25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 9.30 a.m., and read prayers.
- Sir, I am credibly informed that it is the anniversary of your birthday today. If so, I wish you many happy returns.
– Mr. Speaker, may I, on behalf of the Opposition, join in those kindly sentiments? We hope that you will live a long time yet and will remain in the Parliament. I am not saying that I hope you will remain as Speaker beyond the lifetime of this Parliament; but we wish you well in everything in which you engage. I was going to say: “ Why were you born so beautiful?” But you were.
– I thank the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for recognising this occasion. I have arrived at a stage, now, where I have joined the other sex and I keep putting my years back instead of putting them on. Thank you very much for remembering.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I preface my question by saying that on two occasions in November 1964 the right honorable gentleman informed this House that a number of administrative admendments to the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act had been considered or were under attention by his Department but that unfortunately it was not possible for these matters to be included in the legislation at that time. He indicated, further, that these matters had been considered in preparation for the Bill that he had foreshadowed as likely to come forward in the autumn sessional period. I ask: In which autumn sessional period will the Bill be introduced and can the workers covered by this legislation expect some consideration of the question of retrospectivity to be included?
– No doubt these matters seem simple enough to the honorable gentleman, but I can assure him that work which involves consideration of legislation in the six States of the Commonwealth and in our own sphere has to proceed with care. This is not the sole issue which is before a very heavily occupied Department. Subject to the claims of other issues upon the time of the services of the Department, I shall see to it that work proceeds on this task as expeditiously as possible. I shall try to let the honorable member have a more detailed answer as to the present stage of consideration of the matter.
– Is the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry aware of the negotiations between the Australian Meat Board and the shipping lines trading to the east coast of North America? Does it appear that the presence of the Israeli shipping line has enabled the Meat Board to take a tougher attitude in its negotiations? Is there any chance of using the services of this line in similar negotiations with the Conference lines trading with Europe?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has returned to Australia, but as he is unable to come to the Parliament this week I shall continue to answer on his behalf. I am aware that negotiations on freight rates are taking place between the Australian meat exporters, the Australian Meat Board and the Conference lines trading to North America. These negotiations are being very closely watched by the Departmen of Trade and Industry. The officers of the Department are keeping as closely in touch with developments as they possibly can. Neither the Department nor the Government itself is a party to the negotiations. The view of the Department about these matters in the past has been that, in any negotiations, the shippers and the shipowners should jointly investigate the cost of providing the services and use those costs as one of the factors in calculating freight rates. I understand that the parties to the current negotiations are following that procedure. As I have indicated, the Department is not directly involved in the negotiations and I am therefore unable to say what factors are being taken into account by the parties to them.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is the Minister aware of the uncalled for and erroneous attack made on the Waterside Workers Federation by a senator in another place quite recently, charging that organisation-
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that conduct and behaviour in another place must not be referred to. I suggest that Standing Order No. 72 covers this point. We are not aware of what happens in the other place. Therefore, questions in relation to what took place there would be out of order.
– Let me put the question in this way: Did the Minister notice the Press publicity that flowed from a statement recently made-
– Order! Unfortunately, the honorable member has made me aware of the source of his information. I suggest that he sit down and reframe his question with a view to asking it later.
– I address to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Wakefield. As the willingness of the Israeli shipping line to carry refrigerated cargo at the old rate has been very useful in the current negotiations, will the Minister use his good offices to see that the Israeli line is given the opportunity actually to carry some cargo at the old rate, that is, 10 per cent, below the Conference lines’ suggested new rate?
– I suggest to the honorable gentleman that the decision on a matter of this kind is one for the meat exporters themselves. I have no doubt that, this matter having been brought under public notice by the honorable gentleman, the meat exporters will take it into consideration when considering the interests of their own industry.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the claim by the Premier of New South Wales that the estimated amount of damage caused by the drought in that State is already over £100 million, and in view of the fact that there have been serious drought losses in Queensland and some drought losses in Victoria, will the right honorable gentleman prepare a statement, so far as he can, as to what the estimated losses really are and make it available to honorable members some time early next week?
– I do not think it is possible to produce estimates at present which would be in any way accurate or complete, because the ultimate result of the drought is not yet completely ascertainable. I have observed in the Press that the Premier of New South Wales has said that it has been estimated that losses in that State would amount to £100 million. That estimate is one that was made by certain organisations which saw one or two of my colleagues and myself last week. It is not a Government estimate. But on this matter I welcome the opportunity of saying that I am a little puzzled at some of the things that are being said in New South Wales.
– People are puzzled by some of the things that the Prime Minister has not said.
– I can assure the honorable member 1 will never be puzzled by the things he does not say. But may I just come back to the problem. I am very puzzled indeed to see that misapprehension appears still to exist in the mind of the Premier of New South Wales. This is unfortunate. The Commonwealth Government has made three propositions, expressed as clearly as I can express them, both in writing and in the House. The first I understood to be well received by the Government of New South Wales - and I will quote the words of the Premier’s last letter -
I have noted that we may take it that the aid will substantially cover whatever deficit ultimately emerges in our Budget as a result of the drought measures of the kind referred to in my recent Budget Speech. I have also noted that Commonwealth assistance in the form of general purpose grants to the State is envisaged.
So the message appears to have been clearly received and understood. That is No. 1. That, I might point out to the House is something without precedent, in my experience. This is the most liberal approach that the Commonwealth has ever made to a problem of this kind.
Secondly, the matter having been raised that a little cash in the hand is worth more than a promise, we gave consideration to this. I indicated to the Premier of New South Wales, again in writing, that we would be perfectly willing to discuss with his officers the working out of an interim grant so that there would be something in hand. In his reply to me he said - it will be clear that there is ample justification for a substantial interim general purpose grant … In this regard, I have noted your suggestion that Treasury officers should confer on this matter. But as we are now approaching the end of the first half of the financial year, it might bc preferable to wait until the figures for that period are available before a formal application for an interim grant is made . . .
That is No. 2. Thirdly, I had a telegram concerning the problem of freight costs on the movement of wheat to the northern areas of the State, asking whether the Commonwealth would provide assistance in that field. The reply that I made, as honorable members by now will have discovered, was that we would accept this as drought relief expenditure under the arrangements for the provision of Commonwealth financial assistance. I repeat that these actions, these undertakings, quite specific and clear, represent the most liberal approach to a problem of this kind since I have been in this Parliament. I just fail to understand why, as a result of all this, we should be under attack.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. As a means of spreading goodwill and an understanding of the people of South Vietnam, would the Prime Minister consider inviting a delegation, led by Prime Minister Ky, to visit Canberra and all States of Australia?
– It is an interesting idea, but I would hesitate even to ask the Leader of the Government in South Vietnam to go away from that country at this stage, his constant presence there being most desirable.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. As days off are usually given in lieu of holidays which fall on a Saturday can the Minister give any more information about what arrangements have been made in the Commonwealth Railways for days off in lieu of the coming Christmas Day and New Year’s Day?
– The Commonwealth Railways observes the same holidays as are laid down by the Commonwealth Public Service Board for the Commonwealth Public Service. I understand that the Public Service Board is considering this matter at the moment, but I am not aware that it has reached any decision.
– Will the Treasurer ascertain and supply me with the number of private superannuation funds in existence as at 30th June 1965? Will he ascertain the number of such funds to which the Commissioner of Taxation has written suggesting that their trust deeds must be amended if they wish to avoid the penalty tax of 10s. in the £1? Has the Treasurer had an estimate made of the legal costs and stamp duties likely to be involved in the amendment of these deeds? Will not these legal costs and stamp duties be borne by salary’ and wage earners who are the beneficiaries of the funds?
– The honorable gentleman asks me a series of questions about superannuation funds and the taxation legislation recently introduced relating to this matter. I shall see whether I can ascertain for him the number of such funds in operation at the end of June last. I shall ask the Commissioner of Taxation whether he can give any information about the number of letters sent out. There may, of course, have been oral contacts in addition to correspondence. I shall ask about that too. I doubt whether information about the estimated cost involved in amending the deeds would be available, but I shall see what information can be secured in regard to it. Regarding the costs of carrying out the conditions required by the Commissioner, I think that this would have to be put in the scale against the greater security which would come to a member of a fund as the result of the conditions to be observed. Also, Sir, we cannot be unmindful of the overall objective of creating conditions which meet problems of tax avoidance. I know the very keen interest that the honorable gentleman has in this matter. He has recently put me in possession of his views at some length, and these are being carefully studied at the present time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is the Minister conscious of the industrial unrest that has been caused by the accusation that the Waterside Workers’ Federation has taken 10 per cent, of wages of members working for the Australian National Line? Will the Minister, in the interests of industrial peace between the Waterside Workers’ Federation and the Australian National Line, make the position quite clear - that the 10 per cent, surcharge on the minimum wages paid by the A.N.L. is paid into a special fund for the purpose of making compensation payments to other waterside workers vitally affected in relation to working time and working opportunities because of modern, efficient and mechanised vessels under the control of the Line?
- Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the position is that the Australian National Line and another company which operates roll-on roll-off vessels desired to employ permanent waterfront labour to handle those ships because it was a highly skilled operation and the ships had to be turned round quickly. It was a great advantage to these shipowners to have permanent staff who knew the work. This involved a departure from the normal procedure on the waterfront whereby waterside workers were rostered. In order to compensate the waterside workers who would otherwise have been rostered, the Australian National Line agreed to pay to the Waterside Workers Federation 10 per cent, of the minimum wages, under the award rates, which it would have paid to the permanent workers. This sum of money was to be set aside in a special fund to compensate workers who would otherwise have had a chance to have employment at those terminals. I do not regard this as being a subtraction from the wages of permanent workers. They receive the full award rates to which they are entitled. The Australian National Line receives the benefit of the services of permanent employees and those waterside workers who would otherwise have been rostered for work receive some compensation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. How are things on the waterfront?
- Mr. Speaker, for obvious reasons I have not been down there recently. Taking notice of the reports that have recently been issued by my own authority, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority-
– Your authority? Our authority.
– Sir, if I may refer to the report recently issued by the Stevedoring Industry Authority, I was delighted to see that there had been a substantial, even a very substantial, reduction in the loss of working time on the waterfront. Normally we expect that 64,000 to 65,000 man hours will be lost during the month of October. Last month the loss was of the order of 1,900 man hours. Of necessity this has meant a speeding up of the turn round times of ships and greater efficiency in loading operations.
– Now answer the second part of the question.
– The honorable member for Watson will have to tell me what the second part of the question was.
– The question was a good example of brevity.
– Yes, Sir, it was. I congratulate the honorable gentleman on the brevity of his question. Other matters to which I would like to draw attention, and which are referred to in the report of the Authority, are the necessity for the observance of awards by camp tonnage and also the necessity for a greater concentration on safety factors. I assure the honorable gentleman that I have taken note of both parts of this report and I have asked the Authority to be most careful to see that whenever it is considered desirable prosecutions are carried out to ensure observance both of the awards and of the safety regulations made under the Navigation Act.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to that which was asked by the Leader of the Opposition. Will the Prime Minister give an undertaking that the Government will immediately announce assistance to the drought affected producers of the Northern Territory of a nature no less generous than that which the States have already granted or will in the near future grant to drought affected producers within their borders? I appreciate that some short term assistance has already been announced, but I consider that this does not go far enough, especially in view of what the States are doing for their producers.
– I shall be very glad to discuss this matter with my colleague, the Minister for Territories. I am not familiar with all the details of what has been going on though, as the honorable member has pointed out, certain measures were put into operation, but I shall have a talk with the Minister about it.
– The Minister for Social Services will no doubt recall the number of representations that I have made to him and to his predecessor for an improvement in the services of his Department in relation to the attendance of his officers in the Wimmera area, and I refer particularly to the city of Horsham. I now ask: Is the Minister in a position to say whether he has made any advance in relation to these suggestions?
– Following receipt of representations from the honorable member, I asked the Department to take a survey of the work load of the particular area in the Wimmera electorate with which the honorable member was concerned. As a result of this, it appears that it might be possible for an officer of the Department in the immediate future to attend regularly in the city of Horsham, at least on one day a week, when he will be able to see persons who are desirous of making contact with the Department of Social Services. As to the future possibility of the establishment of a regional office there, this will depend entirely upon the volume of business in the city. This will be assessed according to the number of people who come in to see the officer who will be there in the immediate future.
– I preface a question, which I direct to the Prime Minister, by drawing attention to the fact that persons who are unable to pass a Commonwealth medical examination are unable to receive permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that many Australian servicemen now serving in Vietnam will not be eligible for permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service, due to injuries and diseases that they have contracted in Vietnam? Will he re-examine the recommendation of the Boyer report to allow persons who may be unable to pass a 100 per cent, physical test to be employed permanently in the Public Service?
– Part of the question - the second part, as my friend would say - relates to a matter of policy on which I would not make any off hand reply; but the first part of the question involves an examination of what the facts are and what the existing rules are. I shall be very happy to have a little statement prepared on that matter so that at any rate we shall be able to discuss it on the common basis of fact.
– I ask the Prime Minister a further question on the drought relief negotiations. Is it a fact that there is no urgent and immediate problem about the New South Wales Government’s finances until six monthly figures are reached? Is it further a fact that there is no problem about dairy farmers, who have been enabled to borrow over £5 million through dairy cooperative guarantees from the State Rural Bank? Is it a fact that the real problem surrounds graziers whose credit has been completely exhausted? If this is a fact, can help be given to Treasury and State banking officials to work out the new method of making loans available to these people?
– As the honorable member ‘will realise, the question involves some particular knowledge of the way in which the New South Wales Government is providing drought relief. 1 do not profess to be at all expert or well informed in that field. I have been dealing with the subject in the broad with the Premier. 1 will certainly have such inquiries made as I can into the point raised by the honorable member and, if possible, say something on the matter in due course.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Speaker, as the officer who has been elected by this Parliament to protect the rights and privileges of members of the Parliament. I refer to an utterance alleged to have been made in another place by a member of that place, reflecting on the integrity and personal honour of a member of this place and the refusal of that person in the other place to withdraw his charge or to apologise. I now ask whether you will be prepared to examine the utterance made and to confer with the President of the other place with a view to ensuring that proper protection is given to the personal honour and integrity of members of this place.
– Order! I am aware of the matter to which the honorable member has referred. On a former occasion it was found necessary for a member affected to rise in his place and to ask for leave to make a statement. On that occasion leave was granted. I suggest that the forms of the House would provide a similar opportunity for the person affected now to rise in his place and seek leave to make an explanation of the charges that have been made against him in another place. As far as I am concerned, I have enough problems of my own without in any way interfering with the Presiding Officer of another place.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question. I refer to the Minister’s recent announcement that the Commonwealth Government is making a grant of £50,000 to the national Old People’s Welfare Council for the period up to June 1966, with additional grants of £30,000 for each of the two following years. Will the Minister say whether the Tasmanian Government is assisting the member council in Tasmania?
– The grant that has been made by the Commonwealth Government to the Old People’s Welfare Council is to further the excellent work that is being done by the bodies that comprise the Old People’s Welfare Council at the federal level. In my statement I said that some State Governments had provided assistance to State organisations. From recollection, the Tasmanian Government is not one of those Governments.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Did the Queensland Government six months ago urgently request that an amendment be made to the Brigalow Lands Agreement Act which, because of its absurd rigidity, makes it impossible for drought stricken farmers to get more than two water points per property, despite the fact that ample funds are available for more? Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House why steps have not been taken to effect this proposed amendment and why these farmers are permitted to suffer because of administrative red tape? Does the right honorable gentleman think that it might be a good idea to transfer the administration of this Act to the Department of Primary Industry or the Department of National Development, where there may be somebody who understands the circumstances and conditions of the people and the area being administered?
– I thank the honorable member for his courteous and flattering references. I would remind him that a good deal of the initiative for the brigalow programme came from the people he is now criticising so unfairly. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government throughout the development of the brigalow programme in Queensland has been a helpful one. Further, we broke new ground, both literally and metaphorically, in the funds that were made available and in the cooperation which developed between Commonwealth and State officers. I am not aware of any obstruction having been caused by the Commonwealth Government. As I recall, we recently considered one request in Cabinet and met the view that the Queensland Government had put to us in relation to a matter in which some liberalisation was sought. I shall look into the details of any subsequent requests, but I would be surprised to find that the cordial relationship which existed between the two Governments on a matter of common interest had not persisted.
– My question to the Treasurer relates to the freezing of funds. What formula, if any, is in existence which regulates the freezing of funds held by the United Kingdom as the banker for the sterling area? Is this essentially a pragmatic business, or is there some criterion which would enable a country to know what form of behaviour it could adopt or to what limit it could go before its funds would be in jeopardy?
– I will treat that question as being on the notice paper. I should like to have it answered with care and precision.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In view of the apparent vagueness or inadequacy, or both, of the assistance which the Commonwealth Government has offered to the States to help them meet the ill effects of the present drought - I conclude this from the current statements of the Liberal Premier of New South Wales - will he arrange for an immediate conference between himself and the Premiers of the drought affected States so that a sufficient and effective drought relief policy may be clearly defined and implemented without delay to save some hundreds of primary producers? At present they face the spectre of bankruptcy and ruin while the Commonwealth Government continues to evade its national responsibility in this field, in which State resources are inadequate to meet the challenge presented to an important part of the economy.
– If the honorable gentleman thinks there is anything vague about what I have said and repeated in this House on the subject of drought relief, he must be suffering from some strange delusion. Nothing could be clearer. If I repeated it a hundred times it would still be completely clear.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Has he studied recent proposals put forward by various financial authorities, including the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, favouring the introduction of special Government bonds for defence and development as a means of boosting liquidity? Will the right honorable gentleman make a statement on this important subject?
– I will consider the desirability of making such a statement. The honorable gentleman will be aware, of course, that we do raise now as much money as we can on the loan market for Commonwealth and State purposes. What we raise is devoted entirely to State housing and works programmes. If we were to provide special incentives to lend for the purposes of defence and development, that might have some effect upon the amount we could raise for State works and housing programmes. However, the pros and cons of such a scheme would have been considered in the Treasury and I will see if these can be stated for the information of the honorable gentleman.
– 1 ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. In view of the clear signs of a falling off in the demand for labour due to a drop in spending - unusual at this time of the year - in the motor vehicle, housing and retail fields, can the Minister give an assurance that there will be no problem in placing school leavers in employment in the next few months?
– I think the House knows that starting early in the month of October every effort is made by the Department of Labour and National Service to find out the qualifications of young people who are about to leave school and to ascertain the job vacancies that are available for them. There are 60,000 job vacancies available at this moment and the vacancies increased last month by between 6,000 and 7,000 - almost all of them for school leavers and juniors. While it is obvious that I cannot give undertakings about this matter I can assure the House that the Department is highly conscious of its responsibility to place school leavers in employment quickly. In past years we have had little difficulty in placing school leavers in employment, and last year we had remarkable success in placing them in employment quickly. The most and the best I can do is to repeat my assurance that the Commonwealth Employment ( Service is highly conscious of its responsibility and will do all it can to place these people in employment. I want to stress to the honorable gentleman that the number of school leavers this year was somewhat smaller than the number last year. Next year, however, there may be about 60,000 registering at the turn of the year, and this number will probably create a different sort of problem for us.
