25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question, but first let me preface it, Mr. Speaker, by saying that the distance by air from Brisbane to Townsville is 800 miles and from Brisbane to Cairns 1,000 miles. These distances are further than any main trunk air route in Australia, except that between Adelaide and Perth. Will the Minister endeavour to see that as DC9 aircraft become available they are used on this long haul and that north Queenslanders are not further discriminated against as they are now by the airline companies which, acting with the profit before service motive, foist on the people living there the outmoded Electras that are 200 miles an hour slower than modern jets?
– I have a great deal of sympathy for this particular question and I can assure the honorable member that from my point of view careful consideration will be given to anything that can be done in this regard. However. I should not like to write down the Electra as an old fashioned, slow aircraft, because it is still one of the most up to date internal transport vehicles in the world and it is used very effectively, principally in the United States of America.
This matter is principally one for the airline operators themselves, but when the DC9 aircraft come into operation certain changes will be made in the schedules and in the services provided. The first two should arrive about the end of this year and, prior to that, a couple of additional Boeing 727’s will become available. Additional services with Electras will be provided for north Queensland. They will provide much better services than are being given at present. In addition, I understand it is the intention of the airline operators to use certain of the DC9 aircraft in north Queensland when they are available.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the honorable gentleman seen published reports of an allegation by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the effect that officers of the Minister’s Department have been guilty of irregularities regarding the call up of national service trainees? Will he say whether there is any truth in this allegation and give an account of the procedures followed?
– I did see the statements by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I had always understood that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition considered that when something of a serious or momentous nature arose when Parliament was sitting statements on them should be made in the House where they could be answered. However, on this occasion when what is involved is, in effect, a charge of corruption against my Department, he makes it in one section of the Press.
– It was at a public meeting.
– There certainly seemed to be a certain embellishment subsequently. However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition alleged that, based on a statement by my predecessor made on 28th June of last year, for some reason 8,000 people had not been medically examined and had been virtually administered out of the scheme, having been balloted in.
Before making this statement, the last thing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did was to check with me or to find out the facts. Now, he referred to the fact that 21,777 young men were balloted in in the first ballot. In fact, there can be added to this total the number of volunteers, which brings the figure up to 21,808. In order not to confuse the matter because, naturally, since the first ballot, there have been a number of subsequent ballots, I have taken out the figures as at 31st August up till when only one ballot had taken place - the first ballot. This list I have contains the numbers in each of the categories concerned and what their position was at 31st August. I hope that, instead of reading all the details, I can with the concurrence of honorable members incorporate this list in “ Hansard “. I seek leave to do so.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I point out that this list gives a complete analysis of the registrants who registered in the first registration and were subject to the first ballot referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as at 31st August 1965, before the registrants in the second registration were processed. The analysis reads as follows -
I would like also to refer to some of the reported statements of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He suggested that my Department went through and hand picked all those who should be medically examined. Then he asked on what basis this hand picking was done, who was favoured, and who was penalised. He concluded with the charge that the Department obviously balloted in many more than were needed and arbitrarily omitted many to get down to the numbers required. This is a very serious, grave charge against - quite apart from myself: that is secondary - the Public Service generally and my Department in particular. As a previous permanent public servant, I resent this charge strongly. So, I am sure, do the overwhelming numbers of those in the Public Service itself, and particularly those concerned in my own Department.
– How many of the 8,000 have been medically examined?
– Order! The Minister is answering the question.
– The Deputy Leader will have a further opportunity when he has studied the figures. 1 have asked also for a statement to be prepared bringing up to date all that has happened so far. The truth of the matter is that my Department can account for every one of those who has so far been registered-
– And examined?
– My Department can account for each category and what has happened in each individual case. In this process inevitably - I have already pointed this out to the House - those who were balloted in in the first, intake do represent a large proportion of those called up when compared with those who will subsequently be balloted in. This is because in the first ballot there had to be immediately available, after all the deferments and so on for all kinds of reasons which by now should be well known, enough national servicemen to march straight into camp. As successive ballots take place, when the time for marching into camp comes, there will he increasingly available those who are deferred from earlier ballots, those whose medical examination has since taken place, those who have not been granted deferments by magistrates, and so on and so forth. But what should distress everybody is the com.pletely reckless and irresponsible nature of the charge levelled by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I can only express the hope that the pacifist clerics who follow his line will greatly admire the political morality >f this man.
– I address a question to he Prime Minister. According to Press reports the Government now favours me granting by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of a moderate wage increase. With a view to boosting the general level of demand so necessary for the growth of the economy and the maintenance of purchasing power, will the Government increase rates of social service benefits so that pensioners will not be at a disadvantage when the proposed wage increase becomes effective?
– The honorable member has raised an important matter of policy. He can be assured that in accordance with its regular practice the Government will, before introducing the forthcoming Budget, thoroughly review all aspects of the social service structure and consider these against the background of any movements in wages or costs that may have occurred since it last looked at these matters.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the heavy concentration of air traffic during a period of about one hour in the morning and a similar period in the evening, involving congestion at air terminals during these periods quite out of proportion to the average daily volume of traffic, will the Minister assure the House that in the interests of the travelling public a thorough investigation will be made with a view to arriving at a proper rationalisation of air services?
– The Government has been concerned about this matter of parallel time tables of the major airlines for a considerable time, lt realises that the many problems associated with the question are not easy of solution. However, a decision has been made to set up an expert committee to inquire into the matter and to report to the Government, through the Minister for Civil Aviation, at a later date. The committee will be composed of senior officers of the Policy, Operations and Ground Facilities Branches of the Department of Civil Aviation. The terms of reference will be quite wide so that a full and careful investigation will be made. I understand that the committee will be established in the near future but I expect the investigations to take many months. I can assure the honorable member that when advice and recommendations are received from the committee they will be very carefully considered by the Government in conjunction with the airline operators.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to a report that the Minister for the Interior has expressed some doubts on the economics of subsidising northern development, particularly the growing of cotton in the Ord River area? If there is no substance in either the report or in the doubts expressed by the Minister, will the Prime Minister give an immediate and quite definite assurance that the Government will assist financially in the development of northern Australia and will also promote the growing of cotton in the Ord River area?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred. I will be very interested to learn what my colleague has had to say on these important matters. The honorable member asks what the Government proposes in relation to its future policy on northern development, with particular reference to the Ord River area. We have already made patent our intention to press on with various national development projects. Some are currently in progress and the list has been added to from time to lime. We indicated earlier that at appropriate intervals, as information reached us, the Ord River project would be considered. I know that this project has been actively considered by my colleague, the Minister for National Development. When the Government is in a position to make a statement of policy on the matter, it will do so.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for the Interior. By way of a short preface, so as to show the basis for my question, I direct attention to the fact that I have previously raised with the Minister the need to staff members’ electoral offices on a full-time basis for the convenience of the general public. Does he recall that in his reply to a question asked by me on 7th May 1964, he expressed his understanding of members’ difficulties in this regard, particularly members with country offices, but adverted to an arrangement made more than 20 years ago and to the two Richardson Committees
– Order! The honorable member may not be in order if he quotes at length the contents of the reply.
– The two Richardson Committees presented their findings many years ago. In view of the great changes in the work of members, and the growing complexities of modern government, will the Minister urgently reconsider the question of relief for members’ secretaries at appropriate times?
– I recall answering the question asked by the honorable member some two years ago and stating firmly that the policy had been not to provide relief secretarial assistance. The continuance of this policy was based on the reports of two Richardson Committees, which found that the existing situation was satisfactory. However, as the report of the last Richardson Committee was presented more than seven years ago, and in view of the new matter that the honorable member has submitted, the time may be appropriate for a second look at the subject. If additional expenditure would be involved, there might be complications in making the necessary arrangements. I am prepared to examine the matter to ascertain what complications might arise and to see whether there should be any alteration of policy.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Did his Department prepare the document which was presented yesterday to the Full Bench of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and in which the Government was quoted as being apprehensive of the effects that a wage increase of other than moderate proportions might have on the balance of the economy? Can the Minister say whether the reference to a moderate wage increase means that the Government believes that the state of the economy is such as to require that the workers no longer enjoy a minimum living standard justifying wage increases com mensurate with the increase in costs disclosed by the consumer price index and that the workers can no longer expect to receive any share of the increase in national productivity resulting from automation and the use of improved technological processes in production?
– The information in the document submitted to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was approved by me. The Commission has a long, difficult and complex task. It was appointed, at least in part, to protect the public interest and the interests of hundreds of thousands of wage earners, salary earners and others. Indeed, the interests of all Australians are involved. The last thing that I intend to do is to canvass the issues involved in the matter before the Commission or do anything else to make its task more difficult.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question, particularly in view of the request made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition concerning overseas delegations. When the Australian Labour Party delegation led by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition visited South East Asia in the middle of last year, did the Australian Government pay the fares or expenses, or were these paid by the Singapore Government? Was the invitation to the members of the Australian Labour Party issued by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the leader of the Singapore Government? What facilities to travel by aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force as far as Ubon were granted to them? Having reached Ubon, which is within 30 miles of the southern border of Laos, was there anything to prevent them from visiting South Vietnam, if they had wished to do so?
– I do not know that I am fully informed on this matter, but, as I understand the position, the members of the delegation exercised their travel privileges inside Australia to reach Darwin. No Government funds were used in travel from that point onwards. A Dakota aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force was provided for travel from Butterworth to Ubon and return.
– We visited all Australian units in the area.
– 1 am not going into that. 1 am trying to answer the question that was asked of me. The invitation was, I gather, extended by the Prime Minister of Singapore directly to the delegation. As to the visit to Vietnam, I understand that if a visa is secured there is no barrier preventing entry to that country.
– Will the Treasurer, when preparing the next Budget, earnestly consider granting a taxation deduction to those unfortunates on low incomes who, because of changed economic conditions, must travel long distances from their homes to their place of employment? I have in mind in particular the situation that exists in the northern coalfields area because of increased bus fares and rising prices, coupled with the substantial reduction of overtime in industry.
– This problem has been frequently considered by the Government in the past. However, I give the honorable gentleman an assurance, if he wants it. that it will be considered in the process of preparing the next Budget.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware of the constant complaints being voiced by State Premiers, parents and citizens organisations, the Teachers’ Federation of New South Wales and many individuals in the community regarding the shortage of teachers in State schools? Does he believe that there is any basis for these complaints? If so, why is it that no provision has been made for the deferment of the national service training of school teachers who have been unlucky enough to win a national serviceman’s uniform? Will he also explain the conditions under which a deferment of training is granted by a court of summary jurisdiction and what constitutes exceptional hardship?
– Teachers, policemen and members of every other calling in this land are on precisely the same footing. Who ever males may be and wherever they are in Australia - except for certain males born overseas whose position is now being examined - they are equally liable for callup on a completely fair basis that applies to everyone. There are no exceptions to this rule, nor would I intend personally to make any. Deferment is granted by magistrates on grounds of exceptional hardship only. A case is submitted to the magistrate, who judges it on its merits and grants or refuses deferment. Deferment may be granted to enable an applicant to complete a course of study to become a teacher or to complete other courses. Those who are engaged in qualifying for various vocations may complete their normal course of training. Having done so and having become qualified they then go into the following call up.
Mr. ROBINSON__ 1 ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. In view of recent Press reports that the Minister has written to the Japanese Government about establishing a jointly owned Australian-Japanese shipping service for the carriage of Australian bulk commodities, will the Minister indicate whether such a letter was sent and what was the reaction of the Japanese Government? Would such a venture also benefit the export of such commodities as sugar, butter and meat?
– I think it is well known from various statements I have made and reports of speeches I have made, including answers given to questions in the House, that I have interested myself in the possibility of Australia sharing in the exchange to be earned, the employment created and the profits made from the carriage to Japan of bulk cargoes of iron ore, bauxite and coal, in addition perhaps to other major bulk items. This is not a matter involving a single incident but is one on which I have spoken during at least the last five years and possibly six. I have been approached by great Japanese shipping interests which have been prepared to consider a 50-50 venture with Australia. I have said in the House that such a proposition would interest us greatly, contemplating that some at least of the ships would carry the Aus- tralian flag and be manned under Australian conditions.
There is no secret about this. Following an agreement reached with the Prime Minister of Japan when I interviewed him some months ago, I wrote to Mr. Sato two or three weeks ago and stated that in my opinion the time was opportune for a closer study of proposals for an AustralianJapanese shipping service and other subjects, both as between governments and as between the respective business communities.
– For how long has the right honorable gentleman been Prime Minister?
– If the honorable member does not like what I have said he is very un-Australian, because I see many of his colleagues nodding their heads in approval of what I have said.
– Will the Minister make a statement instead of taking up so much time with an answer to a question?
– I am making a statement now, if I may proceed without interruption.
– How about making one later and giving us an opportunity to debate it?
– The Opposition may debate the subject. I will answer the question if I am permitted to do so.
The Prime Minister of Japan has written to me saying that he believes there is scope for discussions of the kind I have proposed but suggesting that it would be desirable to have a careful study made of all the facts surrounding the situation before formal discussions are entered into. With this view I completely agree. The extension of the service envisaged in the proposal to the carriage of sugar, butter and so on is not feasible. These goods are generally carried in the liner trade, in which Australia is not in a competitive position.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a supplementary question. Is it a fact that when war breaks out ships of any nationality, when confronted with danger, as inevitably happens in war time, invariably make for the country of their registration? What would be the position of a jointly owned ship if one of the joint owners belonged to a country which went to war while the ship was in mid ocean? No doubt if the ship had a mixed crew there would be a mutiny because if, for instance, one half of the ship’s crew were Japanese, they would want to make for Japan and if the other half were Australian they would want to make for Australia. If the ship had an Australian crew the chances are that the ship would go to Australia. If it had a Japanese crew, then the chances are that the ship would sail for Japan.
– They could have a spill.
– I remind the House of the historical trip of Hume and Hovell to Victoria in 1824. On that occasion, there was an argument as to whether Port Phillip was due south of the Murray or due east.
– Order! I think the honorable member is getting off the course.
– On that occasion, the explorers had a boat with them. They sawed it in half, each party taking half the boat and going his respective way. Would it not be infinitely more preferable for the Minister, before negotiating with the Japanese or the people of any other country in relation to the necessity for Australia to have more ships, first to survey Australia’s own shipbuilding capacity and her capacity to meet our immediate needs? Then, if we were unable to supply the ore carriers we require, would it not even be better to go to the length of buying a ship in our own right from Japan and owning it for the Australian people?
– I thank the honorable member for his very lucid analysis, but I find it a little difficult to answer either “ yes “ or “ no “.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the critical and alarming shortage of qualified secondary teachers in both public and private schools in every State of Australia, and in the Commonwealth Territories, particularly Papua and New Guinea. If so, has the Government given any further consideration to the previous decision rejecting the important and urgent recommendations of the Martin Committee in respect of teacher training? What negotiations, if any, have been entered into with the States in this matter? Will the Government also consider the provision of immediate emergency grants to the States to meet the much publicised acute shortage of class rooms that threatens the educational future of thousands of students, especially in higher secondary education?
– The honorable gentleman first asked for some facts. Then he invited a statement of policy. I shall secure the facts for him and supply them.
– The facts are well known.
– Then why ask me the question? Questions on policy are clearly out of order.
– I address to the Minister for National Development a question relating to manganese ore. Will the Minister inform the House of the stage reached in the exploitation of manganese ore on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory? What proportion of Australian ownership applies to this field? Can the Minister give some evaluation on the size of this development and its significance for the Australian economy?
– The deposit of manganese which was discovered on Groote Eylandt and which, incidently, was first located by an officer of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, has been taken up by the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., so it is 100 per cent. Australian owned. I understand that development is proceeding at a very fast pace and that already enormous deposits of high grade ore have been located wi-th a possibility of considerably larger ones being found. It is expected that export will occur in the not too distant future. I think that already ore has been exported to Tasmania for use in the ferromanganese plant there.
– My question to th. Prime Minister refers to the bombing assault by the Vietcong terrorists on the Hotel Victoria at Saigon recently when a number of United States servicemen were killed and many other servicemen, including Australians, were injured. Is the right honorable gentleman able to say with any certainty that the high explosive used by the Vietcong in this attack was not manufactured from glycerine processed from the non-edible tallow Australia sold to North Vietnam in the years 1964 and 1965? Finally, is Australia still selling tallow to North Vietnam?
– I think the honorable gentleman has stretched credulity a good deal in order to make a political point. My colleagues have previously supplied information to the House which indicates that tallow is not used these days for the purposes to which the honorable gentleman has referred, nor is it being exported.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a statement that New Zealand has a large quantity of dried milk powders in store? Can he inform the House whether there is any slackening of demand for such powders? Can he give information also on export prices and sales for butter?
– I have seen the statement about stored up supplies of casein and milk powders in New Zealand, but I cannot give any credence to the statement because we have had an appeal from Japan to help out with a short fall of no less than 20,000 tons of milk powders for school luncheons. That appeal has gone to New Zealand and Australia. 1 am afraid we cannot help the Japanese very much until spring. I am sure that all New Zealand dairy products are fully committed. So far as casein is concerned, the world’s market is very firm and the product is in short supply.
– In the absence of the Minister for the Army I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice concerning the detention and punishment of Gunner O’Neill.
– The Minister for Defence is here.
– The right honorable gentleman had interested himself in this case at an earlier stage and I thought he was the proper Minister to whom I should address the question. In view of the illegal punishment which Gunner O’Neill has already undergone in Vietnam and also in view of the petitions he has lodged against the severity of the sentence and against the dishonorable discharge imposed by his court martial, will the Prime Minister arrange for Gunner O’Neill to be released from detention pending a decision on these petitions?
– To the best of my knowledge the appropriate procedures have been followed by the military authorities in relation to Gunner O’Neill. The honorable gentleman asked me whether I will make a personal examination of this matter. I shall discuss it with my colleague the Minister for Defence or the Minister for the Army, if he is the appropriate Minister concerned, and fully satisfy myself that what is being done is being done properly and fairly in relation to this man.
– My question also is addressed to the Prime Minister. Does the right honorable gentleman know who was the Soviet Commissar in Lithuania in 1940? If so. has this gentleman ever visited Australia?
– I regret that my knowledge does not extend to that encyclopaedic length.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Did the Minister for Defence express Government policy when he said recently that a quota of 4,500 men was the utmost commitment that Australia was prepared to make to the allied cause in Vietnam to stop what the Government calls the southward thrust of Chinese Communism? If so, does the Minister’s statement mean that even if the United States increases its forces in Vietnam from 200,000 to 1,000.000, Australia will never increase its contribution in that theatre of undeclared war despite the dreadful dangers of Communist aggression that the Government conjures up to justify its participation in an unwinnable civil war?
– It is not easy to deal in a factual way with questions which tend to be so loaded with political propaganda content, but, Sir, my colleague would state, very competently, Government policy particularly in relation to a department of which he is the ministerial head. Of course, this Government, while facing what it regards as the practical requirements of a military situation as it sees it from time to time, periodically reviews the kind of contribution which Australia can fittingly make. That will continue to be our policy.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. As a goodly number of overseas visitors in the persons of Inter-Parliamentary Union delegates were able to visit the Snowy Mountains area last weekend, can the Minister indicate their overall impressions of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme compared with similar hydroelectric schemes in other countries?
– I understand that members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union who went up to the Snowy area were highly impressed with the work that is being carried out there. I can well understand this, because I think the work compares very favorably with that undertaken in other parts of the world. In recent weeks there have been substantial developments in this area. The first water from the Snowy has been turned into the Murray. The first Murray power station generators are operating, and this afternoon a charge is to be blown which will complete the major tunnel from Jindabyne through to Island Bend.
– My question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport is: Was R. W. Miller and Co. Pty. Ltd. given permission to import three oil tankers for the coastal trade on condition that it lodged a bond of $1 million and undertook that it would place within a limited time orders with an Australian shipyard’ or shipyards for three tankers? Did this time limit expire in respect of the first two tankers on 29th June 1 965? Have tenders been called? When do they close? If they have closed, has an order been placed? Does the Government intend holding R. W. Miller and Co. Pty. Ltd. to its guarantee, and what does the Government propose doing with the SI million bond?
– The details given by the honorable member are approximately correct. On the expiration of the first period referred to by the honorable member an extension of time in which to place an order was granted to Mr. Miller’s company. That extension was to the 1st March last. I understand that Mr. Miller’s company is still in communication with the Australian Shipbuilding Board over some details regarding possible designs and specifications. The Government does not want to take any unnecessary action which might preclude Mr. Miller’s company from placing an order, and therefore no action has been taken as at the present time.
– The Minister for National Development will recall that on more than one occasion I have asked that he convene a meeting of representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments concerned to consider the case for pipelining water lo areas of consumption from the Murray and Mumimbidgee Rivers. I now ask: In view of the increasing need for the adoption of every possible means to conserve Australia’s water supply and the fact that water is now available from the Snowy, will the Minister give urgent consideration to convening the meeting as suggested?
– The River Murray Commission consists of representatives of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth, but once water from the Murray leaves the river it is up to the State concerned how that water is used. I was interested when I visited the honorable member’s electorate last year to see that the Victorian Government is carrying out tests on the use of concrete pipelining. I have watched this with great interest, but I stress that the constitutional authority for the use of the water in either New South Wales or Victoria is the State Government and not the Commonwealth Government.
– by leave - Honorable members will recall that in hrs policy statement to the House on 8th March of this year the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said that the Government is preparing new copyright legislation. It will not be possible to complete the drafting so as to enable a Copyright Bill to be introduced in the present session of the Parliament. The Government is aware of the pressing need for an up to date copyright law in Australia which will take account of modern developments in entertainment, communications and publishing, and which is adapted to Australian needs. Furthermore, changes in our copyright law are required before Australia can become a party to the Universal Copyright Convention and so enable our authors to enjoy full copyright privileges in the United States of America. My purpose in making a statement is to outline to the House the nature of the Copyright Bill that I expect to introduce in the Budget sittings this year, and to inform the House that it is the Government’s intention that Australia should become a party to the Universal Copyright Convention as soon as the new law comes into operation.
The present copyright law in force in Australia is the United Kingdom Copyright Act 1911. That Act was declared to be in force in Australia as an imperial act by the Copyright Act 1912. The 1911 Act is no longer the law in the United Kingdom; it has been repealed and replaced by new legislation. Nevertheless, the 1911 Act has continued to be the copyright law in force in Australia. Subsequent to the enactment of the United Kingdom Act of 1956. the then Attorney-General. Sir Neil O’sullivan, set up an expert committee to examine the copyright law of Australia and to recommend what alterations should be made to it in the light of that Act. The chairman of the committee was Sir John Spicer, Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, who has had considerable experience in copyright law. The other members of the committee were Sir Arthur Dean, formerly a Judge of the Victorian Supreme Court - he was a judge at the time the committee reported and he has only recently retired; Mr. G. A. Ferguson, C.B.E., a director of the publishing house of Angus & Robertson Limited; the Rev. Dr. Percy Jones, Vice-Director of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music; and Mr. A. J. Moir, a Melbourne solicitor. All of these have had long experience in copyright matters.
The committee presented its report on 22nd December 1959. The report was published; copies were circulated to members of both Houses of the Parliament and were made available to the public. Since then, many of the interested parties have made further representations to my predecessor and to me concerning matters dealt with by the committee’s recommendations. Copyright is a complex field in which there are many conflicting interests. In my study of the committee’s report and of the representations which have been made I have had regard to the views of all parties concerned. I believe that the Bill which I intend to introduce represents the best adjustment of these interests, having regard to Australian circumstances and to our existing and proposed international commitments.
