an utter conservatism in the administration of the Fund. In all these funds there seems to be this utter conservatism in maintaining reserves against some kind of contingency. We see the same position in medical and hospital benefit funds.

One specific point which I do not think has been mentioned is that if a retired member and his wife both die childless shortly after his retirement, the remaining defence forces retirement benefits scheme credits are forfeited and nothing goes to the estates. That point might well be considered by the Government in relation to the bill that it is to bring down later this year. This is another point: Why is an orphan paid £156 per annum only until he reaches the age of 16 years? At that stage payment ceases and the balance of his father’s credit, if any, is placed in trust until he reaches his majority. Although the orphan has to wait until that time to receive such credit, the Government makes no contribution towards the payment; only the remainder of his father’s credit is handed over to him at that stage.

Another point about which servicemen complain is that, if a member refrains from marrying or does not re-marry until after he retires and he is survived by a widow, she is not entitled to any pension at all. Once again I remind the House that some of these men retire at the early age of 47 years of age. A man may marry after retiring or re-marry after retiring if his wife has predeceased him. I suppose some kind of restriction has to be placed on an elderly ex-serviceman marrying some young thing who, on his death, becomes a long term liability on the Fund.

Mr Hansen:

– Why?

Mr REYNOLDS:

– My colleague, in his youthful exuberance, sees nothing wrong in a position such as that. There seems to be this over-cautiousness in the administration of the Fund.

Another point is that if a member is suffering from a disability which, although it is estimated to represent less than 30 per cent, of his working capacity, disables him sufficiently to require him to be discharged from the Service, and he has had less than 20 years’ service, he receives no pension at all. All that he receives is a refund of his own contributions. He receives nothing by way of Commonwealth contribution. That is yet another point which highlights the difference between Public Service life and Service life. In Service life, of course, a man has to be as near to 100 per cent physically fit as possible. If he is only, say, 20 per cent, or 15 per cent, unfit it is quite on the cards he will be discharged from the Service. If he has served for less than 20 years he gets no pension. In fact, he gets only his own contributions back. I understand he does not get even the interest that accumulates to his contributions during his Service life. He may be in the Services for up to 19 years, but because he is discharged at that stage for being 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, unfit all he gets back is the total of his own contributions. That seems to me a gross injustice and I hope the Government will look at it before it brings the next bill on this subject into the House.

A member of the Services cannot commute more than three eighths - and then only with specific approval - of his entitlement, but his widow is not allowed to commute any of her entitlement. I can quite understand that a widow whose husband dies soon after retirement at possibly 50 years of age might want to set up in business, but she is precluded from doing this. Why all this bureaucratic stringency on what, after all, is substantially the member’s own contributions and his own entitlement?

Why cannot a member of the Services retire voluntarily for personal reasons at any time after he has served a minimum period and be entitled to some proportion of what would ordinarily be his pension rights? I understand that in the United States of America, for instance, if a member has served for a minimum period of 20 years, thereafter he can voluntarily retire at some period in advance of the normal retirement age and be entitled to 50 per cent, of his basic wage at the time of his retirement. Apparently no such provision obtains under our Service conditions here. I remind the House that in the United States, where the other state of affairs obtains, the pension is gratuitous. It is not a pension to which a member contributes. It is wholly a contribution by the Government, yet the American scheme contains a much more generous provision than does our own pension fund to which the Service member has to contribute.

These are points that give rise to much dissatisfaction. 1 hope that we will get a new look at them when the Government comes to deal with this subject in the much more embracing bill that has been foreshadowed. I register my protest that we should have to discuss this measure in such a way at such short notice without our party having an opportunity to study it at length. I certainly object to the fact that we are getting this legislation in such a piecemeal way.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Administrator recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Dr. Forbes) read a third time.

page 1988

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL BILL 1965

Second Reading

Debate resumed (vide page 1970).

Mr. WHITLAM (Werriwa) [11.41. - I have seconded the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that we should defer amendments of the law concerning the distribution of a State into electoral divisions until the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review on this subject have been put to a referendum. The Government has plenty of time in which to hold such a referendum. There is. in fact,, to be a referendum to break the nexus between the numbers in this House and in the other place and also to permit Aborigines to be taken into account in determining the number of divisions in the various States.

Honorable members have had since October 1958 to consider the Committee’s recommendations. There can be no doubt that if the people are given an opportunity to vote on the Committee’s recommendations they will support them.

There is plenty of time for the Government to introduce amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act even if it does not choose to hold a referendum. There will be no distribution under this Act, as amended by this Bill or any subsequent bill, until after the next elections for the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) gave us that assurance a month ago. The only reason why the Government is putting this Bill through at the end of this session is that the Government will not have a majority in the Senate after July and the Senate after July would not pass this Bill.

Mr WHITLAM:

– I am glad that on this matter the Minister and I agree. He is quite frank that the Senate as most recently constituted at an election would not tolerate this Bill. If the people were given an opportunity to vote on the Constitutional Review Committee’s proposals on the subject of electoral redistribution no bill such as this would be possible.

The Bill is being introduced at the last opportunity because the Prime Minister is busy arranging his political legacies. He will never again be leading a government which has a majority in the Senate. He is devising schemes to ensure that his political heirs continue to prosper when he passes on. He has agreed to increase the number of seats in those areas which vote for his candidates and to decrease the number of seats in those areas which vote for his opponents. So that the whole estate will not be squandered in squabbles between his docile family in the cities and their quarrelsome cousins in the country he is making disproportionate provision for the latter. The family far and near is being consoled with the success of their forebear, Sir Thomas Playford, who, for a generation, was able to secure a majority of members in the South Australian House of Assembly with a minimum of votes in that State. Recently, indeed, the greatest percentage of votes in Australian history was required by my party to achieve a bare majority of members in that House.

The city beneficiaries under the Prime Minister’s dispositions have not realised the full import of the scheme which their leader has approved. Perhaps they believe it is better to have half a loaf than no bread. The electorates for the Queensland Legislative Assembly are already distributed to the advantage of the Australian Country Party and to the disadvantage of the Liberal Party of Australia and of the Australian Labour Party. At the last State election in Queensland the Country Party polled 20 per cent, of the votes and won 26 seats, the Liberal Party polled 24 per cent, of the votes and won 20 seats, and the Labour Party polled 44 per cent, of the votes and won 26 seats. The gerrymander proposed by the Menzies Government in this Bill will not only disadvantage the Labour Party but also benefit the Country Party at the expense of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives, just as has happened in the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

Two months ago there was an election for the Western Australian Legislative Assembly. The disparity between the conservative parties there is still more clearly due to the gerrymander which obtains in that State. The Liberal Party secured 48.17 per cent, of the votes and 21 seats. The Country Party secured less than one-tenth of that number of votes - 4.59 per cent. - ‘but it secured eight seats. In the three years since the previous elections the Liberal Party increased its percentage of votes from 40.36 per cent, to 48.17 per cent. It gained approximately 8 per cent, more votes and three more seats. The Country Party vote dropped from 5.94 per cent, in the previous elections to 4.59 per cent. It lost almost 25 per cent, of its votes but still ended up with the same eight seats. This is what will happen in the House of Representatives among the Prime Minister’s heirs.

On occasion, the Prime Minister can become very indignant on the subject of gerrymanders. Just before the last elections for the House of Representatives my leader said that my party believed in having the same method of election for the popular House in our Parliament as obtains everywhere else in the English speaking world - in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and India. The Prime Minister indulged in several flights of oratory as a result of that statement. At Essendon on 20th November he said -

If Labour wins this election there will not be anything but a Labour government for a long time. It will take a minor sort of revolution to defeat them again.

Two days later at Waverley in New South Wales he said -

Mr. Calwell would merely “fix up” the voting system during the first three years so that his reelection for a second term would be possible. You would need to be very innocent not to see through this monoeuvre

Three days later in the Brisbane City Hall he said -

Labour’s proposal … is a back, door attempt to perpetuate Labour government.

I invite honorable members to substitute in each of those statements the word “ Liberal “ for “Labour” and they will see the consequences of this Bill. But is the Prime Minister indignant on this occasion?

I do not want to deal at great length with the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) because my leader last night dealt with him more than adequately. My leader quoted extracts, which appeared in the honorable gentleman’s family newspaper, from an after dinner speech, made, no doubt when he was less inhibited, to a Country Party meeting in the heart of his electorate in which the honorable gentleman advocated territorial representation. Frankly, until recently my party and, I thought, the Liberal Party supported popular representation, not territorial representation. The honorable gentleman is entitled to justify the principle when he is winding up the debate, because I take it he will not try to trample democracy still further by gagging the debate on this Bill, the most important legislation that has come before the Parliament this session and a very urgent bill from the point of view of his Government, which wishes to have it passed before the Government loses its majority in the Senate.

My leader did not spare time for the two justifications which the Minister made at the dinner and which were reported in the family newspaper.

Mr Jones:

– Which is the family newspaper?

Mr WHITLAM:

– The “ Daily News “ of Murwillumbah. My leader quoted from the issue of 15th June 1964. The Minister first argued that somehow a minimum representation for certain areas would help to build up their populations. His other proposition was that to build up the number of members in the country electorates would stop the drift to the city. The first proposition is not borne out by the facts. One State in our Federation enjoys a guaranteed minimum representation. That is Tasmania. It can never have fewer than five members and its proportion of Australia’s population has dropped from 4.57 per cent, in 1901 to 3.36 per cent. in the census of 1961. So, there has been no development following from the form of gerrymander which the Constitution permits.

Then there is the matter of the drift to the city. Between the census of 1947 and the census of 1961, Sydney’s population, expressed as a percentage of the entire population of the State of which it is the capital, increased from 55.14 per cent. to 55.7 per cent. In the same time respective increases for the other capital cities were: Melbourne, from 62.91 per cent. to 65.1 per cent.; Brisbane, from 36.34 per cent. to 40.8 per cent.; Adelaide, from 59.2 per cent. to 60.7 per cent.; Perth, from 54.24 per cent. to 56.9 per cent.; Hobart, from 30.19 per cent. to 33.1 per cent. This drift continued despite the fact that in every State except Tasmania there is a loading in favour of country electorates and despite the fact, also, that in every Federal distribution for this House country electorates have been given fewer voters than city electorates have had. As time has passed the city electorates have built up their populations to a much greater extent than have country electorates because of the drift to the city and the relatively static populations in country districts.

Admittedly the Minister’s second reading speech was very disarming. He described the amendments as keeping within the 20 per cent. margin limit. He said that they will not result in any significant change in the procedure followed by the Distribution Commissioners. He did not point out, however, that they will result in a most significant change in the result of the Distribution Commissioners’ deliberations. I recall to honorable members section 19 of the Act. This is the crux of this Bill. The section reads -

In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to -

Community or diversity of interest

Means of Communication

Physical features

Existing boundaries of Divisions and Sub divisions

State Electoral boundaries; and subject thereto the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution, and the Distribution Commissioners may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less.

Proposed new section 19 makes no reference to a quota basis at all. It states -

In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissoiners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Division contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of the quota of electors by more than one-fifth of the quota.

The Commissioners shall give due consideration to four of the old factors, one of them augmented, and three new factors. Honorable members will notice that henceforth the quota will be the exception. It will not be the norm. The new factors are to be taken into consideration in determining whether a division is to have one fifth more or one fifth less than the quota. They are not to be taken into consideration, as they must be under the present section, to determine whether it is necessary to depart from the quota at all. The new section assumes that the quota must be departed from and it is in that light that one looks at the factors.

In answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) on 27th February last year the Prime Minister said that the amendments which he had threatened in his policy speech and which the Governor-General had announced in opening this Parliament would merely clarify the present provisions. The right honorable gentleman took two full columns of “ Hansard “ to clarify his reply concerning the clarification. On 5th March 1964, when speaking to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, the Prime Minister devoted some time to justifying these proposals. He said that they were merely modernising factors which had never been altered in 62 years and which Labour governments had not seen fit to alter. I do not see how this advances his argument. We had not seen fit to alter this section; nor had governments which he had led or which his Conservative predecessors had led. All parts of the House had found section 19 satisfactory. Why is it being altered now after 63 years?

What are the new portions to clarify and modernise its meaning? I shall read them They are, first, “ means of communication “ to which has been added the words, “ and travel within the Division “ with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance “; secondly, “ the density or sparsity of population of the division “; and thirdly, “ the area of the division “. Each of these additional phrases can have only one intention - to direct the attention of the Distribution Commissioners to factors which would lead them to give country electorates, electorates which were sparse or large or remote or distant, onefifth less than the quota and give the city electorates which did not have these features one-fifth more than the quota. The quota will never again be the rule, if this Bill goes through. In the light of these factors, it will be the exception. The country electorates, with these factors applicable to them, will be one-fifth smaller and the others will be one-fifth larger.

The consequence of this is that, if the quota is 45,000, country electorates will normally have 36,000 and city electorates will normally have 54,000. If the quota is 50,000, country electorates will normally have 40,000 and city electorates will normally have 60,000. In either case, the people in the country will have half as much voting power again as the people in the city, and the people in the city will have only twothirds the voting power of people in the country. If it is fair to do this within a State, one would have thought that it would be fair to do it between the States. One would have thought that in allocating the number of seats to each State one would take into consideration remoteness, means of communication, distance of travel, density or sparsity of population and area. But we cannot do it as regards the States. We cannot build up the sparse, large, distant and remote States by this means. The Constitution clearly prevents us from doing so. The public would be outraged if we were to try to give, as the Government is within a State, more seats to the States which vote for the Government and fewer seats to the States which vote for the Australian Labour Parry. South Australia has a larger population than Western Australia and has more seats, but it votes more for Labour than Western Australia does. To apply between the States the principles of this Bill would mean that Western Australia, voting as it does generally for the Liberals, would have more seats in the Parliament than South Australia, voting as it does in general for Labour. The Constitution prevents it in this case. That is the only reason why the Government is not doing it.

The Constitutional Review Committee urged the adoption of further constitutional safeguards in these matters. I shall show what further gerrymanders could be achieved by applying the provisions of the Constitution as it stands. Section 29 of the Constitution does not require one member constituencies. The Parlialiament could divide the States into electorates of which some had one member and others had two or more members, or it could divide the States into electorates with varying numbers of members. If New South Wales or Victoria were divided into electorates of equal population, the city electorates being given two members each and the country electorates three, the result would be the same as this Bill aims to achieve and the result would be equally monstrous. Again, under section 29 of the Constitution, it would probably be possible for each State to be regarded as one electorate and for the members to be elected by proportional or preferential voting for the whole State, as they are for the Senate. In such a case, it would be monstrous to give a 50 per cent, greater value to votes cast in the remote, sparsely settled parts of the State or to reduce by one-third the value of votes cast in the closer and densely settled parts.

Each of these possibilities under section 29 of the Constitution would be no more monstrous than what is happening under this Bill, which the Government trusts to be in accordance with the Constitution. It is to be doubted whether the Bill is in fact in accordance with the Constitution. There have been revealing cases on the United States Constitution, from which we have drawn the relevant sections of our Constitution. The Minister may also be interested to know that there have been cases in the High Court of Ireland. I shall quote a judgment of Mr. Justice Budd, presumably a member of a family which the honorable gentleman respects and admires. Mr. Justice Budd, in the case of O’Donovan v. The Attorney-General in February 1961, said -

A “ democratic state “ is one where government by the people prevails. In modern usage of the words I believe it to be correct to say a “ democratic state “ denotes one in which all citizens have equal political rights. . . . That equality is not maintained if the vote of a person in one part of the country has a greater effect in securing parliamentrary representation than the vote of a person in another part of the country.

The honorable gentleman’s leader, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), two and and half years ago when there was last a proposal for distribution of this House before it, called in aid the practice in all other countries, he said, particularly in the United States, to build up the vote in country areas. By great irony, the Supreme Court of the United States was then tackling these gerrymanders. Honorable members may be familiar with some of the decisions. The first significant one was in Gray v. Sanders in March 1963. The majority opinion said -

The idea that every voter is equal to every other voter in his State, when he casts his ballot in favor of one of several competing candidates, underlies many of our decisions.

Again -

But once the class of voters is chosen and their qualifications specified, we see no constitutional way by which equality of voting power may be evaded . . . The conception of political equality from the Declaration of Independence, to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, to the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Nineteenth Amendments can mean only one thing - one person, one vote.

Mr Cope:

– Is there anything unfair about that?

Mr WHITLAM:

– It would not be considered unfair in any other country of the English speaking world or in any other country of our part of the world where parliaments are elected. Only in Australia in the Federal Parliament for the first time - in the State Parliaments it has long been held - is it now thought to be unfair.

The United States Supreme Court has continued its good work. The last case I shall quote is that of Reynolds v. Sims in June 1964. The Chief Justice, delivering the opinion of the Court, said -

Wesberry clearly established that the fundamental principle of representative government in this country is one of equal representation for equal numbers of people, without regard to race, sex, economic status, or place of residence within a State.

The Chief Justice continued -

Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests. As long as ours is a representative form of government, and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly representative of the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is a bedrock of our political system. . . Of course, the effect of state legislative districting schemes which give the same number of representatives to unequal numbers of constituents is identical. Overweighting and overvaluation of the votes of those living here has the certain effect of dilution and undervaluation of the votes of those living there. . . Weighting the votes of citizens differently, by any method or means, merely because of where they happen to reside, hardly seems justifiable.

He added -

To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. The fact that an individual lives here or there is not a legitimate reason for over-weighting or diluting the efficacy of his vote. The complexions of societies and civilisations change, often with amazing rapidity. A nation once primarily rural in character becomes predominantly urban. Representation schemes once fair and equitable become archaic and outdated. But the basic principle of representative government remains, and must remain, unchanged - the weight of a citizen’s vote cannot be made to depend on where he lives. Population is, of necessity, the starting point for consideration and the controlling criterion for judgment in legislative apportionment controversies. A citizen, a qualified voter, is no more nor no less so because he lives in the city or on the farm. . . .

Simply stated, an individual’s right to vote for state legislators is unconstitutionally impaired when its weight is in a substantial fashion diluted when compared with votes of citizens living in other parts of the State. . . .

But neither history alone, nor economic or other sorts of group interests, are permissible factors in attempting to justify disparities from populationbased representation. Citizens, not history or economic interests, cast votes. Considerations of area alone provide an insufficient justification for deviations from the equal-population principle. Again, people, not land or trees or pastures, vote. Modern developments and improvements in transportation and communications make rather hollow, in the mid-1960’s, most claims that deviations from population-based representation can validly be based solely on geographical considerations. Arguments for allowing such deviations in order to insure effective representation for sparsely settled areas and to prevent legislative districts from becoming so large that the availability of access of citizens to their representatives is impaired are today, for the most part, unconvincing.

One would think that the present Bill had been drawn with deliberate disregard for the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in a matter involving the Constitution of the United States of America, which here parallels the Australian Constitution. Area, transport, communications, sparse settlement - every consideration which the Supreme Court of the United States discarded in June last year is now imported by the Menzies Government into our processes of electoral distribution.

This is a matter which can affect the area of the world in which Australia is situated. Last February I attended a conference in Bangkok under the auspices of the International Commission of Jurists. There a resolution was passed unanimously as a guide to the emerging countries in this area. It was in these terms -

Free periodic elections are therefore important to representative government. Such elections should be based on universal and equal-

I emphasise “ equal “ - adult suffrage and should be held by secret ballot and under such conditions that the right to vote is exercised without hindrance or pressure. Where a legislature is elected by districts, there should be a periodic re-distribution of seats or districts so as to ensure as far as practicable that each individual vote has the same value.

I emphasise “ each individual vote has the same value.” This is the principle which is recommended to countries in our part of the world - South East Asia - and the Australian Government is now discarding it.

Why has the Prime Minister (S”r Robert Menzies) not shown more solicitude for outback electorates at any earlier time in his 30-year membership of this House? Until 1949 every outback electorate was larger in area and population than it is now. Until the end of World War II the members representing those electorates had no secretarial assistance and there was no air transport available to them. The only Liberal member in history for the largest electorate in the world, Peter Browne, former member for Kalgoorlie, later a secretary to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and a protege and prospective candidate under the auspices of the Treasurer, had this to say in a letter to the editor of the Melbourne “ Age “ which appeared in the issue of that newspaper for 11th March 1965-

A survey conducted in Western Australia a few years ago revealed that in densely populated metropolitan areas less than 30 per cent, of the voters knew the name of their Federal member and about 2 per cent, had actually met him. In the larger country electorates on the other hand 75 per cent knew their member’s name and 40 per cent, had met him.

He concluded -

If there ever was a case for loading the vote of a country elector (and this I do not admit) there is certainly none today. 1 conclude with a quotation from the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States in Wesberry v. Sanders -

While it may not be possible to draw congressional districts with mathematical precision, that is no excuse for ignoring our Constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives. That is the high standard of justice and common sense which the Founders set for us.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock:

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

Mr JEFF BATE:
Macarthur

.- The speech we have just heard is notable for its insincerity in respect of gerrymandering. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) comes from New South Wales, but not once did he mention what has happened in New South Wales. This was a very important omission from a speech about the purity of Labour. What was the object of the speech that has just been delivered? It was to try to have the country split up into divisions so that Labour could win an election even if the people did not want a Labour government. In New South Wales even these tactics failed. The Deputy Leader for the Opposition talked about South Australia and about the Federal Government but he deliberately forgot what happened in his own State. He forgot about the gerrymander in New South Wales which was held to be so concrete that no government other than a Labour government could ever come to power. The political shock of the century has been felt in New South Wales, where the people turned out the Labour government even in face of the gerrymander in that State. So I say that the speech we have heard is insincere in this respect. Every country and every State was dealt with except one State.

What happened in New South Wales is very fresh in our memory, but the full story of electoral breaches and infringements in that State has not come out. Because it was obvious that the Liberals were going to win in New South Wales the electoral machinery had to be given some veneer of respectability. The will of the people prevailed in New South Wales, and 53.7 per cent, of votes cast were in favour of non-Labour candidates. This was the result despite the gerrymander arranged by the Labour Party, arranged by the private secretary to the Minister for Health, Mr. McDonnell, who was appointed to his position for that very purpose. The first thing he did after his appointment was to wipe out the seat of North Sydney, so that, electorally, Ray Maher had to go, although he came back again from Wyong. These are the things that happened behind the scenes in New South Wales, where the great gerrymander of the New South Wales Labour Party was beaten a few days ago. Let the Deputy Leader of the Opposition leave the chamber if he wishes to; I say that he mentioned nothing in his speech about what happened in his own State.

Mr Whitlam:

– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The honorable member provokes me to point out that I did refer to every State except Tasmania having been gerrymandered.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-Order! The honorable member for Macarthur has the call.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not know what Standing Orders are. There is no Standing Order allowing a member to interrupt a speech in this way. In other words, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition rose merely to try to refute something that I was saying, and such a procedure is out of order in this House.

It has been somewhat difficult to prepare our speeches for this debate, because our time has been taken up to some extent. However, with the limited time that we have had to prepare for the debate it appears that the Labour Party has made its objective an attempt to get the country broken up into divisions which will result in a Labour government being returned. Let us see what is going on in the Labour Party. We read in this morning’s newspapers that the 36 faceless men who were unearthed at the 1963 election, many of them inspired by Moscow and foreign traitorous powers, are now to have a new look.

Mr Bryant:

– I rise to a point of order. The remarks of the honorable member about the Federal Conference of the Labour Party are offensive to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Mr Wentworth:

– Surely a reference to bodies organised outside this House cannot be offensive to the honorable member unless he is under their orders.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! The honorable member for Wills has raised a point of order. The honorable member for Macarthur is not out of order in referring in broad terms to organisations and bodies outside the ordinances of the Parliament. I suggest that the words used by the honorable member for Macarthur might be moderated and that the word “ traitorous “, for example, be withdrawn.

Mr Daly:

– I rise to a further point of order. The honorable member clearly used the words “ Moscow dominated “ and “ traitorous “. I ask that those words be withdrawn as they are personally offensive to every member of the Opposition.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– Might I speak to the point of order?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! I have asked the honorable member for Macarthur “to withdraw the remark to which I have referred.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– Which remark?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! . I suggest that the word “ traitorous “ used by the honorable member for Macarthur in regard to the organisation to which he referred be withdrawn.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– I withdraw the word “ traitorous “. I did not say “ Moscow dominated “, I said “ Moscow influenced “, but if it will help the Labour Party I will withdraw the words “ Moscow dominated “. I will do so if it makes any members of the left wing less uncomfortable than they are.

Mr Bryant:

– I rise to a point of order. Is it in order for the honorable member for Macarthur to make a qualified withdrawal? Is he not required, under the Standing Orders, to withdraw without qualification? I point out that I was a delegate to portion of the conference to which he referred. I regard bis remark as offensive.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! In regard to the point of order raised by the honorable member for Wills, I point out that the honorable member for Macarthur was asked to withdraw the remark he used, and he has withdrawn it.

Air. JEFF BATE. - What I was saying when I was interrupted was that this is a blatant pursuit of power by a few people constituting a sort of Presidium, a sort of Soviet, without regard for the welfare of the people. They have regard only for themselves or for their leaders. This is completely blatant. There is no veneer of respectability over this lust for power. They have no regard for what happens to the people, their security, their safety, their defence, or any of the important things. They have no regard for the welfare of the country people. The last point has been completely missed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in spite of the fact that the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) - who is not here - the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and the members for the Newcastle seats represent seats outside the metropolitan area. Those seats are held by Labour representatives who are elected by people who are jealous of having free access to their members because they want to get normal concessions which they cannot obtain.

We hear arguments used about the representation of cities. We have heard, for example, of the statement by jurists who reside in Kuala Lumpur, which is a big city.

Mr Duthie:

– I rise to a point of order. Would you please tell us, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what the honorable member for Macarthur is trying to tell the House?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I suggest that honorable members cease interjecting and cease interrupting the proceedings of the House.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– It is obvious that honorable members opposite do not even know the Standing Orders. They get up on some point that annoys them and attempt to take a point of order. Any observer would think this was ludicrous. We have had drawn to our notice the statement of the jurists who reside in Kuala Lumpur - in the middle of a great city. They have their counterparts here in Australia. What do people like that know of what happens out in Darling, at Tibooburra or any of the country areas? What does the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), who represents a metropolitan area, know about what happens in a country seat? The electors of the honorable member for Bradfield have access to him - which they do not need. Why would they want access to the honorable member for Bradfield? They have electricity, roads, bridges, railways, cheap transport and even telephones, although more telephones are needed in the electorate. They have a long list of facilities. They have sewerage in Bradfield. What happens when an elector of Macarthur pulls the chain? Nothing. The electors of Macarthur have not the amenities of life available in city electorates. In these developing electorates the people need to have access to their members.

The principle in the Bill is correct. It is right that country people should be jealous of their political rights. The people in the country districts know who their member is. The people in East Sydney would not know who the member for East Sydney is. How would they know? Their member is put there by the junta. Shall I be asked to withdraw that? How would they know a man who is put there by the Soviet, by the Presidium, by the people who run the show? This sort of power is in the hands of a few people. When you hear Labour men talk all you get is the patter of the Federal Conference of the Labour Party which consists of the 36 faceless men. I think that we ought to have some sympathy for the faceless men because at least they try to do a job. Because members on this side have attacked the Labour Party over the 36 faceless men, the Party has run for cover and proposes putting a lot of other people onto the Conference. The only purpose is to hide the 36 faceless men. The Labour Party is running for cover both outside this Parliament and inside it. It is trying to split the country into electoral divisions that will suit its objectives. This is a blatant lust for power unlike anything we have ever seen in a democratic country, and it is going on here.

We have not heard a word about the Senate or about the value of a Senate vote in Tasmania, have we? Tasmania returns 10 senators to represent 160,000 miserable electors.

Mr Gibson:

– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I ask that that remark be withdrawn or that the honorable member exclude at least the electors of Denison from his remark.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I think the honorable member for Macarthur should withdraw the remark.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– I withdraw it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I suggest that the honorable member for Macarthur should concentrate a little more on the Bill before the House. According to some of the speeches that have been made this is a very serious and important Bill. The behaviour of some honorable members does not indicate that it is. I suggest that the House come to order before the Chair is forced to take steps to ensure that order is maintained. The honorable member for Macarthur has withdrawn the remark that he made.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– I was referring to the miserably low number of electors in Tasmania where 160,000 voters return 10 senators to the other place and five members to the House of Representatives.

Mr Reynolds:

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. You asked the honorable member for Macarthur to withdraw the remark. He is not making even any pretence of doing so.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Macarthur has withdrawn the remark he made previously.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– We hear all this talk about one vote, one value. The Commonwealth Electoral Act departs very widely from this principle in respect of Tasmania. On the figures supplied to us, each of the five representatives sent here by Tasmania is sent by between 28,000 and 30,000 electors, and each senator from Tasmania is sent here by about 16,000 electors. In New South Wales it takes somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 electors to return a senator. In other words, the vote of the elector in Tasmania has about 10 times the value of the vote of the elector in New South Wales.

Yet we still hear attacks on our electoral laws when any mention of this is made because it does not suit the members of the

Labour Party. It is the same in New South Wales where it does not suit them to draw attention to the situation in Tasmania as regards the Senate vote. We are entitled to refer to electoral practices in Australia, even if we do roam a bit far afield into what has happened in other countries; but at least we are entitled to refer to what happens in this country. I was surprised to hear the attack by the Australian Labour Party on the Country Party as though the Country Party members were the sole beneficiaries of any advantage of a 20 per cent, margin above or below the quota. Consequently, it is proper to consider who does represent country seats.

A few Labour members, such as the honorable members for Macquarie, EdenMonaro, Darling, Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and Hunter (Mr. James) represent country districts. But in New South Wales some country seals are held by a party known as the Liberal Party, namely, Macarthur, Farrer, Paterson, Robertson and Mitchell. In Queensland the country seat held by the Liberal Party is Darling Downs. In Victoria the Liberal Party holds the .country seats of McMillan, Corangamite, Wannon, Flinders and Corio. It also holds the country seat of Franklin in Tasmania; Angas, Barker and Wakefield in South Australia; and Forrest in Western Australia. The total number of country seats held by the Liberal Party is almost as large as, if not larger than, the number held by the party to which you belong, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In other words, why attack the Country Party as though it claims to be the sole repository of all the wisdom of the bush. Rural constituencies are represented also by members of the Liberal Party - with great distinction, I suggest.

Some electorates held by the Liberal Party cover enormous areas. I do not refer now to the electorates of the honorable member for Bradfield or the honorable member for Mackellar, which are pocket boroughs and give the Liberal Party candidates majorities of 20,000. When it comes to an election such candidates need hold one meeting and distribute a few pamphlets, and the campaign is all over. In fact, in the State election the colleague of the honorable member for Bradfield won against a Democratic Labour Party candidate by 20,000 votes. These are the electoral difficulties which are to be compared with those where, in some cases, the electorates are of an enormous size. For example, the electorate of Macarthur has 65,000 electors and has mountain barriers going right through the middle of the electorate. It has the Macquarie Pass, Cambewarra Mountain, Kangaroo Valley, Beaumont Hill and the Burragorang Mountains. In that electorate there is great difficulty for people who want access to their member. If he lives in Moss Vale, how do the people get to him? If he lies at St. Marys, do they travel 170 miles from Sussex Inlet, Huskisson, Nowra, Berry, Bomaderry and so on? How do they do this?

At least the Liberal Party can say a word in favour of an electoral division which enables the country people to retain political concessions and to try to get some of the social amenities to which they are entitled. As I said earlier, they have problems of development, of trying to break through the financial barrier to get a water supply, roads, electricity and sewerage. In the electorate of Cunningham there are the little monuments to the Labour Government in the backyard of every house, but there is no sewerage. This is the struggle that country people have in trying to get some of the amenities in their districts, and the only way it can be done is by a political approach. It can be done only by an approach to the Federal member or the State member. But in some of these electorates this contact is almost impossible. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine) has lost his trams, but he still has buses. His electorate covers only a few square miles. If his constituents want to see him - if they do, and I doubt it - they have no difficulty. There is not a square yard of dirt in East Sydney; it is all covered with houses, bitumen, some sort of concrete or something else.

The constituents of country districts must have more access to their member in a developing country like Australia. Ours is a vast country. There is no country in the world with the problems of remoteness thai Australia has. The electorate of Kalgoorlie comprises 900,000 square miles - nearly 1 million square miles. In the electorate of Darling the honorable gentleman who represents that district travels whenever he can, and for miles he would see no more than a kangaroo. This is the sort of countryside and the atmosphere that we have in Australia. There are vast distances which are not understood by people who live in metro politan areas which have great populations. Kings Cross in Sydney has the highest concentration of population in the world and was a great risk in time of war. How can we expect the people there, or the electors of Bradfield, to understand the situation? The electors represented by the honorable member for Bradfield, company directors though they may be, some charming old ladies though they may be, do most of their travelling on a liner or an aircraft to the other side of the world. How would they know about the problems of outback Australia? How would they be able to learn about them? The honorable member for Bradfield travelled around Australia on a motor bike and we know that he has some smattering of information about this. But what does he know about the daily grind of the people who are trying to get something - to get, perhaps, an airstrip or a bitumen road over gravel? The day has come when people are afraid to travel on macadamised roads because they have become used to bitumen.

In country districts hundreds of things occur because of remoteness. If a person from East Sydney or Bradfield wants to transact business with a Government department he can go into town and do so; but that cannot be done in the country. One does not have access to Government departments in the country and one must go through his member. I understand that in England members of the House of Commons do not have the daily approaches by their constitutents because the British civil service is in position and does the job. That can be done in a small, compact, heavily populated country; but that is not so in Australia because the civil service is either here in Canberra or in the great centres of population. What hope has a person from out back to contact a Federal or State department except through his member? The position is quite different from that in the United Kingdom. Here, departments have their parliamentary liaison officer and a staff looking at requests from members. A great spate of requests come through members. But what hope is there for justice to country people when they cannot have access to their member? In the city the constituents do not have to go through their member - they can go straight to a department.

If a person wants to approach the Taxation Branch in Sydney he can do so. In that office there is cubicle after cubicle where people can talk to taxation officers, but this cannot be done in the country districts, even though the taxation officer visits the district once every 12 months. When he does arrive a person must have all his papers ready. But then he may not come for two years, and in some areas he may never come. So the Federal member for a country district has a colossal job to do and his situation is not understood by people who live in cities. I notice that the honorable member for Watson is laughing, but what would he know? He can laugh because he represents only a few acres along that smelly part of the road between Mascot and Sydney.

Mr Cope:

– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the honorable member entitled to say that my electorate stinks?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Macarthur that he confine his remarks to the Bill. 1 suggest that he withdraw the remark to which the honorable member objects.

Mr JEFF BATE:

– I withdraw the remark, although I still do not like that area. The whole of this argument depends on the ability of important districts in Australia to get direct political representation. If access to a member of Parliament is denied to people living in a country area - and I know that you believe this, Mr. Deputy Speaker - it is impossible for that area to develop and it is impossible for the people in it to get the things that they need. Dissemination of rural research cannot be achieved without adequate means of communication, including bitumen roads and telephones. When a country district is badly represented its people are deprived of education facilities and that is one of our most vital needs in order to build a great Australia. The man on the land must have ready access to the results of scientific research by authorities such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the various State departments and the universities. At present it takes years for this information to get through. The only way rural dwellers can get the assistance they require is through ready access to their Federal and

State members. For this reason it is necessary to allow the Distribution Commissioners to depart from the electoral quota by 20 per cent, in the country districts. This principle must be adhered to at this stage of the nation’s development. It is fair, vital, and necessary.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 suppose every honorable member of this Parliament listened with sorrow to the heart rending appeal by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) for increased representation for the Country Party. The honorable member pointed out the difficulties facing country representatives. He particularly pointed out that some honorable members do not live in their electorates. It is difficult to know where the honorable member for Macarthur himself lives. I have checked his addresses and I want to know whether he lives at Elizabeth Bay, Darling Point or at the Federal Members Rooms in Sydney. This honorable member who is growling about the necessity for more country representation has his office in Martin Place, Sydney. A country constituent would need a helicopter to reach him, but I am sure that nobody who heard him speak today would want to see him. The honorable member said that people in the country areas have to be educated. Let us hope that they do not improve their education too much; otherwise the honorable member for Macarthur will not be here again. That is quite obvious.

The honorable member spoke of the difficulties of communication in country areas. He believes that there should be about 20,000 electors in country electorates but double that in city electorates. He went to some pains to point out the problems and difficulties facing honorable members representing country electorates. People outside this Parliament might be influenced by his tirade today but he is in some difficulty because he hardly knows where his own electorate is. Those who listened to the honorable member this morning and heard of his new-found love, the Country Party, might be moved to tears to think of the way that party is suffering. But let me remind the honorable member that in this Parliament there are 23 members of the Labour Party representing country electorates. The honorable member for Macarthur referred to the people of Tasmania as “ these miserable electors “. What a thing to say about the people of that great State. It is almost as bad as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) describing Tasmanians as the sons of convicts. Today the honorable member almost cast the same aspersions on them.

The honorable member for Macarthur has been in this Parliament since 1949 and he was in the State Parliament for 10 years before that. He has never had Cabinet rank or any kind of office in either Parliament. Clearly the Prime Minister thinks the same of him as do honorable members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Macarthur attacked the alleged gerrymander in New South Wales, but let us consider the situation in that State. He said, in effect: “ These crooks in New South Wales set up a commission which gerrymandered the electorates “. In New South Wales the Redistribution Commission is presided over by a Judge of the Supreme Court. Its other members are the Chief Electoral Officer and, I think, a surveyor. Does the honorable member suggest that the judge who handled the last redistribution of boundaries in New South Wales is a crook? Does he suggest that he is corrupt? Does he say that that judge did not uphold the high office to which he was appointed? The honorable member attacked the judiciary today in this Parliament in a most contemptible way. He said, in effect, that the judge concerned had rigged the boundaries on instructions from the Labour Party. What a monstrous charge to make. There is no place in this Parliament for a person who refers to the people of Tasmania as “ miserable electors “. Under the Constitution, power is given to the Tasmanian people to elect five members of the House of Representatives and ten senators. If the honorable member desires to change that electoral system let him do it constitutionally and not keep referring to people as “ miserable electors “ in a way that is most degrading and unbecoming to an honorable member of this Parliament.

I have no time to deal with all the drivel that the honorable member spoke. I want to refer to a few other matters. He tried to protect the members of the Country Party but I am certainly not going to protect them. I want to reveal the implication of this legislation. I want to show precisely what is behind it. The Bill that has been introduced is described as “A Bill for an

Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1962 “. It would not be out of place to move as an amendment that this description be altered to read “ A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1962 to provide for the gerrymandering of electorates on instructions from the Australian Country Party”. That would be a very appropriate amendment to this Bill because that is precisely what the Government is doing today.

The Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (Mr. Calwell) last night, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) today, indicated the attitude of the Opposition to this Bill. They pointed out that the proposed amendment of section 19 will make such radical changes in the system of determining boundaries that it is nothing more or less than a gerrymander of electorates. I do not intend to go into the technical details of the Bill now. There will be more time to do that at the Committee stage. I do say, however, that the changes are such as to inflict upon the Australian people electorates of a kind that will return members of a particular party, irrespective of the will of the people. This is being done at the behest of the Country Party as its price for supporting the Liberal Party in this Parliament, in Queensland, in Victoria and in other States.

Is it any wonder that the Government introduced this legislation in the dying hours of these sittings? The Government obviously is ashamed of this legislation. The Liberal Party resisted it to the very last moment but it now has to face realities because, after June, it would not be able to get this measure through the Senate. Everybody in Australia should realise that this legislation has been condemned by people divorced from Labour politics. It has been condemned throughout the length and breadth of the country by newspapers who have supported this Government because it will destroy, for all time in Australia, the principle of one vote one value which has been accepted in every other country where democracy functions.

I do not intend to go through all the provisions of this Bill. I wish merely to mention a few of them. In proposed new section 19 of the principal Act, there are provisions with which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) dealt. I need not repeat what he said. I point out only that these provisions indicate the real implications behind this measure. Let me just repeat a passage from the second reading speech made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), which contains words that appear ominous to those people in this nation who believe in democracy. The Minister said - the proposed amendments will make it clear to the Distribution Commissioners that, while keeping within the 20 per cent, margin of the quota, a margin which has existed since the Act began, they shall give consideration to community of economic, social and regional interests, means of communication and travel with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness and distance, the trend of population changes, the density or sparsity of population and the areas of proposed divisions. In addition the Commissioners will be required to have regard to physical features and the existing divisional and subdivisional electoral boundaries.

That very statement, apart from other provisions of the Bill, indicates the sinister character of the proposals that we are now discussing and the fact that this is, in every sense of the word, a gerrymander foisted on the Australian people. We all know the influence that the Australian Country Party has exercised in bringing about these proposals.

The Minister went on to point out what the Government intends to do by means of this Bill. He stated-

Except as expressly permitted by law for the lodgment of written suggestions, comments or objections, a person will be prohibited under the provisions of this Bill from seeking to influence a Distribution Commissioner in the performance of his duties.

The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), in this Parliament, has intimated that he believes that some sort of influence, exercised by intimidatory methods, had been brought to bear on the Distribution Commissioners previously by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen). Apparently, the Minister for the Interior has a guilty conscience in view of what his Party has done, for he has deliberately stated that the exercise of such influence will be expressly prevented by this measure. I shall be very interested to see how his proposal works.

I do not intend to deal with any more provisions of the Bill at this stage. In the Committee, however, I hope to examine some of the provisions relating to matters such as penalties and postal voting. I pro pose now to present to the House the arguments that I have prepared in support of the views expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who have stated that this measure will be rejected by the people, even if it is passed through this House and the Senate today. Speaking in this Parliament some months ago, Mr. Speaker, I said that, behind a facade of high sounding principles aimed at the protection of the interests of rural voters and the democratic rights of those in outback Australia, lies a sordid and sinister sort of political intrigue between the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party to produce a redistribution of electoral boundaries designed, not to ensure democratic representation based on the principle of one vote one value, but to maintain the strength of the Country Party in this Parliament and to perpetuate its minority control over the Commonwealth Government. With the introduction of this Bill by the present Country Party Minister for the Interior, the attainment of this objective almost becomes a reality.

With the adoption of provisions such as those contained in proposed new section 19 of the Act, the light will go out on democratic parliamentary representation, Mr. Speaker. One of the most blatant gerrymanders of electorates in our time is to be steamrollered through this House and the Senate today. The Minister was quite brazen about it. In his second reading speech, he discussed this provision extensively - I quoted some of his words earlier - and told the people precisely what was intended. Of course, all the time, he was crying about what he described as the lack of representation in country electorates. He went on -

  1. . the trend of population changes, the destiny or sparsity of population and the areas of proposed divisions are new elements which are now expressly stated for the first time. . . .

That was quite rightly said. These elements are fundamental to a gerrymander. This was clearly and unmistakably in accord with the achievements of this LiberalAustralian Country Party Government, through the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), in its efforts to gerrymander the electorates of Australia.

I briefly touch on the history of this measure in order to support the factual study of the Government’s proposals that has already been made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This Government’s redistribution proposals go back to 1961, and I trace their history for the benefit of the House. On 22nd February 1962, the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who was then Minister for the Interior, advised the House that, as required by the Representation Act 1905-1938, the representation of the States had been determined and the figures showed that the number of members of this chamber should be reduced by 2 to 122. No opposition to this statement came from the County Party, the Liberal Party or any member of this Parliament belonging to those parties. Indeed, the Minister’s comments occupied not more than 30 seconds. On 10th April 1962, he announced the appointment of Distribution Commissioners, each of them being an independent and reputable man. No opposition came from any member on the Government side of the Parliament - not even the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Australian Country Party or other members of that Party who have since spoken against the proposals made at that time. None of them voiced his opposition in this Parliament then. In other words, Mr. Speaker, the appointment of the Commissioners was accepted without question.

On 4th October 1962, the Minister presented to the Parliament the report of the Distribution Commissioners. To say the least, the effect on the Country Party was electrifying. From that day forth, members of that Party have never ceased, under the pretence of demands for increased representation, to make the most vicious attacks on the Commissioners and the proposal to reduce the size of this House by two. The most outspoken critic, of course, has been the Deputy Prime Minister, who was a party in the Cabinet to the appointment of the Commissioners and who raised no question in this House when the report recommending the reduction in the number of members was announced. On 29th November 1962, the then Minister for the Interior moved that the proposals submitted by the Distribution Commissioners be adopted. Honorable members will note that he has since left the Interior portfolio.

The Country Party’s campaign was intensified. From that day on, through every avenue of publicity open to them, members of that Party have never ceased in their demands for a blatant gerrymander of Federal electorates, which they seek to achieve by means of this Bill. Their campaign has not passed’ unnoticed, however. The honorable member for Bradfield, to his credit - I commend him on his stand for democracy and justice on this issue - has outspokenly condemned the proposals for what they are and has said that he will vote against them. Thank heavens that, in the ranks of the Liberal Party, there is one man who will stand, according to his conscience, by justice and democracy. I repeat that I commend him on his courageous stand on this issue. But I warn him that it will not endear him to the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, the honorable member will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has done what is right in the interests of the people of this country.

Members of the Country Party in Victoria - to prove their sincerity, as it were, and to show what they think of the redistribution of electoral boundaries - in association with the Victorian Branch of the Liberal Party have formulated proposals for a gerrymander of State electorates. The price of the continuance in office of the present Victorian Government is the safeguarding of Country Party representation in the State Parliament by a gerrymander.

Where does the Prime Minister stand in all this? He has been the silent figure. Yet he runs the country, so we are told. He seems to have shifted his ground under the steamroller tactics of members of the Country Party. I do not mind telling him that we understand why he has done so. The Country Party was not to be stopped easily. The right honorable gentleman is on record as having said that he had no alternative but to accept the recommendations relating to electoral boundaries. In his dignified way, he said: “ This must be done to remove the function of fixing electoral boundaries from suspicion of gerrymandering “. What a somersault he has taken in relation to the proposals contained in this Bill. This attitude appears to have been consistent with the attitude of some members of the Country Party, who now seek this gerrymander, towards previous redistribution proposals.