– I wish to ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. Is it normal for officers of the Australian security service to attend meetings held by Communist front organisations? Is the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament a Communist front organisation? Did officers of the security service attend a meeting last Sunday and, if they did, is it possible for us to have a complete copy of the speech made by the honorable member for Yarra at that meeting?
– The manner in which the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operates is not, in my view, a matter that should be the subject of answers in this House at question time.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the Commonwealth set a limit to the amount of finance to be made available to the States, particularly Queensland and New South Wales, for drought relief? It has been suggested in a report this morning that there is a limit of £10 million. Is this correct? If so, why was the House not informed of this when the Prime Minister said, in effect, that he would underwrite the expenditure of the States?
– No limit has been imposed. I had not even heard of this amount of £10 million - is that the figure you mentioned?
– Well, the report is quite untrue. The limit is the limit stated in the principle I have established, which involves the budgetary losses of the States on account of drought relief measures.
– Will the Prime Minister have investigations made to ascertain whether it is true, as reported, that in a window of the Victorian section of Australia House, The Strand, London, there is exhibited a large paper kangaroo with bottles or cans of beer protruding from its pouch? If this is true it may lead to misunderstanding, to the detriment of Australia, and so I ask whether the Prime Minister will request that this object be withdrawn from view.
– My friend poses a fascinating problem. I do not profess to be an expert on such matters. Does the honorable member wish to convey to me that the impression may be created that kangaroos carry bottles of beer in their pouches, or that the pouches are the source of the beer? I do not quite understand what the interpretation might be. But as I am not a beer drinker I cannot answer as an expert.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has the Government ever given consideration to transferring the Patent Office from the jurisdiction of the Attorney-General’s Department to the Secondary Industries Division of the Department of Trade and Industry, a home more relevant than the Attorney-General’s Department? If no consideration has been given to this matter, will the Prime Minister study this suggestion? Is it not a fact that nowhere else in the world is a patent office under the control of the Attorney-General’s Department?
– No consideration has been given to such a proposal as that made by the honorable member. So far as I am concerned, no consideration will be given to it The Patent Office is in its appropriate place when it is attached to the Attorney-General’s Department.
– On Wednesday last the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) addressed to me a question without notice asking whether a person had been arrested in King’s Hall on the previous night and whether there had been any contravention of the privileges of the House.
I have ascertained that on the previous night the attention of an officer of the Australian Capital Territory Police, who was on duty in Parliament House for parliamentary purposes, was drawn to a person who, in the hearing of several people, was behaving offensively in King’s Hall. He was asked by the constable to leave but persisted in his offensive behaviour. He was then arrested and later was charged at the Canberra Police Station. I understand that, in later proceedings, he was fined. The constable acted properly, and with authority, in protection of the Parliament and its members.
– by leaveEarlier today the honorable member for Bonython asked a question about Commonwealth employees’ compensation. I took the opportunity while question time was in progress to check on the present stage reached in this matter as I promised. I found that the Treasury has almost completed a review of all the proposals for amendment which have reached it, including a number of proposals received from the Opposition. I am told that this has been a very big job involving a great number and variety of proposals. It will not be possible to introduce any necessary amending legislation during the remainder of this session. However, I am told that I should be able to have adequate material before me to place this matter before Cabinet in good time for any necessary legislation in the autumn period next year.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without amendment -
Copper Bounty Bill 1965.
Without requests -
Excise Tariff Bill 1965.
Bill presented by Sir Robert Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will authorise the first Commonwealth grants to the new colleges of advanced education. Grants totalling £2.4 million will be paid by the Commonwealth to various States for expenditure on capital works at specified colleges over the period 1st July 1965 to 31st December 1966. The Commonwealth grants will be subject to a matching contribution from the State Government concerned.
Honorable members will recall that in tabling the first two volumes of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia on 24th March last, I announced that the Government had accepted the Committee’s central recommendation for the development of advanced education in institutions which will become virtually new types of tertiary colleges outside the universities. What is envisaged is not merely improved arrangements for teaching technical subjects. An important part of the new concept is the encouragement of more liberal studies in these colleges and the establishment of courses which will provide greater breadth in education for all students who take tertiary level training outside the universities.
In this Bill we provide for a number of buildings which the Tertiary Education Inquiry Committee recommended could be started right away. The institutions on behalf of which the Commonwealth is prepared to make immediate matching capital grants, and the amount of the Commonwealth contribution in each case, are set out in the schedule to the Bill. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate the details in “ Hansard “. They are -
Honorable members will note two variations from the list of institutions for which the Tertiary Inquiry Committee recommended immediate assistance. At the request of the Western Australian Government £61,500 is being provided by the Commonwealth for works at the School of Mines of Western Australia at Kalgoorlie, and the £500,000 recommended for the Western Australian Institute of Technology is being reduced by this amount. No provision has been made for Commonwealth grants to new colleges at Bathurst and Wagga. The New South Wales Government has told us that it has no proposals for these colleges at present. Should such proposals be made in the future the Commonwealth Government would be prepared to give them favourable consideration.
I point out to the House that the Bill empowers the Minister to extend beyond 31st December 1966 the period during which State contributions to a project may be matched from Commonwealth funds. This will be done only where the project has been committed to construction and substantial progress made before that date. We have done this in recognition of the difficulty the States may face in completing these large projects within a relatively short time. In fact, as was indicated in the Budget Papers, we expect that the programme of work will not call for the expenditure of more than £1 million during the present financial year of the Commonwealth’s total commitment of £2.4 million.
The Commonwealth has been gratified to receive the wholehearted support of all of the States in this development of the new colleges of advanced education. All States, including Tasmania, are now preparing proposals for the continuing development of colleges of advanced education during the triennium from 1967 to 1969 and beyond that period. The Commonwealth has invited the States to put forward specific proposals under which the Commonwealth and the States will share the capital and recurrent costs of advanced education. We have appointed a highly qualified advisory committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. I. W. Wark to advise us on proposals which will come from the States as part of the committee’s more general task of promoting the balanced development of non-university tertiary institutions in Australia. The following brief outline of prospective developments in advanced education in the States illustrates the timely action of the Commonwealth in promoting a joint CommonwealthState effort in this direction -
New South Wales is in process of redeveloping its diploma courses, and is beginning to construct for the New South Wales Institute of Technology at Sydney a complex of buildings on a site at present occupied by the Sydney Technical College at Ultimo.
Victoria has passed legislation recently to form the Victoria Institute of Colleges. The Interim Council of this Institute is currently examining the question of the affiliation within the framework of the Institute of major technological institutions in the State. There are plans for the immediate further development of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Colleges at Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo. The question of the siting of the new building at Bendigo is currently under discussion.
In Queensland major plans involve the development of the present Brisbane
Central Technical College to house the new Queensland Institute of Technology, together with branches being developed on new, and admirably selected, sites at Rockhampton and Toowoomba.
South Australia has plans well advanced for the development of the South Australian Institute of Technology on a new 200 acre site at Islington. Immediately, buildings are to be constructed on the existing Frome Road site in Adelaide and also at Whyalla.
In Western Australia some fine buildings have already been built for advanced education purposes on a 270 acre site at Collier Park and the new Western Australian Institute of Technology is, therefore, already established and partly housed.
Tasmania has begun plans for the early development of a College of Advanced Education in Hobart and these have already been discussed with Dr. Wark.
The College of Advanced Education is a new and challenging concept which will make possible a broadening of educational opportunities and achievements at the tertiary level. The Australian Government is confident that, in co-operation with the States and with the advice of Dr. Wark’s Committee, these colleges will play a major part in meeting Australia’s needs for educated and technologically trained people and in providing facilities suited to the selected vocations and capacities of individual students.
– Will reports be presented to the House annually, as in the case of the Australian Universities Commission?
– Reports of the Wark Committee?
– I would think so.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13th October (vide page 1737), on motion by Mr. Snedden -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Is it the wish of the House to adopt the suggestion made by the Attorney-General? The Chair raises no objection.
– It has already been arranged.
– Then that procedure will be followed. I wish to point out one matter for the guidance of all honorable members: As honorable members will see, the title and subject matter of this Bill and of the associated Judges’ Remuneration Bill are restricted. As stated in the title of the Judiciary Bill, the subject matter is the remuneration of the Justices of the High Court of Australia. In the case of the Judges’ Remuneration Bill, the subject matter is the remuneration of the judges of certain other courts and of the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I ask honorable members to assist the Chair by keeping their remarks to the subject matter that is relevant.
– I assure you, Sir, that I shall try to walk the straight and narrow path in debating this legislation. I may wander slightly, with asides, but it will be only passing comment. I hold it as a general principle that all office bearers under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia should receive a higher emolument than their counterparts in the States. This applies to members of Parliament as well as to judges and public servants who exercise executive authority. Not only does the dignity of the Commonwealth require that this should be done, but also the duties of a holder of high office in the Commonwealth are more onerous, more exacting, more complex and more responsible than those that obtain in the States. And the consequences of the actions of those who exercise authority on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the decisions they make, reach far deeper into the whole nation and affect its destinies to a far greater extent than do actions taken on a purely State level.
The table incorporated by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) in his second reading speech shows very clearly the disparity that has risen between the remuneration of State and Federal judges performing similar duties. For instance, the President of the Commonwealth Industrial Court received £8,000 per annum in 1960 and his salary has remained fixed at £8,000 since then. In 1960, the President of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales was receiving £6,500 a year with a tax free allowance of £250. But since 1960, the President of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales has received two substantial salary increases bringing his salary to £8,750 with a £300 tax free allowance. Thus, the New South Wales office now attracts a substantially higher remuneration than its Federal counterpart. The table presented by the Attorney-General shows that this disparity applies also to members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales when compared with the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Perhaps it is wrong to use the term judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. These men do not sit as judges although they were at one time judges. They sit in a different capacity to that of the judges of the Industrial Court.
– They have the same right, title and style.
– I am thankful to the Attorney-General for that interjection. It is competent now for the Commonwealth to appoint people who are not judges to that Commission, I should presume. One does not need to be a judge to be appointed?
– No. An appointee has to have qualifications for appointment which are the same qualifications as are required for appointment as a judge.
– I am grateful for that information, too. The table which the Attorney-General included in “ Hansard “ shows that the disparity which I have mentioned applies also to members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales when compared with the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Commission. If this Bill simply established the general principle that Commonwealth office bearers should be receiving higher payment than their State counterparts then there would be a case for it. Under the Judiciary Bill, High Court judges will receive an additional £2,000 per annum. The result of the Judges’ Remuneration Bill will be that the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will receive a salary increase of £1,500 a year. In the case of High Court judges the increase represent £40 a week. In the case of members of the industrial tribunals the increase represents £30 a week. These increases are in the order of 23 per cent, on existing salaries.
Now I come to the point of our objection: Last August, the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission held that the most the economy could sustain as an additional payment to wage and salary earners of Australia was a margins increase of H per cent. I have - no doubt that the judges of Australia, like the wage and salary earners of Australia, have found the value of their money greatly eroded by inflation over the years. I still think of the promise made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in 1949 to put value back into the £1. It is because value has oozed out of the £1 that increases in the salaries of members of Parliament, judges and such people have been given over the years. But the workers of Australia were given a margins increase of only lt per cent, last August. Australian wage and salary earners receiver thereby an increase of about 6s. a week.
– And the Government immediately put a 2 1/2 per cent, tax increase on them.
– I cannot even adumbrate that particular aspect because I would be out of order by so doing. I leave it to the imagination of honorable members, most of whom have fertile imaginations, to see how unjust this situation is. I repeat: The Australian wage and salary earners received from, that decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission an extra 6s. a week.
– What have they had since the judges last received a rise?
– Very little.
– It is five years now.
– The judges received their last increase in 1960.
– Yes. But the increase proposed for the judges under this Bill is 23 per cent. The workers have not received a 23 per cent. increase in their wages and salaries over the last five years.
– They have never received that in their lives.
– The situation is even worse than I have stated because those on the basic wage have received nothing. The August increase was a margins increase. The economy, we were told by a majority of members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, could not afford any greater increase to the wage and salary earners of Australia. So, it is obvious that one rule is operating for the judges and another rule is operating for the workers. If the Government maintains that all wages and salaries must be held despite rising prices in order to avoid inflation - as I have said, there has been a lot of inflation over the last 16 years - how can it justify such a massive exception in favour of those most responsible for the wage pegging decision? Therefore, we intend to oppose these Bills as a protest against the refusal of wage justice to the wage and salary earners by the majority of members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the grounds upon which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) announces that his Party opposes this Bill are entirely specious. I shall endeavour in the time at my desposal to show that this is so. The Leader of the Opposition in his speech completely omitted to look at the history of Commonwealth judicial salaries. When the High Court was established in 1903, the salary of the Chief Justice was fixed at £3,500 a year. The salary of a puisne judge was £3,000. No increase in those salaries took place until 1947 when the Labour Government increased the salary of the Chief Justice to £4,500 a year and the salary of a puisne judge to £4,000 a year. No increase thereafter occurred until 1950. In the intervening three years, a substantial rise had taken place in the average weekly earnings throughout the community. In 1950 against the opposition of the Australian Labour Party, the salary of the Chief Justice was fixed at £5,000 a year and that of a puisne judge at £4,500 a year. In 1955, this time with the approbation of the Opposition the salary of the Chief Justice was increased to £8,000 a year and the salary of a puisne judge rose to £6,500 a year. It is interesting to bear in mind that the Opposition was then led by the late Dr. Evatt and that this was the only occasion in nearly 20 years on which the Labour Party approved of an increase in judicial salaries.
At that time, and at all times before that, the tradition had grown up - and a very proper tradition - that the differential between the salaries of judges of the High Court and the salaries of permanent heads of senior departments should be in the order of £1,000. When the puisne judges of the High Court had their salaries increased to £6,500 a year in 1955, the permanent heads of senior departments were in receipt of £5,500 a year. Then, in 1960, the salary of the Chief Justice was increased to £10,000 a year and that of puisne judges to £8,500 a year. At that time, the salaries of permanent heads of departments were in the order of £6,900 a year. Again, the differential was preserved. Now, since 1960, there has been a general rise in professional salaries not only in the Public Service but also in the community generally. That rise was set in train by decisions of the Public Service Arbitrator and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1963 and 1964 in particular. As a result of this general increase throughout the lower grades of the Public Service and in the professional occupations outside the Public Service, it became necessary for the Government in 1964 to increase the salaries payable to the permanent heads of senior Departments in the Public Service to £8,750.
It should be borne in mind that when the legislation was brought in last year to effectuate that increase, the Opposition did not oppose it. Indeed, if one consults the “ Hansard “ report for the relevant date in November 1964 when the Bill relating to the salaries of statutory officers was introduced, he finds that the Leader of the Opposition announced that the Opposition did not oppose the measure and said that, having regard to the trend of salaries in the Public Services, the increases proposed were inevitable. With that sentiment I, for one, heartily agree.
At the end of last year this Parliament, with the express consent of the Opposition, agreed to the proposition that the salaries of senior heads of Departments in the Commonwealth Public Service should be fixed at £8,750 per annum. I shall examine, in a calm and detached way, the consequences of that legislation and its effect upon the argument that has been propounded here today by the Leader of the Opposition. As I have shown, with the assent of the Opposition the salaries of senior public servants were increased late last year to a level above that of the salaries of puisne judges of the High Court of Australia. As I remarked earlier in my speech, the tradition - the right and the proper tradition - in this country has been that the salaries of judges of the High Court should be fixed at a level higher than that of public servants who are heads of senior departments.
It is interesting to remember in this connection that last year my honorable and learned friend, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) introduced the Law Officers Bill. Honorable members will remember that the main purpose of that Bill was to establish the position of Solicitor-General and to arrange legislatively for a re-organisation of the Attorney-General’s Department so that, in effect, there were two permanent heads, each in command of a different section of the Department’s activities. The office of Solicitor-General was created and statutorily defined. In his second reading speech, the Attorney-General referred to the salary of the Solicitor-General and announced that it would be fixed at the level of that of heads of senior Departments - that is, at £8,750 a year. On that occasion the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) warmly welcomed the Bill. Having heard the AttorneyGeneral announce the salary proposed to be fixed for the Solicitor-General, he made no quarrel at all with the proposal. Therefore, it seems to me that the complaint now made by the Opposition about the present proposal to increase the salaries of judges of the High Court and of other Commonwealth courts is a rather hollow one. It would be intolerable if in this country - where, as the Leader of the Opposition freely admits, so much importance properly attaches to the work done by Commonwealth judicial tribunals - the salaries of puisne judges of the High Court were allowed to remain below the level of the salaries of officers such as permanent heads of senior Departments, when the level ot the salaries of those judges has traditionally been above.
It seems to me that there is a fundamental fallacy in the proposition that a Bill to increase judicial salaries should be opposed because of a decision in relation to the basic wage recently given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The principles that apply in the fixation of the basic wage are necessarily different from those which should apply in the fixation of judicial salaries and the salaries of top public servants, or even public servants in the middle ranks. The matters to be taken into account in the fixation of the basic wage are different matters entirely, lt seems to me that if one wishes to get a reasonably appropriate analogy - that is very difficult in this situation - it is much wiser to look, not at the progress of the basic wage, but at the progress of average weekly earnings in the community as a whole when considering the justice or appropriateness of fixing judicial salaries at a particular level.
In that connection, I should like to invite the attention of honorable members to the Commonwealth Year Book for 1964. If the level of average weekly earnings in the community for 1953-54 is given an index figure of 100, it will be seen that during 1964 the index figure had climbed to 158. There is a remarkable similarity in the trend of average weekly earnings in the community as a whole and the trend of judicial salaries. In 1955, when the index figure was 105, the Chief Judge of the High Court was receiving a salary of £8,000. As shown by the figures I cited a few moments ago, average weekly earnings have risen by about 50 per cent, since 1954-55. Today the proposal before the House is to fix the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court at £12,000, which represents precisely an increase of 50 per cent, over his salary in 1955.
Looked at from any point of view, this is a highly commendable measure. It restores the differential which the Leader of the Opposition, quite rightly and properly, states should exist between Commonwealth and State judicial salaries. It restores a differential which in my view should properly exist between Commonwealth judicial salaries and the salaries of senior public servants. Finally, if one looks at the proposed increases in the light of general trends in average weekly earnings in the community, one finds that the Bill measures well against that test.