In substance, the committee recommended the enactment of legislation to give effect to the principles of the United Kingdom Copyright Act 1956, but with some significant modifications. The Bill which the Government proposes will, for the most part, give effect to the recommendations of the committee. Some recommendations, however, have not been accepted. The most important matters on which the proposed legislation will depart from the recommendations of the committee are concerned with: (a) The persons entitled to copyright protection in Australia; (b) the statutory royalty payable by the manufacturer of a sound recording of a musical work; and (c) the rights of public performance in sound recordings and in television broadcasts.
I now deal with the first of these matters. It has long been the practice to grant rights under copyright law on the basis of the nationality of the author as well as his place of residence. Under the existing law in Australia, copyright in unpublished works depends on the nationality of the author, or the country where he resides at the date of making the work. Copyright in published works depends on the place where the work is first published. The 1956 United Kingdom Act extends the principle of nationality to published works as well as to unpublished works. Copyright in the United Kingdom under that Act subsists in unpublished works where the author is a British subject or is domiciled or resident in the United Kingdom at the time of making the work. Copyright in published works subsists if the author of the work was a British subject or was domiciled or resident in the United Kingdom at the time when the work was first published. The place of first publication is retained as an alternative criterion in determining whether copyright subsists in the United Kingdom in a published work. The committee recommended the adoption of like provisions in Australia.
To grant copyright protection iti Australia to the works of all persons who are British subjects at the time of making or publishing the work would be to confer copyright protection on the works of citizens of countries which do not automatically confer copyright protection in their own territories on the works of Australian citizens. This comes about because of the classes of persons who are accorded the status of British subject under the Nationality and Citizenship Act. For this reason, the committee’s recommendation will not be adopted in the proposed Bill. Since the committee made its report, a new copyright law has been enacted in New Zealand. That law restricts the adoption of the nationality principle in so far as it gives a primary grant of copyright to New Zealand citizens. However, rt does grant copyright protection to nationals or citizens of other countries, including, for example, Australian citizens, if the country of those persons, on a reciprocal basis, also grants copyright to New Zealand citizens. This, in the Government’s view, is a preferable provision to the United Kingdom provision and will be incorporated in the Bill. In the result, copyright protection will continue to be given in Australia to works of citizens of the United Kingdom, but this will be based on common membership of international conventions on copyright and not on an automatic grant of rights as under the committee’s proposals.
The next point of substance on which the Bill will depart from the committee’s recommendations concerns the provisions relating to the manufacture of records of musical works under the compulsory licensing provisions. The compulsory licensing provisions were the subject of much debate before the committee and there have been strong representations on this subject from interested parties since the publication of the committee’s report. In order to explain the issues involved it is necessary to set out some of the background.
Copyright in a musical work includes the right to authorise the making of records of that work. The existing law in force in Australia, in common with that of most countries, contains provisions which amount to a legislative grant of a compulsory licence for the making of records of musical works. It arises by reason of the provision that once the owner of copyright in a musical work permits a manufacturer to make a record of that work any other record manufacturer may record that work subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions. One of these conditions is that he shall pay to the copyright owner a royalty at a rate specified in the Act.
The committee recommended the continuation of the compulsory licensing provisions and the proposed Bill will contain provisions to that effect. It will not, however, follow the committee’s recommendations on the rate of royalty. Under the existing law, the record manufacturer who takes advantage of the compulsory licensing provision must pay to the copyright owner a royalty equal to 5 per cent, of the retail selling price of the record including sales tax. In addition, a minimum royalty is prescribed. It must not be less than one half penny for each separate musical work which is reproduced on the record. The committee proposed that the rate of royalty should be increased to 6i per cent, of the ordinary retail selling price of the record including sales tax. It also proposed that the minimum royalty should be one penny for each work. The Bill will adopt the committee’s recommendation as to minimum royalty, except that, consequent upon the changeover to decimal currency, it will fix the minimum royalty at one cent. But as to the rate of royalty, the Government has come to the conclusion, on examining all aspects of the matter, that an increase from 5 per cent, to 6i per cent, is not justified.
In considering this matter, it should be remembered that all but a small proportion of records sold in Australia are manufac- tured from matrices originally produced overseas. Evidence before the committee showed that only about 4 per cent, of records sold in Australia are originally recorded here. I understand that this percentage has since increased, but not so much as to affect the overall position that the great preponderance of records sold here are originally recorded overseas. Furthermore, it should be remembered also that copyright in the musical works recorded on all but a small proportion of the records sold in Australia is held by or derives from overseas copyright owners. It is, in my view, relevant to take into consideration the returns which a copyright owner would get from the sale of records in his own country when assessing what return he should get from the sale of records in Australia.
The United Kingdom and the United States are, of course, the sources of most copyright music contained on records sold in Australia. In the United Kingdom, the statutory royalty is fixed at 6i per cent, of the retail selling price of the record, but this does not include purchase tax. In the United States of America, the statutory rate of royalty is fixed at two U.S. cents for each separate work contained in the record. If one takes as the basis of calculation the ordinary 12-inch L.P. record, then a comparison of the returns to the copyright owner will show that the copyright owner receives substantially more at the existing rate of royalty from a record sold in Australia than he does from a record sold in the United Kingdom or in the United States. To increase the rate of royalty payable on records sold in Australia would therefore be to benefit people overseas at a cost borne by the purchasers of records in Australia.
For these reasons, the Bill will not increase in the hands of the copyright owner the present statutory rate of royalty in Australia, that is, 5 per cent, of the retail selling price of the record including sales tax. In this context, I draw attention to the recommendation of the committee which is adopted and which would enable those who contend for a higher rate of royalty to seek an increase by means of the procedure for altering the statutory royalty which will be contained in the Bill. The committee recommended that the task of revising the rate could be included in the functions of the copyright tribunal which will be set up under the Bill. The primary function of the tribunal will be to arbitrate between bodies such as the Australasian Performing Right Association, which grants licences on behalf of copyright owners, and the users of copyright music.
I turn now to public performance rights in sound recordings. The existing law gives the manufacturer of a record a right to control the public performance and broadcasting of his records. Only some countries grant such a right to the record manufacturer. For example, this right does not exist in the United States of America. Under the 1956 United Kingdom Act, this right is continued but it does not extend to records originating in a country which does not grant this right. That is, the United Kingdom Act adopts a reciprocity test in relation to other countries. The committee recommended that the right should extend to all records irrespective of whether such rights are granted in the country from which the record originates. In this respect, the recommendation differs from the situation under the United Kingdom law in that it abandons the reciprocity test and from the United States where no right is granted.
The present situation in practice in Australia is that there is a dispute between the commercial broadcasting stations and the record manufacturers as to whether the existing law gives a broadcasting right in records originating in countries which do not grant such a right. The parties have reached an agreement under which the commercial broadcasting stations do not pay royalties in respect of broadcasting rights in records. The broadcasters undertake to restriet the playing of records at the request of the record manufacturers. They also give some broadcast time without charge to publicising the discs of the record manufacturers. On the other hand, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has an arrangement with record manufacturers whereby it pays a substantial annual sum in royalties to record manufacturers for broadcasting rights in records.
The Government does not propose to follow the committee’s recommendation in relation to the rights of public performance and broadcasting in sound recordings. There is, in my view, no justification for granting these rights in respect of records which originate from countries which do not grant such rights. But, as regards records generally, I do not think that record manufacturers should be given a right which would clearly entitle them to collect royalties they do not now receive from commercial broadcasting stations. On the other hand, I recognise that there is a case for allowing the record manufacturers to restrict the playing of their records before the date on which the records are released on the market for retail sale. The Bill will, therefore, give to the owner of the copyright in a sound recording a limited right to restrict the broadcasting or other public performance of a record before its release for retail sale but will not give, him any rights to collect royalties in respect of the public performance or broadcasting of that record.
As regards the rights of public performance in a television broadcast the 1956 United Kingdom Act gave, for the first time, a broadcaster the right to prevent a television broadcast from being seen in public by a paying audience. The committee recommended the adoption of a similar provision in Australia. With the benefit of hindsight not available to the committee, we can see that, in the years since it made its report, television has become so widespread in Australia that there is little possibility of persons using television broadcasts for direct profit by displaying them to a paying audience. The television broadcasters have not had to depend, nor do they need to depend, upon such rights to earn revenue from their broadcasts. The Bill will, therefore, not give to the owner of the copyright in a television broadcast the right to prevent that broadcast from being seen in public by a paying audience.
I have said that the Government intends that Australia should become a member of the Universal Copyright Convention. There are, I should explain to the House, two international conventions dealing with the subject of copyright. The earlier one, commonly known as the Berne Convention, was signed at Berne on 9th September 1 886, and has been subsequently revised on three occasions, at Berlin in 1908, at Rome in 1928 and at Brussels in 1948. Australia is a party to the Berne Convention but only in respect of the convention as revised at
Berlin and at Rome. Australia has not acceded to the Brussels revision of that convention.
The second convention relating to copyright is the Universal Copyright Convention which was signed at Geneva in 1952. Australia has not become a party to this convention. What is of particular importance to Australia is that the United States of America is a party to the Universal Copyright Convention but is not a party to the Berne Convention. This has meant that there are not full reciprocal relationships between the United States and Australia in the copyright field and this has placed our authors and book publishers at a disadvantage in competing on the United S a tes market.
The Committee recommended that Australa should become a party to the Brussels revision of the Berne Convention and to the Universal Copyright Convention and the Government accepts that recommendation. The changes in Australian copyright law to be effected by the proposed Bill would satisfy the requirements of these two conventions. The way will then be clear for Australia to become a party to the Universal Copyright Convention and to the Brussels revision of the Berne Convention when the new copyright law comes into force.
The drafting of the new legislation is a major task. It is not intended simply to transcribe, with necessary modifications, the provisions of the United Kingdom Act. The committee in its report drew attention, as other learned writers have done, to difficulties in language and drafting form in that Act. The Parliamentary Draftsman will embody the principles of that Act, subject to the modifications I have indicated, into a form which follows the pattern that has long been established for Commonwealth statutes. Some idea of the magnitude of this task may be gathered from the fact that the Copyright Act 1956 of the United Kingdom has 51 sections and 9 schedules and occupies 92 pages of print. In considering the application of the provisions of that Act to Australia, it has already been found that there are many matters of detail not dealt with by the committee’s report in respect of which changes will have to be made. No doubt, more will be found as the drafting of the Bill proceeds.
Nevertheless, it is my intention to introduce the Bill, if at all possible, during the Budget sittings of the Parliament.
I have not attempted to traverse, in the course of this statement, all of the changes in this very technical branch of the law which would be effected by the proposed Bill. The changes are described in the committee’s report except, of course, to the extent to which I have indicated that the Bill will depart from the committee’s recommendations. I am arranging for each member of both Houses of the Parliament to receive a copy of the report.
In conclusion, I should like to pay a tribute to the painstaking work of the Copyright Law Review Committee and to extend my own thanks to the members of that committee for the public service which they have rendered.
– May I ask the AttorneyGeneral to what extent the Bill which he has foreshadowed will adopt the provisions of a third copyright convention, the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, which was drawn up in Rome in October 1961, almost two years after the Copyright Law Review Committee gave its report to the Minister’s predecessor?
– I regret that I am not in a position to give an answer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I have not the matter in my mind but I will make appropriate inquiries and ensure that the honorable gentleman is informed whether or not the Bill, as it will be drawn, will be wide enough to cover the requirements of that Convention.
– I desire to inform the House that I have been notified by the Prime Minister that, in accordance with paragraph (3) of the resolution of appointment of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, he has appointed the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) to attend the Committee when the Prime Minister is unable to be present.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
The Bill now before this Chamber proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966 which came into operation on 14th February 1966. The Bill comprises . 13 schedules dealing with the following subjects taken schedule by schedule.
The First Schedule deals, in part, with tariff amendments based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board on -
Woven cotton fabrics, bed linen, etc..
Woven man–made fibre fabrics,
Pigments and colour lakes,
Tinned iron and steel hoop, strip, plates and sheets, Magnetos and parts. and reports by the Special Advisory Authority on -
Continuous filament polyamide raw yarns, Woven fabrics of glass fibre, and Polyethylene monofil and rope.
On cotton fabrics and on man-made fibre fabrics the Board recommended uniform rates of duty - 55 per cent, ad valorem under the General Tariff and 471/2 per cent, under the Preferential Tariff. The General Tariff rate of 55 per cent, ad valorem as recommended by the Board will applyto cotton fabrics weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard. In the case of cotton sheeting, however, an upper limit of S0.25 per square yard has been imposed to avoid any overprotection in the very high priced field.
The Board’s recommendation on manmade fibre fabrics would have far-reaching effects on the local industry. It would reverse the former pattern of protection which had been in force for some years and which encouraged local production of the lower value fabrics - for which long runs are available - and discouraged manufacture of the higher priced materials. As this might lead to a significant change in the industry’s pattern of production, the Government was concerned that the industry should have time to make any adjustments it considered necessary without undue dislocation of production. Accordingly, it is proposed that the duties on man-made fibre fabrics will have a minimum rate of $0.20 per square yard. An upper limit of $0.50 per square yard is also proposed for all man-made fibre fabrics except some special fabrics used principally for furnishing. Although a reduction in the present duties on lower value fabrics and an increase in duties on the higher priced materials is proposed, the variations from the former levels of protection are somewhat less than those recommended by the Board. The industry, however, will again be reviewed by the Tariff Board within two years.
In the case of the Preferential Tariff Rate, international commitments prevent adoption of the uniform level of 471/2 per cent, ad valorem recommended by the Tariff Board. We have, of course, given undertakings under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and under bilateral trade agreements which commit us on the preferential margins in our Tariff. As a consequence it is proposed that the Preferential Rate be 45 per cent, ad valorem on some cotton fabrics, 521/2 per cent, on other cotton fabrics and 55 per cent, less$0.021 per sq. yd. on man-made fibre fabrics, instead of the rate of 471 per cent, recommended by the Board.
On synthetic organic pigments, colour lakes and preparations based thereon, the Tariff Board has recommended duties of 45 per cent, ad valorem General Rate and 30 per cent, ad valorem Preferential Rate. These rates are incorporated in the Bill and are higher than the former ordinary protective duties, but lower than the combined ordinary and temporary protective duties. New protective ad valorem duties of 25 per cent. General and 15 per cent. Preferential will also apply to cadmium pigments.
On tinned iron and steel hoop, strip, plates and sheets, deferred duties of$1 1.50 per ton (General Rate) and $5.70 per ton (Preferential Rate) were to operate on and after 1st January 1966. Customs Tariff legislation requires, however, that the question whether deferred duties should or should not operate from the date of deferment shall be referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The deferred duties “on tinplate were first introduced in 1920, but have been progressively deferred after each subsequent inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.
In the latest report, the Board indicates that tinplate production, which commenced in Australia in 1957, is now an integral part of the iron and steel industry. The Board commends the local manufacturers on their ability to compete with imports without any increase in the present operative rates of 7i per cent, ad valorem, general rate, and free, preferential rate, and considers this ability to be of national importance. It recommends no change in these rates but cancellation of the deferred duties which, it points out, are no longer realistic in relation to current f.o.b. prices. The Bill reflects the Government’s acceptance of the Board’s recommendations. For flywheel type magnetos, which are now manufactured locally, new protective ad valorem duties of 42i per cent., general rate, and 25 per cent., preferential rate, have been introduced on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. Other types of magnetos no longer produced in Australia, however, will be subject to non-protective duties. The amendment on continuous filament polyamide raw yarns follows a report by the Special Advisory Authority. A temporary additional duty of 15 cents per lb. has been applied on yarns of this type. On woven fibreglass fabrics, other than insect screening and decorative furnishing fabrics, a temporary additional duty of 15 per cent, ad valorem has been imposed following a report by the Special Advisory Authority. In respect of polyethylene monofil. the Special Advisory Authority has recommended a temporary additional duty when the price is less than 40 cents per lb. f.o.b. This duty is incorporated in the Bill.
The remaining amendments contained in the First Schedule are of four origins. Firstly, they include increased duties on mica capacitors and on certain measuring, controlling and recording equipment. These changes were recommended in Tariff Board reports tabled in the Parliament some time ago, but their introduction was deferred pending international negotiations. Arising out of these and other international negotiations, the duties on electric type writers, safety razors and outboard engines have been reduced. For example, when the Tariff Board’s report on internal combustion piston engines was tabled, the Government announced that a most favoured nation rate of 37i per cent, ad valorem was being adopted for outboard engines, but that it would be prepared to reduce the rate to 25 per cent, ad valorem, as recommended by the Board, depending on the result of international negotiations. This Bill leaves the preferential rate at its existing level of 15 per cent, ad valorem but reduces the general rate from 37i per cent, to 25 per cent, ad valorem. Secondly, the tariff alterations in the First Schedule remove certain preferences previously accorded to goods of Rhodesian origin. Thirdly, there are amendments in the First Schedule to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the new tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. The changes ensure continuation of the duty position existing prior to 1st July 1965.
The remaining alterations in the First Schedule - these, in fact amount to the great majority of changes in that Schedule - make amendments to the Customs Tariff to give effect to the duty changes involved in the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement concluded last year. The changes were first introduced to operate from 1st January 1966, under the Customs Tariff 1965, which Act was repealed on 13 th February 1966. The changes were again introduced by “Gazette” notice on 14th February 1966, by reason of decimal currency legislation, to amend the Customs Tariff 1966. In accordance with statute, the changes formally came before the Parliament by proposals introduced on 8th March and are incorporated in this Bill.
The rates of duty in the Schedule to the Bill differ from those set out in the Tariff Proposals in that they incorporate not only the initial reductions, but also the subsequent phasing out of duties over periods of either two or eight years. These subsequent duty reductions are indicated by the prefixes “NZ(A)”, “NZ(B)” and “ NZ (C) “ that appear against the relevant rates in column 4. In accordance with the provisions set out in section 17a, the letters “ NZ (A) “ provide for further reductions in duty on 1st January 1968, 1st January 1970, 1st January 1972, and 1st January, 1974.
The Bill thus carries forward the 20 per cent, reduction which took effect from 1st January 1966, and provides for four similar reductions, which amount to 20 per cent, of the old rate or 25 per cent, of the new rate, to take effect at two-yearly intervals. In respect of the letters “ NZ (B) “, section 17a provides that these goods become free of duty on 1st January 1968, while “ NZ(C) “ provides for 20 per cent, reductions commencing on 1st January 1967, and proceeding at two-yearly intervals until no duties remain. Reductions in duty under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement also occur in paragraphs 21.07.49, 22.08.99 and 29.25.19. In these cases, because the rates of duty do not reduce below the excise rate imposed on similar Australian made goods, it has been necessary to spell out in column 4 the rates of duty that will operate on the changeover dates.
The Second to Ninth Schedules to this Bill amend the Second and Third Schedules to the principal Act and such changes are consequential on changes made to the First Schedule. The Tenth Schedule provides for a small amendment as recommended by the Tariff Board in its report on motor vehicles and removes a so called deletion allowance for the non-supply of certain parts on built up vehicles, which concession the Board found had not been much used. Also included in the Tenth Schedule are tariff changes arising out of the Tariff Board report on replacement motor vehicle engines and certain replacement parts. On replacement motor vehicle engines and engine parts, the Government has accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendation for new ad valorem duties of 35 per cent., general rate, and 27i per cent., preferential rate, irrespective of horsepower ratings. Previously the duties were 42± per cent., general rate, and 25 per cent., preferential rale, but were subject to reduction according to horsepower rating.
The Eleventh Schedule gives effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of the Tariff Board’s reports on peanuts, peanut oil and olive oil; and glass grains (ballotini). The first mentioned report makes recommendations on rapeseed oil and on mixed vegetable oils. These have been accepted by the Government and new protective rates of 40 cents per gallon, general, and . 267 cents per gallon, preferential, are being applied. These new duties are in line with those on other vegetable oils for which rapeseed and mixed oils are substitutes. The Government has accepted also the Board’s suggestion that the long term needs of the local peanut, cottonseed and safflower oils industry be determined in a general review of all vegetable oils. The Board has already been asked to undertake this inquiry. For glass grains, also known as ballotini, which are used mainly in reflective signs and which are now being successfully produced in Australia, the Bill provides protective ad valorem duties of 35 per cent., general rate, and 25 per cent., preferential rate.
The balance of the amendments in the Eleventh Schedule are necessary to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the new tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. These changes ensure a continuation of the duty position existing prior to 1st July 1965. The Twelfth and Thirteenth Schedules provide for machinery changes to keep the Second and Third Schedules of the principal Act in step with the amendments made to the First Schedule by the Eleventh Schedule.
I now wish to refer to other aspects of this Bill which are of a more uncommon nature, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Normally, tariff bills provide merely for the enactment of rates of duty that have been introduced some months earlier by tariff proposals. However in this Bill there are amendments to the sections of the principal Act. Firstly there is clause 6, which provides the machinery for the phasing of the New Zealand rates. Next there are modifications to the definition of “ deferred duties “. This is a drafting amendment and no change of substance is involved.
Clause 8 re-expresses the existing powers accorded the Minister in sections 24 and 25 of the principal Act. Section 24 confers on the Minister the power to make directions concerning parts for goods such that -
Section 25 confers on the Minister the power to make directions concerning the duty on goods imported as a composite unit or set in one of two ways; either as if -
Clause 9 inserts a new section 29a in the pri’ncipal Act and relates to concentrates, for example concentrated citrus juices. Powers to charge duty on concentrates are presently contained in section 141 in the Customs Act 1901-1965. However it is considered desirable that the powers should be part of the Customs Tariff rather than the Customs Act and a bill to amend the Customs Act concurrently will be introduced shortly. Section 29a provides for a concentrate to be treated as if it were a quantity equal to such quantity of the nonconcentrated goods into which it could be converted. These concentrations may be determined in one of two ways. They are either, first in accordance with a stipulated formula - for example, it could be stipulated that the quality of capsicine imported was to be determined on the basis that it was equal to 5i times its weight of dry chillies - or, secondly, as determined by the Collector at the time of importation of the goods having regard to the degree of concentration. Thus an orange juice concentrated five times would pay duty at five times its volume as imported on order made by the Minister.
The new legislation will clarify the legal position concerning the Minister’s powers to make general directions as distinct from ad hoc directions and will require general directions to be published in the “ Gazette “. Any such direction or the cancellation of such a direction that will result in an increase in the rate of duty will not be permitted to operate before the date the direction is published in the “ Gazette “. Documentation to assist honorable members in their examination of the legislation is being distributed with copies of the Bill. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr. J. F, Cairns) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Howson, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill amends the Customs Act 1901- 1965. It is complementary to the Customs Tariff Bill, which I have just introduced. The Bill provides for the repeal of section 141 of the principal Act. Section 141 directs that duty shall be payable on concentrations, essences and extracts of goods, that are liable to duty according to quantity, according to the quantity or equivalent of dutiable goods into which such concentrations, etc., can be converted according to a standard to be prescribed by regulation. As I stated earlier today it is desirable that the existing provisions be operated under authority of the Customs Tariff, specifically section 29a, instead of under the Customs Act. Clause 4 amends the principal Act in relation to decimal currency. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr. J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Dr. Forbes, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time .
The purpose of this Bill to amend the Quarantine Act is to provide measures of quarantine under which new arrivals in Australia, who cannot satisfy the quarantine officer that they are not suffering from active pulmonary tuberculosis, may be required to undergo medical examination. This measure, and the administrative machinery that will accompany it, will further strengthen the arrangements that were developed by the Menzies Government in co-operation with the State Governments to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis in Australia.