Let us look at what happened in 1935. Under proposals made in that year, the Australian Labour Party was to lose seats. But nobody on the Government side of the Parliament was worried about that, because seats were not to be lost by the Country Party. We then heard nothing about these great principles for which members of the Country Party now express deep concern. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), when Labour protested, said -

However, we have to accept the decision of the referee, and 1 think that, on the whole, the Commission has done a fairly statesmanlike job.

He added -

We have left it to the Commissioners to consider these protests, and we accept their decisions.

Why did not the Country Party accept the referee’s decision in 1962 if it accepted the decision in 1955? As I have said, in 1955 two Labour seats were to be abolished. What happened to these great Country Party principles in 1955? The truth of the matter is that members of that Party would not have cared what happened in this Parliament so long as their interests were not affected and so long as this minority, splinter group did not lose control of the Commonwealth Government, which it exercises despite the few votes that it is able to command. The Minister for Primary Industry could afford to be statesmanlike in 1955 because Country Party seats were not affected. Evidently, his principles, like those of other members of that Party, fluctuate according to the likely effects of redistribution proposals on Country Party representation. In other words, members of the Australian Country Party split their ethics on these great issues when it suits them to do so. They say now that the decisions made by the Distribution Commissioners in 1961 were unfair. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister did not even bother to speak on the 1955 redistribution proposals. I do not think that either came into the House when the proposals were announced here. No Government supporter was worried then, because only the Labour Party was to be affected by those proposals.

This history makes the pattern of the Bill now before us quite clear. In 1962, when redistribution proposals were announced, the Deputy Prime Minister went berserk and raged up and down the country like a wild bull, denouncing everything from the elec toral system to the Distribution Commissioners. Newspaper headlines such as: “ Mr. McEwen hits at crazy seats plan “ appeared. Country Party members have come back again. In the Melbourne “ Age “ of 17th November 1962, in an article beneath the headline I have mentioned, the Minister for Trade and Industry was reported as follows -

It was crazy and cockeyed that Queensland should have its representation in the Federal Parliament under the recent redistribution reduced.

On 20th November 1962, in the “Sydney Morning Herald “, under the heading “ Attack on redistribution dismays the Government “, this statement appeared -

The slight hopes that the Liberal Party may have had that its coalition partner, the Country Party, would accept the current proposals for redistribution of electoral boundaries were dashed by the outspoken attack by the Country Party leader and Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, in Brisbane, on Friday.

Similar reports appeared in the Press from one end of Australia to the other. The campaign was under way. The Country Party must be saved despite the drift of population to the city.

The former Minister for the Interior believed, as most members did, that the electoral boundaries should be subject to objective criticism but that the decision of the Commissioners should be accepted. He made that announcement to this Parliament with relation to boundaries. Of course, he is now Minister for Shipping and Transport and has nothing to do with electoral boundaries. Surely that is more than a coincidence but, somehow or other, his views did not coincide with those of the Deputy Prime Minister so the Country Party had to get rid of him. This is what he had to say -

At the very least, one would have thought that the objections on the wider grounds should have been taken before the Commissioners embarked on their task, when it became obvious, after the tabling in tin’s House of the Chief Electoral Officer’s certificate on 22nd February, that a redistribution of the existing system was imminent. To await the outcome of a redistribution and then to say in effect that whatever the Commissioners did under their terms of reference could not be right because legislation under which they operate needs changing, would be an argument that could lead the public to feel that, like the fox in the fable, the individual advancing it had suddenly found that the grapes were sour.

That is precisely the position of the Country Party. The attitude adopted by the then Minister for the Interior was quite correct. The Country Party had the chance to object, but did not do so. Its members waited until the announcement was made and then ail hell was set loose in order that they might upset the proposal. The Minister, of course, has been under attack ever since that day for his attitude on this. It is laughable to read of the concern that members of the Country Party and the Deputy Prime Minister have for members of the Labour Party on this matter. It is laughable to think that they are concerned with saving the seats of Labour members. The Leader of the Country Party is on record as saying this -

I make it quite clear that my party - the Country Party - is the only political party which has been created exclusively-

Exclusively, mind you - for the purpose, primarily, of seeing that the interests of those in the outback - those engaged in the rural industries, those engaged in the great export industries - are sufficiently expressed in the Parliament. This is the background against which I wish to speak.

Let us have a look at the situation. Since when has the Country Party been the only one to be able to express the country point of view in this Parliament? At the present time there are 23 Labour members representing country seats in this very House as against 20 Liberal members representing country seats and 20 Country Party members.

Mr Turnbull:

– Name them.

Mr DALY:

– I have the names. You can have them when I have finished my speech. For every Country Party member in this Parliament there are two country representatives from the Liberal and Labour Parties. The largest country party in this Parliament is the Australian Labour Party with 23 members representing rural areas. So what a lot of rot it is for the Deputy Prime Minister to say that the Country Party is the only one which represents country interests. The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say -

I repeat that I am not harping on the Country Party. I am speaking of rural seats generally.

Would he cry his eyes out if the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) or the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) or the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) were defeated? Does anyone seriously believe that the leader of the Country Party implies that his sole purpose in making that statement was that he wanted more members from rural electorates, irrespective of their politics? In other words, does anyone seriously believe that he would not mind if the Labour Party gained office by winning all the country seats? This argument will not hold water. It will not even back up a gerrymander. What the Deputy Prime Minister says is just a smokescreen for his relentless and sinister campaign to gerrymander electorates to maintain Country Party representation.

I mentioned earlier that in 1962 the Deputy Prime Minister had stated that he accepted the verdict. The principles announced by him when he said that we must accept the verdict with relation to electoral boundaries have now gone by the board. Today, this legislation indicates the success of the Country Party’s campaign and its repudiation of an independent tribunal in the interests of Country Party survival.

Let us look at the attitude of the Country Party towards the proposals. I mention them again because they are worth hearing. I have not the time to run over them all but, as members know, we can go through the records of the Parliament and through all the newspapers in the country and we will see that all through the history of this matter the Country Party has condemned the proposals. This is what Mr. McEwen had to say on 4th December 1962 -

The Australian Country Party manifestly is concerned with the protection and betterment of rural society -

It has not given much of an example of it here. He continued -

The rural voice in the Parliament is only as strong as the numerical strength of its representation in the Parliament. When I speak of the rural voice I make it clear that I am not referring only to the rural voice as expressed through the Ups of an elected Country Party representative. I make clear that I am referring to the rural voice as expressed through the lips of whatever member representing whatever party the electors choose to send to the Parliament. Historically, rural electors have chosen to send to the Parliament representatives from all of the great parties.

It was not so moved in 1955 when some Labour members were disappearing. These principles have come to light at a very late time. The Deputy Prime Minister is reported in the “ Canberra Times “ as complaining about the Country Party having lost its voting power. Right down through the months since this matter has been on the stocks, the Country Party has been manoeuvring, particularly in connection with section 19 of the Act, to force this gerrymander on the Government and, to the eternal discredit of the Liberal Party, its members have sunk their principles and recapitulated in the face of these steamroller tactics.

I think that what we must remember is that the Country Party wants to load the country electorates. It does not want impartial representation or democratic representation. As the Deputy Prime Minister has said, the Country Party wants to have a member elected by 60,000 voters in the city while another is elected by 40,000 voters in the country. It wants trees, logs, rabbits, ferrets, cows and horses all to be included in the quota for country electorates. As I look at the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) I feel that he would probably get a pretty intelligent vote from some of them.

I cannot conclude my remarks on the history of this legislation without quoting what Professor Crisp, one of our most eminent professors at the Australian National University, had to say about this gerrymander. He said -

At a time when the world badly needs some shining examples of democratic integrity in such matters, it is to be deplored that so distinguished a political leader as Mr. McEwen should be persistently pressing for the statutory building-in of a virtual 20 per cent, gerrymander in favour of Commonwealth rural seats.

That was said by Professor Crisp. I have not the time to read all his statement, but honorable members can obtain a photostat copy of it and it will bring them up to date on what an impartial observer thinks about the matter.

Mr. Speaker, my time is well nigh over but I say the Government will never convince the Opposition that this is not a gerrymander. In other words, the Opposition is convinced, to use the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, that the Government is committed to a line of redistribution which is the Country Party’s line. That is as far as the Government is prepared to go on this particular matter. Mr. McEwen has quite openly stated the attitude of the Country Party in Victoria, Queensland and other places. Wherever the Country Party has control over the Government, it demands rigged boundaries, and gerrymandering of distribution, as the price for its electoral support.

As for this legislation, which we will debate more fully in committee but which the Government does not want us to debate because it is bringing the Bill down at the last minute, we shall show the people of this country, by facts and figures, what is being done in the name of democracy by a party that is destroying every basic principle of it. I say to honorable members on the Government side that they may still force this Bill through the Parliament, they may still get their way on this issue, but they will find, as did Sir Thomas Playford in South Australia, where the people took full retribution for the loading of electorates from seven to one against the Labour Party-

Mr Bridges-Maxwell:

– What about New South Wales?

Mr DALY:

– That was drawn up by a judge of the Supreme Court. I was saying to honorable members on the Government side that they will pay the price for foisting this on the Australian people because, ultimately, there will be a revulsion of feeling against the Government and a demand that something be done that will restore democracy. I am interested to hear members of the Liberal Party interjecting. Would it not be better if they had made their speeches in their party room when this legislation was being foisted on them? I excuse many of them because they are presiding over their own burial, if they only knew it. A few of them will not be re-elected in the future, because of these proposals. I mention that today in order that members of the Liberal Party may know that the Country Party has had its way on this matter to their detriment, to our detriment and to the detriment of the people of Australia generally.

I thank you. Mr. Speaker, for your tolerance. I thank the House for this opportunity to outline the sinister programme by which this legislation has been brought to fruition. I have not dealt extensively with the details of it, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did. I wanted to put on record the fact that this is a gerrymander of the worst kind. It is unequalled in any other democratic country. It embodies principles which governments throughout the world, such as the United States Government are attempting to remove from the legislative enactments of their parliaments. Today this legislation has been brought to fruition.

A Liberal Minister for the Interior was tossed out of his portfolio and a Country Party Minister was put into it. A while ago the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) insinuated that the former Minister for the Interior twisted the arms of the commissioner in the last Western Australian redistribution. So, nothing has been too much for the Country Party in order to bring this legislation to this Parliament. Men’s characters have been destroyed. Ministers have been shifted. Stand-over methods have been used by the Deputy Prime Minister. Every method, no matter how far it went, was adopted by the Country Party in order to bring this legislation before Parliament. I hope that people everywhere will condemn it for what it is - an unjust act which has no place on the statute book of this Parliament. It should be opposed through every avenue available to us, if we really believe in democracy.

Mr Turner:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), misrepresented me as saying that the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) had intimidated the Distribution Commissioners. That involves not only a statement that the Leader of the Country Party did seek to intimidate them but also a statement that he did intimidate them. In the interests of the Distribution Commissioners, it is only right that this matter should be put straight. What I suggested, as was perfectly plain to anybody who was in the House at the time, was that, in my opinion, the Leader of the Country Party was using his undoubted powers of persuasion and propaganda, directed through this Parliament and the Press, to convince the people of Australia, including those responsible for the executive task of carrying out the redistribution of electorates, that undue weight should be attached to factors such as area, sparseness, difficulties of communication and so forth. I never suggested that the Distribution Commissioners were intimidated by the Leader of the Country Party.

Mr HOLTEN:
Indi

.- After listening to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), I am sure that everyone will agree that there is a need to return to a calm and rational approach to this subject. That is what I hope to do in my speech. Let me refer to the honorable member’s concluding remarks. Members of the Australian Country Party have often said that it is the party that is best suited - that, in fact, it is the only party that is suited - to protecting the interests of the rural people of Australia in the parliaments of Australia. If ever that fact was emphasised and strikingly illustrated, it has been by this debate, and particularly by the words that the honorable member for Grayndler used in concluding his remarks.

He made a strong point of the fact that in this Parliament there are 23 members of the Australian Labour Party from country areas. In this debate on this vital subject, which is closest to the heart of every member of the Parliament, who has silenced those 23 members of the Labour Party who come from country areas? Where is the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding)? Where are their voices? Not one of those members from country areas has been heard in any discussion on redistribution or electoral reform in this House. Does the honorable member for Kalgoorlie support strongly the principle of one vote one value? I notice that he is protesting-

Mr Collard:

– I believe that all electors are equal.

Mr HOLTEN:

– I know how strongly he will protest against the fact that his electorate has about 31,000 electors, whereas the average number of electors in Western Australian electorates is 44,000. There is a difference of about 33& per cent. I notice that he is protesting now and saying: “ I am in favour of one vote one value “. I say that the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler about being proud of the 23 members of the Labour Party from country areas do not hold any water at all.

The speech made by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) certainly heightened my respect for him. He was courageous enough and wise enough to stand up and say what he really thought. He pointed out the number of members of the Liberal Party from country areas who had been conspicuously silent on this matter. The Labour Party claims that it has 23 members from country areas. Let some of them stand up during this debate and say whether they agree that it was good for New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia each to lose a seat in this House, as was proposed in the last redistribution proposals. Is it good for the development of Australia that the country people of New South Wales should lose a voice in this House, that the country people of Queensland should lose a voice in this House and that the country people of Western Australia should lose a voice in this House? Honestly, is that good for the development of Australia, and particularly for the development of the north and the other sparsely settled areas? It is absolute hypocrisy for members of the Labour Party to say that they represent the country interests in this Parliament.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) quoted quite extensively from a judgment that was handed down recently by the United States Supreme Court. Of course, he quoted the parts that suited him. However, he has been quoted as saying that a certain matter was in keeping with true Socialist principles under which everyone receives an equal opportunity and everyone receives a fair deal. So, I thought I would have a look at the system of electoral boundaries that is used in the leading Socialist country in the world - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The position in that country is that the constitution of each republic is such that each electoral district in the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic has a population of 150,000. In the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic each electoral district has a population of 100,000. In the White Russian Soviet Socialist Republic each electoral district has a population of 20,000. In the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic each electoral district has a population of 15,000. In the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic each electoral district has a population of 5,000. That is the position in the country which is the outstanding example of Socialist activity in this world. There is a huge dif ference between the number of people in each electorate. The numbers range from 150,000 to 5,000.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, towards the end of his speech, delightedly held up a cutting from a newspaper. It was a letter writen to the Melbourne “ Age “ by Mr. Peter Browne, the former member for Kalgoorlie. Quite exultantly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted Mr. Browne as saying - these are not the exact words - that he cannot see any reason now and never has seen any reason why country electorates should be weighted. I was in this House for three years with Mr. Browne, when he was the member for Kalgoorlie, and I never heard him protest when he had to serve 29,000 electors, whereas the average number of electors in Western Australian electorates was 39,000. I did not hear Mr. Browne protest about this or say to the Minister: “Look, I want more electors in my electorate in order that the principle of one vote one value in which I believe very strongly can apply “. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also quoted Mr. Browne as saying that in a country electorate 75 per cent, of the people knew their member through their local newspaper and 40 per cent, had met him personally. What Mr. Browne and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not mention was the amount of work a country member had to do and the travelling he had to undertake to meet that 40 per cent, of the people he represents. If these factors are taken into consideration an entirely different picture emerges.

I have never been one to say that I have a harder job than the city bloke; but I do say that there is a lack of appreciation by the country member of the city member’s job in his electorate and also a lack of appreciation by the city member of what the country man has to do. This was never more strongly illustrated than by a statement made by a member of one of the other two parties to another country member and myself - and this other country member was not a member of another party - “ Of course, you chaps would not get invitations to functions, and you would not get many letters “. Before I had a chance to answer him his colleague, from the same party, jumped straight down his throat and said: “ Don’t be silly; that is absolute nonsense. Of course we get invitations to plenty of functions.” I use this example to illustrate the misunderstanding that exists.

Mr Daly:

– Give us the names of those Liberals?

Mr HOLTEN:

– Oh, I see in the Parliament now the honorable gentleman who actually made the remark, and he can support my story. I can understand the position, and I think his remark was sincere, but nevertheless it illustrates the situation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition touched briefly on the proposed referendum. He said: “ Of course, if the amendments suggested by the Constitutional Review Committee were put before the Australian people they would support them “. This, of course, flies in the face of history - and of the fact that people traditionally have not supported referendums. I believe that we should have more referendums in this country. I believe that questions affecting the nation’s development and other matters of national importance should be put before the people more often. I think one of the reasons why referendums have been constantly defeated is that the people are confronted with them so rarely that they consider there is something sinister in the Government’s putting a matter before them.

I want now to refer to the situation that applied in California during the last Presidential elections. I have here a sample of the ballot paper that was used then. The 18 million people of California were asked to vote for a President - Johnson or Goldwater; a Vice President; a United States senator; a representative in the Congress; a member of the California Assembly; and for an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

Mr HOLTEN:

– When the sitting was suspended I was referring to the chances of success in a referendum. I had said that 1 thought it may be a good idea to hold more referendums in this country. I referred to the election that was held in California on 3rd November 1964. I pointed out that the people of California were asked to vote for the President of the United States, a United States senator, a representative in Congress, a member of the Assembly of California, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Presiding Justice of the District Court of Appeal, another justice and a member of the Board of Education.

In addition 17 questions were posed to the people on which they had to vote. It was something like a referendum in Australia. Of the 17 questions put to the people, 14 received affirmative votes and three did not. This underlines my belief that we do not hold enough referendums in Australia. As a result, Australians are suspicious of them when they are held. I think it will be agreed that the Australian people are just as intelligent as are the people of the United States of America, so there is no reason why my suggestion should not be considered.

In his speech on this Bill the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a couple of significant remarks. First he said that his party was opposed to the use of a 20 per cent, differential in the number of electors required to make up an electorate, but was in favour of a 10 per cent, differential.

Mr Calwell:

– That is right.

Mr HOLTEN:

– If a differential of 10 per cent, is fair I cannot see why a differential of 20 per cent, is not also fair. Secondly the Leader of the Opposition said that the people of Australia are huddled around the eastern coastline, and particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. This is exactly why we want to retain a fair proportion of rural representation in this Parliament. We want to overcome this concentration of population in Melbourne, Sydney and the other capital cities.

In my opinion, the amendments to the Act clarify the position to the Distribution Commissioners, who are responsible for dividing the various States into electorates. Their task is a difficult one. I think everyone in Australia will agree that they have an unenviable task and that they should rightly look to the Parliament to make their task as crystal clear as possible. After all, the Distribution Commissioners are not responsible for the development of Australia. The development of this country is the responsibility of this Parliament, together with State and local authorities in Australia. We cannot expect the Distribution Commissioners to take into account the necessity for balanced political representation and balanced development of Australia if this Parliament, activated by the government of the day, is not prepared to lay down clearly conditions under which the States should be divided into electorates. lt is obvious from the proposals they submitted to the Parliament in 1962 that the distribution commissioners needed very definite clarification of section 19 of the Electoral Act. As we all know, the number of constituencies in rural areas of New South Wales, to take one example of those proposals, was to be reduced from 14 to 13, although the population of the State had increased from 1 million to 4 million since the last redistribution. As the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen) said, it was absolutely crazy to suggest that a State in which the population had increased by 3 million should have one seat less in the Parliament and that country people should suffer as a result. The Leader of the Country Party pointed out that the Act provided for a differential of 20 per cent above or below the quota, which meant that there could be a difference of 40 per cent, in the number of electors in different electorates, but the proposals presented to the Parliament showed that the average differential allowed was 7i per cent. It is obvious that the Commissioners stopped a long way short of the margins allowed to them by the law. In doing this they are not, in the opinion of the Australian Country Party, correctly interpreting the law and are not interpreting it in the best interests of Australia’s development.

I firmly believe that, as part of the coalition Government, it is the duty of the Country Party to fight every inch of the way to make sure that the policy that it has had for Australia ever since the party’s inception is carried out. That policy is for balanced development of Australia and balanced political representation around Australia. This is a fundamental duty. This is why we are in this Parliament. In 1961 there were within 40 miles of Sydney 24 Federal seats. There were 7 seats in the Newcastle- Wollongong area and 14 seats elsewhere in New South Wales. If the 1962 proposals of the Distribution Commissioners were adopted, by 1970 the number of Federal seats around Sydney would have increased by two; the number in the Newcastle-Wollongong area would have increased by one; and the number elsewhere in the State would have decreased by three. Can anybody who pretends to be a legislator and to support balanced development in Australia agree that for country areas to lose three of the meagre number of seats they already have is a good thing? This is why some amendment to the system of dividing the State into electorates was desperately needed.

The same arguments apply in respect of the other States. Under the 1962 proposals, the number of country seats in Victoria would have been reduced from 13 to 10 whereas the number of city seats would have increased from 20 to 24. In Queensland the number of city seats would have been increased by two and the number of non-city seats would have been decreased by one. This is the position we would have reached in 1970 if effect had been given to the 1962 proposals. This would have been an extremely serious situation and would have affected the development of Australia.

The proposal to weight country electorates receives support from all quarters. An editorial which appeared recently in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ is worth quoting in part. It said -

There may come a time when the disproportion between the Australian urban and rural population will make it impossible to secure, by valid electoral ‘ means, an adequate parliamentary representation of country interests. But that time is not yet. . . . Mr. McEwen’s party stands to benefit from the promised legislation - but not necessarily so, for rural interests can be represented by men of any party who can establish their claim to do so.

The editorial concluded -

The main fact, however, is that by insisting on a more fitting electoral regard for the rural communities Mr. McEwen has done well by the nation as. a whole.

The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ is a leading newspaper and due regard must be given to that editorial. I repeat the concluding passage - by insisting on a more fitting electoral regard for the rural communities Mr. McEwen has done well by the nation as a whole.

I wholeheartedly support those comments.

The Opposition case has been centred on the principle of one vote one value. It has been said that if this legislation is passed the only parliament in the English speaking world that will not have one vote one value or an equal value for each vote is the Australian Parliament. Examples from all parts of the world show that this is not so. Let us look at the number of electors in some electorates in the United Kingdom. Paddington, London, has 87,032 electors, Western Isles has 26,078, Antrim has 105,315, Merionethshire has 26,392 and Central East has 30,465. The United Kingdom Parliament is held up frequently as the mother of all Parliaments, and this is the interpretation that it has seen fit to place on the principle of one vote one value. In Canada, York Scarborough has a population of 267,000 and Kings electorate has 17,890. The difference there is tremendous. Let us look at the position in the United States of America. In Texas, in the 5th District, the largest electorate has 951,527 and the smallest has 216,000. In Michigan, in the 12th District, the smallest electorate has 177,000 and the largest has 802,000. Mention has been made of a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. This decision was by no means unanimous and it is still being hotly debated around the United States. I have already mentioned the position in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where some electorates have 150,000 and others have 5,000.

I will deal now with a comparison between the number of electors in the country and city electorates for the legislatures in the States of Australia. This has been mentioned before, but I think it is worth repeating. Before I come to this, let me mention that one senator in New South Wales represents 391,000 people and one senator in Tasmania represents 35,000 people. In Western Australia, metropolitan electorates average 10,000, country electorates 5,000 and electorates in the north-west 1,500. In Victoria, there is just about to be a fresh redistribution, under which electorates in the metropolitan area will have about 25,000, provincial electorates 22,500 and country electorates 18,500. Of course, the governments in the States are of various political complexions. In New South Wales, metropolitan electorates average 25,000 and country electorates 19,000. In South Australia, metropolitan electorates have 29,000 and country electorates 7,000. I think the difference there is too great, but I am giving the figures as they are. In Queensland, metropolitan electorates have 12,000, provincial towns 14,000 and country areas 9,000. I think I have given enough examples of the weighting of votes in various parts of the world to show that governments, no matter what their political complexion may be, do not stick to the theoretical principle of one vote one value.

Mr Failes:

– Not even in the United Nations.

Mr HOLTEN:

– I thank the honorable member for Lawson for reminding me that in the United Nations a different weight is given to different votes.

I am glad that the Bill clarifies the position for the Commissioners. I repeat that 1 consider it is the job of this Parliament, as the governing body of Australia, no matter who may be in office at the time, to make the provisions of the Act clear. It is only fair to the Commissioners to give them a clear charter of the aims and objectives of the Parliament when Australia is being divided into electorates. The Commissioners, of course, attend to individual States. I am glad to see that the Bill provides that means of communication and travel within a division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance, shall be given due consideration. This provision has a lot of meaning. It must be remembered that the distance to be travelled does not always depend on area. Some electorates are heavily populated in one part and not so heavily populated in the remainder, and other electorates, which have large areas, are regularly populated from one end to the other. This applies particularly to the electorate of Indi. I am reluctant to mention my own electorate, but it was one of the areas that came under strong criticism in the last redistribution proposals. The electorate already extends from the Murray River down to Kinglake West, about 35 miles from Melbourne. The proposal was to make this electorate extend from the Murray River to south of the Yarra River, down to a few miles from the main Gippsland railway line. This would have meant a hazardous journey over the Great Dividing Range, and I hope something different is done next time.

Mr SPEAKER:

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

Mr PETERS:
Scullin

.- We have listened to a most amazing speech from the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten). He reasons that we should have a gerrymander in Australia because the Union of

Soviet Socialist Republics has a gerrymander. This is strange, coming from a member of the Australian Country Party* Probably the reason he wants the Russian system applied to Australia is because, as well as having a gerrymander, Russia has only one party. The honorable member would be perfectly satisfied with a system of government in this country with only one party, so long, of course, as it was the Australian Country Party. But that is not the only amazing statement that this gentleman has made. He has proclaimed aloud that votes in country districts should be worth one and a half times or twice as much as votes in the city areas. He then said that what we need in this country are more referendums. In fact the honorable member would have all the issues of government decided by referendums. If he had his way, what would he be doing? He would be nullifying the proposition that he is now supporting. If important issues in this country were decided by referendums, then each vote would have one value in those referendums, and votes in country electorates would not be weighted.

Mr Killen:

– Rubbish.

Mr PETERS:

– “ Rubbish “, says the honorable member for Mortein! There is a gentleman who should avoid talking about rubbish. It is obvious that in a referendum all votes have equal value. If you decide the policies of the country by referendums, then those policies are decided on the basis of one vote one value. If, however, you follow the proposition embodied in this Bill you destroy the basis of one vote one value by the method of determining electorates in Australia.

This legislation proposes that the number of voters in the country should be divided by the number of seats in the legislature. This would give a certain quota of electors, which would be increased by one-fifth for determining the size of electorates in the city and reduced by one-fifth for country electorates. If the quota originally arrived at were 50,000, one-fifth would be added for a city electorate, giving a total of 60,000 electors, and one-fifth would be subtracted for a country electorate, which would have 40,000 electors.

Mr Killen:

– The honorable member has been doing too much bird watching.

Mr PETERS:

- Mr. Speaker, the loud laugh betrays the vacant mind. The fact is that this legislation is designed to establish country electorates with 40,000 electors and city electorates with 60,000 electors. In other words, two electorates in the city would equal three in the country from the point of view of numbers of voters.

Mr Killen:

– Of course, the honorable member knows all his electors by their Christian names, doesn’t he?

Mr PETERS:

– The Labour Party is definitely in favour of one vote one value, and I am not at all surprised that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) are opposed to one vote one value. They do not stand for government of the people by the people for the people; they stand for government of the few by the few and for the few. I am reminded that before he came to power Mussolini was at one time in a northern Italian town in which an election was being conducted, and he and his staff entered the polling booth and destroyed the ballot box. But that, after all, was not nearly as reprehensible as rigging a ballot. To destroy a ballot is not as infamous as to rig a ballot, and the fact that the rigging of a ballot is legalised makes it no more honorable, no more desirable and no more worthy. What this legislation does, of course, is to legalise ballot rigging. It would destroy the effectiveness of the ballot box, which would then be no longer a symbol of democracy, as it has been called, but would be a farce, a mere weapon to be used by the few to secure dominance over the many.

I have heard honorable members of the Country Party, speaking about this legislation, say that the development of the country depends upon our having fewer seats in the city areas. They say that we want more country seats. They have also on occasion claimed to be advocates of decentralisation, saying that what is necessary is closer association of industry and of population with country districts. They have told us how they, the representatives of those country districts, travel under great disabilities from one end of their electorates to the other in order to serve their constituents. Everybody in this House knows that most of the members of the Country Party. and most of the members of the Liberal Party who represent country districts, do not operate from country districts or from their country homes.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell:

– What nonsense.

Mr PETERS:

– The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) has his office in Sydney. The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) has his office in Sydney. So, too, have the honorable member for New England (Mr. Sinclair), the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). Senator McKellar, another Country Party member, is so devoted to the interests of the country, is so keen to be close to his electors and visit them often, that he operates from the city of Sydney. What is true of New South Wales, of course, is true of every other State. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) administers his electorate from Melbourne. What these honorable members do is to preach one thing and practice another. They say to the people: “ You should go to the country districts and work and operate within those districts. But when we secure a position that will enable us to desert the country districts and administer our electorates from the metropolitan areas we will do so. Not only do we follow this principle. We hardly ever visit our country electorates, and if we can manage it we live in the metropolitan areas.” If there is a drift from the country, that drift is led by the representatives of country districts who are members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party in this Parliament. They dare not deny that this is so.

What I have been saying about members of the Liberal and Country Parties who represent country electorates does not apply to members of the Labour Party who represent country electorates. There are more members of the Labour Party representing country electorates than there are members of any other party in this Parliament representing country electorates. There are 23 members of the Labour Party in this Parliament representing country electorates. They are the honorable members for Darling (Mr. Clark), Cunningham (Mr. Connor), Eden Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), Hunter (Mr. James), Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), Macquarie (Mr.

Luchetti), Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), Lalor (Mr. Pollard), Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton), Capricornia (Mr. Gray), Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), Herbert (Mr. Harding), Oxley (Mr. Hayden), Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). Grey (Mr. Mortimer), Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), Bass (Mr. Barnard), Braddon (Mr. Davies), Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). All of those people are country representatives. Every one of them lives within his electorate and operates his electorate from within it. That shows that they are devoted to the principle of decentralisation and to promoting the development of the electorates which they represent.

Mr Turnbull:

– What is the number?

Mr PETERS:

– The number is 23. The number of Country Party electorates is 20, and the number here of country representatives in the Liberal Party is 20. That is the position in this Parliament at the present time.

The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) who introduced the Bill, together with his heelers, has suggested that area should be taken into consideration. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie represents 900,000 square miles, an area 10 times the size of Victoria. Would the honorable member for Mallee and the Minister for the Interior suggest that because the honorable member for Kalgoorlie - who sits upon this side of the House - represents an area 10 times as large as Victoria he should have at least 10 times the voting power of all the members from Victoria?

Mr Killen:

– That is a bit involved, is it not?

Mr PETERS:

– No matter how simple 1 could make it, no matter how simple anybody could make it for the honorable member for Moreton, he still would not be able to understand it. Let me use an expression used by a famous Liberal in this House on one occasion: “ All I can do is supply the reasons and the details, God alone can give the honorable member for Moreton the wisdom to understand them “.

I have said that the Minister and other honorable members have suggested that area be taken into consideration. If area should be considered the honorable member for

Kennedy, as well as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, should have voting power equivalent to that of almost the whole of the Country Party. Honorable members opposite do not suggest that. They suggest that as the electorate of Mallee is 180 times as large as the electorate of Scullin the member for Mallee should have greater voting power than the member for Scullin. That appears to them to be all right, but if we take the argument to its logical conclusion and say that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie should have a much greater voting power than the honorable member fm Mallee, and the honorable member for Kennedy should have a much greater voting power than the honorable member for Indi, the members of the Country Party say that they are not going that far. That would be too logical for them, and of course that would destroy the objective of this legislation, which is not to give country people increased representation. If it were, it would give increased representation to the electors of Kalgoorlie and Kennedy. What the legislation sets out to do is to try, as far as possible, to establish government of the few, by the few, for the few in this country and to ensure that the Liberal Party and its friends, the members of the Country Party, shall continue to govern Australia. That is the object for which this legislation is designed. It is the antithesis of democratic government.

The electorate I represent has the fewest number of electors of any electorate in the Commonwealth - 31,000 electors. In that electorate there are 80,000 people, approximately 60,000 of whom are over 21 years of age. The electorate has a greater population than that of any of the 15 other electorates in the State of Victoria. There would be there a population over 21 years of age greater than in all but about 10 electorates in Victoria, and those 10 electorates are not the electorates with the largest numbers of voters. These people in my electorate who are not on the roll have, of course, to be represented in the Parliament of this country. The fact that they are over 21 years of age and not on the roll of the electorate of Scullin does not mean that they are not entitled to representation in the Parliament of Australia. Of course they are. People over 21, although they are not on the roll, should count ia moulding the legislation of this country and in deciding the country’s destiny.

Mr Beaton:

– There are a large number of unnaturalised migrants.

Mr PETERS:

– As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) points out, there are a vast number of unnaturalised migrants. These unnaturalised migrants are not upon the roll mainly because they are married or single women who do not understand the language and the ways of this country and are not capable, probably, of filling in electoral forms in the way it is necessary to fill them in to get on the roll. That is not due to lack of intelligence or lack of mental capacity, it is due to the fact that they come from other countries and no not understand the language of this country or the ways and means whereby its apparatus of government is conducted. More action should be taken to put new Australians on the roll when they become naturalised.

Mr Buchanan:

– Why does not the honorable member do it?

Mr PETERS:

– Why does not the Government do it right throughout the length and breadth of the country? I have endeavoured to do what I can. I have suggested to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) that at every naturalisation ceremony the Government should have enrolment forms that should be filled in immediately by people after they are naturalised. As they become naturalised they should simultaneously become voters. That should be done, and we should all do our best to bring it about.

So often I have heard it said unctuously by Government supporters and ministers, particularly at migrant celebrations, that everything possible should be done to assimilate the new Australians into the life of Australia. But the obvious things that should be done the Government does not do. It ought to do them. By the methods I have suggested we could have a more equitable distribution of seats throughout Australia. I believe that 239,000 migrants entitled to be naturalised are not naturalised. There would probably be another 20,000 or more who are naturalised and entitled to enrolment but who are not enrolled. The result is that throughout the whole of Australia there would be almost half a million people who, because of their age, nationality and their length of stay in Australia, are entitled to be on our rolls but are not enrolled. Everything should be done by the Government to see that those people are enrolled. Because of this situation this Bill will not do merely what I said it will do when I began my remarks, that is reduce the value of the voting capacity of a man in a city electorate by 50 per cent, when compared with his equivalent in a country district. The vote of a carpenter in the electorate of Scullin will have only about 50 per cent, of the value of the vote of a carpenter who lives at Red Cliffs or somewhere else in the country. But the position is even worse than that when one takes into consideration the fact that most of the people who should be on the rolls but are not enrolled live in metropolitan electorates. The result of the application of the legislation which is now before the House would be that one vote in the country would be equal to two or more votes in the city. In other words, it would have the effect of disfranchising half or more of the city electors. Half or more of the city electors would be robbed of their right to vote.

As I mentioned earlier, honorable members opposite have not the courage that Mussolini displayed, even when he was supported by his countrymen in northern Italy, when he destroyed the ballot box. Honorable members opposite would not destroy the ballot box. The honorable member for Mallee would not walk into the town hall at Mildura or in some small country town and do what Mussolini did - kick the ballot box from one end of the booth to the other. But before the ballot box is put into the booth, the honorable member determines that the votes that will go into the ballot box will be twice as valuable as the votes that will go into a ballot box in the Division of Scullin.

Mr Beaton:

– Shocking.

Mr PETERS:

– It is shocking. It is a monstrous destruction of the principles of democracy in the age in which we live. I remember that there was a war from 1914 to 1918 in which the honorable member for Mallee took part.

Mr Turnbull:

– Cut it out.

Mr PETERS:

– It was not that one; the honorable member for Mallee took a dis tinguished part in the Second World War. But other Government supporters played distinguished parts in the First World War which was a war to make the world safe for democracy. But today, by one seemingly innocuous bill, they are prepared to prevent the principle of democracy from operating in general elections for the Parliament of this Commonwealth. By doing so they are prepared to declare to the world that what we stand for in Australia is government of the few, by the few, for the few. How often have I heard not only honorable members on this side of the chamber but also honorable members opposite cite the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln -

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

But this Bill is a big step towards the destruction of that principle. Most members of the Liberal Party are being dragooned into being a party to the destruction of this principle of democracy. Yet quite a number of them believe in the democratic concept. However, the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen), and those who sit behind him, have said, in effect: “ We have to hang on to what power we have in this country. Today throughout the length and breadth of Australia at a democratic election we, the members of the Country Party, could not secure any more votes than the members of the Democratic Labour Party or the members of the Communist Party, but despite that fact we occupy a big position in the Parliament of Australia.” That is the position that now exists. In a nationwide vote the result for members of the Country Party, the Communist Party and the Democratic Labour Party would be a photo finish. There is not the slightest doubt about that. Yet two sections in that contest are relegated to the political oblivion they deserve while the Country Party occupies a number of seats in Parliament. Under democratic legislation in a democracy they would not be entitled to hold that number of seats.

Mr TURNER:
Bradfield

.- I oppose the principle of this Bill, very largely for the reasons given by my friend, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten). I have never heard such a catalogue of iniquities as he produced - the voting practices of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the method of representation in the

United Nations, and even in South Aus tralia. These he quoted with approval, and this shows the attitude of the Australian Country Party in this matter. I ask: What is the purpose of this Bill? How does it seek to achieve that purpose? Is that a valid purpose that should be approved by this Parliament? First, I should like to quote some remarks made by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen). Already a quotation has been given from the local newspaper at Murwillumbah, which reported the views of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony). I think the newspaper is called “The Cowpuncher’s Friend”, although I am not quite sure. However, I want to quote the remarks of the Leader of the Country Party which were reported in a more restrained journal. I refer to “Hansard”. In “Hansard” of 4th December 1962 at page 2879 the Leader of the Country Party is reported to have said -

We believe that the 20 per cent. discretionary departure from the quota, which has existed for about 60 years, should be not only retained but also employed in a manner which will produce more healthy results for the Australian community.

If for the phrase “will produce more healthy results for the Australian community “ honorable members read the words “ which may be helpful to the Country Party “ they will better understand the meaning of the passage. The report continues -

This provision could be used to give full weight to such considerations as means of communication. We believe also that for rural constituencies the departure from the quota should average not less than10 per cent., and that in the gigantic electorates which have been identified - there are only half a dozen of them - the departure should be 20 per cent.

This was the principle that he enunciated - a very small matter of 10 per cent., or perhaps 20 per cent. But this has a ratchet effect; when you begin you cannot go back. This has been the history both of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. To determine what may be the purpose of this measure I now quote from a column in the Sydney “ Sun Herald “ of 9th February 1964. The column is written by “ Observer “ who states -

John McEwen exultantly spelled out to the CP. Federal Council in Canberra the terms of the preelection deal he made with Sir Robert Menzies on the redistribution of electoral boundaries.

The price of McEwen’s reluctant assent to an early election, whose outcome he totally misjudged, was the scrapping of the redistribution proposals vetoed by his party and Labour last year. . . . “The law,” said Mr. McEwen, “will be amended to make crystal clear to the commissioners, whoever they are, that the considerations which are set down in the law are to be taken into account by them.

A little later “ Observer “ goes on to comment -

Hitherto there has been no taint of gerrymander in the redrawing of Commonwealth electoral boundaries.

Plans have been disputed, but not on the ground of partiality, as in the case of some State redistributions, frankly designed to suit the party in power.

Can this creditable record, of which Sir Robert Menzies in particular has been proud, be maintained in future?

Not, surely, if in the guise of national policy the Government through Parliament is to tell the redistribution commissioners that they must get far away from ideas of one vote-one value and take square miles rather than numbers of people into account.

This, then, would seem to be the purpose of this Bill. It is just another case, according to “ Observer “, of a horse deal, or, if I am permitted to mix my metaphors, a horse deal in which again the tail is wagging the dog.

What does the Minister himself say about the matter I am trying to arrive at? What is the real purpose of the Bill? The Minister, in his second reading speech, said a number of things but I want to hold up for examination by honorable members two pearls. The first appears at page 1430 of “ Hansard “ of 12th May where the Minister said -

The provisions relating to the distribution of the States into divisions have not been changed since Federation, and it is not intended to alter in substance those provisions.

Then what is the Bill about? If the Government is not altering anything why is it bringing a Bill down? I suggest that that statement is a pearl of disingenuousness. The other pearl I would like to hold up of the purest ray serene for honorable members to observe is this statement -

While the trend of population changes, the density or sparsity of population and the areas of proposed divisions are new elements which are now expressly stated for the first time, they will not result in any significant change in the procedure followed by Distribution Commissioners-

No; the procedure will be the same - the results might be a little different - since they are factors in respect of which some allowance has invariably been made by Commissioners at past distributions.

I ask: What change will [here be? The Minister continued -

The amendments do, however, give specific expression to these factors and, in a sense, will thereby provide a legal basis for what has been normal practice.

That is a glorious pearl of disingenuousness. The object of the Bill is to make a change but the Minister, in those two passages, suggests that there will be no change at all. When honorable members examine the Bill they will be able to see whether there has been a change or not. The Minister suggests there is to be no change and that the Government is simply carrying out the law as it was always intended.

The Commonwealth Electoral Act was introduced as a bill in 1902. I have read the speech made by the Minister who introduced it, Sir William Lyne. It appears in “Hansard” of 5th June 1902 at page 13355, and I want to quote part of it. Sir William Lyne said -

The principle of the Bill is equal representation.

Mr. A. McLean, the then honorable member for Gippsland, asked -

Does that mean that there is to be an equal population in town and country electorates?

The report continues -

Sir WILLIAM LYNE; Yes.

Mr. A. McLean. ; Then the Government will never carry it; they will have a lively time.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE.; t may tell honorable members that I gave one Ministry in New South Wales a lively time upon this very question, but I was defeated upon it. I am quite sure that the honorable member for Gippsland will not give me a lively time in connection with it, because at heart I am with him, but I know what the people want. I do not propose a variation between town and country, such as I am inclined to favour, because it will be recognised that the Government must concede what they conceive the bulk of the people require.

Therefore, the Bill, when introduced in 1902, did not contemplate a difference in the number of electors in country and city electorates as was implied by the Minister for the Interior in his second reading speech.

I do not propose to quote the Constitutional Review Committee because that was done in full by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). However, that Committee did point out that there are two ways of carrying out a gerrymander; one is by ensuring that you have far fewer number of electors in one electorate than in another, and the other, of course, is by drawing the boundaries appropriately to favour a particular party. There is little one can do to protect the people against the second method, but there is something one can do to protect them from the first, and that is the object of an amendment of which notice has been given, both by myself and by the Opposition, in respect of clause 3 of this Bill.

Perhaps I will be pardoned if I go back a little further in history to democratic principles as they have been evolved. The famour six points of the Chartists in 1838 were: Universal suffrage, annual parliaments, equal electoral districts - that means one vote one value, of course - removal of property qualifications, secret ballot and payment of members. The Cambridge Modern History states that these demands have been the commonplace requirment of reformers for two generations. There has not been much support in parliaments for annual parliaments, I might add, but all other points have been adopted. I hope I shall be pardoned for quoting, in my historical review, the words of Lord Macaulay in a speech he made in the House of Commons on 2nd March 1831. This was a prelude to the great Reform Bill of 1832. He said that the struggle of 1832 was a - struggle which the middle classes of England are maintaining against an aristocracy of mere locality,-

Let me emphasise that phrase, “ an aristocracy of mere locality “ - . . the principle of which is to invest a hundred drunken potwallopers in one place, or the owner of a ruined hovel in another, with powers which are withheld from cities renowned to the farthest ends of the earth for the marvels of their wealth and their industry.

Mr Curtin:

– Is the honorable member insinuating that members of the Country Party are potwallopers?

Mr TURNER:

– 1 must keep within the Standing Orders. What, in fact, has been the practice adopted in the 60 years since the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the principle of which I have made clear from the quotation of Sir William Lyne, was introduced? Historically, there has been little departure from the principle of 10 per cent. A departure has been made in respect of perhaps half a dozen electorates, mainly held by the Labour Party. Without being unduly cynical 1 do not suppose that the Country Party is much concerned about them although they are a useful stalking horse for its arguments about other country electorates. In 1948, the number of divisions in which the number of voters was more than 10 per cent, below the quota was nine and the number in which it was more than 10 per cent, above the quota was six. In the redistribution of 1955, six divisions were more than 10 per cent, below the quota and two were more than 10 per cent, above it. In 1962, the number of divisions more than 10 per cent, below the quota was five and the number of divisions more than 10 per cent, above it was four. It will be seen that certainly since 1948 - and I would say over the whole course of electoral history - there has been little departure from the figure of 10 per cent, because, as Sir William Lyne said when he introduced the Bill, the objective was equal representation, as that was what the people demanded, although it was against his own views, his own interests and his own electorate. The principle is quite clear. If there are 30,000 electors in the electorate of Melbourne and 90.000 in the electorate of Bruce - actually the figure is higher - clearly an elector in Bruce has a vote worth one-third of the value of the vote of the elector in Melbourne. I know that the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) is a splendid man. But there should be three electorates in Bruce if the figure of 30,000 is to be the quota. I think the difference between one man one vote and one vote one value has been made abundantly clear in this House. We may have the principle, one man one vote, but the question is the value of that vote. Is the vote of one elector to be worth one-half, one-third or two-thirds of somebody else’s vote? What are the reasons for departing from the principle of one vote one value?

I have not time at this stage to go into the question of how the purpose of the Bill, which I think I have elucidated, is to be achieved. I shall have an opportunity at the Committee stage to analyse clause 3. But I want to compliment the Minister now. The Bill has three elements. One is embodied in some provisions about the making of objections public. The purpose of these provisions is to make the Bill look frightfully just. They represent a kind of camouflage to draw attention away from the part of it that is completely unjust. The second element in the Bill consists of a number of details which, valuable though they may be, are always calculated to produce a great deal of debate on matters that are of relatively little consequence. The third element is the nub of the whole matter. This concerns the proposed new section 19 of the principal Act. I congratulate the Minister for the Interior on so cleverly introducing a Bill of this kind. He should go a long way in this place. He shows great promise.