It is a great pity that on a subject which should be treated, if at all possible, on a non-party basis, the Opposition has traditionally, with the single and commendable exception of 1955 to which I earlier referred, always attacked any proposal to increase judicial salaries. There seems to be a traditional antipathy on the other side of the House towards the judiciary, and to pursue this antipathy Opposition members will sieze upon any pretext that offers itself. It is not an antipathy that is manifested when a proposal comes before the House to increase parliamentary salaries. I do not want to be personal, but I think it is relevant to notice that last year, when the Opposition quite properly did not oppose the measure for the increase of parliamentary salaries, the Leader of the Opposition received a salary increase of the order of 30 per cent. As he pointed out this morning, the judges of the High Court are receiving an increase of the order of 23 to 25 per cent., depending upon whether we take the Chief Justice or the puisne judges. It seems passing strange, to say the least, that the Opposition through its leader should complain of an increase for judges of the High Court and the Commonwealth Court that is relatively modest when compared with the increase that was very properly awarded to the honorable gentleman late last year.
– Does the honorable member think that the wage earner should have received only an increase of li per cent.?
– That is a very silly argument and I think in his heart the honorable gentleman knows it is. The salaries of the judiciary and of senior public servants cannot be, and never have been, fixed on the basis of the needs basic wage or a basic wage that takes into account, ‘apart from needs, the capacity of industry to pay. The men whose remuneration we are now considering occupy positions of tremendous importance and tremendous responsibility and it is not relevant or right to consider their remuneration on the basis of a needs basic wage plus a margin.
– Are the needs of the workers to be neglected or ignored?
– It is, as I say, much more relevant - I would like to hear any Opposition member answer this, if he can - to bear in mind the general level of wages and salaries paid in the community; to have a look at the general increases that have occurred in the community over the years and to measure these against the increase it is proposed to give to judges.
– 1 will do that for the honorable member.
– If the honorable member does, I am sure he will get it wrong, but he may have a go. Another interesting feature of this debate is that on 13th October the adjournment of the debate was obtained by my honorable and learned friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– Be fair to him. He sought the adjournment of the debate in my absence and at my suggestion.
– I would have thought that if a view were to be offered for the Opposition in a debate that is essentially a legal problem it would have been interesting to hear from my honorable and learned friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– That is a snobbish view.
– It is no such thing. I do not for one moment challenge the right of my honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition, to say his piece, but it would have been interesting to hear from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who, let it be said, in 1955 warmly welcomed the proposal to increase judicial salaries.
– I will give his arguments later.
– As my friend, the honorable member for Moreton, said, he will quote the arguments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. One wonders why my honorable and learned friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has now come into the House, does not appear to be proposing to speak in this debate after having sought the adjournment of it. Is it because be realises in his own mind and heart the essential justice that is inherent in this Bill and therefore properly does not want to express an opinion to it that he does not really feel is right? Or does he in his present position want to preserve the respectability and responsibility that some people outside the House think he has?
– Order! I point out to the honorable member for Parkes that his remarks are slightly irrelevant to the matter before the House.
– Naturally, Sir, I bow to your ruling and in deference to it I leave the point where I have put it. It would be -very interesting to hear from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, my honorable and learned friend, in this debate, but apparently the House is to be deprived of the opportunity.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I have your leave to make a statement on the point just raised by the honorable member for Parkes?
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition can ask for leave of the House only, not for leave from the Chair.
– I think in this matter I can ask for leave from you, Sir, because I have not spoken in this debate and I am not proposing to speak in it. Accordingly, I have no right to make a comment, but I believe that I am entitled to make a statement if I have the leave of the Chair.
– The honorable member may seek to make a personal explanation.
– Thank you, Sir. There is no significance in the fact that I am not speaking on the Bill for which I secured the adjournment of the second reading debate. It is not unusual for a member of the front bench of the Opposition to secure the adjournment of a debate in which subsequently he is not the initial speaker or speaking at all. The Standing Orders of the House provide that, on any bill, the first speaker on the Opposition side is determined by the Leader of the Opposition. On this occasion, the Leader of the Opposition has taken the Bill. I think it is proper that he should. From the point of view of my own personal position, there are bills - one later today and another late next week - in which, as the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) knows, I shall be the only speaker in the first instance and the first speaker in the second instance. As the Attorney-General knows, and I thank him for conferences he has given me and my colleagues on both subjects, these are quite technical bills and they are occupying a great deal of my time. There is no need for me to support the Opposition’s case in this debate. It is being put by more people than are putting the Government’s case.
.- I rise to support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in opposing the Judiciary Bill 1965, which provides for an increase of £2,000 a year in the salaries of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and the puisne judges of that Court, and also the Judges’ Remuneration Bill . 1965, which provides for an increase of £1,500 in the salary of the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I think it would be appropriate to refer to these Bills as providing one law for the rich and another for the poor.
When one starts to analyse the Bills, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) did in justification of them, one may make two approaches in opposing them. My opposition will be based, first, on the attitude of the Commonwealth to the judges and its employees, and, secondly, its attitude to the judges and the people in respect of whom they give decisions. The honorable member for Parkes selected at random a number of examples to support the granting of an increase to the judges. With your approval, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall do likewise. The figures I shall quote will show just how unfair the honorable member was in his analysis, and also the reason why the increases should be rejected.
First, let us look at the position of the Chief Justice and a puisne judge of the High Court, and also a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Let us look at their pensions. Under a non-contributory pension scheme they are entitled to a pension of, I believe, 50 per cent. of their salary upon retirement. But when the waterside workers ask for a non-contributory pension scheme the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) wants to gaol them, to destroy their union, and to do all sorts of other things to them. The Commonwealth adopts one attitude towards judges and another attitude towards workers in industry. I have a number of examples which show very clearly and definitely the difference in the two attitudes of the Government. I direct the attention of honorable members to an excellent question upon notice that was asked by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on 17th November. In his answer to the question, which is reported at page 2867 of “Hansard”, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), who is in charge of the Bills we are now debating, had this to say -
The following travel concessions have been granted -
a lew society, bar council, or industrial relations society, to be a speaker at its meeting, the fares of the justice and travelling allowance at the prescribed rate are paid for the time necessarily occupied in fulfilling the acceptance of the invitation but not otherwise. If a justice’s wife is also invited to attend, the cost of her fares is met,
That is not a bad sort of job, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I personally have no objection to a reasonable remuneration being paid and to granting the necessary conditions that go with it. But I believe that the Commonwealth Government should adopt a more reasonable attitude to its employees and that the members of the Bench should adopt a more reasonable attitude towards the people over whom they sit in judgement.
I now propose to show in what way, I believe, a reasonable attitude is not being displayed. I have already stated that I believe that quite suitable pensions are paid to the justices of the High Court and judges of the other Commonwealth courts. I have also stated that, when the waterside workers wanted a non-contributory pension scheme and a pension not of the magnitude of that which is granted to the judges, who receive a pension equal to 50 per cent. of their salary upon retirement, the Minister for Labour and National Service wanted to gaol them and to destroy their union. I reaffirm what I have said in that respect.
The proposed increase to Commonwealth judges is based on the fact that New South Wales judges receive a salary which is greater than that received by the Commonwealth judges. Let us look at the attitude of the Commonwealth in relation to compensation. In New South Wales a worker receives £11 15s. per week if he is injured, but a Commonwealth worker receives £1111s. In New South Wales the wife of an injured worker receives £3 3s. a week, but die wife of a Commonwealth worker .receives only £2 14s. 6d. In respect of each child under the age of 21 years a payment of £1 5s. a week is made in New South Wales, but the Commonwealth makes a payment of only £1 2s. 6d. in respect of each child under the age of 16 years.
– Order! The honorable member may make a point of comparison, but he cannot go into the details. They would be irrelevant to the subject matter before the House.
– I crave your indulgence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the presentation of my case. I am not canvassing the ruling of the Chair. However, I point out that the Attorney-General based the case for the increase completely on a comparison of the salaries of New South Wales judges and those of Commonwealth judges, and he set out the details. If he is allowed to give details of salary increases and the salary ranges of judges in New South Wales, surely I am entitled to detail differences in payments that are made to Commonwealth workers and New South Wales workers. I have heard judges say that they are workers. I am certain that the Clerk of the House regards himself as being a worker, and I am certain that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and other members of the Parliament regard themselves as being workers. I know that I work longer hours now than I did when I was in industry.
– Order! It has been the practice of the Chair to allow discussion of related matters, but not to the extent that they go beyond the subject matter of the debate. If the honorable member for Newcastle were to be allowed to go into details to support the point he has made he would be getting wide of the subject matter the House is debating. The debate would then develop into a general debate and it would go quite outside the scope of the Bills now before the House. To do that would not accord with the remarks of Mr. Speaker at the commencement of today’s debate.
– Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I heard Mr. Speaker outline the range of debate that would be permitted. On the question of compensation, may I just say that I was very happy to hear the honorable member for Parkes address himself to the points that he mentioned. He ranged very widely. I propose to quote similar figures. There are numerous instances in the compensation legislation of New South Wales and the Commonwealth in which Commonwealth workers are very much at a disadvantage compared to New South Wales workers. For example, a Commonwealth worker must travel more than 15 miles for attention for an injury if he is to be recompensed for travelling expenses whereas a New South Wales worker receives recompense for all travel for this purpose.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member is now going into details.
– He is like a cracked gramophone record.
– I have plenty of material here. The honorable member need not worry about that. I have pages of my own material, together with almost a book that was prepared by the Commonwealth Department of Works, setting out the very definite and decided disadvantages of workers under Commonwealth compensation legislation. However, at your insistence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall leave this question of compensation.
– It is about time, too.
– The honorable member does not like the truth. I know that. He likes to listen only to what he himself has to say. On 19th October of this year, I asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) a question about the granting of four weeks’ annual leave to Commonwealth employees. In part, it was in these terms -
How does the right honorable gentleman justify the increase of £1,300 a year in the salary of the President and Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission when, 24 hours later, his Government rejected an application for four weeks’ annual leave by Commonwealth employees supported by the Australian Council of Trade Unions?
The right honorable gentleman replied -
Mr. Speaker, it is very hard for me to follow the association of ideas in the honorable member’s question. The judges’ salaries were dealt with as part of a general overall review of judicial salaries.
If it is good enough for the Government to adopt an increase in the salaries of New
South Wales judges as a reason for increasing the salaries of Commonwealth judges, surely Commonwealth employees are entitled to claim that they should receive annual leave at least equal to that granted in New South Wales, namely, four weeks. Surely this is a reasonable request based on a justifiable comparison. I challenge honorable members opposite who subsequently take part in this debate to justify the Government’s attitude on this leave issue. The Government continues to refuse to grant its employees annual leave comparable with that of employees of the New South Wales Government. I believe that the comparison in this instance is fair and reasonable, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
On 16th November, I asked the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) a question about equal pay for female labour for equal work.
– What has this to do with judges’ salaries?
– It has a lot to do with them. I am demonstrating the difference between this Government’s attitude to judges and its attitude to Commonwealth employees generally. Judges of Commonwealth tribunals, after all, are also employees of this Government. In my question, I directed the Postmaster-General’s , attention to the fact that female labour was to replace male labour on mail sorting work at rates £358 a year less than those paid to males.
– Order! The remarks that I made earlier to the honorable member concerning his going into details and making comparisons apply equally to the argument that he is advancing at the moment. I remind him that if he continues to defy the Chair, he will have to resume his seat.
– I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it is not my intention to defy the ruling of the Chair and I am not in fact endeavouring to do so. I am trying to keep completely within my interpretation of Mr. Speaker’s outline of the permissible limits of discussion which was given when this debate was called on this morning. I always endeavour to comply with the rulings of the Chair.
– For the information of the honorable member I shall read the remarks made by Mr. Speaker when the debate was called on. He said -
As honorable members will see, the title and subject matter of this Bill and of the associated Judges’ Remuneration Bill are restricted. As stated in the title of the Judiciary Bill, the subject matter is the remuneration of the Justices of the High Court of Australia. In the case of the Judges’ Remuneration Bill, the subject matter is the remuneration of the judges of certain other courts and of the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I ask honorable members to assist the Chair by keeping their remarks to the subject matter that is relevant.
I point out to the honorable member for Newcastle that related matter may be introduced to illustrate a point, but he may not embark on a detailed or general debate on the matter so introduced. If that were permitted, the debate would extend over a far wider range than that outlined by Mr. Speaker.
– Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I accept that ruling. I shall not deal with all the numerous other examples that 1 have of inequality between Commonwealth employees and New South Wales employees and the treatment accorded them by the respective Governments. I should like, however, to discuss the subject matter that was dealt with by the honorable member for Parkes, namely, the attitude of the learned judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission towards the people whose applications for wage and salary increases are the subject of their decisions. I do not propose to discuss the salary increases proposed for Justices of the High Court. The Chief Justice of that Court is to receive a salary increase of £2,000 a year - 20 per cent, of the rate fixed in 1960. I ask honorable members to take note of these amounts and percentages. The puisne judges of the High Court are to receive an increase of £2,000 a year, or 23.52 per cent, of the rate fixed in 1960.
– Not bad.
– No, it is not bad. The Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are to receive increases of £1,500 a year, representing 18.75 per cent, of the rate of £8,000 fixed in 1960.
– They have no need to go on strike.
– That is so. The Judges of the Industrial Court are to receive increases of £1,500 a year, representing 21.42 per cent. of the rate of £7,000 fixed in 1960. The Deputy Presidents of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are to receive increases of £1,500 a year, representing 21.42 per cent. of the rate fixed in 1960. I want honorable members to bear these facts in mind when they consider the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes. The judges of the Commission determine basic wage increases. I have prepared three tables and with the concurrence of honorable members I should like to incorporate them in “ Hansard “.
– What do they represent?
– I asked the AttorneyGeneral whether he would approve their being incorporated, and he said that he would.
– Then I raise no objection.
– Leave is granted.
– I thank the Minister and the House.
I ask the honorable member for Parkes to bear these facts in mind. He would like to quote only figures that he himself has selected. It can be seen from the first table, which is taken from official figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician in June 1965, that judges of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, who are to receive salary increases equivalent to 18.75 per cent. for the President and 21.42 per cent. for the presidential members, awarded workers a total basic wage increase of only 11.6 per cent. between 1960 and 1965.
We should bear in mind what Mr. John Kerr, Q.C., told the Commission on behalf of the Commonwealth Government on 12th March. He said that an increase in the basic wage at that juncture would be fraught with great danger for the economy. He also told the Commission that in 1964 the consumer price index rose by 4 per cent. and that over the last two quarters of 1964 it rose at an annual rate of 4.8 per cent. So there was any amount of justification for an increase in the basic wage and also for increases in award rates and conditions. But what did the members of the Commission - these fellows to whom we are asked to give such substantial increases - do? The majority judgment was given by Mr. Justice Gallagher, Mr. Justice Sweeney and Mr. Justice Nimmo.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Newcastle again that the matter before the House is not whether an increase in the basic wage or in any other wage should have been granted by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but whether the remuneration of certain judges should be increased. The honorable member may use percentage increases in wages as an illustration but he may not argue the justification for an increase in wages or the lack of justification for any decision of the Commission.
– I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the House will give me an extension of time to make up for all these speeches that you are making. I say that the workers need wage increases just as much as the judges do. The judges need increases of only amounts commensurate with the 12.67 per cent. increase in average adult male rates and the 11.6 per cent. increase in the basic wage over the period in respect of which the President of the Commission is to receive an 18.75 per cent. increase and the Deputy Presidents of the Commission are to receive a 21.42 per cent. increase.
The honorable member for Parkes referred to average weekly earnings per employed male unit. With the concurrence of honorable members, I have incorporated in “ Hansard “ a table on that matter.
– I hope that the honorable member, having been given leave to do that, will confine his remarks to the relevant issues.
– I will do that. The honorable member for Parkes used figures similar to those that are included in my table. I emphasise that the figures in the table include overtime payments, overaward payments, bonuses, &c. The President of the Commission, in his ninth annual report for the year ended 13 th August, 1965, said-
It would appear that many employed in-
– Order! The honorable member for Newcastle is again arguing a point which is not before the House at the present time.
– The figures in the table to which I have just referred disclose an increase of 21.49 per cent, in the average weekly earnings of employed males, compared with an increase of 18.75 per cent, for the President and an increase of 21.42 per cent, for the Deputy Presidents. I want to point out to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the President personally condemned workers for using their industrial strength to obtain that increase in earnings. He said -
It would appear that many employed in a few important and powerful industries may be receiving a grossly disproportionate share of the fruits of national productivity by way of wages when compared with those employed in less favoured industries.
If the President and Deputy Presidents of the Commission are to receive increases similar to those that the President condemned in his ninth annual report, surely I can claim in this Parliament that he and his off-siders are receiving a grossly disproportionate share of the fruits of national productivity. If it is good enough for him to condemn those unions that are able to obtain increased wages because of their industrial strength, surely I am entitled to condemn the salaries that are to be paid to the learned judges as being a disproportionate share of the fruits of national productivity. Had you allowed me to read that paragraph of the report, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it would have shown clearly the point that I am trying to make.
In conclusion, I direct the attention of the House to the fact that these increases are to be retrospective to 1st July. I think it is a little ironic that on 29th June the learned judges could not see their way clear to grant any increase in the basic wage, but when these Bills are passed the High Court judges will receive increases of £2,000 a year and other judges £1,500 a year, retrospective to two days after that date. What do we do in respect of the pensioners? On 17th August the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his Budget Speech, announced certain increases in pensions. Were those increases granted as from that date? Were they made retrospective to 1st July, as in the case of the increases in the judges’ salaries? No. The pensioners received their increases on 14th October. Last night we passed a bill to grant pensioner medical service entitlement cards to all pensioners.
– To restore them.
– Yes, 10 years after the Government took the cards from pensioners. What did we do in that instance? That legislation will become operative on 1st January next year. There is no retrospectivity in that instance. When the learned judges granted a small increase in margins on 29th June, was it made retrospective to the date of the application, namely March 1965? Of course not. It was paid as from the next pay period.
There is just no justice in this legislation. As I stated at the outset, there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. The judges are given a decent hand-out; but there is no commensurate increase for Commonwealth employees and there is no restoration of the relativity between workers in New South Wales and Commonwealth employees. There is one rule to suit the case of the judges; but that rule cannot be applied in order to grant increases in compensation for Commonwealth workers, an increase in annual leave from three to four weeks, or increases in the rates for female workers in accordance with the principle of equal pay for equal work, as have been granted to workers in New South Wales.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I doubt that I have ever listened to a more shocking speech in my life than that just delivered by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). A very great deal can be said about his speech and I shall be making a glancing reference to it here and there, but I want to say at once that this morning, in terms of relevance to the Bill before the House, he was rather like Christopher Columbus. Any relevance that he discovered was entirely by accident and certainly not by design. I hope that the House, people outside, and particularly those in his electorate will harken to the appalling language used by the honorable gentleman this morning. The references that he made to the judges of the High Court of Australia were absolutely outrageous. Having said that, may I turn to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and say to him: Arthur, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. This morning you have lent the prestige of your office to this miserable and contemptible attack upon the High Court of Australia and upon the other bodies involved.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. The words used by the honorable gentleman are most offensive to me. He said that I made a contemptible attack upon the judges of the High Court.