The joint Commonwealth and States tuberculosis campaign is commonly regarded as having been very successful and I would be surprised if any member in this chamber disagrees with this view. The very effective liaison that exists between the Commonwealth and the States in conducting the campaign, coupled with the willing cooperation of the man in the street, has produced a situation in which tuberculosis in this country, although still serious, is ceasing to be a major health risk. Indeed it is precisely because the incidence of tuberculosis in Australia has been significantly reduced that, to make the campaign even more effective, it has been necessary to give increased attention to sources of infection from other countries.
Under existing immigration procedures, all migrants coming to Australia under Government assisted passage schemes and all non-British migrants travelling as full fare passengers are already required, before embarkation, to show by undergoing X-ray examination that they are not suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. Up to the present, however, full fare passengers of British nationality have not been required to have a chest X-ray or medical examination. These new arrivals to this country could be suffering from tuberculosis and constitute a potential source of tuberculosis infection to the Australian people.
Arrangements are being made, therefore, for all British subjects, with some exceptions which I shall mention later, wishing to remain in Australia permanently or for longer than twelve months, to have chest X-ray examinations and obtain certificates indicating they are not suffering from active pulmonary tuberculosis before embarkation. No matter how efficient such arrangements are, some persons, intentionally or otherwise, will not have had a chest X-ray before arriving in Australia, and it is proposed to seek the power, by this Bill, to require persons, who cannot produce evidence that they are not suffering from active pulmonary tuberculosis, to undergo medical examination following their arrival in Australia. It is also proposed to require these persons, if found to be suffering from tuberculosis, to undergo quarantine. They can then be treated for the disease. It is not intended to apply these arrangements to specific classes of people who will be exempted under the regulations to the Quarantine Act. These classes include such persons as arrivals from New Zealand, where an acceptable antituberculosis scheme exists, short-term visitors, children under 12 years of age, who are not normally submitted to X-ray examinations, and members of the armed forces of the Crown entering on duty.
The purpose behind this Bill is in keeping with the public health and quarantine principles that have been developed in Australia, aimed at keeping Australia one of the healthiest countries in the world. By the end of this financial year, more than $200 million will have been spent by the Commonwealth since . 1949 in the attack on tuberculosis. This is in addition to expenditure by the State Governments. 1 for one regard this expenditure, along with other expenditure directed at improving the health of the nation, as being well worth while. The amendment to the Quarantine Act will assist us to get greater value for the money that has been spent by making the national tuberculosis campaign more effective. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webb) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
When I introduced the Bill for the Trade Practices Act 1965 I indicated that the
Government still had under consideration provisions to deal with trade practices relating to ocean shipping, and that those additional provisions would be introduced upon the completion of the Government’s consideration of them. The Bill I have just introduced contains the additional provisions which the Government has concluded are needed to bring overseas shipping between Australia and other countries under appropriate control.
Pending the enactment of these additional provisions, the carriage of goods by sea between Australia and places outside Australia is subject to the Australian Industries Preservation Act and is exempt from the Trade Practices Act 1965. This Bill provides for the amendment of the Trade Practices Act 1965 by the inclusion of a number of provisions applying specially to the overseas carriage of goods. These new provisions will apply to the overseas carriage of goods to the exclusion of the general provisions in the principal Act and of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. which is to be repealed as from the date when the new provisions are proclaimed to come into operation.
Honorable members will recall that the philosophy underlying the principal Act is that some restrictive arrangements are harmful to the public interest, while others are compatible with, or even beneficial to, that interest. The principal Act accordingly provides for the Trade Practices Tribunal to make determinations, on a case by case approach, as to whether particular agreements or practices are contrary to the public interest. In making its determinations the Trade Practices Tribunal is required to take into account, amongst other things, any undertakings the parties may be prepared to give to safeguard the public interest. If an agreement or practice has been specifically authorised by law, its compatibility with the public interest has been determined on the highest level, that is, by the Parliament itself, and it is, therefore, not examinable by the Tribunal.
Ocean shipping has three special characteristics -
The Government has, therefore, decided that the principles to be applicable to ocean shipping arrangements should be determined by the Parliament in a legislative provision. Further, it has decided that the application of those principles should devolve upon the Government directly rather than upon a regulatory tribunal. It is appropriate to say at this point that while the general provisions will be administered by the Attorney-General, these shipping provisions will be administered by the Minister for Trade and Industry.
The Government has concluded that there is need to bring under control restrictive arrangements relating to the carriage of goods between Australia and other countries. It believes that there should be a legislative determination that such arrangements are not in Australia’s interests unless they are accompanied by suitable safeguards to protect those interests. At the same time, the Government believes that, if such arrangements are accompanied by suitable safeguards, they can have beneficial effects for shippers, shipowners and Australian interests generally. The Bill accordingly provides for such arrangements to be permissible if, but only if, the parties to them give and observe certain specified undertakings determined by this legislative provision. These undertakings will constitute the necessary safeguards for the protection of our Australian interests.
It will assist the House at this stage if I indicate the nature of the restrictive arrangements to which the Bill applies. There are two broad classes of overseas cargo shipping. One class is conducted by tramps and bulk carriers which are employed to carry particular cargoes under arrangements specially made for the lifting of those cargoes. As a matter of law, the present Bill contains no exemption in favour of tramps, but, as they seldom resort to restrictive practices, the Bill is unlikely in practice to have any application to them. The other class of overseas cargo shipping is conducted within liner conferences. These are associations of shipowners which collectively provide regular scheduled services on particular trade routes. The cargo carried by the liner ships is made up of the consignments of any shippers who choose to use the service. In order to provide their regular services, the shipowners enter into rationalisation arrangements amongst themselves under which they pool their resources, apportion the traffic and charge uniform freight rates. In the Bill, such an arrangement is referred to as a conference agreement, and the agreements covered by that expression are indicated in the proposed section 90c.
The shipowners also enter into arrangements with regular shippers to ensure that those shippers ship exclusively with members of the conference. Without such arrangements the shipowners cannot provide the regular services which the shippers desire. The most common arrangement of this kind is what is known as a dual-rate contract, which provides for shippers to be charged at one rate if they confine their shipments to conference vessels and at a higher rate if they do not so confine their shipments. Another method by which shipowners ensure the loyalty of regular shippers is to enter into deferred rebate arrangements, under which payment of rebates to the shipper is deferred for a period during which an exclusive dealing arrangement is operative, and the right to the rebate is lost if the shipper does not comply with the exclusive dealing arrangement. There are closed conferences and open conferences. The membership of a closed conference is controlled by the existing members but the membership of an open conference is not.
In one form or another, liner conferences have operated on all the major trade routes of the world for almost a hundred years, nature of overseas cargo shipping is such that regular services are not possible without at least some conference arrangements. For example, it is recognised by most countries that closed conferences can operate more efficiently than open conferences. This is primarily because a closed conference can ensure that there are not more ships employed on a route than are warranted by the cargo to be carried. A normal characteristic of an open conference is that it employs too many ships, with the result that its freight rates are unnecessarily high.
A point which I want to make quite clear is that there is no competition in regard to freight rates in any conference, whether the conference be closed or open. It is, indeed, impracticable for a liner service to operate as such without an arrangement between the shipowners to charge uniform freight rates. In this industry, therefore, the Government has concluded that the attainment of better freight rates and other terms and conditions is most likely to be achieved by negotiations between shipper bodies and shipowners, which negotiations can reflect the economies achieved by better organisation, limitation of tonnaging and greater resort to modern cargo handling techniques.
There is much scope for improvement along these lines in Australia’s overseas cargo shipping. Australia is one of the great trading nations in the world and its trade passes through a number of ports around our vast coastline. Improved organisation of the industry and of its services can do much to reduce the number of ports at which particular overseas ships need to berth and can in this manner materially reduce operating costs. Also, there is scope for improvement through the adoption of new methods of sea transportation, such as containerised services.
I should mention that there is a provision in the Australian Industries Preservation Act which relates specially to liner cargo shipping from Australia. This provision is contained in section 7c, which was inserted in 1930 in order to give statutory recognition to the shipping conference arrangements for the carriage of Australia’s exports to the United Kingdom and Europe.
Shortly stated, section 7c exempts from the offence provisions of the Act agreements between shipowners and shippers for the carriage of goods to other countries if the agreements have been approved by the Australian Oversea Transport Association. That association, commonly referred to as “ A.O.T.A.”, consists of representatives of the conference operating on the AustraliaUnited Kingdom-Continent route, and representatives of the shippers concerned with that route. The conference representatives are members of the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association, known as “ O.S.R.A.”, and the shipper representatives are members of the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee, known as “ F.E.O.T.C.”. A.O.T.A. is a body through which representatives of shippers and of shipowners conduct commercial negotiations as to freight rates and Other terms and conditions relating to the shipment of goods.
Before the enactment of section 7c in 1930, shipowners had pointed out to the Government that, in view of the huge outlay of capital involved in providing a regular liner shipping service, it was essential that ships should be assured of obtaining payable cargoes at the ports they serviced, and that there should be no overlapping sailings by different lines from the same port. They also pointed out that shippers of primary produce needed to be assured of sailings at the times at which their produce was ready for export. In the interests both of shipowners and shippers, therefore, it was essential to avoid the irregularity and uncertainty in sailings that were inherent in open competition between line shipowners.
At a conference between shipowner and shipper interests, convened in 1929 by the then Prime Minister, it was agreed that regularity and certainty in overseas liner shipping is best achieved by means of the closed conference system, with the conference undertaking to provide regular, scheduled sailings on a given route, at rates agreed with a body representing the shippers using the route, on condition that the shippers agreed to ship exclusively with the conference.
Commercial negotiations within the A.O.T.A. framework have been the means by which freight rates and other terms and conditions for the carriage of our exports to Europe have been fixed since 1930. However, there are now a number of other important liner trade routes between Australia and other countries, and A.O.T.A. is not an appropriate body through which shippers and shipowners trading on these other routes should negotiate their terms and conditions.
The Government believes that it is desirable that, wherever possible, the terms and conditions on all of our liner routes should be reached through a process of commercial negotiations between, on the one hand, representatives of the relevant conference and, on the other, a strong shipper body representative of the relevant shippers. However, the Government also recognises the need for provisions enabling appropriate governmental action to deal with situations where the negotiation process does not operate satisfactorily, and for provisions which will promote the improved organisation upon which belter freight rates depend. The present Bill gives effect to these conclusions.
Before referring to the main provisions of the Bill, there are some general observations concerning it which I would make. First, the shipping provisions are to be grouped together in a separate Part of the Principal Act,- Part >LA. This Part will be exclusive of the rest of the Act in the sense that the agreements and practices to which it applies will not be subject to the examination and order making processes provided for in the general provisions. However, a few of the general provisions are applicable for the purposes of the shipping provisions, for example, definitions of relevant expressions. Secondly, the new Part adopts the basic principle underlying the general provisions that the relevant agreements and practices will be lawful unless and until a decision is made to the contrary. This principle will apply to conference agreements between shipowners and also to agreements between shipowners and shippers. While the Government expects that this legislation will lead to a number of changes in the way the liner shipping industry operates, it is conscious of the need to avoid any action which will have disruptive effects.
Next, the operation of the new Part will depend very much on the giving and observance of undertakings by shipowners. These undertakings will protect the interests of Australian shippers. The Bill contains provisions to protect the interests of Australian flag shipping operators. I shall refer to these provisions in detail shortly.
The Commissioner of Trade Practices has no functions under the shipping provisions. As I have said, the international nature of ocean shipping is such that the Government has concluded that it should itself accept direct responsibility for (he administration of this legislation. The ministerial responsibility will be vested in my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, and references in the Bill to the Minister should be construed accordingly.
My next observation is a corollary to what 1 have just said. As the Government is to accept direct responsibility for the administration of the shipping provisions, all final decisions in regard to the permissibility of conference agreements will be matters for the Governor-General rather than the Trade Practices Tribunal. The Tribunal does have a role in relation to these matters, but it is merely to conduct fact finding inquiries at the instance of the Minister. Like the Australian Industries Preservation Act, this Bill seeks to avoid jurisdictional conflicts under international law, and applies only to outward traffic - that is, to the carriage of goods from Australia.
The last general observation I want to make on the Bill is that Division 4 of Part XA makes provision for situations where the particular route is serviced by a single shipping line, instead of by a conference of several lines. Such a line is sometimes referred to as a “ one line conference “. For practical purposes, the single line possesses the same sort of economic power which, by combination, is possessed by a multiline conference, and the Bill accordingly provides for the single line to be subject to substantially the same obligations as apply to an ordinary conference.
I now refer to the main provisions “f the Bill, and for convenience I refer to each proposed section, all of which are in clause 8 of the Bill, as clauses. The first such provision is to be found in clause 90d, which empowers the Minister to require a shipowner to appoint a person resident in Australia to represent the shipowner, and to nominate an address at which he will accept service of documents- under the Bill.
Division 2 provides for the filing of conference agreements. Clause 90g requires particulars of conference agreements between shipowners to be furnished to an officer called the “ Clerk of Shipping Agreements “. The Clerk is required by clause 90j to file the documents containing these particulars in a special repository. The public will nol have access to this reposi tory. The information in it will be available only to the administering authorities.
Clause 90m is the next provision to which I would draw attention. It empowers the Minister to require a shipowner party to a conference agreement to give him an undertaking that, whenever reasonably requested by a shipper body designated by the Minister, it will take part in negotiations with that shipper body, with regard to the terms and conditions that are to be applicable to the outward shipping to which the conference agreement relates. Sub-clause (5.) of clause 90m requires that the shipper body designated by the Minister shall be one which, in his opinion, is appropriately constituted having regard to the overseas cargo shipping to which the conference agreement applies.
The shipowner party must undertake, in particular, to do three things. First, it is to take part in the negotiations with the shipper body and to have due regard to matters raised by the shipper body. Secondly, it is to furnish an officer designated by the Minister with such information as the officer requests concerning the progress of the negotiations, to permit the officer to be present at negotiation meetings and to give consideration to any suggestions that he may make. Thirdly, it is to make available information that is reasonably necessary for the negotiations. However, its obligation to do this is conditional upon the shipper body making available information reasonably requested by the parties to the conference agreement.
Clause 90n provides for the disapproval of conference agreements by the GovernorGeneral. The grounds for disapproving an agreement are set out in the clause. If a shipowner fails to comply with a notice under clause 90d requiring it to appoint a person in Australia to represent it, or if the shipowner fails to give the Minister an undertaking as requested in a notice under clause 90m, the Governor-General may disapprove the agreement without the need for an inquiry by the Trade Practices Tribunal.
There are three grounds upon which the Governor-General may disapprove an agreement after consideration of a report by the Tribunal. The first of these grounds is that there has been a failure to comply with an undertaking which has been given pursuant to a notice under clause 90m. The second is that the parties to the agreement are acting in a manner which does not have due regard to the need for our overseas cargo services to be efficient, economical and adequate. The third ground is that the parties are preventing or hindering an Australian flag shipping operator from engaging efficiently in the trade to an extent that is reasonable. The expression ‘ Australian flag shipping operator ‘ is defined by clause 90a so as to cover an operator who normally operates on the relevant route with ships registered in Australia.
The effect of disapproval of a conference agreement is set out in clause 90p. Shortly stated, the agreement becomes unenforceable so far as it relates to outwards cargo shipping, and it becomes an offence for a party in any way to give effect to the agreement or to enter into a similar agreement. In addition, the Minister may, under clause 90r, obtain a court injunction to restrain a person who has been convicted of such an offence from further contraventions. Clause 90q provides that if the Governor-General considers it desirable to do so, he may revoke a disapproval, or approve of parties to a disapproved agreement entering into another similar agreement, in which case it would not, of course, be an offence to enter into the similar agreement.
As I have already mentioned, Division 4 contains provisions in relation to individual shipowners. In substance these provisions are similar to those applicable to multi-line conferences. However, as there is no agreement, there is some difference in the machinery requirements. There is no filing requirement, but the individual shipowner can be required to give an undertaking to the same effect as the undertaking that cao be required of a multi-line conference. Instead of disapproving a conference agreement, the Governor-General is empowered by clause 90u to declare the individual shipowner. The grounds for such a declaration and the conditions precedent to its being made are substantially the same as those for disapproving an agreement. The effect of a declaration is that the shipowner is prohibited from engaging in agreements or practices designed to exclude competition. These agreements and practices are set out in clause 90v and cover dual rate contracts, deferred rebates, freight-cutting with the object of damaging the business of another shipowner, the use of a fighting ship to forestall another shipowner in the obtaining of cargoes and retaliatory action against shippers who do not give exclusive patronage.
There are one or two other provisions in the Bill to which I should refer. Clause 90x provides for references to the Trade Practices Tribunal under Part XA to be made by the Minister. Clause 90y provides that the Minister is not to refer a matter to the Tribunal unless he has first endeavoured to carry on consultations with the parties, with a view to securing an undertaking or action that will render the proposed reference unnecessary. Clause 90ZA nukes provision for the Tribunal to receive undertakings acid for the Minister to withdraw a reference upon the basis of such an undertaking.
Clause 90zb provides for reports of the Tribunal to become public within 60 days after they have been received by the Minister or, if earlier action is taken by the Governor-General on the basis of the report, immediately after that action has been taken. Clause 90zc provides that prosecution proceedings under Part Xa cannot be instituted except with the written consent of the Minister. Clause 90ze ensures that the rights of persons who arc not in breach of the legislation are not affected by illegal conduct by other persons. Division 6 provides a civil right of action to recover loss or damage resulting from a contravention of Part XA. Jurisdiction to deal with such matters is vested in the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
The Government has given a great deal of consideration to this legislation, lt is confident that it will provide a fair method of control, appropriate to ensure the adequate lifting of Australian cargoes, while not interfering unnecessarily with the shipowners’ conduct of their businesses. The Government believes the provisions will induce efficiency and economy, and will operate with fairness to all parties. Because of the impact that the legislation will have upon all concerned with our overseas shipping irade, and the consequent need to afford ample opportunity for its provisions to be studied, the Government proposes not to take the Bill through all stages in this
House until the Budget session of Parliament later this year. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 832), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition does not oppose this measure. The Bill introduced by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) to amend the Aliens Act 1947-1965 is, as the Minister stated in his second reading speech, a small one of 10 clauses which endeavours to place beyond doubt the legality of two administrative reforms designed to make aliens registration a more simple and efficient process. This Bill has been introduced following somewhat similar legislation last year by which it was proposed to streamline the Aliens Act so far as it referred to the registration of aliens and the collation of material relating to them. The 1965 procedure streamlined the Act and, as the Minister said -
He also said -
A good deal of time and trouble is saved at points of arrival in Australia for migrants, ships’ staffs, and Immigration officers. . . .
Generally speaking I think it is accepted, now that the amendments introduced hist year have been given a trial, that they have provided beneficial results from every point of view, not only for the Government but also for the people concerned. Therefore, the Opposition has no desire to impede what are evidently measures designed to improve the legislation and to assist in the important task of collating detailed information on addresses and other details relating to aliens in Australia.
I do not intend to speak at length on this measure, but I mention briefly that I notice that under the proposed provisions it will not be necessary for aliens who stay in Australia for less than a year to be registered. The Minister said in his second reading speech -
In the past, registration was required for such aliens in order to provide a means of checking that they left when their authorised stay expired. Now a better way of doing this has been introduced. Each incoming alien completes the usual incoming passenger card. Instead of this being used solely for the Commonwealth Statistician’s purposes, it is placed in an alphabetical visitor index. The departing alien visitor completes an outgoing passenger card, and this also goes to the visitor index and provides the necessary departure information. If no outgoing card is received, inquiries are then made. All this makes it unnecessary to obtain additional aliens’ registration forms from alien visitors.
Broadly speaking, that is the crux of the legislation. The remaining clauses of the Bill simply give effect to these provisions and make the changes that necessarily flow from them. Clauses 7, 9 and 10 simply change the amounts of penalties from pounds to dollars, which is a normal pro.decdure following the introduction of decimal currency.
Although the Opposition supports the measure, I wish to make a few brief comments in respect of aliens generally. 1 have been pleased to ascertain from inquiries that previous amendments to the Aliens Act have evidently been as productive and as beneficial as the Minister desired. My information is that between 85 per cent, and 90 per cent, of aliens in Australia are now registered under the Act. Recent figures available show that slightly more than 315,000 will be registered at the end of April this year. This is a very considerable number, and the fact that between 85 per cent, and 90 per cent, have registered shows that the previous legislation was effective. In a way it has proved that it was necessary for that legislation to be introduced. This is a time when naturalisation presents a problem. An answer to a question yesterday disclosed that at 31st December there were 213,000, or slightly more, unnaturalised persons in this country. Because there are problems associated with alien registration and matters of that nature it is necessary that the legislation providing for information to be given by aliens should be watertight. Without being too stringent it should at least give the government of the day, and the Parliament, a knowledge of what the situaion is from time to time in respect of aliens.
In supporting this legislation I am pleased to note that the previous amendment to the Act has worked satisfactorily and that there is now a fairly effective register of aliens in Australia. No doubt the improvements to be made now will greatly assist to provide probably even more accurate figures than we have had to date. I do not wish to speak further on the measure at this stage other than to say that the Opposition will not oppose it and trusts that it will prove to be as effective as the previous amendment to the Act has been.
.- I wholeheartedly support this Bill because it will simplify procedures associated with immigration. First, it will help migrants to fill in their alien registration forms when they arrive in Australia. As a result of the last amendment that, was made to the Aliens Act forms are now filled in overseas with the help of expert officers. That saves time when the migrants arrive in Australia. Secondly, the measure will simplify the procedure to be adopted with regard to alien visitors. It will save them the necessity to register when they arrive in Australia. They will simply fill in the cards provided for incoming passengers, and when they leave Australia they fill in what are known as outgoing passenger cards. By this procedure the Department will be able to check up on any incoming visitor who has not completed the outgoing visitor’s card and will be able to find out in this way what aliens are attempting to remain illegally in Australia.
I do not wish to speak further on the Bill. I am delighted that the Opposition is supporting it and that we can say therefore that the whole House is giving the Government its support.
.- I rise to support the Bill and to congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) on endeavouring to streamline procedures for people entering Australia. I think there is room for improvement, but it is still good to see that some progress is being made. Since some 17 years prior to coming to this Parliament 1 have watched immigration procedures taking place day after day and week after week and I have felt greatly alarmed at the delays which took place in the port of Melbourne so far as migrants were concerned, I was of the opinion that a lot of the procedures could be streamlined. lt could be made much easier for people if more attention were paid to this problem at the first port of call in Australia. Sometimes Melbourne is the first port of call for a ship but in most cases Fremantle is the first port of call for ships arriving in Australia. In many cases immigration officers are employed on the ship. A vessel coming to Melbourne with some 1,400 passengers would generally have about 400 people for the western State - that is disembarking at Fremantle - and about 1,000 to be discharged in the eastern States. I have often wondered why more cannot be done during the passage between Fremantle and Melbourne to get everything in order instead of having the rush and confusion that takes place in Melbourne. Before coming into the Parliament 1 was employed as a pilot and sometimes it would take anything np to three hours after a ship arrived off Port Melbourne before the immigration officers would say: We are satisfied. This ship can now go alongside.” The sort of things *hat have to be done should, in my opinion, have been done on the passage between Fremantle and Melbourne. I hope that the Minister will look into this matter to see what can be done to streamline procedures.