I say that there is no basis for discrimination between one electorate and another in this country. We are not living in 1830, 1870 or 1890. We are living in 1965, at a time when the whole community is literate and when more people are going to school for longer than ever before. We live at a time when more people are going to the universities than ever before, and the number is continually increasing. We live at a time when two generations still living have taken part in wars, and have travelled and seen the world and know what goes on in it. We live at a time of affluence in which many other Australians, both young and old, travel throughout the world. We live at a time when newspapers give us a wide coverage of the world’s news, when paperbacks can adorn the shelves of even the poorest in this community, giving information on a vast range of subjects, and when radio and television bring the news of the world into every living room in the country. In short, we live at a time in which there has never been a better educated electorate. The electorate in these times, I believe, is conscious of the new situation of peril in which Australia stands.

In a country like this in times like these, can there be any justification for discriminating between one citizen and another? There may have been basis for such discrimination in other days when the villager in England was illiterate and knew nothing of the world beyond his village green. It may be that then, unless a person owned some property or had some education, or unless he measured up to some other such test, one could say that he was not capable of exercising the franchise intelligently. As I have said, there may have been a reason for discrimination in those days, but there is none today. Of course, there have been great discrepancies in England, as was mentioned by the honorable member for Indi,

In his naivete. These discrepancies were due to the facts of that country’s long history, which was characterised by the heptarchy and the circumstance that the North Folk settled in Norfolk, the South Folk in Suffolk, the Middle Saxons in Middlesex, the South Saxons in Sussex and the East Saxons in Essex, and the fact that each county became entitled to return to the Parliament two knights of the shire. These are the things that we find in English history. But there is no justification for taking over in Australia the historical accidents of the United Kingdom as a reason for adopting wide discrepancies in Australia.

The onus is on those who seek to introduce this discrimination in a community such as ours to establish the reasons for it. They say, first of all, that our rural products are of such consequence to our export trade that rural voters should be given special weight or advantage - that their votes should have special value. They say that the principle of one man one vote should apply in country areas, but that, in the cities, one man should have only two thirds of a vote. They say that this would be right because of the importance of exports of primary products. Sir, I do not accept the view that all people who live in rural areas are of special value to Australia. I take the case of dairymen, who receive considerable subsidies and who represent the main stumbling block in the path of our establishing a common market or free trade area with New Zealand. Their vote, far from having a special value, should be down graded. If, indeed, we accept the principle that those who produce for export are to have a vote of special value, what about the steel workers at Newcastle and in the Wollongong and Port Kembla area? Are they to have votes with a special value? This question has only to be stated for any sensible person to realise that such a principle of distributing the value of votes will lead us into a quagmire.

The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has said something about the electorate of Bradfield. I think he is with us in the House now. This honorable gentleman, whom T may perhaps be excused for describing as the honorable member for Tilba Tilba, has thought fit to mention my constituency. No honorable member has better reason to be proud of his constituency than I have of Bradfield and its people. There is no electorate in which there are more people who hold important managerial positions, whether in business, the professions, the universities or any other field in which brains matter, than there are in Bradfield. There may be one or two electorates with as many people in important managerial posts, but none has more. If such people do not contribute more to the progress and prosperity of this country than do the people of Tilba Tilba, I do not know who would. I may say, Sir, that I represent not only so many people in this class, but also Mr. Renshaw, the ex-Premier of New South Wales, Senator McKenna, the present Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and even Mr. Elliott, the Secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australia. But I do not know whether I give equal satisfaction to all my constituents as their representative. There may be argument about this.

A second reason why there should be discrimination has been alleged. This is the difficulty that country members have in servicing their electorates. I point out that, a little more than a decade ago, the number of members in this House was nearly doubled. If the proper servicing of electorates is difficult now, how much more difficult was it 12 years ago when there were only about half as many members? Even in my short time in this Parliament, Sir, the advance of aircraft, in both quality of machines and the routes that they serve, has been enormous. The railways also have been greatly improved, largely due to the efforts of a city member, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Country roads, too, have been immensely improved. City roads, of course, are bad and are getting worse. We have been told that metropolitan members, because of their easier accessibility, have more constituency work on their shoulders than is borne by country members. Those who represent country electorates usually escape from their offices to the great capital cities. This also has been pointed out.

The answer to this is that it is only a pretext for a gerrymander and not the real reason to support the proposed differential. If those who are responsible for the present proposals were really concerned about these matters, they would be seeking an increase in the number of members in the Parliament, as the referendum that has recently been proposed in this place would seek to bring about. They would also, perhaps, be seeking more secretarial assistance. But they are not really concerned with these things. They are simply adopting a pretext and using difficulty in servicing electorates as a stalking horse for the purpose of furthering a proposal for a gerrymander. That is all that this alleged reason for the present proposals represents. So I dismiss that argument. lt is argued, of course, that the proposals embodied in this Bill will assist decentralisation. Let me make a distinction between spurious and real decentralisation. I would agree that if this measure would assist decentralisation, for example, by the establishment of a great industrial complex, say. at Gladstone in Queensland, backed by the great hinterland of the Dawson Valley with its vast rural and mineral resources, this indeed would be decentralisation of a kind that would be valuable. But a city such as Gladstone would return either a Liberal or a Labour member. I hope I am not being unduly cynical in supposing that the Australian Country Party is not very interested in that kind of decentralisation. It is more interested in spurious decentralisation, which is put into effect, for example, by inducing a miserable little industry to become established in a country town so that there may be a few more customers for the local shopkeepers and, maybe, a little more local employment. But this only adds to costs, especially to transport costs which are Australia’s Achilles’ heel, economically speaking. This does no good to the economy. So I draw that distinction. But I really do not believe that this is an argument. In any event, I do not accept the view that only people who live in the country understand the importance of decentralisation. I mean real decentralisation. Finally, there is talk in a more general way about the decline in the rural voice through the changing balance of population. I want to point out that the Country Party and country interests generally have a very cohesive clear cut voice and the things with which they are concerned are precise and exact. They work together as the Communist Party does as a caucus. They know where they are going. Their goals are precise, and a party of this kind could be small indeed but most effective as against the diffuseness of the Liberal Party. Neverthe less, there are twin glories to the Liberal Party. How proud am I to belong to it. The first glory is that it represents the community as a whole. It stands for national unity. As my friend the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has said, it represents people in the city and people in the country, it represents manufacturers, importers, white collar workers, blue collar workers and professional men.

Mr Buchanan:

– And dairy farmers.

Mr TURNER:

– Yes, even dairy farmers - as they ought to be represented. It is a party of national unity, lt does not stand on the narrow basis of vested interests in some small class, unconcerned with the community at large. That kind of party is obsolete. lt belongs to the colonial days when the British Navy looked after us and we could afford our little parochial politics. The Liberal Party is not such a party. I mentioned the twin glories of the Liberal Party. The other glory is that while a member may work as a member of a team, as indeed our troops have done in two world wars without being unduly concerned about the little things of discipline, so we, too, work as a team, just as we did at the time when we had a majority of one, to the sorrow of gentlemen opposite. But we also have some freedom in this party, freedom which I am exercising today, and I am proud of it. 1 am proud to belong to that party.

I say that country interests are clear cut and cohesive and that a still small voice can be and has been heard loud and clear in the councils of the nation. May I just give a little catalogue of the things that have been achieved due, not only to the Country Party but to rural interests in the Parliament, including the rural representatives in the Liberal Party? I shall mention them quickly. They are the superphosphate bounty, the equalisation of petrol prices, innumerable tax concessions, rail freight concessions, telephone and postal concessions, rural electricity subsidies paid for by city consumers, as has happened in New South Wales and other States, irrigation water paid for by the consumers of electricity and not by the consumers of water in rural areas. There have been subsidies, home consumption prices for things like butter and wheat, the suppression of margarine, and all kinds of subsidies and bounties for primary products like cotton, tobacco and peanuts. This is because rural representatives plough along the one narrow furrow. Let it not be said that the rural voice has not been heard and will not be heard because the numbers of its representatives might be a little reduced in this Parliament in comparison with others. It has been heard and will continue to be heard.

There are special reasons, then, why the principles of this Bill should not be approved by this House. First of all, as I have said, the Bill is simply unjust. Secondly, it starts an irreversible process. Once a small number of people manage to get more members than they ought to have in this House, those members will never vote for any reform of the electoral system that reduces their power. It has a ratchet effect. It starts in a small way. Some may say: “ Yes, but this is only a small matter, a question of 10 per cent, or 20 per cent.”, or something of this kind. It starts in a small way. Let it not be said: “It is like the curate’s egg; it is just a little bad in parts”. You start with a ratchet effect and there is no turning back.

Thirdly, by adopting the Bill we begin a process of competitive gerrymander. If one party gerrymanders, the other party will gerrymander. This has happened in all the States of the Commonwealth with the possible exception of Tasmania. In New South Wales recently, the Labour Party had 43 per cent, of the votes of the electorates and almost got back into office. It has happened in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. As for Victoria, I have not had the time to quote the proposals of Mr. Bolte, but they lead in the same direction. Finally, this kind of disproportion will lead to economic maladjustment. In England, the Lord Chancellor still sits on the woolsack because many years ago, wool ~ was the foundation of the British economy. Of course, it has not been for over a century. He should have been sitting on a coal sack for years, and it may be that in the future he should be sitting upon an atomic pile. I do not know. But if it is accepted that he ought to sit on the foundation of the country it should be realised that that foundation has changed many times.

If we are going to say: “ Rural interests forever “, as this has a ratchet effect, it may be that we will be exporting not so much rural products as capital goods to Asia in the years that lie ahead. Because of this disproportion in voting, we may be tied down to products which no longer have the markets that we need.

Mr DEVINE:
East Sydney

.- It is nice to see a member on the Government side rising and expressing his views in this Parliament on the Bill that is now before us. It is clear from his speech that the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) can see that this Bill represents nothing more than a gerrymander. He can see that, as a result of this Bill, many seats in both city and rural areas will be abolished and that the seats abolished will be not only Labour seats but also Liberal seats. I feel that there are quite a few members of the Liberal Party opposite who ought to give a great deal of thought to that and who should realise that if this Bill goes through the House many of their seats will be abolished. They will not be able to sit on that side of the House as members of any government, and they may not even be able to sit in the House as members of the Opposition. I repeat that I feel there are a great many Government supporters opposite who should give a good deal of thought to this matter.

We know that if the Bill is passed it will lead to a gerrymander which can only result in greater representation for members of the Australian Country Party at the expense of city electors. In this way we shall find that the Country Party will get more and greater representation on Cabinet than the Liberal Party. The Country Party is not concerned about any other party at all. It is concerned only about itself. It is not concerned about the Labour Party or the Liberal Party. All its members are concerned about is the question: What are we going to get out of it? The main reason why the Bill is before the House is that it suits the Country Party.

I suppose it can be argued that, over a period, we have been given a little warning about the introduction of this measure for, when we examine the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General when opening this Parliament, we find that he said -

Regarding the Electoral Act, my Government will introduce amending legislation to make it clear that, in making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions for electoral purposes, the Distribution Commissioners shall take into account community of economic, social and regional interests, difficulties of communications, remoteness or distance, trend of population changes, physical features and the relative areas of proposed divisions. No fixed quota differential is proposed.

As we know, the contents of His Excellency’s speech are not prepared by him, but by the Government. When we take a closer look at this speech, we find that it was intended to pave the way for inequalities in electorates and inequalities in representation. Now, we have this Bill introduced into this House by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) who is himself a representative of the Country Party, and the purpose of the Bill is a blatant gerrymander to suit the Country Party. We know that in the last Parliament the position of Minister for the Interior was held by a member of the Liberal Party. Unfortunately, the redistribution proposal that he introduced into the House was not up to what was expected by the Country Party, with the result that it was thrown out. Now a Country Party Minister has been given this portfolio and we have the present legislation put before us.

I know that it is mathematically impossible to have the same number of voters in every electorate; but there should be no gerrymanders. Many of us have been greatly concerned for a number of years about the position in South Australia. It has been referred to in this House as the great gerrymander. In that State over a period of years the Labour Party was receiving 54, 55 and even 56 per cent, of the vote, but because of the state of the electoral boundaries it was unable to gain enough seats to govern. In the 1962 State election 312,000 people voted for the Labour Party and only 205,000 people voted for the other parties, including the Liberal and Country League. In that election the number of electors in the city electorates ranged from 19,000 to 33,000 and the average number of electors in the country electorates was approximately 6,500.

The electorates were arranged in such a way that two thirds of the seats were country seats and only one third of them were city seats. Before that election the Playford Government held 15 country seats and 4 city scats. In the election, 53 per cent, of the voters voted for the Labour Party and returned 19 Labour members and 40 per cent, of the voters voted for the Liberal and Country League and returned 18 Liberal and Country League members. We know that that was done by the manipulation of the boundaries. Fortunately, as a result of the last State election in South Australia the situation has changed. A democratic government has been elected in that State. I am sure that in the new redistribution justice will be done to all parties.

I am a firm believer in the principle of one vote one value. I am opposed to country electorates having fewer electors than city electorates have. It is wrong to say that the vote of a person who lives in an urban area is not equal to that of a person who lives in a rural area. I believe that, when an elector of the electorate that I represent - East Sydney - goes to the polling booth on polling day and casts his vote, that vote is just as valuable to this country, to me and to anybody else as the vote of an elector in a country electorate. It is definitely wrong to say that I, as the member for a city electorate, should have 60,000 electors to represent and that a member representing a country electorate should have only 40,000 electors to represent. The people who elect me to this House should be able to say that my vote is equal to that of any other member of this House. If we get away from the principle of one vote one value we get away from democracy - and we, as Australians, definitely believe in democratic government.

Merely because the great white father instructs members of the Liberal Party to vote for this measure, they all have to fall into line and support it. I have heard members of the Country Party speaking about what they have to do in their electorates and how difficult it is for them to get around their electorates. Earlier this afternoon the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) referred to the migrants who are not naturalised. Any member who represents a city electorate - a great many of the city electorates are represented by Labour members - knows that many migrants live in the city areas. They may work in country areas for a time, but they always seem to finish up in the city areas.

Many of these migrants have many problems. They always take their problems to the Federal member who represents the area in which they live, because most of their problems are concerned with immigration. They ask him to assist them in every possible way. At the present time approximately 250,000 migrants are eligible for naturalisation but have not been naturalised and therefore are not entitled to vote. But they go along to their Federal member and ask him to help them to solve their immigration problems and any other problems that they have. As the member for a city electorate, I believe that some consideration should be given to this matter. The immigration programme is one of the big programmes that have been undertaken not only by the Labour Government but also by the Liberal-Country Party Government over a number of years. As a result of the programme Australia’s population is now more than 1 1 million. It has been stated that there arc many migrants who have been naturalised but who, unfortunately, have never filled in their electoral cards and consequently are not on the electoral rolls. This is a matter into which we have to put a greater effort. We should see whether we can encourage migrants to become enrolled so that they will be able to vote and to play a part in electing worthy representatives to the National Parliament.

No redistribution should be made to suit any one party. When a party gains power as a result of the inequalities, it is hard for that party to give them up. We have to consider this matter a great deal more. If power is given to one party, that party will become a dictatorial power. It will be able to dictate to the Government and the Opposition. It will be able to say to the Government: “ If you do not give us what we want, we will not support you. We have the power to throw you out of office.”

We hear great cries from members of the Country Party about the size of the electorates that they represent and the difficulties that they experience in getting around their electorates. They must remember that the Country Party is not the only party that represents rural areas. As has been stated, 23 members of the Labour Party represent rural electorates. We do not hear cries from them about the size of the electorates that they represent or the difficulties that they experience in getting around their electorates. They go out and do the job as it should be done. Many of the Labour members who represent rural areas have their offices in the electorates that they represent. 1 have heard members of the Country Party telling us that they represent the people in the country areas. But the first thing that a Country Party candidate does when he becomes a member of this Parliament is to go to the capital city of the State in which he lives, set up his office there and say to his electors: “ This is where we will conduct our business”. That is not giving people in rural areas decent representation. The claims made by members of the Country Party are false and misleading. If they really wanted to represent their electorates and if they were really concerned about their electors, they would be out amongst them and they would have their offices in the main towns of the electorates that they represent so that their electors could come along and see them.

As has been stated, 20 members of the Liberal Party represent rural areas. There is no complaint from them about the size of the electorates that they represent. We know that members who represent rural electorates are given an extra allowance to compensate them for their extra expenses. Members of the Country Party complain about the terrain of their electorates and the difficulties that they experience in getting around their electorates. In these modern times we have buses, aeroplanes and motor cars. Many towns in country areas today have transport services, including airline services. A member can move around his electorate in a motor car and look after his electors. The position would be different if he had to get around in a horse and buggy. I do not believe that it is very hard for a member to get around his electorate.

Members of the Country Party have a job to do; namely, to represent their electorates. If the job is too big for them, they should resign and let someone else do the job. This is not a place for cotton wool politicians. If a man wants to be a member of the Parliament he must accept his responsibilities. He should not come here and complain about the size of his electorate, that it is too big for him and that he is away too often from his family. If those are his feelings he should not be here. Let him go home and stay with his family.

Mr Coutts:

– They never resign.

Mr DEVINE:

– Of course not. They always want to return here, and many of them return because of the preferences they receive from the Labour Party. If the Labour Party altered the distribution of its preferences there would be more members of the Liberal Party in this House. It is only because they get Labour’s preferences that many Country Party members are here now. I believe that a member of the Country Party is no different from a travelling salesman who must go from town to town selling his wares. A member of the Parliament must do the same. He must get around his electorate and meet his constituents. If he wants to be a good politician, and a good representative, he must get around.

I firmly believe in the principle of one vote one value. Australia is regarded as a democratic country. Our school children are taught about democracy and are told that Australia is governed democratically. There should be no deviation from that principle, and a government elected by the will of the people should maintain the system in which Australians believe. It is wrong to mislead the children of this country. Many references have been made to the attempt in this Bill to gerrymander electorates. If we accept the quotas proposed this country will not be governed democratically.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America has frequently resolved complaints about gerrymandering electorates and in the case of Gray v. Sanders its decision contained the following statement -

We hold that, construed in its historical content, the command of Article I, Section 2, that representatives be chosen “ by the people of several States” means that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote in a Congressional election is to be worth as much as another’s.

The decision went further and said -

To say that a vote is worth more in one district than in another would not only run counter to our fundamental ideas of democratic government, it would cast aside the principle of a House of Representatives elected “by the people”, a principle tenaciously fought for and established at the Constitutional Convention.

I am sure that as members of the National Parliament we should ensure that similar Justice prevails. We should see that there are no inequalities in electorates and in representation, and that all votes are near enough to equal in value. Proposed new section 105b relates to ballot papers used m connection with filling a casual vacancy in the Senate. Provision is made whereby the names of candidates are drawn from a ballot box to determine the position of the candidates’ names on the ballot paper. This is fair to all parties. It is unfortunate that a similar system is not applied to elections for the House of Representatives. At present the position of names on the ballot paper is determined by the initial letters of the candidates’ names. The candidate whose surname begins with A, B or C gains an advantage over the candidate whose name commences with X, Y or Z. Statistics have shown that in the past the candidate whose name appears first on the ballot paper can expect to receive 5 per cent, more votes than he would receive if his name appeared lower down. Splinter parties frequently wait to see the names of candidates from the main political parties before choosing their own candidates, with a view to getting them at the top of the ballot paper. They then will gain votes because of the initial letters of their candidates’ surnames and will have preferences to distribute to the party of their choice. If names were drawn from a hat there would be more equality.

It is a shame that provision is not made in this Bill to simplify the method of voting in Senate elections to reduce the number of informal votes that are cast. Last year about 5,556,000 persons voted in the Senate elections, and 387,000 votes were informal. This represents about 6.98 per cent, of the total vote. I believe this large informal vote is caused because so many names appear on the ballot paper that some people get tired of filling in the paper, thus rendering their votes informal. If provision could be made whereby a person could vote in order for half plus one of the candidates whose names appeared on the ballot paper this would reduce the number of informal votes.

I am pleased that a referendum is to be held to break the present nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate whereby the Senate must consist of approximately half the number of members of the House of Representatives. The referendum will also seek the repeal of section 127 of the Constitution which relates to the non-counting of Aborigines in reckoning the number of people in the Commonwealth. There are many people who are concerned about section 51 (xxvi) under which the Federal Government is denied the right to make laws governing Aborigines and which, therefore, provides the basis for the various discriminatory law. that have been enacted by the States. In the short time that I have been in this Parliament many petitions have been presented by members of all parties, representing all sections of the community, seeking referendums on these sections of the Constitution. When the referendum dealing with the number of senators goes before the people I ask the Minister to see that the people have a chance also to vote on section 51 of the Constitution.

Mr WENTWORTH:
Mackellar

– I think that some of the matters dealt with in this Bill have been a little overstated during the course of the debate. I thought the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) gave a balanced and reasonable presentation. It is not that this is a bill which will result in a tremendous gerrymander, but it is a bill which to some extent introduces, or rather condones, a bad principle. It is not a bill that we can look upon in the lurid light of a destroyer of the whole or our democracy but it is something that could develop badly if we allow it to pass as it is at the moment.

The Commonwealth has a good history in the distribution of electorates. The gerrymander has often been imputed, sometimes with justice, as far as the States are concerned, but the Commonwealth, so far, has been free from all such imputations. I think it is a bad thing if we lay ourselves open to these imputations now. But even worse, and something which is rather sad, has been the cleavage that has developed in this debate as between city and country interests. We are Australians and we do not want to see this cleavage. People who are advocates only of the country interests or only of the city interests do harm to Australia. We are a national and not a parochial parliament. We should be endeavouring to look to the Australian good. Of course, all of us must serve the particular interests of our electors but surely we can look a little beyond those interests because we are not a small local council or even a State Parliament. We are the national Parliament. If anybody comes into this House as a member of a party looking only to local interests it can be bad, because those who appeal only to selfish interests appeal to unworthy motives and sometimes get unworthy votes. If anybody comes into this

House and says: “ I represent only the country districts “, or, “ I represent only the city districts”, he is doing harm to Australia.

I feel that my friends of the Country Party sometimes may not be completely balanced in their approach to these national problems because they say: “ We appeal to you as country voters. We look after your interests.” This is a very persuasive thing to say to voters, but is it in the national interest that it should be said? Is it not rather a good thing if the members of this House look at problems not merely as country problems or as city problems but as Australian problems? One of the most regrettable features of this debate, so far, has been the fact that honorable members have said: “ We represent a sectional interest. We will appeal to the worst and most unworthy motives of the voters.” This is a bad thing in a national parliament.

I come now to the Bill. First, let me refer to section 19 of the existing Act, which we are proposing to amend. The section is an unsatisfactory provision in that it is vague and capable of various interpretations. But, so far, it has not been used in an unworthy fashion. Although the section is vague it has not, so far, been abused and it was not abused when the last redistribution was made - the abortive redistribution. What is proposed now is to import abuses under cover of the vagueness of section 19.

There has not been any trouble of this character yet, although the vagueness of the section would have allowed trouble to occur. Our distribution commissioners have behaved with great restraint, moderation and equity. It is because they have so behaved and because their last redistribution was unsatisfactory to a section of this Parliament that we are now proposing to amend section 19. Let me put it on the line: We are amending the section in order to import an abuse. As it stands, the section gives a tolerance of 20 per cent, either way, but if honorable members will look at the table on page 49 of the Constitutional Review Committee’s report they will see how seldom this tolerance has been exercised. Almost invariably the tolerance has been within the 10 per cent, margin, as it should have been. Although the commissioners, through the vagueness of section 19 and the degree of tolerance available, have had the power in the past 60 years to abuse the redistribution, they have not done so. It is precisely because they have not done so that this Bill is now before us.

A redistribution was made by the commissioners. It was a fair redistribution. It was flung out because it was fair. For this reason I feel that when we are looking at section 19 the first thing we should try to do is avoid the imprecision of the Act as it has stood in the past. In the past the Act has not been abused, although its vagueness would have given some opportunity for abuse. But since there is now a definite move to abuse it, we should remove the imprecision from this section.

If honorable members will look at proposed section 19 of the Bill they will see that it is as vague as the existing section. It states that the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to certain factors. What is due consideration? The House is not giving any guidance to the Commissioners. We are, in fact, divesting ourselves of the law making power because we are saying: “ We give you an open charter. You will give due consideration, but you will tell us what are the factors which make one consideration weight worthy and another consideration worthless “.

We do not tell the Commissioners what we mean by due consideration. We list seven matters which they are to take account of. How are they to weigh one against the other when those matters run in opposite directions? We do not tell the Commissioners. We are giving them the power to make an effective law because this House divests itself of lawmaking powers when it passes a law in this vague kind of term. Since it is of the essence of democracy that gerrymandering is bad, this is a dangerous thing for us to be doing at this time.

Let me look at these seven proposed matters which are listed for due consideration. Let me look first at paragraphs (d) and (e). Paragraph (d) reads - the density or sparsity of population of the Division;

Paragraph (e) reads - the area of the Division;

This is pure tautology. What is the difference between density and sparsity on the one hand and area on the other? We are simply saying the same thing twice. This is loose and sloppy drafting. Then we say that account will be taken of the trend of population changes within the State. But what account? What do we mean by this? Do we mean, as I think we do, that the faster growing areas should start with smaller quotas? If we do, why do we not say so? I believe that we should make at least these two amendments to proposed new section 19, first by eliminating the tautology, because it does not mean a thing, and secondly by adding after the words “ trend of population changes within the State “, the words “ so as to give a smaller quota to the faster growing areas”. This, I think, should be stated in the Bill. There is no reason for us to leave it in a vague or diffuse state.

I come now to the first part of proposed new section 19 which is in substitution for the last part of section 19 of the old Act. I think that the honorable member for Bradfield is right in trying to restrict the discretion of the Commissioners to 10 per cent, in either direction. The allowance of 20 per cent, in either direction is far too large. Let us suppose the quota is 100. Then the limits lie between 80 on the low side and 120 on the high side. That is a difference of 50 per cent, and is far too much. It would be better to restrict this to 10 per cent, so that, if the quota were 100, the low would be 90 and the high would be 110. This would give an ample margin. Whereas the old margin has not done any harm because of the fairness of the Commissioners in the past, we are facing a new situation. The Act is being amended simply to get rid of the fairness of the Commissioners in the past and they are faced, therefore, with a new situation. So I feel it would be a good thing if we accepted the proposal of the honorable member for Bradfield and restricted this discretion to 10 per cent, in either direction.

People will say: “ What is the magic in this equality of value of votes? “ Well, there is no magic. People are naturally unequal. Some votes may be thought to be more considered and of more weight than others. But who is to determine which is the weightier vote? If we give any weight to votes, then we import the possibility of abuse, because this becomes an arbitrary decision. The importance of the equality of votes and values is simply that it is the only way to make a democracy work without introducing an arbitrary factor. If we say that every citizen over the age of 21 years has an equal vote, we are being clear and definite, and the requirement does not admit of manipulation. But if we say that people with university degrees or with a certain amount of property shall have a higher vote, we immediately get into the realm of arbitrary decisions. It may be that we could do something better than the equality of votes, but we could also do something worse. Equality is the only way of removing the arbitrary factor in the operation of democracy. I would say ideally if we had a completely objective determination we may be able to do better than equality, but since we do not have a completely objective determination it is much better to settle for equality.

It is most important that there should not be a suspicion of gerrymandering in the determination of quotas. The States have suffered from this suspicion. In many respects, I think it is a justified suspicion. For instance, it has been known for many years that under the Labour Government in Queensland the seats were gerrymandered almost beyond recognition. This was most unfair, most unreasonable and selfperpetuating. One of the features of a gerrymander is that it perpetuates itself, it is not easy to get rid of it. We come to South Australia. I would have thought that the distribution in South Australia was in many areas an unfair distribution. It was not made by a Labour government. In New South Wales for a long time the Labour Government maintained itself in office only by the expedient of gerrymandering the seats. The majority of votes has been against it, but it has still remained in office. One hopes, of course, that there will be a fairer distribution in New South Wales to get rid of some of these abuses.

I have spoken of the main features of the Bill, and I turn to some minor matters. I agree with the proposals put forward by honorable members on both sides of the House, not only now but also on previous occasions, that the alphabetical listing of candidates for the House of Representatives is bad. The fact that my name begins with *’ W “ naturally inclines me to this view, but I think there is a case to be made out for the proposition that the people at the top of the ballot paper get an unusual number of the votes. It would be fairer if we could find some way to overcome this.

I associate myself also with the proposition of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) that there should be some improvement in the method of counting Senate votes. Recently we had an unedifying position in which, because the last preference votes had to be decided by ballot, it was very difficult to know what the recounting of a closely contested position in Victoria really involved. It would be an advantage if we could find some method of counting that would eliminate this chance draw for the allocation of the final preference votes. I think that the proposition of my friend from Lilley is a constructive one and deserves the fullest examination by the Government. Even though it may not be possible to include the proposal in this Bill now, for drafting and other reasons, I would hope that before the next Senate election it would be part of the law of the land. I would think that this proposal, because of its inherent logic, would have support from both sides of the House.

Finally I shall say something about the administration of the Act rather than the Act itself. The Act does not specify the way in which rolls are to be prepared, nor does it specify the sizes of subdivisions. In the recent election in New South Wales there were some disturbing instances of voting malpractice. For my part, I am quite convinced that they came from the Labour side, but whether they came-

Mr Cope:

– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member refers to a matter that may be challenged in the court, and I presume that he is out of order at this stage in assuming that one or another political party was responsible. I think he should retract his statement and apologise for making such an assertion.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:

– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I have no knowledge of a court action.

Mr WENTWORTH:

– I have given my opinion on this. Surely honorable members on both sides should show themselves eager, even if they are not really eager, to remove any possibility of abuse under the Act. What I advocate is simply a way of preventing fraudulent voting in the future and if honorable members opposite are honest they will be with me.

Let me particularise. One of the worst things that can happen in an election is plural voting. This can occur in a subdivision because there are a number of polling places within that subdivision. My suggestion is very simple. It is merely that every polling place should have its own subdivision. This would make the subdivisions much smaller, and it would mean that a voter would either vote at his particular polling place or else vote absentee. Honorable members will see that this would not involve any great administrative changes, but it would significantly reduce the possibility of abuse by way of plural voting.

Let us have the rolls divided into smaller subdivisions, with each subdivision having its one polling place. The elector would then vote at a known and named polling place or else have the choice of voting absentee or, in appropriate cases, casting a postal vote. This would greatly reduce the possibility of fraudulent voting. If honorable members opposite are genuine, as I am, in wishing to reduce the possibility of fraudulent voting they will, I think, sympathetically consider the proposal I have put before them. I do not know why honorable members opposite have reacted in quite the way they have reacted.

Mr Peters:

– We have not reacted at all. I am in favour of it.

Mr WENTWORTH:

– The honorable member is in favour of it; that is good. My second suggestion is that in each of these small subdivisions the roll should be made up according to streets or localities rather than alphabetically. This would obviously greatly reduce the possibility of inaccurate or fraudulent rolls. Each street would be separately listed and in each street there naturally would be somebody interested in seeing who was on the roll and who was not. The roll would, in a sense, become self-cleansing if it were made up by way of streets instead of alphabetically. It would be quite easy for a voter to locate his name on the roll because every voter knows where he lives. I suggest that if this were done the divisional roll could perhaps be published as a separate alphabetical roll, although it would not be the working roll. There is no reason why this should not be done. The purity of the vote is very important to our democracy. 1 am going to suggest also that the returning officers are under-staffed. I believe it would be a very good thing if we spent more time between elections in seeing that people were enrolled, that the rolls were correct and that people were not falsely enrolled. Let me summarise my suggestions. Each subdivision should have its own single polling place, and in each subdivision the working roll should be published according to streets. This would achieve two purposes. It would make the rolls self-cleansing. It would be much more difficult to make a fraudulent entry on a roll and much more difficult to exploit a situation in which there was an incorrect entry on a roll. Secondly, the rolls being more correct, the possibility of plural or fraudulent voting would, while being not entirely eliminated, be significantly reduced. I put these two matters which are matters for regulations rather than for the Act, before the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony). It is not the first occasion on which I have suggested something along these lines. I suggest that, in view of the charges that have been made in regard to the recent New South Wales election, and which I think may have been made about other elections in the past, it would be in the interests of everybody who is in favour of more accurate and purer voting at elections to have suggestions along these lines adopted.

I have spoken of the main point raised by my friend, the honorable member for Bradfield. I have said that I believe a margin of 10 per cent, would be better than the suggested margin of 20 per cent. May I say finally that if it be agreed that the 20 per cent, tolerance should be reduced to 10 per cent., we might also provide - and I am sure my friend from Bradfield would agree with this - that where an electorate was more than, say, 100,000 square miles in area, the tolerance should be increased to 20 per cent. Some provision of that nature might be made. The important point is that we should prevent the Act becoming too diffuse and vague. We should take care not to divest ourselves of our law making powers, and we should not put before the Commissioners a jumble of provisions referring vaguely to “ due consideration “. We should indicate to the Commissioners what we believe is due consideration in certain circumstances, or else we should in some way narrow the field of matters within the discretion of the Commissioners.

Mr COUTTS:
Griffith

.- I am sure all honorable members realise that the legislation before us is very important, but I am afraid that the citizens of Australia are not fully seized of its importance or its effect on their interests. The system of parliamentary government for another two generations is being shaped by the legislation before us today. A new measure is being put forward by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) to provide for matters that the Commissioners will consider when a redistribution is being decided upon.

The framers of the Constitution very wisely provided for a redistribution of the seats in the House of Representatives to be made after each census had been taken. This is a very different state of affairs from that which exists in the States, where the State Parliaments are masters of their own destiny and can introduce a redistribution at any time at the whim of the governing party. It is true that the Government has not given effect to a redistribution following the last census, but the Commissioners were appointed and they prepared a redistribution which was presented to this Parliament by the then Minister for the Interior, the Minister in charge of the redistribution, who was a member of the Liberal Party. The redistribution did not conform to the ideas of the second party of the coalition. The Australian Country Party could not agree to the redistribution proposals and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) did not proceed with them. I understand that the Country Party made very clear to the Prime Minister in the House, and much clearer behind closed doors, just what fate awaited the coalition if the Prime Minister proceeded with the redistribution proposals which had been made in full compliance with constitutional and legal requirements.

We know the statements that have been made by various Ministers. I wish to quote a statement made by the Leader of the Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), at the annual conference of the Victorian Country Party on 2nd April 1963. In dealing with the redistribution proposals at that time the Minister for Trade and Industry, who is in the chamber at the moment, said -

During the last parliamentary year the Country Party took a quite strong stand on redistribution proposals. From the rural point of view the proposals were intolerable. In detail some of the proposals were quite incredible, and I choose that word as the kindest word I can apply. The Country Party wants electoral sanity. At present the guidance to the Commissioners in the Statute is loose … So important is this the Country Party wants it brought out into the open. The Statute should be more explicit.

A prominent member of the Liberal Party who has spoken during this debate made the point that the 1963 redistribution was very fair. He said that it preserved to a reasonable degree the democratic principle of one vote, one value, and that it was carried out in the terms of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. But it did not suit the Country Party. It has been described by the Leader of the Country Party as intolerable. It did not suit that Party because it appeared that the Party would lose some of its strength in the coalition.

At Orange in June 1963 the Leader of the Country Party said -

I said a year ago that it was cockeyed to reduce the number of seats in the Federal Parliament when population was increasing. This is still my view.

I suppose that one can see a good deal of reason in that statement. It does not display the same unreasonableness as the Minister displayed in his previous statement to the Victorian Country Party. However, he was at variance with the Minister for the Interior at that time, who was a Liberal and who was subsequently transferred from that portfolio. The then Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) had this to say regarding the distribution that was not proceeded with -

To await the outcome of a redistribution, and then to say, in effect, that whatever the Commissioners did under their terms of reference could not be right because legislation under which they operate needs changing, would be an argument that could lead the public to feel that, like the fox in the fable, the individual advancing it had suddenly found that the grapes were sour.

It would appear that the grapes were sour so far as the Country Party was concerned in that redistribution. However, the Minister has paid the penalty and has been removed from that portfolio. The Liberal Party has bowed, it has been completely humiliated. The new Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is now handling the redistribution, is no longer a member of the majority party, the Liberal Party, but is a member of the minority party of the coalition, the Country Party. The present Country Party Minister in charge of redistribution did not hesitate to say where he stood in the matter. I think that a statement made by the Minister at Murwillumbah, and reported in the Murwillumbah “ Daily News “, can bear repetition. I would say that the Press did not expose the Minister, but rather that the Minister exposed himself, because his words were reported verbatim. The report reads -

The Minister for the Interior, Mr. J. D. Anthony, told a Country Party dinner at Murwillumbah that, in carrying out the proposed redistribution of the Federal seats, he would make sure fewer people were required to elect representatives in country areas than in the cities. Australia’s electoral system was the finest in the world, but lacked territorial representation, Representation was now based on population, not area, with the result that power in Parliament was confined to the heavily populated areas. The task of electoral reform was probably one of his worst jobs as Minister of the Interior, and one on which his political future hinged.

This job to date has been his worst, and if his future hinges on it the Country Party has nothing of which to be proud. I would say that the Minister is deserving of censure for making the statement to which I have referred.

Perhaps I can be permitted to give my views on what prompted this legislation. Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act that has been in existence for some time various redistributions were carried out and given effect to. It has been readily agreed by all reasonable men in this Parliament that, in the main, redistributions in the Commonwealth sphere have been reasonably fair. I think that the greatest tribute that can be paid to any government can be paid to the Labour Government led by Mr. Chifley which carried out a redistribution in 1949. The redistribution was carried out without fear or favour, in a very fair and honest way without any thought of favouritism to the party administering the redistribution. It was carried out in such a way that the Labour Government lost the succeeding election. I am sure that the proposals before us today will ensure that the distribution is given effect to in such a way that the Government will survive and the Country Party will gain a greater advantage than it has at present.

This Bill was promised by the Prime Minister in his election policy speech in 1963. The promise was not expected, but in announcing his policy I think that the Prime Minister was prompted by political exigencies and the demands of the Country Party. Honorable members will remember that after the 1961 election, when the Labour Party gained the greatest number of votes of any party contesting the election - and failed by two seats to win office - the Government survived for two years on a majority of one vote in this House. The Prime Minister, in fear and trembling when he approached the electors in 1963, aud subject to pressures by the Country Party, agreed that there would be an alteration to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It was suggested at the time that greater consideration would be given to territorial or to country representation. This is the price that is being paid for the support of the Country Party. We know that the Prime Minister is never optimistic about an election, and he has good reason for that attitude. Except in recent years he has had a chequered career at the hands of the electors. He has known success and he has known defeat and public humiliation.

Consequently, the Liberal Party went to the country in 1963 having entered into a pact with the Country Party, by which it was dominated, to the effect that should they be successful, redistribution would be carried out under a new law. The Bill that has been given to us to consider is that new law. This measure has earned the condemnation of many members of the Liberal Party. A few of them have spoken about it in this place, but many more have been afraid to speak. The Country Party, of course, is jubilant about the whole proposal which is, in my opinion, a blatant gerrymander. It is a denial of the principles of democracy and of the glorious principle of one vote one value. One honorable member spoke of the revolutionaries of the 1830’s, the Chartists, who had a number of proposals which would bring about a cleansing of parliamentary government and elections. One of their proposals was the principle of one vote one value. But now, 135 years later, we find that this Government is receding beyond those days when the Chartists took up their proposals for the cleansing of the system under which parliaments are elected.

The party that will gain something from this measure is the Country Party because we know from the speeches made in this place by those who have carefully analysed the Bill and who are better informed than I am on matters such as this that the proposal is to weigh country electorates to give the electors greater voting value than that of city electorates. The proposal is that if the quota for an electorate is 40,000, the Commissioners will, under the provisions that we are now discussing, be compelled to weigh the city electorate at 20 per cent, above the quota and to weigh the country electorate at 20 per cent, below the quota. This means that if the quota in a State is 40,000, the city electorate will have an enrolment of 48,000 and the country electorate will have an enrolment of 32,000. The result is that the vote of the city elector will have only two thirds the value of the vote of the country elector.

I fail to see why a meat worker in the electorate of Griffith, a man who plays a major role in the slaughtering of cattle and preparation of beef for export to our markets overseas, is of less electoral value than the man who droves the beasts on the station out at Julia Creek or Boulia. I fail to see why the railway worker in my electorate, who drives the trains to bring the beasts to the city area for export, is of less electoral value than the man who drives the tractor at Pittsworth or somewhere on the Darling Downs. Is the waterside worker in Brisbane of less electoral value than the man on the dairy farm out near Gympie? The vote of a building worker in my electorate is to be worth only two thirds of the value of the vote of a building worker in a country electorate. I sincerely believe in the principle of one vote one value. I have been long enough in this place to remember the speeches which have been made by members of the Country Party as well as members of the Liberal Party extolling the glorious virtues of democracy and of the democratic way of life. They have spoken of those glorious years from 1939 to 1945 when this nation, among others, fought to preserve the ways of democracy. We were told that the Second World War was fought to preserve our democratic way of life, but it appears that that way of life will be lost here today if this Bill is given effect.

Whilst I publicly chide the Country Party for its role in this matter, I have nothing but contempt for the role that the Liberal Party is playing. Members of the Liberal Party come out of this really badly because they are lying back in their benches just taking the crack of the whip that the Country Party is laying on their backs. What role is the Prime Minister playing in this? He is absent from the chamber. He has taken no part in the debate on this Bill, which is perhaps the most important bill that this Parliament will have to discuss. This Bill lays down the principle of election to this Parliament. Its provisions will decide just how the Parliament will be elected for quite a number of years - for at least a generation.

I know that some time ago the Prime Minister was honoured with an order of knighthood. The knighthood is supposed to raise a man to a great order of chivalry. He should be essentially an honorable man, a man who can be trusted. I quote the motto of the order to which the Prime Minister has been raised. I shall cite it in Latin - “ Nemo Me Impune Lacessit “. The translation is: “ No-one provokes me with impunity “ - or no man hurts me without being hurt himself. The Prime Minister’s image has been hurt in this matter - very much so. But how will the Country Party be hurt for hurting the Prime Minister? I feel that they will be hurt in some way, but how he will do it I do not know. I believe that the Prime Minister comes out of this matter very badly. 1 am reminded of the opera Faust. Perhaps it is rather appropriate that this should come to my mind at this time because of reading of the visit of Her Majesty to Germany. I would liken the Prime Minister to that old gentleman, Faust, whose youth is leaving him. He sees the glorious maiden Marguerite leaving the church; and how he longs for this glorious girl, this flaxen haired Bavarian maiden. So he sells his soul to Mephistopheles. He sells his soul for the sake of renewed youth and vigour. I see the Prime Minister in the role of Faust - looking at office, looking at a prize that he wants to obtain, at the office that he wants to hold. And I liken the glorious girl to the glories of office. We are bedevilled with this situation.

Mr L R Johnson:

– Why not sing it?

Mr COUTTS:

– I could oblige the honorable member - but I will not. I feel that the soul of the Liberal Party has been sold for the sake of office. I feel quite sad about the matter because while I am a political opponent of the Prime Minister, I regarded him as a man of honour. I have the same regard for some of the members of the Liberal Party.

Mr Courtnay:

– We can all make mistakes.

Mr COUTTS:

– I agree with my friend from Darebin, we all make mistakes. I now realise that I made a mistake and that I have paid the Prime Minister an undeserved tribute. He comes out of this matter quite badly. He would have been a better man had he resisted the pressures of the Country Party and challenged it. If he had done so, members of the Country Party would not have pursued the issue and we would have retained some decency in the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have heard many statements in this House about democracy and the rights of the people. It is easy to mouth these glorious phrases but many -people do not mean them; they merely use them at appropriate times. I am reminded of the great phrase of the American, Patrick Henry, “ Give me liberty or give me death “; then he promptly willed his slaves to his wife. It is so easy to utter these sentiments. They sound so nice. Honorable members opposite have spoken of democracy and its principles but they are prepared to flaunt it by their support of this Bill.

I support the proposition advanced by the Leader of my Party in the amendment he has moved. I hope that the amendment will be carried. If it is it will mean, in effect, the defeat of the Bill. It will then be consigned to the vile depths from which it sprung, unwept, unhonoured and unsung.

Mr McEWEN:
Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not propose to speak at length on this legislation but I do think that, having regard to the nature of the main measure before us - the Commonwealth Electoral Bill - the honorable member for

Griffith (Mr. Coutts) spoke in as exaggerated terms as I have ever heard in the House. The fact of the matter is that the debate revealed, contrary to expectation, the very small measure of substantial dispute that exists between all parties in the House. Certainly there is not sufficient difference between the views that have been expressed to justify the exaggerated language used by some honorable members. Some speakers have said that whatever the electoral legislation provides, it ought to be clear and not vague. One of the primary purposes of this Bill - perhaps the primary purpose - is to make clear that which has been vague in the past; to ensure that whatever is provided by the legislation, the six sets of Distribution Commissioners who will interpret it in the six States will do so uniformly. One has only to read the reports of the Distribution Commissioners on the last occasion to realise that there were quite widespread differences in their interpretation of the Act, in their treatment of evidence put before them, and even in their willingness to receive evidence in certain circumstances. This situation surely cannot be good. This legislation has been introduced to correct it.

I suppose that of all the things we might talk about regarding democracy, the most elemental thing is that the basis of voting should be clear and fair, and that the circumstances in which the right to vote is to be exercised should be uniform. The legislation now before the House attends to all those considerations; it improves the provisions hitherto made. It is not easy to draft legislation which is clearly not intended to instruct Commissioners how they are to make a finding, but which is intended to instruct them as to how they are to go about their duties and the evidence that is put before them. The proposed amendment to section 19 of the Act is clearly for these purposes. As redrafted in the Bill, it is certainly more capable of uniform interpretation.

I do not propose to get into a political party debate on this Bill but I do want to say that the opposition of the Country Party to the last redistribution was, to a very important extent, based - as reference to my speech on that occasion will show - on the fact that a seat was to be eliminated in Western Australia, another was to be eliminated in Queensland, and another was to be eliminated in New South Wales. This meant that in Western Australia there were to be eight seats instead of nine in a State of a million square miles; in Queensland the number of seats was to be reduced from 18 to 17; and there was to be one seat less in New South Wales. My Party thought that this was wrong and unnecessary. Subsequent legislation, which was brought before the House and passed without dissent, showed that all honorable members thought that we were right in our view. The House has unanimously approved legislation to avoid the necessity, in like circumstances, for States to lose seats. If nothing else were sought and nothing else achieved, that would have been well worth while.