– No, he did not say that. He said that the honorable gentleman had lent his name to it.
– If he said that I lent my name to it it becomes even worse. It makes it an indirect attack upon me. His remarks were grossly offensive.
– The honorable member for Moreton will withdraw the remark.
– I do so. If I have in any way injured the feelings of the Leader of the Opposition I certainly withdraw the remark, but I do not withdraw the charge that the Opposition this morning has made what amounts to an attack upon the judges of the High Court. I propose to develop this argument.
– I rise to order. I made no attack whatever on the judges of the High Court. I compared the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to its employees other than judges and its attitude-
– There is no substance to the point of order.
– I do not want to make honorable members opposite sit on a pile of noogoora burrs. I will content myself by saying that they have made some rather unfelicitous references to the judges of the High Court.
– That is still a lie.
– The honorable member for Newcastle said that we have one law for the rich and another for the poor.
– That is still a lie.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, but what the honorable member said was not true.
– The honorable member does not understand what I mean. I could have been referring to a horse running at Canterbury tomorrow as far as he is concerned. The honorable member said that there is one law for the rich and another law for the poor. Does he deny that?
– That is correct.
– Does he deny having said that it is not a bad sort of job?
– No. Again that is correct.
– Of course he does not deny it. Does this not amount to a reflection upon the judges of the High Court? If the honorable member for Newcastle had his way, and if some of those who sit around him had their way, they would have the judges of the High Court working according to the principles of the Stakhanovite system in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. When it came to the Judge in Bankruptcy they would pay him according to the number of bankruptcy matters that he handled each day. I think that the Opposition this morning has gone right down into the very depths of argument to put its case. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should be ashamed of himself. I ask him to realise the tremendous injustice that he has done to those concerned. I believe that it is a completely false basis on which the Opposition has proceeded. As my friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), pointed out in what I thought was a very temperate, a very clear and a very reasoned speech this morning, it is completely wrong to compare judges with civil servants. I think we do well to recall that the High Court of Australia has exactly the same origin of creation as this Parliament - the Constitution. In my respectful submission it does not reflect any credit at all upon Her Majesty’s Opposition to come here with this cheap, miserable argument which it has advanced today.
If I were to be asked what would be a reasonable basis on which some assessment should be made of the salaries to be paid to judges, I think I would be tempted to say that some heed should be paid to what they could earn in private practice. If the judges of the High Court of Australia were to go back into private practice, there is not a man among them who would not be capable of earning twice or three times the amount that is to be paid to them under this legislation.
– The honorable member for Newcastle may belittle the legal profession, but the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), I am reliably informed, has reason to be grateful to it, and the Leader of the Opposition has great expectations.
– That is unfair.
– I do not think it is unfair. I suggest that if the House were to ask what the earning capacity of these men would be in private practice it would find that what is proposed under this legislation is quite reasonable. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), joined the debate this morning. Sir, I do not think I reflect on you in any way when I say that he was treated as though he were a koala bear. He came in here and, poor little chap, said: “ I have been misrepresented and misunderstood.” He is always protesting that he has been misrepresented. He said across the table: “ I have to go and do some work on the Matrimonial Causes Bill”. Does he not think that other honorable members also have work to do on other bills? I do not think he did his cause any good by coming in here and absolutely squeaking this morning and protesting: “ I have been misunderstood.”
I want to adopt part of the argument used by the honorable gentleman in 1955 when debating the Judges Remuneration Bill. My honorable and learned friend, the honorable member for Parkes, has already adverted to this argument, but I should like to quote in detail what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in 1955 when he had, if I may say so with great respect, a particular claim to respectability. It is a pity the honorable member does not want to come into the chamber and join in the debate this morning. I venture the view that if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did join in this debate and if he were to give of his true convictions to this matter he would not subscribe to the views that have been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Newcastle. What did the honorable member for Werriwa say in 1955? I hope that the House will listen to this. He said -
The bill renders substantial wage justice to one section of the community.
I interrupt myself there. Would the honorable member for Newcastle say that in 1955 there was one law for the rich and another for the poor? Would he have turned round in 1955 and said: “Not a bad sort of a job?” This is the sort of argument that does not, in my view, help the Opposition’s case in the least. But the honorable member for Werriwa went on -
The case made for it is not diminished by reason of the fact that judges are the highest paid of all persons for whose income the Commonwealth Parliament is responsible, and also hold office for the longest period.
That argument was sharply relevant in 1955. I submit that it is as relevant today as it was then. Then, having gone a little further in his argument, the honorable gentleman was interrupted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), another honorable gentleman who has had reason to be grateful to the legal profession in the past for services rendered. The honorable member for Hindmarsh interrupted and asked a question. What did the honorable member for Werriwa - that is, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition say? He said -
The honorable member can refer that question to me by asking a solicitor to brief me for my opinion.
There, in 1955, was the honorable member for Werriwa, to put it in homely language, searching for a quick quid. He then went on to say -
Cases have arisen, it is true, where new appointees to these courts have experienced genuine difficulty in meeting their commitments for income tax and the like, but purely on the basis of comparative incomes of judges at the time the courts were established, and incomes in other walks of life and in other professions, the Bill surely is not only justified but overdue.
Again I ask the honorable member for Newcastle whether he would say: “Not a bad sort of job; again one law for the rich and another law for the poor”, as though he was out crutching sheep or doing something of that sort. I put this to the honorable gentleman with the utmost goodwill: The basic fallacy of bis argument -
– You are talking like a jackeroo.
– The honorable member wrings no apology from me for having been a jackeroo - none at all. On the outer Barcoo, they would wonder whether the honorable member was a clucky emu or whether he had just strayed along by chance. I was dealing with the basic fallacy of the honorable member’s case. The basic fallacy was his comparison. The judges of the High Court of Australia are not to be compared with civil servants, or with those who are working in industry or with those who are working in business and in commerce. At first blush, that may appear to be unreasonable, but when we come down to a consideration of the office which the judges hold and of the incomes which they could earn in private practice, the unreasonableness disappears in a twinkle.
Let me go on further with the argument advanced by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I was most impressed with it. I thought it was a very carefully pleaded argument. He went on to say-
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Moreton entitled to refer at length to that case in support of his argument, in view of the fact that I was not entitled to refer at length to a report?
– Order! The honorable member for Moreton is quoting from the report of a debate on this subject when it was before the House previously.
– The honorable member for Werriwa went on to say - lt seems not an inappropriate time to refer to the fact that this Parliament, and, in particular, the major party on each side of the House, are fortunate that they are being led by right honorable gentlemen who, before they were elected to this Parliament, were in receipt of much larger incomes than they could ever receive in this Parliament.
Then he went on to say - and here I adumbrate the honorable gentleman’s case - that if they had been outside they would have continued to earn far more than they could have earned here in the Parliament. The last part of the honorable gentleman’s argument that I adopt, and which I commend to the honorable member for Newcastle to think about, was this statement -
We do not flatter the judges, nor enhance thenprestige or standing in the community, by attributing to them actions for which they were not responsible in the past, and for which they are not responsible now.
My final point to the House this morning in its consideration of this legislation is that this Parliament does not enhance the prestige of the judges of the High Court by regarding them as being the menial servants of the community, by likening them to people in commerce and industry, as though there was some sort of trade union atmosphere about it. I say nothing at all detrimental or unfair about the trade union movement, but I say that the honorable member for Newcastle proceeded from a completely wrong premise this morning. I regret that the Leader of the Opposition supported, advanced and even initiated for the Opposition a case which amounts to a miserable comparison between judges of the High Court and those elsewhere. I hope that all people outside this Parliament will realise the singular nature of this attack which has been made this morning.
The Australian community has been superbly served by those who, since 1903, have sat on the High Court of this country.
They have given to the Australian community the ultimate sense of protection from Parliament and from the Executive. They have ensured that right shall be done between all manner of men. In my view, the Opposition has added no lustre this morning to its claim to be put on the Treasury bench as the Government of Australia.
.- I join with other members of the Opposition in opposing the legislation now before the House. The Parliament is now debating two Bills, one which proposes to increase the salaries of Her Majesty’s Justices of the High Court of Australia and another which proposes to increase the salaries of the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. First, I should like to make brief reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr.
Killen), who has just concluded his submissions.
In his opening remarks, the honorable member criticised what he described as the appalling language of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). About 20 words after using the words “ appalling language “, the honorable member for Moreton was required to withdraw language which he had directed to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). A man who makes a specialty of the use of language, a legal man, was criticising the language used by the honorable member for Newcastle, and then, after uttering another 20 words, was himself required to withdraw offensive language that he had used with relation to the Leader of the Opposition.
– And I did not have to withdraw anything.
– That is so. The honorable member for Newcastle was also criticised by the honorable member for Moreton for relating his case to the trade union movement. The honorable member for Newcastle linked his argument to a comparison of the salaries paid to members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the wages and salaries paid to other Commonwealth employees. His remarks were incorrectly interpreted by the honorable member for Moreton.
What do we see on the Government side in this debate? First we see the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden), a Queen’s Counsel, in charge of the Bill. Then we see the Government’s case supported by what are in all probability two budding aspirants for judgeships when their political careers end. We on this side know that had it not been for the preferences of the Communist Party in the electorate of Moreton, the honorable member for Moreton-
– Order! I point out to the honorable member early in his speech that there is nothing in the Bill dealing with the Communist Party and the return of the honorable member for Moreton by the skin of his teeth.
– I think that honorable members know what was to follow those remarks of mine. They know what I have been prevented from saying.
– How many voluntary confessions have you obtained?
– Order! I suggest that we will get on a lot better if the honorable member for Moreton not only stays in his seat but also stays in order.
– The honorable member talks about voluntary confessions. I would like to have known him when I was in my other job. He would have been one of the best phiz-gigs around- It is obvious that he always wants to be on the side of the strength.
The legislation provides for an increase in the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court from £10,000 to £12,000 a year, and an increase in the salaries of the puisne judges of the High Court from £8,500 to £10,500. The Attorney-General, in his second reading speech, referred to the disparity between the salaries of the Chief Justice of the High Court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and the salaries of the puisne judges of the High Court and the puisne judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I consider that despite the great responsibility that these eminent jurists have to bear, their salaries are excessive. In other words, I consider that they are overpaid at the present time, without taking into account the proposed increase. The AttorneyGeneral, in trying to justify the increase, referred to the fact that in 1964 certain permanent heads of Commonwealth departments received salary increases that brought them up to the salary level of the High Court Justices. If this is the formula or the principle which is to be used by the Government in raising the salaries of the Chief Justice and the puisne justices of the High Court, can the Attorney-General tell me why the same principle is not applied to industrial workers, including miners, seamen and basic wage earners, and to the unfortunate pensioners?
Let me at this point pass to the proposed increase in salaries of the Chief Judge and judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. We learn from the second reading speech of the Attorney-General on the Judges’ Remuneration Bill 196S, that in 1964 the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court received a salary of £8,000 per year and that the judges of that Court received £7,000 per year. The Attorney-General made a comparison of these salaries with the salaries of the Chief Justice and judges of the New South Wales Supreme Court. In 1964 the Chief Justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court received £9,250, plus £400 allowance, and the judges of the New South Wales Supreme Court received £8,500, plus £300 allowance. Here again the Attorney-General spoke of an anomaly.
Mr. Speaker, it pains me to learn that these enormous salaries are being paid to the judges of our courts when the Australian basic wage is fixed at approximately £15 15s. per week. As the honorable member for Newcastle pointed out - this is worth repeating- at page 2867 of “ Hansard “ of 17th November 1965, the Attorney-General, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) concerning the travelling expenses of justices of the High Court, stated -
When travelling in the discharge of the duties of his office, a justice is paid travelling allowance at the rate of £15 per day.
That is almost equal to what a basic wage earner receives each week and on which he, his wife and children have to live. The answer continued -
When travelling by steamer or by railway and the fare includes subsistence, an allowance at the rate of £3 15s. per day is payable.
When we consider that the travelling expenses of the justices of the High Court are almost equal to the weekly basic wage, I think it is time for a review.
– What does the Leader of the Opposition receive?
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes has already made his speech.
– Widows’ pensions are fixed by this Government at approximately £6 per week. So the justices of the High Court, when travelling from one place to another, receive almost three times as much per day in travelling expenses as a widow receives in a week. This is an anomaly that should concern both the Government and the Attorney-General.
I think I am entitled to make a comparison between judges’ salaries and the salaries paid to magistrates in New South Wales. I know that the Attorney-General is asking how one can make a comparison between judges’ salaries and magistrates’ salaries? Magistrates in New South Wales receive a salary of approximately £3,500 per annum.
– I think that the AttorneyGeneral is a little disgusted to know that they are paid that meagre salary. I am not without experience in this matter because I have had dealings wth magistrates and judges over a long period, and to my mind a magistrate is more conscientious generally than are most judges.
– Order! I think that the honorable member had better be warned that magistrates are not referred to in the Bill. If he wishes to make a comparison, he had better not stay on the subject too long. He had better come back to earth.
– I shall come back to earth. A magistrate receives a salary of £3,500 per annum. Magistrates are more conscientious in their work than are judges. They work five days a week.
– Oh, no.
– The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) says: “ Oh, no “. I shall prove to him, if I am allowed-
– Order! I point out to (he honorable member that if he attempts to widen the debate to include magistrates, he will be out of order.
– That is a pity.
– Order! I also suggest that other honorable members should realise that they are no help to the Chair when their interjections bring some irrelevant comment from the honorable member who has the call.
– Am I not entitled to point out that a magistrate who receives £3,500 per year has to be qualified as either a solicitor or a barrister before he is appointed to the bench? He has to have the same qualifications as has a person who is appointed to a judgeship. With respect, Sir, I submit that I can make that comparison in this debate.
– Order! The honorable member is entitled to make a passing reference to it, but if he exceeds the scope of the measure before the Chair, he will be out of order, and I think he has had enough court experience to know what that means.
– Yes, but I cannot be brought up before you, Mr. Speaker, for contempt of court.
– Order! That could be more serious.
– If the proposed salaries of the judges are justified, then in my view a grievous anomaly exists as far as the magistrates in New South Wales are concerned. Honorable members opposite who support the Government’s action in this Bill should be speaking up on this matter. But we find that the only members on the Government side who are speaking in support of this Bill are the legal men who hope one day, when their political careers end, to obtain a judgeship for themselves. Obviously they hope, before their political careers are over, to win from the judges before whom they frequently appear in court - despite the fact that they are politicians - great f avour, admiration and affection by strongly supporting increased salaries for the judiciary.
– Order! The honorable member is now imputing improper motives.
– It is a pity, Mr. Speaker, that honorable members are so restricted in their submissions on this Bill. References were made by the honorable member for Moreton a short time ago that, had you been in the Chair and treated him in the manner in which you are treating me, he would have been unable to make.
-Order! I have full confidence in the Chairman of Committees.
– I am sorry I cannot agree with you, Sir.
– Order! That is not tha matter before the Chair.
– The honorable member for Moreton spoke of the importance of and the necessity for judges, but I think in relation to many matters upon which they have to decide they could well be dispensed with. I refer to page 355 of “ The Story of My Life” by Clarence Darrow. Darrow wrote -
There should be no trials, no lawyers, no judges to pass upon moral guilt. All of those who for any reason cannot or do not adjust themselves to important rules should be examined by experts to find out why it Is and what can be done.
That was the opinion of this great man whose wisdom and the examples he set are highly regarded. A monument was built to him in the United States.
– What is the name of the book?
– “The Story of My life” by Clarence Darrow.
– Is that book available in the Library?
– It is available, but seemingly honorable members opposite do not know of its existence. Apparently it besmirches the legal profession too much for them to want to read it.
– Order! The honorable member for Warringah, who is interjecting, will be quiet.
– I rise to a point of order. It relates to the flow of interjections
– There is no substance in the point of order and the honorable member is making a very grave reflection on the Chair. He will sit down.
– I think that our judges would be worth substantial salaries if they could do something to relieve the heavy burden of costs that is imposed upon many people in our society who have to seek adjustment, in the courts, of their social problems. In my electorate I am frequently approached by constituents who tell me that they have to lodge £200 or £250-
-Order! The honorable member is now getting away entirely from the measures before the House. The findings, the duties or the decisions of judges and other such matters are not relevant to the debate on this Bill. This is a very restricted measure and I can see the difficulty that the honorable member is having in trying to co-operate with the Chair.
– I shall conclude my remarks by saying that the honorable member for Moreton was given much wider scope to speak on this Bill by Mr. Deputy Speaker than I have been given by you, Sir. In view of your attitude I cannot make any further submissions. I oppose the increase in the salaries of judges and join with other members of the Opposition in the submissions they have made to the Parliament on this Bill.
.- The two measures before the House are restricted in their nature, and I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to trespass upon your goodwill on such a gracious occasion. The two measures before the House are the Judiciary Bill and the Judges’ Remuneration Bill. The Judiciary Bill provides for an increase of £2,000 a year in the salaries paid to Her Majesty’s Justices of the High Court of Australia. The second measure, the Judges’ Remuneration Bill 1965, is to increase the salaries of judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. It will also increase the basic salaries of the Presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by £1,500.
I am perhaps not so well qualified to speak on this matter as are some honorable members who have already taken part in this debate. Possibly I would not fall within the category of those whom the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) would call his honorable and learned friends. For my criticism of the Bills I draw upon the knowledge and judgment of more learned men than myself, namely the President and other members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It is quite possible that those gentlemen could earn far greater salaries if they engaged in their profession outside the Commission than those they earn in their present positions. Of course, a certain amount of standing goes with their positions. I am not going to argue on this principle, nor will I disagree with the statement of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) that there is no justification for members of the High Court Bench to be remunerated at a standard below that of the judges of courts whose judgments they review. But how far should this principle be applied? The honorable member for Parkes said that one principle should be applied to the workers, another to top public servants and another to those in the middle brackets of the Public Service. I cannot see that there should be one principle of justice for one section of the community and another principle for another section. The same principle must apply throughout if there is to be justice.
The Attorney-General in presenting the Bill made a comparison between the salary paid to the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and that paid to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He also compared the salaries of judges of the High Court of Australia and judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. It is presumption on my part to say this, but I take it that the highest salaries are being paid in New South Wales. I point out that the principle of wage equality between workers or employees of the Commonwealth and persons employed in the States does not apply in any other sphere. The principle of equality of wages - particularly the basic wage - has never applied. Federal awards, in fact, have been notorious for providing lower salaries than State awards provide. Neither does the principle apply in many sections of the Commonwealth Public Service. Departmental officers in the Commonwealth Public Service from time to time have drawn comparisons between salaries paid by the Commonwealth and those paid by the States. They have pointed out that higher salaries are paid to employees of State public services than are paid to Commonwealth officers in comparable positions.