There is another way in which things could be speeded up on ships coming to Melbourne. All the ships must pass Portsea which is a sheltered part of the bay. No matter which way the wind is blowing a lee can be had, so an immigration boat could come alongside a ship, and if additional men were required they could be put on board at Portsea. Then during the 2i’to 3 hours when the ship is coming up the Bay everything could be put in order.
Another thing that dismays me is that some people who come here have to be fingerprinted. I am speaking mainly of people from Asia. It is distressing that in these modern days this should have to be done. I think if nothing is known against a person it is wrong that that person should be fingerprinted. I have seen customs officers come aboard ships from Asia and they say to a person: “ Hi, here! “, and they grab his thumb and -dump it on a piece of paper. This is 1966 and we are trying to get on good terms with these people. I think it is wrong that people coming to Australia should be fingerprinted.
– It is not done.
– It is done. I am sorry to contradict, but I saw it done recently.
– It is not done with migrants.
– I am speaking of people coming to Australia. We are talking about people who come with migrants. Some people are stood in one place and some in another place and some are fingerprinted. This does go on. I am just making suggestions to try to make things a little better for all concerned. Perhaps the Minister could tell me that this procedure does not take place and so let me know whether I have been seeing things. I will qualify my Statement by saying that I thought I saw this being done, because I have been wrong in the past. If it is done I hope the Minister will be able to see that is is discontinued.
I am pleased that this measure has been introduced. It is necessary in these days that ships be cleared expeditiously. When a ship comes into a port in Australia, or into a port in any part of the world, certain formalities must be observed. The first thing is that a doctor must go on board to make sure there is no disease on the ship. I am glad to be able to say that the Department of Immigration and the quarantine section now accept a certificate from doctors on British ships - and I think in some cases from Italian and Greek ships - certifying that the ship has a clean bill of health. This saves a lot of time. However, in these modern days with fluorescent lighting, if a ship arrives after dark there is still a law that the ship will be cleared between the hours of sunrise and sunset. After sunset nothing happens. I think that problem should be looked into so that a doctor can clear a ship and the immigration people can carry on their work straight away. The immigration people cannot carry out their work until the doctor says that everything is all right. Take the case of a ship with only 12 passengers. There are lots of ships these days that have 12 passengers. If such a ship arrives in Port Phillip Bay after dark the doctor is not compelled to go on board and clear that ship before next morning. On occasions such passengers have complained bitterly to me. They say: “What is going on here? We have to stick in this place now until the doctor comes out. It will be tomorrow before we can get off the ship. There is fluorescent lighting.” All the doctor wants to see the next morning is whether they have had smallpox or any other illness and usually he lines up the passengers on the deck and looks at their wrists. If this examination could be carried out at night when the ship arrives and the departmental officers could go on board then, it would be possible for the passengers to go ashore at night. Passengers get concerned about these happenings.
Ships are inclined to be temperamental. A ship may be due in at 6 o’clock, but because of bad weather it may not get in until 8 o’clock. Passengers may have wired ahead their requirements. They may have asked for accommodation to be booked at the Southern Cross Hotel or for a seat to be booked for them on a flight to Sydney. However, when they arrive at the Australian port nothing can be done until the next day. This sort of thing is not good enough.
– Order! I think the honorable member’s remarks are wide of the Bill.
– This sort of thing delays the immigration authorities. There should be closer co-operation. The immigration officers are not allowed on board ship until a doctor says it is all right, as the Minister knows. However, I will not pursue this topic further. I compliment the Minister on the Bill. It is a step in the right direction and I hope that further improvements will be made soon.
.- Visitors to this or any country are quick to criticise the unnecessary filling in of forms that a government may require. All of us who travel know how frustrating it is to reach a port of destination and to find that we are delayed because some document must be filled in. For certain new settlers coming to Australia - aliens, until such time as they become naturalised - to be faced with a form is sometimes not easy for them to accept. I find in these amendments to the Aliens Act good reason to compliment the
Government. As other speakers have said, the amendments relate to the simplification of aliens’ registration in this country. The use of the incoming and outgoing registration card is a decided improvement. It provides for an efficient system and the country and the Government should be adequately protected by its use. This,, of course, applies to those people who will be classified as aliens because their visit to us is for one year or less. However, for those other people classified as aliens, the completion of a registration form at the time they apply for the visa overseas is a commonsense and sensible thing to do. It will obviate the filling in of a form m the rushed moments when they arrive at the port of destination.
In passing, apart from applauding these minor amendments which have some significance after all, I should like to refer to the aliens’ register. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has referred to the figures that are shown upon that register. I would remind all concerned that the figures include those people who have not yet sought naturalisation and, of course, their children aged 16 years and over. It can also include the children aged between 16 and 21 years of those previous aliens who are now naturalised but who may not have encouraged their children to take a step similar to that which they themselves have taken. This recalls to my mind the experience of an unfortunate woman in Western Australia who, having been here for years, thought she was naturalised because she thought that her parents had included her name when they had been naturalised. Recently she was amazed when confronted with a request that she should have her name removed from the electoral roll because she was still listed as an alien.
I would recommend to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and the officers of his Department that consideration should be given to every possible means of encouraging people seeking naturalisation to include in their application form every one of their children under 16 years of age and to encourage those aged between 16 and 21 to stand with them on the night of naturalisation and be themselves naturalised, which is their right and entitlement, and to ensure that they get the certificate of naturalisation or the modified smaller certificate that is now available. As a matter of fact, I feel that this could well become a drive by the Australian Government very legitimately in the interests of the children so that in later years they may not be embarrassed as was the woman I have just mentioned.
– in reply - The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) made a couple of suggestions and I think it would be advisable if I clarified the existing situation. All honorable members have referred to the streamlining of formalities by the introduction of the new cards. I should like to assure the honorable member for Batman that in other ways the formalities connected with the entry of immigrants to Australia are being carefully watched and efforts are made to finalise difficulties while the ship is travelling to the port of destination. At times delays occur, but they are unavoidable. Immigrants are arriving in a new country and they have to be received. A reception officer must seek them out and try to arrange accommodation for them as near as possible to their future places of employment. Cumbersome formalities have been eliminated as far as possible in this Bill and they are minimised by th«3 attention of officers of my Department on board ships between the Australian ports.
The honorable member expressed concern at the fingerprinting of Asians. This is not associated with my Department. To the best of my knowledge, this procedure is not required by any other Department. However, I will examine this matter. On the question of delays, I do not want to introduce a discordant note, and I know that this subject may be a little off course, but the honorable member for Batman set the course and I feel I should follow it. Delays at wharfs are not the fault only of medical officers, immigration officials or customs officers. I had the experience of arriving by ship in Melbourne on a Sunday at 7.30 a.m. and the waterside workers did not arrive until 10 o’clock. They worked until lunch time. Formalities were cleared and passengers were ready to leave but they had to wait until after the waterside workers had finished lunch before they could get their luggage. At 3.30, when only half the luggage had been unloaded, the passengers departed. They had to return subsequently to get the remainder of their baggage.
– Did the waterside workers know it was the Minister’s luggage?
– At that time 1 did not make my identity known. I was then Minister for Shipping and Transport and I thought that revealing my identity might lead to further delays while I was questioned about the waterfront and shipping affairs generally. If we could establish co-operation between all parties concerned I am sure waterfront delays could be eliminated.
– Could not the Minister approach the unions on this question? I think they would co-operate.
– It is a matter of co-operation between all parties concerned. People must be prepared to work odd and irritating hours because of the nature of the activity. The situation could then be more satisfactory for people coming to this country. However, I am sure we are on common ground when discussing this subject. My purpose was to indicate to the honorable member for Batman that it was not in just one section that delays occurred. I come now to the reference by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) to the naturalisation of migrants. It is fairly obvious that it is the desire of the Government that those who are eligible for naturalisation should be naturalised and become Australian citizens. Anything that is reasonable and workable in that regard will be carried out. Therefore, consideration will be given to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Swan.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Opperman) read s third time.
Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 834), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Nationality and Citizenship Bill was introduced into the Parliament on 30th September 1948 by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who was then Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration. I hope I will be excused for rekindling the dying embers of the fires of the past to recall the rather stormy introduction of the original Bill. In his opening remarks, the Leader of the Opposition as the then Minister for Immigration had this to say -
This is an historic occasion in the life of our nation. The Bill which I have the honour to present this evening seeks to establish for the first time the principle of Australian citizenship, while maintaining between the component parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations the common bond of British nationality. The importance of the measure lies in the fact that it marks another step forward in the development of Australian nationhood.
He concluded with these inspiring words -
This Bill is more than cold, legalistic formula. Ti is a warm, pulsating document that enshrines the love of country of every genuine Australian.
These sentiments were not entirely shared by the Opposition at that time. Sir Eric Harrison, who was then the member for Wentworth and Acting Leader of the Opposition, and who later became Australian High Commissioner in London, in a bitter speech was very critical of the legislation. He is recorded in “Hansard “ of 18th November 1948 as saying, amongst other things -
We know what Mr. Churchill has said about the aims of the socialist Government in the United Kingdom, and I am strongly suspicious thai British Ministers had a hand in ensuring the introduction of this legislation in this Parliament.
He went on to say -
When we peruse the Bill we realise that it is a part of a plan - a sinister plan - to liquidate the British Empire.
– Who said that?
– That was said by Sir Eric Harrison when this legislation was introduced. In the course of this speech, the lata
Sir Josiah Francis, who was the member for Moreton, interjected -
They are pulling down the Union Jack.
My word, how the times change. This is historic. The present Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), who is also the Leader of the Country Party, was just as opposed to this Bill as was Sir Eric Harrison on 18 th November 1948. He said-
I predict that in years to come many looking back on the present occasion will say that when the British people took steps to separate themselves into different nationalities, it was a black day in their history. They will regard this, not as a day to be remembered with rejoicing, but with distress, as a day which led to disaster.
He continued -
Whatever grounds for complaints may have existed in regard to some of the matters mentioned could have been ironed out in the fullness of time without driving us to the point of national suicide.
He went on to say -
Indeed, 1 do not know what further step could be taken to sever us from the most powerful, wealthy and good people of the world, and to change our status as a member of that powerful partnership to that of a small isolated people, because that is undoubtedly the fate which lies before us. I say nothing of the disastrous results to our overseas trade which may accrue from such a step as that now proposed by the Government.
The Liberal-Country Party Opposition opposed the measure but it was passed by 30 votes to 16. Some members present in the House today who voted against the legislation at that time are the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), who is Minister for Primary Industry, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who was against everything when in opposition, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, and the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt).
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I revive these dying embers of the fires of the past, as I say, because they are interesting when we consider the opening remarks of the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) when he introduced the Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1966. This is what the Minister said -
It is over five years since the Nationality and Citizenship Act was last amended. This Act is fundamental to our national status and from it stem the concept of Australian citizenship as well as the rules under which our citizenship may be acquired.
He concluded with these words -
Mr. Speaker, I know that honorable members on both sides of this House will endorse the changes in our basic citizenship law which this Bill contemplates.
Clearly, the Minister for Immigration and the Government have travelled a long way since 1948. These remarks are a far cry from those anguished words of Sir Eric Harrison who said that the Bill introduced in 1948 was -
Today, the Minister for Immigration with pride and satisfaction introduces amendments to the Act which, if we believe the words of Sir Eric Harrison, take us further along the road to the liquidation of the British Empire.
The Minister is to be congratulated on discarding the misguided sentiments of his colleagues. Like those who came to mock, the Minister stayed to cheer. I congratulate him for the adoption of the outlook of Australia’s first Minister for Immigration, the Honorable A. A. Calwell, when he introduced this stimulating legislation sure in the knowledge of its acceptance by the Australian people as a forward step in our march to nationhood. I feel sure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will excuse me for reviving those memories.
Having said this much, I now turn to the provisions of the Bill. The Minister has stated that a number of these provisions are of a minor machinery nature. In these circumstances, it is preferable that they be debated, if necessary, in Committee. Broadly speaking, the Opposition offers no objection to what are evident safeguards and certain technical clauses of the Bill as these changes are made necessary by the passing of time. The Opposition does not propose to oppose the second reading of this Bill. But in Committee certain amendments to clause 12 which deals with renunciation, about which I will speak later, will be moved. We shall vote against clause 11 which provides for the renunciation of all allegiance. We do not oppose the other desirable amendments proposed by the legislation.
At this stage, I do not intend to go into detail as the Bill is one which can be more ably and easily explained and debated in Committee. However, I do propose to deal with that section of the Act covering the two main amendments. I refer, first, to that covered by clauses 6 and 7 and dealing with section IS of the principal Act. The decision to streamline the naturalisation of husband and wife in certain circumstances is reasonable and just. In his second reading speech, the Minister outlined the principles behind this move. In effect, the Minister has dealt with the position where normally one partner would have to wait until one partner fad completed all formalities for naturalisation and attend a separate ceremony. That provision will be eliminated. The Act will provide that a man and his wife will always be able to become naturalised at the same ceremony. In other words, under clause 6 of the Bill a husband and wife will receive their Australian citizenship together. Clause 7, which ensures that the unqualified partner does not take the oath of allegiance before the qualified partner, is a good move. These are desirable changes. The provisions which give effect to these improvements have the support of the Opposition.
The second important amendment covering renunciation is a matter on which we disagree with the Government. In the Committee stage we shall vote against clause 11 which seeks to give effect to the amendment, and we shall move certain amendments to clause 12 in order to retain the present form of the oath and affirmation of allegiance. It would be of interest for the House at this time to note the form of the oath and affirmation of allegiance as laid down in the existing Act. Both the oath and the affirmation commence with the pronoun “ I “ followed by the name of the person involved. Then the oath of allegiance continues - swear by Almighty Cod that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
The affirmation follows similar lines, the wording being - solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
Clause 1 1 of the Bill proposes the addition of the words “renouncing all other allegiance”. Clause 12 seeks to give effect to this alteration by providing in the third schedule for new forms of oath and affirmation of allegiance to apply to persons covered by section 26a of the Act. We shall move for the deletion from these proposed forms of oath and affirmation of the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ for reasons which I will state later.
The present procedure requires a candidate for naturalisation to make a renunciation, before taking the oath or affirmation of allegiance, in the following terms -
I renounce all allegiance to any sovereign ox State of whom or of which I may be a subject or citizen.
In other words, the renunciation is a separate and distinct section of the naturalisation ceremony and the proposed amendment does not remove the renunciation requirement; it simply writes it into the Act by including the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ in the oath and affirmation. In other words, the renunciation would become an integral part of the oath or affirmation which the candidate for naturalisation is required to take. This is a complete departure from the existing position. The Nationality and Citizenship Act at present contains no requirement of renunciation, and the renunciation at the present time is merely a part of the procedure followed during the naturalisation ceremony.
It would be interesting for the House at this stage to recall the history of the renunciation of allegiance. It was first introduced by law in 1917, mainly as a wartime measure, and it was deleted in 1921 on legal considerations. Since that time it has been retained only as a matter of practice or form. We seek the complete deletion of this part of the naturalisation ceremony and I shall make clear our attitude on the matter. Our reasons for taking this stand are many and varied. I will give the principal ones. Renunciation is not required in the United Kingdom or New Zealand. A citizen of Great Britain never loses citizenship of that country until he formally renounces it. It can hardly be claimed that our opposition to renunciation shows any anti-British sentiment. In the United States and Canada renunciation is necessary. In the United States the law demands an absolute renunciation of previous allegiance. In Canada the requirement is not statutory, the position being about the same as it is in Australia.
In addition, it must be borne in mind that many countries do not recognise renunciation made by their former citizens. I shall read to the House a list of countries which do not . recognise loss of nationality by a citizen who becomes naturalised elsewhere. Information furnished to the United Nations by the Governments of various countries reveals that of the European countries from which Australia has received numbers of migrants Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Switzerland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Yugoslavia have provided in their laws that their citizens do not automatically lose their citizenship upon acquiring another nationality. However, citizens of these countries may apply to their Governments for release from their original nationalities. Many thousands of former citizens of those countries are now resident in Australia. In these circumstances any provision for renunciation by law, when such renunciation is not recognised by many of the nations of which applicants for naturalisation were formerly citizens seems to be a useless and unnecessary emotional requirement. If renunciation is not recognised in the country of birth - as is often the case - what is the point in subjecting migrants to the emotional stress of renouncing their former allegiance?
The Labour Party is not alone in its attitude to this question.. Many new settlers and migrant organisations have adopted the view that the provision for renunciation of former allegiance should be removed. For some time there has been pressure to remove the renunciation section from the naturalisation ceremony. The move in this direction received great prominence at the 1965 Citizenship Convention in Canberra, and some extracts from speeches made by notable citizens at that Convention are worth quoting. Sir John Allison, who delivered one of the papers at the opening of the Convention, said -
I should like to suggest that among the reasons-
He was speaking of the number of persons who had not bothered to become naturalised - is the present practice in the naturalisation ceremony for settlers to renounce allegiance to their old country before swearing allegiance to Australia and the Queen.
Rev. Fr. M. J. Rafter of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee said -
The group felt strongly that the oath of renunciation should be done away with.
Mr. A. E. Monk, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and a member of the Immigration Planning Council, who was Chairman of Group 2 at the Convention, said -
The majority expressed the view that the Government should not persist in requiring the migrant to renounce his allegiance to his original country. There was no necessity for it and, in the view of the majority of Group 2, it was a matter of personal decision by the migrant.
Rev. C. J. P. Mackay of the Australian Council of Churches - it can be seen that a wide range of religious organisations favoured this view - and Chairman of Group 3 at the Convention said -
The Group suggests to the general assembly of the Convention that the oath of renunciation as required at naturalisation ceremonies under the present rule should be deleted.
Dr. Una B. Porter of the Young Women’s Christian Association said -
Some are reluctant to renounce their former sovereign, and whilst respecting our Queen see no necessity for changing their allegiance.
I shall not quote any further extracts and merely say to the House that the book published by the Immigration Department was full of expressions of opinion along similar lines. Views of this kind were expressed by Mr. K. L. Milne of the Municipal Association of South Australia, Mr. E. R. Hill of the Good Neighbour Council of Victoria and Professor Beryl Nashar of the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. The Minister for Immigration himself (Mr. Opperman), not to be outdone, made some reference to the matter. Concluding the convention he said that delegates could be assured that he had noted the strong trend of their thinking in renunciation of allegiance at naturalisation ceremonies. He continued -
I can assure you that I and the Department will give early consideration to your advice.
Unfortunately, they did not accept that advice and we now find that the renunciation requirement is to be written into the Act. I understand that the Immigration Advisory Committee, of which my colleague, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) may have more to say, has also recommended the deletion of the renunciation procedure. I believe that wilh 273.000 migrants still not naturalised but eligible, any removal of difficulties in the way of accepting citizenship should be encouraged. We firmly believe that this is a matter that deserves serious consideration. From what 1 have said, it will be seen that important personalities at the Convention, particularly those acting as chairmen of groups, expressed the opinion that the renunciation of other allegiance should bc eliminated. Yet we find that it is now not to be removed, but incorporated in the oath of allegiance prescribed in the Act, though in a less objectionable form, if I may use that expression. This, however, will not solve the problem at all.
The requirement of renunciation should be either in or out. Softening the blow will not depart from the principle involved. To some people, it is evidently an objectionable, humiliating and emotional process to renounce allegiance to the country of one’s birth. This can well be understood, and few Australians would like to be called on to renounce their allegiance to their own country, no matter where they may be or in what circumstances they may find themselves. Consequently, the Government’s proposal will not solve any problem involved in making migrants Australian citizens. Very few nations recognise the renunciation. This applies particularly to countries whose nationals represent the majority of our migrants. So, to such people, renunciation of allegiance of the country of origin is an unnecessary exercise and useless in the extreme.
Again, the acceptance of Australian citizenship by oath or affirmation of allegiance automatically implies and demands that one owes one’s loyalty to this nation and, provided the processes of the law are recognised, the person concerned is to all intents and purposes committed, as the very oath or affirmation implies, to the protection of his adopted country in time of war and to its advancement. It would certainly not be anti-British to eliminate the renunciation. Even Great Britain does not demand it. New Zealand, the loyalty of whose citizens to the Queen of England is unchallenged, does not demand it. So why should we in Australia perpetuate in our naturalisation ceremony something that serves no purpose and only causes emotional distress and, in some instances, prevents acceptance of Australian citizenship? In the ultimate, renunciation of former allegiance serves no purpose, legal or otherwise, with respect to applicants for naturalisation.
Perhaps the Minister for Immigration will be good enough to tell us frankly why the Government decided to write into the Act, though incorporated in another form, the requirement that former allegiance be renounced, as is set out in this Bill. Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, no satisfactory explanation has been given. Though this requirement may have been acceptable in the years following the Second World War, surely the Government realises that the requirements of the existing Act in this respect should be amended, just as it has learned that other amendments have been needed. It is difficult to understand why the Minister has completely disregarded the advice of practically every person in this country who is deeply interested in immigration. I should like to hear his comments on this matter.
I have dealt at some length with certain aspects of the Bill. Later in this debate, and at the Committee stage, other speakers on this side of the chamber will discuss the same matters. There are some other provisions of the measure that require more explanation, however. I refer, for instance, to clause 4, which takes account of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This is an important provision, and we would like to have a more complete explanation of it than the one that the Minister has given. First, is it proposed to ratify the Convention? If so, when? It has not yet been ratified, but this clause depends on its ultimate ratification. Secondly, just what sections of the staffs of diplomatic missions will be exempt from immunity under the terms of this clause? I have read the terms of the Vienna Convention and I am also aware of the problems arising from diplomatic immunity. Some cases that are quite well known to members of this Parliament have occurred in this very city. The Minister, in his reply to the second reading debate, or at the Committee stage, ought to outline for us what is involved in this clause. We would certainly like to be more fully informed.
The provision dealing with the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women appears to provide for a desirable change, and the Opposition offers no objection to it. In effect, as I understand the proposal, a woman will not be left stateless and will be able to acquire the nationality of her husband in specially privileged circumstances. The Third Schedule, which is to be added to the principal Act, applies particularly to this provision.
My comments, as I have said, have been confined to the main provisions of the Bill. I repeat that the Opposition will not oppose the second reading. But we would like the Minister, in his reply to the second reading debate, or at the Committee stage, to give a more full and complete explanation of certain clauses in respect of which our present intention is to propose certain amendments in Committee. Amendments in line with the attitude that I have outlined will be proposed because we on this side of the chamber believe it necessary to give the Committee an opportunity to express its opinion on important features of the process of acquiring Australian citizenship.
Having said so much, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I re-echo the sentiments expressed as long ago as 1948 by the present Leader of the Opposition in the stormy debate on the original measure by saying that the amendments of the principal Act now proposed mark “ another step forward in the development of Australian nationhood “.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) attempted to ridicule certain very distinguished members of this House by stating that they had changed their attitude. He declared that the Government had travelled a long way since the original measure was introduced. We live in a changing world. One virtue of the present Government is that it will change its attitude to meet changing conditions in a changing world. The great trouble with the Australian Labour Party is that it will not change its attitude to meet changing conditions. It still clings to its outdated and discredited policy of Socialism. The honorable member mentioned a statement by an honorable member on this side ox the House which was made in the debate on the original measure and which related to the possibility that the British Empire would be liquidated. However we may describe the circumstances, Sir, we have to recognise that the world has changed. The British Empire became the British Commonwealth and the British Commonwealth became the Commonwealth of Nations. The present Government is always wise enough to change its attitude to meet the challenge of changing world conditions. So there is nothing unusual in the fact that the Government and honorable members on this side of the chamber now support the concept of British nationality and Australian citizenship.