However, most of the sharpness in this debate has been directed to the allegation, charge, assumption or interpretation that some principle is to be violated by this legislation. The principle that is to be violated - according to some quarters - is the sacred principle of one vote one value; that every vote shall have an equal value. It is terrible, we are told, to perpetuate an arrangement whereby there may be a variation of 20 per cent, from the mean. But if that violates a principle, to substitute for it, as many honorable members want to do, a proposal that the variation from the mean shall be not 20 per cent, but 10 per cent, also violates the same principle. Yet that is the purport of the amendments foreshadowed by the Opposition, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). So let us now, once and for all, dispose of this nonsense that there is a proposal before the House to violate a principle. Every honorable member supports the view that there should be a tolerance for variation from the mean. If that nonsense is disposed of, the question of whether the permissible variation should be 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, represents indeed a fairly modest area of argument.

I concede that the Australian Labour Party says that the permissible variation should be 10 per cent, and that the Constitutional Review Committee suggested 10 per cent. The Government, however, believes that something that has stood for 60 years, during which time all parties have been in office - a permissive variation of 20 per cent. - is good enough still to stand.

It has stood for 60 years with Labour in office, with the Liberal Party of Australia in office and with coalition parties in office, and nobody suggested that it was bad. I have taken the trouble to examine history in an attempt to find out how this provision came into the principal Act. Apparently, it came in by the translating into very early Federal legislation of a provision that existed in the legislation of New South Wales, which, prior to Federation, in the 1890’s, provided that there could be a variation of 25 per cent, from the mean. That provision was not violently opposed.

There could be an arithmetical argument, Mr. Deputy Speaker, about whether a margin of 20 per cent, is better or worse than one of 10 per cent. I would not dispute the fact that there could be such an argument, but there is clearly no basis for an argument about principle. Yet most of the criticism of this measure has turned on this. Can it be that a variation of 20 per cent, from the mean is terribly bad but that a variation of 10 per cent, is palpably good? Who on earth would suggest that?

Mr Turner:

– I would be one.

Mr McEWEN:

– I shall not argue with the honorable member for Bradfield. I am sure that he would say: “This is a matter of degree, not of principle “. I find my friend, the honorable member for Mackellar, in line with me, or maybe ahead of me, when he says that gigantic electorates of an area of perhaps 100,000 square miles may be entitled to a variation of 20 per cent. We have one electorate, of course, with an area of something like 900,000 square miles.

I want to clear my party of the charge of gerrymandering, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I believe that what is being done should be done in the open. I believe in standing up in the open and justifying what one proposes. If one stands up in the open in the Parliament and states what one believes in and why one believes in it, without any hole and corner atmosphere about it, one cannot properly be charged with engaging in what can correctly be described as a gerrymander. There may be a difference of opinion about certain matters. A gerrymander implies something that is sinister, improper and wrong. The opportunity for achieving a result that is improper or wrong must be found in the definition of electoral boundaries for the convenience of persons or parties. Nobody but the Distribution Commissioners can define electoral boundaries. And they, we have no doubt, are men of probity. But in the past they have not conducted their operations during the consideration of redistribution proposals right out in the open. This is not a complaint. It is a statement of fact. This Bill will require that every step that is taken in a redistribution of electoral boundaries shall be taken right out in the open. If anyone wants to give evidence to the Commissioners, he must give it in writing. Having given it in writing, it must be published. How can there be a gerrymander - how can things be improper - if, having been done, the details have to be immediately and promptly published to the whole community? Further than that, the details being immediately and promptly published in writing, and only in writing, there is an immediate opportunity for any person in the community to submit in writing evidence to challenge and rebut the previous evidence.

Here we have for the first time imported into a procedure that is of tremendous importance to our democracy something of the character of proceedings in courts of justice, where whatever is said or done is said or done in the open and there is an opportunity to rebut it. It would be wrong for anybody to try to get at the judge in a court of justice and whisper in his ear. This Bill provides that it shall be wrong for anybody to attempt to get at a Distribution Commissioner and influence him. If ever there has been brought before the Parliament a measure that provides an iron clad guarantee against gerrymander or improper conduct, this is it. This Bill is completely clean and right. For my part, as a member of the Government that has brought it forward - and it is the Government that has brought it forward - I say that I am proud of it.

There is in this measure a provision which, I say unashamedly, I hope will operate to bring about more tolerance towards the permitting of a smaller number of electors in the gigantic, remote and difficult electorates. But, in the same provision, there are also conditions that will permit city and suburban electorates that may be demonstrated to have growing populations to have precisely the same kind of advantage. Let me illustrate by reference to a constituency held by an Opposition member. My friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), has an electorate with an enormous number of voters.

Mr Pollard:

– It has about 104,000 voters.

Mr McEWEN:

– I would have said 100,000, or something of that magnitude. Everyone knew, 10 years ago, that the number of voters in that electorate would grow. The requirement that the Distribution Commissioners shall have regard for trends in population will be of as much advantage to such a constituency as to the electorate of Bruce. This is demonstrated by political history. Let me take a contrary case. My colleague, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney), who represents the Perth seat, has a city electorate with, I think, a relatively small number of voters. The constituency of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) also has a small number of voters. If the facts of the situation can be of use by indicating that electorates such as these are about to undergo an expansion in the number of voters as a result of slum clearance, flat building or other projects, this would be a consideration that the Commissioners could properly take into account.

So, wherever one seeks in this Bill, one will find no condition that favours one party more than another. My party is composed entirely of members from the country. I wish it held all the country seats, but it does not. It merely has its share, along with the Australian Labour Party and the Liberal Party of Australia. Any considerations that tend to benefit - if that is the correct word to use - country electorates are considerations that apply with equal force to all the three parties represented in this House. This is the true state of affairs. No-one can accept this nonsense about what is described as the sacred principle of one vote one value.

Mr Pollard:

– I think the honorable gentleman is kidding to the honorable member for Bradfield.

Mr McEWEN:

– No. Let me say to the honorable member for Bradfield that one cannot apply the principle of one vote one value. What is the value of the vote of an elector with Labour sympathies in the electorate of Bradfield? It is nil, and nothing but a system of proportional representation could give it any value. What is the value of the vote of an elector with Liberal sympathies in the constituency of Melbourne Ports? It is nil, and there is no way in which one can give it electoral weight equal to that of the votes of Labour supporters in that electorate. This so called principle is a measuring stick, but it is not a religion that can be applied universally.

The parties that are represented in this House are the same parties that one finds in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. Let us have a look at the position in Queensland. In 1949 a Labour government - a government of the same political colour as honorable members opposite in this House - was in power in Queensland. It amended the Electoral Act to provide that there should be metropolitan seats which would have a quota of 10,795 electors and that there should be country seats which had a quota of 4,613.

Mr Daly:

– Where was that?

Mr McEWEN:

– This was in Queensland, under a Labour government.

Dr J F Cairns:
YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– So two wrongs make a right?

Mr McEWEN:

– No. Is it a question of two Labour parties? Is it a question of two principles? Can there be a principle sacred to democracy which is to be recognised in the Federal Parliament by Labour and which is completely unknown to Labour in the State Parliament? At the most recent election in Queensland, which I think was in 1953 under the same redistribution, one city seat had 20,823 voters and a country electorate had 4,500.

Mr Turner:

– That is shocking.

Mr McEWEN:

– But Labour did that.

Mr Turner:

– I do not care who does it.

Mr McEWEN:

– I am relating the facts and I am speaking to the principle that is alleged to be sacred. In Western Australia, under the Hawke Labour Government, the Electoral Act was amended in 1955. That amendment provided that there should be metropolitan seats with a quota of 9,369 and that there should be three seats with no quota stated. But, in the event, they turned out to have - I ask honorable members to listen to this for it should be very interesting to those in the Labour Party who regard this principle as being so sacred - a metropolitan seat with a quota of 9,369 and country seats with voters down to 1,232. I make that not a differential of 20 per cent, nor a differential of 10 per cent. On my arithmetic, I make it a 900 per cent, differential. I mention that to illustrate that there can be no notice taken of the Labour Party when it makes excited speeches about the sacred principle of one vote one value.

Mr Whitlam:

– The Minister wants to spread the rot to this House.

Mr McEWEN:

– No. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) should defend his own party on this. What I want to do is stand up, as I have always done, and say that I believe in what is in this Act. The Deputy Leader was excited about the wrongness of the departure of 20 per cent. He attaches importance to a departure of 10 per cent. I remind him that his colleagues have supported a departure of 900 per cent.

Do not let us continue the argument. Let us recognise that there is very little difference within the Federal Parliament. There are great differences inside the State parliaments, but there is very little difference within the Federal Parliament between the three parties and the sponsors of the amendment suggested by the Constitutional Review Committee. We all believe in a differential. None of us affirms the sacred principle of one vote one value. Some people believe in a 10 per cent, differential and some believe in a 20 per cent, differential. The difference is not enough to get excited about. The real thing in this Bill is that a new clarity is introduced into the provisions which will enable the Distribution Commissioners to interpret them.

A most important thing in electoral legislation is one which I do not think will ever be taken out of the statute book - it is the best thing that has ever happened in this elementary approach to democracy - is that whatever representations one wants to make to the Distribution Commissioners must be made in writing and that those representations shall be published. When they are published, the law provides that any other citizen wishing the opportunity to submit rebutting evidence may do so, and that evidence shall be published. It also provides that no person and no organisation shall, without breaking the law, attempt secretly to influence the Distribution Commissioners.

Mr. L. R. JOHNSON (Hughes) (5.10].- In the words of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) the House has never heard the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) make a worse speech. Never has he appeared so self-conscious. Never has he appeared to be so self-righteous. Never has he demonstrated such a degree of false indignation. He has obviously failed in his pathetic attempt at plausibility. He cannot deny that his own Australian Country Party Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) when addressing a Country Party dinner in his electorate stressed that Australia needed territorial representation for balanced development.

The essence of the problem being discussed at the present time is whether we are to have electoral divisions which have regard to territory or whether we are to have divisions which have regard to people. The Deputy Prime Minister has endeavoured to claim that the Country Party is not at variance with the Liberal Party or the Labour Party so far as these matters are concerned. He has manifested a remarkable interest - a renewed interest - in the situation.

When all is said and done, this matter goes away back to the 22nd February 1962. My colleague, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) reminds me that when the then Minister for the Interior, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) advised the House, as required by the Representation Act, that he would produce certain figures to show that the number of members of Parliament should be decreased by 2 to 120, there was no reaction from the Leader of the Country Party. Apparently, at that time the Country Party was content to let this development take place without any protest. Apparently it thought that the two seats to be eliminated were Labour held seats. As I have said, there was no opposition from the Country Party on that occasion; nor was there any opposition from the Liberal Party or any other member of this Parliament.

By 10th April 1962 as is routine under the legislation, the Minister had appointed redistribution commissioners. Each of them was an independent, reputable and capable man, as everybody will concede. There was no opposition about this transitional process, not even from the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party. In other words, the commissioners were unanimously appointed by this Parliament. On 4th October 1962, the Minister presented to Parliament the report of the redistribution commissioners and when this report came down, the Country Party suddenly sprang to life.

Mr Daly:

– It found some principles.

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– It suddenly found some principles because it was indicated that the seats to be eliminated - one in New South Wales and one in Western Australia - were held by the Country Party. From that time on, we have had further endeavours on the part of the Country Party to obtain a gerrymander. The Opposition has proposed on this occasion that the amendment of the law relating to the distribution of a State into electoral divisions should be deferred until the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review with respect to this matter have been submitted to the people for their approval. It seems to me that the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party is not only intent on defying the will of the people about this matter but is also intent on defying the will of the Country Party representatives on the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. They were parties to unanimous recommendations made by the Committee. But the spirit of the legislation that is now before the House is at complete variance with the recommendations made by the Committee.

What is the real position? Why is this legislation being rushed through now, in the dying hours of this sessional period? Why could it not wait until some more reasonable time in the parliamentary programme? The clear fact of the matter, of course, is that the composition of the Senate is about to change. This Government is intent on defying the will of the people as expressed through the Senate. After the end of June this year there will be 27 Australian Labour Party senators, 2 Democratic Labour Party senators and 1 independent senator, making a total of 30 senators on one side of the Senate; and there will be 30 Liberal Party and Country Party senators on the other side of the Senate. If this gerrymander is not approved by the passage of this legislation in the dying hours of this sessional period, it is quite likely that it will never be approved. As I said, the will of the people is being defied and denied.

Let me remind the Minister for the Interior, who is at the table, and the Deputy Prime Minister, who has fled the chamber in apparent embarrassment, that there has been only one previous election on issues of this type. That election was held in Victoria in 1952. I quote the following from an article in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 8th December 1952 - the heading of which indicates the result of that election -

LABOR WINS BY RECORD MAJORITY.

Twelve Seats Gained in Seven Per Cent. Swing.

Labor has been returned as the Government in the Legislative Assembly election with the largest majority in its history.

Twelve certain seats - four metropolitan and eight country - have been won, mainly from the Liberal and Country party, to make Labor the largest party with 36 seats in the new House. . . .

The election having been fought mainly on electoral reform, the question now being asked is: “ How soon will Labor submit the redistribution scheme to Parliament? “.

Dr. Evatt, in his role of Leader of the Federal Opposition, was called upon to comment on the result of the election. He said -

They successfully overcame violent opposition from the Norman-McDonald coalition, whose object was to keep the electorates so distributed that the Labor party would be kept in permanent opposition.

So, I say of honorable members opposite, particularly those who sit in hillbilly corner, as it is called, in the words of a contemporary folk song: “ When will they ever learn? “. I believe that they attribute to the people of Australia far less intelligence than the people have. There is a day of reckoning coming as a consequence of this disgraceful gerrymander. Never before has any government been as subject to such a discredited cause and to the pressure of such a disgruntled minority as this Government has been in regard to this Bill. The Liberal Party appears to be cowering from the Country Party threat to withdraw its sup port. Of course, the Country Party has the whip hand in this situation.

The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is in a great dilemma. One of the issues involved in this matter is the succession to the Prime Ministership. Who will be Prime Minister when the present Prime Minister resigns from this Parliament? It appears to me that he is prepared to sacrifice principles for expediency. In the leadership struggle the Prime Minister is backing the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). He hopes that the Treasurer will succeed him as Prime Minister. But this is a coalition government, and if the Country Party resists the Treasurer’s prospects founder. If the Country Party becomes too upset about things this Government is finished. That is the real issue today. The Country Party is able to call the tune at the present time. Members of the Liberal Party, with the exception of the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and Bradfield (Mr. Turner), have capitulated in no uncertain manner.

Mr Robinson:

– Who wrote this for the honorable member?

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– The principle of one man one vote is now to be abandoned. But the honorable member lor Cowper can do nothing but smirk about such a violent encroachment on the democratic traditions of this country. I hope I am entitled to the same protection as the previous speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party, received. Anyway, I can cope . with interjections by the honorable member for Cowper, even without protection.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Hughes that he refrain from reflecting on the Chair.

Mr Reynolds:

– Is there a member of the Country Party in the Chair?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order! The honorable member for Barton will remain silent.

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– We talk a great deal about the difference between the Australian way of life and those of other countries. If we start to deny the principle of one vote one value, which is a basic element of democracy, we will wonder whether there is any great difference between the regime in Indonesia and the regime here in Australia.

What is the problem with which we are confronted? Apparently it is contended that problems arise if there are two electorates, one of which is a city electorate with 50,000 voters and the other o* which is a country electorate with 50,000 voters. What kind of problems are they? If they are transport problems - for example, if the country representative has some disability in travelling from one part of his electorate to another - rather than depreciate the value of the city vote and appreciate the value of the country vote, would it not be better to consider the transport problems? Is it not possible to provide transport assistance to members who suffer from this type of electorate disability? A car service could be provided by the Commonwealth to meet such disabilities. I have never heard members of th« Country Parly propose practical ways of overcoming their problems.

If there is a remarkable variety of work as a result of the complex and varied nature of electorates represented by members of the Country party - there may be an industry in one part of an electorate and various types of rural activity in other parts of the electorate - cannot such a problem be overcome by providing additional secretarial and research help? I believe that if the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) were at all fair dinkum about this matter, that is a solution that he would propose in order to overcome the problem.

If members representing country electorates are staying at hotels more often in the course of visiting the various parts of their electorates, is not the answer to that problem the provision of differential allowances? Why has not such a proposal emanated from the Country Party? If extra mail is involved, can we not overcome that problem by giving differential mail allowances or providing stamp allowances for the members concerned? I believe that those are the kinds of things that represent the real answers to these problems. The last resort is to change the value of the vote so that where the quota is 50,000 electors, 40,000 electors can have a Country Party member and 60,000 electors can have a Liberal or Labour member - there being the 20 per cent, margin over or under the quota, as provided in this Bill. The ratio is 2:3. It is said that two-thirds of the country man’s vote is equal to one city man’s vote; that two-thirds of the country factory or office worker’s vote is equal to one city factory or office worker’s vote. Of course, such a proposition is too ridiculous to entertain.

I say this of members of the Country Party: Some day they may have a precise responsibility in this matter. Mention has been made of ex-Governor Warren, who is now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Once he spoke as a politician with a degree of irresponsibility, such as is apparent in the words that have come out of the mouths of the honorable member for Cowper and other members of the Country Party. Subsequently he had the responsibility of speaking as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As an irresponsible parliamentarian - perhaps not “ irresponsible “, but as a politician at least - and as the Governor of the State of California he said -

The agricultural counties of California are far more important in the life of our State than the relationship their population bears to the entire population of the State. It is for this reason that I never have been in favour of restricting their representation in our State Senate to a strictly population basis. It is the same reason that the founding fathers of our country gave balanced representation to the States of the Union, equal representation in one House and proportionate reppresentation based upon population in the other.

This, of course, seems to support the attitude of members of the Country Party. I am pleased to say that when Governor Warren subsequently became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court he completely changed his tune. He then said -

Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farmers or cities or economic interests. As long as ours is a representative form of government, and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly representative of the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is a bedrock of our political system.

He went on -

Logically, in a society ostensibly grounded on representative government, it would seem reasonable that a majority of the people of a State could elect a majority of that State’s legislators. To conclude differently and to sanction minority control of State legislative bodies, would appear to deny majority rights in a way that far surpasses any possible denial of minority rights that might otherwise be thought to result. Since legislatures are responsible for enacting laws by which all citizens are to be governed, they should be bodies which are collectively responsible to the popular will. Our constitutional system amply provides for the protection of minorities by means other than giving them a majority control of state legislatures.

To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. The fact that an individual lives here or there is not a legitimate reason for overweighing or diluting the efficacy of his vote. The complexions of societies and civilizations change, often with amazing rapidity. A nation once primarily rural in character becomes predominantly urban. Representation schemes once fair and equitable become archaic and outdated. But the basic principle of representative government remains, and must remain, unchanged - the weight of a citizen’s vote cannot be made to depend on where he lives.

This is what the Labour Party stands for. This was said by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. I am pleased to note that some of the sentiments he expressed have been echoed by members of the Opposition as well as certain Liberal Party members. What is the criteria that the Country Party is trying to get at in respect of this legislation? The fact is, of course, that a city member can have a greater call on his time than a Country Party member. The constituent problem is often greater in a limited area than it is in a wider area. A city M.P. can be a target for a tremendous barrage of problems about social services, age and invalid pensions, unemployment benefits, sickness benefits, war service homes and so forth. Often a country member is protected by the diversity of his constituents and frequently a country electorate comprised of desert, scrub and bushland does not offer a great problem, simply because it has a large area taken up by desert, scrub and bushland. Not every square foot of every electorate is, in fact, represented. I know that in my own electorate of Hughes, which is designated a country electorate and which includes some of the southern suburbs of Sydney, is the great Royal National Park. While it employs a caretaker and a couple of rangers, and is a vast area, it does not present any great representation problem to me, any more than the deserts of South Australia present a great problem to the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer) or the isolated areas in his electorate create great problems for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard).

My electorate contains 75,470 voters, and no honorable member has a greater call on his time, because I give all my time, as do many honorable members on both sides, to my constituents. My electorate includes 25 party branches, 13 surf life saving clubs, 15 Returned Servicemen’s League sub-branches, 12 pensioner organisations and 9 high schools. How about proposing some additional assistance for people in circumstances such as mine? My electorate contains a high incidence of non-enrolled new Australians as do many other city electorates. It is enjoying a rapid rate of development and it has a prolific birth rate. A large number of adolescent people - teenagers - have their problems presented by me to this Parliament, including problems of scholarships and so forth. Are these factors to be completely discounted because of the whims of the disgruntled Country Party? How absurd. We will not stand for that and we never intend to. It is a complete and utter myth that the Country Party is the countryman’s party. When we look at the Country Party benches we see few persons who have a real affinity with country people’s problems. Earlier in the day the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) mentioned that the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) does not occupy an office in the Macarthur electorate. The same comments apply to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Allan). He is supposed to have tremendous problems in his electorate. That being so one would think that he would do what I and most of my colleagues do - have an office in the heart of the electorate. The fact is, his office is in the heart of Martin Place, Sydney - on the 7th or 8th floor of the Commonwealth Bank Building. If I am not mistaken the same thing applies to the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson).

Mr Robinson:

– The honorable member should check his facts.

Mr L R JOHNSON:

– I understand the honorable member has his office in Sydney. What about the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw)? Where is his office? It is in the heart of Sydney. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) represents the far flung electorate of New England, and until he was appointed to his position he occupied an office in Martin Place, Sydney. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who has this great problem pressing so heavily upon his shoulders and whose career is at stake - according to a speech he made for the Country Party in his own electorate - until his ministerial appointment had an office, and I think he still has, in Sydney. I know that it is no longer in the Commonwealth Bank Building. I believe it has been moved to some nearby building. Senator McKellar, a Country Party senator in another place, and Minister for Repatriation, has his office in the heart of Sydney. Yes, he loves the luxuries of Sydney and does not appear to be terribly hard pressed. I know that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), who is the honorable member for Mcpherson and a Country Party member has his office in Brisbane. One of my colleagues has just handed me a piece of paper which indicates that the leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) has his office in St. Kilda, Victoria.

There we are. The Country Party members are now interjecting. What real association do they have with country problems? I think of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten). He is a storekeeper, or was before he came here. The honorable member for Mcpherson is a race horse owner; the honorable member for Dawson was a mill manager; the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) was a Melbourne Cup starter and probably something else; the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) was a parson; the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) was an auctioneer, stock and station agent and hire purchase agent; and the honorable member for Gwydir was a radio disc jockey. No wonder we are able to get a great deal of loquaciousness from Country Party members. In their verbose manner they have been able to put it all over the Liberals. The auctioneers, disc jockeys and hire purchase agents all working and conniving together have, by what amounts virtually to a confidence trick, sought to put this legislation through. The price of the coalition government is indeed high. At one time we had a Liberal Minister for the Interior, but alas he has had his day. He was replaced by a Country Party Minister. It is interesting to recall the friction that developed between the Government parties over the redistribution proposals of the former Minister for the Interior. A letter appeared in the “Farmers’ Weekly” of 1st August 1963, signed “ Gordon Freeth, Minister for the Interior and Works “. The letter read -

If Mr. ‘ McEwen disagrees with what Cabinet decides, or has decided, and wants to express disagreement, there is only one course open to him, as he accepted in the case of Mr. Bury; namely resign. If he, or any other Minister, discusses outside Cabinet the details of proposals before Cabinet, then this is a flagrant breach’ of all principles of Cabinet responsibility and, again, he has only one course - to resign.

If he, or anyone else, tells or publicly speculates about individual ministerial opinions expressed around the Cabinet table, again he is talking so much out of turn that he should resign.

No wonder he is no longer Minister for the Interior. All this dissension developed as a consequence of the Liberal Party’s initial proposals to redistribute electoral boundaries. The sequel to the letter I have just read appeared in later newspaper articles. The following newspaper article appeared on 9th November 1963 -

The Minister for the Interior, Mr. G. Freeth, a Liberal, said today an election nomination by a Western Australian Country Party executive member must leave the Country Party suspect of some fairly doubtful tactics.

He was commenting on the nomination today of Mr. F. J. Oates as an independent Country Party candidate for the House of Representatives seat of Forrest, which Mr. Freeth holds.

Numerous other newspaper references are available to demonstrate the degree of friction that developed. As a result of these things the Country Party said: “ We demand our own Country Party Minister for the Interior because we have seen what happened before. Two Country Party seats were to be eliminated. We demand to handle these matters ourselves.” As a result, the then Liberal Minister for the Interior was demoted. Now sitting at the table is the present Minister for the Interior, a Country Party member.

I do not think I have time to deal with many of the matters referred to by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). It is clear, however, that whereas under the existing Act there was provision for a 20 per cent, differential to be exploited in certain unusual and exceptional circumstances, the Government has now decreed that other things must take place. There is no longer to be an alternative. The Distribution Commissioners will now have an obligation whereas formerly they had an option. So, throughout the length and breadth of the land we will see electorates held by Country Party members gaining distinct advantages over other electorates. All this is at complete variance with the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, which said -

The Committee feels constrained to say, however, that the one-fifth margin on either side of the quota for a State which the Act allows may disturb quite seriously a principle which the Committee believes to be beyond question in the election of members of the National Parliament of a Federation, namely that the votes of the electors should, as far as possible, be accorded equal value. The full application of the margin each way to two divisions in a State could result in the number of electors in one division totalling SO per cent, more than the number of electors in the other division. Such a possible disparity in the value of votes is inconsistent with the full realisation of democracy.

Does the Minister for the Interior realise that the former honorable member for Canning, a Country Party member, was a signatory to that proposal? Does he realise that another Country Party representative - the highly respected former honorable member for New England, Mr. David Drummond - also was a signatory to the proposal I have just read? In relation to this Bill, the Country Party is virtually thumbing its nose at its officially elected representatives on the Constitutional Review Committee. It is apparent that expediency has resulted in this deterioration of attitude on the part of a once proud party which, in my view, has sunk to the depths of degradation in the pollution of our electoral provisions. I am more than gratified to see that some honorable members opposite join with the Opposition in saying that our present electoral laws are one of the things which we in this country hold dear. They have developed from British traditions which Captain Cook brought to this country 195 years ago, but they are now being denied.

Mr SPEAKER:

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

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– in reply - In the course of this debate we have had proposals and counter proposals. The Opposition has accused the Government of acting unfairly in some directions. Some honorable members have made personal attacks on other honorable members. But there is one underlying principle which we all support. That is that our electoral system and the redistribution of electoral boundaries should be fair and the integrity of distribution commissioners should be beyond reproach.

The purpose of the Bill is to tighten up the law so that there cannot be any malpractices in the way redistributions are carried out or in the general administration of elections. We know that the Commonwealth has a remarkable record for the way in which elections have been conducted and the way in which redistributions have been performed. That reputation is an excellent one, irrespective of which political party has been in power. Professor Geoffrey Sawer once said -

Australians have a reputation in the world as advanced and even aggressive democrats. Indeed, they have been pioneers in the use of such democratic measures as the secret ballot, universal suffrage, votes for women, payment of members of Parliament and compulsory voting.

Mr Cross:

– Almost all of those things are to the credit of the Labour Party.

Mr ANTHONY:

– No, very few of them. Three essential prerequisites are required if democracy is to work. First, there must be a general franchise so that all people of mature age may have a vote. Secondly, there must be electoral machinery that is fair and which cannot be manipulated in the interests of one party or any one individual. Thirdly, there has to be a spirit in the community which respects the institution and the system and which uses its vote intelligently. Unless there are those three qualifications, democracy does not work successfully. It is the intention of this Government to see that the spirit of the community respects this institution, and the electoral reforms and electoral methods of this country. It is my responsibility to see that this is done.

What we have proposed in this Bill has not been done secretly. The provisions embodied in the Bill have not been brought in quickly. In his policy speech in 1963 the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) clearly stated to the people of Australia what would be done in this legislation. He used almost the exact words of the proposed amendment to the Act. The people of Australia gave the Government a mandate to go ahead with this legislation. There was no opposition from the Labour Party to the Prime Minister’s statement, nor was there any opposition when the Government’s policy was announced by the GovernorGeneral in opening the Parliament. Everything we have done has been open. The whole purpose of tightening up the law is to make sure that everybody else knows what the other party is doing and that there will not be malpractice.

Australia has a mighty proud record in electoral reform. We are probably the most democratic country in the world. Daily, people come from overseas to study our electoral methods. We have been asked to send some of our electoral officers to other countries to try to improve their systems. The very first thing that is taught to students of government throughout the world is that the Australian system of voting is needed. Our system is a secret vote on a ballot paper. Australia was the first country to introduce this system. It was introduced in Victoria in 1856. There may previously have been other forms of secret voting, but probably they were similar to those used by the Romans and the Greeks, when the electors placed pebbles in urns. Voting in Great Britain was always under the scrutiny of the landlord. Australia introduced this electoral reform, just as it introduced many other such reforms.

We gave the vote to women. We were the third country in the world to do this. We were beaten by only months by New Zealand and Finland. We were the first country to use the preferential system of voting, and nothing is fairer than that system. It has been adopted now by every State. I know that many Opposition .members believe in the system of first past the post, but if they believe in one vote one value, they cannot believe also in the system of first past the post. A candidate can have fewer than the majority of votes but still be elected as the representative of the people. We were again the first country to use proportional representation. We used this system in the Senate elections. Other countries had not used it until Australia adopted it. We were the first British country - I am not sure whether we were the first country in the world - to adopt compulsory voting, and we are still one of the few countries to have compulsory voting. The only other Commonwealth country that has compulsory voting today is Singapore, but quite a few European countries have introduced compulsory voting in more recent years.

It is also interesting to note that we were the first country in the world to have permanent and continuous electoral rolls. The accuracy of electoral rolls is the best basis of successful elections. In addition, we were the first country to employ permanent electoral officers in permanent offices.

Mr Stewart:

– Why is the Minister ruling out-

Mr ANTHONY:

– I am trying to point out to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) that this country has a wonderful record. I certainly will not see it altered in any way. This Bill does not alter anything that has existed in Australia for the past 60 years. When the previous Bill relating to electoral redistribution was before the House, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) moved an amendment. The second part of it was that the House - points out that the commissioners were not authorised by section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to give consideration to possible movements in population;

Is it right to include that factor? Of course it is. The Commissioners have always considered it and they have always considered area. This factor has always been taken into account with Kalgoorlie and other gigantic electorates. The Commonwealth Electoral Act does not say that area and density or sparsity of population should be considered. But these factors have been considered. All we are doing now is to include them in the legislation so that the Commissioners will be able to act in the proper way.

The other part of the Bill, which sets out clearly the procedure which must be followed by the Commissioners when they engage in a redistribution of electorates, has been needed for many years, and I think most honorable members will concede that that is so. It is another very good reform and I doubt whether any other country has such an honest, open method of carrying out a redistribution as we are now proposing. Under our suggestion, every political party can present proposals, we will know what they are and every other political party will have a chance to rebut or counter them. All the evidence given to the Commissioners will be laid on the table of this House. Nobody will be able to go through the back door and secretly or privately try to influence the Commissioners by speech or in writing. While I hold this portfolio, every redistribution will be absolutely honest and above board. I have been associated with this Parliament for a good many years. I first became associated with it when I was a child and 1 am proud of the institution. If there is one way to smear it, it is to interfere with electoral methods and the redistribution of boundaries.

Mr Bryant:

– That is what the Government is doing.

Mr ANTHONY:

– We are not doing that and no Opposition member can genuinely say that we are. Every State has had more significant electoral anomalies than w; have. When Opposition members speak about one vote one value, what do they mean? Do they mean a perfect electoral roll? That is about all they can mean. It is impossible to adopt one vote one value accurately, because the levels of population in the electorates are changing all the time. In fact, population changes must be taken into consideration. A margin of 10 per cent, is not sufficient to allow for movements of population The Supreme Court of the United States of America has suggested that the minimum norm or, I think, the bench mark, should be 15 per cent. The Court ordered a redistribution in Georgia because of racial discrimination. When the redistribution was carried out the variation between the highest and the lowest electorate was 38 per cent. That distribution was done at the direction of the Supreme Court, and that is what it considered was meant by one vote one value. Its interpretation of the principle is that it should be as near as practicable to one vote one value, and we are not deviating from that principle.

If Opposition members want to argue about one vote one value, they should say what they mean. Do they mean the value of representation? It is pretty hard for a member with an electorate of the size of Kalgoorlie to give the same value of representation to his people as the representative of a compact electorate does. These are disabilities that honorable members must meet and these are disabilities that have always been accepted by the Parliament, irrespective of the party that has carried out the redistribution. They are disabilities that we want to write into the Act to make quite clear to the Commissioners what they should take into consideration. Every country electorate will not be over 10 per cent., but we must make allowance for the gigantic electorates. Every political party has accepted that they should have a variation of some 13, 17 or 18 per cent. What is the good of not allowing for trends of population? If we do not, within a couple of years, the Chief Electoral Officer of the State will find that he must inform the Governor-General that a new redistribution should be carried out because more than a quarter of the electorates within the State are more than one-tenth above or one-tenth below the quota. This variation would arise in only a year or so in some of the rapidly growing electorates. A margin of 20 per cent, makes some allowance for this movement.

I am not here to canvass all the arguments that have been put before the House. I am here to say quite openly that any suggestion that this Bill will lead to malpractice or that it is not above board is false. The Australian Labour Party has not produced any evidence to support this suggestion. All we are doing is to make the factors clear to the Commissioners that they must take into consideration when they are varying the quota up or down. Mr. Speaker, I again commend the Bill to honorable members and I reject the amendment proposed by the Opposition.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 56

NOES: 39

Majority 17

Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.

AYES

NOES

Question put -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker -Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 53

NOES: 38

Majority . . . . 15

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.

In Committee.

Clause 1 (Short title and citation).

Motion (by Mr. Anthony) proposed -

That the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

-Order! I remind the Leader of the Opposition that when the question that the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again has been moved there shall be no debate on it.

Mr Calwell:

-May I say that the Opposition will divide the Committee on the matter?

Question put. The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 54

NOES: 38

Majority .. .. 16

AYES

NOES

In Division.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Progress reported.

Question put -

That the House will at a later hour this day again resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 55

NOES: 38

Majority . . . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

page 2044

REFERENDUM (CONSTITUTIONAL ALTERATION) BILL 1965

Second Reading

Consideration resumed from12th May (vide page 1433), on motion by Mr. Anthony -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr. Anthony) read a third time.

page 2044

BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE

The following Bills were returned from the Senate -

Without requests -

Butter Fat Levy Bill 1965.

Without amendment -

Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1965.

Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1965.

Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill 1965.

Dairy Produce Export Charge Repeal Bill 1965.

Dairy Produce Levy Repeal Bill 1965.

Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill 1965.

Pyrites Bounty Bill 1965.

Broadcasting and Television Bill 1965.

Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1965.

page 2044

RADIO PHYSICS LABORATORY AT EPPING, NEW SOUTH WALES

Approval of Work - Public Works Committee Act

Mr FREETH:
Minister for Shipping and Transport · Forrest · LP

– by leave - I move -

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House: - Construction of Radio Physics Laboratory for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation at Epping, New South Wales.

The proposal involves the erection, at an estimated cost of £800,000, of a main building complex supplemented by a boiler house and plant room, a workshop and garage and a caretaker’s cottage. The main building, which has been designed around a central courtyard, will consist of a two- storey administrative wing, with singlestorey associated wings housing laboratories. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal and, upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning for the work can proceed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2044

DEFENCE BILL 1965

Second Reading

Debate resumed from13th May (vide page 1539), on motion by Dr. Forbes -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There being no objection, that course will be followed.

Mr GALVIN:
Kingston

.- Mr. Speaker, in introducing the Defence Bill the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) mentioned that there were three other associated Bills, the Naval Defence Bill, the Air Force Bill and the National Service Bill, which cover related matter. All four Bills have been introduced and are being debated together. My comments are common to all four Bills. The Bills have a common purpose and the Opposition has a common objection to all four.

There is a common denominator to all four Bills in that they are machinery designed for overseas conscription. The Defence Bill consists of 12 pages containing 25 clauses. The Opposition is not opposed to many of those clauses but some of them are very extensive and far-reaching. They introduce measures in peace-time never before contemplated in this nation. It is clause 16 of the Defence Bill to which the Opposition is strongly opposed. This clause repeals section 50c of the Principal Act and opens the door for overseas conscription of any persons called up for service in time of war.

At the present time all the defence forces of Australia, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Regular Reserves, the Citizen Military Forces and even national service trainees are liable for overseas service. This Defence Bill we are debating provides the roping-in clause for the last source of manpower available to the nation in time of war. The words “ time of war “ are important and later in my speech I will deal with the definition of that phrase.

This Bill also makes provision for national service trainees to be included in the Regular Army Supplement and the Regular Army Reserve. Although the National Service Act provides the means for national service trainees to be conscripted for overseas service the amendments in this Bill tie up the last requirement and make the position crystal clear - that is, if there ever was any doubt about national service trainees being liable to serve overseas.

Honorable members will recall that when the National Service Bill was passed last November, Government supporters resented the suggestion that that legislation could and would be used to send trainees to South East Asia. But, of course, at that time, there was a Senate election looming and the Government dodged making any declaration on that matter. A few weeks ago the Minister for the Army, in reply to a question asked in this House, made it clear that trainees could be sent to South East Asia and this Defence Bill confirms it. Proposed new section 50c provides that all persons called up under Part IV of the Act may, in time of war, be directed to serve overseas. Under the Act as it stands, those people could not be posted overseas unless they volunteered for such service. As I stated previously, Part IV only applies in time of war. The words “ time of war “ and “ war “ are defined in the Defence Act as follows - “ Time of War “-Means any time during which a state of war actually exists, and includes the time between the issue of a proclamation of the existence of war or of danger thereof and the issue of a proclamation declaring that the war or danger thereof, declared in the prior proclamation, no longer exists. “ War “ - Means any invasion or apprehended invasion of, or attack or apprehended attack on, the Commonwealth or any Territory under the control of the Commonwealth by an enemy or armed force.

Part IV of the Act does not operate until a time of war exists. A time of war does not exist until a proclamation is made, and then a further proclamation is made calling up the persons set out in Part IV. When such a proclamation is made Parliament, if it is not sitting, must be called together within 10 days. It is reasonable to assume that if a state of war existed Parliament would meet within two or three days of such a declaration and not wait for a period of 10 days. Before a proclamation of a time of war is made no action can be taken under Part IV.

What then is the purpose of the Bill we are dealing with? What does it achieve? I suggest that this Bill is plain window dressing. Is it the intention of the Government, should a state of war exist, immediately to call up for service the people listed under Part IV? Surely our defence position is not so bad that our last reserve would have to report for service immediately upon the declaration of war. In time of war our regular forces, including the national service trainees, will have been called up and committed. Are our defences so negligible that we would not be able to wait 10 days, which would be the maximum time we would have to wait for Parliament to be called together, in order to give authority for such a general call-up? In the few days that would elapse between the proclamation of a time of war and the time Parliament would meet nothing would be gained through action under Part IV. Not even a register could be made out. Persons who can be called up under Part IV are as follows -

Class I. - Persons of the age of eighteen years and upwards, but under thirty-five years, who are unmarried or are widowers without children;

Class H. - Persons of the age of thirty-five years and upwards but under forty-five years, who are unmarried or are widowers without children;

Class III. - Persons of the age of eighteen years and upwards but under thirtyfive years, who are married or are widowers with children;

Class IV. - Persons of the age of thirty-five years and upwards, but under fortyfive years, who are married or are widowers with children; and

Class V. - Persons of the age of forty-five years and upwards, but under sixty years.

Those people are the last source of manpower available to the country in time of war. As I said earlier, no call-up of those people could take place before a declaration of war. Not even registration could take place.

This is a very suspicious piece of legislation and Parliament should have more information before agreeing to it. Last October the Defence Act was amended and at that time - only seven months ago - there was no suggestion that there was any need for legislation such as we now have before us. What has happened, then? Is the situation in South East Asia more serious than we have been told? Does the Government believe that we are close to war? Why has it sought such a drastic change in our defence policy? So far, no case has been presented to establish the reasons why.

Provision is to be made in the Defence Bill also for national service trainees to be drafted into the Regular Army Supplement. They may, and undoubtedly will, be sent to Malaysia, Vietnam or some other overseas trouble spot to serve with the Regular Army. It is to be hoped that the inclusion of national service trainees in the Regular Army Supplement will be achieved on a basis of good relations. Honorable members will recall that when the militia was called up during the last war, the term “ choco “ was often used in a rather insulting manner and, unfortunately, brawls frequently resulted. That situation did not last, of course. It was not long before the mateship that is part of the Australian character came to the top and the expression, instead of being regarded as insulting, was treated as a symbol of comradeship. However, let us learn from the mistakes of the past. It is to be hoped that the Minister for the Army, through his officers, will ensure that no elements of our regular forces exhibit any hostility towards national service trainees when they join the Regular Army Supplement, and that Regular Army officers are instructed not to bring pressure to bear on these trainees to induce them to transfer to the regular forces. In the last war, this kind of pressure was often responsible, to some degree, for the bad feeling that existed between the militia and the Australian Imperial Force.

The Defence Bill will also repeal Part XII of the principal Act, which provides for the protection of the rights of members of the citizen forces and Reserves in relation to civil employment. As comprehensive legislation replacing this Part has now been passed by the Parliament, the Opposition offers no objection to the repeal of this Part of the principal Act. However, when this Bill was presented by the Minister for the Army, we were concerned because we believed that we were being asked to repeal a Part of the Defence Act affording this protection, without the comprehensive measure replacing that Part being already before the Parliament. But the Government has since acted and the relevant legislation has been passed. Therefore, we are satisfied that the Part of the Defence Act to be repealed by this Bill has been adequately replaced.

The Defence Bill will also permit intoxicating liquor to be made available to national service trainees in military establishments. The Opposition does not oppose this proposal. The Minister has pointed out that in New South Wales and Victoria, where most national servicemen will be trained, the State liquor laws already permit men of 18 to buy and consume liquor. As most national service trainees will be in their 21st year at least, no good purpose would be served by the prohibition of liquor. However, the Opposition suggests that the Government consider amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act to give national service trainees the right to vote. If they are considered old enough to drink intoxicating liquor and to serve, light and perhaps die for this country, they should be regarded as old enough to vote for the election of members of the Parliament. We ask the Minister and the Government to consider amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act to provide that these young men, who are to be sent perhaps to fight and even to die for their country, shall have the right to vote.

My colleague, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), will deal with that provision in the Bill relating to the exemption of Aborigines from call-up. We on this side of the House are concerned because we consider that this provision may be offensive to some aborigines and may also be interpreted overseas in a manner that will cast some adverse reflection on Australia. The honorable member for Wills, who, as every honorable member knows, is Senior VicePresident of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, is well fitted to speak on this matter. He will place before honorable members the views of some Aborigines whom he knows and of the Opposition. He will express our concern about this provision in the Bill.

The Opposition will vote against giving these Bills a second reading, because we do not believe that the Government has made out a case for including in the Defence Act at this time - a time of peace - provision to enable it to send conscripted persons overseas. In the last 18 months, the Menzies Government has taken significant actions on defence. On each occasion, the time appeared much more appropriate for the consideration of matters other than defence. In 1963, on the eve of the House of Representatives general election, the Government sprang into action to purchase aircraft to replace the obsolete Canberra bombers. After years of Opposition pressure, when the Government was faced with the fear of electoral defeat, a miracle happened. The Administration suddenly realised how dangerous it was not to have aircraft to replace the Canberras. Because it was election time, the Government issued grave warnings to the people and ordered replacement bombers. But, of course, they are still on order. We are still without any interim replacement for the obsolete Canberras.

Again, in 1964, on the eve of the Senate election, the Government became concerned about our defences and a national service measure was introduced. More recently, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) rushed off to the United States of America to plead for greater consideration for Australia. He claimed that the balance of payments programme of the United States Administration would dangerously weaken Australia’s economic position. On the eve of his departure for Washington, he said that he would make his appeal for special consideration because there was, on the part of the United States, a proper recognition that Australia does its part in defence. He said he would make his appeal on behalf of Australia as a trading partner, a customer and an ally of the United States.

Then came the dramatic announcement by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that Australia would send 800 men to South Vietnam. No wonder some people uttered cries of “ Diggers for dollars “ and “ Bodies for bullion “. In spite of the denials by

Government spokesmen that defence would play a part in the Treasurer’s application to the United States for relief when he went to Washington, who was it who first suggested that this would be the case? It was none other than the Treasurer himself. Addressing a conference of the Liberal Party of Australia, he stated that he believed he would be able to get special consideration because, on the part of the Americans, there was a recognition that Australia does its part in defence. The announcement that we would send 800 men to fight in South Vietnam, it was thought, would probably help him in his appeal. The right honorable gentleman, on his return to Australia, stated that he believed Australia would receive consideration, but he issued a further warning that it would be a mistake to believe that all our troubles were over.

This, again, produced action. The Government introduced the defence legislation now before us. Without any worthwhile explanation, it expects this House and the nation to accept without question the radical departure from established defence policy that these measures represent. The Government has never taken the people into its confidence in defence matters. Is this because it never knows what it intends to do next? Let me remind honorable members of some statements made by the Minister for the Army about national service training less than seven months ago. Addressing the National Congress of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Hobart on 26th October last, he said -

I could perhaps say, however, that we have not introduced conscription up to this point in time because our military advisers have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face.

He went on to say -

I stress that this is military advice.

Later in the same speech, he said -

Many people seem to be of the opinion that conscription would solve all our problems. I think I have said enough already to indicate clearly and unmistakably that it would not. The need for long term regulars, of people prepared to make the Army a career, would be greater, not smaller, if conscription were introduced. Unless the proportion of long term regulars to conscripts is high enough, the Army could be rendered largely ineffective.

Mr Cope:

– Who said that?