The Attorney-General has based his submission that the judges of the High Court should receive more than judges of State Supreme Courts by saying that the High Court judges have to review the judgments of the judges of the Supreme Courts. I point out however that this principle of Commonwealth superiority has not been applied by members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission themselves when dealing with wages and salaries. Neither have members of the Commission accepted in recent years the principle of retrospectivity. Honorable members would have to go back many years to find a case of retrospectivity, in a basic wage decision. The longer the delay by the Commission in arriving at a decision the longer employees have to wait to receive the increase to which they are entitled. The Government does not apply, the principle of retrospectivity in the payment of social service benefits and in other matters.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Snedden) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 13th October (vide page 1738), on motion by Mr. Snedden -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Snedden) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 29th October (vide page 2417), on motion by Mr. Snedden -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.-I have had occasion in the past to comment on the Government’s reluctance or delay in sponsoring law reform within the Commonwealth’s own legislative competence, and in spurring the States to co-ordinate law reform where they have a primary responsibility and the Commonwealth’s primary responsibility is confined to the Territories. On this occasion I very cordially acknowledge that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) is taking the initiative promptly and boldly in enabling this Parliament to discharge its responsibility to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to divorce and matrimonial causes.
The Bill is a technical one. Most of the provisions are procedural ones. There are, however, two bold innovations in relation to condonation and polygamy. The reasons that the Attorney-General has given are compelling. I do not recall anybody in the House having suggested that these reforms should be made. The fact that this action has been taken is all the more to be applauded because the Parliament and Governments and Ministers have been very reluctant to deal with this particular head of Commonwealth power.
We are all in debt - the whole community Is in debt - to Mr. Justice Joske, as he now is, who, when member for Balaclava, many times raised this matter and at last, in April 1957, was given leave to bring in a private member’s bill. This has been, I believe, the only private member’s bill which has borne fruit. The present Act, the most comprehensive and most contemporary that we could have hoped to have, flowed very largely from the fact that Mr. Justice Joske assiduously pressed his point of view here, and successfully defied the taboo which had hitherto attached to this subject in Australian Parliaments. The Attorney-General has now brought in further amendments. I hope that all members in the House will make it plain that regular, relevant reforms in this field are welcome.
The Bill is technical, as I say. There is only one clause of the Bill upon which I wish to speak - clause 3 which concerns potentially polygamous marriages. It is, in fact, in a very narrow compass. It will meet the situation on which Mr. Justice Gowans gave judgment on 14th November 1962. The reform will meet that situation. The situations which I am about to mention have not yet arisen but could arise. It is perfectly possible to contemplate them. Accordingly I mention them to indicate my view and that of my Party that private rights which depend on enunciation by this Parliament should be as promptly and boldly tackled when they arise as they have been on this occasion.
The situation which came before Mr. Justice Gowans concerned two persons domiciled in Australia who had contracted a potentially polygamous union in Pakistan at a time when both were domiciled there. Subsequently the husband committed a matrimonial offence when they were domiciled in Australia. As the monogamous laws of this country and of all common law countries stood, it was impossible for the innocent wife to secure relief. If this Bill had been in force she could have secured relief.
– Will she be able to get relief now?
– Must she make a fresh application?
– She will have to bring a fresh petition.
– When this Bill is enacted she will be able to secure relief on the basis of the same evidence as she gave over three years ago. Australian women are likely to marry’ overseas more, rather than less, frequently from now on. Quite often such marriages will take place in countries where polygamy is legal. There are many Australian women living and working under the Colombo Plan in countries where polygamy is lawful. There are some working with one of our allies under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. It may be said that such a woman may secure her position by contracting her marriage before an Australian high commissioner, ambassador or consul. This, however, is asking the man she marries to contract his marriage under the laws of another country. It is asking him, in effect, to repudiate procedures and laws which are perfectly legal in his own country. This is an unreasonable proposition to make to him.
If such women were still domiciled in Australia, the Attorney-General states, by implication, that any such marriages they contracted overseas would be invalid. I concede that there is strong support for this view. The view has, however, sometimes been doubted in some books. It is not possible to be as dogmatic or as authoritative in expressing views in the field of private international law or in domestic questions in general because such matters do not often - in fact, very rarely - reach, say, the House of Lords, the Privy Council or the High Court. They are usually determined by judges of first instance. Nevertheless, the attitude which the Attorney-General, by implication, stated in his second reading speech is the commonly held view. It. would appear, therefore, unnecessary to have sub-clause (2.) of clause 3. The sub-clause reads -
This section does not apply to a union unless the law applicable to local marriages that was in force in the country, or each of the countries, of domicile of the parties at the time the union took place permitted polygamy on the part of the male party.
If the view which the Attorney-General has expressed, which is the stronger view expressed by the text books, is correct, sub-clause (2.) would appear to be superfluous. I merely state the position; I do not intend to move to delete the sub-clause.
Another situation that can arise is this: The amendment put by the AttorneyGeneral covers the situation which arose in the case decided by Mr. Justice Gowans, where at the time the marriage took place the husband had no subsisting marriage. The situation can arise, however, in all innocence, where a woman contracts a marriage which she knows to be potentially polygamous but where she believes that she is the first and only wife at the time the marriage is contracted. It would seem harsh if a wife who innocently and unknowingly contracted a marriage with a man who already had a wife were denied relief. If such a thing happened in Australia, a monogamous country, she could secure relief. If, however, such a union were contracted in a country where polygamy is legal, she could get no relief when she set up domicile or sufficient residence - three years - in Australia.
– Would it not be a bigamous marriage according to our law if she married somebody who had already been married, even though in a polygamous country?
– The marriage would be legal in the country where she contracted it unless she were domiciled in a monogamous country.
– Once she returns to this country would not her marriage be considered bigamous?
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been very helpful. I suggest that the honorable member for Hindmarsh allow him to make his speech uninterrupted. I am afraid that I, too, know nothing about polygamy.
– There are difficulties in devising methods of relief in a monogamous country for marriages which are contracted in countries where polygamy is lawful. A second ceremony during the subsistence of a previous marriage would be bigamy in this country and give cause for relief. If, however, a second marriage were contracted, although the wife did not know it was a second marriage, in a country where polygamy was legal, no relief would be possible even if the parties by that time were living in a monogamous country. These are problems which can arise. The probability of marriages between men and Australian women is increasing in countries where polygamy is lawful. The probability that Australian women who marry in such countries will come to live in Australia with their husbands is increasing. It is true that no cases are known where a man has brought one of his wives to Australia and has left the others behind; the immigration authorities are not likely knowingly to permit such cases. Such situations, however, could arise. They would be dealt with, I hope, if they did arise. I do not propose to move any motion to deal with them now, because they are speculative. Nevertheless, I want to encourage honorable members and members of the community generally to contemplate the situations that could arise with greater mobility of populations and the greater international responsibilities which Australia is undertaking.
I wish now to raise three general matters in relation to the subject matter of the principal Act. First of all, I would think that reforms under the Act are of the kind which could appropriately be dealt with by a standing committee on law reform comprising members of both Houses. Any government would feel diffident about setting up standing committees to determine matters of policy, particularly in ideological or controversial fields. Clearly, governments have to take decisions on matters of law reform in the fiscal field. I would think, however, that there would be a real prospect of fruitful discussion and better laws if private members from both sides of both Houses of the Parliament discussed matters such as this, which are of social importance. It is significant that standing committees which have been set up to deal with matters such as the voting and land rights of Aborigines, for example, have produced prompt, well-informed and unanimous reports. I believe this could happen also in the fields of domestic law, succession law, industrial property law and court procedures.
The second suggestion I make is that polygamy, a matter which has arisen under this Bill, might well be the subject of an international convention. Only thus can any country make effective laws concerning its citizens who are resident or touring outside its own jurisdiction. In recent years, three conventions dealing with cognate matters have been drawn up in the General Assembly of the United Nations and have now come into force. On 20th June 1956 the General Assembly agreed to a Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance. Mr. Justice Joske, when the honorable member for Balaclava, on 29th May 1956 asked why Australia was not represented at the drafting conference. For a while, the Government adopted the attitude that bilateral agreements were more appropriate than action on a multilateral basis in this field. Four years ago, however, after the Matrimonial Causes Act become law the Government decided to examine the Convention further and it is still giving it consideration. On 20th February 1957 the General Assembly agreed to a Convention on the Nationality of Married Women. Australia is now a party to that Convention. On 10th December 1962 the General Assembly agreed to a Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages. Australia is not a party to that Convention.
It will be seen that all these matters concern domestic relations and rights that arise in different countries. These Conventions give and will give residents of other countries rights in this country which they would not otherwise have. They give or would give residents of this country rights in other countries which they would not otherwise have. The questions of status, property and custody which arise between monogamous societies and polygamous or potentially polygamous societies might also be appropriate subjects for an international convention.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had made the first and second of three general suggestions on the law of domestic relations. The first was that such matters would appropriately be brought for consideration before a standing committee of both Houses of the Parliament. The second was that they could also be made the subject of an international convention such as already exists in respect of maintenance, marriageability and nationality. The third general matter I wish to mention concerns the judges. I am, of course, not wishing to deal with judges in the more contentious fashion which characterised the debate this morning. My only contribution along those lines would be twofold. The first part would be this: When the Parliament decides the salaries of Federal judges it should do so at the same time as it decides the salaries of parliamentarians and First Division public servants.
– This is in passing, Sir.
– It had better be.
– It is not just in passing, it is passant - it has passed.
– Perhaps passe. I merely suggest that the Parliament should decide the salaries of the Federal judges at the same time as it decides the salaries of parliamentarians and First Division public servants, because the decisions are made during the same period, the increases are made from the same dates, and the same considerations are said to apply. Also somewhat en passant I would say that the arguments for relativity between Federal and State judges would best be resolved if, as I suggested five years ago, the heads of government, Commonwealth and State, took some measures to decide such issues in concert.
– Order! I suggest the honorable member return to the subject matter before the House.
– If we do not approve of the performances of the States we should not use them as a basis for our own. This unseemly leap-frogging between New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth does neither the two States nor the Commonwealth any credit.
– Order! The honorable member is reviving a debate that has been concluded. I ask him to return to the subject matter before the Chair and I suggest that other honorable members remain silent.
– Honorable members opposite are setting a very bad example to their supporters in the gallery, Sir. I was about to urge a third approach to the problem - that the jurisdiction under this Act should now be given to the Federal superior court about which there has been quite some debate over the last few years. I appreciate that the former Attorney-General rejected the concept of such a court and distinguished his own attitude towards it from that of Mr. Justice Joske who had, in his Bill, urged the establishment of a Federal court. One of the reasons that the former AttorneyGeneral gave for not supporting it was that the High Court would have to hear appeals from the Federal judges by whom cases under this Act were heard in first instance. This objection, I should think, would be readily met if an appellate division of the Federal superior court were established, and I understand that this is what is now generally contemplated.
I believe the experience over the last five years has shown that it is desirable that there should now be a Federal court to determine cases under this Federal Act. The former Attorney-General had hoped that there would be regular consultations between judges of the State Supreme Courts who exercised jurisdiction under this Act. In fact there have never been such consultations between all the divorce judges of the Supreme Courts. On one occasion only, judges from New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania conferred. The conference was incidental to a law conference that they were attending. Furthermore, there have been cases in which the full courts of the Supreme Courts, on appeals from the judges of first instance, have interpreted the Act in different ways. I also believe - ‘although I have not checked this - that in South Australia officials - not judicial officers, not judges - still determine interlocutory matters under this Act. Finally the Commonwealth has found great difficulty in drafting regulations under the Act which could apply to the six diverse State jurisdictions.
I know that the former Attorney-General, in his article in the “ Federal Law Review “, the journal of the Faculty of Law in the School of General Studies at the Australian National University, published in June last year, repeated the greater part of the views he had expressed on this matter in introducing the Matrimonial Causes Bill 1959. I should think, however, that the case for having Federal judges determining matters which arise under this Act has become increasingly compelling.
Sir, I conclude as I commenced, by complimenting the Attorney-General for having initiated bold and relevant steps to deal with human problems in the proper tradition set by Mr. Justice Joske and the present Chief Justice of Australia.
– I join with my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in welcoming this legislation. If I may say so with a view to quietening his sense of disturbance from an earlier hour this day, I welcome most warmly some of the suggestions that he has made.
– Reconciliation would be the term under this Act.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has an admirable choice of language. Reconciliation it is. This is the detente between us.
– Is this to be a three month trial period under the Act?
– By no means. The honorable member has made two suggestions which I hope will be earnestly examined by the Attorney-General and the Government. The first relates to the question of establishing a standing committee on law reform. As the honorable gentleman has pointed out, there are areas on which no matters of policy impinge, and in which it would be possible for views to be presented to the Government with regard to the alteration of the laws of this country. This is one such area. No person would consider for one moment that it would be possible to rouse up a thoroughgoing political argument on the question of polygamy and the recognition of foreign decrees and so forth. As the honorable gentleman has pointed out, these are essentially human problems and are becoming more complex. I will have something to say in a moment about the provisions of the Bill itself relating to polygamy, but I would like to say to the Attorney-General that I am delighted, as I know many practitioners are, to see the proposed new clause making the presumption as to condonation rebuttable. The absence of opportunity to rebut such a presumption has caused a great deal of distress to many people, and this is a most welcome provision indeed. I am sure the AttorneyGeneral is entitled to take a great deal of satisfaction, as are officers of the Department also, for having put forward this provision.
As to the question of polygamy, may I make a few fleeting references. As I understand it, the fountain of origin, as it were, was a Victorian case of a petitioner who had entered into a marriage with the respondent in Pakistan according to Moslem law. The marriage was potentially polygamous. At the time of the marriage the respondent was domiciled in Pakistan and subsequently came to Australia and acquired Australian domicile. The whole weight of authority was against a court recognising that marriage. This legislation is a most notable step forward. It is an epoch making step. There is no doubt about that. When one reflects on the celebrated cases in this field one is quite at liberty to say that this is a singular step forward in matrimonial law and I warmly congratulate the AttorneyGeneral and the Government for having taken it.
As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out in his speech, the world is becoming smaller. People are closer. There is more sense of togetherness. People are travelling. They have access to countries which was denied to them 40 or 50 years ago. This throws up the possibility of people getting themselves involved in all sorts of arrangements, domestically or conjugally, which could jeopardise their sense of wellbeing, and the fact that the AttorneyGeneral has taken this legislative step is most welcome. I congratulate him most earnestly. It is true, of course, that some of the incidents of polygamous marriages have been recognised in the past. Our Courts have always failed to assume jurisdiction at all in these matters, contending very properly that no marriage has subsisted so as to give them jurisdiction. But Mr. Justice Barnard said in the case Srini Vasan v Srini Vasan -
To deny recognition of a Hindu marriage . . . would in my opinion, be to fly in the face of common sense, good manners and the ordered system of tolerance on which the Empire is based.
Nevertheless, the simple truth is that our people - the whole of the common law world - have been bound to use the language used in relation to the famous Hyde v Hyde case -
As between each other, the parties to a polygamous marriage were not entitled to the remedies, the relief, the adjudication of the matrimonial law of England.
One has only to reflect on that to realise how dramatic is the effect of this legislation. But as the Attorney-General pointed out in his speech, relief will be granted only to the party of the first subsisting marriage. It would not, for example, cover the position reported only in July this year by the Zambia Information Service. This dealt with the case of a 60 year old African man in Lauapula Province. This man, according to the Zambia Information Service, had been divorced during the past year by nine of his fifteen wives. One might say he was, as it were, a tiger for punishment. One would not credit that anyone could become so conjugally involved. Another wife died, leaving him with only five. Four of his lady friends said they would leave him and he was reduced to a very disconsolate state and announced that he intended to marry another four women. That happened in 1965. The Bill does not apply to such a case, but I cite it to show that this circumstance has not changed very much. The Attorney-General will recall the Bethel! case in which a gentleman went to Africa and was not prepared to be married according to Church of England Christian rites and was married according to the rites of the Barralong tribe. Like the gentleman from Zambia, he got himself hopelessly involved and the Court was called upon to decide on the legitimacy of the children. The Court was thus faced with a very great problem indeed.
This legislation will not apply to such a case. It will apply only where the relevant marriage is the first subsisting marriage, and I think it is crucial that the House, and those people outside who are interested in this legislation, should note that fact. Having said that, might I say a word or two about the suggestion made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about having an international convention in this field. I think this is highly desirable. As time goes by, as I observed earlier, there is greater communication between people in different countries. People with Australian domicile have married in a host of countries around the world. This poses a very real problem and, subject to the patience of the House, I shall spell out something of the nature of this problem when it comes to recognition of foreign decrees of nullity. I refer to nullity only, because this is one aspect that has attracted my attention.
The Attorney-General will be aware that English courts have no jurisdiction to annul a voidable marriage on the ground that England was the forum of celebration. The contrary is the case if the marriage is void. If it is a void marriage and the parties were seemingly married within the forum, the Courts can assume jurisdiction. When it comes to the question of recognising a foreign decree of nullity of a voidable marriage, on the basis that it was pronounced by the forum of marriage., in my view, under section 95 (5.) of the Matrimonial Causes Act it cannot be recognised, as it is not a common law rule of private international law. This becomes a little involved. One goes on to find that jurisdiction recognition has been given to foreign decrees where jurisdiction has been assumed on (1) the basis of the last common residence of the spouse; (2) the acquisition of a separate domicile by the wife; and (3) the last common residence of the wife. When we come to the recognition of the decree of nullity of a voidable marriage we enter into a field of, in my view, grave doubt and the possibility of imposing grave hardship upon the people concerned. When the Minister introduced this legislation he pointed to the fact that not many people are involved as a rule in these matters. But where they are involved, it is a matter of incredible hardship to them. Merely because but a few are involved is no reason why the members of the Parliament should be hesitant in moving in to legislate in these fields. I join with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in suggesting that at all times we should have a sense of preparedness to keep our minds flexible in the matter of domestic and matrimonial law. But to continue spelling out the difficulty of recognising a foreign degree of nullity of a voidable marriage, here in Australia, as I see it at the moment: Under section 95 (2.) (b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, recognition of the decree of nullity can be made if either party was domiciled in the foreign country. If the wife was resident in the country where the decree was given for three years she acquires as it were a deemed domicile or a sort of fixed domicile, which enables appropriate recognition to be given. Then we come to sub-section (4.). When I speak of a decree of nullity of a voidable marriage I suppose I should interrupt myself to say that here I am thinking of a decree given on the basis that jurisdiction was assumed on the basis of residence of, say, two years. If two people are residing in the United Kingdom and there has been a voidable marriage and the court has assumed jurisdiction and has pronounced a decree of nullity of that marriage, we have the problem of recognising that decree here is Australia. We are thrust back onto subsection (5.) of section 95 of the Matrimonial Causes Act which makes common law savings.