The honorable member for Grayndler also criticised the proposals relating to the renunciation of foreign allegiance that are embodied in this Bill. The British law and the Australian law on this subject are abundantly clear. If a person swears allegiance to our Queen and becomes a British subject with Australian citizenship, he is automatically deprived of any foreign nationality. Therefore, all that is proposed in this Bill is to put into words, for the benefit of migrants, the effect of their act in acquiring Australian citizenship. Why should we mislead them? Why should we not put all our cards on the table and say to a migrant: “ You are now becoming a British subject and an Australian citizen. At the same time, you are renouncing allegiance to any foreign sovereign or any foreign state.”? I quite agree that the renunciation could be omitted and that its omission would not make the slightest difference. But I am one of those who believe in being candid. I do not believe in misleading people. There is a possibility that if the words of renunciation were omitted a migrant might imagine that, for example, he could still have Dutch nationality and at the same time acquire British nationality. Under our laws, that is not possible. Honorable members may want to know the cases on the subject. There was the case during the last war of Lord Haw Haw, or Joyce as his real name was, who was dealt with for treason and who put up the defence that he had two nationalities. Then there was the older case of Sir Roger Casement, who claimed that he was Irish as well as British. I do not want to say any more in reference to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Grayndler. I wholeheartedly support the Bill as it is and I oppose the amendment, not because of any difference in attitude but because I believe in being candid and letting migrants know not only the words but the effect of what they are doing.
I propose to spend some time on what 1 believe to be the real subject matter of the Bill. I wholeheartedly support the provision in the Bill that enables a husband and wife, at the one time, to become British subjects and Australian citizens. I. believe that our way of life in Australia depends upon family life and that we should do everything possible to prevent a division in families. We should not have a husband of one nationality and a wife of another if we can possibly avoid it. This Bill enables a husband or a wife, if the spouse is an Australian citizen, to become an Australian citizen immediately. Prior to this, the spouse became immediately entitled to apply for citizenship but could not receive citizenship in the same ceremony. The Bill enables both husband and wife to obtain citizenship in the same ceremony. Once the husband is naturalised, the wife can immediately take the oath and become a British subject and Australian citizen. The converse is equally true. I believe, therefore, that the Bill has everything to commend it; it is carrying out the main principle of the Australian way of life.
My complaint about the Bill is that it does not go far enough. We in Australia are trying to build a great nation as fast as possible. We are trying to build it partly from our own natural born people and partly from the migrants we get from overseas. Most of us believe that we need to build our nation very quickly, that we must build up our population. We cannot fail to be somewhat alarmed at the very substantial fall, particularly in recent years, in the natural birth rate in Australia. If our natural birth rate falls, we will have to increase the number of migrants substantially in order to maintain our rate of growth. We should ask ourselves: “ What kind of a nation do we mean to build?” I believe that we want to build an integrated Australian nation in which all people, or substantially all, are Australian citizens. We should not, therefore, have any unnecessary barriers on the obtainment of Australian citizenship. But at present we do have these barriers.
We accept persons for permanent residence in Australia. We vet them before they come here. We satisfy ourselves that they are the type of people who are likely to be successfully integrated into this community and become good Australian citizens. Having done that, why should we deny them Australian citizenship for a period of five years? I believe that this is quite unnecessary. I consider that 12 months, or two years at the most, is adequate to enable us to satisfy ourselves that migrants whom we have already vetted and accepted before we issue them with visas are of the type that we are prepared to admit to Australian citizenship.
I think it is also quite unnecessary for us to say that we will not naturalise people unless they can adequately speak the English language. The English language is extraordinarily difficult to speak, and there are some people who have the greatest difficulty in complying with the test. They have children in Australia. Their children become British subjects and Australian citizens because they are born in Australia. Therefore, we divide the familly against itself. We say that the children are British subjects and Australian citizens; but we say that the parents are foreigners and are aliens.
Although we have allowed the parents to come to Australia to take up permanent residence, we say that we will not allow them to become Australian citizens, first, because they have not been here for five years and, secondly, because they cannot speak the English language. The children go to Australian schools. They learn English and English only. They act as interpreters for their parents. I believe that it is completely foolish for us to insist with such rigidity that a first class migrant who successfully settles himself in Australia, establishes himself in a home, obtains a good job and wants to be an Australian citizen should be denied Australian citizenship either because he has not been here long enough - that is, for five years - or because he cannot speak the English language. To me, it does not mean anything that he cannot speak the language. I am quite sure that if I went to Germany or Italy I would have the greatest difficulty in speaking German or Italian. If a migrant has been able to hold a job satisfactorily, has been able to get himself a home and has sent his children to Australian schools, why should we not allow him to become an Australian citizen?
We do not want Australia to be the same as some European countries are today. They are countries of nationals with a whole host of foreign migrant workers. People from Italy go to Germany today not to become German citizens but to earn as much as they can in Germany and then to take themselves and their money back to Italy. We do not want people to come to Australia to earn what they can and then to send their money back to the European country of their birth. The purpose of our immigration policy is to build a nation composed of Australian citizens. For this reason our Nationality and Citizenship Act should be more liberal than it is.
Some little time ago the Government enacted a very great reform when it provided that if one of the spouses was eligible for naturalisation the other spouse would immediately become eligible for naturalisation notwithstanding that he or she had not been here for five years and notwithstanding that he or she could not speak English. The Parliament supported that reform. It is contained in section 15(4.) of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. The subsection reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding section or in sub-section (1.) of this section-
They are the provisions dealing with the five years residential qualification and the language test - the Minister may, upon application in the approved form, grant a certificate of naturalisation as an Australian citizen to an alien who has satisfied him -
That is, the Minister -
Parliament entrusted the Minister for Immigration with discretion to grant Australian citizenship to any spouse of a naturalised Australian. I would have thought that that wide discretion given to the Minister by this Parliament would have been exercised without any new restrictions. I. was rather shocked to hear the Minister say in his second reading speech on the Bill -
As regards residence, the situation is that where husband or wife is qualified but the partner is not, the eligible party is granted naturalisation and the non-qualified partner, as the spouse of an Australian citizen, then becomes eligible for naturalisation without completing the normal five years residential qualification.
That is excellent and entirely in accord with the Act. The Minister continued -
Much the same procedure operates in respect of the language requirement except that the confession is granted only to the wife.
In other words, having entrusted to the Minister the widest discretion to grant citizenship to the spouse of an Australian citizen, the Minister then imposes restrictions upon his powers. I do not know whether this was done as a result of moves initiated by the Department of Immigration or the Government. Why has this been done? In the case of a wife it does not matter whether she has learned English, but we are told that in the case of a husband, unless he has learned English he cannot be granted the same nationality as has been granted to his wife. Take the case of a woman who is a university graduate and who takes a post in one of our universities. Suppose she is higly distinguished and holds a scientific post in a university. After she has been here for five years she may find that she likes Australia and wishes to bring her husband out to join her. But she will be told she can be naturalised but that her husband cannot. She may become an Australian citizen and a British subject but her husband cannot until he satisfies the language test. I suggest that it is quite contrary to our immigration aims and ambitions to keep a family divided. So, although I compliment the Minister and the Government on liberalising the Act, I trust that it will go further and truly give effect to the spirit of migration, which is to build up the Australian nation.
Once we have approved a person for permanent residence in Australia we should allow him to become an Australian citizen and a British subject at the earliest possible moment. It is quite unnecessary in my view to impose language tests. The five years probation period is unnecessary. Why should it be five years? Why not ten years if you must have a set period? The qualifying period should be no longer than is necessary to enable us to look at the prospective citizen. After all, he has been vetted in Europe before coming here. He has been certified as a person of good repute, healthy and one likely to be successfully integrated into the Australian community. All of these tests are carried out thoroughly and efficiently by our officers overseas. Once the migrant has arrived in Australia it should not be necessary to do more than look at him. I think it is important to have a look at the people you wish to accept as your partners in the community. Surely 12 months or perhaps 2 years should be ample time to enable us to satisfy ourselves whether a migrant is likely to be successfully integrated into the community. I would like the Minister to urge the Government to liberalise our naturalisation procedure.
Another point I make is in relation to our armed forces. I believe that all persons who enlist in or are accepted by our armed forces, whether they be the regular forces, the Citizen Military Forces or the national service scheme - all persons whom we accept to fight for us - should be entitled to be Australian citizens. I know that the legislation provides that every year of service in the armed forces shall count as two years for the purpose of residential qualification. Good though that provision is, it is not good enough. If we accept a person in our armed forces, we should accept him for citizenship. I would like the Minister to place that matter also before the Government.
Although I have criticised the Bill as not going far enough I would like to express my appreciation to the Government and the Minister for the Bill as far as it goes. It makes a definite improvement to the legislation. It is on the right road. I trust that at the earliest possible moment the Minister will bring down a bill to simplify the process of naturalisation - to make naturalisation more quickly available - so that we may build up a great nation of Australian citizens.
.- Several significant amendments to the Nationality and Citizenship Act are proposed. I firmly believe that this Bill will prove a great encouragement to the new settlers who come to this country in such large numbers; but, of course, there are always opportunities to improve even the best legislation. In the interests of the flexibility that my colleague, the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) has mentioned several times, 1 believe that the Government should be congratulated on reviewing the lessons learned over recent years and upon being flexible enough in its thinking to come to certain new decisions.
I believe that every member of the Federal Parliament must at times have been distressed to note that disappointment and frustration have been faced by many migrant families - by many of those new settlers who have joined our ranks - because it has not been possible for husband and wife, or father and mother, to stand together at the time when Australian citizenship was being received. Combined participation in this ceremony, which means so much to them, and to us, is, I believe, a very vital thing.
So it is that we have to recognise that one of the factors that has brought about the present state of affairs in recent years has been the residential qualification. We can all recall how often in the history of those folk who come from Europe, predominantly the husband has preceded the rest of his family. In very many cases, the husband has come to Australia first and, by dint of hard work, by applying himself diligently to the opportunities the country has presented, he has built up the resources to enable him to ask his family to follow and join him. This, of course, has set up a disparity in years of residence between himself and his wife.
Under the old legislation the husband became qualified to seek naturalisation ahead of the wife. Very often, as my friend from Sturt has pointed out, the husband, the bread winner, has learned English, quite naturally, ahead of his wife. He has been out here earning the income to maintain his family. He has been mixing with other workmen. Whilst he has been doing this, very often his wife has been facing the chores of the home, maintaining the children, and, in many cases, working assiduously in the garden that she herself has created. There is little opportunity in this set of circumstances for the wife, the mother, the woman of the household, to learn our English language.
My colleague was quite right when he reminded us this afternoon that learning English is by no means an easy task for people who may be now in advanced years and whose early years of education in their own home countries may not have been of the standard that we may have enjoyed ourselves. Learning English is a severe test indeed for many of our friends who come to Australia as new settlers, particularly those who come from southern Europe.
– And for many of us, too.
– Yes. My friend from Sturt pointed out without any apology - and I would join him in this - that if we went to settle in Europe and faced the language problem of the country where we settled there could be no assurance that our performance would be outstanding. I hope that my friend, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) is making very good progress in his own study of the Italian language. I wish him well.
For a number of years, the authorities maintained in Australia a standard for speaking English which, without doubt, precluded many wives from quick acceptance. Senators and members of the House of Representatives have been the recipients of many representations to overcome this particular problem. My friend from Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has spoken of the excellent discussions which take place at the annual citizenship conventions. 1 know from my own attendance at many of those conventions over the years that this problem of the migrant grappling with the English language and overcoming his difficulties within a reasonable time to meet the requirements of the Department has been highlighted again and again.
I want to point out that the Department of Immigration and the Minister of the day have been prepared to apply concessions to meet this problem from time to time. I do not think, as the years have passed by, that there has been a harsh and intolerant attitude on this. This, again, is an indication of the humanity and understanding of the officers of the Department of Immigration, and for this we have been grateful.
The significant point about this Bill to which I now want to refer is that the Bill empowers the Minister to grant naturalisation to the spouse of an Australian citizen without any of the usual requirements being met. This means that, subject to the normal formal application and its subsequent approval, it will be possible for a couple to receive their Australian citizenship together. The residential qualification may, if necessary, be set aside. The difficulty of language can also be set aside so that the husband and wife can, together, become Australian citizens on the same occasion.
I am glad that the honorable member for Sturt, who preceded me in the debate, pointed out the importance of reuniting migrant families here in Australia. I join him in pointing out how it is naturally of concern to us, as we face the problems of the cost of development, as we ourselves exhort our people to save by every sensible means, to acquire their own bornes, to build up their own stature and to make their savings available for the economic development of the country, to find that very substantial amounts of the savings of the hard working migrants are despatched overseas. I think it would be a very admirable thing if we could encourage them to retain their savings here and, instead of sending them to relatives overseas, to induce those relatives to join them here, especially where that would mean reuniting families. As a Government, we must find ways and means of overcoming the natural problems - even some of them in the health field, I believe, can be overcome with understanding and without endangering the very high standard of our own health conditions in Australia - and I believe those way and means can be found. If we can have migrants’ savings retained in the country while our population is built up at the same time, I believe that would be most desirable.
Before suggesting that the time is opportune for interrupting the debate, I move on to deal with the naturalisation ceremony in this country. I want to suggest that it is interesting to review Australia’s approach to this public conferment of citizenship in comparison with that of some other countries. I feel that I ought to emphasise that in Australia we deliberately do not recognise dual citizenship. Although international law imposes limitations upon the capacity of States to make naturalisation laws, within those limitations States have a wide discretion. A difference in the laws of States may create conditions of dual or multiple nationality or of statelessness. I find it interesting to see that efforts have been made to develop an international law by treaties to avoid these conditions. For example, the conference for the codification of international law called by the League of Nations in 1930 drew up three conventions at its sessions at the Hague based upon the conviction that these conditions should be avoided. This, I believe, is inherent in our approach to this point of dual citizenship. The view held in 1930 was that it was in the general interests of the international community to secure that all members should recognise that every person should have a nationality and should have one nationality only. I firmly believe that, to indicate our non-acceptance of dual nationality, the Australian ceremony has developed over the years with the provision for a renunciation of previous allegiance.
Canada is one nation which, like Australia, and perhaps to an even greater extent than Australia, has opened its doors to many migrants over the years. She has a great lesson to teach many other countries in respect of absorbing migrants into the population. The steps to Canadian citizenship are, to many, most interesting and I wish to refer to them. A person desiring to acquire Canadian citizenship must follow, as in all countries, a certain procedure. I find that, provided a person has attained the age of 18 years, he may file a declaration of intention at the nearest court. He must go to the court to indicate his intention and he may do so at any time after his lawful admittance to Canada. It is optional for him to do so - it is not mandatory - and at that stage it is merely a statement of his intent. After five years’ residence in Canada, he may file a petition for citizenship, but again he must go to the nearest court to do so. Provided he can prove to the court that he has been continuously in Canada for the past year and for four of the past six years, he is in order in his approach. I learn that his petition is posted publicly for a period of three months. Later, the applicant will be requested to appear personally before the court for examination, at which time he will be asked to produce evidence that he meets the requirements for citizenship. At that hearing the court decides whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to be granted a citizenship certificate and whether he possesses the qualifications required under the act. If that decision is favorable, a certified copy of the petition for citizenship is sent to the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration who then, at his discretion, may issue the certificate and forward it to the clerk of the court.
The applicant completes this rather involved procedure in an atmosphere quite different from that in Australia by being requested to appear again before the court, at which time he must renounce his allegiance to his former or any other State and take the oath of allegiance to Canada by entering into an oath similar to ours. I draw attention to this procedure as an indication of the steps needed to obtain Canadian citizenship and I want to emphasise at this point that it is lengthy, it is involved and there are meticulous steps to be taken. The applicant must appear several times in a court and he must renounce finally, by a renunciation of previous allegiance, any other connections that he may have had. If in the discretion of the Minister it is desirable, he then obtains his certificate of Canadian citizenship. Here we have a point of great interest. I want now to move on and refer to the situation in the United States of America.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Naturalisation in the United States takes on a similar judicial aspect to the procedure followed in Canada which I described earlier in my speech. In the United States the procedure is performed in Federal district courts and in State courts which have been vested with federal authority for the purpose. The State courts are known as courts of record. The naturalisation procedure in the United States is rather complex but it consists of two basic steps. First, the applicant - who has been admitted to the United States in accordance, of course, with its prevailing immigration laws - may appear before a naturalisation court and file a petition for citizenship. At this time a preliminary examination of his character and of the sincerity of his approach is made. Secondly, after five years’ residence the applicant reappears, for the final hearing in open court of his application, at the place where his petition was filed. It is interesting to note that at this stage he must be accompanied by two American citizens to swear to his loyalty to the United States and to certify as to his character and his residence in the country.
We should recognise that the applicant is required at this point to renounce allegiance to his former country and take an oath to uphold the laws of the United States, bear arms in defence of that country, if required, and not engage in any subversive activities. There follows a 90 day waiting period while the Immigration and Naturalisation Service in the Department of Justice checks his application. It is not until the passage of 90 days, provided the court is satisfied that all the conditions have been met and the investigation indicates that the applicant is worthy of citizenship of the United States, that the judge administers the oath of allegiance and issues the all-important certificate of citizenship. Perhaps not all of us are aware of the conditions that must be met by individuals seeking naturalisation in the United States. The applicant must have attained the age of 18 years. He must have had five years continuous residence in the country and six months in one State. He must have a good moral character and believe in the principles of the Constitution. He must be able to read, write and speak English. He must not belong, or have belonged, to subversive organisations within the ten years prior to the filling in of his application and he must, as I have said, take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
– Does the honorable member think it is a good system?
– No. J am not here to decry the procedure of another country, but 1 take some pleasure in comparing that procedure with the very excellent principles that are followed in our own country. How different is the practice - as all honorable members would know - in the field of naturalisation in Australia. First, we now have a much simplified form of application compared with the form in earlier years. I do not think that any new settler would have any complaint about the simple form he is required to complete. He has the opportunity to discuss his application, if necessary, with sympathetic officers of the Department of Immigration in any capital city. The Australian ceremony, which is similar in general format to that used in New Zealand, has attracted favorable comment because of its simple dignity - a dignity which is retained in the friendly atmosphere of a civic function. I believe we have in this function, the genius of this telling, impressive ceremony which new Australians tell us they will never forget because of the impact that it has made upon them. I suggest that the Government is indebted to a number of people and organisations who have made this sort of ceremony possible. They include local authorities spread across Australia and the mayors of those local authorities who invariably preside at the ceremonies. Often they are ably assisted by representatives of the Red Cross, of Rotary International, of the Good Neighbour Movement and of the various churches in the community. This debate gives the Parliament the opportunity to take some praise for the ceremony which has been established under the aegis of the Commonwealth, which administers the immigration programme. It gives us at the same time the right to express our thanks to so many who have assisted.
The renunciation of allegiance has been the subject of some criticism. Wc know that some who have been vocal on this subject have said that applicants for naturalisation sometimes say that the wording of the renunciation provision causes them embarrassment. The separate and full renunciation is now, under this Bill, proposed to be deleted. It will not be used in the ceremonies in the form in which it has hitherto been used, but the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ will be a requirement in the wording of the oath of allegiance, and this finds a place in the legislation.
– That makes it worse.
– I suggest to the honorable member for Grayndler that, as 1 well realise he knows, the Government in this instance, as always, knows what it is doing. It knows what it is doing, and with very definite intent it has brought forward in this Bill the amendments with which we are dealing.
I point out that the Opposition amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Grayndler is simply not justified, for only a minority of new settlers have asked for a deletion of the renunciation clause. I know that the honorable member has paraded a long list of names. He has built up a case. He is a good debater. We expect him to do this. But the Government has taken notice of the history of our own procedure - the wisdom of what we have done over the years - and it has met criticism by a very sensible compromise. In future the ceremony will flow more freely. As part of the oath of allegiance - very appropriately, I suggest - the applicant will, having stated his name, use as a preamble the words: “ Renouncing all other allegiance I swear by Almighty God “. He will pledge his allegiance as is done not only in this country but in virtually every other country which has a ceremony of this kind. The amendment contained in the Bill underlines the attitude of the Government towards dual citizenship, with which I have already dealt in my speech. If we do not believe in or recognise dual citizenship let us not boggle over the words by which an applicant renounces all previous allegiance, because at least they remind him that we do not stand for dual citizenship.
I believe this is an acceptable combination of all that our ceremony has required right throughout the postwar years. We do not have to admit or proclaim that what we have been doing all through these years is wrong, as if we had no perception. Of course we have known what we were doing, and in a country like this, which follows the principles that it does, it is a very sound thing that applicants who are seeking, freely and voluntarily - without any compulsion whatever - the citizenship of our country, should, like people in most, if not all, countries, indicate that they are pleased to renounce their previous allegiance. For how can one serve two masters? Renunciation, as I have shown, is prominent in the ceremonies in Canada and the United States of America. As a result of the research that I have been able to do I find also that it is strongly to the fore in the ceremonies of our neighbouring Commonwealth countries of Malaysia, Singapore and several others. For years the renunciation of previous allegiance has been used in the Australian naturalisation ceremony. We are by no means deleting it as the Opposition would suggest. We propose an acceptable compromise which alters the full wording of the renunciation but includes the all important and significant words together with the oath of allegiance. This, of course, has the additional advantage that it becomes part of the legislative provision whereas before it was not in that situation.
I will give place to no-one so far as my responsibilities as a member are concerned and my contact with the thousands upon thousands of new people who have swelled our population. I am delighted to meet them in all walks of life. I believe I have met a high percentage of new settlers in my own constituency. In almost 11 years that I have been privileged to be here as a member I have not had by any means a majority press me about the renunciation of allegiance. The isolated few have said to me: “ Because I come from a country where my allegiance to its Queen is very dear I pause before I apply to become an Australian citizen “. When I have been able to explain the significance of Australia’s not recognising dual citizenship and have made our position as a Government clear most of these people, at my invitation, have been glad to apply for Australian citizenship.
In conclusion, I come back to the words of the Minister for Immigration who, in his second reading speech, chose words that I think cannot be bettered as a summary on the particular proposal to which the honorable member for Grayndler on behalf of Her Majesty’s Opposition has moved an amendment designed to remove entirely from any future ceremony and from the legislation any reference to a renunciation of previous allegiance. The Minister chose these very estimable words -
In its present form the renunciation is a prominent and separate part of the naturalisation ceremony, but we have decided that the essential words of renunciation should now be incorporated as part of the oath of allegiance to the Queen. The change will simplify and shorten the naturalisation ceremony and enhance its dignity, and will also, I believe, eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates due to their natural and rightful love of their homelands.
I oppose any suggestion of the Tightness and propriety of the Opposition’s amendment. I claim that this is a Bill which brings about several significant and most desirable amendments to the legislation, and I am delighted to support it.
.- I listened this afternoon to the magnificent speech of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr.
Daly). He dealt clearly and definitely with the whole subject of nationality and citizenship as it affects the Australian nation. He told the story of what happened when the first Nationality and Citizenship Bill was before the Parliament. He told how honorable members who are now on the Government side of the House opposed that legislation. They opposed it on the grounds, as one of their leading members said, that the passing of the legislation would usher in the end of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Another honorable member said that the legislation was tantamount to pulling down the Union Jack in Australia. They did everything possible to defeat that legislation, I do not object to their becoming wiser as they grow older, but the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) had the audacity to criticise the Opposition for suggesting an amendment to the legislation. He said: 1 support the legislation as it stands because the Government knows, as the Government always knows, what it is doing.” Did Government supporters know what they were doing when they opposed the legislation for nationality and citizenship that was introduced by a Labour Government on the grounds that the legislation would destroy the British Empire and result in hauling down the flag? If they did, why did they take that action?