Mr GALVIN:

– It was said, not seven months ago, by the Minister for the Army, who presented the Defence Bill to this House. In August last year, during the Budget sessional period of this Parliament, he said much the same thing. In both August and October last year, obviously speaking for the Government, he voiced his opposition to national service training. Yet, two weeks after he made his speech in Hobart, the Prime Minister announced that the Government intended to introduce national service training. Is it any wonder that voluntary enlistment lags and that the young people of Australia doubt the sincerity of this Government in defence matters? How can it be otherwise? If the defence position is so grave that national service trainees have to be sent to South East Asia and provision made for such drastic changes as are included in this Bill, why is it that we are trading with a country which this Government says is our enemy? Why, as late as last Saturday the Prime Minister announced in Melbourne that Communist China was the country responsible for all the aggression in South East Asia and all the trouble in Vietnam and that it was the greatest enemy of Australia. Yet we are trading with Communist China.

I concede that Communist China has supported in many ways the aggression in South East Asia, and no doubt will continue to do so, but reports indicate that conditions in Vietnam under the South Vietnamese Government and the United States Forces are now better than they have been for some time. If the Government sees Communist China as a threat and if it is sincere in saying that Communist China is responsible for the aggression in South East Asia, will the Government say why it sells Australian wheat to China to feed Red Chinese soldiers? Why do we sell our wool to China to provide uniforms to keep the potential enemy warm? Why do we continue to sell lead, steel and other things which could be used to aid and equip an army in the field?

The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said in this Parliament a few days ago that his Department did not negotiate the deal. But his Department authorises the sale and export of these goods to Communist China. The people are entitled to know whether the

Government is really truthful when it says that Communist China is an enemy. If it believes that Communist China is an enemy, then the people of Australia are entitled to know why the Government is selling to Communist China such things as could be used to equip her army. In cold fact, it amounts to equipping the enemy perhaps to kill Australian troops in Vietnam.

Let me make the position perfectly clear. We have never said we are opposed to trade with China but we do say that if the Government is sincere when it says that Communist China is an enemy and that Communist China is behind the aggressive forces in Vietnam then the Government has a good deal of explaining to do as to why it is selling these materials. Have the supporters of the Government no memory? Surely I do not have to remind them of these things, but I ask them to cast their minds back to the pre-war period. I do no more than remind honorable members that iron was sold to a certain country at that time. If China is an enemy and the Government is happy to trade with her, then that is the Government’s responsibility, but I say that the Government has some explanation to make to the people as to why it is doing that. While the Government continues as it is in this way, it will continue to fail in its endeavours to obtain voluntary recruits for service.

The National Service Bill which is now before the House seeks to extend the scope of the National Service Act which was passed by this Parliament last November. The existing Act provides that a young man of 20 years of age may be called up for national service training and conscripted for service with the Australian Regular Army forces not only in Australia but, as I said earlier, overseas if directed to do so. The conditions laid down by the Act passed last year provide for two years full time continuous duty in the Regular Army Supplement, then three years in the Regular Army Reserve. The National Service Bill which we are now discussing provides that in two circumstances national service trainees can be compelled to serve an additional three years with the Regular Army Supplement, but service is restricted to a maximum period of five years in a time of defence emergency. However, if a state of war existed, the trainee would soldier on with the Regular Forces.

In time of war, one can fully understand why the Government seeks the power to keep national service trainees in the services for the duration of hostilities; but the Government seeks the approval of this Parliament to extend the time of national service training, not only in time of war, but also in time of defence emergency. “ Time of war “ and “ war “ are clearly denned in the Defence Act but, seek as much as one will in either the Defence Act or the National Service Act, one will not be able to find a precise definition of “ defence emergency “. The Defence Act offers the following definition - “Time of Defence Emergency” - Means the period between the publication of a proclamation declaring that a state of defence emergency exists in relation to Australia and the publication of a proclamation that that state of defence emergency no longer exists.

In other words, it is a period that commences when the Government publishes a notice proclaiming that a defence emergency exists and that ends when a notification is published proclaiming that the emergency has ended.

There are some members on the Government side of the House who would, I have no doubt, say that today’s circumstances constitute a state of defence emergency. The Government has not said so, but it would be most interesting to know just how the Government would describe the present defence position. We have a battalion of troops in Malaysia; we are committed to sending a battalion of troops to Vietnam; and we are conscripting national service trainees for overseas service to fight on foreign soil. But we are not at war. How, then, does the Government describe this present position? How close is it to a state of defence emergency? I suggest that the Parliament should be informed. Certainly it should be made known, not only to this Parliament but to the nation, just why national service trainees are conscripted to fight on foreign soil. The Government states we are not at war and that no state of emergency exists.

If the Government believes that a state of emergency does exist, then it should say so, not wait until some later date. Despite what the Prime Minister said in the House only yesterday, our troops are not being sent to Vietnam under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. If they were, certain declarations would have to be made, and no such declarations have yet been made. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) made the position perfectly clear as recently as late last year in answer to a question put to him by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) who asked -

Under what Treaty or other arrangement was the assistance given in Vietnam?

Reference was then made to the Treaty, and the Minister said -

The assistance is given at the request of the Vietnamese Government. The Australian Government regards the assistance given to Vietnam as flowing from the obligations it has accepted under the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty.

The Minister referred also to an answer given by him on the 20th October in reply to another question relating to the United States of America. At that time, he said -

The U.S. has not taken any decision to take military action in South Vietnam under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, or otherwise.

The reference is quite clear. Nowhere in any replies given either by the Minister for External Affairs or the Prime Minister, is it stated that the Treaty has been invoked. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the Prime Minister will not spell out the S.E.A.T.O. arrangement between Australia and Vietnam, because there is none. It is time the Prime Minister came clean. He is obviously politically dishonest on this particular score. Honorable members on the Government side may say what they like, but the Prime Minister, aided and abetted as he is by the Press of Australia, has tried to hoodwink the people. In the reply which he gave in this House yesterday, he said that we were acting under obligations, but he did not say that the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty had been invoked. Yet the Press says that the Prime Minister claims that the troops are being sent overseas in accordance with our obligations under the Treaty. Why does he not make the declaration? Why does he not come clean with the people, especially at a time when we are conscripting boys to go overseas, when we are talking about the need for defence and about the enemy being at the gate? We have a solemn treaty which sets out the action which is required. I refer honorable members to Article IV of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty.

The last sentence of the first paragraph of that Article reads -

Measures taken under this paragraph shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.

That is what is required if a country acts under that Treaty. Quite obviously, our troops are not in South East Asia under that Treaty. The Government has led the people to believe that it is acting because another signatory to the Treaty has asked for aid; but that does not mean that the Treaty has been invoked and that our troops are in South East Asia under the Treaty. Until the Prime Minister and the Government are prepared to take the action that is required under the Treaty, they have no right to tell the Australian people that our troops are in South Vietnam in accordance with the Treaty.

Mr Giles:

– The honorable member is playing with words.

Mr GALVIN:

– It is not I who is playing with words; it is the Prime Minister. He is very adept at it. He is playing with words in such a way that he is misleading the people of Australia and painting a completely different picture from the true one.

What I want to know and what I would like the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), who is to follow me in this debate, to tell me is this: What will happen if the Australian battalion that is going to Vietnam or the one that is in Malaysia suddenly goes into action and a critical situation develops? Is that when the Government will say that a time of defence emergency exists? How does the Government describe the present position? If it is not a time of defence emergency - the Government has not declared it to be such - what is it? We have troops going overseas. The Government is calling up troops. Yet we are not told just what the present position is.

On several occasions the Opposition has made it clear that it is opposed to Australian troops serving overseas unless they are part of a United Nations force or are acting under the provisions of a public treaty to which Australia is a signatory. If, without a declaration of emergency, the Government is prepared now to send national service conscripts overseas, how will it act if it decides that a state of emergency exists? We are entitled to know that. Let the Minister for Supply tell us what he con siders to be a state of emergency. We would like to know that. The Defence Bill provides for our regular forces to soldier on in time of war and in a time of defence emergency. But in respect of national service trainees the Government adopts a different approach. In time of war they soldier on; but in a time of defence emergency, as a result of the Government’s great consideration, they are to be discharged after the statutory five years’ service. I wonder whether the Government’s action is as generous as it appears to be.

Let honorable members recall what happened seven months ago when the National Service Bill was passed. That Bill was described by some honorable members as a dishonest piece of legislation. Only two weeks before it was introduced into this House, the Minister for the Army declared that there was no need for such conscription. There was no doubt that at that time he was putting forward the Government’s opinion. He also said at that time that he had received the advice of the Service chiefs. When the Prime Minister announced that national service training was to be introduced he made it clear that the Government had consulted with the Service chiefs, but at no point in his speech did he say that they had agreed with the Government or had advised that national service training should be introduced. The Minister for the Army made it clear two weeks before the National Service Bill was introduced that the Service chiefs had advised him that it was inadvisable to introduce national service training. There was nothing in that Bill about conscription for overseas service. But now the boys who are conscripted are to go overseas.

What then is the intention of this Bill? To me, it appears to be a snide piece of legislation which is aimed at increasing the full time training period of national service trainees in the Regular Army Supplement from two years to five years. The Government is doing that in this way because there is a growing public opposition to our troops, particularly the conscripted national service trainees, being sent overseas. The Government dare not state openly the reasons why it is putting this Bill through in such a snide manner, in order to extend the allotted period of training from two years to five years.

The Opposition opposes this Bill, just as it opposed the National Service Bill 1964. We question the genuineness of this Bill. We are of the opinion that the Government, by its own defence muddling, has been responsible for the lack of voluntary enlistments. We claim that the Government has not paid enough attention to Australia’s defence programme over the years that it has been in office and has failed to plan Australia’s defence needs according to its external affairs commitments and also according to Australia’s own defence requirements and those of Papua and New Guinea.

The Government may claim that it has a mandate for national service training as a result of the Senate election that was held last year. But we challenge the Government to go to the people on the score of conscripting national service trainees for overseas service and extending their terms snidely, as the Government is doing in this legislation, from two years to five years. I challenge the Government to say what it means by “ a time of defence emergency “. How close are we to such a time today? Just as the Government is hoodwinking the people of Australia by pretending that we are sending troops to South East Asia under a treaty, now under this window dressing, snide legislation, by only one simple act - namely, publishing in the “ Gazette “ a notice that a time of defence emergency exists, which the Government could do tomorrow or at any time after our battalion arrives in Vietnam - the Government can make the boys serve for an extra three years. We condemn all four Bills. We will vote against all four Bills. We challenge the Government to go to the people in order to see whether they agree with it on the matters of conscription for overseas service and the extension of national service training.

Mr FAIRHALL:
Minister for Supply · Paterson · LP

– It is amazing how often noise is supposed to represent sincerity. I am sure that the House and the people who have listened to the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) tonight will have no difficulty in sorting out the beautiful use of all the words of prejudice that he could summon up and challenges that he issued on behalf of the Labour Party, well knowing that the man in the street understands quite well what the Government is doing and why the Government is doing it and is more than happy with what the Government is doing.

The presentation of these amendments to the Defence Act, the National Service Act, the Naval Defence Act and the Air Force Act acknowledges the changed situation in which Australia finds itself in 1965. It is a measure of the Government’s appreciation of the increased responsibilities that this country has, not only for its own national safety security and future, but also for the preservation of peace in our particularly troubled corner of the world and for the protection that we must offer to countries which seek to exercise the right of selfdetermination against Communist aggression.

The honorable member for Kingston, throughout his long address, talked as though nothing had happened since October 1964. He said that in 1964 we introduced some amendments to defence legislation and now, six months later, we are coming back and making many more amendments in relation to national service training. He says that we are conscripting Australian youth for overseas service and he asks why.

Mr Daly:

– Yes, and I would like to know why, too.

Mr FAIRHALL:

– Do the honorable member for Kingston and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) not know that some pretty drastic changes have occurred in the international situation in our corner of the world? The real fact is that the amendments which are now before the House are but legitimate and prudent extensions of what the Government has done in other fields towards improving this country’s defence capability.

The House is not unaware of the steady extension that has been occurring in the size and the capability of Australia’s defence forces. There has been the great extension of the defence programme, of which we all are aware. There has been the formation of the Emergency Reserves. There has been the review of the rates of pay, which has given a tremendous impetus to voluntary recruiting. There has been a change in the status of the Citizen Military Forces. Now comes national service training. There has been the development of a much closer liaison with the United States of America through our logistic agreement. There is improved liaison with Australian defence industries and an upgrading of the capabilities of those industries. This all points to a reasoned and measured build up of this country’s defence capacity in the light of a deteriorating position in South East Asia; and we are on the edge of that area. The honorable member spoke about statements by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes). Once again I point out that it is competent for the Minister for the Army to express a view today that may be drastically changed by circumstances in the course of the next few days. The Minister for the Army has known of this situation right through. What has happened indicates that the Government is prepared to make a rapid change in its stand when a rapid change in the defence position demands that kind of treatment. The honorable member for Kingston repeats Labour’s common objection to conscription.

Mr Hughes:

– Labour’s common objection to any form of military assistance.

Mr FAIRHALL:

– That is true. The honorable member for Kingston seems to think that we can sit in quiet peace at home while the rest of the area around us is in flames. He would wait until war was at our very doorstep before taking measures. The fact is that if we allowed ourselves to get into that kind of situation the criticism from the Labour Party would be that we were obliged to put untrained recruits into our armed services. The Government is taking a rather broader and longer view of the deterioration of the situation and is making ample provision in time.

The honorable member for Kingston says that never before in peace time have we had this kind of provision. AH I can say in answer to that is that it is an odd kind of peace time in which we live. There is a different kind of war. The honorable gentleman, of course, would not accept that we are already at war in an undeclared way. Docs anybody think there is going to be a mass of declared wars from here on? Has the Labour Party counted up the amount of territory lost and the number of nations dragged into subjection over the last 15 or 20 years without the benefit of declared war? We live in a period of cold war, of political subversion, of guerrilla activity and so forth. We need not expect declarations of war, yet the end product of the cold war in which we are involved today is just as disastrous to the people dragged .o subjugation as it would be if there were declared war.

The honorable gentleman makes a great noise about when are we going to declare a state of emergency. We do not know when we will declare a state of emergency. It is an enormously difficult situation which any Government faces in these days, because of the cold war situation to which I have referred. The honorable gentleman obviously wants things in black and white. Mis view seems to be that there is no war unless there is a declared war. This is an outworn policy. We cannot live this way in these days.

The honorable member has accused the Government of window dressing in the preparation of these Bills. What has the Government to gain by conscripting young men, taking them out of industry and putting them into defence training? What has the Government to gain in window dressing by sending our men into Vietnam - or into Malaya, as we did years ago? The Government has this to gain: It has to gain the knowledge that it has discharged its responsibilities for the security of this country, because if the Opposition does not understand the threat of international Communism the Government does, and the Government in time, and properly, will take action against it.

The honorable gentleman spoke about giving our young men the right to vote. He admits, of course, that the 20 year olds who are conscripted will, within a year, qualify for their voting rights. It would be surprising if any of them lost the right to vote immediately after they joined the Services.

Mr Daly:

– The Government will give them a beer, but not a vote.

Mr FAIRHALL:

– They will get thenvotes quickly enough, and in the meantime they can compensate themselves. The honorable member for Kingston raised that canard - the cheap slogan about “ diggers for dollars”. This is a contemptible utterance. It is the product of a disordered mind. The honorable member forgets, of course, that 24 years ago the Leader of the Labour Party at that time - and the honorable member was not here then - went to the United States of America for assistance.

How easily honorable members opposite forget this.

Mr Daly:

– The Minister’s party condemned that action.

Mr FAIRHALL:

– It did nothing of the sort. How easily the honorable member for Kingston forgets that 24 years ago Australia needed to turn to the United States. How easily he forgets that in these days we may need the strength and support of the United States again. If we are to be able to call on this sort of assistance we had better come to the party ourselves. When there is an emergency we had better show a little willingness to help, because the battle in which the United States is engaged in South Vietnam today is as much our battle as it is that of anybody else.

The honorable member spoke about the Prime Minister’s political dishonesty in saying that our troops were going to Vietnam under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation pact. The honorable member fails to accept the truth and then accuses the Prime Minister of dishonesty. The fact of the matter is that it has always been made perfectly clear by this Government - and this has always been endorsed by the United States Government - that the obligations under S.E.A.T.O. are both joint and several, and therefore there is no need for the kind pf S.E.A.T.O. proclamation about which the honorable member for Kingston screams before we are entitled to send troops into Vietnam in response to a call from the Government of South Vietnam.

South Vietnam is a protocol State. It would be an odd thing if we were to receive a demand from a protocol State under S.E.A.T.O. for the kind of assistance that we can give, and that I believe we are obliged to give, and we turned a deaf ear to it. The fact is that in these difficult times, in the light of the preparations that the Government has made to increase the defensive posture of this country, there is a great need to know in precise terms just what manpower, just what strength, we can command. We want to know that we have it available on call or available within predetermined times.

It is for these reasons that there must, in these difficult days, these dangerous days, be imposed on the manpower of Australia the obligation to serve wherever the future security of this country is in jeopardy. Because of this we have introduced these amending Bills.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- That was a remarkable contribution to a defence debate by a senior Minister of Australia - by one of our defence service Ministers. I think he took 10 minutes as far as I can gather.

Dr Forbes:

– Is that the honorable member’s criterion - the length of time a person speaks?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon W C Haworth:
ISAACS, VICTORIA

– Order!

Mr BRYANT:

– Honorable members opposite who are interjecting are of military age. I know that some of them have had no military service. I suggest they take up the cause and the colours themselves before they start talking to their betters in superior tones. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) is one of the senior defence service Ministers of this country. He answered the response of the Opposition to this legislation in 9 or 10 minutes, during which he spent his time cluttering his remarks with cliches “ difficult times “, “ dangerous days “, “ emergencies “, “ cold war “ and so forth. He chose to sneer at honorable members on this side of the House. He chose to suggest that Australia was going forth to fight for the freedom of the people of South Vietnam. I think a fundamental error has been committed in South Vietnam, and in North Vietnam for that matter. The trouble in Vietnam should long ago have become the province of the United Nations in some way or other.

By our attempts to take bilateral action in conjunction with the United States of America we are only going to lead ourselves, our friends and our neighbours into similar perils. We pose several questions. This was not the theme on which I proposed to speak this evening, but the Opposition is putting questions to the Government on these issues. The first is the question of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation itself. The Prime Minister has given the impression, in his most skilful, plausible and persuasive way, that we are taking this action under S.E.A.T.O. However, if one examines his words and pronouncements in “ Hansard “ it can be shown that he did not say it in those words. The Minister for Supply implies that we did not need a S.E.A.T.O. proclamation before we took this action. He says, in effect: “ We are all such buddies that we act in concert without consultations and without any demand “.

What nonsense this is. The nation is being committed to fundamental changes in its defence policy. It is embarking on a vigorous and militaristic action in what might be regarded in history’s eyes as an offensive way. We are speaking as if the Government of South Vietnam is worth fighting for. That is utter nonsense. Are honorable members opposite unable to read? Did they see today’s “ Australian “ headline, “ Quat promises a ‘ Red purge ‘. Neutralists to go too.”? We know that anybody who opposes a government with which honorable members opposite are friendly is likely to qualify in those terms. The article in the “ Australian “ reads -

An extraordinary tight security is being maintained in Saigon as police spreads their net for dozens of others on the wanted list. . . . But Western observers say the incipient coup was organised primarily by Roman Catholic South Vietnamese. Mr. Quat is considered to be in the Buddhist camp.

The type of people we are trying to protect, the type of government with which we are involved and the way the country is being run is exemplified in these telling words -

Even the coup leaders, headed by the elusive and still at large Colonel Phan Ngoc Thao, are said to have limited their planned objectives to the assasination of Mr. Quat and three generals.

Such nice people! Such nice manners! These are the people whom we are defending. There is no answer to this problem through military action. You will not drive off China by mobilising here or sending troops there. Surely we learned from the lessons of Korea that the further north of the 17th parallel we go in Vietnam the more likely we are to bring China into the war and provoke an international conflict that will end with the destruction of all humanity.

The Minister for Supply said that all these things are clear to the citizens of Australia. I suggest that one of the fundamental activities of this Government is to ensure that these things are not clear to our citizens. I have asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to lay on the table of the House the letters received by his Government from the Government of South Vietnam seeking our support. What was the right honorable gentleman’s answer? He said: “We do not do that sort of thing.”

Why not? Whose country is this? Is Australia the private domain of the Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Kooyong, and of the Ministry? The Government is asking Australia to commit itself to fundamental issues. Our whole future is involved. Every one of the documents that have passed between our Government and that of South Vietnam is public property. Each of those documents is for all of us to observe and to have under our scrutiny if the Government is concerned with the truth and with placing the facts before the people. We on this side of the chamber are convinced that the Government is proceeding along the road described by the honorable member for Kingston.

This is a piece of window dressing. It is an attempt to create an atmosphere of war hysteria for political reasons. The Minister for Supply has asked what advantages accrue to the Government in doing this, that or the other thing. Some devil rides on the shoulders of the Government parties. Australia is basically one of the democracies of the world, yet we tinker with electoral laws. Australia is one of the free-speaking nations, in which freedom of association is fundamental to our way of life, yet we introduce the worst elements of McCarthyism into so much of our public life. Australia has a long history of self-reliance, yet our Ministers tell us that we cannot defend ourselves. I do not suggest that we deny our allies or that we should not have allies, but I take the dimmest of dim views of the suggestion that we should take all the attitudes that are continually proclaimed abroad - that we should say that we cannot give a good account of ourselves.

I cannot accept that we should crawl to America so that America will come to the party. What sort of- allies are these that we must do these things to get them to come to the party? Is it suggested that in our time of need they would not come unless we had paid in advance? What nonsense. What sort or allies are they? What damage is the Government doing to national morale? The actions taken by the Government deny a good deal of the fundamental spirit of the nation. The conscription issue is one of those actions. It is based on the premise that the country is helpless in its own right. That T deny. A whole series of actions taken by the Government in the last few years place the fundamental freedoms of the nation in peril. The Minister for Supply did this House a disservice by his actions. It was his bounden duty to answer the questions that have been posed by the Opposition. As the honorable member for Kingston asked, why do we say that in the north our greatest peril is the armies of China while at the same time trading with China? Is this another case of a quid pro quo, not with the Americans this time but with the Country Party?

We are discussing four Bills tonight. It is interesting to note that the affairs of the House have been so adjusted that another bill has been removed from the scene for the time being and these four Bills brought on for discussion. These Bills have been in cold storage for about a fortnight. We have been ready with our documents for nigh on two weeks to proceed in the debate which is more than can be said for the Minister for Supply. This is no way to treat the Parliament or a serious discussion on defence. The Bills are the Defence Bill, the National Service Bill, the Naval Defence Bill and the Air Force Bill. The Bills contain innumerable clauses and provide many fundamental changes. Some of the principles of the legislation deeply concern Australians. Let me take first the amendments to the Defence Act. They provide for compulsory military service for every male citizen between the ages of 18 and 60 years in the event that a state of war is proclaimed. Some ancillary provisions are made touching on the provision of liquor for trainees, the sale of decorations and the appointment of officers. The National Service Bill provides that in a state of war or defence emergency certain people may be conscripted to serve five years in the Army and may be sent overseas by Executive decision of this Government. The Naval Defence Bill provides for compulsory service in the Navy if required. The Air Force Bill contains provisions similar to those found in the Naval Defence Bill.

What has been the Government’s record in defence in the last few years? I am afraid I have a cynical view of the Government’s record. I am deeply concerned with the defence of Australia, as are most Australians, including most honorable members. I concede that the people of Australia are greatly concerned about defence and that defence has been an issue in elections in the past few years.

Mr Barnes:

– How would the honorable member defend Australia?

Mr. BRYANT__ I will advise the Minister later of the procedures that the Government should take. One of the matters of fundamental importance in the defence of a nation is national morale. The first thing to do is to build up a spirit of self-reliance in the country. We are not so helpless as you might think. Let us examine for a moment the steps that have been taken in the last few years. The national morale of this country is closely related to its selfreliance, comradeship and a spirit of doing things. In the last six or seven years a number of measures have come before this House. First, we had a series of changes in the Crimes Act. It is possible for the Government by Executive decree to limit the actions of people in this country. The Minister for Supply sneered at the idea that you might be able to define whether we are in a state of defence emergency or a state of war on this occasion. But the vagueness of the terms contained in some of the acts that have been passed in recent years can give cause only for concern.

Last year legislation was enacted providing that the Citizen Military Forces should serve overseas. The next step was conscription, but this came only after one of the Ministers in the defence portfolios said that there was no thought of introducing conscription. But now we have selective training for 20 year olds. I will not debate here the morality of calling up a selected group in the community to carry the burdens that we so blithely take up. The Government decided to send troops to Vietnam and to Malaysia. There are fundamental differiences in our responsibilities in those two countries. The Government is very diffident about saying exactly what we are doing in Vietnam and how we came to accept the responsibility that we are accepting. The Government will not tell us what we are fighting for. I challenge any honorable member opposite to say why we have bypassed the United Nations in this matter. If Australia had taken this matter to the United Nations I would not be in complete agreement, because I do not think Australia should pose a military challenge throughout the whole of South East Asia, but at least

I would concede that the Government was being consistent in trying to reach some peaceful solution. The bilateral action of two nations will not find a solution. This will call for the wit and the will, and indeed the best will, of all the nations of the world.

Then I come to the Defence Bill, which has been placed before us. This Bill provides for overseas service for all. As has been pointed out, our tradition is that overseas service, even in time of war, shall be basically voluntary service. The Defence Bill changes this and every citizen between the ages of 18 and 60 years, in certain priorities will be required to serve overseas, or anywhere at all. This is clear, lt is part of the Defence Bill, although the voluntary system is part of the traditional defence service of the country. Then the National Service Bill provides that, when a defence emergency is declared, people may be conscripted and may well be called up and required to serve for five years.

These seem to me to be very serious matters. These are not matters to be undertaken lightly. The Government ought to take the community into its complete confidence. I believe that the Government should not drift through its defence organisation in this way. If the Government had made an overall examination of the defence of Australia and if these decisions were all being taken as part of an in toto reexamination of the fundamental defence structure, I would have some sympathy for the Government’s decisions. I might not agree in detail at any point, but I would have some sympathy for the Government. However, when I notice drifting through the Parliament month after month fundamental changes which add up to a complete and drastic change in the whole defence system, I am deeply concerned about it all. If it is necessary, we are doing it in the incorrect way. If it is not necessary, then these are dangerous proceedings.

This morning, the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration announced that all passports would be stamped as being not valid for North Vietnam. Many people may think that this is reasonable. But this is not the British procedure; it is the American procedure. British passports are valid for all the world. Many citizens in this country carry British passports. Some people will hold passports that have been stamped and some will not. I wanted to ask a question about this matter, but honorable members opposite prevented me from doing so. They are very concerned about the freedom of everybody north of the equator, but they are not so concerned about the freedom of honorable members of this Parliament. This is the question I wanted to ask: If this procedure is appropriate for North Vietnam, is it not also appropriate for people travelling, say, to Indonesia? For some months now, Australians have been in action against Indonesia in the Malaysian confrontation. I do not agree that a restriction should be placed on passports, unless we are in a state of war. But this action seems to add to the total picture of what I would call the expediency of drifting, of hysteria, of phoniness and all other things that go to make up the national concern and cliches. I might say that it is much ado about things that are nonexistent. If the Government is dinkum on this question of passports, it will not let people travel to Indonesia, either.

When I find these inconsistencies, I, like many people in the community, am deeply concerned. If the Government is consistent, if step after step is taken in a consistent line, if its trading policy, its defence policy, its foreign policy and its economic policy add up to a consistent attitude, I might disagree with it but I would at least say that it is consistent. But when at every point I see inconsistencies, mostly associated with trade or commercial interests, I am deeply concerned and I consider that the country is being misled.

Some fundamental changes are being debated by the Parliament tonight. The Executive will be given very wide powers over the whole community. Everybody between the ages of 18 and 60 years will be affected and following a declaration of war may be called up and sent anywhere. The national service scheme will affect quite a bracket of people. The call-up will bring some 120,000 men into the defence system at 20 years of age, and after 5 years more than 500,000 men will be in service. The right to send them anywhere can be obtained by the simple proclamation of a defence emergency, and a defence emergency is almost impossible to define. The Government will have total control over these men. We object to this piecemeal approach. We object to this system which places this undue burden upon one section of the community. 1 want to examine for a moment the principle of voluntary service. This has been the principle upon which we have based our defences in the past. I do not place before the House the suggestion that we should always stick to the habits of the past. But 1 do believe that we have not placed the problem before the people of this nation in such clear cut terms that they can understand it. Nor have we offered our men the opportunity to serve, although this has been the traditional way for us to obtain Service personnel. Let us turn back the pages of the nation’s history. Some five or six months ago I stood on a ridge outside Beersheba in southern Israel and 1 looked down across the dusty countryside before me. I caught in my mind’s eye the sight of those 40,000 horsemen of the Light Horse Divisions of the First A.I.F. led by Sir Henry Chauvel. These 40,000 men were brought from Australia, from a small nation with a population of some 5 million, with their appurtenances and paraphernalia of war. This was all based on a voluntary system. I have no doubt that a case could be made out for compulsory service. It could be argued that if service is compulsory, it is universal and it is continuous and every member of the community is involved. But people of my age group and perhaps people younger than I am should not make fundamental decisions that affect the young people of Australia when we do not have to face the challenge ourselves. This position arises with the Bills that are now before us.

During the First World War, Australia had a population of some 5 million people. Of these, some 400,000 or so saw service and 318,000 soldiers left our shores. In the Second World War, voluntary enlistments ran into the best part of 750,000. But that was wartime and it was different. The world now is facing a challenge in another form. But history shows that the young men of Australia have not failed to accept the opportunity to serve even in times of peace. Let us turn back to the statistics of 1938 and 1939. Those of us who served in the C.M.F., or the militia as it was then called, will recall the great drive for recruits in the year or so about the time of Munich. This drive continued until 1939. In 1939, we had some 80,000 personnel in the

C.M.F., according to the statistics that I have been able to obtain. At that time, we had quite a minute regular army, but we had these 80,000 volunteers and they were part and parcel of the defence of Australia. This was the base upon which the A.I.F. itself was built. Let us relate these statistics to the present time. In 1939, the population of Australia was some 7 million. Currently, the population is a little more than 11 million. The force of 80,000 we had in 1939 is the best part of 110,000 now.

What we should be doing now, as a Parliament and as a responsible body, is not so much to examine the system of calling up those who will serve, but we should be asking what we have done to the nation that causes these young men to refrain from volunteering. They do not enlist in the Services and they do not join the C.M.F. I would be interested to learn why this is so. I have suggested here that the Parliament itself might form a select committee to examine some of these problems. Although people have said that economic reasons influenced men to enlist in 1939 in the C.M.F., or the militia, I do not believe that the money we received then would be of much benefit. I forget what it was, but it amounted to 6 days or 12 days at 4s. a day. This did not add up to much, even in the hungry 1930’s.

Australia has always followed the principle of voluntary service. I believe that a good deal of the destruction of our national morale goes back to loose talk about our dependence on others. We have been told that if we do not line up with the Americans, they will not come to our aid, and if they did not we would in in trouble. Tonight the Minister for Supply told the old story of the Prime Minister of Australia during the Second World War appealing to America for help. Of course he did. Why shouldn’t he? At that time we had, I think, three divisions of the A.I.F. overseas and this represented a total of 40,000 or 50,000 men. We had a very large air force operating in the north. We had naval forces scattered throughout the world. We had already been at war for two years. The whole of the East was open to any aggressor, so I challenge the assumption that Australia is not defendable. If we accept the view that Australia is not defendable we have to look for the machinery by which to defend it

I believe that one of the greatest weaknesses in our current defence system was the dismantling of the Citizen Military Forces. This has been part of the Australian way of doing things. The statistics of 1939 show that at that time there were 70 or 80 combatant units in the Citizen Military Forces. Why did people join the C.M.F.? In 1934, or thereabouts, I joined the C.M.F. Part of the reason why people joined it then was that it had an appeal to them and they felt that there was something one could do. But one of the basic reasons for joining it was that there was a detachment formed four or five miles away from one’s home. Last year my son, on turning 17 years of age, joined the C.M.F. He might have been inspired to do so by my example, although it does not seem to be the habit of young people now to be inspired by their parents. Fundamentally, he joined because it was easy for him to do so. There was a unit of the C.M.F. a couple of miles away. It was a good training area and there was a very good unit that he could join. Until we have the recruiting machinery by which people can join the C.M.F. and until we have rebuilt something upon the lines of the organisation by which other nations challenge their aggressors, we will not get anywhere. Any compulsory system of the sort proposed by the Government or any attempt to conscript a professional Army to defend this country cannot succeed. Success will eventually depend upon the mass of the citizens themselves.

The Minister went into the question of Israel. Last year I visited Sweden, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Israel. These are countries which have problems similar to those that Australia faces. We have a large area. We have 11,000,000 people and one of the largest industrial complexes in the southern hemisphere. Certainly it is potentially the most powerful in South East Asia. So we are not helpless. Eleven million people are not helpless. We have five times the population of Israel, three times the population of Switzerland, three quarters of the population of Yugoslavia and one and half times that of Sweden. I never heard any one in those countries saying that they could not give such a good account of themselves that most aggressors would stay away. A good example of this was Yugoslavia itself. I asked people in the Foreign Office there: “Were the Russians all set for invasion?”

And, although they did not use these terms, they replied, in effect: “Too right they were. They were massed on the border of Yugoslavia for four years.” I asked: “ Why did they not move?”, and the reply was: “ Because the Yugoslavs had given them indications that they would fight to the last man and that it would be a most profitless undertaking as the country would be taken over as a desert “.

The first thing to do is to create the appearance that you can defend yourself to the last man and have the machinery with which to do it and the national will to do it. This does not require conscription in Australia at present. Certainly it does not imply conscription for overseas service, but organisation of the nation in such a way that people may serve secure in the knowledge that all the back stops and the whole structure of defence are there. What would we do if we were faced with the necessity to call up suddenly half a million men? Where could we put them? Where are the facilities to train them? Where are the cadres and camps and machinery? One of the basic advantages these other nations have for mobilisation is the multitude of units ready to accept recruits at any given time.

Actually, what is this current conscription proposal? I think it is a gesture of failure. We are calling up some 6,000 young people to the Regular Army this year. Why cannot we get people to serve voluntarily? The latest figures I have from Britain show that there are 408,000 or thereabouts, in the service there; all volunteers at all levels. I think that number includes the territorials as well. That would represent a figure of from 90,000 to 100,000 in Australia. It might be said that there are economic reasons for this, but I do not think they are completely valid. Service in the forces is not just based on economics. I realise that there comes a time when it is much easier for young men to serve in the forces than not to serve. They can obtain the advantages and security of service and all the things that go with it.

There are very many fundamental criticisms that can be levelled at the programme that has been placed before us in these four Bills. We have seen a sort of chain reaction of dithering over the last 10 or 12 years in the system of defence, culminating in the proposals now before us, and I believe these proposals should be rejected.

There are so many questions that need to be answered. Why do we have our multiplicity of Services? Why are there so many categories of Regular Army, Regular Army Reserve, Regular Army Supplement and so on? Each time the Defence Ministers get a new idea we establish another system. Another question that needs to be answered is the one raised by the honorable member for Kingston about Aborigines and their service, and I hope to be able to deal with that during the Committee stage.

Finally, there are the many great inconsistencies in Australia’s attitude on defence and related matters which bother me and I think bother a great many other Australians. There is the question of our trade with China. Why do we favour trading with China if that country is such a mischief and a menace? Why do we adopt different attitudes about the issuing of passports to persons for travel to places like Vietnam and Indonesia? Is this another manifestation of the hysteria mystique, as one might call it, by which we are trying to get people geared to the idea that North Vietnam and South Vietnam are part and parcel of the whole challenge to our way of life? Why do we find this refusal to table important documents such as the letters from Vietnam asking for our assistance? Why did the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) place himself in the ambiguous position of going to the United States of America at the time when we were about to send our troops overseas, so that with the best will in the world I cannot, and many other Australians cannot, help feeling that more than a coincidence was involved? Why do we continue to bypass the United Nations?

I ask honorable members opposite to sit down some time and work out for me the staff procedures necessary for a country that would invade an organised and properly mobilised Australia. If they can give me the kind of figures that would show why this nation should embark upon the kind of escapade suggested in this legislation, in this dilatory, bypassing, piecemeal fashion, then we might go along with them. But until they do this, until they take the House into their confidence and place more information before the Parliament than they have done previously, and until they can show that the nation needs this kind of change in its way of doing things, then I believe the Parliament should reject the legislation it now has before it.

Mr BARNES:
Minister for Territories · Mcpherson · CP

– It is not surprising that the Opposition tried to postpone this debate until a later hour this evening when there would be fewer people listening to the broadcast of it. This is a most amazing situation. I have heard many extraordinary speeches from honorable members on the other side of this House, but the one that has just been delivered is quite shocking, coming from a supporter of our alternative government. The Australian community expects a lot from a government. It expects economic security, but above all it expects military security. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether, having listened to the first two speakers for the Opposition, you would have obtained from their speeches any assurance of military security for Australia? The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who just concluded his speech, wandered over all sorts of subjects. We asked him what his defence policy would be, but he gave us nothing in reply. He started to talk about passports and about Vietnam and he mentioned incidentally the 40,000 horsemen who fought in the First World war in Palestine. I would say, on the strength of his performance tonight, that if any of those 40,000 horsemen had met him they would have drowned him in the first billabong they came to.

I believe that Australia is faced with one of the most serious situations in its history. Both the First World War and the Second World War were fought, fortunately, away from Australia. Both of them started in Europe. We were wise in our attitude on each occasion. We fought both those wars overseas. I gathered from their speeches that both of the Opposition speakers that we have so far heard would rather wait, neglecting our powerful allies, until a war came to Australia. These are the matters that were mentioned by the first two speakers from the Opposition side on this important Bill. As we well know, the Australian Labour Party does not keep up with the times. Apparently it is still fighting the First World War. We hear references to conscripts and that kind of thing.

The members of the Labour Party believe that it is necessary to declare war and follow the old pattern. I remind them that these things do not happen today. In my experience, wars are not declared. This pattern started with Nazi Germany. It attacked Russia without declaring war. Then South Korea was attacked without a declaration of war. Communist aggression occurred in Malaysia without a declaration of war. This is a new feature. I do not know whether it is an Oriental one. At the present time we are engaged in an enterprise which could develop into one of the most serious wars with which we have ever been faced. The object of Communist people, whether Chinese or Russians, is to overcome the West. Fortunately, the West is probably one of the quietest areas of the world today. The military situation has shifted to Asia. Communist China has stated very definitely that it is out to subjugate the world by military means.

At the present time the North Vietnamese have set out to overcome the South Vietnamese. I think that the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) asked whether the South Vietnamese Government is worth fighting for. I do not know about the South Vietnamese Government, but the South Vietnamese people are worth fighting for, and this is something that we should not forget. This is the situation that has developed. It is a typical Communist venture into a peaceful country. The war in Indo-China eventually came to an end with the defeat of the French at Dienbienphu. Then followed the division of Vietnam into North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese felt that South Vietnam eventually would fall because of maladministration and other reasons. Surprisingly, the productivity and standard of living of the South Vietnamese rose considerably. From recollection, rice production practically doubled. Obviously, the Communist elements did not approve of this situation. There is one thing in which Communist countries are particularly weak, and that is agricultural production. They have failed miserably in that regard. After all, you have to rely on individual enterprise for the production of food.

The infiltration of Communist elements into South Vietnam began. If any honorable member cares to read the publication entitled “ The Aggression from the North “ which was put out by the United States State Department, he will see that it documents all the moves of the Communists into South Vietnam. Over the years, an average of 4,000 infiltrators have moved into South Vietnam each year. They have been trained in the North, in the neighbourhood of Hanoi, and they have been directed from Hanoi. Not only are the military commanders trained there, but also the intelligence people and all the rest. Their supplies of arms come in by diverse routes. They do not have command of the sea, but they transport their supplies in junks. This is most serious to us because obviously the Opposition will not face up to reality. I think it is incapable of doing so. If the Communists win in South Vietnam, it means, of course, that they will take over Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and possibly Malaysia, and all of that area will come under the dominance of China. Honorable members on this side of the House realise this. The honorable member for East Sydney who is interjecting does not care a hang what happens. He is only worried about a few square miles in Sydney.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon W C Haworth:

– Order! I have warned the honorable member for East Sydney several times, and I will not do so again.

Mr BARNES:

– As I have said, this is a most vital matter to Australia. We are fortunate to have a very powerful ally in the United States of America which is pouring massive quantities of troops and material into South Vietnam to support that country. Why should the Americans come from 2,000 to 3,000 miles away to check Communist aggression? They have come because they realise the danger to world peace. After all, the best way to preserve world peace is to be prepared for war.

The Americans are our allies. Are we to allow them to fight our wars without any assistance from us? What is going to happen in the Opposition’s scheme of things if we do not help the Americans in Vietnam? What will happen if the Communist element comes further south? Can we ask the Americans to help us here in Australia? Of course, we cannot. The Americans have been our allies in two world wars, and it is important to have powerful friends. I know that this is not a popular subject with the Opposition because it denied the United States the use of Manus Island as a base after the last war. Had the United States been allowed to develop Manus Island we would have had in the area to the north of us one of the most powerful bases in the world. The Opposition was definitely against the Americans going into North West Cape. Such a move is part of the global strategy of the United States. The Opposition does not want American assistance and if the Opposition were in power we would not have the Americans supporting us.

Mr Barnard:

– What a lot of rot.

Mr BARNES:

– That is true. How does the Opposition expect the Americans to support us if we will not support them? Although we are partners with the United States in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the security treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, the honorable member for Kingston would suggest that we neglect them and deny America our assistance.

Mr Barnard:

– I did not say anything of the sort.

Mr BARNES:

– The honorable members comments indicated that that is his attitude. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and other honorable members opposite have denigrated the Americans’ effort in every possible way. This is a most serious factor because there are many influences in Australia at present trying to lessen our war effort. There are those who scoff at our young men in an endeavour to make them concerned about the situation. That is part of the tactics of these enemies who sneak from behind. The enemy that hides behind bushes is to be found right throughout our community. This enemy uses subversive propaganda to lessen our war effort, and engages well meaning people in peace movements to lower our war effort. They have succeeded with a section - but fortunately with only a small section - of members of our Christian faith. I was amazed at the way in which leaders of a section of our Christian faith took part in a demonstration in front of Parliament House recently.

We have to look back over history if we are to understand the position we are in today. In the time of the Crusades Peter the Hermit tramped Europe raising the flag of Christendom to combat the advance of the infidels. The infidels at that time were followers of a spiritual religion. But today we are up against plain materialism. How would Christians of that kind fare today - Christians such as the Knights of Malta and of Rhodes and the Knights of St. John? There have certainly been changes. The Australian people can see that they have a government which is determined to provide military security for this country. These decisions were made reluctantly. The Government does not like to spend millions of pounds on military preparations. It does not like to call up young men to serve in our armed services, but this is a necessity. The Government was reluctant to take this action, but it realised the dangers of the present situation.

There is a faction in our community today which is trying to write down the soldier. This faction fries to lessen the standing of our returned servicemen of the two World Wars by literature, films and such plays as “ The One Day of the Year “. It seeks to write down the efforts that were made by our servicemen in previous wars. These actions are part of a scheme by subversive elements in this country. But, fortunately, the Government went to the polls before Christmas on its decision to reintroduce national service. We have the approval of the Australian people for our action, and that is good enough for me. The people of Australia showed their confidence in the present Government, and the actions of the Government since then, including the introduction of these Defence Bills, show that that confidence has not been misplaced.

Mr GRAY:
Capricornia

.- This evening, in the dying hours of the sitting, this Parliament is discussing defence. We are faced with an accomplished fact by the Government. Four Bills are now before the House and we are discussing them all in the one debate. Irrespective of what this Parliament thinks, there is an accomplished fact. How much interest has the Government taken in this debate? There are four Service Ministers who are members of this House, but only one of them is in the chamber at the moment, sitting at the centre table.

Mr Killen:

– That is mean.

Mr GRAY:

– I think it is too. One would think that the Government would take an interest in these measures, but until a few minutes ago there was only one Minister here, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). Behind him, there were four Liberal Party members, three of them asleep, and two Country Party members. Others came in to hear the Minister for Territories speak. On this side of the House, there were 15 members. I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to that fact. This represents something like the ratio of interest that is taken in defence matters in this House. There is twice as much interest on the Opposition side as there is on the Government side. I am quite sure that the members of the public who are listening to the debate this evening are as interested in defence as the Labour Party is. They are interested also in what Australia receives for the money it spends on defence. How little we get for our money is one of the seven wonders of the world. After spending about £300 million or £400 million, we have about six battalions of infantry, and not all of them are up to full strength. We are sending a battalion off to South Vietnam.

Mr Killen:

– And the honorable member opposes it.

Mr GRAY:

– How does the honorable member know? I have never said a word about that. But I am going to say now that I do oppose it. I am not going to back out of that one. The Government is to send one battalion to South Vietnam to face what it says is a threat from North Vietnam and China. Those two countries, between them, have about 2± million men in their armies. We are sending 800 men.

Mr Turnbull:

– Only to assist America.

Mr GRAY:

– Yes, they are only to assist America.

We face in Borneo a nation 10 times as strong as North Vietnam and we have one battalion there. Have any arrangements been made with the United States of America to send a battalion to help us in Borneo? We are one of the weakest nations militarily in the Pacific area, yet we are sending off about 20 per cent, of our total infantry strength to help the Americans. What have they done in this particular instance to help us? Does Borneo come within the South East Asia Treaty Organisation area? Neither the Government nor anybody else has told us lt does, yet the

Government claims that South Vietnam does come within the area. This claim can be challenged. It is not good enough. If this is all that we can manage for the money that we spend, what do we get for the rest of the money that is spent under this head?

Mr Killen:

– Ask Ho Chi Jim.

Mr GRAY:

– One of these days we may have the opportunity to ask Ho Chi Minh, if the Americans can get to him to ask him the question. However, that is very doubtful. What have we got for the expenditure on the Royal Australian Air Force? We have bought Mirages, but they are years behind schedule on delivery. We are buying a bomber from the United States - the FI 1 1 A - but at this stage we find that the Swedes have produced a better plane at half the price. Before the FI IIA has gone into service in America, let alone in Australia, it is already obsolete.