We come then to the crucial part of my argument which is whether or not the common law savings are sufficient to enable this recognition to be made here in Australia. Honorable members will note that under section 24 (2.) of the Matrimonial Causes Act “ for the purposes of this Act “ a wife may get a deemed domicile. On the face of that it would seem that this would include the question of recognising a decree of nullity of a voidable marriage given on the basis of jurisdiction assumed after the parties had been resident for two years. Continuing, the only possibility that seems open to me is the doctrine, which the Attorney-General will know, of Travers v. Holly, under which the courts can assume jurisdiction where there is a substantial similarity. The point I put to my honorable and learned friend is this: In accordance with this doctrine could it be argued that there would be a substantial similarity in giving a decree of nullity of a voidable marriage on the basis of residence after two years or, to sharpen it further, on the basis of residence after one year? In Australia we assume jurisdiction for the purposes of giving a woman matrimonial relief in a voidable marriage if she has been resident for three years. We have to consider whether or not it would be open to the courts to say: “Well, applying the Travers v. Holly doctrine we believe that there is a substantial similarity”. One can go a little further with the argument and can pose the question: Is it residence as residence that constitutes substantial similarity or is it a question of time; or, further, is it a combination of the two?
In my view this is a very difficult field. It is a rather unexplored field. Possibly the likelihood of it concerning people is not tremendously real today, but it is probable. As I have argued, and as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has argued, as people move around the world and enter into marriages in various countries this problem does assume greater significance. In talking of the need for an international convention in this field one has only to hearken to a realisation of the fact that the forum of celebration - the place where a marriage has been celebrated - is rejected in common law countries for the purpose of assuming jurisdiction, but there are other non common law countries where a decree of nullity of a voidable marriage will be given on the basis that the people were married within the jurisdiction. I thought it was an admirable suggestion by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I know that the Attorney-General will be prepared to consider its significance. It has been raised at international conferences from time to time but, unfortunately, it has never got off the ground. This is no reason why one should desist in trying to get this convention established and to have it operating because, after all, we are dealing with human beings and even though some people get themselves hopelessly involved and hopelessly entangled it should still rest as a charge upon those required to administer the affairs of men to endeavour to give them what assistance they can. I conclude as I began, by saying how welcome this legislation is and how much I welcome the two suggestions made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I begin like my Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam) began, and as the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) began, by paying tribute to the very great work performed in this field, within this Parliament, by Mr. Justice Joske, as he now is, and by the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield Barwick. I think I can join the two previous speakers in adding to those names the name of the present Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). It is to his credit that he has tackled these problems. It always takes great courage for a parliamentarian to in trude into these fields because it is only the minority that is affected and likely to benefit. Most people seem to regard this field - like death - to be a thing which will never happen to them personally. This of course, is a wrong attitude. The minority is entitled to protection, and every person in the community unfortunate enough to find that he has drifted into an unhappy matrimonial relationship is entitled to relief from it, unless it can be shown that some innocent person, other than the two parties directly concerned, is likely to be adversely affected by the release that these laws give to people from a life of sheer misery.
Even the present law has some deficiencies that ought to be rectified by act of Parliament, if they are not shortly rectified by the judiciary. This brings me to one of the great difficulties of administering the Commonwealth law through six State courts and a Federal Territory court. There is no absolute way of guaranteeing uniformity in the decisions though, let me hasten to add here, it is to the credit of the judiciary in the various supreme courts of Australia that they have succeeded in achieving a remarkable degree of uniformity in administering this Act since it became law. I think there will come a day when the Commonwealth Government will have to give serious consideration to the establishment of a Federal court in which all Federal laws can be litigated because by this means we will have a better method of securing uniformity of interpretation.
If we had a Federal court with judges of that court acting in each of the six States it would be within the competence of the Chief Justice of that court to order periodical conferences of the judges attached to the court for the purpose of ironing out the questions that have to be left to case law for clarification. I want to quote an example. Section 28 (m) of the Matrimonial Causes Act provides as a ground for divorce that the parties have lived separately and apart for five years. Attached to that right of divorce, however, is section 37. Among the requirements that have to be met by a person seeking relief under section 28 (m) are the provisions of section 37 (1 .) which reads as follows -
Where, on the hearing of a petition for a decree of dissolution of marriage on the ground specified
In paragraph (m) of section twenty-eight of this Act (in this section referred to as “the ground for separation”), the court is satisfied that, by reason of the conduct of the petitioner, whether before or after the separation commenced, or for any other reason, it would, in the particular circumstances of the case, be harsh and oppressive to the respondent, or contrary to the public interest, to grant a decree on that ground on the petition of the petitioner, the court shall refuse to make the decree sought.
The words to which I direct attention are that the court shall refuse the petition if it believes that the granting of the petition would be “ harsh and oppressive “ and, further on, the reference to “ public interest”. “Harsh and oppressive” are words which require from a judge a subjective rather than an objective test. This, therefore, depends upon what point of view a particular judge may have of the question that he has immediately before him. For example, one judge has ruled already that it is harsh and oppressive to a respondent to grant a decree to a petitioner where the respondent belongs to a religion which is opposed to divorce. For that reason, he held that it was therefore harsh and oppressive to the respondent to grant the decree sought by the petitioner because this would violate the beliefs of the respondent. This, however, is a matter upon which the various judges have not agreed by any means. The great majority of them called on to adjudicate upon this point have agreed that it is not a fair interpretation of the Act to say that it would be harsh and oppressive upon a respondent to grant the decree. Consequently, these judges have dismissed that argument as a ground for objection to the granting of a decree. I do not ask here that the Parliament should lay down in more precise terms the bars against granting a decree on grounds of separation. Personally, I think we could make a very strong case for deleting section 37 by saying that there is no more reason for attaching to section 28 (m) the conditions laid down in section 37(1.) of the Act than there is attaching that section to the other grounds for divorce. But I say that we could make a good case for and against the retention of that section.
I consider that if the section is to remain in the Act it will be better to continue as we are doing and allow the courts to give their interpretation upon what is “ harsh and oppressive “. Those words leave a wide margin. There is plenty of room to swerve in the interpretation of the words “ harsh and oppressive “. A very wide interpretation can be placed upon the ambit covered by the words “public interest”. However, a conference ought to be held periodically so that the courts can act in a uniform way and so that people who commence petitions for divorce will know with some reasonable degree of certainty in advance the possibilities of obtaining a decree under the petition.
What I am saying now applies only if section 37 is to remain attached to section 28 (m) - the courts may be able to administer this section better than perhaps the Parliament can define it. Courts can change their attitude towards divorce as the public attitude towards divorce changes and becomes more liberal.
Having dealt with that matter, I want to move onto one other aspect that, I think, needs clarification by the Parliament. The courts have laid it down that where parties to a divorce enter into an agreement as to maintenance, it is open to either party after the divorce has been granted and the agreement has been accepted to ask the court to reassess the agreement and alter it. Let us be practical about the whole matter. Let us not be hypocritical. Let us be realistic about what happens in a divorce court. We know that a court would not knowingly grant a divorce if it knew that collusion had taken place between the parties to the divorce action. Collusion at once rules out the prospect of a petition being granted. But we know also, because we are realists, that in a great majority of undefended cases which come before the divorce courts some kind of collusion does, in fact, sometimes occur. The kind of collusion to which I refer now is that which takes place between the parties as to the amount of maintenance and property settlement that should take place upon the granting of the decree in an undefended divorce action. A husband is enticed sometimes into agreeing to an undefended action in order, perhaps, to avoid the expenses of the litigation that will follow from a defended case and also to avoid the publicity that will arise from it.
Let us take the case of a man who goes to his legal adviser in regard to a petition for divorce for adultery. That would be a ground on which the wife, if found guilty, could have no chance of getting any maintenance payment for herself from the court. She would receive maintenance in respect of any dependent children, but not for herself. Desertion would be another ground upon which a person could obtain a decree in respect of which the guilty party, the wife, would not receive any maintenance order against the petitioner. In such cases, the petitioner is quite likely to go to his counsel and ask: “What do you think my position is?” His counsel will say: “ I think I can win the action. However, I cannot of course, be sure. How can I be sure? I think I can win it all right. But the respondent’s counsel has been to me and he suggests that they are prepared to agree to a maintenance order of f 3 a week for the lifetime of the respondent provided you agree not to contest the cross-petition “.
Let us assume that there is a defended cross-petition for desertion in this case. In these matters the facts determine which party is guilty of desertion and whether it is straight out desertion or constructive desertion. The husband says: “If I win it will cost me nothing, according to you. If I lose as a result of my wife’s cross-petition, I would have to pay probably £8 a week. If the case is undefended, there will be no publicity. I will save a lot of legal costs. Yes, I will agree to let the case be heard undefended “. There is no doubt that this is a form of collusion. The petitioner agrees that the cross-petition will be undefended. If the undefended cross-petition results in a decree being granted by. the court, the petitioner can then go to the court subsequently and say: “ I want this maintenance order reassessed. The maintenance of f 3 a week is not enough “. What can the assessing authority do? The assessing authority can say only this: “ The applicant in this case seeking the reassessment was the innocent party to an undefended divorce proceeding in which the respondent agreed to pay a certain amount. Because the action was undefended, we have to assume prima facie that the respondent is the guilty party “.
So the court proceeds to reassess on the basis that the respondent was the guilty party and that therefore the reassessment is to be taken purely as a case of a guilty person versus an innocent person.
Another factor that causes people to enter into an agreement is the long delay that occurs between the filing of the petition and the hearing of it. Sometimes this delay tends to induce people to enter into maintenance agreements and to allow petitions to become undefended.
It has been said that the problem can be overcome by entering into an agreement for a lump sum payment instead of weekly payments. Up until now, the courts seem to have held that where a lump sum settlement in full redemption of any entitlement to weekly maintenance is entered into, it is not subject to review or reassessment. But even these agreements are now under challenge. If an appeal has not already been filed with the High Court, I understand that one is about to be filed. It is to be argued by the appellant that even though she accepted a lump sum settlement in lieu of weekly payments as total redemption of liability, the lump sum settlement is still subject to review by the court. To me, this could be patently unjust to a respondent. For that reason, I believe that serious consideration has to be given to what is to become of an agreement freely entered into by a petitioner and respondent and what is to be its effect on a petitioner’s subsequent application for reassessment.
Perhaps it is not a bad thing that in South Australia so many cases are undefended. If two people can no longer live together happily and if, by living together, one partner imposes upon himself and upon the other insufferable misery, perhaps the quicker they break it up the better; provided that no innocent third party is injured. For that reason, perhaps it is a good thing that undefended divorce proceedings have become the order of the day. In South Australia the number of divorce orders granted each year is about 1,000. Less than 50 of them, I suppose, are defended. The hearing of a defended divorce proceeding averages two or three days. Some cases may last for six or seven days and some may finish in one day.
If we do not do something to safeguard a petitioner who enters into an agreement, believing that it will be the end of things, lawyers who are doing their duty properly will tell their clients not to enter into maintenance agreements nor to allow a divorce proceeding to go undefended. Lawyers will say: “You have to fight it. You dare not let this go through, if for no better reason than to protect yourself against an excessively high maintenance order at a subsequent date.” I think this matter ought to be investigated. The best way to investigate it is not only to seek -the opinion of the courts and of the profession practising in this field, but also to have those opinions studied by a standing committee of both parties in the Parliament. It would then be taken out of the realm of politics. The Parliament could then pass an act knowing that no element of politics would be injected into the debate, just as today’s proceedings have been a classic example of how Parliament can operate on a non-party basis when dealing with matters of vital importance to the minority of individuals in the community who are unfortunate enough to be personally concerned with the law of divorce.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Snedden) read a third time.
-I present the following paper -
Audit Act - Supplementary Report by the Auditor-General upon other accounts, for year 1964-65.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from 12th November (vide page 2686), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition supports the Bill. We also express the hope that annual reports of the progress of the research financed by this Bill - if it is not already covered under the reports of the Australian Universities Commission - when it becomes an act will be presented to the Parliament. The findings of research financed in this way by the Australian community are made freely available to all mankind through publication. It is regrettable that Australian industry is not noteworthy for being the first to apply these findings. It is more regrettable that Australian industry does not finance research itself on anything like an adequate scale when compared with other countries. This legislation represents Commonweath and State action as very much responsible for scientific research.
Commonwealth action is now building up a pyramid of scientific training. Science laboratories in the secondary schools are the base. Institutes of technology are the body and university research is the apex. The remaining necessity is only an intensification of what is being done. We require an elaboration of the methods by which we discover from the secondary school onwards those students most likely to succeed in scientific research; and finally, we require the development by the Commonwealth of science as an adjunct to foreign policy and Territories policy. By the latter comment I refer to such things as the deliberate sponsoring of scientific research to meet the needs pf under-developed countries and our own Territories and the training of scientific workers from under-developed countries and our own Territories.
We also need a flexible scheme to sponsor more of our own skilled people to visit countries which may be most advanced in certain aspects of scientific research and to participate in research where their speciality is most advanced. A social revolution is being produced by technology, scholarships and the increasing accessibility of university and advanced education. In a sense, research grants are an advanced form of scholarship. The Opposition does not feel that the Commonwealth should be over-enamoured of the concept of matching grants expressed in this Bill. I am fully aware that scientific research is not mentioned in the Constitution, but in the modern world it has become a national necessity and responsibility. It is splendid if the States contribute, but independent action by the Commonwealth should never be inhibited. With those remarks, the Bill is welcomed.
– I support the Bill. There are times when I find myself almost lost in admiration for this Government. It has been in office for no little time and I think one of its strengths and the reason why it has remained in office is that from time to time it can bring a new, fresh and progressive approach to continuing problems. The Bill we are considering now is one example of this. Here we have a measure that makes for greater flexibility in the provision of assistance for research. It specifies that research is not to be restricted to any one organisation or one place, that even independent bodies not connected with the universities or other institutions will be assisted. In fact, the recommendations of the Australian Research Grants Committee show that a private research project in Victoria is being subsidised. Another pleasing feature is that research will not be limited to any one narrow field; the whole gamut of human activity may be covered. In the list of approved grants, we see everything from the most abstruse physics and biochemical research, through historical research to research into social behaviour. I believe that this is the right attitude. Science and technology are admittedly important, but it would be most unwise to exclude the humanities from this assistance. I am very pleased that the Government has taken this attitude.
I am heartened and re-assured that the grant will be put to the best possible use when I look at the members of the Australian Research Grants Committee. These are all men of the highest calibre, who may be relied upon to give an informed, intelligent and independent opinion as to the projects that have most merit and should therefore rank for assistance. Research will be assisted far more in this way than under a more rigid scheme. I think that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) gave a hint of the type of scheme that would be adopted by the Australian Labour Party when he suggested that the Commonwealth Government should go it alone. He was not quite happy about the Commonwealth providing matching grants with the States. This seems to be a wish for more uniformity in the channelling of money for research. If we look at the platform of the Australian Labour Party with respect to medical research, we find that this is so. The eleventh paragraph of Labour’s policy on health contained in this little manifesto, under the heading “ Research “, states -
The promotion of health research under the overall aegis of the National Science Foundation.
The Australian Labour Party would ‘have a more uniform approach to research. I do not believe that this would be in the best interests of productive research. It has an affinity with schemes such as that adopted by Russia, Russia has two great scientific bodies, the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Research is completely unified. It is taken away even from the universities. Medical science has been taken away entirely and other sciences have been very largely taken away. Research is very strictly and rigidly controlled by the academies and I believe that this control is to the detriment of research.
Remarkable little has been done in Russia in the way of productive medical research since the Russian revolution in 1917. This is in contrast to the enormously productive research that was done in Russia before the revolution. Russia then had a large number of very famous people who were absolute giants in the field of medical research. They made many fundamental contributions to this important field. But since the revolution, once the initial momentum of these great giants died down, there has been very little contribution at all in this field. In fact the Russians have made no really worth while contribution to the science of medicine in latter years, except in corneal grafting, where their work has been very good. Although I would not be in a position to judge, I have been assured by reputable people in the physical sciences and other sciences that Russia these days is not in the vanguard in these fields. I believe that one factor contributing to this situation is that research is too much centralised and too much subjected to central control. Research is a very delicate plant and its usefulness will be greatly limited when it is limited itself or centralised.
– How can the honorable member spend bis time arguing that I suggested centralised research when I asked that private enterprise should finance more research?
– I was really not speaking to what the honorable member had said. I was referring to a statement I found in the official platform of the Australian Labour Party with respect to medical research. If we look at any country that is presently socialised, such as Britain, we can draw the inference that this is the underlying philosophy of the Socialists. They believe in centralised, rigid controls. They believe in controlling all aspects of human endeavour. Consequently, I believe I am justified in making this assumption, particularly when I find the statement in a manifesto of the Australian Labour Party. I was not specifically aiming my remarks at the honorable member for Fremantle, although I caught the general inference from what he said that he largely supports this. If he also supports private enterprise in this matter, I am with him every inch of the way. Private enterprise, of course, is the sector where the most productive practical research is done. Britain made great strides in industry and went far ahead of other countries until the dead hand of Socialism was placed on her. Many of the large industrial undertakings in Britain employ a research staff. They were probably ahead of the rest of the world in doing this, and there, is no doubt that this is the reason why Britain had an early lead in these matters. Britain was well ahead of the United States, especially in such matters as industrial chemical research. I believe that the centralisation of research into narrower channels is a function of Socialist government. If we look at Britain we see that research is now being taken as much as possible from the universities and is being centralised in medical research councils.
– Why does not the honorable member criticise the Prime Minister and stop all this humbug?
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
– The medical research councils are instrumental in greatly restricting the field of research. This is proved by the fact that doctors working in hospitals are now finding it increasingly difficult to obtain joint clinical and research appointments. In the old days a doctor could obtain a clinical appointment to look after patients and at the same time could have an accompanying appointment which enabled him to devote a great deal of his time to research into the particular problems that were exercising his mind. There is nothing hypothetical in what I am saying; there is no humbug in it. The sort of thing that I have just mentioned is disappearing and health research is being restricted to the Medical Research Council. I maintain, Sir, that this is an inevitable trend under Socialism.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that there is no medical research in British Universities?
– If the honorable member does not believe me, he may look it up for himself. What I have said is correct. Research is being channelled through the Medical Research Council. I do not say that it is being taken entirely away from the universities in Britain but it has been taken away from the universities in Russia. If the honorable member cared to turn his mind to this problem, he would find that in Russia practically no medical research is carried out by the universities. Medical schools in Russia are entirely teaching organisations. I use the word “ teaching “ in the narrowest sense. I repeat that no research is carried out at these institutions. All the medical research that is undertaken in Russia is carried out under the aegis of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Those are facts, and I stand by them.
– I asked the honorable member about Britain, not about Russia.
– I am simply pointing out that in Russia we have an example of a completely socialised State in which all activities have been socialised. I am directing attention also to a semi-socialised State, Britain, and to a trend which is natural in a socialised State.
– This is so much humbug.
– I do not know why honorable gentlemen opposite are so sensitive about the word “Socialism”. They should be sticking up for their viewpoint. The Labour Party manifesto states that health research should come under the overall aegis of a national science foundation. If honorable members opposite do not like that, let them go to their next Federal
Conference and change their own manifesto.