I listened carefully to the long speech of the honorable member for Grayndler in which he traced the whole story of nationality and citizenship as it applies to this nation and the actions of the Government and the Opposition in connection with it down through the years. As I listened, the more my wonder grew that one small head could carry all he knew. This Bill amends legislation introduced and put on the statute book by a labour Government. I approve of the amendment suggested by the Opposition. I also approve of many of the provisions incorporated in this legislation by the Government. However I believe that the Government should make the achievement of citizenship by migrants much easier than it is today. I agree with what was said by the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson). Persons had to reside in Australia for 10 years before they could be accepted as citizens. This period has been reduced to five years, but why five years? What is magical about a five year period? Why not three years? Why not two years? All that is necessary is that these people assure us that they intend permanently to reside in Australia and that they want to accept citizenship. They have come from overseas at the behest of the Australian nation. They have been carefully screened by officials of this country before they have arrived in Australia. Having been carefully screened, and having spent a small period in Australia, when they present themselves for citizenship, there should be no objection to accepting them. We can learn no more about them in 10 years than we can in 5 years or in 3. They will still be as good or as bad citizens as their capacities enable irrespective of the time they work and live in Australia before the rights of naturalisation are conferred on them.
I, too, believe that language should have little if anything to do with naturalisation. Among those who come from overseas are women advanced in years. They spend their time in their homes and they are unable, by association, to practice the English language. They are unable to acquire facility by practice in the language. Many of these migrants, because of their educational standards, are unable to learn very quickly. This does not apply to migrants only. It applies to every section of the community. When I look around this chamber at the members who constitute this Parliament, I wonder how they would perform if they endeavoured to learn another language or even become more facile in the expression of their native tongue. I believe that they would experience considerable difficulty.
Men and women of advanced years who come to this country do have difficulty in reaching the standards established by our immigration authorities who determine whether these immigrants should be naturalised. I would say that the ability or inability of these men and women to learn the English language does not make them any better or worse Australian citizens. If these people are able to understand fully the responsibilities of naturalisation and the assumption of the Australian nationality, they should be eligible to be naturalised. We should endeavour to make the attainment of naturalisation much easier than it is at the present time. I remember a time not so long ago when honorable members opposite, and honorable members generally, considered it undesirable that anybody should be naturalised who had not resided in Australia for a period of 10 years. Suddenly, as though by inspiration, those people have seen the light just as Saul of Tarsus did, and they say that the period should now be five years. They have reduced the time by half. The results of naturalisation have not shown any difference as far as the individuals who have acquired citizenship in this way are concerned.
However, there is another aspect of naturalisation upon which I desire to touch. This is the naturalisation ceremony. These ceremonies ave conducted by municipalities, with flags flying, and with representatives of Federal and State legislatures in attendance. When a ceremony is over and the person being naturalised has renounced allegiance to any foreign government, king or queen, and has accepted Australian citizenship, a series of speeches are delivered. The first speech is made by the mayor of the municipality who impresses upon those who have been naturalised the great gift of nationality that has been given to them by the Australian people. He says that the nationality given to them carries with it great responsibilities and duties. Then, one after another, the representatives of the legislatures repeat in different terminology the address of the mayor. In their speeches, they impress, upon the citizens who have just adopted the Australian nationality that they have duties and responsibilities to this nation.
– I do not say that.
– The honorable member for Lang does not say that. He would not say that. He is always different from anybody else. However, the honorable member is the exception that proves the rule. Migrants to this country who acquire the Australian nationality are not merely receiving a gift from Australia. They are giving something to the people of Australia. After aH, these migrants come here because they want to come here. But they do not come here only because they want to come here. They could not come here if it was only they who wanted to come here and there was no particular wish by anybody else for them to come. They come to Australia because our citizens and the Australian Government want them to come here. They come because the Commonwealth Government sends representatives abroad to impress upon Germans, Italians, Greeks, Englishmen, Irishman, Scotsman and others the benefits that they will receive on leaving the lands of their birth and by coming to Australia. We induce these people to come to Australia. Because we do this, we have obligations and responsibilities to our migrants just as migrants who become naturalised Australian citizens have responsibilities and obligations to us.
I think a little could be done by the mayors, the honorable member for Lang, and those who sit behind people on the municipal platforms when migrants are being naturalised to point out that we, too, owe something to the new citizens. This applies particularly to those people occupying positions of responsibility, such as the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), who, according to himself, carries out those duties very well. Those people should be ever ready, and available to serve migrants and make their assimilation and integration into the social, economic and sporting life of our community as easy and as full as possible. At our naturalisation ceremonies we should emphasise the duty to our migrants of those who hold responsible positions in this country as well as emphasising the duties and obligations that the citizenship acquired by these migrants carries with it. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I do not intend to speak very long because of the magnificent speech delivered by the honorable member Grayndler. The remarks that I have made, because of the all embracing speech the honorable member for Grayndler delivered, are merely a work of supererogation, a gilding of the lily, a painting of the rose.
.- Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and his Department on the conscientious manner in which they have approached the amendment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act as contained in the Bill now before the House. It is more desirable that with the passing of time this Act should be brought up to date to meet changing circumstances. I represent an electorate which has the largest concentration of new settlers in Australia and it has been my great privilege and pleasure to be actively associated with many people of foreign nationalities. Australia has been most fortunate in the type of new settler who has taken up domicile in my electorate. Many newcomers have brought with them the benefits of the arts and sciences of the older countries of the world. In my electorate we have benefited by association with these people. Their assimilation into our community has been remarkable. Many of them in the older age groups speak English without any trace of accent from their native languages. Their children are tree Australians and it is quite impossible to tell them apart from the children of nativeborn Australians.
This Bill proposes to dispense with the statement of renunciation which was previously made at naturalisation ceremonies and to substitute a statement of renunciation in somewhat different terms as a part of the oath or affirmation of allegiance. This will not only shorten the naturalisation ceremony but will also add to the dignity of the occasion. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has foreshadowed an amendment to which 1 wish to express my opposition. I have spoken to great numbers of new settlers in my electorate and not on any occasion have I heard any of them complain about the statement of renunciation in the naturalisation ceremony. On the contrary, many of these new arrivals want to forget completely their associations with their former countries and simply to become Australians. Their desire to sever connections with their former countries is not a reflection of any desire to vent spleen because of the terrible times they went through in those countries; it is simply because they believe they have an obligation, to their children as much as to themselves, to become immersed in Australia’s way of thinking and living.
There are, of course, others - and they are estimable people - who wish to maintain associations with their earlier lives in their native countries. It is desirable that their children retain a knowledge of the languages of those countries and to this end many national groups have established special classes for the teaching of those languages. I had a quaint experience only three weeks ago when I attended a marriage of a German couple. Evidently it is an old German custom that the bride and groom saw through a log of wood before participating in the wedding festivities. Rather than watch the bride do this I closed my eyes. I think most Australians would do likewise rather than see thenwives chop wood.
The provision to allow a non-qualified spouse to become naturalised immediately after her husband, and at the same ceremony, is a good one. I am not sure whether it applies to a husband if he be the nonqualified partner, but if it does not I would like to see the Bill amended to cover either a male or a female non-qualified spouse. I also recommend that the Minister consider allowing all children under 21 years of age in a family to became naturalised with their parent or parents, and at the same ceremony. This would be a most desirable procedure. We must realise that the naturalisation ceremony is a momentous occasion for these people and if we can make it a family affair we will add to its importance. I think the introduction of this practice would reduce greatly the number of new settlers who have so far declined naturalisation. When children over 16 years of age in a family are excluded from eligibility for naturalisation with their parents there is a disposition and tendency to let the matter stand over indefinitely.
I am also of the opinion that a general revision of the whole Act should be undertaken forthwith. We are eager to have these people accept British nationality and Australian citizenship and it should be our constant endeavour to assist them to do so. The situation was different in the years between 1948 and, say, 1956. Naturalisation was a novel adventure and experience from the point of view not only of the newcomers but also of the native-born Australian people. We now have thousands of former citizens of other countries who have settled in. They have become well established, have joined the Good Neighbour Councils and other organisations and can advise and assist those who have come out more recently. While it was desirable in the earlier years to have a statutory waiting period of five years before naturalisation could be applied for, it may be found practicable and desirable upon investigation to reduce this qualifying period. Besides the desirability, from a national point of view, of new settlers accepting naturalisation, there is also the fact that naturalisation brings benefits to the newcomer to which he is otherwise not entitled.
I applaud the Bill, Mr. Speaker, and 1 oppose the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Grayndler.
.- The Parliament has before it three Bills concerned with immigration and immigrants. As the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) said earlier, the Opposition has no quarrel with the Government on the matters that are now before the House, although it is true that we propose to move an amendment to the Nationality and Citizenship Bill. The reasons for this have already been given by the honorable member for Grayndler and I hope to refer to them later. I think the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) will agree that this discussion has been well worthwhile. Very little criticism has been levelled at either the Minister or the Department of Immigration. On the contrary, I believe every honorable member would pay a tribute to the officers of that Department for their initiative and enterprise in applying themselves to immigrataion matters. I want to join with the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) and refer later to one or two matters that he dealt with in this debate and in respect of which T found myself in complete agreement with him. When the honorable member speaks in this House on immigration matters he speaks with a great deal of authority. I pay a tribute to him as Chairman of the Immigration Advisory Council for the way in which he devotes himself to immigration matters, not only in this Parliament but also outside it. He has made a fine contribution to immigration matters generally as Chairman of that body.
As I have already intimated, honorable members on this side of the House have no criticism to offer concerning these proposals. The Nationality and Citizenship Act has been amended on a number of -occasions since I became a member of this Parliament. It was last amended in 1960. I believe that each time it has been amended the Government’s intention has been to improve its provisions in respect of naturalisation and associated matters. All honorable members who have from lime to time devoted their attention to immigration matters wish this subject to be one of common ground between honorable members on both sides of the Parliament. Generally, there is a consensus between honorable members on both sides in immigration matters. We believe that this is the spirit in which these matters ought to be debated. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, there are some matters in respect of which the Opposition believes that it is entitled to disagree, and ought to disagree, with the Government when a debate on a measure such as this presents the opportunity to voice disagreement.
This is one of the occasions on which the Opposition has taken the opportunity to state its attitude concerning the oath of renunciation of allegiance to another country. I am aware that Government supporters who have already spoken in this debate have suggested that the Opposition proposes something new when it states that the oath of renunciation should be completely abolished and that provision requiring it to be taken ought not to have been incorporated in this Bill in terms which require it to be taken as part of the oath of allegiance. During the consideration of the estimates for the Department of Immigration last year, the Opposition proposed that the oath of renunciation be no longer required of migrants when they become naturalised. During the present debate, as on other occasions, we have contended that the oath of renunciation is redundant. We believe that in this opinion we are supported by organisations that have been associated with immigration matters, either directly or indirectly, over a long period.
As I have said, Mr. Speaker, we concede that the measure now before us is designed to improve procedures relating to naturalisation by simplifying them and making them much more adaptable to the needs of applicants for naturalisation. I refer particularly to clauses 6 and 7; which as the Minister for Immigration has pointed out, will ensure that in the future the spouse of a new Australian who applies for naturalisation, and who is qualified for it, may be naturalised at the same time though lacking the necessary qualifications. A previous speaker asked the Minister whether this would apply to a husband who was not eligible for naturalisation because he had not the necessary period of residence and whose wife was being naturalised. I understand that under the terms of this Bill, provided the husband can satisfy the language test imposed under the terms of the principal Act, he will be eligible for naturalisation at the same time as his wife. We on this side of the chamber believe that this is correct and proper. For some time, of course, the Minister has been able to extend a concession by reducing the required period of residence for the spouse of a new Australian who was qualified for and was undergoing naturalisation. I believe that this has been done on many occasions. Further concessions in this respect will be made possible by this measure, and the naturalisation procedures will be simplified for many new Australians. For these reasons, the Opposition naturally supports the Bill.
No-one would deny that our immigration programme has been very successful, Mr. Speaker. It has resulted in a great increase in our population since the Second World War. I have no doubt that the immigration programme will continue to be successful. But we should take every opportunity that presents itself to simplify the naturalisation procedures. It has been suggested in this debate that there are a great many new Australians who have not yet sought naturalisation. I am one of those who do not believe that we should be unduly concerned about this. I consider that people come forward to be naturalised because they want to accept the full responsibilities of citizenship of this country. I do not believe that we should unduly concern ourselves if they are not prepared to accept those responsibilities. We all know that the Department of Immigration takes every available opportunity to bring to the attention of new settlers the obligations and also the advantages that flow from naturalisation as Australian citizens. The Department can do no more than that. It undertakes to inform every new settler, at a certain time after his arrival here, that he has the opportunity to accept the full responsibilities of Australian citizenship. By doing this, the Department accepts full responsibility for providing opportunities for new settlers to acquire Australian citizenship with its attendant responsibilities.
It is true, however, that a great many new Australians have not accepted the full responsibilities of Australian citizenship. Indeed, I believe that approximately 34 per cent, of those eligible for naturalisation have not been naturalised. The percentage differs according to the country of origin. A very high percentage of new settlers from some countries undertake naturalisation. Only 38.6 per cent, of Dutch migrants have not sought naturalisation, and only 9:9 per cent, of Estonians have not sought it. The percentage is even lower for Ukrainians, of whom only 7.2 per cent, of those eligible for naturalisation have not been naturalised. So I believe that we should not be unduly concerned about the new settlers who are not prepared to accept the full responsibilites of Australian citizenship. We can encourage them to become naturalised by showing them the advantages to be gained and by providing them with the opportunity to become Australian citizens. I suggest that we should be prepared to leave it at that.
It has been suggested during this debate, Mr. Speaker, that one of the reasons why new Australians have not been prepared to undergo naturalisation is that, as part of the naturalisation ceremony, they are required to swear the oath of renunciation of former allegiance. Because this is so, both the Opposition and other organisations that have some responsibility in these matters have suggested that the oath of renunciation is completely redundant. On other occasions, we have proposed that it be abolished completely and no longer form part of the naturalisation ceremony. I believe that the Minister himself supports this attitude, and that at the 1965 Australian Citizenship Convention he intimated that he was impressed by the arguments advanced in favour of the elimination of the oath of renunciation. Many delegates who attended that Convention and who had an opportunity to address themselves to this matter stated quite clearly that in their opinion there was no need for the oath of renunciation and no reason why it should be retained. In 1965, the Opposition took the opportunity to move an amendment during the Committee stage of a debate and fully expected that the Minister would abolish the oath of renunciation as soon as he could do so. Now we find in this Bill that the oath of renunciation has been incorporated in the oath of allegiance. The Government has sought to delete part of the original oath of allegiance and has incorporated in it part of the oath of renunciation. Although the original oath of renunciation is no longer used, it has not been completely removed from naturalisation ceremonies. The Opposition believes that this oath should be abolished. We do not believe that the modification introduced in this Bill by the Government will meet the requirements of those people who did not hesitate to state their point of view at the 1965 Australian Citizenship Convention. For this reason, the Opposition has moved its amendment.
I agree with the honorable member for Sturt, who was supported in this view by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), that the residential qualification for migrants who seek to be naturalised should be reduced from the existing five years. There is a good deal of common sense in the view put by the honorable member for Sturt. As the honorable member for Scullin said, why should it remain at five years? Is there any necessity for the Government to require a qualifying period of five years? The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that this qualifying period applied in the United States of America. I hope that that is not the reason for its retention by the Australian Government. Our experience of immigration extends over more than 20 years and surely we should now be in a position to know what is required of new settlers who come to this country, who seek naturalisation and who want to accept the full responsibilities of citizenship. I believe that the period of five years should be reduced. I do not suggest the period that should be retained as a qualification, lt could be two years or it could be three years. But certainly I think that five years is far too long. The length of the qualifying period may be one of the reasons why people who are entitled to be naturalised are not seeking this privilege. I agree with the honorable member for Sturt on this point and I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Scullin.
There are many other ways in which naturalisation ceremonies could be simplified and there are many alterations to our procedures that we could adopt to encourage new settlers to come forward for naturalisation. The qualifying period is one and the elimination of the oath of renunciation is another. We all know that naturalisation ceremonies are held in the most pleasant circumstances. They have improved vastly since the original Act was introduced by the then Minister for Immigration, Mr. Calwell. I do not enjoy the privileges that are apparently extended to the honorable member for Scullin in his electorate. Apparently some councils still like to play politics when naturalisation ceremonies are to be held, but fortunately this is confined to only a very few councils.
The honorable member for Scullin said that he is invited to naturalisation ceremonies and is given the opportunity to speak to the candidates. I, as a member of the Parliament, no doubt for political reasons, have never been invited to speak at a naturalisation ceremony in the city of Launceston. On rare occasions I have been invited to attend ceremonies - probably the issue of the invitation depended on the mayor who happened to be in office at the time - but it would be two years or more since I have been invited to speak at a naturalisation ceremony. Arrangements of this nature, of course, are not the responsibility of the Department of Immigration. The Department leaves the local councils to arrange naturalisation ceremonies and I suppose one must concede that the local councils are perfectly entitled to invite whoever they want to address the candidates. Again my experience is different from that of the honorable member for Scullin. The councils in my electorate never fail to invite a Government senator. Some people still like to play politics. Nevertheless. 1 concede that the ceremonies are held in very pleasant circumstances and the councils generally try to make the candidates for citizenship as comfortable as they can.
There are many ways in which the Nationality and Citizenship Act can be improved. I have no doubt that from time to time the Minister will act to correct anomalies and to provide concessions to migrants who seek naturalisation. I hope that the next time the Minister introduces a Bill of this nature he will give effect not only to the suggestions that the residential qualification period be reduced but also to the suggestions that the requirement for migrants to have a knowledge of the English language be eased. A knowledge of the English language is essential for those who seek naturalisation, and I think the Government is entirely wrong in continuing to impose this requirement. In my opinion, it is not necessary for a new settler who wants to accept full citizenship responsibilities to have a perfect understanding of the English language. Frequently, it is not possible for a migrant to become perfect in this language. At naturalisation ceremonies, I have seen many new settlers who have barely been able to repeat the oath of allegiance and the oath of renunciation. This shows that the Department understands the position, but I believe that the Government should adopt a more sympathetic attitude. If a new settler came forward for naturalisation, although he was not completely familiar with the English language, his action would seem to show that he was prepared to settle down and learn the English language. If he was not, he would not be willing to accept the full responsibilities of citizenship, to become an Australian citizen and to make his home in Australia. As time goes by, he would undoubtedly become more familiar with the language.
I think this is another reason for the reluctance of some new settlers to seek naturalisation. I agree with those honorable members who have preceded me in the debate and who have made these points. I agree with the honorable member for Grayndler that we should abolish the oath of renunciation. I believe that we should reduce the present residential qualification of five years and that we should sympathetically consider easing the requirement that people seeking to be naturalised should be familiar with the English language.
May I refer again to cases involving people who have applied for naturalisation but who for one reason or another have been refused naturalisation. This matter has been raised in other debates by members of the Opposition. During the debate last year on the estimates for the Department of Immigration I moved an amendment by which I sought to have a committee of inquiry set up to which cases of this nature might be referred. I acknowledge at once that the Department adopts a very sympathetic attitude in these matters. I know that if he is requested to do so the Minister for Immigration will examine personally the file relating to a new settler whose application for naturalisation has been rejected.
But that is not the end of the matter. The person who unsuccessfully seeks to be naturalised and to accept full citizenship responsibilities never knows why his application has been rejected by the Department. The argument has been advanced by the Minister, acting on behalf of the Government, that these matters should not be made public. Well, even if we concede that the reasons for rejection should not be made public, surely the applicant himself should be made aware of the reasons why his application has been refused.
I have personal knowledge of a number of these cases. I do not want to say more about them at this stage. Merely let me say that I know of cases involving applicants who have been citizens of very good repute. I have been more than satisfied with their claims for naturalisation and their attitude towards citizenship of this country. I think they would have made admirable citizens. But no reasons are advanced for rejecting the applications by these people to become naturalised citizens. In a number of cases the Minister was good enough to examine the files, but we still do not know why the applications were rejected. In my opinion the Act should provide for the establishment of a court of inquiry, comprising a judge of the High Court or of a supreme court and other people experienced in immigration matters, representing the Department and other organisations, to hear these cases and to decide whether the applications were properly rejected on legal or other grounds.
I am sure that many honorable members have knowledge of cases where applications for naturalisation have been rejected on spurious grounds. It has been hinted that some applications have been rejected because of an unfavorable report received from the security service. I am not sure that the security service is always correct in these matters. We on this side of the chamber believe that in cases such as these applicants should have a right of appeal. I hope that the Minister will further consider this very important matter, which has been raised on other occasions by members of the Opposition.
As I have already said, the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. It commends the
Minister for again introducing improvements to the Nationality and Citizenship Act. We believe that these improvements will be appreciated by new settlers who seek to be naturalised. The machinery of the Act is being improved. For these reasons the Opposition approves the measure and gives it its support.
.- 1 do not intend to speak at length on this Bill because most of what can be said on the subject has already been said. I wish to support the Bill and to make a few suggestions which I think are worthy of consideration. It is my belief that the main purpose of the Bill is to encourage more migrants to apply for Australian citizenship. Honorable members may be interested to know that according to figures supplied to me by the Department of Immigration, between January 1945 and December 1965 - the period covered by our postwar immigration scheme - 480,698 migrants were naturalised. That number represents approximately two-thirds of all migrants eligible for naturalisation by reason of length of residence in this cuontry. As at 30th June last year there were still about 396,000 aliens registered in Australia. Of that number about 192,000 or about 50 per cent, were eligible to seek naturalisation by reason of having lived in Australia for five years or longer. 1 have no doubt that migrants have many reasons for not applying for naturalisation just as they have many reasons for seeking naturalisation. This Bill aims to remove some of the objections that migrants may have to seeking naturalisation. 1 would like to point out to the honorable member for Bass that migrants are not required when being naturalised to make an oath of renunciation. The statement they make is not made on oath. They merely make a statement of renunciation and take an oath of allegiance. The 1965 Australian Citizenship Convention came to the conclusion that the words of renunciation included in the naturalisation ceremony caused emotional distress to many participants. The Convention came to the conclusion also that the words deterred many migrants from seeking Australian citizenship. This Bill seeks to give the words of renunciation less prominence in the ceremony while at the same time making them just as binding as they are now. The change shortens the procedure of renunciation and makes the naturalisation ceremony more simple. We hope that it will also make the ceremony less distressing to certain migrants. At the same time the change does not lessen in any way the dignity of the ceremony.
Another major change effected by this Bill is that married couples may, if they wish, be naturalised at the same ceremony. The Migration Act specifies five years’ residence in Australia as the qualifying period for Australian citizenship. There are exceptions to this provision. One is where a migrant is the spouse of an Australian citizen. It has already been pointed out that under this legislation a husband and wife may be naturalised at the same ceremony notwithstanding that only one of them has resided for five years or longer in this country.
Many migrants who do not seek to become naturalised are unaware of the many advantages attaching to Australian citizenship. These advantages are both material and tangible. It would be a good idea for the Government to embark on a publicity campaign to point out to migrants the advantages of Australian citizenship. No doubt these advantages are well known to all honorable members, but it may be worth while outlining some of the major ones. Only Australian citizens are eligible to receive the age pension. Only Australian citizens may obtain a permanent appointment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Only Australian citizens have the right to vote - the right to a say in who shall govern the country. Only Australian citizens may travel overseas on an Australian passport. I have no doubt that the possession of an Australian passport is a material advantage, judging by the number of requests 1 have had from migrants to speed up their naturalisation so that they may travel abroad on an Australian passport. All of these are good tangible reasons for applying for naturalisation. There are many less obvious reasons. For instance, migrants who are naturalised grow up in full partnership with Australian born people and I think that in such a position they are better able to take an interest and to participate in government at all levels if they so wish. When I say “ all levels “ I refer to local governing councils, State parliaments and the Federal Parliament. But apart altogether from this aspect, surely it is something to have a sense of belonging to the community.