Mr Robinson:

– What rot.

Mr GRAY:

– Read the newspapers.

Mr Robinson:

– That is rot.

Mr GRAY:

– Here is one of the gentlemen who have been asleep all evening. He has not even read the Press. He is not properly awake at this stage of the game. Honorable members should not forget that the new Swedish aeroplane was produced by at nation that has a population that is only two-thirds of the population of Australia - only 8 million people. We have been told by the Government in power in Australia today that 11 million people cannot sustain an aircraft industry in this country to the extent where we can produce our own fighters and bombers, but Sweden, with twothirds of our population, can do this.

Mr Kevin Cairns:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · LP

– That is what the honorable member says.

Mr GRAY:

– That is what the Swedes say and what the Swedes have done. If the honorable member cares to go to the Library and read the records he will find out for himself. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) has now turned up, so we will tell htm some home truths about the Royal Australian Navy. The remarks that I have already made apply equally in the sphere of naval expenditure. What do we get for what we spend? We have a Navy that is confined entirely to anti-submarine work. No doubt in times of war it will undertake this chore in the South Pacific area on behalf of the American fleet. The projectiles being installed on the three destroyers now being built for us in America have a range of between 12 and 15 miles. They will not stop much, because the Indonesian gunboats have missiles with a range of more than 30 miles. The Indonesians have about 200 of these craft, but we have three - or we will have three at some time in the future, if they all get here.

Mr Cope:

– Does the honorable member reckon that that is enough?

Mr GRAY:

– I do not think so. If they were brought out and put on the Canberra lake they would not be able to defend the capital, as there are not enough of them.

Mr Cope:

– How many rowing boats do we have?

Mr GRAY:

– We have a couple, but have lost a few recently. As some were sunk they are probably only at half strength now.

Mr Devine:

– But we have plenty of admirals.

Mr GRAY:

– We have more admirals than boats, in all probability. We are like the Chinese Navy used to be - 16 admirals and only one ship.

Mr Robinson:

– What about Australia?

Mr GRAY:

– We are placed in the position, according to the Government, of having to implement national service training on a compulsory basis to keep our Army up to strength, but the numbers that the Government proposes to take into service are less than were offering under the voluntary system before the Government introduced conscription. When we question the Government about this and ask why only a small number are being accepted we are told that only a small number come up to the standards required by the Services. In time of war 95 per cent, of those offering would be accepted. If they are free to join the Army and to fight when there is a war on, how can someone figure out that they are not of any use when we are at peace? If the Government maintains that the men already accepted will be needed in time of war as instructors, it means that if war breaks out we will have no Army at all. In other words, the Government is going to disband whatever units it has and use the men concerned to train others. So the country will then be wide open. No doubt the Government will send an urgent message to America to come and defend us while we organise.

Mr Mackinnon:

– Like a previous Labour Government.

Mr GRAY:

– We did not do that. As has been pointed out by one of my colleagues, we were at war for two years before the Americans came into the field. If anybody stood between us and our enemies during the last war, it was not the Americans but the British. Of course, it is not very fashionable to be pro-British these days, according to our friends on the opposite side of the House.

Mr Turnbull:

– The honorable member should not look at me when he is saying that.

Mr GRAY:

– I did not look at the honorable member. He took it up himself. If the cap fits, he should wear it.

Mr Robinson:

– Tell us about Borneo.

Mr GRAY:

– I have just told the honorable gentleman about Borneo. The Government has sent Australian troops there, but what arrangements has it made for any support from the Americans if they are attacked? Let us not forget that they face the fifth largest country in the world - Indonesia. It is many times more powerful militarily and in terms of numbers than are South Vietnam and North Vietnam put together. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) said that the South Vietnamese were worth fighting for. But General Eisenhower, a former President of the United States of America, has stated in a book which he wrote that it was expected that, if elections had been held in South Vietnam 80 per cent, of the South Vietnamese would have voted for Ho Chi Minh. If General Eisenhower does not know what he is talking about, then somebody on the Government side of this House should tell him. He said that that was why there was no election in South Vietnam.

Mr Robinson:

– Tell the rest of the story.

Mr GRAY:

– There is not much more to tell. If 80 per cent, of the people that you are ‘backing up are backing up the people you are against you ought to get out and stay out.

Mr Robinson:

– Tell us why the vote would have gone that way. The Communists are the cause.

Mr GRAY:

– The reason is quite obvious. The vote would have gone that way either because the propaganda from the north was more effective than that of the Americans or because the South Vietnamese prefer their compatriots in the north to foreigners. That is quite a proposition. I should say that if this country had been as successfully invaded by the Japanese or anybody else, we would have been prepared to support a Liberal Government against them. So it can be seen that the South Vietnamese may prefer their northern compatriots to outsiders. This is no doubt why 80 per cent, of them are prepared to vote for Ho Chi Minh. At least he is a Vietnamese.

The whole of the Government’s defence programme is unsatisfactory. We on this side of the House have said before - we say it again - that the object in organising our defences is to defend this country. If it can be shown that the best place at which to defend the country is outside it, we are prepared to accept that fact. But in this instance that has not been proved. There is not the slightest shadow of doubt that we are prepared to commit everything we have to defend Papua and New Guinea, which we regard as being an integral part of our territory.

We are committed to assisting the people of Malaysia, but we have said before and we say again that we prefer to do it on the basis of an open treaty with the Malaysians. When all is said and done, it is they who are involved. We do not go there saying that we are there to keep the Communists out because of any risk that confronts us so much as saying that we are prepared to join democratic people in the defence of their democratic rights. We have no treaty with the Malaysians. We have no treaty with the South Vietnamese. Yet we are committed to the military defence of both countries. Such treaties should be in existence. They should be made public and their terms and conditions should be known to every person in this nation who is interested.

What have we to do in these countries? We do not even know why we are in South Vietnam. It has been said in this House - the statement has been repeated tonight - that we are there because the Americans have asked us to go there. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has said that that is not so. Our troops are not in South Vietnam because of the Americans, according to the Government. They are there because the South Vietnamese asked us to send them. Yet between the time that we were asked to send troops to South Vietnam and now, the Government of that country has changed three times. As a matter of fact it has been shown that the Americans who are in occupation of that country sometimes do not know which is the Government and which is not.

Mr Robinson:

– What rot.

Mr GRAY:

– That is right. Fancy being in a situation like that. I thoroughly agree with the Country Party member who said that it was rot. We are trying to tell the Government and its supporters that the whole concept is rot.

Mr Robinson:

– Why does not the honorable member go and have a look at it for himself?

Mr GRAY:

– I have been there. I have not only been there; I have lived there. That gives me some advantage over the honorable member who interjects, and I can tell honorable members that South Vietnam is a bad place to send young Australians.

Mr Devine:

– The honorable member who interjected would look good in a uniform.

Mr GRAY:

– Perhaps the honorable member will get a chance to wear one one of these days. I do not doubt for a moment that all those members on the Government side who are so anxious to conscript people and send them to South Vietnam would be prepared to go themselves.

Mr Bryant:

– One would reckon they would have been prepared to go long ago.

Mr GRAY:

– I think they would have gone long ago but they are just waiting to be conscripted. The number of Government supporters who have been there would not even equal the number of Liberals who are present in the chamber to hear this debate on the Defence Bill.

Mr Irwin:

– The honorable member would not blame them for that.

Mr GRAY:

– Perhaps the honorable member cannot blame them either but he would agree that this Bill is a subject of great importance to this country. Here we are, as I have said before, in the dying stages of this sitting. We have four Bills grouped together and are debating them together but we are faced with the accomplished fact that this decision has been made by the Government and there is nothing that this Parliament can do about it.

Once again, there was no reason why the defence forces of this nation could not have been built on a voluntary system, both the Permanent forces and the Citizen Military Forces. In 1939 we had 72,000 men in the C.M.F. There is no reason why we could not get this number of recruits again if the terms and conditions of service were now as they were then; if the people were convinced that the state of emergency was genuine and that we ran now the same risk of war as we did then. Honorable members opposite should remember that the troops we are to send to South East Asia are to be placed on the other side of a possible enemy. What would happen if we were attacked? This happened during World War II. We sent a division of men, not a battalion, into Malaya and lost them, with very few exceptions. That happened because the enemy got between us and our troops who were abroad. The House has already been reminded of the position we faced then. The balance of our troops were abroad and we found that Australia was left with practically nothing. We do not want that situation to occur again. Whatever troops the Government commits to overseas service, at least let us leave Australia in a position to defend itself. We need trained men, equipment and the organisation to enable us to defend ourselves, but today we have not got them.

This is not the fault of the men who serve in the forces. It is the fault of the Government which has not made the organisation available. It is ridiculous. When we count the number of combat units we have which could fight within a reasonable period, we realise that the combat strength of our Army, Air Force and Navy is not sufficient. It is not that 11 million people could not sustain a reasonable state of strength and organisation. It is simply because action is not being taken by the Government in power at this time. The Opposition has pointed out to the Government that countries far weaker in numbers than Australia are able to provide adequate defences.

We spend on defence a smaller proportion of our gross national income than practically any other nation in the world. Yet it is held up to us that we must go to the aid of the Americans. Surely they do not need the aid of 800 Australians. They want politically to raise another flag. They will get a few troops from us, a few from the Philippines, South Korea and various other places and say: “We are not alone here. We have these countries lined up with us “. Perhaps this is important. No doubt it is important to the United States of America, but the most important aspect for Australia is that here on our own territory we are able to put up some form of defence; that we are able to make some sort of show. Our action in sending 800 men - a battalion - to South Vietnam, means we are sending away about one-fifth of our total field forces. This should demonstrate to the public of this country how far down the scale we have fallen in organising the defence of Australia.

The Opposition believes that the Government has failed in its duty and that the money voted for defence has not been spent wisely. We have not received value for it. If we faced a real crisis tomorrow, we could not defend our own shores. We pay too much for what we buy. We are paying 22 million for each of three destroyers. If we buy a logistics ship in the United States, the price will be 15 million dollars - over £7 million. But the same ship can be bought in Sweden for £3 million.

Mr Robinson:

– Go back to sleep.

Mr GRAY:

– The honorable member who is interjecting has only to do a little research in the Library to find that what I have said is correct. We are paying through the nose for materials because the Government wants to buy them from its powerful and influential friends. We are not buying in the best market or making the best use of the money voted for defence purposes.

Australia does not have a complete aircraft industry because the Government claims that we do not have the population to support it. Yet we have pointed out to the Government that other nations with smaller populations have established aircraft industries. We have quoted the example of Sweden, a country which is building 600 Mirage type aircraft for its own use.

Mr Robinson:

– Tell us about Britain and its aircraft industry.

Mr GRAY:

– The British aircraft industry can turn out very good aircraft, but the Government refuses to buy them. The Government buys aircraft in the most expensive market.

There is not the slightest shadow of a doubt that it is idiocy to purchase military, naval and air force equipment abroad and not have in Australia the capacity to manufacture even the spare parts for that equipment. If the ships were built here and the equipment were manufactured here on a 100 per cent, basis, in an emergency our shipping and equipment losses could be replaced. Today that is not possible. The very best that the Government has claimed is that 85 per cent, of the Mirage fighter will be manufactured in Australia. Government supporters seem to be naive enough to imagine that De Gaulle would give us the planes we need if an emergency occurred. He would not give them, or even sell them to us. It is very doubtful that anybody else would accommodate us, if they found themselves at war. The first call on equipment is for national defence and not for the assistance of people who do not seem to have sufficient enterprise or common sense to establish and maintain their own military industry to provide employment for their own people and an opportunity for the technical experts to manufacture and design items suited to local conditions. That is one of the gravest errors committed by this Government - that it has failed to establish a defence industry to manufacture, at the very least, a proportion of our needs.

One of the main charges that the Opposition makes, Mr. Speaker, is that our defence industry is at present inadequate. Our position would be suicidal in time of war as our defence industry stands. It just has not the necessary capacity. Gone are the days when we could go to war today and wait for six months before being called on te provide any fighting force or any defence equipment to meet the crisis when it arose. Government supporters have themselves pointed out the changed circumstances of today. The Minister for Territories said that, in any future war, we shall not get an opportunity to prepare ourselves, because we might not even have a declaration of war. He told us that we could go to sleep one night and find ourselves at war in the morning. If this were to happen to Australia, we would not have the necessary capacity in our defence industry, we would not have the trained men that we would need and we would not have the necessary equipment to have to deal with the situation. This is the main basis for the Opposition’s criticism of the Government and the principal reason why we on this side of the chamber condemn the Administration outright on its handling of defence.

Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -

That the debate be adjourned.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 54

NOES: 37

Majority 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put -

That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour this day.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 54

NOES: 37

Majority . . . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative

page 2067

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL BILL 1965

In Committee.

Consideration resumed (vide page 2043).

Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 3.

Sections 19 to 23 (inclusive) of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - “18 a.- (1.) “19. - (1.) In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Division contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of, the quota of electors by more than one-fifth of the quota. “ (2.) For the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Division, to -

Mr CALWELL:
Leader of the Opposition · Melbourne

– I move -

In proposed section 19, omit sub-section (1.), insert the following sub-section: - “ (1.) In making any proposed distribution of a Stale into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall take the quota of electors as the basis for the distribution and may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-tenth more or one-tenth less.”.

This proposed amendment contains two propositions. The first is that we should return to the original provision in the Act which has lasted almost since Federation. That provision is to the effect that the Distribution Commissioners shall first establish the quota. Having established the quota they shall work from it. Under the provisions of the Bill now before us the Commissioners seem to have the widest possible choice but ultimately they come back to the quota. We think they should start with the quota, as has happened in every redistribution in the past, and not do what the Government suggests, namely, roam around and, after they have arranged a 10 per cent, variation in one place, a IS per cent, variation in another and an 18 per cent, variation somewhere else, finally come back to somewhere near what the quota is or should be. The Minister has not given a satisfactory explanation why a provision which has lasted for 60- odd years should now be departed from.

The second proposition is that the variation shall be in no case greater than 10 per cent. The quota should not vary more than 10 per cent, up or 10 per cent, down in any case, instead of a kind of nation wide variation of 10 per cent, for one section of the electors and 10 per cent, for another. The Government has given no reason why there should be a 20 per cent, variation.

It is true that the Act has remained almost, if not entirely, unaltered since its introduction in the early days of this Federation. But the truth is also that the Distribution Commissioners have never used the 20 per cent, in any case. As I said during the second reading debate, the maximum variation was 13.7 per cent, in the case of Kalgoorlie.

Mr Freeth:

– No. 17 per cent.

Mr CALWELL:

– I accept the correction It was 17 per cent, in the case of Kalgoorlie. It was never 20 per cent.

Mr Anthony:

– In Capricornia it was 18 per cent, over last time.

Mr CALWELL:

– I know. That was one of the reasons why the House rejected the redistribution proposals.. It was a scandalous thing. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), with an electorate on the Tropic of Capricorn 300 miles north of Brisbane, had more electors in his electorate than any member holding a seat in the Brisbane area. We felt that it was so disgraceful that it should be rejected. We also felt that the redistribution in Western Australia was so outrageously unfair - it would have obliterated the Country Party in that State and reduced Labour Party representation in that State from three to one - that it had to be rejected.

We are not sure what will happen this time, and because we are not sure we are not prepared to take the risk. When in doubt you vote “ no “. I believe that on this occasion the Committee ought to vote against the proposition that the Government has put forward because we have not adequate information on what the Government proposes to do. The clause is so vague and so uncertain that, in the hands of Distribution Commissioners who may not be sympathetic to the principle of one vote one value or something like that, we in this Parliament could be presented with a redistribution which would be a disgrace to the electoral system.

Mr TURNER:
Bradfield

.- I propose to support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I have given notice of an amendment not to line 16 but to line 18 of this clause. However, the Opposition has priority, first because its amendment is to a line before the line to which my proposed amendment relates and, secondly, because the practice is for the Chair to call a member of the Opposition first in these debates. But, since my proposed amendment is on all fours with the amendment moved by the

Leader of the Opposition, I propose to support the Opposition’s amendment. 1 should like to carry out a brief analysis of section 19 of the principal Act, which is proposed to be amended in this clause. Looking at the present provision and the proposed new provision one finds that in some details there are quite significant changes; in other cases the same considerations are to be taken into account by the Distribution Commissioners; and in yet other cases there are new provisions altogether. Let me take them in turn and examine them side by side. First, the present section says that the Commissioners shall take into account “community or diversity of interest”. The proposed new provision is that they shall take into account “ community of interests . . . including economic, social and regional interests”. To me that is quite significant, because the latter phrase suggests to me a country area rather than any city area. The second matter in the present provision is “ means of communication “. The proposed new provision is “ means of communication and travel . . . with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance”. Quite clearly, the proposed new provision is loaded in favour of country electorates. The change in phraseology is quite significant. I come now to the provisions which are the same in the present section and in the proposed new section. The first is “physical features”. That is quite a neutral matter. The second is “ existing boundaries of Divisions and Subdivisions “.

Finally I come to the third category, the completely new factors for which there is no similar provision in the existing Act. The first is “ the density or sparsity of population of the Division “. That is something that was not to be taken into account in the past. Clearly, this provision will load the scales in favour of country electorates. The next matter in this category is “ the area of the Division “. Again this is something not taken into account in the past but it is to be taken into account under the proposed new section. The third new matter for which there is no corresponding provision in the existing Act is “ the trend of population changes within the State”. I do not know what that means. It is not the trend of changes within divisions - that is, where, within a particular division, there tends to be a growth in population and in another division there tends to be a static population. The phrase used is “ the trend of population changes within the State “. I simply do not know what this means and I seek some enlightenment from the Minister. Of course, when the Commissioners are interpreting this provision what the Minister has to say in this debate will not be important.

Finally, there is one omission. Under the old Act the State electoral boundaries were to be taken into account, but now State electoral boundaries are not to be taken into account. I think that this is an admission that almost all State electoral boundaries in Australia tend to be rigged. This is an admission that we do not want to have that rigging in this Parliament. Of course, this is all to the good. It seems to me from this detailed examination of the provisions in the old Act and the provisions proposed to be inserted that these amendments amount to weighting the scales in favour of rural electorates and departing from the principle of one vote one value to which I completely adhere.

There is one other point I should like to make clear before I conclude. I think there has been a tendency for the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) and other Country Party spokesmen to argue that, in effect, there should be not one quota from which we can depart 20 per cent, up or 20 per cent, down but with two quotas; that, in effect, in respect of country electorates we start with a quota which is 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, lower than the quota with which we start for city electorates. I can have no part in this. I cannot accept it in any shape or form. I would accept the view that we have a quota and that we may depart from it up or down in a country electorate and we may depart from it up or down in a city electorate, but not that we uniformly depart from it down in a country electorate and up in a city electorate. This I cannot accept.

For these reasons I intend to vote for the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition - an amendment that is on all fours with an amendment I would have moved. I would make one qualification. There are perhaps half a dozen electorates - Kalgoorlie, Darling, Kennedy, Leichhardt, Herbert and Maranoa - all vast areas of over 100,000 square miles where it might be difficult as a practical matter to depart no more than 10 per cent, downwards from the quota. I would have no objection, if it were possible within the forms of the Committee, to introducing an amendment that would make a discrimination in favour of those electorates. We could discriminate on the basis that there might be a departure up to 20 per cent, in the case of electorates exceeding 100,000 square miles in area.

I would make this qualification, not as my friends of the Country Party might suppose that I accept their argument in any shape or form, but simply because I believe the existence of these larger electorates provides them with a stalking horse to enable them to advance claims that have no validity in respect of other country electorates. I should like to remove the stalking horse. So, for the reasons I have given, I intend to support the amendment moved by the Opposition.

Mr WHITLAM:
Deputy Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Many of the arguments which bear on this amendment were given in the second reading debate which occupied this afternoon’s session and a large part of this morning’s session. That debate was suspended so that the House could proceed with the Defence Bills tonight. Now the Defence Bills have been adjourned so that the House can deal with some of the Committee stages of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. The debate on the Defence Bills will not now be resumed until tomorrow. Therefore I would suggest to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) and his colleagues in the Ministry that they could well adjourn the debate on this Bill at a reasonable hour tonight. We do not wish to be met with the situation which confronted us in 1961 when amendments to the Principal Act were last the subject of a substantial debate. On that occasion we proceeded until 5.45 in the morning. Six amendments have been circulated. If there is to be a meaningful debate on those amendments, clearly the debate in the Committee will proceed for many hours. Since the House will be sitting tomorrow in any case-

Mr Killen:

– At what time?

Mr WHITLAM:

– At 2.30 p.m. I assume, in accordance with the Standing

Orders. The Government does not have the numbers to suspend the Standing Orders, so the House will sit tomorrow. It must do so to deal with the defence legislation. It might as well proceed also with the Commonwealth Electoral Bill in Committee at a decent hour tomorrow.

Let me deal, however, with the first of the six amendments circulated to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. The Opposition has two objectives in supporting this amendment. The first is to assert that the quota of electors for the divisions in each State should continue to be the basis for the distribution of every electorate in that State. The second is to assert that now the quota should never be departed from by more than one tenth either way instead of one fifth as it has been up to now. Honorable members, will remember that section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act has stood since 1902. It was intended, as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) pointed out in his second reading speech, to ensure the principle of one vote one value in elections for the House of Representatives in this country. The section reads -

In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to -

Five factors - and subject thereto the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution -

I repeat - the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution, and the Distribution Commissioners may adopt a margin of allowance, to be used whenever necessary, but in no case shall the quota be departed from to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less.

The Minister has introduced a Bill which will repeal section 19 and substitute a new section 19 with two sub-sections. Sub-section (2.) lists the factors which the Commissioners must take into consideration from now on. There are four of the original five factors. There are additions to one of those four, and there are three new factors. Subsection (1.) of proposed section 19 reads -

In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Division contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of, the quota of electors by more than one-fifth of the quota.

It will be noticed that there is no reference to the quota being the basis of a distribution from now on. The amendment which the

Opposition has moved re-inserts the words that have stood since 1902 - that is, it will assert the basic principle that in making divisions of any State for election to this House the quota shall be the basis. Reading sub-section (2.), taking into account the factors there listed, and applying them to subsection (1.) I believe it is quite clear that the Commissioners will be bound to start with the proposition that country electorates - that is, large, sparse, remote or distant electorates, to use the terms in the factors - shall have a population of one-fifth less than the quota and that electorates which do not have those characteristics - city electorates - shall start with a population one-fifth larger than the quota. That means that country electorates will start with a quota of 40,000 or 36,000 and city electorates will start with a quota of 60,000 or 54,000, depending on whether the quota is 50,000 or 45,000.

This is a complete distortion of the principles which have applied until now for the House of Representatives and, amongst the State Parliaments, for the House of Assembly in Tasmania, which is elected on Commonwealth divisions, and in recent years for the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, which is also elected on Commonwealth divisions. The consequence of the amendment that the Minister has moved, and which his leader has supported, will be that in the House of Representatives for the first time in its history we shall have the gerrymanders which have debased the lower House in all the Parliaments on the mainland until Victoria, about 10 years ago, adopted the same distribution as the Commonwealth has. Victoria is now abandoning this distribution. That means that every popular House on the mainland will be gerrymandered if this amendment goes through.

The first objective of the amendment is to restore the principle of one vote one value - to restore the principle that the quota shall be the basis instead of the remoteness, the size or the sparseness of population of the electorate, or the converse, as it may be. The other objective of the amendment is to reduce the margin from one-fifth to one-tenth. The Constitution! Review Committee reported to both Houses in October 1958 that it was quite manageable to make this reduction. Many members of the Committee thought that the reduction should have been greater still, but no member of the Committee thought that there was any justification for having a margin larger than one-tenth. The two distinguished and experienced members of the Australian Country Party on the Committee never suggested that it was necessary to have a margin of more than one-tenth.

Mr Holten:

– Never?

Mr WHITLAM:

– Never. I challenge the honorable member to show me any part of the report of the Constitutional Review Committee that suggests anything other than that. The only instances in which there have been larger deviations in distributions up to now have been the electorates of Darling, Kalgoorlie and Kennedy. These electorates are much smaller than they ever were before, in area and in population. Now, moreover, for the first time Aborigines can be enrolled and can vote. These happen to be electorates where great numbers of Aborigines reside. If the number of Aborigines living in each of these electorates were added to the number of electors in the electorates, the margin for each would be less than 10 per cent. The position has improved since the report of the Constitutional Review Committee because Aborigines can now vote.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

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

Mr KILLEN:
Moreton

.- I must thank my honorable and learned friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), for his courtesy in informing me of what the sittings of the House will be. I only hope that my honorable friend’s information is backed with the quality of substance and accuracy and that we shall indeed sit tomorrow.

Mr Whitlam:

– Of course we must, if we are to put through the Bills relating to defence.

Mr KILLEN:

– I do not know. If my honorable friend were to be exposed to a little bit of charm, goodness only knows what would happen. At any rate, I put that to one side. I would like in the few minutes available to me to go back to 1898. I will go back to the Australian Federal Convention. Let me persuade my honorable friend the member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), with his strange sense of history, to come back with me to 1898; back to the Federal Convention in Melbourne, where the gentlemen who proposed this motion before the convention said -

I propose to again test the feeling of the convention with regard to the proposal to have a fixed quota. I move -

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each State shall have one representative for every 50,000 of its people.

In other words, what the mover of that motion proposed was a stark acceptance of the principle of “ one vote, one value “. I do not want to hold anybody in a sense of wonderment, but who was the gentleman who moved that motion? It was a gentleman by the name of Turner - Sir George Turner. Looking at my honorable friend the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), my affection for whom I dare not and will not disguise, I venture to suggest that it was the honorable gentleman’s grandfather, at least. Whatever may be said about the Turner breed, it is resilient. Here was Sir George Turner in 1898, voting for one representative for every 50,000 of the people, with no quotas, no scope for manoeuvre or manipulation and no scope for adjustment, but for one vote one value. I do not know what my honorable friend’s family motto is, but I venture to suggest, in my bumbling Latin way, that it must be: “Dum spiro spero “, or “ While I breathe I hope “. There was Sir George Turner in 1898, and here is Mr. Harry Turner in 1965. I must tell my honorable friend, to relieve him of any anxiety about the fate of this amendment of Sir George Turner’s in 1 898, that it was defeated by 10 votes. But this has none of the touch of novelty about it at all; none whatsoever. Indeed, when the first Electoral Act was debated in 1902, no less an authority than Sir John Quick took the view that Parliament, and Parliament alone, should determine the boundaries for Federal electorates. If anybody on either side of the Parliament were today to propound the point of view that the boundaries of our divisions should be determined by Parliament and by Parliament alone, I venture to suggest that he would get the white of the eye. But Sir John said -

Of late years there has been a fatal tendency to rob Parliament of its powers and functions and transfer them to apparently irresponsible boards and commissions.

This had all the rapture of language about it in 1902 and I think that I have made a speech on odd occasions which had something of the same sentiment in it. But that was the view of Sir John Quick, when this Parliament, in 1902, first discussed the question of the Electoral Act. When this Act was first before Parliament there were two extreme points of view.

Mr Whitlam:

– At this rate the honorable member will never get to the amendment of 1965.

Mr KILLEN:

– I can come up to date in a hurry, which is something which I confess that my honorable friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has difficulty in doing. I will be quick. I will be sudden. But let me quote what Mr. Deakin said in 1902. Please forgive this historical excursion, but I will point out its relevance in a moment or two. Mr. Deakin said -

The reason why no absolute quota is laid down is to allow a large margin, so that the circumstances of the country districts may be considered.

That was Mr. Deakin’s point of view in 1902. If I may interrupt myself, I still think it has a sharp relevance today. I take the view of Mr. Watson, the Labour leader of that time, who said -

If we make special provision for country voters we might as well make special provision for gum trees.

This, if I might say so with respect, is relevant to the point of view put forward by my friend from Bradfield. But how real is this splitting, how real is this dichotomy today? I venture to suggest that the whole of the cause of one vote one value today is not related merely, as my friend the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) may suggest, to the circumstances of country electorates; it has a sharper relevance to the circumstances of metropolitan and urban electorates. Let me give the Committee an illustration. My very good friend from Griffith (Mr. Coutts) has an electorate in which there are now 41,475 voters. I have an electorate of 64,000. 1 am sure my friend would agree with me that there is perceptibly a constant change going on, with people moving out of his electorate and into mine. I do not resort to any narrow grounds to give reasons why they are leaving my friend from Griffith and coming to me. The fact is that a similar tendency is apparent in every city in Australia today; people are moving out of the centres of cities and into the outskirts of cities. Wherever you go in Australia today you find this trend revealed.

Why does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) put the bracelets of virtue on 10 per cent.? Why pick on 10 per cent.? If your argument is for one vote one value you must be constant in propounding your principles and in defending them, and I venture to suggest that if you work on the basis of 10 per cent, representing the very embodiment of all that is right and proper you can reach a somewhat ambiguous situation. If you have an electorate of 40,000 - please correct me if my mathematics are on the blink - a reduction of 10 per cent, can bring it down to 36,000 and an increase of 10 per cent, can bring it up to 44,000, so that you could have a difference of 8,000 between the two extremes. Is this an expression of one vote one value?

I am sure that my friend, on reflection, would agree with me that if you propound the argument of one vote one value you must carry the argument right through. I would recognise it as being a valid and extremely intelligent argument if it were put this way: “ One vote one value - no up, no down, no allowance, no scope for adjustment whatsoever “. But the wheel in our contemporary Australian society has turned full circle today, and this no longer involves primarily a consideration of the position of country electorates warranting scope for adjustment; it is the disposition of so many people in the cities who want to move out of the cities and into the outer suburbs that predicates the need for those in charge of the electorates to have some area of adjustment one way or the other. As a consequence I am bound to say to my friend from Bradfield, in the words of Hamlet -

Popp’d in between the election and my hopes.

The prospects of having a 10 per cent, adjustment accepted seem to me to be remote as of now. Unless my friend has any further argument, I regret that I cannot support him.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) seemed to me to be talking against his conscience. He is trying to obscure the fact that in his heart he believes in the principle of one vote one value. Somebody has pointed out by interjection that he has a clean conscience because he has never used it. The honorable member obviously believes in one vote one value, as I think any dinkum democratic Australian ought to. It is nonsense to suggest that our administrative machinery cannot produce an electoral distribution that answers the requirement of one vote one value. We on this side of the House, therefore, hope that a large number of honorable members on the opposite side will go as far along the road to the ideal as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and, I hope, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), are going this evening. This seems to me to be one of the issues before the House, apart from the quibbles, one might say, about the one-tenth variation.

I want to address the House principally on what might be called the concealed difficulties or dangers in the proposed section 19 which provides that the Commissioners shall give due consideration to -

  1. the density or sparsity of popuation of the Division;
  2. the area of the Division.

This is old stuff. This is the very basis upon which Australian governments have rigged boundaries and gerrymandered for the last century. It is part of the tragedy of Australian politics that governments - and, unfortunately on occasions, I am afraid, Labour governments - have failed to abide by the simple democratic rule that the majority will shall prevail.

I answer, just in passing, the question that the honorable member for Moreton raised about the 1898 convention. The simple fact that you take 50,000 as the quota for each seat does not mean that you are going to quota one member for every 50,000 electors. It does not mean that you believe in one vote one value, because it all depends on the person who draws the electoral boundaries. You could still have electorates with 200,000 people and others with 10,000 people. You need not have this mystical concept at all. At the present time the Country Farty and the Liberal Party in Victoria are going to inflict upon the citizens of that State a complement of the legislation that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) is going to inflict upon the people of the Commonwealth as a whole. The sad part of it is that the continual effort by the Country Party and the Liberal Party, backed by tradition, backed by plausible arguments and by the fact that they have so much effective political power in Australia, is a denial of democratic government to the majority of the people.

I shall take the example of what is happening in Victoria. The situation there is partly a result of the fact that we did not get around to a redistribution in due time in the Commonwealth. As the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) pointed out this afternoon, in 1952, in the only election in Australia that I can recall that has been fought on the simple question of electoral reform, the parties opposite were, to use a term, liquidated. The figures escape me offhand, but I think that the representation of the Liberal Party in the Victorian Parliament at the time was reduced from 21 to 9 members. The Labour Party had a sweeping victory on a simple programme of electoral reform. The people of Victoria voted for it in majestic numbers. If the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), who is interjecting, can explain and clear his conscience on how 2 million people’s votes ought to count for more than 2,500,000 people’s votes, let him stand up and say so.

It appears to me that there is a concerted effort by the Liberal Party and the Country Party in Australia to gerrymander and to rig the Parliament so that the alternative government, which in this case is the Labour Party, will be effectively excluded from gaining office. The principle that has been applied in the Port Phillip area in Victoria is for 44 seats with a quota of 25,000 electors. In the country areas there are to be 29 seats with an average quota of 19,000 electors, and in the rural districts there are to be 21 seats with an average quota of 18,200 electors. You can sit down an work out all sorts of combinations. You can get out all types of slide rules and use all sorts of plausible arguments to show that you ought to have votes for space and not for people. The besetting example, the most magnificent one of all, is in relation to the Victorian Legislative Council. I was intrigued this afternoon to hear the Minister for the Interior speak about democracy. He must have read about it somewhere. It is obvious that his Party has no intention of extending it or trying to implement it. I remark in passing that the Victorian position-

Mr Irwin:

– I raise a point of order. This has nothing to do with the Bill or the amendment which we are discussing.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury:
RYAN, QUEENSLAND

– I ask the honorable member to keep within the confines of the clause.

Mr BRYANT:

– The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) rarely speaks, and on this occasion he is just as incoherent as ever. The position being produced is that there are as many as 117,000 in metropolitan electorates and from 58,000 to 80,000 in country electorates. In this legislation we see a concerted plan to subvert the proper processes of democratic government in Australia.

There is no doubt in my mind that most honorable members opposite - those of the Liberal Party at least - are deeply concerned about the implications of paragraphs (d) and (e) which deal respectively with the density or sparseness of population of a division, and the area of a division. In a country such as this there is no validity in the argument that space should be represented in this House. Politics is for people; it is not for space. Honorable members have only to consider the possibility of drawing a few electoral boundary lines across the Great Australian Bight, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Coral Sea to realise the absurd length to which this suggestion could be taken. The Country Party is doing the country a great disservice.

Reduced to a matter of simple arithmetic, what would be the effect of a statutory difference between electorates as members of the Country Party would wish, or of any other basis other than one vote one value. Take the western part of Victoria which includes the electorates of Wimmera, Wannon, Mallee, Murray and Corangamite. If a differential in quota between city and country electorates were to apply, probably there would be sufficient numbers in those five electorates alone for another seat. So in that area there would be, perhaps, a sixth seat if there were a difference in quota of from 5,000 to 10,000.

In Australia, politics are pretty evenly balanced. Despite the fact that Labour has not had any notable victories in this Parliament in the last few years, the balance between the parties is fairly fine. At the last Senate election in Victoria, the Labour Party received more votes on the first count than did the Liberal and Country Parties. The balance was adjusted by the preferences of the Democratic Labour Party. In South

Australia there is usually a fairly large majority of votes for the Labour Party. Even in the worst of times from Labour’s point of view there is not more than a 3 per cent, or 4 per cent, difference between political parties in Australia. This has been a feature of Australian politics since 1910. You do not need to rig boundaries much to affect Australian politics decisively. If you create a position where a body of electors will return one or two extra members for every 300,000 or 400,000 voters, you will find that another seat or two could be added. Spread over the 4 million voters of Australia this would represent another ten seats, probably in areas where, as far as honorable members opposite are concerned, the majority of people might well vote in their most misguided way for the Government.

In the history of elections in this country during the last 50 years a margin of 8 or 9 seats has been a decisive factor. I ask honorable members opposite to examine this matter on the basis of conscience and pure democracy. We on this side of the House are prepared to abide by the will of the majority. Let the people make mistakes if they will, but let the electorates be arranged in such a way that if the people do make the mistake of voting for honorable members opposite, the parties opposite will be returned to office by a majority vote; if, on the other hand, the people vote for our party then we will be returned to office. Any tinkering with that principle is against Australia’s national interests and against the general spirit in which government in this country has been carried out over the last 60 years.

Mr WENTWORTH:
Mackellar

– Like the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), I would prefer to vote for the amendment that the honorable member for Bradfield has moved rather than the amendment moved by the Opposition. However, I understand that the forms of the House are such as to make it necessary for me to take the latter course. I regret this just as the honorable member for Bradfield does.

I would prefer the one-tenth margin rather than the one-fifth margin for a couple of reasons. The first is that the provisions of proposed new section 19 are rather hard to determine, and they do not define what the Commissioners are to do. The Electoral Commissioners are to give due consideration; but what consideration? How are they to weigh up the conflicting trends one way or the other? The Bill does not say this. When there is this degree of uncertainty, I do not think that the Parliament should part with its law making powers more than is constrained upon it.

Secondly, I am still not entirely happy about section 16 in the existing Act because, under that section, there is still too much latitude in the appointment of the Commissioners who make this distribution. If the Commissioners who aTe to make this distribution were more defined by the Act, I would have less hesitation in supporting the principle of one-fifth variation rather than one-tenth variation. Under section 16, there is a very large optional scope on the appointment of Electoral Commissioners. They are to be the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, or an officer having similar qualifications; they are to be the SurveyorGeneral of the State, or an officer having similar qualifications, and another chairman who is to be appointed apparently with some degree of arbitrariness. In this position, the Government and the Department of the Interior - one must think of future governments as well as this Government - have a great deal of power of manipulation. We saw this happen in New South Wales over the last 20 years. Let us be frank about it. The way in which the Government of New South Wales gerrymandered the seats was by manipulating the Commission that distributed the seats. That is the plain fact of the matter. I would prefer-

Mr Cope:

Mr. Temporary Chairman, I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable gentleman in order in reflecting on a Supreme Court Judge of New South Wales who was in charge of that redistribution?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury:

– Order! I did not take it that the honorable member was reflecting on a judge.

Mr Daly:

– Of course he did. He said that he was crook.

Mr WENTWORTH:

– I said that the Commission was manipulated. I did not say which members of the Commission were manipulated.

Mr Cope:

Mr. Temporary Chairman, have you given a ruling on my point of order?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

Order! I give the ruling that the Commission is not a judicial body.

Mr WENTWORTH:

– If there was, for example, a provision in section 16 that the Chairman of the Commission should be the Chief Justice or some other Justice of the High Court nominated by him and that the other two members should be the holders of specific offices and not just such holders or officers having similar qualifications, then I think we would be rather freer to give a greater margin. But when a margin is being given to people who are chosen by favour, as it were, and they are given a margin which is to be determined on numbers that it is hard to define, I would feel myself that one-fifth is too much.

Mr Cope:

Mr. Temporary Chairman, I rise to another point of order. Would you interpret Standing Order 75 to the Committee?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

Order! The Chair is not prepared to answer a hypothetical question. There is no substance in the point of order.

Mr Whitlam:

– On the point of order, Standing Order 75 states in effect that an honorable member shall not reflect upon a member of the judiciary. You said, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the honorable member for Mackellar was not in breach of the Standing Orders because the Electoral Commission was not a judicial body. The Standing Orders do not make a reference to a “ judicial body “. They make a reference to a member of the judiciary.

Mr Irwin:

– I rise to order. The Chairman of the Commission was not a member of the judiciary.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Mr Whitlam:

– The honorable member for Mitchell is a retired banker, but that does not mean that he is not a member of Parliament. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission had to be a member of the judiciary. In reflecting on the body, whether it is a judicial one or not, one is reflecting on a member of the judiciary. I submit that the honorable member for Mckellar is in breach of the Standing Orders in reflecting on this body, one member of which had to be a member of the judiciary.

Mr Wentworth:

– I rise to order. The decision of the Commission was a majority vote. The member of the judiciary, the Chairman, might have been in a minority of one against a majority of two. I have not said anything against a member of the judiciary. The other two members might have been the offenders. I feel that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is being a little ungrateful by taking this kind of point of order when I am going to support his amendment.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

I ask the honorable member for Mackellar to resume his seat for a moment. My interpretation is that, for the argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to apply, the judge must have been acting in a judicial capacity. I do not think that in this particular case he was acting in a strictly judicial capacity. The honorable member for Mackellar may proceed.

Mr WENTWORTH:

– Thank you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. It seems to me that while we have the provisions of section 16 as they are we would be unwise to allow this bigger margin. I did not take very kindly to the point made by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) or the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) to the effect that there should be no flexibility. This is quite silly, because we must have some kind of margin. The divisions do not fall into geographical limits, so we must have some kind of working margin. What I am saying is that we should not have the principle under which a vote in the country is more important than a vote in the city. Each vote should be worth the same. There must be a working margin. Let us remember also that the elections are not necessarily held on the numbers of electors at the time of distribution because the electorates vary in size in different places. We are concerned not with the electors merely at the time of redistribution but with the numbers of electors during the currency of the distribution of electorates. For that reason I think it is particularly important that we introduce this concept of trends. Like the honorable member for

Bradfield, I would be very glad if the Minister would put on record exactly what this phrase is intended to mean.

Mr BEATON:
Bendigo

– I am delighted that at last two Government supporters - members of the Liberal Party of Australia - have seen the light and have sensed the motive behind the proposal put forward by the Government. I am sorry that all other honorable members opposite can be classed as lost souls who have cast aside democracy in aiding and abetting the Australian Country Party in its grapple for power. This legislation reveals nothing but a grapple and a greed for power. I want to go on record as saying that the Liberal Party and the members of the Liberal Party in this place will regret their stand on this measure in the years to come. For years to come the Country Party will be hanging around their necks like parasites. The Liberal Party will regret this legislation in years to come. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) a few moments ago spoke of one vote one value, but we got little value out of his speech. For most of his speech he was content to talk about the turn of the century. He mentioned something that happened in 1898. I suppose that is understandable because, when all is said and done, the basic thinking behind the economic policies of the Government comes from the 19th century and certainly not the 20th century.

As a country member, I want to place on record my opposition to what I believe is a blatant gerrymander. This can be seen from the thoughts and actions of members of the Government and the Australian Country Party not only inside this chamber but outside. Indeed, this afternoon we heard the Leader of the Country Party trying to soft pedal. He said that we of the Opposition were concerned about this measure, and he wondered why. I propose to quote a statement made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is a member of the Country Party. Of course I refer to the Murwillumbah “Daily News”. That newspaper said that at a Country Party - dinner the Minister had said he would make sure that fewer people were required to elect representatives in country areas than in the cities. He said he would make sure. This is extremely important. I ask the Minister exactly what he meant when he said he would make sure that fewer people would be required to elect representatives in country areas than in the cities. I reject this proposal entirely.

I am a country member, but I do not believe that a voter in my electorate should have greater voting power than an elector in a city or near a city. I should like the Minister to say why he said he would make sure. Was this an overt direction to the Distribution Commissioners to take note of what he said and of the contents of the measure now before us? That may well be so. We have prided ourselves, and so has the Government on a great number of occasions, on our democracy. What does the word “ democracy “ mean? I shall go back even further than did the honorable member for Moreton, who went back to the turn of the century. Let us go back to the times of the ancient Greeks and see where the word came from. It came from the root word “ demos “ which means the people, and the word “ kratos “ which means power. So “ democracy “ means the power of the people, or the rule of the people.

Bearing in mind what I have just said, I want to make another quotation from the speech delivered by the Minister at Murwillumbah. The Press report reads -

He said Australia’s electoral system was the finest in the world, but lacked territorial representation.

So no longer are we to be a democracy - a country that is ruled by the people. Now we are to take into consideration territory as well - square miles and acres of land - sheep, cattle, gum trees and so on. All these are to have a say in what happens in the National Parliament. In “ territorial representation “ the Minister has coined a new phrase. In the years to come the Liberal Party will regret that it ever heard the term. What the Minister had to say about territorial representation has been carried forward into proposed new section 19 (2.), in particular paragraphs (b), (d), (e) and (f). They read as follows -

  1. means of communication and travel within the Division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance;
  2. the density or sparsity of population of the Division;
  3. the area of the Division;
  4. the physical features of the Division;

So this is where the territory comes in. No longer do people count. But area - Territory - counts. I suggest that this proposal is a casting aside of democracy in the real sense of the term. This phase is very significant indeed. It hearkens back to the words he said at Murwillumbah. The newspaper report continued -

Representation now was based on population, not area, with the result that power in Parliament was confined to the heavy populated areas.

According to the information supplied to me - and it came from the Parliamentary Allowances Act under which honorable members are defined as being either city or country members - we find that there arc 61 metropolitan electorates and 63 country electorates. Indeed power is not confined to city areas or to heavily populated areas. We find, according to the Parliamentary Allowances Act, that there are 63 country members and 61 city members. The Minister is shaking his head but this information was supplied to me and is quite authentic. I am perfectly happy for him to have a look at it if he so desires.

Mr. Chairman, what 1 want to know, and what honorable members including members of the Liberal Party ought to think about is this: What is Ure motive behind this particular proposal? We all know that this Bill is the result of some horse trading between the Leader of the Country Party and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). There is no question about that. It is a case of saying: “ You give us this or else we will not give you support “. Let us be frank about it. That is the situation. But what is the motive behind the Country Party? The Country Party says that it believes there should be more country representation but I think it has left a word out. What it actually wants is more Country Party representation. There is no question about that at all.

The Country Party says that, in order to aid development of country areas, it is necessary to have more country members in Parliament. Of course it means Country Party members. Let us consider the position in South Australia and see how this principle of the Country Party’s - if it can be called a principle - works out. In that State there are 39 members in the Lower House; 26 of them are country members and 13 are city members. The

Labour Party had to gain some 58 per cent, of the votes in order to win the last State election, yet this is called democracy. But the truth is that this imbalance in electorates in South Australia - 26 country electorates and 13 city electorates - has put a brake on the industrial development of country areas. The plain fact is that the 26 country members, those who belong to the Liberal and Country League in South Australia, do not want industrial development in their country areas. They fear that if industrial development occurs it will bring with it Labour voters. They are frightened of losing their seats. Let us be frank about this. That is the situation and there is no question about it. That situation in South Australia has resulted in it being the most centralised State in the Commonwealth. There can be no denying that.