I simply rose to draw a contrast between the Socialist and non-Socialist points of view. I intended to do so in the mildest possible way but apparently honorable gentlemen opposite are very sensitive about the matter. Since what I have been saying is quite true, I believe that I must exemplify it. I certainly stand by what I have said, because it is correct. I was pointing out that the liberal and flexible approach to research which is envisaged in the Bill will be more productive than other approaches. We have noted in the past that a flexible approach to research is more productive. Research tends to be more mechanical when it becomes centralised and is subject to the control of a central agency.
I congratulate the Government upon the fact that, of the sum of £5 million which it was recommended should be made available for research, £3 million is being devoted in the early stages to general research training purposes. In other words, this money is being used to train people who wish to undertake research as their expertise increases. With that background, they can then devote themselves to producing worthwhile results. I heartily commend the Bill to the House. I believe that it will have a very beneficial effect upon research in Australia and will place this country higher in the ranks of those who are undertaking productive research.
.- I rise to support the Bill. I find it difficult to reconcile the statement made by the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) at the conclusion of his speech with his earlier remarks. In the terms of his own philosophy, the Government, in introducing this measure, is as guilty as is anybody else of the kind of thing that the honorable member condemns. What the honorable member refers to as uniformity is what a lot of us would describe as sensible co-ordination of national effort in respect of science, or in respect of any other enterprise for that matter. Harking back to the honorable member’s comments about the Australian Labour Party, I have been looking at the report of the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1965-66 when we were dealing with the Commonwealth Scientific and In dustrial Research Organisation. I noted that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) made a strong plea for much freer control over the C.S.I.R.O. - for less bureaucratic control.
On the other hand, we have been attacking the unco-ordinated, piecemeal approach of the Government to various problems. A good example is afforded in the giving of aid for the establishment of science laboratories. The Government has made a grant for the establishment of science laboratories and the provision of science equipment, but it resists any entreaty to provide aid for the training of science teachers. Some fairly good science laboratories will be established in various parts of the country, but we will still have the unfortunate situation of there being very few qualified science teachers to teach in them, whether they be in the secondary schools, the new tertiary institutes or the universities.
This Bill provides for the expenditure of £2 million of the allocation of £5 million that was recommended by the Australian Universities Commission for the 1964-66 triennium. Honorable members will recall that the Universities Commission, in the report it presented to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on 27th August 1963, recommended that a sum of £5 million be provided specifically for research at the university level. A sum of £2J million was to be provided by the ‘Commonwealth and the remaining £2t million was to be provided by the various States. We ail recall that in approximately the middle of the term the Government suddenly announced that it would not provide the extra sum of £1 million to match the provision of £1 million by the States over the last year of the triennium. A sum of £3 million only was allocated to the universities.
One of the results of the Government’s action was an outcry from the universities to the effect that they had proceeded on the assumption that a sum of £5 million would be made available. Research projects that had been undertaken by the universities had to be cut short. The whole purpose behind the triennial grants is to ensure continuity of planning and that the universities will know what funds they will need. Many of the universities’ research projects were based upon the availability of a three year grant. We can imagine the frustration and the lack of economy that flowed from this sudden, jolting curtailment of funds.
The Commonwealth then announced that it proposed to set up the Robertson Committee to examine individual claims for research grants. Such claims were not to be limited to university people; they could come from outside bodies. As we all know, approximately 90 per cent., or perhaps even 95 per cent., of the grants to be made available will go to people who are working on projects that are associated with the universities. What I and the universities would like to know is why the Government changed its policy. After all, the Australian Universities Commission, in its second report, which was presented to the Prime Minister on 27th August 1963, stated-
The Commission believes that universities should have freedom in distributing their allocations between projects.
It believed that the universities should have this freedom -
The Commission’s sole concern is that research, in its fundamental context, shall expand in extent and develop in expertise.
This is the thing about which the universities are still asking questions. I do not pretend that I know of my own knowledge that the universities are not happy about this new arrangement. From what I can find out I believe that they are quite happy that things are being done in this way and that individuals or individual teams of research workers make their applications to this expert Committee which then examines them and chooses those that it considers are deserving for support - always, of course, within the limits of the finance that is made available. I suspect that the £2 million envisaged as being made available under the terms of this Bill - £1 million by the Commonwealth and £1 million by the States, if the New South Wales Government belatedly accepts the recommendation that £2 million be the limit - will set quite definite limits on the amount of research that can be undertaken. It appears from the remarks made by the Prime Minister that quite a number of applications for grants have been made. I believe that the House ought to be told just how many were made, but we have not been given this information. We do not know what percentage of the total number of applications is being catered for by this measure.
I should like to have seen also an analysis of the grants that have been recommended. We have been given a list of the individual workers and teams that are to receive grants and we are told which universities and other research institutions they belong to. But we are given only a very short title describing the research to be undertaken. In many ways this is not sufficiently descriptive. After all, since this Bill is presented to the Parliament, apparently we are expected to be able to make some judgment on the research programme that is being undertaken. For our benefit, therefore, I should like to have seen some kind of analysis of the projects involved, even in terms of the proportions related to the physical sciences, the social sciences and the humanities respectively. I should like to have seen more detailed descriptions of the projects involved. I do not suppose that many of us would claim to have great knowledge that would enable us to make profound judgments on the projects for which grants have been approved. But I believe that if it is good enough for these projects to be recommended to the Parliament it is good enough for us to be given a little more information than we have received. I should like to have seen a much more complete analysis of the programme that we are being asked to approve by means of this Bill.
As I said earlier, I should still like to hear an explanation of the reasons why the recommendation made by the Universities Commission for the 1964-66 triennium was discarded in favour of the appointment of this expert Committee that has been charged with the task of dealing with the matter as it has been dealt with. I have not inquired of anybody about this, but I suppose that there are people who will interpret what is being done as a further intrusion by the Government into the affairs of the universities. As I have mentioned, the Universities Commission recommended that the universities be left free to make grants in the way they saw fit. That proposal has now been changed. I guess that this has been done after considerable thought. But, as I have said, there are probably people who will regard this as a further intrusion by the Government into the academic freedom of the universities. I do not see that very readily, but this is a matter that may well be raised.
I now come back to my request for a better analysis, for the information of the Parliament, of the research programme that has been approved. On an examination of the list of approved projects, even with the limitations that I have just described concerning the lack of information given in the titles of the projects, it occurs to me that very little provision is made for educational research. Some people may accuse me of having a one track mind and being preoccupied with education.
– We would never accuse the honorable member of that.
– I hope not, but other people have done so. I am glad to learn by implication that the honorable member considers that there ought to be heavy emphasis on educational research in this country. In another debate recently I stated that the Chairman of the Australian Council of Educational Research had indicated that only one sixth of 1 per cent, of the money spent on education in Australia today is spent on educational research. This Government still grants only £7,500 a year to the Council. I think the provision of much more money for educational research is long overdue. We seem to have become greatly preoccupied with the externa of educational requirements. We are very much concerned about providing decent school rooms and school laboratories, good teachers, adequate supplies of good textbooks and efficient teaching aids, but I believe that a great deal more needs to be done in this country to inquire into the content of education. What is it that we teach? Should our teaching programme be the one that we have now? Is it organised as it ought to be in terms of syllabuses and curricula? Is it examined in the proper way so as to draw out educational objectives of the kind that we are striving for? These are the things that we must ask ourselves.
We must look particularly into the content of education. Is the content of what we teach in our history classes relevant to the circumstances of today? Is the content of our language studies relevant to Australia’s place adjacent to South East Asia? Is the content of our studies in economics and many other important fields relevant to the world of today in which we live? At least we have been prodded into looking at the content of our science courses. I think we were a little ashamed when we did so. As a result of that assessment something new has come in this field, though probably we still have a long way to go. But at least we have had a look at the science situation. A great deal of waste occurs in every classroom today because we are teaching things that are not relevant to the kind of society in which we live or that which we may envisage in the next 20 years or even sooner. These are the things that we should look into. We must consider the content of what we teach as well as provide the equipment and other resources with which the teaching is done.
I do not see much in the programme envisaged in this measure that gives -us occasion for great enthusiasm about our intentions for educational research in the future. What I see gives me no more cause for enthusiasm than does the paltry annual grant of £7,500 to the Australian Council of Educational Research, which is one of the foremost educational research institutions in Australia. This sum is not much more than the equivalent of the salaries of two very ordinary research workers. We should provide more for educational research in our next Budget than this infinitesimal sum. I hope that when a programme of the kind now before us is presented to us again we shall receive an analysis of the kind for which I have asked and that in that analysis much more prominence will be given to educational research.
I wonder what will be the future of the Australian Research Grants Committee - the Robertson Committee as it is called. Will this be just an interim, short-term, ad hoc body to deal with the particular programme now before us or will it become some kind of permanent institution like the Australian Universities Commission? We have been told nothing about this. We do not know whether this Committee will be a continuing body. I believe it is important to the universities and to all who are concerned with research for us to be told in the immediate future what the long-term objective is. We in the Australian Labour Party, of course, have been advocating something much more expansive even than this. We advocate the establishment of a national science policy related not only to university research projects or tertiary research projects generally but also to scientific and social research in all the various fields involved, including industrial research and research undertaken by bodies below the tertiary level. I know that the Government is making some inquiries in this matter and has sent somebody to Canada to look at its policy, with the object of evolving machinery to cater for the whole matter of national research. The Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia - the so-called Martin Committee - in Volume III of its report stated -
There is some evidence that thought is being given to the establishment of research institutes in specialised areas. Outside the Australian National University, the recently established Institute of Applied Economic Research in the University of Melbourne is, perhaps, the most notable. Advantages follow from having research institutes and research chairs closely, if informally, associated with the relevant teaching departments, as appears to be happening in the Australian National University. Such arrangements reduce the danger that good teachers may be lost entirely to teaching. In the humanities, however, research fellowships within the teaching departments are more likely to command support than separate research institutes. Strong arguments can be made for the development of research institutes to unite various disciplines in the study of a common field, such as the problems of urbanisation, or of a common area such as South East Asia.
I hope that before long we will be given some indication of the extent to which the Government is encouraging the establishment of such institutes. Similarly, I hope that we will be given some indication of whether the Commonwealth is prepared to take any notice of the Martin Committee’s recommendation that Australia establish institutes overseas. The report to which I have referred mentions the example of British institutes in Rome and Athens. Such Australian research institutes would provide opportunities for Australians to engage in scholarship at its highest level in some overseas countries.
Before I conclude I want to inquire about what is to happen under this programme in respect of the Australian National University. The Australian Universities Commission, in its report to which I referred earlier, recommended that £li million be provided over the period of three years for research at that University. The other universities have had taken from them the decision on how they will spend their research funds. That decision has been given to the Robertson Committee. But from what I can see, that does not apply to the Australian National University. I should like the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is at the table, to tell me whether that is so. Is the Australian National University, as distinct from all other universities in Australia, to be given a free hand in allocating its research funds? It was given £li million over the triennium - £500,000 each year. All the other universities were given a total of £5 million. Is the Australian National University to retain the prerogative of making its own allocation of research funds to its own research projects?
There is only one other matter to which I wish to direct attention. It is the serious shortage of library facilities at our universities. This is very relevant to any programme of research. A recent report stated that Australian research was very limited because of the scarcity of library facilities in this country as compared with overseas countries. The report that I noticed stated that the Harvard University - which is only one of the many universities in the United States - has a stock of library books twice as large as that of all of the Australian universities combined. The report went on to say that Australia’s 11 universities have a combined collection of 3.1 million’ volumes, which is considerably smaller than the Yale collection and about the same as that of any three reasonably sized universities in the United States. An American library expert, Professor Maurice Tauber, was in Australia in 1962. He conducted a survey of Australian library resources. Speaking of our universitity libraries, he said -
Compared with British or American libraries, the collections of Australian libraries are barely beginning.
It is not much good making this money available for research - whether it is allocated to the universities directly or in the way that is provided in this Bill; that is, by making grants to individual projects - if we do not concomitantly make available the facilities that are necessary to enable decent research to be done.
Despite the situation that I have just described, the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) told a Library Association conference, which was held in Canberra only a short while ago and was attended by about 800 delegates, that university and secondary school libraries were “quite well off”. He said that the Commonwealth would not increase financial aid for such libraries. That is the kind of statement that we seem to be hearing at every hand’s turn. I share with the honorable member for Bowman a certain admiration of the Government for, over a period of years, coming into the field of education. I will not go into the politics of this question today; they do not matter. The Commonwealth has come into the field of education in a way for which I have a certain admiration.
But my admiration is limited because the Government acts in a sort of piecemeal way. It undermines its own programme. It provides research grants, but then it denies the facilities that are necessary to carry out the research. The research will be the more inhibited because of the lack of facilities. In the same way, as I said at the outset, the Government helps to provide laboratories, equipment and science text books for secondary schools, but it will not do anything to help to provide the science teachers, who are the absolute core of the whole programme. Quite frankly, this annoys me. I believe that this undermines the programme to an extent.
The honorable member for Bowman categorises the Labour Party as being all in favour of uniformity. What we favour is not uniformity but a co-ordinated programme of development or plan of development. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister rejected the report of the Vernon Committee, because this was what it envisaged for the whole Australian economy. I want to see implemented in the field of education what it envisaged for the whole economy. I am afraid that that is not being done.
The shortage of library and other facilities is accentuated at the present time by the great growth of post-graduate research in Australia. We are very anxious to promote post-graduate research, if for no other reason than to provide the future lecturers and pro fessors of our universities. We will have enough trouble in providing the staff to cater for the future generations of young Australians who want to go to a university or another tertiary institution. If we inhibit research in this way, we will always have to apply quotas and shut out many youngsters who are qualified to be in our universities or other tertiary institutions and who ought to be there. With those remarks, and the queries that I have raised, I say that I support the Bill.
.- This afternoon it gives me great pleasure to support the Bill now before the House, which is designed to grant financial assistance to the States in connection with research. It may be regarded as a joint venture between the Commonwealth and the States in recognition of the requirements of research in this nation. I believe that it is another step forward in the development of our great country. It is important to note that one of the definitions in clause 2 of the Bill states what is meant by “ research “. It says - “research” means systematic investigations in some branch of science or learning.
I feel that this is quite important in a discussion on this measure, lt means that there will be systematic planning of, and investigation in, various forms of research. As I understand the definition, the research will not stop at any particular point. This provision gives emphasis to the point that research must continue right through the field. I feel that it is quite important to do exactly this in Australia today because once a project has been started in some field of research, it is merely a waste of time and money if the necessary resources are not available to enable the research to be carried through to the end.
In introducing this measure the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) emphasised that grants made to the States under this Bill will be for the benefit of individual research projects of particular merit. In that expression we have the suggestion of particular items being plucked out of the research field, and that on those items the research will continue through to the bitter end. As I see the situation, this is particularly important today in Australia. If we wish to advance and to achieve the necessary growth in Australia research is a must. In the past most of the finance made available by governments in Australia has been used for research into agricultural matters. This is understandable because until a quite recent stage of our development Australia was still largely dependent on primary industry. For that reason it was only natural that research funds should be expended on agricultural research. I believe that we have gained tremendous rewards from such research and I pay a compliment to the universities throughout Australia, and to no mean extent to the University of Western Australia, for the work that has been done.
As a result of research the costs of some primary products have been reduced. Quite recently we were able to reduce the price of wheat to the Australian public because of an overall reduction in the cost structure of the wheat farmer. That was due in no small measure to the efforts made by farmers, but it was due also to the magnificent achievements of research workers. Looking a little further into the field of research and development of this great country, I feel that at this point of time it is necessary for us to consider a greater amount of research into secondary industry. As was mentioned during a debate earlier this week, consideration must be given to costs in various secondary industries. If we want to progress as we should, a great amount of money must be spent on research measures in secondary industry. I feel that it is only in this way and by modernising our industries that we can do the same for secondary industries as we have done for primary industries.. But this work cannot be undertaken by industry alone; it must be assisted to a great extent. I do not suggest that the Government should be responsible for supplying all the finance that is needed for research. That is not my intention. I believe that secondary industry as a whole must assist itself by research work as many sections of industry have been doing.
We know that there has been research in some parts of secondary industry and we know also that primary industries have engaged in research work in recent years. For instance, wool growers, in conjunction with the Government, contribute to a research fund. This situation applies also to wheat, and in relation to meat legislation was introduced quite recently in this place to enable the area of research to be expanded. Research in various industries is growing rapidly in Australia today. It is for this reason that the Bill is so important. As Australia develops we will find that, as has been the case in other countries, we will have to spend more of our available money on research. The United States of America and Great Britain are spending on research a greater proportion of their gross national product than Australia spends. This is understandable. Australia has not reached the stage of development in secondary industry that those countries have attained. This is why I suggest that if we want to develop Australia to the point that it should reach, we must provide more money for research.
My experience has shown that whatever is spent on research pays handsome dividends. It is amazing how little has been spent, yet we have gained tremendous assets from that expenditure. We have only to consider the development in Western Australia, with which I am more familiar than I am with other States. Not many years ago we thought that great areas of Western Australia were of almost no value for agricultural purposes. During the last few years some honorable members of this House have been to the West and have seen the tremendous developmental work that is proceeding there. In the particular area of which now I speak production began almost immediately the problems had been solved. The University of Western Australia has been responsible in no small measure for some of this achievement. In parts of the State, instead of barren country or areas of short scrub with no commercial value as we had in the past, we now have areas producing vast quantities of wheat, wool, meat and other primary products. Tremendous problems which had been associated with the raising of stock have disappeared. This has been brought about to a great extent by the research performed by gentlemen at the university. I have no doubt that they will continue to work in these fields.
Although I suggest that research into agriculture should not be diminished in any way, I feel that there is a need for more research in secondary industry. We must tackle the problem of costs if we are to progress as we should. The work done by some of the gentlemen at the universities has not always been given the recognition that it should have received. I want to pay a special tribute to these gentlemen and to work that they have done over the years. In many instances it has not been easy for them because of lack of finance. Primary industries have assisted them and have provided funds which have been put to good use in research. There has been no shortage of energy when programmes have had to be mapped out and the results of research have had to be put to work. I feel that it is a job well done when the Commonwealth provides more money for research. In future we should make even more funds available for this purpose.
Finally, as the extent of our research grows, Australia must join with other nations in an exchange of research findings. I have no doubt that we have been doing so already, but I believe that it is important to exchange information. I know that our scientists have been travelling in various parts of the world. 1 feel that if we continue to provide for research in broad terms into medicine, agriculture and industry we will more quickly reach our goal of finding ways to ensure peace and understanding among the nations of the world. Scientists, through research, can do much to achieve this end. They can bring to us many things to make our life much happier and much better. They can enable us to do the things that we should be doing, to feed the hungry nations and to improve their way of life. I look to research and to the scientists of the world to play their part in making information available to all nations.