Surely it is natural for the migrant to want to have a say in the election of the government of the country and in the election of those who will surely control his future destiny.
I think it is also inevitable that the children of migrants will grow up as Australians. I should think that the migrants would like to grow up as one with their children. In any case, we as a nation are interested in developing one nation, not a number of pockets of different nationalities. It is the wish of all true Australians that our new settlers should regard Australia’s prosperity and Australia’s progress as their prosperity and their progress.
Included in approximately 192,000 aliens who are at present eligible to apply for citizenship are many children aged between 16 and 21 years. No doubt many of them are children whose names were not included on the application for naturalisation at the time when the parent made application. I say that because the father has the opportunity of including on his application for naturalisation the names of all those of his children who are under 16 years of age. I think it is possible that many of those children who have since attained 16 years of age or more are not aware that they are not naturalised. Some of them probably believe that they were included in their father’s naturalisation certificate. I think that a form of publicity embarked upon by the Government might bring these things home to them.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) dealt with some of the requirements of the Canadian Citizenship Act. I would suggest that perhaps we could learn from the United States of America. I do not propose that this country should slavishly follow everything that the United States suggests, but I do believe that that country has had far greater experience of migration matters than either Canada, Australia, or, for that matter, most countries in the world and I do think that we could learn something from the United States and its means of encouraging migrants to become naturalised.
It is my personal belief that the greatest barrier to applications for naturalisation is the lack of knowledge of English. As I understand it, the United States Government provides the names of certain arriving migrants whose knowledge of English is not great to local schools in order that invitations to attend citizenship classes might be extended to them. The information as to those with lack of knowledge of the language is obtained from immigration officers overseas. According to the report of the Immigration Service for the year 1963, the names of 178,957 migrants v/ere given to local schools, and in that year 104,164 migrants enrolled with those schools to attend classes relating to citizenship. In addition, a further 5,079 who could not attend school enrolled for home study courses. Surely this system would be worthy of consideration by the Minister.
United States immigration authorities have produced a film called: “Are you a Citizen? “. In the year 1963, this film was viewed by 700 prospective citizens at one school. The United States Government also prints and distributes a Federal textbook on citizenship which is used almost universally by schools. It is also available at a nominal charge at the Government Printing Office. The report to which I have referred discloses that in the year 1962-63 more than 150,000 copies of that book were distributed.
The Americans make quite a lot of citizenship week. Each year 17th September, which is the date of the signing of the American Constitution, is proclaimed by the President as Citizenship Day and marks the beginning of Citizenship Week. During this week the subject of citizenship receives a great deal of publicity throughout the length and breadth of the United States in the Press, over the radio and in television programmes. As many naturalisation ceremonies as possible are held during Citizenship Week. Australia has tried to do something along these lines by taking Australia Day as Citizenship Day and I know that the Department encourages as many councils as possible to hold naturalisation ceremonies on Australia Day or as near to that date as practicable; but I do not think we go far enough in this regard.
As I believe that we are all interested in encouraging eligible migrants to apply for naturalisation, I suggest that the Government might have a look at some of the ideas I have put forward. I have put them forward in a constructive manner in the hope that the Government might see fit to adopt some or all of them and thereby encourage more of our migrants to become Australian citizens. Apart from this, I believe the Bill is a good one and that it is deserving of the support of all honorable members.
– I propose to speak only briefly to this measure. I agree with the viewpoints that have been expressed by many honorable members commending the provisions of the Bill. In particular, I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and supported by this side of the House.
I want particularly to support the suggestions that have been made for a shortening of the required time of waiting for naturalisation. I refer to the time a migrant must spend in this country or any other British country, totalling in all five years, before he can be naturalised. The statutory requirement is, of course, one year’s residence in Australia immediately prior to application for naturalisation plus four years’ residence in Australia or in another British country under certain circumstances, during the eight years prior to application for naturalisation. No discretion rests with the Minister for Immigration or the Department to alter this requirement for adult persons, although some discretion is afforded the Minister in respect of persons under the age of 21 years.
Of course, there are other provisions in the Act which enable the qualifying period to be quite substantially reduced. As I understand it, the Nationality and Citizenship Act provides for the special recognition of the service of ex-servicemen under British or allied command, as defined in the Act, during World War TI and provides that voluntary service in the permanent forces of the Commonwealth may be counted as double time, that voluntary continuous full time service in the Army Forces of a country other than a foreign country during the eight years immediately preceding application for naturalisation may be counted as double time, and voluntary service in the Citizen Forces may be counted as time and a quarter. Thus, as an example, two years’ service as a volunteer in the Australian Regular Army would count as four years’ residence for naturalisation purposes.
The Act also allows up to four years’ service during World War II in the forces of a foreign country under allied command to be counted towards the residential qualification. Of course, in such cases, the applicant for naturalisation must have resided in Australia for at least one year immediately prior to making application. In fact, a migrant coming to this country who has served with forces under allied command during World War II could have his waiting period very substantially reduced. I believe that this is a provision that could well be extended into other fields.
To illustrate a point I would like to make with the Minister, 1 would quote from a case put before me by a migrant citizen of this city who wrote drawing attention to the fate of temporary public servants, especially migrants. He said that, through no fault of their own, migrants temporarily employed in the Public Service have to wait for five years before being able to become permanent officers. Let me quote from bis letter. He said -
During this period they have to work just like everybody else without getting any promotion or other advancements.
This situation is very frustrating and inhuman-
These are his own words - especially when one’s colleagues get promotions regularly.
He goes on to point out that he joined the Commonwealth Public Service as a temporary clerk in the Bureau of Census and Statistics in October 1960, and he was still employed there at the time of writing to me a week or two ago. He continued -
The condition of acquiring permanency is being a British subject, that is for a migrant to become naturalised. However, why is it that one has to wait five years, when you want to become naturalised much earlier, and are prepared for it. These five years are purely wasted as far as a career is concerned. When I entered Australia, my English was fluent, and surely it does not take five years to learn the Australian way of life. I already applied for naturalisation a year ago because of the time limit set for eligibility to become a permanent officer.
He continued, and I admire his command of the English language -
The irony of the case is that i was only 26 when I joined the Public Service and will be at least 31 when I become naturalised and become eligible for permanent appointment.
He cannot be permanently employed in the Public Service until he is naturalised and he cannot be naturalised until he has been in this country for five years, but when that five years has expired he will have reached the age of 31 years and the upper age limit for permanence in the Public Service is 30 years. So although he is now employed in the Public Service and has been with the Service since 1960 and is presumably giving entirely satisfactory service, he cannot become permanent because he has not become naturalised, but he cannot become naturalised because he has not been here for five years. He goes on to say -
This sort of thing gives you nightmares, and it is very unfair towards hard working migrants as they don’t get the normal awards identified wilh work in the Public Service and being granted lo others (promotions etc.). 1 wrote to the Secretary of the Public Service Board using this case as an illustration for suggesting that there might be some means by which the Public Service Board, itself recognising the worth of a migrant who is a temporary public servant, might find means to have the qualifying period reduced. The letter from the Secretary of the Board in reply said - . . the Board requires production of evidence of naturalisation, as appropriate, but is not directly concerned wilh the question of the qualifying period served by the applicant before naturalisation was obtained. Although cases similar to the particular one referred to by you have come to notice, the Board has felt that, quite apart from the need lo observe the statutory requirements for naturalisation, it would be wrong for it to seek preferential treatment for a person, merely because he or she contemplated joining the Commonwealth Service.
The point I should like to make to the Minister is this: We grant naturalisation loosely on a two years basis to someone who has served during World War II with forces under allied command. We do not know anything of his qualities as a soldier and we do not necessarily know anything of his record as a soldier. The fact that he has served with forces under allied command entitles him to consideration at least of a reduction of his waiting time from five to two years.
I suggest to the Minister that there is an equal case for consideration of a reduction of the time generally, but particularly in relation to people employed in the Govern ment’s own Public Service because those who are employed in the Public Service are subject to a security check. They are screened to ensure that they are suitable persons for employment in various departments in the Commonwealth Public Service. They are required to take an oath ot loyalty. Surely, these things being so, there is sound argument for saying that these people can be accepted for naturalisation in a period shorter than the five years generally required. I suggest to the Minister that there are safeguards in the screening that is undertaken before employment in the Public Service and, in fact, in the screening that is continued in the probationary period of that employment, and also in the requirement that the employee shall take an oath of allegiance. The Public Service Board has admitted in its reply to me that this is not an isolated case and that there are other cases. I suggest that throughout the length and breadth of Australia there may be indeed many hundreds of cases in which migrants who are here, who are established in the community and who are working in the Public Service are debarred, because of the present five year waiting period, from achieving permanence in a public service in which they are giving satisfactory service and in which they are happy to continue. I commend that suggestion to the Minister and I hope that he will consider it and discuss it, if need be, with officers of the Public Service Board. It seems to me that it is a reasonable proposal.
The migrant who has served with forces under allied command and enters the Public Service may be naturalised within two years whereas his fellow migrant who comes from the same country but who has not served under allied command during World War II must wait for five years and miss the opportunity, in many cases, ot achieving permanence in the Public Service - the permanence and security that he sought in joining that Service. I hope that the Minister will give this matter some consideration because it seems to me to be a reasonable proposition and one that must be causing concern to a considerable number of migrants employed not only in the Commonwealth Public Service, perhaps, but in the public services or public utilities of the States.
.- I wish to make a few remarks this evening about clause 11 of the Bill. This is the clause which alters the form of the oath of allegiance to be taken in a naturalisation ceremony. As has been mentioned by previous speakers, the present practice is for someone seeking naturalisation to make a statement of renunciation first and then to take the oath of allegiance. Under the provision in the Bill it will no longer be necessary for a person to make the statement of renunciation; instead, the words of renunciation are included in the oath of allegiance which will now read -
I, . . . , renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.
We have all attended naturalisation ceremonies in our own electorates and where they have been well conducted we have seen that they can be quite memorable occasions - certainly for the people who are becoming naturalised. In those ceremonies where it is made clear, as in my experience it generally is, that in making this renunciation people are not in any way renouncing the love of their mother country or any connection with it, but only severing a legal link involving rights and obligations to the government of the old country, most of them understand the position.
I find myself in the same position as the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) who has not heard any complaints and who has attended quite a great number of naturalisation ceremonies. However, it is my belief that the proposed amendment by which the renunciation will be included in the oath will be a more logical form and will be acceptable to migrants who are required to take the oath of naturalisation. One could hardly object on taking an oath of allegiance to renouncing other allegiances, so there is not a conflict. There are some who believe that the renunciation should be removed altogether and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has foreshadowed an amendment to omit the words of renunciation. I want to say a few words about that.
I shall oppose the amendment. When a migrant comes to be naturalised at a ceremony he generally has another nation ality. There are, of course, exceptions to this in the case of Stateless persons, but these, although an aftermath of the last war, are a decreasing body of people. The migrant has another nationality and it is worth, perhaps, spending a few minutes to look at what this involves. Nationality is the legal link between a citizen and the Crown or the Government of his own state and it involves mainly three things. First, he has the right to the protection of tha state whether he is in the country or abroad. If he is abroad he can go to his country’s consulate or embassy for protection. Secondly, he is liable as a national of a country to the operation of its laws whether he is in the country itself or is abroad. Normally the laws of this country would not operate as far as people abroad are concerned, but they may so operate in respect of Australian nationals abroad. A person is liable to obey the laws of the country of which he is a national Thirdly, a person is liable to be called up for military service by the state of which he is a national.
It is obvious that it must be in the interests of a person not to have dual nationality. If a person is under an obligation to obey the laws of two states and under an obligation to be called up for national service by two states, a very grave conflict could arise in some circumstances. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a situation could arise where to perform his obligation to one state would involve treason to the other state. So it is in the interests of a person that he should make an election and have, not a dual nationality, but one nationality. It is true, as the honorable member for Grayndler h3s said, that many countries do not recognise a renunciation in Australia as ending the original nationality. This applies particularly to countries which can be described as Iron Curtain countries. With the exception of Greece, the countries that the honorable member mentioned fall into that category. Spain would perhaps be another country that recognises dual nationality and does not recognise a severance of nationality as a result of the mere fact of renunciation or of acquisition of another nationality. These countries recognise the renunciation only if it is made in accordance with their own laws and requirements.
On the other hand, some countries do recognise the principle of renunciation. It is rather to take care of the position that applies to migrants from these countries that it is important to maintain this provision in the legislation. Perhaps one should emphasise here that the loss of the nationality of the mother country does not principally depend upon what we do here; it depends principally upon the laws of the mother country. For example, at one time - I do noi know what the current position is - France would not recognise a loss of nationality by a Frenchman who gained nationality in another country and renounced that of his own country, unless he was of the age of 31 years - 31, not 21 years of age. The French law operated as far as that Frenchman was concerned if he returned to France or came in any way under French control. The point 1 am making is that the loss of the old nationality depends upon the laws of the old country from which a person comes. There are countries which do not recognise the act of renunciation, just as there are others which do. It is true that some of these countries which do recognise the loss of nationality would recognise it even if there were a mere acquisition of an opposed nationality without renunciation. We might say therefore that in the case of those countries it is not particularly material whether or not we have a renunciation clause. However, there are a few countries which do attach significance to the formality and solemnity of the procedure under which this renunciation of the old nationality is made. An alternative way of dealing with the position would be to provide an option in the Act so that migrants who wish to adopt Australian nationality and to divest themselves of the legal obligation involved in their old nationality could elect to make a renunciation. This, however, would involve a good deal of administrative difficulty in explaining to them why they were subject to a procedure different from the ordinary procedure. 1 support the Government’s action in simplifying the procedure for naturalisation and including the renunciation provision in the oath of allegiance. As a result, migrants from countries whose laws take account of this fact will have their legal link with those countries broken, as it should be, and the psychological effect of this on others will not be detrimental. I therefore support the Bill and oppose the amendment that has been foreshadowed.
– The House will welcome this Bill and the accompanying Bills which will make it easier for us to absorb migrants and make the lot of migrants in Australia easier. These Bills will be acceptable to migrants. It is important that Australia should recognise the need for further immigration, and it is in that context that I wish particularly to support the Bills. Statistics show that the net number of migrants we are receiving in Australia has increased in the past few years. In 1961 the number was 61.000; in 1962, 62,000; in 1963, 72,000; in 1964, 99,000; and last year - the figures were released only today, I think - 105,000. This shows the need for Bills such as those we have before us.
One aspect the House should consider is that our natural rate of increase is lessening to a degree and our dependence on migrants is increasing proportionately. Australia is one of the few countries which is very much underpopulated. It needs a greater population. It would appear that it is only through immigration that we can obtain the necessary increase of population. I should like honorable members to consider the fall in our natural birthrate which accentuates this need for migrants and makes these Bills even more acceptable than they would otherwise have been. This fall in the natural rate of increase coincides almost exactly with the adoption of new methods of contraception, including the contraceptive pill. I shall give the figures to the House because they are most important, particularly in this context. In 1961 the natural increase in Australia was 151,000. This figure has fallen progressively to 123,000 in 1965 and the fall is continuing. I have had analysed the factors behind this fall and for the first time I can produce some statistics. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) and I have both been interested in this subject. The statistics relate to what is known as completed families. I will not go into the details of the way in which they have been compiled, although I shall be pleased to put them before any honorable member who is interested. However, I will not weary the House with details. The point is that the completed family - that is, the number of children that a married woman will be expected to have during her whole married life - until 1961 was rising, but since that date it has fallen very substantially. In 1958 the completed family was, on the average, 2.69 children. In 1959 it was 2.73; in 1960, 2.76 and in 1961, 2.84. This was the crucial year in which new contraceptive methods came into operation. In 1962 the completed family was 2.78; in 1963, 2.72; in 1964, 2.58 and in 1965, 2.43.
On present trends - the fall is still continuing - with the preliminary figures that are available for 1966, the figure will be down to about 2.25 for this current year. As honorable members will see, it is an increasing rate of fall. It is important to realise that the vital line is not far below 2.25; it is about 2.19. This allows for about 6 per cent, of non-nuptial births. It allows for a masculinity ratio of 52.4. It allows for the known fact that about 19 per cent, of females never marry and about 1 1 per cent, of marriages that are celebrated are remarriages. If the population is to remain stationary, over the long term we will require the nuptial index to be about 2.19. If the index falls below that figure the population will, in the long run, decrease. It can increase through natural sources only if we are above this vital line. We were quite a long way above it a few years ago. We are not far above it today and at the present rate of fall we will be very much below it in three or four years’ time. This would mean that although the Australian population would go on increasing for a* little while because of the age distribution, without migration we would reach a peak of 14 million or 15 million in Australia and then our population would start to decline. These are the trends that are current in the community at the present moment.
I hope I will have an opportunity of setting out these vital figures in greater detail. I think that honorable members will agree they are figures of the highest significance. If the present position is that our natural rate of childbirth is unable to sustain an increase in the population we will, in default of migration, be facing before very long a declining population in Australia. This is something that would be unacceptable to every honorable member in the House. We are a country, we think, with a future. We are a country with a lot of territory but comparatively few people. I am not going to take time to discuss the question of the policy that is necessary to maintain our natural rate of increase. I know that this Bill would not permit a discussion of that character, but it does permit us to bring forward the considerations that render even more necessary now than three or four years ago an increased migration policy.
Our migration rate has been stepped up in accordance with the figures I read to the House a little while ago. Of course, it is not as great now as it was in 1911, 1912 and 1913 when we were absorbing some 80,000 migrants a year with a total population of under live million. In order to get up to the 1911, 1912 and 1913 level we would have to be absorbing an additional 100,000 migrants a year. Perhaps honorable members have forgotten that although our present migration programme has been big and sustained it has not had the intensity of the programme we successfully carried through in the three years 1911, 1912 and 1913. I would suggest to the House that it might, in considering this matter of migration, turn its mind to the vital fact that by reason of changes in the habits of the population - and I do not wish to criticise this in any way at present, but I simply state this as fact - our completed family figure is decreasing. I do not wish to suggest any policy that might hold out a greater inducement for a family to have a number of children, although I would, of course, support such a policy. However, I do not think this is the time or the place, in relation to this Bill, to canvass it. We have to accept these statistical facts which, I think, have not been known to the country but which I have placed before the House for the first time. Unless there is some change in the outlook of our people our natural rate of of increase will in 10 or 15 years come to a stop and our natural increase will then become a natural decrease. Unless we realise that, we will not be putting sufficient emphasis on this parallel question of migration.
Our rate of population increase over the last four or five years has been large, but it has been sustained only by the increasing migrant flow that I have detailed to the House. The rate of natural increase has fallen and is continuing to fall. It looks as though, unless something is done to reverse the present trend, we will be crossing, within a year or so, that vital line of 2.19 children in the completed family, which means that our natural growth in Australia will, over a long term, come to a halt.
.- In rising to support the Bill and to oppose the amendment foreshadowed by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) I have no desire to canvass to any great extent the points already adequately put forward by Government supporters. I want principally to bring forward two suggestions that may be of value in broadening our approach on the question of naturalisation. Before coming to the two points 1 wish to deal with I want to mention the specific points which are emphasised in this Bill, apart from the machinery measures. I refer to the provision for a spouse to be able to stand beside his or her partner at the naturalisation ceremony, the special requirements of that ceremony, and also the renunciation of allegiance. I believe that, in addition to the points canvassed by other honorable members, these two provisions represent a most important advancement in our thinking, and a streamlining and broadening of our approach towards naturalisation ceremonies.
As has been said very adequately already, all members of Parliament are associated with naturalisation ceremonies in the various municipalities in the areas they represent. Not only the members of this Parliament but also the whole of the civil service appreciate the contributions which these naturalisation ceremonies make towards our way of life and the enlargement of our thinking. The municipal authorities are to be commended on their work in this field. Indeed, I am sure that each and every member of the Parliament who attends the ceremonies makes a specific point of expressing the appreciation of the Parliament and the Government of the work carried out by the municipal councils. For my own part, I am most appreciative of the efforts of the Rockdale Municipal Council and the Hurstville Municipal Council in my own electorate. My remarks apply not only to the councils as separate bodies but also to the officers of these councils who give up their time to organise these naturalisation ceremonies in such a splendid manner.These two provisions brought forward in the Bill by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) will add to the dignity of the naturalisation ceremonies.
The honorable memberfor Grayndler has raised the matter of the renunciation of allegiance. To my mind, the honorable member overemphasised the importance of it. The oath of allegiancehas been streamlined. The oath as set out in the Third Schedule in clause 12 of the Bill is a smooth flowing statement which willbe an asset to the ceremony. The oath of allegiance reads -
the person gives his or her name - renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second.Her Heirs and Successors according to law.
Here is a blending of the old arrangement which I suggest to the House will be extremely successful and acceptable not only to new citizens but also to the older settlers of Australia. The streamlining of the administrative machinery to allow a spouse to stand beside his or her marriage partner at the naturalisation ceremony is one of those niceties which will improve the standard of this ceremony. This type of broad thinking by the Government is in accordance with the many phases of broader thinking in our governmental structure. This kind of improvement has been made by this Government from time to time in the fields of defence, foreign affairs, economics and so on. The two provisions to which I have referred add to the picture of general appreciation, good organisation and good government by the present Government since it came into office in 1949.
As I have already said, there are two points I want to emphasise. The first is the matter brought forward by the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson), who has suggested that the period of residence in Australia by a migrant before application for naturalisation can be made should be reduced from the present requirement of five years. I do not know that the honorable member for Sturt specified a period.
But I suggest this time might be reduced to two years. I notice fairly general support in the House for this suggestion. We may be able to determine the merit of this suggestion if we appreciate the factors behind the establishment of the five year residence requirement and how this system has operated since it was instituted. To do so, we can consider the number of rejections of naturalisation applications that have occurred under this five years qualification system. The figures which may be of interest to all members, including the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), show that o? all the naturalisation applications that have been considered, only 2.2 per cent, have been rejected. Of that 2.2 per cent., 1.8 per cent, was rejected on the ground of the language barrier. Actually, this 1.8 per cent, is not, in effect, a rejection because once the people concerned become accustomed to the language and have the necessary qualifications, they become eligible for naturalisation. So, we are left with a rejection figure of .4 per cent. I submit to the Minister for Immigration that there may be great value in reducing the five year qualification period to at least a two year qualification period again to streamline and broaden our approach towards naturalisation. Indeed, this would assist a number of people who are available and otherwise eligible to become naturalised Australians.
The second point I wish to bring to the attention of the House relates to the question of the age at which children may be naturalised with their parents. To this point of time, any children under the age of 16 nominated by their parents are eligible to become naturalised on the same night as their parents. I do not know how the 16 years of age limit was determined. I ask: Why cannot the age limit be raised to 21? Not all, but a great many, legal requirements impose an age limit on consent at 21 years. The emphasis on the age of 21 points, in my opinion, to the value of extending the naturalisation age limit from 16 to 21 with regard to the children of parents who are being naturalised. I do not have figures available as to the number that would be involved if the age limit was raised. This may be a difficult figure for the officers of the Department of Immigration to determine. At least, it occurs to me that this is another way by which new settlers in Australia could be more readily naturalised by an extension of the provisions of the existing legislation. I suggest that if the two points I have raised were put forward by the Minister for Immigration they would be readily acclaimed by the House. Their acceptance by the Minister would emphasise again the broad and everwidening approach of the Government to the question of naturalisation. In those few words, I support the Bill and reject the amendments foreshadowed by the honorable member for Grayndler.