Members of the Country Party have been very vocal about this particular Bill we are dealing with. They are the villains of the piece but members of the Liberal Party are accessories after the fact. They have bowed to pressure from the Country Party. I suggest that in the years to come members of the Liberal Party will have the Country Party hanging round their necks, like parasites, putting the pressure on. Those members of the Liberal Party who have bowed to this particular pressure now will regret it in the years to come.

Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee

.- I think the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) is a very friendly fellow and I am very friendly with him. However, I resent some of the things he said tonight. He said that, barring two honorable members, those who had spoken on the Government side of the chamber were in favour of the amendments proposed by the Government to the Electoral Act and were lost souls as far as democracy was concerned. As a democratic resident of this country I resent that statement. I think it is colossal cheek to say that we on this side of the chamber are without democratic principles. As far as I am concerned personally I resent that statement very much. Honorable members should understand that I resent it politically. It does not make any difference to me when I go outside the chamber because, as far as honorable members are concerned I realise - and the honorable member for Bendigo also realises this - that self-preservation is still the first law of the universe. He realises that is so in politics. Instead of saying, “I am against this Country Party proposition; I fear this proposition “, to tell the truth he should have said, “I fear the Country Party”. I took down some of his words. He several times said: “ The truth is “. He should have said: “ My opinion is “. I do not think what the honorable member said as representing the truth is really the truth; but I think he believed that it was.

The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) raised one or two points. He said that the trend of population is out of the centres of the cities to the fringes and around about the outer areas. Those fringes are only extensions of the metropolitan areas. Everybody knows that. In this debate I am not referring to the City of Melbourne or the City of Adelaide. I am referring to the metropolitan areas. This business about people moving out to the fringes of the cities is just so much nonsense in this connection. It has been asked: “What is the reason for this measure? “ It has been said that the Country Party has a sinister motive. Members of the Opposition have frequently made that allegation. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made it a feature of his speech that the population of Australia is spread around the coastal fringe and in the metropolitan areas. The honorable member for Bendigo has a motion dealing with decentralisation before this House, but in his speech he touched on everything but the vital point. The vital point is that decentralisation will continue to be a catchcry for politicians until political representation is decentralised.

The Opposition wants a margin of 10 per cent., but the Country Party maintains that it should be 20 per cent. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is an attempt to defeat the wishes of the Country Party. The general story of this matter is that we must try to decentralise the population. Everybody says that we must try to decentralise the population. Every honorable member in this House has either said or thought at some time that too many people live in the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne compared with other areas of Australia. Does anybody say that more people should live in Sydney? Everybody knows that a lot of people live in the metropolitan areas and that they represent a lot of votes. That is what counts in this country. Because a lot of people are congregated in the metropolitan areas, their votes are important at elections for State Parliaments and this Parliament. More amenities are granted for those people. Country people live without such amenities, so they say: “ We must move to the city”. How often I have heard that said.

People with families’ who are seeking work or higher education move to the city. When in the city they receive the benefits of the amenities brought about by the votes of the population in the congested areas. The new arrivals from the city swell the population even further. A census is taken and it is said: “ We must have more members to represent the people in the metropolitan areas”. It snowballs all the time. While it is snowballing and the population continues to increase in the cities, the population in the country areas is being reduced. One honorable member said that the population in certain parts of the country is increasing, but it is not increasing at anything like the rate of growth of the population in metropolitan areas. Suppose the Commissioners were to put into operation a margin of 20 per cent. Suppose also that the quota was 40,000. I know that it is more. But let us assume it is. That would mean that an electorate could have as many as 48,000 voters or as few as 32,000. I believe that the quota should operate on a 48,000 mark in metropolitan areas and a 32,000 mark in the country.

Honorable members opposite may talk as much as they like about democracy and about what has been said by great people all over the world throughout history. Abraham Lincoln said that democracy is the greatest good for the greatest number. I believe that democracy, operating in the way that I have suggested, would be the greatest good for the greatest number. This proposal relating to quotas would serve two purposes. It would attract population to decentralised country locations and it would tend to decrease the population in the cities. I have heard plenty of honorable members on both sides of the House, on numerous occasions, say that an enemy needs only to drop one bomb on any of our great metro politan centres to completely disrupt the supply of the goods and services on which the running of this country depends. Therefore, the Australian Country Party has long advocated this proposal concerning electoral quotas. No-one has advocated it in this House more than I have. Over the last 15 years, I have supported decentralisation at every available opportunity. On many occasions when the estimates for the Department of the Interior have been under consideration, I have spoken on this subject of electoral quotas and pointed out how our proposals would promote decentralisation. The Australian Labour Party has always been opposed to this electoral proposal.

Let me quickly mention one or two other features of the clause. I object to the one provision with which the Leader of the Opposition agrees. That is paragraph (c) of sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 19 of the principal Act, which would require the Distribution Commissioners to give due consideration to the trend of population changes. I believe that the redistribution of electoral boundaries should not be subject to the trend of population movement, but that redistribution should aim at encouraging the kind of population movement that would be beneficial to Australia. Our proposals relating to electoral quotas will have a tendence, in a way, to turn the trend of population movement from the city to the country. Therefore, I am against this provision, which happens to be the only one with which the Leader of the Opposition agrees.

We know that at present the trend of population is always to the cities. Opposition members say, for example, that in outlying parts of the metropolis of Melbourne, such as the North Essendon area, population is increasing and that, therefore, the numbers of voters in electorates in those areas are to be deliberately kept low in any redistribution of electoral boundaries so that, by the time of the distribution that will follow the next census, the numbers of voters in those electorates will not have grown too great, like the number in the electorate of Lalor. This is the sort of thing that happens when the Distribution Commissioners look four or five years ahead on the basis of the population trend. If that is done, the only result is to build up more and more the concentration of population in the cities. If, as I suggest, redistribution of electoral boundaries were effected in such a way as to encourage population movement away from the cities, we would really be getting somewhere in decentralisation. From the standpoint of democracy, that would really represent the greatest good for the greatest number.

Mr POLLARD:
Lalor

.- Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment. I look upon the Commonwealth Electoral Act as it now stands as the greatest insult ever offered to the people of Australia. I listened with rapt attention to my friend, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who, as we all know, was a distinguished soldier. As I look round this chamber, I see many other honorable members who are distinguished ex-servicemen, and I am not unconscious of the fact that, throughout Australia, in cities and towns and out in the country in the scrub among the sheep and the cattle, are hundreds of thousands of men who served their country on the field of battle. Yet, under the terms of this clause, an ex-serviceman who lives in a city is now to be treated as a second class citizen who is not considered capable of exercising the franchise with the same capacity as a fellow ex-serviceman who fought alongside him’ on the battlefield to secure this country’s survival but who happens now to live in a rural area.

In the dried fruits area of the Mallee, which the honorable member represents, are men of high intelligence engaged in producing food for the people of Australia and for overseas markets, but in Melbourne, in the city, in the foundries and in the ship building yards are many of the people who consume those products, who showed the same courage and made the same sacrifices on the battlefront but are unrecognised in this measure although they provide a market for the produce of the Mallee and the manufactured goods in which the honorable member clothes himself. In the offices of Melbourne are men of the highest professional qualifications on whom we depend for the designing of our buildings, factories, steel works and homes. In those offices are the directors of powerful companies, including monopolies. Being residents of the city, they are not credited with a sufficient degree of intelligence to know that their survival and their children’s survival depend upon the adequate development of the great outback and the inner country areas of Australia.

If you, Mr. Chairman, look at the political history of Australia and the variety of governments that have held office since Federation, you will be struck by the fact that from time to time we have had antiLabour Governments, the political complexion of a majority of which has been of a Liberal or Conservative character. Alternatively, we have had Labour Governments of a radical and socialistic character. Hitherto every one of these governments has stood firmly for the democratic principle of one vote one value, to the extent that this is practicable. Every one of them has left its mark in the advancement of the welfare of this country. It was a Labour Government, composed predominantly of city representatives, that built the transcontinental railway. It was a Labour Government that established the Commonwealth Bank. That Government, too, was substantially composed of men from the cities. Who have been the greatest beneficiaries from the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank if not the rural producers of Australia? They look to that institution for their credit and their financial wellbeing.

The great Australian Wheat Board, too, was created by a Labour Government, whose Ministers were predominantly of city origin. Today, the Australian Wheat Board draws its finance for the payment of11s. a bag as first advance from the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is part of the great Commonwealth banking institution which was created by Labour men, men from the foundries, the offices, the doctors’ surgeries, and the universities in the city. We have 500,000 people engaged in rural industry in Australia. From them come scientists and geniuses that eventually have to find their way to the cities to obtain jobs in the professions, the sciences, the teaching profession and many other avenues and avocations. It is an insult that when these young people leave their mothers’ apron strings because of lack of availability of land on which to farm and because they are born with brains, upon going to the cities, in the view of the rump in this Parliament, they have not sufficient intelligence, should they become members of this Parliament, to endeavour to guide the destinies of this country in a beneficial way for the development of rural areas.

The honorable member for Mallee talks about country areas. Let us have a look at the man who was most largely responsible for the development of irrigation in Australia. It is true that the Chaffey brothers were the people who established some irrigation settlements on the River Murray in an area which this gentleman from the Mallee represents, but the man in the Parliaments of Australia, particularly in the Victorian Parliament, who was responsible for the political measures that made irrigation what it is in Victoria was the late Alfred Deakin. Alfred Deakin was a city product. He worked on the Melbourne “ Age “, and proprietors of the “ Age “, which played such a great part in the development of this country, were none other than the Syme family, a city family. Spread your nets for as far as you like; you will always find evidence of the truth of the words of Robbie Burns that -

A man’s a man for a that!

This applies particularly to Australia for most Australians have sufficient intelligence to know what they are doing in their endeavours to develop the country.

Let us consider the Army - the soldiers whom the Government is insulting. I ask honorable members on the Government side: which Government raised and equipped the Army? Which Government provided for that Army the best rates of pay, the best rehabilitation services and the best repatriation services of any country in in the world? It was the Labour administration and it had not one atom of support. It acted completely alone. It met only nagging and dagger thrusts from men like Fadden from the Country Party. A Labour Government provided all these things for the armed services of this country. When that Labour Government, largely comprised of men from the cities of Australia, was doing all these things, the people who were working hardest to displace it - and of course that is politics - were the members of this political rump, the co-called Country Party.

When our primary producers wanted organised marketing to take them out of the hands of the Darlings, the Dreyfuses and the rest of the piratical people who ran the marketing system in this country, whom did they elect? Those who first put into their platform the organised marketing of primary products, and who first put organised marketing schemes on the statute book of Australia were the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments. They were comprised largely of men elected from the cities. The Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments gave the primary producers the Wheat Stabilisation Act. They also introduced the successful post-war wool realisation scheme. They gave the best ameliorative conditions hitherto know in Australia to the dairying industry.

All I have to say in conclusion is that if the Government does this foul thing it will meet with the fate that the Argyle Government met in Victoria when it endeavoured to put exactly the same type of legislation through the Victorian State Parliament in 1 927. It will be remembered that as a result of the powerful advocacy of the principles of true democracy by the Labour Party, which opposed an attempt by the Argyle Government to put through a Bill which was designed to do what this Bill is designed to do - to keep the Liberals, supported by the Country Party rump, in office in perpetuity - the Argyle Government bit the dust. That is the fate that this Government richly deserves.

Members of the Country Party will consider the sons and daughters of the people living in the country while they are in the country; but once those sons and daughters go to the city, then, in the eyes of the Country Party, they are inferior creatures who are not entitled to exercise a franchise of the same value as that enjoyed by the people in the country. That is all I have to say about this. I advise the members on the Government side to think over it, to sleep on it, and to realise what will happen to them at the next election.

Mr FREETH:
Minister for Shipping and Transport · Forrest · LP

– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) can always be relied upon to introduce a colourful and dramatic note into the debate, but he wandered so far from the clause under discussion that I would not transgress on your tolerance, Mr. Chairman, to try to match him.

The matter we are considering is the departure from a quota and, in association with it, the kind of guide lines that the

Distribution Commissioners have to take into account when they consider the nature of redistribution. I listened to the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) with a great deal of interest and delight. I must say that I enjoy listening to him, but as I understood him, because he does not like the considerations and the guide lines that the Commissioners have to take into account, he proposes to reduce the permissible margin relating to the quota. This seems to be largely an irrelevancy. I ask the Committee to take into consideration the practical circumstances which surround a redistribution. First of all, the Commissioners are appointed. They enter upon their task with a map of a State; they know the number of divisions and they know a quota. Quite clearly, they must have a permissive margin from the quota because, if they are compelled to observe an exact quota in a division, the very next day when someone turns 21 or when someone moves in or out of that electorate, it is out of quota. So we have to fix a margin - a fraction or a percentage - by which the Commissioners may depart from the quota.

Even that does not help them very much. They have the map, they have the quota and they have a margin up or down. But where do they start drawing lines to fix 45 or 46 divisions? Guide lines must be laid down for them. Obviously, one of the guide lines must be the existing divisions because it makes sense not to disturb more than is reasonably necessary the existing political framework to which electors have become accustomed. I could not argue very much with the honorable member for Bradfield if he wanted to alter the guide lines that are laid down. An infinite variety of considerations could be put to the Commissioners, but, as far as I can gather, the proposals are basically inoffensive with the exception of those which will tend to make the Commissioners pay some regard to distance, area and that kind of thing which may, in turn, tend to make them place some loading on country electorates. Apparently honorable members opposite resent this.

I want to direct attention to some practical difficulties in relation to these guide lines and the permissive margin. There is almost an even number of country and city electorates - 60-odd of one and 50-odd of the other, or something like that. Let us say, for the purposes of this argument, that they are near enough to being even. If every country electorate were granted a loading of the maximum below the quota, then obviously every city electorate would need to have a loading of the maximum above the quota. This is what the honorable member for Bradfield and certain other honorable members fear. But if the Commissioners undertake their task conscientiously and look at the other considerations which must be written in, one of which is population trends, they cannot impose a loading like that on country and city electorates because the great problem facing the Commissioners is the disappearing electors from the inner city electorates, where the divisions are so far below the quota that there must be some loading, and the rapidly growing outer suburban electorates which, unless the Commissioners put them somewhere below or near the quota, will very soon be out of focus.

Mr Calwell:

– There is a trend back to the city.

Mr FREETH:

– This is one of the things they have to take into account. These movements are apparent and the Act provides that they must be considered. I hope my remarks will indicate to the honorable member for Bradfield that his fears in this regard must be a little exaggerated.

He did express some worry and some puzzlement as to why the phrasing of this part of the section referred to trends of population changes within the State and not within the division as appears in other parts of the section. Obviously, a division’s boundaries cannot be fixed on the trend of population changes within that division. The Commissioners have to consider the movement from one division into other divisions or from other divisions into one division. The trend of population changes within a State must be the point of consideration because the State is the total area of the Commissioners’ jurisdiction.

I do not think we should become too heated about the one-tenth or one-fifth factors. Judicial decisions on the principle of one vote one value have been quoted. Ail the judicial decisions that I have seen seem to indicate that a permissible margin would be one-fifth more or less than the quota. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, after its deliberations, reported to this Parliament. I believe that paragraph 345 of the report of that Committee should be considered carefully by honorable members. It reads -

The Committee considered the extent of the problems which would arise from inserting in the Constitution a requirement that no Division in a State should depart from the quota for that State to a greater extent than one-tenth more or onetenth less.

These are the important words -

The Committee was assisted in its task by the then Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth, Mr. L. Ainsworth, who also obtained the views of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and the Surveyor-General for each of the States. The preponderance of that opinion was clearly in favour of retaining the marginal allowance at the existing one-fifth fraction.

That is the opinion which honorable members are saying is scandalous.

Mr Whitlam:

– Read the next paragraph.

Mr FREETH:

– Yes. I will. I ask the honorable members opposite, who are interjecting, to hear me read it in silence. It states -

Undoubtedly, it would be easier to apply a onefifth margin than to work within the limits of a one-tenth marginal allowance from quota. Nevertheless, the Committee is satisfied that the problems of applying a one-tenth margin are quite manageable.

The point that I particularly want to make is that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and the Surveyor-General for each of the States were of the view that a one-fifth margin was a desirable margin to have. None of those gentlemen could be accused of political partiality. Yet honorable members opposite are suggesting that because the Commonwealth Government now wishes to retain in the Act that margin which has existed since Federation, this is a gerrymander. I have never heard such a lot of nonsense in my life.

Another point which I believe the Committee should bear in mind is that section 25 of the Act at present provides -

  1. . whenever in one-fourth of the Divisions of the State the number of the electors differs from a quota ascertained in the manner provided in this Part to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less . . .

A redistribution may be held. I do not think honorable members will say that I am exaggerating if I say that I have had a little experience of a redistribution. I think honorable members will agree with me when I say that nothing causes a greater intensity of political feeling than a redistribution does. I think honorable members also will agree with me when I say for that very reason and because of the great disturbance and turmoil that these mechanical requirments cause it is undesirable to have more redistributions than are reasonably necesary. If we fix the margin at one-tenth more or less than the quota, the electorates will get out of focus just that much more quickly and, in times of quite normal fluctuations of population, we will be faced with a redistribution every three years. I do not think anyone would really relish that.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock:

– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.

Wednesday, 26th May 1965.

Sitting suspended from 12.4 to 12.34 a.m. [Quorum formed.]

Mr COPE:
Watson

.- I do not think I should let this opportunity pass without commenting on what the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said about the Electoral Commissioners in New South Wales. He started by reflecting on all three Commissioners but when he discovered that one was a judge of the Supreme Court he watered down his attack and reflected on the other two. Let us see who the other two Commissioners are. Does the honorable member reflect on Mr. McDonell, an Electoral Commissioner in New South Wales? Does he reflect on Mr. Elphinstone, who happens to be a Commonwealth Distribution Commissioner as well? When the honorable member is making these dreadful charges against people he should have some facts to substantiate his claims. Let him say these things outside the Parliament and not in the Parliament where he has the protection of the privilege of this institution.

Let us consider what Government supporters, with a couple of exceptions, advocate. So far, I have not heard one Government supporter indicate that he thinks the principle of one vote one value is unfair. Members opposite have based their argument on the size of electorates, and only on that. If, for instance, there were 40,000 electors in country electorates and 60,000 in city electorates and Australian Country Party members were satisfied that an electorate containing 40,000 electors was sufficiently large to represent, what would be their attitude if the referendum to be held at the end of the year were carried and the size of the House of Representatives were enlarged and every district contained 40,000 electors? Would that satisfy the Country Party? Of course it would not. Country Party members merely want to increase their representation in this House. They have no other purpose. They want also to increase their representation in the Cabinet. That is a fact.

On previous occasions, there has been a lot of whingeing about redistribution proposals. This happened in 1955 and again in 1962. Much of the whingeing came from the Country Party - the winning party in this Parliament in 1962 so far as the abolition of a seat in New South Wales was concerned, probably because it could not win any seats in Western Australia. On that occasion attacks were made indiscreetly on the Electoral Commissioners. I was elected to the House of Representatives in 1955 as the member for Cook, but six months later my seat was abolished. I did not accuse the Distribution Commissioners of manipulating the position or of bias. In 1962, when my seat was to be abolished, I did not complain. I knew that the Commissioners had a job to do. This applied to my friend, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) and to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor). We did not attack the Commissioners as being unfair or accuse them of manipulating areas to suit themselves. Distribution Commissioners have a job to do and when something adverse happens to us we take it on the chin. But the first thing the Country Party does is to say that this is not fair to it and that it will oppose it. It says that the referees were not fair. That is the position of the Country Party. It does not believe in the principle of one vote one value, but its members will not get up and say so. They say that they believe in electorates being decided by size.

The Country Party has 20 members in the House of Representatives and 5 in the Senate. At joint meetings of the Government parties does the value placed on the views of Country Party members depend on the size of the electorates they represent? If so, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) would have a greater voice in affairs than any other member of the Government parties. How inconsistent are members of the Country Party. They want representation in the Parliament according to the size of the electorates, but in joint meetings of the Government parties it is a case of one vote one value. They cannot get away from that. No matter how they argue in their joint party meetings it is a case of one vote one value. Members of the Country Party remind me of the tail wagging the dog. They want to increase their Party’s representation in this place. They want to become a more powerful party. They want greater representation in Cabinet. This business about the size of electorates is just so much baloney.

The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) said this afternoon that in the second reading stage no Opposition member representing a rural electorate and spoken. I can inform the honorable member that no member of the Labour Party opposed in Caucus the amendment that is now before the Committee. This indicates that they all believe in the principle of one vote one value. Opposition members are not here to try to abolish the democratic principle of one man one vote, but I am afraid I cannot say as much for the Country Party.

Mr HOLTEN:
Indi

.The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) has joined with many other honorable members in making an outright attack on the Country Party over the provisions now before the Committee. I reject emphatically the charge that the Country Party wants to gerrymander the redistribution that must be made. I reject any suggestion that the amendments proposed to the Commonwealth Electoral Act are an attempt at gerrymander.

The honorable members on either side of the chamber who have used the word “ gerrymander “ have done so with the sole objective of making the word stick in the minds of the Distribution Commissioners. Everyone knows that a gerrymander is a tampering with an electorate to favour a particular party, class or candidate. Nobody can say that the amendments proposed to this Act are designed to favour a particular party, class or candidate, because Government supporters and Opposition members alike have claimed that their parties have members who represent country areas. The Labour Party has claimed that 23 of its members represent country areas whereas in fact only 12 represent country areas. Nevertheless it can be conceded that some of their members represent country areas. So how can the weighting of seats in rural areas and the retention of the proportion of seats in rural areas to those in city areas favour one particular party? If members of the other major parties in this Parliament say that some of their colleagues represent country areas, how will the retention of seats in country areas favour any one party, or class of people? Is it suggested that country people are a different class of people to those who live in metropolitan areas or elsewhere in Australia?

Mr Cope:

– The honorable member is now trying to make out a different case.

Mr HOLTEN:

– No, I am not. It is suggested that more seats in country areas will favour a particular candidate? If you are good enough to win seats, win them in fair competition with the other party in the fight. The honorable member for Watson and other honorable members spoke about one vote one value.

Mr Cope:

– Do you believe in it?

Mr HOLTEN:

– Apparently your party does not believe in it, because you are proposing a one-tenth differential from the quota as against a one-fifth differential provided for the last 60 years in the Act. That h the proposal of the Australian Labour Party, which says that it favours the principle of one vote one value but also says that it favours a one-tenth differential from the quota that is calculated according to a formula. The honorable member asked whether the Australian Country Party would agree to a figure of 40,000 being fixed for all electorates. I cannot speak for my colleagues, but for myself I can say that I would not favour such a proposal. The Australian Country Party is fighting against the domination of this Parliament by representatives from the ca’pital cities. If all the electorates had the same number of voters this Parliament would be dominated by members from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. It would be even more dominated by these members than it is now. Taking New South Wales as an example, the present position is that there are 24 members from within 40 miles of Sydney and seven members predominantly from the Newcastle and Wollongong areas.

This means a total of 3 1 members as against 14 members for the rest of the State. If the same principles were to apply, that is if a differential of li per cent, as contained in the 1962 proposals were to apply, in 1970 the 31 members from Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong would increase to 34 and the country areas representation would be reduced to 11 members. The Australian Country Party opposes any proposal that would give this result, lt opposes the domination of the Parliament by members from Melbourne, Sydney and the other capital cities.

I want to comment on one other matter that comes to my mind amongst the many matters that have been raised by honorable members. I want to mention the remarks of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I have always had a great admiration for his style, determination, colourfulness and other characteristics, but I strongly resent his remarks about a former leader of the Australian Country Party, Sir Arthur Fadden. He said that during the war Sir Arthur and the other members of the Australian Country Party had their daggers in the back in the government of the day. This is a slur on Sir Arthur Fadden, who is a great Australian and who did a mighty job for Australia in his public service here. I do not say anything about the honorable member for Lalor, but Sir Arthur did as much for Australia as the honorable member did and was as good an Australian as the honorable member is. There are just as many good Australians in the Australian Country Party as there are in the other parties in this Parliament.

I emphatically reject the charge made by members of the other parties here that the Australian Country Party is trying to introduce a gerrymander by supporting the amendments introduced by the Bill. Our objective is balanced political representation and balanced development of Australia.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.- I wish to address a few brief remarks to the clause that is now before the Committee. Earlier today the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) said that, following an amendment to the redistribution legislation in Western Australia in 1950, some city electorates had as many as 9,000 electors and some country electorates had fewer than 1,000. He said that this was done by the Hawke Labour Government. As a matter of fact, it was introduced by the McLarty-Watts Government, which was a Liberal-Australian Country Party Government. I speak tonight on the contention of Country Party members that the Parliament is dominated by city interests. That is totally different from what was said by the former Minister for the Interior, who said in his chamber a few moments ago that the Parliament was equally balanced in respect of representation. I represent a Sydney electorate which has 16,232 people to the square mile. That is the second highest figure in Australia, the highest being that of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) who has 18,798 people to the square mile. I defy any member of the Country Party to tell me that the task of representing that many people to the square mile is not just as difficult as that of representing four, five or six people to the square mile in country areas. There is no reason at all why a man who lives in the country is entitled to more privileges or to more value in his vote rhan is the man who lives and works in the city area. Country members receive extra benefits and allowances and travel in aircraft. They are not as constantly in demand as city members are. The honorable member for Phillip, who, as I have said, represents 18,000 people per square mile, will probably agree with that. Country Party members do not have to make the personal contacts that city members do and, in addition, they have newspapers and they have radio and television stations provided by the Government to take their message from one end of the electorate to the other. I doubt whether any Country Party member would be capable of representing my electorate, because there are so many electors involved. I think the Country Party picks its candidates according to how many electors to the square mile it thinks they can represent. I believe that Country Party electors look at a prospective candidate and say: “ He would be capable of representing two people to the square mile “. Let us look at the position. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) represents 2.54 people to the square mile; the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) represents 2.57 people to the square mile. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) is down the scale a bit; they give him only 2.22 people to the square mile, but I would say he could probably look after a few more. The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) is a bright spark in the Country Party; he represents 10.65 people to the square mile. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) looked all right so they gave him 4.61 people to the square mile. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett) did not go so well and is down to 2.61 people to the square mile. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt), who must be near Cabinet material in the Country Party, represents 5.63 people to the square mile. I say to the Country Party selectors: “ You are fairly good judges. You pick candidates to the limit of their capacity.” Members of the Country Party claim that they are the only people who can adequately represent country interests. But let us consider the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes). An article in the “ Dubbo Dispatch “, an independent newspaper, carried the heading “ Laurie Failes speaks.”. The sub-heading was “ Country Party M.P. Says He Wouldn’t Stick His Neck Out For Dubbo “. The question of communications comes within the scope of the clause we are discussing, so it is interesting to note that the “ Dubbo Dispatch “ said, reporting the honorable member for Lawson -

He also said there was no hope of Dubbo getting an automatic telephone service “in the foreseeable future “.

Mr. Failes said he had avoided making statements on matters gravely concerning Dubbo because “ he saw no sense in sticking his neck out “.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler is getting a little bit wide of the clause and the amendment which are before the Committee at this stage.

Mr DALY:

– I draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that Country Party speakers have said today that the problems of communications and allied matters involved in representing country electorates are such that they thought country electorates should be well loaded against city interests. I was pointing out that here is a Country Party member who says he wants all these things to be done yet he told the people of the electorate he represents that he does not give a hang about these things.

On the question of communications the honorable member for Lawson was asked: “ Why do you not get an automatic telephone service for Dubbo which is urgently required by the people in the district?”. This is what he had to say -

I think a lot of country people like to turn a handle on a telephone and would be lost if they had to dial a number.

This was from one of the Country Party members who tell us that they want better contact with their electors. 1 do not want to canvass this point further. Anybody can see from this how members of the Country Party represent electors. Anybody interested could take a photostat copy of this newspaper because it gives a revelation of the fact that at least one of the members of the Country Party believe that country people do not want automatic telephones because they would rather turn the handle.

Let us go a step further. I do not think the members of the Country Party have yet explained to this Parliament why they cannot win and hold seats in country districts under the one vote one value system. We have to face facts, and the fact is that country dwellers have drifted in recent times to the great metropolitan centres. When population densities are changing in this fashion it is obvious that parliamentary representation cannot remain unchanged. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) makes no bones about his position. I think Country Party candidates in general elections obtain about 10 per cent, of votes throughout Australia. Yet they want to retain the same degree of parliamentary representation, no matter how low their overall polling levels may become. This is political bushranging or brigandry of the worst type.

The fact is that their political representation is out of all proportion to the votes they receive. At this very stage the Liberal and Labour Parties provide representatives for 43 country constituencies, while there are 20 Country Party representatives. This ratio cannot be maintained, but you well know, Mr. Chairman, being a Country Party member, that you are going to retain your representation by hook or by crook, by gerrymandered electorates weighted heavily against city people. When all is said and done, any democratic community demands that the votes shall be where the people are. Unfortunately we find that in this country the vast majority of the population are congregated in the great cities. You cannot offset that situation by gerrymandering and rigging electorates.

It is true that the Government wants a 20 per cent, tolerance over or under the quota. This would result in an electorate like mine, with 60,000 electors, having representation equal to that of an electorate with 40,000 electors.

Mr Gibson:

– What about Kalgoorlie?

Mr DALY:

– That is another case. The fact is that you cannot have these disproportionate numbers of people in electorates and retain democratic principles. The principle of one vote one value is accepted in any democratic country. I agree with the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), no matter how silent the members of the Country Party may be tonight - and I think only one of those members has bothered to get on his feet and make an apology. Honorable members opposite cannot deny that this legislation represents a put-over. It is designed to load the electorates in the most undemocratic way. Unfortunately the submissive- members of the Liberal Party, with the exception of my friend from Bradfield and, no doubt, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), are not prepared to speak out against this blatant gerrymander which is designed to keep members of the Country Party in this Parliament.

Mr TURNER:
Bradfield

.I do not intend to detain the Commitee for very long. There is an old Chinese saying that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Tonight this Parliament is taking such a step. One member after another from one corner of the House has got up and commended the wide disparities in representation in the States of Australia. If this attitude is accepted, where does the path lead? In Queensland there has been a Labour Government for almost 40 years except for one short interval of about three years. There has been a change of government recently and the electoral boundaries have been changed. Naturally one expects reprisals after governments formed by one political party have remained in power for such a long period. For a generation there has been a Labour Party ruling there, and perhaps for a generation the former Opposition Party will rule there. In South Australia the Liberal Party has ruled for 27 years-

Mr Birrell:

– For 32 years.

Mr TURNER:

– I thank the honorable member for the correction. That Party has now gone out of office. I would expect a reprisal. I would expect that, perhaps, for the next 32 years there might be a Labour Party ruling in South Australia. In New South Wales the Labour Party had a vote of 43 per cent, of the electors at the last election and it was very narrowly defeated. Another party has gone into office. I would expect reprisals. There might be a Liberal Party in office in New South Wales for the next 24 years. Is this a good thing for Australia? This is the example that is being held up to us. Is it good that this Parliament should do as the State Parliaments have done? Is it good that there should be governments either here or in the States in office for a whole generation? 1 agree that some stability of government is desirable and that if the electors were to change the government every three years it would be impossible to carry out long term policies. When governments are in office for something like a quarter of a century, they become tired, they run out of new ideas, they become a clog on progress and they bring about stagnation in the States or the country that they rule. This is a bad thing.

This House has taken the first step tonight on the path which has been followed by the States. I say that in the end it can only be disastrous to Australia. It may be that honorable members on this side of the chamber think that they will perpetuate their rule for another 1 5 years, but I believe that the age of Menzies must inevitably come to an end. The old order changeth yielding place to the new. Within the next two or three years it could be that another party will be sitting on the government benches. We have begun the gerrymander. It will be a competitive gerrymander. There will be a reprisal from the other side of the House. Honorable members on this side may sit on the opposite side for 25 years. That would be bad for Australia, and when I say that I do not speak in any partisan spirit at all. I think it is bad that a government of one party should remain in office for a whole generation. The particular provision we are now considering is the very focus, the very crux and the very principle of the whole Bill. I oppose it radically for the reasons I have given.

Mr JONES:
Newcastle

.- I did not propose to speak on this Bill, but quite frankly some of the speeches that have been made have got under my skin. One of the matters in the contribution made by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) to which I would like to refer is the question of reprisals. I do not think that any honorable member in this chamber can or has referred at any time to any Labour Party gerrymander in the Federal sphere. We had an opportunity to do so in 1949. I can tell honorable members opposite that the general impression within the Labour Party ranks was that it was a Liberal Party gerrymander.

Mr Cope:

– By a Labour Government.

Mr JONES:

– Yes. Ben Chifley, when he was Prime Minister, was not prepared to be a party to any gerrymander of the electorates in the interests of anyone. The proposal that has been placed before us at the present time is a blatant gerrymander. One of the things that intrigues me about it is this: How many members of the Liberal Party have risen in their places to speak in support of it? There were only two - the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Bradfield. Every time they have risen they have spoken in opposition to the legislation. How many other members of the Liberal Party have done so? I say quite definitely that privately the members of the Liberal Party are just as rauch opposed to this Country Party gerrymander as are the members of the Labour Party. But they cannot do anything about it because the Great White Father has spoken and they must accept his dictation in this Parliament.

The CHAIRMAN:

– .Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Newcastle that he adhere to the standards of this House.

Mr JONES:

– Another question that I raise, Mr. Chairman, is whether this is part of a plan by the Country Party to prevent the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) from becoming Prime Minister of this country. Is this a move by the Country Party to put forward a candidate who will be the first Country Party Prime Minister of Australia. I am speaking of a Prime Minister who would hold the office for a long term and not just for a couple of days as Sir Arthur Fadden did.

I ask: Is this a part of the plan of the Country Party to achieve a gerrymander? I have listened to explanations as to why it is necessary to have a margin of 20 per cent, either way. One of the first things that I think all of us learnt in history when we went to school was about the rotten boroughs of England. This legislation will become known in history as the legislation which introduced rotten boroughs into Australia under which you will have votes from tree stumps, from goats and from sheep, but not from people. That is what it really amounts to. lt is a resurrection of the rotten borough system in England and will become the rotten borough system of Australia.

It has been said that because of the large areas of their electorates Country Party members have difficulty in providing services for their electors. I ask them to explain, after I have resumed my seat, why so many members of the Country Party are still conducting their own farms.

Mr Holten:

– How many are doing that?

Mr JONES:

– It does not matter if there is only one, it proves my point. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is sitting at the table, before he became a Minister operated his farm. I am not speaking about what he does now because I do not know what the position is, but prior to becoming a Minister he still operated his farm. The Minister knows that to be a fact. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) was in a similar position, and you, Mr. Chairman, followed your profession from time to time. I could go on enumerating the members who have carried out work on their farms or engaged in whatever business they had prior to coming into this Parliament. They were still able to carry on those activities. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) still has an interest in the land just as the Minister for Territories and the Minister for the Interior have. I could mention also the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England). They have not relinquished their interests in their farming properties. These are questions that members of the Country Party can answer if they like. Does the fact that they can do two jobs bear out their claim that they have not time to give service to their electorates.

Let me refer to decentralisation. The present Government has been in office for the last 15 years. What has it done to bring about decentralisation in this country? It took 15 years for the Government to put through legislation to equalise petrol prices. What has the Government done about trunk line facilities? This is a matter on which it could do something. It had for years a Postmaster-General who was a member of the Country Party, but the Government has done nothing about trunk lines. What has the Government done about decentralisation? What has it done to provide taxation concessions to encourage industries to go into country areas? It has done nothing. It is sheer humbug on the part of members of the Country Party to stand up in this chamber and claim that they stand for decentralisation. If members of the Country Party can exert this influence on the Prime Minister, why do they not exert the same pressure on that gentleman to bring about decentralisation? I ask them that simple question.

Standover tactics have been adopted on this occasion and members of the Country Party have been able to compel the Prime Minister to accept this legislation and to put through this gerrymander. I ask the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson), the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair), the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), and the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) whether they can explain to the Committee why they have their offices in the various capital cities? Why do the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw), Senator Maher and Senator Sir William Cooper, all of whom come from Queensland, have their offices in Brisbane if they really believe in decentralisation?

Why do not members of the Country Party in this Parliament have their offices in their electorates where the people can come and visit them there? I suppose Country Party members will advance the theory that their electors can just as easily write to them in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne. I understand that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has his office in Melbourne. I suppose honorable members will say that it would be just as easy for his electors to write to him there as it would be if his office were in his electorate. But why do not members of the Country Party provide employment for girls, at least, to do secretarial work in their electorates? That would be decentralisation. The provision of employment in an electorate represents decentralisation. If any member of the Country Party did this, he would at least be providing a job for a girl in his electorate. I ask honorable members opposite to give some explanation in reply to the questions I have asked instead of standing up here and talking about the need to have smaller electorates in country areas than in city areas.

As a city member - I believe I am one of the few New South Wales metropolitan members outside of those members who represent electorates in Sydney - I strongly object to this gerrymander. I believe that the people of Newcastle, Shortland and all the metropolitan areas are entitled to representation equal to that of country electors. On the basis of what is proposed - one-fifth either way - the votes of two country people will be equal to the votes of three city people in electing a member. Is this being fair dinkum? Is this democracy? It is certainly not my idea of it. On behalf of the people of Newcastle - metropolitan voters - I strongly object to the blatant gerrymander that is being put through so that this cocky corner can continue to dominate the Government.

Mr MAISEY:
Moore

.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who has just resumed his seat, directed a question specifically to me. He asked me why my office was situated in the city and not in my electorate, the electorate of Moore. I am not going to attempt to speak on behalf of the other members of my party -

Mr Jones:

– I did not mention the honorable member for Moore, but if the cap fits he can wear it.

Mr MAISEY:

– This question was directed generally at the members of the Australian Country Party and, because I happen to be one of them, I will answer the honorable member’s question. I will tell the honorable member why my office is in the city. I will tell him of something about which I know - my own electorate - and not try to speak for any other electorate with which I am not so familiar.

My electorate contains approximately 42,500 electors, 15,500 of whom live in the Pearce sub-division. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) lives in my electorate. Senator Branson, a member in another place, also lives in my electorate. Those gentlemen live in the suburbs of Perth, but they are also in my electorate. If I were to shift my office away from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Perth where the member for Moore has always had his office regardless of whom he has been - and I have not always been the member for Moore as honorable members know - where would I shift it to to? Would I shift it to Northam or to Merredin or to Moora? I would have to shift it to one of those three places -

Mr Jones:

– The honorable member should answer the question.

Mr MAISEY:

– I am going to answer the question because the honorable member obviously cannot. Otherwise he would not have asked it. If my office was shifted out to Northam, it would be 60 miles from Perth and it would be 40 to 45 miles from the densest area of population in the Moore electorate. If I shifted my office to Moora, which is 114 miles from Perth, it would be almost .100 miles from the densest area of population in the Moore division. If I shifted it to Merredin, it would be approximately 150 miles away from the densest area of population within the Moore division, and there would be the added disadvantage that the office would be just that much farther away from all the Government departments which I must contact to meet the requirements of my electorate. Regardless of who it is that represents the division of Moore, the obvious and sensible place for the office of that representative is in the city of Perth. If he shifts away from Perth, he does a disservice to his electors and makes it difficult for himself to serve the people he is elected to represent.

Mr CONNOR:
Cunningham

– In the course of this debate I think we have heard more in the way of perfect casuistry than in any other debate that we have had in this Parliament for months. The arguments that have been adduced have been fallacious, specious and anything but democratic. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) let the cat out of the bag so far as his party was concerned.

Throughout the world today a phenomenon is occurring. It is that the proportion of the population of any major country of the so-called Western world, so far as rural interests are concerned, is decreasing. It is therefore a matter of life and death for the Country Party, or its counterparts in the other democracies, to secure the maximum electoral representation. The very presence of Country Party members here tonight in such numbers, and showing such fervent interest, is the best proof of my contention. In every country of the world a similar phenomenon is occurring. The Australian Country Party lives or dies by what happens in this House tonight. I do not deny its right to exist as a party and to represent specialised interests, but I do very strongly contest its right to claim and receive disproportionate representation.

One of the things that seems to have escaped most honorable members in this place has been the wording of a proposed amendment to a section of the legislation. I refer to proposed section 18a, which completely reverses the former and time honoured procedure by which the Distribution Commissioners proceeded to carry out their work. Under this legislation, the Chief Electoral Officer will fix the quota and then things will happen - things that never happened before in the history of Federal electoral redistribution. Previously, once the quota was fixed, the Distribution Commissioners proceeded to prepare their plans of distribution, and these were submitted for public comment. Now we will have exactly the reverse. Any pressure group can propose a whole scheme of redistribution and exert pressure on the Distribution Commissioners. It can exert pressure of a kind and intensity never contemplated or permitted under the old Act. Where previously the proposed plan for distribution was submitted for public comment, it was a matter of each member or each person from a particular area making his suggestions or comments and of the Commissioners making modifications, so far as they could, having in mind always the possibility of a chain reaction.

Now we find that a pressure group - the Australian Country Party is pre-eminently a pressure group - can submit a whole plan of distribution, not merely for particular electorates but for a whole Slate. It is not a case of attacking the plan on an individual basis; the pressure group can go to the limit. More than that, the legislation seems to be so broadly worded that several duties are imposed on the Commissioners, who could be pressed much further. Very probably a writ of mandamus would lie in certain cases. I have no doubt that some of the gentlemen who are most interested today would be quite prepared to pursue to the limit whatever legal weapons were available in this respect.

I refer now to another matter which concerns me very greatly - the provision that the Distribution Commissioners shall have regard to the trend of population changes within the State. That is a doubleedged sword or, if I may change the metaphor, the provision is an omnibus one. The Government is saying, in effect: “You name it; we have it.” When the claims of the rural areas are being considered argument will be based on the huge size of the electorates, but when the older city areas are being dealt with it will be suggested that because of the population trend away from them they should be raised in enrolment to the maximum tolerance permitted by the legislation.

Mr Giles:

– What is wrong with that?

Mr CONNOR:

– There may not be anything wrong with it, but it applies with equal force to country electorates. In the main, their populations are stationary and if this particular provision is to be applied uniformly and fairly they will not be able to advance any argument for getting down to the 40,000 mark but at the very least ought to be put on a median of about 50,000 electors. I shall take my argument farther. Let us consider a constituency like mine which is experiencing quite rapid growth. I represent 60,000 enrolled electors and 18,000 migrants who have yet to be naturalised. I would be able to submit to the Distribution Commissioners with every justification that my constituency should be placed at the lowest possible figure because of growth trends. Let the Country Party get what cold comfort it can from that proposition. Of course, it was never intended that the provision should be used in that way.

I do not know of any more undemocratic procedure than is envisaged in the Bill. I do not know of any more undemocratic legislation; I do not know of any more undemocratic provisions in any Act passed by this Parliament. It is a national disgrace. The Bill reflects no credit on its architects, it will do untold harm to the people of Australia, and no doubt, as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) said, it will invite retaliation. And retaliation it will receive, because I do not want to see my constituents crushed under an electoral juggernaut of this description. The people whom I represent are good, honest workers. They pay their taxes the same as everybody else, they have their special interests, and in the main they experience difficulties just as great as those of anybody else. The demands on the services of the representative of any industrial electorate are heavy in the extreme. I challenge any honorable member who represents a constituency of the same size as mine to compare his duties and obligations with mine. At times those obligations are crushing. The representatives of such electorates are entitled to just as much consideration as are these other gentlemen to whom I have referred. I repeat, Sir, that the legislation is undemocratic, that the factors to be taken into consideraion are undemocratic, and that untold harm will be done to Australia if the legislation is fully implemented.

Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee

.The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) must be a wonderful man. He is prepared to challenge every member in the House to say that he does not attend to his electorate better than any other honorable member or something to that effect. I cannot altogether follow him. I have only his word for what he says. I do not doubt that he is an honest man, but I think he is running away with a sense of his own importance. He said that I had let the cat out of the bag. He did not say how I had done so. He just said that because he thought it would sound all right, but he did not tell the Committee of anything I had said that was wrong. He just continued talking in his ordinary style. If anybody outside read his statement, he would think it was true. But the honorable member produced no evidence to prove what he said. Of course, what he said was absolutely fictitious.

The honorable member is the only person in this House who continually says that his constituents are out of employment. I wonder whether it is the fault of the honorable member? I am not saying that it is, but one is caused to wonder whether that is so when the honorable member continually says that people in his electorate are out of work. Other Labour members put forward efforts on behalf of their constituents. Honorable members opposite do their jobs and we do ours. Honorable members on this side have given Opposition members a pretty good deal during this debate. It has been said that members of the Labour Party do not believe in anything but one vote, one value. Yet they are prepared to accept a 10 per cent, variation. That is completely inconsistent. But the anomaly is not anything like what was suggested by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones).

The honorable member for Newcastle asked whether any Country Party members run farms, and suggested that as members of the Parliament they should not. We generally hear the charge in this House that no members of the Country Party have farms. Members of the Labour Party seem to think that if we are members of the Country Party we should all have farms. Well, members of the Labour Party say they represent the workers. That being so they should all be workers, but as I look round tonight in this House I see that there are some who have not done a day’s work in their life. I do not mean the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard).

The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) referred to auctioneers and other such people. Well, 27 years ago I did have an auctioneer’s licence for a while. But I was brought up on the land. I was a farmer and had a dairy farm for a while. I grew wheat in the Wimmera, not the Mallee. When I wanted to get more marketing experience I went to Melbourne for a while. From there I went to the war. I have never had an auctioneer’s licence since the time I mentioned but the honorable member for Hughes would like people to believe that I still conduct sales. I do not mind that so much because auctioneers are as good as anybody else. When I was an auctioneer I did my business in such a way that I could go back into that line today and do business with any man with whom I associated before.

The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) spoke about the electorates of country members. He said it was quite easy to be a parliamentary representative in the country but that members representing city people had a terrible burden to bear. However, I do not want to deal in this debate with the small fry. Let me deal with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).