.- We do not have very much trouble with the scientists of the world today. It is the people who run most of the reactionary governments of the world who are causing a good deal of the trouble. There might be a case for some research into parliaments and how not to run them; but this afternoon we are a little pressed for time. We are told that this is an important measure but, as the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) has pointed out, there is very meagre information before us and it is difficult to decide whether this proposal is a great step forward. I think it was the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) who stated that it represents little better than the gathering in of Commonwealth powers and handing them over to a non-responsible committee and pressing on with something else. I am afraid that the honorable member was right.
The measure before us will require an expenditure of a little less than £1 million of the Commonwealth’s money. This represents approximately one thirtieth of the cost of the Government’s decimal coinage scheme, about one twentieth of the cost of the Tullamarine airport and about one quarter of the cost of the Canberra lake. Therefore, it does not represent any great scattering of largesse; but it is, at least, a recognition by this Government and this Parliament that the Commonwealth itself must accept responsibility for conducting research everywhere. Both the Bill and the speech of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on it, represent important political and administrative steps.
What is the Liberal Party’s doctrine in this field? The honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) made a great speech about the question of liberality, the devolution of power, authority and responsibility. The Liberal Party’s doctrine obviously is to let everybody else do things and not to have much to do with them oneself. The Liberal practice in the field of education, research and universities is to gather everything in to the Commonwealth itself. This proposal for an Australian Research Grants Committee is a very interesting demonstration of the inevitability, not so much of the centralisation of activity, but of what one might call the “ acceptance of national responsibility “. This is a gathering in of the strings.
Our good friends opposite often refuse to accept the fact that these matters are national responsibilities so that we often come to them with great diffidence and, often, too late. Contained in the information before us is a long list of some 1 2 pages or more of names of people to whom sums of money are to be made available by way of grants for research and there are some very involved definitions of the various types of research. I submit that this Parliament could have been treated with a little more respect in connection with that matter. Towards the end of his speech, the Prime Minister said -
I am pleased to inform the House, that the Governments of five States have agreed to support the Committee’s recommendations in full. The Government of New South Wales is still considering its position.
This is a rather novel experience for this Parliament. It has been almost universally true that when any dynamic action has been required in the past it has been the Labour Government of New South Wales which has led the way.
The honorable member for Bowman made a great play on the Socialist tendency towards centralisation. The Socialist tendency is not towards centralisation; it is towards the expansion of opportunity. The honorable member for Bowman is a man of great professional attainment in the body physic but in the body politic he seems to be most inaccurate, his inaccuracy reaching almost the point of quackery. He spoke of Great Britain under Conservative governments. All the Conservative governments of the past in Great Britain did was to talk about the brain drain from that country. The honorable member asserted that the Liberal Party’s attitude on all these questions was flexible.
By not accepting the fact that the Commonwealth will have to take greater and more responsibilities in the field of research, education and so on, honorable members on the Government side are doing themselves and the Government of this country a great disservice. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth will have to be the major factor in the development of research in all fields. It will have to promote development by the encouragement of others and by the exercise of initiative on its own account. An examination of the documents available to us will disclose just how great its commitment is. Unfortunately, the Government is inclined to indulge in what might be called government by largesse. It scatters its largesse to committees and others and requires them to activate research.
This attitude is to be found in many fields such as non-State education, some fields of State education, research, the search for oil, and so on. The Commonwealth ought to be initiating much more of the work itself in very many fields. Reference has been made to the Socialist parties of the world. The record of the Australian Labour Party in these matters is one of putting faith and trust in the professional capacity of people to do things. I wonder whether the Australian National University, one of the most richly endowed institutions in this country, would have been in being at all if there had been no Labour government from 1945 onwards to organise and initiate it. I am pretty certain that it would not have been. I think that the way in which the A.N.U. was established, the way in which it was given a good deal of authority and ample resources to carry out its work without any interference from the government of the day is a clear indication of what we mean when we say that science, technology and all the other fields of cultural and academic development are the responsibility of government. It is merely a question of placing resources at the disposal of those in whose ability to carry out the work we have faith. I believe that is the philosophical basis of the approach by honorable members on this side of the House towards research.
Let me go further and remind honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable member for Bowman, of the tremendous ramifications of research under governments in this country. I think it is chasing rainbows to expect that private industry will conduct much effective and useful research in this country. It certainly will not in the more abstract of the physical sciences. It will certainly do very little, indeed virtually nothing, in the social sciences and I believe that in the field of technology it will be so dedicated to private profit that its research will have very little application to the community at large. So it will be the government instrumentalities in Australia which will carry the main burden. I believe it is right that this should be so.
Perhaps one of the problems that faces us as administrators and legislators is the setting up of legislative and administrative machinery to allow people to develop their individual initiative and press on with the work without too much overall surveillance. That is the important thing about research.
If honorable members care to examine the book “ Scientific and Technical Research Centres in Australia” published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organisation last year, they will be rather amazed at the proliferation of scientific and research centres. For example, there are 91 Commonwealth research and technical centres listed in the book. Others listed are 19 for New South Wales, 11 for Queensland, 10 for South Australia, 4 for Tasmania, 29 for Victoria, 13 for Western Australia, and 169 for the various faculties and research organisations of universities. There is a total of 353 such centres. It would be far from the truth to suggest that we on this side would want to bring all those into some mammoth government department. What we want is to see that they are enabled to carry their work forward without any undue restrictions being put upon their work. I therefore believe that, when considering the measure before us, it is not a bad idea to look at those things which are being sponsored by the provision of approximately £1 million.
With the honorable member for Barton, I believe that not nearly enough is being done in the field of social research. On examination of the book to which I have referred, 1 find that Queensland has in hand 22 projects. Three are related to history, 1 is connected with the social service sciences, 16 have to do with physics and 2 are concerned with medicine. I emphasise that I am giving only my interpretation of the rather difficult titles with which these projects are endowed.
Although he may not have mentioned it specifically, I gathered that the honorable member for Bowman thought that there ought to be more medical research. If he does not hold that view, then he should hold it. I believe that there is not enough concentration on the ordinary human frame. Many fields of study and research are still open into humanity’s own bodywork. As to social sciences, even the ones listed, there appears to be very little appreciation of the necessity for research into current social problems. I am pleased to see that in Western Australia there appears to be a research project for planning Aboriginal economic advancement in that State. I make the appeal that wider opportunities be offered in the field of the social sciences, that they be given more resources and perhaps a little more ginger. I believe that a good deal of this money should be used to solve the current and developing problems in an increasingly complex community.
I agree with the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) - perhaps this arises from our professional employment before we came to this place - that education is a field which needs very close scrutiny. A great deal of examination is needed over the whole of that field. Education is, one might say, the machine belt by which the community passes on its culture from generation to generation. Education is inevitably conservative, but we are living in a new world. I would like to see a thorough examination made of teaching methods and of the capacities that students must take to universities. Is the matriculation system appropriate? Is our teaching of languages first class, mediocre or poor? My own impression is that, compared with overseas countries, the teaching of languages here is rather mediocre. The impression I have gained from travelling in other countries is that in those countries young people of 16 or 17 years handle the English language much better than the average Australian student handles a foreign language.
I think there is great work to be done in the field of sociology, certainly in the field of anthropology both in the Australian community and in the Territories. There is much work to be done also in the field of psychology. I should like to sound a note of warning here. There is a field of inquiry - perhaps that is hardly the correct way to describe it- called Scientology, and I think an effort is to be made to inhibit the development of Scientology to the point of banning it. It has been brought to my notice by highly placed people in the fields of sociology and psychology that a bill currently before the Victorian Parliament may well inhibit to the point of prohibition some sociological research. This is something which should cause great concern to those of us who have to deal with these maters. I hope that the Victorian Parliament will think long before it passes any measure which steps into this field in such a way as to inhibit or prohibit research work.
I would ask the Government, on the next time it produces legislation of this kind, to do the things that have been requested by the honorable member for Barton. He has requested that an analysis be made of what is involved in the various scientific fields. He has requested also that a more detailed statement be given of what is involved in each of the grants that are to be made, and that an expert analysis be made of the direction in which such grants will take Australian research and technological development. It is all very well to bring legislation of this kind before the Parliament for us to put a rubber stamp on it, but if the legislation is to go out with our imprimatur I think we are entitled to know exactly what is in it. We have a responsibility for the future development of this community, and we can discharge that responsibility only if we have adequate information. I speak for myself now, but I think this would apply to most honorable members, when I say that it is beyond our personal capacity to examine every item that is in the schedule. With the best will in the world, in view of the time that is available I do not think any of us could make a proper analysis of this measure and decide whether it is one-sided, lop-sided or is something that most of us would desire. I suggest that the Minister, even at this late hour, ask his colleagues whether he can place before us, as convenient, a table showing exactly what is involved over the whole field, together with some analysis, so that we can work out exactly what it is we are seeking to do this afternoon.
.-1 regret that I have to rise at this hour of the afternoon, but if I do not conclude my speech on this occasion perhaps I shall be given an opportunity to do so later. I have a great deal of material to refer to, and it will be difficult to do that properly in the few minutes that are left to us this afternoon. I thought there was a great deal of substance and a great deal to the credit of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) in the remarks that he made. I do not think, however, that I can agree quite so easily with what was said by other speakers in this debate.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to the problem of matching grants. This has become one of the major problems affecting the States. Later in my speech I intend to be more specific in dealing with the difficulties that matching grants appear to have caused in South Australia. In passing, may I say that in this field South Australia has accepted its responsibility, up to a point, in finding the funds necessary to match the Commonwealth’s contribution. The allocation to South Australia for research workers recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee is £297,000. I think it was due to pressure from within the university and from the Opposition in South Australia that finally the Minister for Education found the extra £60,000 required to enable the State to take up its grant. I should like to go into that matter later. However, let me say now that the Commonwealth appears to have given the State Ministers for Education, who I think are looking for an excuse, an opportunity to voice their discontent with the amount of warning that they have had of the departure from the formula relating to the allocation of £1 million per annum.
The honorable member for Fremantle appeared to me to make the point that matching grants did hot altogether provide a solution to the problem of the allocation of funds for this purpose. I do not agree with him. I think there has been a good response from all sections of government. I do not know that I would go as far as the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) went. He lined up the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle with a desire for a completely uniform approach to research, with a rigidity that reminded him of what is happening in certain countries. As I have said, I do not know that I would carry my argument to that extent, but it is quite obvious that in relation to the allocation of research funds there is a very real difference between the approach of the Government and that of the Opposition.
I have had a cursory glance at reports of remarks by some members of the Opposition on this topic. From my point of view, I congratulate the Government very much on its grants for these purposes. Let me say here that the honorable member for Wills, I think, rather insinuated that this was the only source of funds for these purposes. That is not so. The measure provides for the allocation of the £2 million available to the Australian Research Grants Committee. I would not like to think that anyone in this House or indeed anyone in Australia would believe that this was the only source of funds for these purposes. We are dealing today, however, only with matching grants from this fund. This disposes - to my satisfaction at any rate - of the argument that any newer method of financing this type of research at university level should be brought into effect in the future. Frankly, I believe that the system of matching grants by the Commonwealth is the correct and responsible way of tackling the problem.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), early in his speech, claimed that universities were unhappy. A little later he said that they were very happy. I found myself unable to decide exactly what he thought was the attitude of the universities. Therefore I should like to put before the House the South Australian viewpoint as expressed by some members of the professorial staff of the University of Adelaide, by the University Council itself, and by the people of South Australia - certainly it is the view of the Opposition in the South Australian Parliament. All are very happy with the increased allocation of funds to the University of Adelaide and indeed to the new university which I gather is to be called the Flinders University. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the proportionate increase is such that obviously the Robertson Committee, which is composed of highly qualified and highly respected intellects, has a very high opinion of the standard of research work in these two universities. I think this is greatly to the credit of the research workers.
The honorable member for Barton also made the point that he could not see the reason for setting up the Robertson Committee. I think the reason was probably made quite clear in the announcement made by Senator Gorton on 31st August of this year. Senator Gorton said that he would recommend the distribution of the next £2 million on the basis of the merit of the projects and the quality of the investigators. Here is a clear cut difference in principle which I am sure the honorable member for Barton appreciates.
– Why was the allocation changed from what the Australian Universities Commission recommended?
– That is not the point. My point is that there are different ways of looking at the problem and, therefore, different methods of allocating the grants. We could debate for some length of time whether this is a good idea or not, but there is sufficient reason, I think, to point out this afternoon that the allocation of funds for purposes of this type must be fluid. It would not be wise to become bogged down by uniformity of approach. Personally I back up the decision of the Government to appoint this highly qualified expert Committee in order to bring a new viewpoint and a new emphasis to the type of research that should be carried out for the benefit of the country.
I now come to the main reason why I rose to discuss this measure. There was some doubt in South Australia as to whether the State Government could find the extra £60,000 in order to take full advantage of the Commonwealth’s allocation of funds under the research grants scheme. Roughly what occurred - and quite a deal of play has been made on this in South Australia - was that the South Australian Minister for Education decided that the Federal Government had not completely played fair in relation to the increase of funds to the State. This is a most surprising attitude and one from which I wish to dissociate myself. It is obviously very much to the advantage of the State, the University of Adelaide and the people of South Australia that this grant should be increased. If I were to be political at this stage I would say that the fault is possibly due to the fact that there is a new government in South Australia of the same political colour as the Opposition in this House. That Government, perhaps, has made the mistake of allocating too much of its budgetary funds to non-productive sources. Already this is quite apparent.
– Order! If the honorable member were to try to relate his remarks to the Bill he would be much more interesting.
– I shall attempt to do that. Already there is in South Australia a sign that socialistic legislation of a nonproductive character will detract from funds that could be highly productive, not only in the University but also throughout the State in general. I think it is worthwhile making the point that if South Australia is to continue as a properly functioning, viable State within the Australian economy, a larger part of its Budget will have to be channelled into productive measures such as that envisaged in this Bill. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, it is quite vital to the efficient functioning of the State that that should be done. I repeat that I definitely disapprove of the attitude of the South Australian Minister for Education.
This Bill represents the type of Federal action that is needed in Australia. The Bill provides funds to help intelligent people at university level to conduct worthwhile research. I once again dissociate myself from any view that insinuates, even vaguely, that this amount of money should not be given to South Australia. In the past in that State ample elasticity within the budgetary framework has always been allowed in order to take full advantage of any type of action such as that contemplated in this Bill. I have a copy of a television announcement made by the South Australian Minister for Education in which he complained bitterly that nothing was known of this new apportionment of funds in South Australia until August of this year. I have it on certain authority - it is readily available to all honorable members to study - that on 23rd March 1965 the Premiers were advised that the Commonwealth would provide its share of £1 million in. 1966 for general research purposes in universities, and that it would set aside £1 million as its share of the remaining £2 million for allocation to approved research projects on the advice of a committee. Not only was that information available but also the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his speech during March on the report of the Martin Committee made it quite plain that the States could well expect in the future to have a differential applying on the usual formula for these research funds. I think probably that every State, except maybe South Australia, was well prepared for the different allocation that did in fact occur. I complete my remarks by saying that I admire the action of the Government in setting up the Robertson Committee. I think the basis and the merit of the project, and the quality of the investigator in this instance, contrary to the old formula combined to produce a very excellent way of getting at a sensible and proper distribution of these funds.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) read a third time.
House adjourned at 4.26 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What departments -have (a) chartered and (b) subsidised ships in the last year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
These ships have been available to the Government under varying charter terms, or according to detailed agreements with the ship-owners concerned, and it is not considered appropriate to reveal the details of the terms of charter.
In addition to the ships listed, there have been charters of vessels of small capacity for the transport of stores etc.
The Department of Trade and Industry, although not engaged in the actual chartering of vessels, is responsible for extending financial assistance to four shipping companies operating direct services to South America. These services were introduced to assist Ausralian exporters develop the South American markets.
In respect of the service to the West Coast of South America and the Caribbean, the Agreement entered into in March 1964, for a period of one year has now expired. It provided for financial assistance of £150,000 spread equally over six voyages. The company was obliged to provide sailings at two monthly intervals to specified ports in the area covered by the service. The Government has agreed to a continuation of assistance to the company for a further 12 months. Ten sailings will be provided in place of the previous six, with sailings at six weekly intervals initially. There is also provision for the service to move to a monthly basis towards the end of the period if results warrant this. Commonwealth financial assistance will be a guarantee against loss (as opposed to the earlier flat rate payments) of up to a maximum of £185,000 over the 10 sailings.
The service to the east coast of South America operated under a two year agreement which was due to expire in May 1964, and provided for financial assistance to a maximum of £175,000 over the period of the Agreement at a maximum rate of £21,875 per voyage. As the line operating this service could not complete the required number of voyages within the period of the Agreement, due to circumstances outside its control, the Commonwealth has agreed to an extension of the original Agreement until December 1965, to enable the stipulated number of voyages to be completed.
An annual subsidy of £150,000 per annum was paid until 31st December 1964, in respect of vessels on the Australian Register and operated by Australian crews in competition with other vessels in the Australian/New Guinea trade. Since that date the rate of subsidy has been increased to £200,000 per annum and, as a result, actual payment in the financial year 1964-65 totalled £162,500.
The final two instalments of an establishment allowance made to assist in the provision of a new vessel for the Melbourne/King Island service were paid during 1964-65 and amounted to £8,000. This service also attracted a subsidy of £3,343 so that voyages could be made to King Island while the regular supplying vessel was out of commission. In addition an operating subsidy is paid to reduce the charges for the service by £2 10s. per ton for general cargo With broadly proportionate reductions for other cargo. This operated from 19th April 1965, except that reductions for livestock were made retrospective to 1st January 1965. The total payment during the financial year 1964-65 amounted to £22,000.
An annual subsidy of £10,625 was paid in respect of shipping services to isolated Northern Territory ports in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
On 1st July 1965, Western Australia adopted the principle of the Eight Schedules regarding uniform control of poisons as recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The two remaining States and the Commonwealth are currently reviewing their respective legislation to achieve Australia-wide uniformity in the States and Territories in conformity with the recommendations of the Council.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is he able to give any indication as to when he proposes to move the motion standing in his name on the notice paper concerning the erection of a new -Parliament House?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Since I gave notice of a motion in relation to the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine the question of a new Parliament House correspondence has passed between the Leader of the Opposition and myself as to the terms of the Committee’s inquiry. As soon as our discussions and correspondence on this matter are concluded I shall proceed with the motion.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Does he intend to table reports by the Australian Research Grants Committee, as he does those by the Australian Universities Commission and the other educational committees listed in his answer to me on 5th May 1965 (“Hansard”, page 1199), or to withhold them as he does those by the Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Secondary Schools and the other committees listed in his answer to me on 25th August 1964 (“Hansard”, page 590)?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
It is not usual practice to table recommendations of informal committees of whom a Minister seeks advice. The position of the Australian Universities Commission and of committees which conduct special inquiries into major issues is quite different. However, details of the special research grants which have been recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee have been made available to honorable members as have details of the grants to schools for tha provision of science blocks.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 November 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651119_reps_25_hor49/>.