I regard the Leader of the Opposition as a very excellent man. I understand that before he came to this House he was a good member of the Melbourne City Council. When I came to this House he was a Minister and he helped me on many occasions. We became good friends. Since that time I have appreciated him in many ways. 1 know that he would not mind me saying a few words which may be at his expense because he has often said a few words at mine. Outside this House he is a perfect gentleman but inside it he will throw anything at you, including the old proverbial kitchen sink. The honorable gentleman said that distances in the country were only part of the proposition to be considered in relation to this Bill. He went on to say that the local Press would report verbatim any speeches made by myself as the honorable member for Mallee. He said that the “ Sunraysia Daily “ did me proud. I hope that is right. This is not a commercial but I do run certain articles for some newspapers. I have a copy of one with me. I call my article “ The Week at Canberra “. It has wide publication and the appreciation of the people in my area. I want to read from this article a paragraph which related to a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition on the night when Parliament gave the farewell dinner to the Governor-General, Viscount De L’Isle. I want to read only a very small section of the article. It states -

Mr. Calwell’s speech was studded with humour and was reminiscent of those speeches he often made in Parliamen: prior i:i h;s present method of reading a prepared script undoubtedly approved by the Labour Executive.

I thought Mr. Calwell’s speech here yesterday was excellent. It was studded with humour, no doubt because the Labour Executive had just re-affirmed its confidence in him as leader. It has been said that the Country Party would not accept the decision of the referee. That allegation beggars description. How can the Country Party overrule the referee? We are a small party in the corner. The Liberal Party supported the last redistribution, but the Country Party would not have it. What happened? The Labour Party would not agree with the referee. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) stated: “ I have heard the speeches from the Leader of the Opposition and from the members of the Country Party and we will not go any further with it “, and now the Labour Party members say that the Country Party would not accept the decision of the referee. What inconsistency!

Opposition members have often said - and I agree - that the Country Party is a strong party because everyone of our members has almost the same beliefs. We are all country members who represent country electors. That is the position. Our members can get any reasonable legislation implemented. One man said to me: “ What about the redistribution? Can you not get that done correctly? “ The point is that as a small, compact party we cannot get such things done unless the Liberal Party supports us. If members of the Liberal Party on such a subject join with the Opposition they would defeat the Country Party. That is quite possible.

I have put the case for decentralisation. It seems to me that the Labour Party’s attitude is completely defeatist. Although its members state that they are opposed to the concentration of population in the cities, they offer no alternative to the position as I have put it. I have read two lines and the honorable member for Bendigo is asking: “ Who wrote that? “ Is he not keen? I read less of my speeches in this Parliament than does any other member. I thought we had some sincerity in this House and that we would do away with reading speeches. It seems I was wrong, because instead of sticking to the job and making straightout speeches as members of Parliament should do, many members of the Parliament aTe more than ever giving representation by proxy and reading nearly every word of their speeches.

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– I wish to answer a few points raised at the Committee stage. Some honorable members have asked why the Government has taken out the section relating to the place at which the Distribution Commissioners will first determine the quota of electors to be the basis of a redistribution. That section is not being removed. Honorable members will see from section 1 8 of the Electoral Act that the first task of the Chief Electoral Officer is to establish the quota. They then go on to carry out the redistribution, taking into account various factors whereby they will vary the number of electors above or below the quota. The provision may be written in different language, but it is six of one and half a dozen of the other. The meaning is exactly the same. The purpose of stating the factors to be considered is so that the Distribution Commissioners may vary the quota. If the allowance is to be reduced to onetenth, all the factors to be taken into consideration may still be abolished.

There must be some play for factors such as population trends, special disabilities, community of interest and physical boundaries. This play must be there for the Distribution Commissioners to work on. As the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) said earlier today, the Constitutional Review Committee, when it examined this matter, sought the opinions of the Commonwealth Chief Electoral Officer, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in each State and the respective State Surveyors-General. After all, these are the men who, for many years, have been making redistributions of electoral boundaries and who understand the machinery of what is required. The great preponderance of the weight of the opinions given to the Committee was that a permissible variation of one fifth above or below the quota was needed.

We hear this talk about one vote one value. If the Australian Labour Party strictly adheres to this principle and believes in it, it should take the stand that a redistribution must provide for exactly the same quotas in all States. If this principle were to operate, that should be the criterion, and there should be no allowance whatsoever for disabilities in representation in country areas. But I have heard Opposition members and Government supporters say that special consideration should be given to gigantic electorates, with particular attention to area and difficulties of communications and transport. The argument is that because of these factors, the quota in such electorates should be lower than in others.

The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), speaking on 30th October 1964 in the second reading debate on the Representation Bill 1964, said -

I agree broadly with the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. In particular, I agree with the recommendation that the principle of one vote one value should not be departed from. I also agree that a margin of 10 per cent, is adequate for all normal purposes. There may be perhaps half a dozen seats, such as Kalgoorlie, Darling, Kennedy and Maranoa, in which the margin should be somewhat larger, but, in general, I agree with the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee that 10 per cent, is sufficient. Indeed, when the major legislation comes before the House, I hope to be in a position to move an amendment in accordance with the recommendation of that Committee, with a proviso relating to exceptionally large electorates like Kalgoorlie and the others 1 have mentioned.

He there acknowledged that special disabilities exist in large electorates and that those disabilities and area should be taken into account. He accepted also that in such electorates a margin of more than 10 per cent, is needed. If one accepts those considerations, how does one stand strictly by the principle of one vote one value?

I have mentioned the need to allow for disabilities in trying to give representation of equal value. Where equal value of representation exists the other factor that must be borne in mind in the making of a redistribution of electoral boundaries is the need to try to keep the mean number of electors pretty much unchanged during the period for which the new boundaries will operate. But, even if you start with the same number of voters in every electorate, particuarly in city electorates, where there are big movements of population, within the first week the number of electors will be either above or below the quota. Where the population is diminishing or increasing at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum, the number will be 10 per cent, above or below the quota in one year and, within two years, 20 per cent, above or below the quota. The population in some electorates in capital cities is moving as rapidly as this. In these circumstances, how does one hold by the principle of one vote one value? It is up to the Distribution Commissioners to try to determine what the mean number of electors will be during a five year period and to try to ensure that it remains at about the same level as the quota. This is what the Commissioners generally have attempted to do.

Let us look at the last redistribution proposals, which were made in 1955. An interesting position in respect of the electorate of Bonython - a city seat - was pointed out to me. At the last redistribution Bonython was 15.26 per cent, below the quota, yet today Bonython has a population of almost 80,000. That has happened within a period of 10 years. It started well below the quota and the numbers have increased. It started as one of the biggest electorates in Australia to be below the quota. If the Australian Labour Party is absolutely genuine in its proposal in relation to a variation of one-tenth, I take it that it believes that if electorates vary to the extent of one-tenth above or below the quota there should be a new redistribution.

Honorable members opposite have not shown any indication that they believe that. If they do, they should also support the amendment of section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which provides that if one-quarter of the electorates within a State vary by more than one-fifth above or one-fifth below the quota the GovernorGeneral is required to call for a new redistribution. They want the provision as to 10 per cent, only for establishing a redistribution in the first instance. If there is a variation, they do not want any redistribution unless the variation is over one-fifth. In other words, they want some members to have the benefit of much bigger electorates or much smaller electorates than other members. That is the effect of the argument that they advance.

There is hazy talk about one vote, one value. This is a theoretical expression and the principle can be applied only if there are perfect electoral rolls, because in all electorates populations are changing all the time. Provision for variation is needed to cope with large areas and certain disabilities. In reply to a question placed on the notice paper by the honorable member for Bradfield, I gave particulars of all of the variations of more than 10 per cent., either above or below the quota, since Federation. It will be seen that throughout in every redistribution in big electorates there has always been a variation of more than 10 per cent. The compact, highly populated city electorates have been above the quota. In the redistribution that Labour carried out in 1949, allowance was made in 15 electorates for a variation of more than 10 per cent, above or below the quota. Nine of them were below the quota and six of them were above the quota. Labour believed in this principle and every government that has been in office in this country has believed in the principle. The Distribution Commissioners believe in the principle because they understand the mechanics of what is required. If this ware not the case, there would be a redistribution every few years. Some flexibility must be provided. It would be a bad thing if there were to be a redistribution in the life of every Parliament. It would be bad for members and it would be bad for constituents, because they would not know who their representatives were. This tolerance is necessary so that we do not have a redistribution in the lifetime of every Parliament.

In the United States the High Court cases that I mentioned were interpreted as meaning that a variation of 15 per cent. above or below the State district’s norm was generally considered to be the benchmark figure. It is understood that for all practical purposes one must make allowances for variations between electorates for certain reasons such as disabilities or movements of population. I see no reason at all to accept this amendment proposed by the Opposition.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

There are a few points to which I want to reply-

Motion (by Mr. Anthony) put -

That the question be now put.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 53

NOES: 36

Majority . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the sub-section proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 51

NOES: 38

Majority . . 13

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

. -I move -

In paragraph (b) of sub-section (2.) of proposed section 19, omit “with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance “.

The principal Act includes “ means of communication” among the five factors which have stood since 1902 as those to which the Distribution Commissioners shall give consideration in determining whether it is necessary to depart from the quota in making any distribution of a State into divisions. This is a very natural factor to take into account, because if a division is to be homogeneous the means of communication within it obviously are relevant. The Bill expands this factor to the following words -

Means of communication and travel within the Division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance.

The Opposition would accept an expansion of the factor to include travel as well as means of communication. We would have thought that “ means of communication “ included travel; but apparently members of the Government parties thought the word “communication “ referred merely to telephones, even in the rare and egregious form for which the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) contended. Nevertheless, means of communication and travel are clearly relevant factors in deciding whether a homogeneous division has been formed.

However, the remaining words in the expanded factor - “ with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance “ - can have only one purpose; and that is to prompt the Distribution Commissioners to have fewer electors in an electorate which is remote or distant and more electors in an electorate which is not so remote or distant. No other consequence can flow from the addition of these words. They are asking the Commissioners to depart from the principle of one vote one value which has obtained in Commonwealth distributions for over 60 years. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) who is now interjecting did not participate in the debate at all.

Mr McMahon:

-I was not wasting the time of the community.

Mr WHITLAM:

– Here is one of the guilty men who allowed all the legislative items to accumulate on the Cabinet agenda. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and senior Ministers such as the Minister for Labour and National Service allowed Cabinet agenda items to accumulate in such a way as to compel all of us to waste our time now at this hour of the morning. Then the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Labour and National Service have the miserable technique of blaming the draftsman for the delay in legislation.

Mr McMahon:

-The honorable member is lying.

The CHAIRMAN:

-Order! I suggest that the Minister withdraw the remark that he passed about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Minister said that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was lying.

Mr McMahon:

– Well, Sir, if you want me to withdraw it, I will withdraw it.

The CHAIRMAN:

-I ask the Minister to withdraw it.

Mr McMahon:

– Very well, Sir, I withdraw it.

The CHAIRMAN:

-I suggest now that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition return to the subject matter before the Committee.

Mr WHITLAM:

– The only consequence of these additional words whose omission we seek is that distant and remote electorates will be given one-fifth less than the quota as their basic number. During the second reading debate I quoted the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States on this argument. I will repeat the principal sentence, which was as follows -

Modern developments and improvements in transportation and communications make rather hollow, in the mid 1960’s, most claims that deviations from population-based representation can validly be based solely on geographical considerations.

Country electorates have never been as small in area and population as they are today. Trunk telephone services have never been better. Airline services have never been better. There has never been so little excuse, because of travel and communications, for inflating the representation in the Parliament of such electorates. As a matter of fact it is much easier for honorable members to contact their constituents and for constituents to contact their members in these electorates than it ever has been in the history of Federation till now.

I did not have the opportunity earlier to quote the full letter of the Treasurer’s protege, Mr. Peter Browne. It clearly expressed the view of senior and responsible Liberals on this proposal. The letter appeared last March in the “ Age “. It stated-

Having had the privilege of representing the largest electorate in the world (the Federal seat of Kalgoorlie), perhaps my comment may be appropriate. A survey conducted in Western Australia a few years ago revealed that in densely populated metropolitan areas less than 30 per cent of the voters knew the name of their Federal member and about 2 per cent had actually met him. In the larger country electorates on the other hand 75 per cent knew their member’s name and 40 per cent had met him.

I apologise to honorable members for repeating the letter thus far, but from here on the letter has not been read to honorable members. - It continues -

The principal reason for the difference in these figures is that a country member has the tremendous advantage over his metropolitan colleague of being able to inform the electorate of his activities through the local news media. Country newspapers will normally use a member’s press release relating to local issues, extracts from his speeches in Parliament, even notices of his forthcoming visits to the various towns in the electorate. A city member on the other hand is very lucky if his name makes the daily press or the State news once or twice a year. Accessibility of a member of Parliament depends on a number of factors other than distance. The electors must, for example, know who he is, that he is available to be interviewed, and where he can be seen. Because of his greater ability to communicate with his electorate through local media these factors affecting the country parliamentarian’s accessibility put him at least on an equal footing with his city counterpart. While it is true that a country elector may not be able to take a tram ride to his local member, modern communications enable him to make fast contact with him. If there ever was a case for loading the vote of a country electorate (and this I do not admit), there is certainly none today.

Those words were written by Mr. Peter Browne, the last and, I think, the only Liberal Party member in this Parliament for the largest electorate in the world. He was a protege of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). He expressed the predominant Liberal view and as he is no longer a member of Parliament he is free to express the view.

No reason has been shown by the Ministry - none has been admitted in other countries and none by former members of this Parliament - which would justify now, when travel and communications facilities are at the best stage they have ever been in country districts, an inflation of the representation of those districts in the National Parliament for the first time in its history.

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has made great play of an American court case. A few moments ago in citing the case of Reynolds v. Sims he read -

Modern developments and improvements in transportation and communications made rather hollow, in the mid-1960’s, most claims that deviations from population-based representation can validly be based solely on geographical considerations.

But the honorable gentleman neglected to quote from the opposite page in the report. He is a master at doing this - picking out sentences here and there. The report reads -

History indicates, however, that many States have deviated, to a greater or lesser degree, from the equal-population principle in the apportionment of seats in at least one house of their legislatures. So long as the divergences from a strict population standard are based on legitimate considerations incident to the effectuation of a rational state policy, some deviations from the equal-population principle are constitutionally permissible with respect to the apportionment of seats in either or both of the two houses of a bicameral state legislature.

It is strange that the honorable member for Werriwa omitted those sentences yesterday and again this morning. It is obvious that the honorable member has engaged in tedious repetition of the things that have been said by other honorable members during the lengthy debate on the first amendment and during the second reading stage. Consequently I move -

That the question be now put.

Question put. The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 52

NOES: 35

Majority . . . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 50

NOES: 37

Majority . . ..13

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

– I move -

In proposed section 19, sub-section (2.), omit paragraph (d).

The words proposed to be omitted are “ the density or sparsity of population of the Division.” They are proposed by the Bill to be included amongst the factors to which the Distribution Commissioners are to give consideration in determining whether the divisions are, prima facie, to be one-fifth below the quota or one-fifth above it. This is a new factor. It has never been spelt out at any time since the Act was first passed in 1902. No such factor has ever been applied in any distribution. The intention can only be to inflate the representation of electorates with sparse population and to reduce the representation of electorates with dense population.

Perhaps I could ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) what he has in mind as the meaning of “population” in this context. Does he have in mind that electors constitute the population, or does he have in mind that the population would include migrants who are not yet naturalised and children who are not yet, of course, electors? This is a matter of particular moment in the outer suburban electorates in all the large cities.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell:

– Has not the honorable member a country electorate?

Mr WHITLAM:

– I thank the honorable member for his comment. It might be thought that my electorate would scarcely be considered a country one. In fact, my electorate includes more primary producers - poultry farmers, orchardists, vegetable growers and primary producers of all kinds - than any electorate represented by any member of the Country Party in this House.

Mr Anthony:

– Weekend farmers.

Mr WHITLAM:

– No. They are resident farmers. These are men who personally herd and cultivate. They are not Pitt Street farmers such as one might find in Liberal Party electorates. They are not few in numbers as are the primary producers in Country Party electorates. I repeat that 1 represent more primary producers than does any member of the Country Party.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell:

– And as a lawyer I could not think of anyone finer to represent them.

Mr WHITLAM:

– That is what they think, too. They have been unable to find a better representative from any other party. Outer suburban electorates have a very large proportion of children and migrants. They have, therefore, a very much larger population than would appear from the number of electors. Taking my own electorate as an example, 43 per cent, of the population are on the rolls. Again in my own State, in the division of Wentworth 64 per cent, of the population are on the rolls. To take a medium example, in the Minister’s own electorate of Richmond 54 per cent, of the population are on the rolls. If, therefore, the numbers of electors in Wentworth, Richmond and Werriwa were exactly the same, the population in Werriwa would be 50 per cent, greater than in Wentworth, and the population in Richmond would be 20 per cent, greater than that in Wentworth.

Does “ population “ include unnaturalised migrants and children? In my own electorate there are as many people under 24 years of age as there are over 24 years of age, and 30 per cent, of the people were born overseas. I quote the figures for my electorate but they are typical of the figures for all the outer suburban areas of Sydney and Melbourne and, to a lesser extent, of Brisbane and Adelaide.

This is a very material consideration in determining our attitude towards these new words. There can be no doubt that children and aliens produce much more electoral work for a member than do citizens. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) will undoubtedly find this is so. Nevertheless, I am well content that population should be taken into account in electoral distributions. In many cases, the number of electors is not as significant as the number of people.

Even if “ population “ includes, as I imagine it does, infants and aliens, it would still be a wrong principle, we feel, to say that the population of an electorate should depend on whether the population is dense or sparse. It should depend on the population only. I use the concluding sentence of the paragraph in “ Reynolds v. Sims “ from which the Minister quoted the first two sentences. The concluding sentence is -

Arguments for allowing such deviations in order to ensure effective representation for sparsely settled areas and to prevent legislative districts from becoming so large that the availability of access of citizens to their representatives is impaired are today, for the most part, unconvincing.

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– I want to make it quite clear to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that the population of a division means the population. It includes children, migrants and everybody in the area. It cannot be interpreted to mean anything else. I move -

That the question be now put.

The Committee divided.

AYES: 52

NOES: 35

Majority . . . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question put. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the paragraph proposed to be omitted (Mr.Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 50

NOES: 37

Majority . . . . 13

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Mr DALY:
Grayndler

.- I move -

In proposed section 19, sub-section (2.), omit paragraph (e).

The purpose of this amendment is to remove from the matters to which the Distribution Commissioners shall give consideration the area of the Division. In his second reading speech the Minister stated - . . the areas of proposed divisions are new elements which are now expressly stated for the first time, they will not result in any significant change in the procedure followed by Distribution Commissioners since they are factors in respect of which some allowance has invariably been made by Commissioners at past distributions.

I do not completely agree with the Minister in that contention as this provision represents almost the crux of section 19 in providing for what we term a gerrymander of country electorates. This is the section which provides votes for trees, sheep, cattle, and huge areas of land on which no-one lives. It is true to say that huge areas of land are involved in country seats. The document that I have before me reveals that the electorate of Darling comprises 126,000 square miles. There are others with areas of 17,000, 14,000, 38,000, 18,000 and 282,000 square miles. But who can say that even those areas are not just vast spaces where there is hardly any habitation and where there is no necessity to provide for votes.

What justification does the Country Party or the Minister give for providing under this section votes, in some cases, for hundreds of thousands of square miles of land? It all boils down to the fact that this provision is an endeavour to break down the number of people in country electorates and to give votes to trees and open spaces. Neither I nor other Opposition members can see any reason or justification for maintaining the provision in respect of the area of a Division. I am reminded again of the judgment delivered in the United States of

America by Mr. Chief Justice Warren. Government supporters do not like a reference to this case, and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) likes it least of all because this case finds against the gerrymander by the Government and the Treasurer is a silent, submissive partner in a Country Party take-over by electoral gerrymandering. I invite honorable members to look at page 45 of the report in the case of Reynolds v. Sims. At that page Mr. Chief Justice Warren said -

Considerations of area alone provide an insufficient justification for deviations from the equalpopulation principle. Again, people, not land or trees or pastures, vote. Modern developments and improvements in transportation and communications make rather hollow, in the mid-1960’s, most claims that deviations from population-based representation can validly be based solely on geographical considerations.

Later this matter is dealt with again, and it will be seen that right throughout the report the Chief Justice has found against the Government on the matters contained in this proposed section of the Act. This provision relating to area can be included for one reason and one reason only, and that is to give some form of excuse to the Country Party to make these huge balances in its favour as against city electorates.

The Opposition maintains that it is just as difficult to represent 16,000 or 17,000 people in the city as it is to represent them in country areas. There can be no justification merely for geographical reasons to provide votes for trees or stones. I suppose that these things are what the Minister has described as territorial representation. This is a really new departure in the field of parliamentary representation and it must be unique in legislation that has been introduced in Australia. I have already stated its purpose. Nevertheless, I ask the Minister to explain why, for the first time, this departure has been made from established principles of the Act that has been enforced for the last 60 years or so. I would like him to explain to the Committee and to the public why the Government considers this provision to be necessary.

Mr Harold Holt:

– That has already been done.

Mr DALY:

– The Treasurer has said that that has been done already. He is cranky tonight. He is out of his depth on the legislative programme. He is like a ship that is running late; he is about three days behind schedule. His prospects of leadership have gone by the board as he is now unpopular with the rank and file of the Government parties because of the way he has muddled through this sessional period.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order!

Mr DALY:

– The Treasurer will interject. He is not dealing with the Bill; he knows nothing about it. He is half asleep. I am entitled to answer him when he interjects rudely in debates of this kind. It is a dreadful thing for the Opposition to question the Government about any legislation it introduces. The Government treats the Parliament like a sausage machine. Here in the dead of night we are debating something that will put out the lights of democracy, as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) said. After this legislation is passed, the Government expects us to debate measures which will mean that men will give their lives in Vietnam and other places.

That is why the Treasurer comes in and tries to stand over the Committee. I should like to hear his views on this legislation and how it was that in the Cabinet room he supported a proposal that will give votes to trees, cattle and sheep. I should like him to tell us why he became a party to this Country Party gerrymander and the incorporation in the Bill of provisions that have never been included in electoral legislation since Federation and which, as the Minister for the Interior has said, are there to give the Government territorial representation. I suggest that the Minister for the Interior might be a little more courteous than the Treasurer. We will excuse the Treasurer, because he is older and is cranky. But the Minister for the Interior is a young man and he could give us a reasonable explanation. I suggest that the Committee is entitled to that explanation, even at this early hour in the morning when we are asked to debate legislation that will have far reaching effects on the Australian electorate.

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) asked why provision for the area factor had been included in the Bill. It is pretty clear that this factor has always been taken into consideration by the Distribution Commissioners. Let us look at all the redistributions that have been made since 1902. Let us look at the electorates in which there has been a big variation below the quota.

I refer to electorates such as Darling, Kalgoolie, Grey, Leichhardt and Kennedy. What factors have been taken into account by the Commissioners in relation to those electorates? They have taken area into account. As with trends of population, the Commissioners have been considering this factor for years.

Mr Hayden:

– Why does the Minister want to include them in the legislation?

Mr ANTHONY:

– The whole idea behind including them is to ensure that the Commissioners in all the States will interpret the Act in the same manner. On the last occasion on which there was a distribution - it was rejected in this place - there were discrepancies in the way in which the Commissioners allowed for the variations. Let us take the country seat of Capricornia in Queensland, for example. It had the biggest population of any seat in Australia, simply because the Commissioners in Queensland did not take these factors into consideration to the same extent that they were taken into consideration in Western Australia or New South Wales. What we are seeking to do is to lay down firmly in the Act the various considerations that the Commissioners shall take into account when varying the quota up or down. I move -

That the question be now put.

The Committee divided.

AYES: 52

NOES: 35

Majority . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question put. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the paragraph proposed to be omitted (Mr. Daly’s amendment) stand part of the clause.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 50

NOES: 37

Majority .. .. 13

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative

Question put -

That the clause be agreed to.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 52

NOES: 35

Majority . . . . 17

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Clauses 4 to 14 - by leave - taken together.

Mr L R JOHNSON:
Hughes

– It is not my intention to detain the Committee long in regard to clause 4, which deals with compulsory enrolment and transfer. For the benefit of honorable members opposite who appear to be becoming quite disinterested in the proceedings, let me say that this provision will have the effect of increasing fines on people who fail to vote and who fail to enrol. It seems to me to be an absurd situation that at five past three o’clock in the morning we are dealing with a provision which will not be needed or will not be implemented until after the next Federal elections, which are about 18 months away. That is to say that there are 1 8 months in which we could do something about the need to increase fines imposed on people who fail to vote or fail to enrol. What a ridiculous situation. What a farce the whole business of this chamber has been reduced to. One wonders what the Government’s motive is in bringing this forward at such a late hour. I am wondering whether the motive is retrospectivity. Is it intended to fine at the higher rate people who failed to vote at the last Federal elections? Are those whose cases have not yet been finalised to be fined at the higher rate? Somebody said: “Do not talk rot.”

I do not know whether that honorable member can give any assurance about this matter-

Motion (by Mr. Anthony) put -

That the question be now put.

The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)

AYES: 52

NOES: 34

Majority .. ..18

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Clauses agreed to.

New clause 14a.

Mr COPE:
Watson

– I move -

That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill:- “ 14a. Section 106 of the Principle Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 106. In printing the ballot-papers to be used in a House of Representatives election -

the order of the names of the candidates on the ballot-papers shall be determined as follows: -

the Divisional Returning Officer shall, at the place of nomination, immediately after the close of nominations and before all persons present, make out in respect of each candidate a slip bearing the name of the candidate, enclose each slip in a separate blank envelope of exact similarity and deposit the several envelopes in a locked ballot-box;

the Divisional Returning Officer shall then shake and rotate the ballot-box and shall permit any other person present, if he so desires, to do the same;

the ballot-box shall then be unlocked and an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, other than the Divisional Returning Officer, shall take out and open the envelopes from the ballot-box one by one; and

the candidate whose name appears on the slip enclosed in the envelope first taken from the ballot-box shall be placed first on the ballot-papers, the candidate whose name appears on the slip enclosed in the envelope next taken from the ballotbox shall be placed next on the ballot-papers and so on until the placing of all the names has been determined;

where similarity in the names of two or more candidates is likely to cause confusion, the names of those candidates may be arranged with such description or addition as will distinguish them from one another; and

except as otherwise provided by the regu lations, a square shall be printed opposite the name of each candidate.’.”.

Put simply, the amendment seeks the abolition of the use of the alphabetical system for determining the position in which the names of candidates shall appear on the ballot paper and to substitute in its stead the system of drawing out of the hat. Under the present system, it is open to political parties to nominate candidates who, because of the letters of the alphabet with which their surnames begin, will have their names so placed on the ballot paper as to give them the advantage of the donkey vote. This practice has been engaged in extensively by the Democratic Labour Party and to some extent by the Liberal Party.

I do not think the Country Party has engaged in it extensively because the names of only four of the 20 members of the Country Party in this House start with the letter A. They are the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong). There are only two of its members whose names start with the letter B. The names of the remaining 14 start with varying letters of the alphabet. In all honesty, I must say that so far as I can see the Country Party has never taken advantage of the opportunity to abuse this system by selecting candidates whose surnames are such as will enable them to gain the advantage of the donkey vote because of the position in which they are placed on the ballot paper.

The Minister recognises that there is an advantage to be gained from the donkey vote because he is amending the Act to provide that in the filling of single vacancies in the Senate positions on the ballot paper shall be balloted for and not determined by the alphabetical system.

Both the Minister and the Government admit that there is a donkey vote. Let me cite some instances of the value of the donkey vote. For the purposes of my illustration I shall refer to the Australian Democratic Labour Party. In the 1958 election the D.L.P. contested 40 electorates. Its candidates were on top of the ballot paper in 15 of the 40 electorates. Out of a total of 612,538 formal votes cast in those 15 electorates the D.L.P. candidates received 55,343 votes or an average of 9.03 per cent, of the total votes cast. In the remaining 25 electorates in which its candidates were not in the top position on the ballot paper, the D.L.P. received 51,472 of the 1,063,749 formal votes cast, an average of 4.83 per cent. In other words, the difference between being on top of the ballot paper and not being on top represents 4.2 per cent, of the formal votes cast.

The most notable example of the value of the position on the ballot paper is that of Clancy, the Communist Secretary of the Building Workers Industrial Union who was a candidate in the electorate of Banks in the 1955 and 1958 elections. In 1955, out of a total of 41,875 formal votes cast, Clancy, when he was on top of the ballot paper, polled 3,356 votes or 8.014 per cent, of the total. In 1958, when he was not on top of the ballot paper and 48,701 formal votes were cast - nearly 7,000 more than in the 1955 election - he polled 1,634 votes or 3.355 per cent., a fall of 4.659 per cent, on his previous result. The Government parties are aware of the position. The Australian Labour Party believes that no candidate should be disadvantaged by the fact that his name starts with the letter “ Z “ in favour of another candidate whose name starts with the letter “ A “.

The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was a member of the Government in 1 939 when the Act, as it related to the Senate, was amended. I admit quite frankly that the Labour Party took advantage of the system which then applied in Senate elections but, as I have said, the Government amended the Act. No doubt the right honorable gentleman remembers that Mr. Perkins was in charge of the relevant Bill on that occasion. This is what he had to say -

The Bill further provides that the order in which the respective groups are to be placed on the ballot papers shall be determined by a draw publicly conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer immediately after the close of nominations. This, it is considered, will provide a much more equitable method of determining ballot paper placement than the existing system of arrangement by alphabetical calculation, inasmuch as the chances of each and every group will be fairly and squarely equalised. The adoption of this proposal will remove entirely any advantage or any handicap that may be derived merely from the possession of a particular name and, in consequence, will act as a restraint on any tendency that might develop in the selection of candidates of placing a premium on those nominees whose names happen to commence with an early letter of the alphabet.

Referring to the House of Representatives, Mr. Perkins went on to say -

It is provided in the Bill that the system of determination of placement by draw shall also apply to the names of the candidates at House of Representatives elections. If this proposal is adopted the Divisional Returning Officer will, in each case, at the close of nominations, publicly make a draw, and the names of the candidates will appear on the ballot papers as so drawn. The justification for the proposed method lies, it is believed, in its strict fairness. Each candidate will be given an equal chance as far as ballot paper position is concerned, irrespective of the name he bears. If his name commences with the letter A he will obtain no greater advantage or suffer no greater handicap than if it commenced with the letter Z.

That statement was made by the Minister in charge of the bill that altered the system in regard to the Senate in 1939. For some unknown and inexplicable reason the proposal was dropped later in regard to the House of Representatives. Why did that happen? It happened because since that time the Liberal Party, wherever possible, has selected candidates specifically because their names will appear on the top of the ballot papers. That has occurred particularly in swing electorates. If honorable members look at the names of the Liberal members who have been elected to this House since 1955 they will see that what I am saying is true - not in every instance, but in almost every instance.

The fact is that the donkey vote is worth at least 24 per cent, in the House of Representatives section of a general election in which the electors have to complete two ballot papers - one for the Senate and the other for the House of Representatives. But that does not finish the story. If, for example, two fellows named Brown and Williams are contesting an election, 40,000 votes are cast, Brown receives 22,000 votes and Williams receives 18,000 totes, Brown has a majority of 4,000 votes, but he received 1,000 of them because of the donkey vote. If the positions on the ballot paper were drawn out of the hat and Williams’ name appeared on the top of the ballot paper, his vote would increase to 19,000, Brown’s vote would decrease to 21,000, and Brown’s majority would be reduced to 2,000, or halved.

As further evidence of the value of the donkey vote, let me quote an illustration from my own electorate of Watson. In 1961 I was opposed by a Democratic Labour Party candidate, a Miss Nappa. She was very well known in my electorate. She was born and bred in the electorate. She had workers at the booths. She had manifestoes and snipes. Her name was not on the top of the ballot paper. She received 1,080 votes. In 1963 I was opposed by a Democratic Labour Party candidate whose name started with the letter “A”. He lived at Manly. He was not known in the electorate. He was a complete stranger. He did not have one worker. He had no manifestoes or snipes. But he received 2,136 votes, an increase of more than 1,000 over the number of votes that Miss Nappa received.

Mr Hasluck:

– He received the women’s vote.

Mr COPE:

– The Minister knows that what I am saying is quite true. He cannot laugh it off. The Government of which he is a member realises the value of the donkey vote. That is why the system was altered in regard to filling a single casual vacancy in the Senate. The Government cannot get away from that. It admits that there is a donkey vote in Senate elections. The fact is that the donkey vote is being exploited by political parties.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury:

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

Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for the Interior · Richmond · CP

– I wish to reply to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope). Actually, I am a little diffident about speaking on this matter because people might think that I have not an unbiased opinion. Well, I have not. There has been a great deal of talk and many mathematical calculations have been made on whether or not there is an advantage in being first on the ballot paper.

Mr Cope:

– The. Minister knows that there is. He should not talk rot.

Mr ANTHONY:

– I will admit that there is a donkey vote in Senate elections.

Mr Cope:

– But not in House of Representatives elections?

Mr ANTHONY:

– There is a donkey vote in Senate elections because the system of voting is more complicated than the system used in House of Representatives elections and because it is very difficult for the general public to get to know the individual candidates. That is why the Parliament accepted the proposition that positions on the Senate ballot paper should be balloted for. The same principles apply in an election to fill a single casual vacancy in the Senate, and in a full Senate election. The electors have great difficulty in getting to know the individual candidates because of the vastness of the State and the great population of the State. Even where there is a draw for positions on the Senate ballot paper there are numerous complaints that it is not >.i satisfactory system and that other complications should be added to it - there should be either a circular ballot paper or a rotational ballot paper on which each group appears first on a section of the papers. If there are four groups, 25 per cent, of the ballot papers will show one group of names first, the next 25 per cent, will show the next group first and so on.

Mr Whitlam:

– If persons voted for,the number of candidates required that would simplify the Senate ballot paper. This is another suggestion.

Mr ANTHONY:

– We are not talking about simplifying Senate ballot papers to reduce informal voting; we are talking about the donkey vote and the advantage of being first on the ballot paper. Even with rotational ballot papers there would be anomalies because the effects of the distribution of preferences would have to be considered. The position of the next group has to be considered. A person is not always elected by his primary count, but often by the preferences too. This would apply particularly in the case of House of Representatives elections.

The honorable member for Watson mentioned the Democratic Labour Party and claimed it had an advantage in the 1958 general election. I should like to tell him some other facts about the 1958 House of Representatives election. In New South Wales the Australian Labour Party candidates appeared in first position in seven instances. Those candidates polled 46.74 per cent, of the votes. In the other districts the A.L.P. candidates - and I think there were 17, although I have not the exact figure - polled 47.22 per cent. In other words the candidates whose names did not appear in first position on the ballot papers actually secured a higher percentage of the voting than did those whose names were in first position.

I have seen all manner of mathematical calculations that have been worked out in relation to the position which a candidate’s name occupies on the ballot paper. I have a whole series of mathematical calculations to counter them, but I do not intend to waste the time of the Committee quoting them. I used to think there was something in the argument, and I looked at it closely, birt what convinced me of the true position was what happened in Tasmania in one election. As honorable members know, in Tasmania the Hare-Clark system operates under which groups of candidates for each political party appear on the ballot paper. In each of those groups the candidates’ names appear in alphabetical order. Where the Labour Party might have the possibility of getting only three or four candidates elected it may include as many as seven candidates on the group. If honorable members examine actual voting figures they will see that the candidate whose name appears at the top of these groups does not necessarily get a high vote. Indeed, he sometimes gets a very low vote. In the last elections there were nine candidates in the Labour team for the Division of Braddon. Reece occupies the sixth position, yet he polled more than twice as many as all the other candidates combined.

Mr Costa:

– He is Premier of Tasmania.

Mr Buchanan:

– If Reece had been on top of the list he would have polled even better.

Mr ANTHONY:

– He was well known. He got a remarkably high vote for the position he occupied on the ballot paper.

Mr Cope:

– How does the Minister explain what happened in Clancy’s case?

Mr ANTHONY:

– I was not listening to that case. Honorable members can work this out. They talk about balloting for positions. If we are to ballot for positions then we must take into consideration the effect on the preference voting. Straightout balloting will not do it. If there are four candidates, to make the position perfectly fair we would have to have 16 different ballot papers because of the different ways in which the names could be arranged on the ballot paper. Even when there is balloting for positions there is still much argument that it does not create a satisfactory situation. The attitude towards elections should be to encourage the public to record an intelligent and informed vote. It is our responsibility to sell ourselves to the people - to induce them to vote for us irrespective of the position we occupy on the ballot paper. An honorable member does himself little credit if he suggests that he got into this place only because he had first position on the ballot paper. Those people who think they would obtain more votes if they had a higher position on the ballot paper are fooling themselves.

It has been the conventional system in Australia to list candidates alphabetically on ballot papers. The people understand this system. All political parties understand it. The system is adopted by every State Parliament and by all organisations which conduct elections for office bearers. Yet the Opposition wants to alter the system.

Mr Whitlam:

– Why is the Government altering the system in respect of Senate elections?

Mr ANTHONY:

– The system is not being altered in respect of general Senate elections. A ballot for positions will be held only where a casual vacancy in the Senate is being filled. In these circumstances, the election being on a State-wide basis, it is difficult for candidates personally to get to know everybody in the State. To arrange the names of candidates alphabetically in an election to fill a casual Senate vacancy would create an anomaly.

The debate on this subject could continue interminably. This matter is raised whenever this legislation comes before the Parliament. There are proposals and counterproposals. I have an open mind on the subject. I personally do not care one way or the other what arrangement is made. I am quite frank and sincere about that. I have examined the honorable member’s suggestion and I do not think there is any merit in it. I do not think the order of names on the ballot paper makes any difference to the result. This is the opinion of the Government and it has been the opinion of successive governments. The status quo will remain. I am sure that every government which has the responsibility of making a decision on this matter will reach the conclusion that has been reached by this Government on this occasion. I move -

That the question be now put.

Question put.

The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. E. N. Drury.)

AYES: 52

NOES: 34

Majority . . . . 18

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Cope’s amendment) be so inserted.

The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. E. N. Drury.)

AYES: 34

NOES: 52

Majority .. .. 18

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the negative.

Remainder of Bill - by leave - takenas a whole, and agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Third Reading

Motion (by Mr. Anthony) - by leave - proposed -

That the Bill be now read a third time.

Mr BRYANT:
Wills

.- Mr. Speaker, it is almost five minutes to four and the House is now-

Motion (by Mr. Anthony) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 52

NOES: 34

Majority . . . .18

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

page 2111

QUESTION

LEAVE TO PROPOSE A MOTION NOT GRANTED

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir John McLeay:

– Is leave granted?

Opposition Members. - No.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Leave is not granted.

page 2111

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS

Motion (by Dr. Forbes) put -

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent orders of the day for the resumption of the debate on the second readings of the Defence Bill 1965, the National Service Bill 1965, the Naval Defence Bill 1965 and the Air Force Bill 1965 to be called on. (The bells being rung) -

Opposition Members. - No

Mr SPEAKER:

– The motion can be withdrawn by leave.

Mr Harold Holt:

-You did not deny leave.

Mr Whitlam:

– I did deny leave.

Mr McEwen:

-I rise to order. The Minister for the Army asked for leave to move a certain motion. Unless leave had been granted, as I am sure it was granted, he would not have been in a position to move the substantive motion he in fact moved.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The Minister can move for the withdrawal of the motion, but it will require an absolute majority. I point out that leave was not granted. Let us have the position clearly. Does the Minister for the Army wish to withdraw the motion?

Dr Forbes:

-Yes.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It will be necessary to obtain leave of the House.

Dr Forbes:

– I ask for leave of the House to withdraw the motion.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Is leave granted?

Opposition Members. - No

Mr SPEAKER:

– Leave is not granted.

Mr Snedden:

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. What is the motion before the Chair?

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is the motion moved by the Minister for the Army that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the resumption of debate on certain Bills. I hope honorable members will not continue to argue. Leave was refused.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 53

NOES: 34

Majority . . 19

AYES

NOES

page 2112

SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 5 a.m. this day.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

.Mr. Speaker, I move -

That all words after “ adjourn “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ until 10.30 a.m. this day “.

The last four days of this session have capped the legislative ineptitude of the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) and have illustrated the tyrannical tendencies of the Australian Country Party. The Leader of the House has now moved a motion, prompted by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen), that the House resume its sittings at 5 o’clock in the morning. He moved this motion at eight minutes past four in the morning. Sir, I have been a member of this Parliament for just over 12 years, but I do not remember any such farcical motion ever having been moved, nor can I recall hearing of any such motion having been moved before. No justification has been stated by the Minister who moved it nor by the Leader of the Country Party who prompted him to move this, his second motion. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that, at first, the Treasurer suggested moving: “That the House do now adjourn “. If that motion had been moved and carried then, the next sitting day being a Wednesday, the House would have sat at half past two in the afternoon. The Leader of the Country Party prompted the Leader of the House to amend his motion and to propose the. motion now before the Chair.

Collusion between these right honorable gentlemen has debased the proceedings of the House for the last 19 hours. The House has just passed a Bill which will make it very much easier for the Australian Country Party to have members in this House. We now have a foretaste of the manner in which they will be used -

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 53

NOES: 34

Majority . . . . 19

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 53

NOES: 34

Majority . . . . 19

AYES

NOES

In Division

Mr SPEAKER:

– No.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Question put -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 5 a.m. this day.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 53

NOES: 34

Majority . . . . 19

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

page 2114

ADJOURNMENT

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr WHITLAM:
Werriwa

.Mr. Speaker-

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)

AYES: 52

NOES: 34

Majority . . . . 18

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4.32 a.m. (Wednesday).

page 2115

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE

The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -

Tobacco: Excise Duty. (Question No. 852)

Mr Hayden:

n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -

  1. Is it expected that excise revenue from tobacco sales will fall this year?
  2. If so, is the expected fall connected with lower weights in the biggest selling cigarette on the Australian market?
  3. Will the Minister arrange to have this matter investigated, and if found to be as stated, will he advise (a) the rate of weight reduction per thousand cigarettes, (b) the loss of revenue to the Government per thousand cigarettes and (c) the total loss of revenue anticipated?
Mr Bury:
LP

– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -

  1. No. 2 and 3. Not applicable.

Commonwealth Railways. (Question No. 944.)

Mr Costa:

a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the capital indebtedness of the Commonwealth railway system at 30th June 1964?
  2. What is the annual amount of interest payable on loan money in respect of this system?
  3. What percentage of total Commonwealth railway earnings does this interest represent?
  4. What was the capital indebtedness of each of the State railway systems at the same date?
  5. What is the annual amount of interest payable on loan money in respect of each of these systems?
  6. What percentage of the total earnings of each of the State railway systems does this interest represent in respect of each State?
Mr Harold Holt:
LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. Since 1961-62, the annual financial statements of Commonwealth Railways have been compiled on a fully commercial accounting basis, following the practices adopted for other Commonwealth business undertakings such as TransAustralia Airlines and the Australian National Line. The financial statements disclose as the capital figure the aggregate net financial advantage received from the Commonwealth, and an operating result which includes all relevant charges and provisions but excludes any specific charge in respect of interest on capital. The capital figure for Commonwealth Railways as at 30th June 1964, amounted to £43,033,461, which comprises total Common wealth expenditure attributable to Commonwealth Railways plus superannuation and furlough liabilities, less revenue received. For the year ended 30th June 1964, Commonwealth Railways earned a profit of £520,443 on a revenue of £7,678,525. Expenditure of £7,158,082 included provisions totalling £1,369,192 for depreciation, obsolescence, insurance and liability for superannuation and furlough.

  1. Details of the capital indebtedness of the State railway systems are not available on a uniform basis for all States. Information available to the Commonwealth Statistician indicates that the aggregate net loan expenditure on railways in each State to 30th June 1963, the latest date for which details are available, was as follows -

5 and 6. The information requested is given in the following table, which has been compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician from published sources of information. The figures relate to the financial year 1962-63.

Taxation: Service Gratuities. (Question No. 1041.)

Mr Whitlam:

m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Is a contributor to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund taxed (a) on 3 per cent, of the gratuity and refunds paid to him on retirement after completion of his engagements but (b) on the whole £300 paid to him on re-engagement for a further six years or more after six years’ service?
  2. Has consideration been given to reducing to 5 per cent, the tax on the £300 payment?
  3. Will he announce a decision before the debate takes place on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 196S?
Mr Harold Holt:
LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) Yes (b) Yes. The 5 per cent, basis applies only in relation to a lump sum amount received in consequence of actual retirement. 2 and 3. The question has been listed for consideration by the Government when the income tax law is next under review.

Cigarette Advertising. (Question No. 1042.)

Mr Reynolds:

s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

What has been the expenditure on cigarette advertisements on (a) television and (b) radio during each of the- last five years?

Mr Hulme:
LP

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

I have consulted the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on this matter. There is no statutory requirement for licensees of broadcasting and television stations to submit to the Board a detailed breakdown of its income for different types of advertising and the information desired by the honorable member is not available to the Board.

Cigarettes: Excise Duty. (Question No. 1061.)

Mr Jones:

s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -

  1. Has the Department of Customs and Excise been advised by Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Ltd. in the last twelve months that the “ declared weight “ of tobacco in their cigarettes has been reduced?
  2. Is excise duty on cigarettes paid on the “declared weight”?
  3. Does the Department check the “declared weight “ of a cigarette as submitted by the manufacturer, or is it accepted without investigation?
Mr Bury:
LP

– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -

  1. I am unable to reveal information concerning the “declared weights” of either a particular brand of cigarette or the brands manufactured by any particular company.
  2. Yes. The “declared weight” is expressed as the weight per thousand cigarettes and includes tobacco, paper, tipping and filter.
  3. Yes. Departmental officers regularly check the weights per thousand cigarettes against the “ declared weights “.

Defence Forces Retirement Benefits. (Question No. 1068.)

Mr Benson:

n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Is Captain R. J. Robertson, D.S.C., R.A.N. (Emergency), who at one time commanded H.M.A.S. Melbourne, in receipt of a defence forces retirement benefit pension?
  2. If not, will he take into consideration this officer’s long and distinguished service to his country and give the necessary instructions for the granting of a pension to Captain Robertson from the day he resigned from the Navy?
Mr Harold Holt:
LP

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

No