– in reply - First, I wish to express my appreciation of the interest that honorable members have taken in this debate. Many honorable members have taken part in the debate and I suppose this is because no single factor in the governmental enterprise touches so many of us as does the question of immigration. The suggestions that have been made during this debate indicate the experience of those in this House who have been so closely associated with the day by day problems of new settlers. Some of the matters that have been referred to in this second reading debate will come up for consideration again during the Committee stage, so I do not intend to touch on all of the points which have been raised on both sides of the House. However, so much emphasis has been placed consistently by so many honorable members on the question of the length of residence in Australia that is required before a migrant may apply for naturalisation - the discussion was commenced by the honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) and taken up by other honorable members - that I think I should say a few words on the subject as it will not come into consideration in Committee. There must be a balance of judgment on the delicate question of the period of residence that is required before a person can apply for naturalisation. In immigration matters when we are dealing with regulations and Acts, it is essential that all the factors involved be weighed most carefully because, in endeavouring to do one thing, we frequently find a penalty arises in another area which relates to the very people we are endeavouring to assist.
Honorable members have spoken this evening about eligibility for naturalisation and have indicated a great deal of sympathy for migrants. They have taken naturalisation in their stride, as it were. I must impress upon honorable members, however, that naturalisation cannot be considered lightly or conferred lightly. I think it is fair to require an applicant to have a good enough knowledge of English to understand the oath he is taking and the obligation that he is accepting. I think it is reasonable to expect him to have sufficient knowledge of the country to appreciate the concessions that are available to him and also his duty to his new country. I offer no resistance whatsoever to any alteration of immigration procedures that can be shown to be in the best interests of Australia. After all, we must keep in mind the interests of our country. We want migrants to come here and we want them to be successful, but we must always have a care for the interests of Australia as well as the benefit to the migrants. If the two interests can be evenly balanced we will arrive at a satisfactory conclusion for both.
Let me point out to honorable members that the average time spent in Australia by migrants before they apply for naturalisation is between seven and eight years. In the terrific upheaval involved in their transplantation from the old country to the new they spend the early years in making a complete study of the jobs and housing available, the monetary returns that are possible and all the other things that go towards making a new life in a new country. There are odd exceptions, of course, who can be completely integrated in a very short time. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) mentioned one who was fluent in English and could readily be absorbed, but his was one of a few rare cases. The average migrant needs to serve an apprenticeship, a settling-in period, before he can say: “ I understand this country, I know all about it, I like the people and I will be here permanently.” Statistics reveal that it is between seven and eight years before the average migrant applies for naturalisation.
I believe that if we decided, without having given the matter proper consideration, to shorten the qualifying period, paying no regard at all to the time required for a person to gain a knowledge of the language, we would lose all the benefits of the efforts we have been making to assist migrants in this direction. We have arranged to give them instruction on the ships bringing them to Australia and we have arranged for them to attend English classes after arriving here. If we took no account of the desirability or necessity for a migrant to gain a knowledge of English before being naturalised we would find, human nature being what it is, that the migrants would not bother to learn English properly and would merely pick up whatever they could in their particular environments. We would destroy any feeling that now exists that the language should be learned in the first five years. We could also lay ourselves open to a charge by the Australian public that we are indifferent to the welfare of our new settlers who could, if they had an insufficient knowledge of English, become involved in all sorts of difficulties with our laws, with housing agreements, even with simple traffic signs.
It is obvious from the tone of the debate that all honorable members are in sympathy with the migrants. We are, of course, closely associated with them and their problems. We must realise, however, that there are hundreds of thousands of Australians who go about their work from day to day and have only a cursory or generalised knowledge of the problems of migrants. Therefore I believe that if we allowed too early naturalisation without bringing some pressure to bear on the migrants to learn English we would be reproached by the Australian people for allowing migrants to become naturalised without their first having satisfied all the elementary requirements of their Australianisation, if I may use such a word. It is essential for the success of our immigration programme that we have the goodwill and support of the public. Therefore I suggest that these matters must be watched closely. We must not appear to grant naturalisation so freely or irresponsibly that people will say we are lax in our attitude towards migrants. A delicate balance of human relationships is involved, and any alterations to our procedure must be considered as carefully as the alterations to this legislation are being considered this evening. This does not imply that the suggestions that have been made will not be given full consideration. It is obvious that they have resulted from careful study by honorable members who are close to the subject and have applied themselves to immigration problems.
Some members have suggested that integration should take place as quickly as possible and that naturalisation can assist in this direction and can prevent the formation of national groups. I think that to some extent this is an exaggeration of the position in Austrafia. Obviously the first generation settlers tend to keep together for companionship in the days when they cannot speak English, but the members of the second generation are more quickly integrated because they go to our schools, learn and speak English and quickly become integral parts of the community. Any lessening of the need to understand English would tend to foster the collection of national groups. The better they learn English the more quickly they will be assimilated into our community. This applies even to the older generation.
Honorable members are well aware of the cities within cities in such large aggregations of people as there are in places like New York. In a square mile of that city one might find only one language spoken and newspapers printed only in that language - not the English language. Having such developments in mind I believe that we should, without placing tremendous emphasis on the need to understand English thoroughly, make it clear that migrants should acquire a fundamental knowledge of our language. Several honorable members have mentioned that the Department considers each case according to its circumstances. If in a particular case it is obvious that there are difficulties in the way of learning English I can assure the House that a sympathetic attitude is displayed. I repeat, however, that I think it is necessary to foster the impression that an understanding of English is necessary before naturalisation can be granted.
I followed with interest the remarks of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) about the methods used in other countries. We can find out and have found out what is done in other countries, but I can tell the House that many other countries which accept immigrants and grant naturalisation have studied our Australian methods and have been impressed with them. Whatever is done, as we have learned from the ex perience of our other efforts, publicity can be effective. We saw this recently with respect to the registration of aliens. Registration by September was imperative, and at the time a great deal of publicity was given to naturalisation. We have seen the stimulating benefits of that publicity, but after all, it must be recognised that this is a free country. Time and again, we portray Australia as a free country and we must not at any time do anything that appears to be evidence of coercion or pressure on our new settlers to become naturalised. We can only hope that when they come here, work among us, pay their taxes and behave as good citizens our example and our attitude towards them will more readily induce each of them to become one of us.
Australia is not alone in facing these problems of immigration and naturalisation. All countries face them. I read recently, I believe in a book by Elspeth Huxley, that many thousands of Poles who had been driven out of their own country by conditions of great privation and hardship went to live in England. Though they have feelings of tremendous affection for the country that gave them succour and shelter, 20 years afterwards nearly 100,000 of them are still unnaturalised. They speak English and to all intents and purposes have become part of the country. Many of them have visited Poland and returned to England realising that it has now become their country. Despite this, there is still a natural link between them and the country from which they came, and they remain unnaturalised. So Australia is not alone in being confronted by this desire of people not to break off the link with the country of their origin although many of them, perhaps insensibly, have become so much part of their new country that they could not possibly return to live happily in the country of their origin. I believe that our best reaction to this situation is to continue to display a warm and genuine interest in migrants. I am sure that if we do this, as time goes on the percentage of naturalisations will increase. As I said when I initiated this debate, I do not want it to be considered that any of us resists any proposal that would be for the betterment of migrants, but it is just as well to have all aspects of any important suggestions discussed before any final conclusions are reached and any action taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
.- Mr. Chairman, this clause will amend the definition of “ Australian consulate “ in section 5 of the principal Act. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) stated that the amendment had become necessary because some doubt had been cast on the legal effect of a register of the births of Australian citizens born abroad which is kept at the central office of the Department of Immigration in Canberra. The definition in the principal Act reads - “ Australian consulate “ means the office of a diplomatic or consular officer of the Australian Government at which a register of births is kept, or, in a country where there is no such office or in New Guinea, such office as is approved by the Minister and includes an office of the Department of Immigration.
The definition, in its new form, will provide - “ Australian consulate “ means -
The change in the definition appears to be so minor that I wonder whether legal doubt will be cast on the proposed definition. The only real difference that I can see is in paragraph (c). This specifies an office of the Department in or outside Australia, whereas the existing definition merely specifies an office of the Department. I wonder why there should be a legal doubt in the first place, because an office of the Department of Immigration is an office of an Australian department whether it is situated in or outside Australia. Surely a register of births kept in any office of the Department would be a legal register of births. There should be no doubt about this. I ask the Minister to explain to me and to the Committee exactly what doubt arises and why it arises.
– I shall reply to the honorable member tomorrow.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a matter that has been of considerable concern to people livingin Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. During the last few weeks, I have received a flood of telephone calls and messages concerning the statement made by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) about Europeans declining to live in northern Australia and the development of northern Australia as it affects defence. At the same time, many editorials on the subject have been published in the newspapers of the north, all containing trenchant criticism of the Minister’s statement. Basically, he is alleged to have made two statements, which have been reported throughout the Australian Press. The first is that the ordinary European who comes to Australia does not choose to live in the north. The second is that he did not believe for one moment that our defence would be helped by northern development. He is alleged to have stated by implication that he agreed with the proposition that it would be easier to invade Australia from the north if it were developed than if it were not. This is in line with a similar statement made by Sir Charles Davidson, a former Minister in this Government, in 1963. Speaking about transport development in northern Australia, he said -
As a man who has had some experience in these matters, I can think of nothing more dangerous than to provide an efficient transport system for our enemy to use to get to our heart.
That was a typical Brisbane Line approach. When I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) whether the Government had adopted a new policy, he said that, although he had not read the Minister’s statement, he was confident that whatever the Minister said on northern development would be good sense and would be based on the soundest factual background. The statement by the Minister for National Development apparently does set out the new policy of this new Government. If it does, judging by the repercussions in the north during the last two weeks, quite a few protests will reach here shortly, even from such conservative bodies as the various chambers of commerce in the north. I find it very difficult to accept that the Minister believes what he said. However, he said it or has been widely reported as having sard it.
The Minister referred to ordinary Europeans Jiving in the north. I do not know what sort of people the Minister thinks live in the north, because 99 per cent, of them arc of European descent. I am a fifth generation northern Australian and my daughter is a sixth generation Australian. 1 am of European descent and I am proud of it. Reference was made to the climate. I believe that the north has one of the best climates in Australia. I. think the sugar industry has proved that this is so. The sugar industry has given the lie to those people who say that Europeans cannot live in the north.
The Minister made the remarkable statement that northern development would not help defence. If I were to quote the remarks of all the authorities who hold the opposite view, 1 would be here for many a day, but I shall quote just three people. It is most significant that two of them made statements on the same day as the Minister did. One was no less a person than the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin. When speaking about defence and the development of north Queensland, he said -
We are expected to be able - and willing - to defend any part of Australia at any time, so preparedness for this should already exist. It seems an elementary precaution, like property insurance, that we protectively cover what we own and value first.
However, a developed and settled region is much easier to defend than an undeveloped one, and it is also much less likely to be attacked.
Therefore by developing the North we would be strengthening the nation’s security and, importantly, proving that we have the moral right to retain this great region as our own.
On the same day, another Minister of the Queensland Government, the Minister for Main Roads, made a statement at a conference of the Returned Services League. He is reported as having said -
Good roads were an essential to defence, besides being highly desirable economically and socially.
Two Ministers in Queensland made statements diametrically opposed to that mads by the Minister for National Development. But I am concerned to know whether this is the policy of the Government. It has not been denied and I think that this in itself leads one to suspect that a lot of new thinking is taking place now that the new Prime Minister has taken over. He was formerly the Treasurer and he may believe that these ideas are right.
The third person I would like to quote in refutation of the Minister’s statement is General Douglas MacArthur. When General MacArthur came to Australia, he was faced with the Brisbane Line approach also. In a book he wrote, he described the situation on his arrival in Australia in 1943 when Australia faced her greatest hours of peril. He said -
A sense of dangerous defeatism has seized upon a large segment of Australia’s 7,000,000 people. . . .
The immediate and imperative problem which confronted me was the defence of Australia itself. Its actual military situation had become almost desperate. Its forces were weak to the extreme and Japanese invasion was momentarily expected.
He went on to say that the Defence Chiefs had consulted him and put the proposition of the Brisbane Line to him. He said -
They had traced a line generally along the Darling River, from Brisbane, midway up the eastern shoreline, to Adelaide on the south coast. This would be defended to the last breath. Such a plan, however, involved the sacrifice of threequarters or more of the continent, the great northern and western reaches of the land. Behind this so-called Brisbane Line were the four or five most important cities and the large proportion of the population - the heart of Australia.
Sir Charles Davidson also referred to the heart of Australia. General MacArthur continued -
As the areas to the north fell to the enemy, detailed plans were made to wihdraw from New Guinea and lay desolate the land above the Brisbane Line.
The Defence Chiefs planned to dynamite the military installations and the transport systems in northern Australia. What did MacArthur do? He condemned this type of thinking out of hand. He immediately moved his headquarters from Melbourne to northern Australia and New Guinea and commenced to build roads. This is the type of action we should have today. The statement of the Minister for National
Development is not only dangerous; it is also so absurd politically that 1 just cannot imagine a responsible Minister making it.
– The House will recall that last week the Inter-Parliamentary Union held its meetings in Canberra. It would not be normal, of course, to criticise the delegates from other countries who came here to attend the meetings. But there are limits and I think in the interests of decency something should be said about one of the delegates, the leader of the Soviet delegation, Mr. J. Paletskis. I have checked and have found that he is identical with the Mr. J. Paletskis who was appointed by the Soviet to be head of the puppet government in Lithuania in June 1940. He was president of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in those days.
It is important to remember that at that time Hitler and Stalin were in close alliance and friendship. Those were the days when they were in full concord. What was done in Lithuania at that time was done by the Russians with the approval of Nazi Germany. This man Paletskis was brought in to head the Soviet puppet government. It was unprovoked aggression against Lithuania and it was aggression that was followed by the most inhuman barbarism. It is described in the book “Lithuania’s Fight for Freedom “, which was written by Mr. E. J. Harrison, who was British Vice-Consul in Lithuania. Let me quote a little from this book so that honorable members may know something about the past of the man who led the Soviet delegation here in Canberra, because he organised these things which I shall describe to the House. The book refers to the deportation of some 65,000 Lithuanian citizens. It states -
These mass deportations were carefully planned. They were particularly inhuman in that the deported families were deliberately, by special instruction, broken up; fathers and mothers with children were sent to different destinations, each being kept in ignorance of where the others were being exiled. Tens of thousands of people have been thus uprooted from Lithuania. There is evidence to prove that the plan provided for the deportation from Lithuania of seven hundred thousand persons in the near future.
No calamity of such magnitude had been experienced by the Lithuanian nation since the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the Teutonic Knights used to put invaded Lithuanian territories to fire and sword. According to an estimate based on the evidence gathered by the
Lithuanian Red Cross, Lithuania suffered a total manpower loss of 65,000 persons either exiled or evacuated during the first year of the Soviet occupation of the country. The biggest haul was recorded on the night of June 14 to 15, 1941, viz., 30,455 persons, when a manhunt upon an enormous scale was organised. The facts are substantiated by authentic poli:e and railroad documents including “ freight lists “ of human cargoes showing the car numbers, capacity and destination.
Included in the book as an appendix is the actual Soviet order setting out which families were to be seized in their houses. The order shows that the families were not to be told of the separation instructions but were to be taken to the railway station, where the separation was to be carried out according to the instructions.
I refer now to a book written by Mr. J. A. Swettenham titled “The Tragedy of the Baltic States “. Mr. Swettenham was an American representative on the Displaced Persons Division of the Control Commission for Germany. He had an opportunity to learn at first hand what was happening in Europe. In his book he states - the Bolsheviks killed the prisoners on the spot or executed them in nearby forests. The terrible thing is that they did not kill the prisoners outright but first tortured them in the crudest way. They cut strips out of their backs, lore out their tongues, gouged out their eyes, cut off their ears and noses … and thrust them into the mouths of their victims.
These are the kinds of things that were done when this man Paletskis was President of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. I understand that he is still President. You have to be a pretty good Bolshevik to remain in power and to keep your feet during some of the catastrophic shifts that have taken place in the Kremlin and the executions and purges during all that time.
I do not know whether the House thinks these matters are worth recalling; whether we should concern ourselves about these old unhappy far off events. I do not know whether the House wants to remember that the three Baltic States, of which Lithuania is one, are still under Soviet occupation - an occupation which has only the veriest sham of legality. When we hear the Soviet prating about liberating people, be they in Vietnam or Hungary, I wonder whether the House wants to remember that the Russian Soviet occupied these three little Baltic States, devastated them, deported their people and subjected them to tremendous cruelties.
– This sounds like the case of Gunner O’Neill.
– The honorable member may laugh. I do not know whether this is because he always sticks up for the Russians. Perhaps the House does not want to recall these things. Perhaps it does not believe that these injustices are important. Perhaps it does not believe that these enslaved nations have any right to their freedom. Perhaps it would rather forget that the titular head of this apparatus - the man under whose seal of authority these inhuman barbarities were carried out a long time ago - is still in office and honour and was here in Canberra only last week leading the Soviet delegation.
.- I make only one comment on the speech of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). The difference between our system and the Communist system was summed up perfectly by the gentleman to whom the honorable member referred. That gentleman, when witnessing the horrifying - I use the term lightly - demonstration last week outside the Parliament, said: “ This could not happen in Moscow “. That is all that need be said about the two systems. He gave the answer in his statement.
– Because there is no Opposition there.
– That is right. Opponents of the system are either in the cemetery 01 in Siberia. I make no bones about my attitude to the Communist system.
The matter 1 wish to raise may not be as serious or as heart rending as that referred to by the honorable member for Mackellar. I wish to deal tonight with four aspects of Post Office policy. Unfortunately the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) is attending a Cabinet meeting tonight and cannot be present in the chamber. Most Ministers do come into the chamber when they know that honorable members intend to refer to matters affecting the departments under their control.
The first matter I raise concerns the provision of public telephones at airports throughout Australia. There are 10 public telephones at Melbourne Airport. They are constantly in use when passengers arrive from other parts of Australia. A sixpenny coin is needed to operate them. Many people do not have the necessary coin, and they line up at the various shops in the terminal or at the counters of TransAustralia Airlines or Ansett-A.N.A., seeking to obtain two sixpenny pieces for a one shilling piece. I appeal to the PostmasterGeneral to use some of the huge profits of the Post Office to provide change machines at airports. We have so many wonderful things in this modern world; surely we can have change machines at our airports so that people wishing to make a telephone call may obtain the required coin without worrying the business people or the staff of the airline companies.
– There is a machine at Essendon aerodrome into which a 2s. piece may be placed and four sixpences change obtained.
– 1 have been passing through the airport for years and I have never seen one.
– I used it myself recently.
– I was standing alongside one of the shops only yesterday morning on my way to Canberra and in the space of 45 seconds two people came to the counter and asked the girls for change, lt is not fair that the staff of these shops or of the airline companies should be pestered in this way. The public telephones at airports must be one of the Postmaster-General’s Department’s best income earners. People wishing to obtain change in order to make a telephone call should not have to worry the business people.
The second matter I raise concerns profiteering by one section of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the changeover to decimal currency. We know that this kind of thing is happening all over Australia today. We do not seem to be able to track it down but we are paying more, overall, for goods as a result of the changeover than we were before. Here is a good example of what I regard as callous, gross, profiteering by somebody or by some authority. It is hard to track down who is responsible for it. Before decimal currency was introduced, the rate for an airmail letter to the United Kingdom was 2s. 3d. After decimal currency was introduced, the rate was 25 cents which is the equivalent of 2s. 6d. This represents an increase of 3d. in the cost of sending a letter to the United Kingdom by airmail, on the same aircraft travelling the same distance.
Again, aerogrammes which are used extensively by people writing overseas have become more costly. Before the introduction of decimal currency, they cost lOd. each. Now an extra stamp has to be attached to get them to their destination. This is all part of wicked, gross, calculated exploitation and profiteering on the part of either the Postmaster-General’s Department or the airline operators. 1 should like the Postmaster-General’s Department to clear the matter up and to tell the people of Australia why this gross and wicked increase was made necessary.
– Ned Kelly was a gentleman compared to them.
– He certainly was. I am glad my friend brought him into the debate. Ned Kelly would be invited into the best drawing rooms today before some of the people who are running certain sections of our economy. I have in mind certain branches of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
The next matter to which I wish to refer relates to the new telephone directory in Tasmania. At this time of the year I think the new directories for all the States are being printed. We in Tasmania have found the old 1965 directory very inconvenient. Many complaints have been made to me and to others about the confusion that has been caused because of the way in which the directory is laid out. I agree with those who complain. I have already taken up with the Postmaster-General’s Department in Tasmania ways in which I think improvements can be effected.
As an example, I point out that the directory first contains the telephone numbers for Hobart. About three quarters of the way through the directory the Launceston numbers appear. Between the Hobart and the Launceston numbers the country exchanges are set out in higgledy piggledy manner. I suggest that the Hobart numbers should be followed by the numbers in the Launceston area which should then be followed by the numbers for Devonport, then by the numbers for Burnie. This would bring all the principal cities of the island together. The country exchanges could then be listed in alphabetical order. That is one change that I think is absolutely necessary.
Another change could be made with respect to the numbers for the extended local service areas which are known as “ E.L.S.A.”. I do not know whether honorable members opposite who live in country electorates use the E.L.S.A. system much, but when one examines the directory to find out how to get on to a country exchange, one finds that one is required to ring 974. That connects the caller to the country exchange. The caller then asks for the required number. For the country exchanges, one has to look somewhere else in the directory to find the E.L.S.A. number. I suggest that the E.L.S.A. number should be placed beneath the name of the relevant country exchange. I make that further suggestion in an effort to make things easier for the business people who use this directory.
I should like to suggest also to the Postmaster-General’s Department that the charge for trunk line calls throughout Australia on Sundays should be reduced by half between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. I make this suggestion for a specific reason. It would enable private users to ring their relatives throughout the Commonwealth at a time when the telephone service was not being used for business purposes. They would take advantage of the cheaper rates on Sundays and thus reduce the pressure on the telephone exchanges on week days when business calls should probably predominate. I suggest that the PostmasterGeneral should look at this suggestion as one good way of building up revenue in addition to giving the business people a better service on week days.
Finally, I refer to the blind pensioners who have been trying to get a 17 per cent, reduction on telephone rentals. I suggest that the Government should take into account the fact that all blind persons, by reason of their blindness, have needs which are additional to those of a seeing person. I think it is of great psychological advantage to a blind person to be able to use the telephone. I submit that blind persons have a case for special treatment. There should be a reduction in rentals for blind persons throughout Australia. I ask the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to examine this matter when the Budget is being framed. 1 think ail members of this Parliament received a letter last February from Mr. H. G. Wilston, President of the Commonwealth Blind Communication Committee, which is acting for the blind people of Australia. I am sure that all honorable members present in this chamber tonight will agree that helping the blind people by means of this reduced rental would be a great boost to their morale and of great help to them in very many ways.
.- 1 rise to make some observations on a matter which has come very much to the forefront of public notice in recent days. It is the question of the mobilising of Australian capital and resources for stimulating Australian national development. There has been remarkable development of Government thinking on this matter. If we hark back to the statement made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in September of last year, we find that he said - and he has just repeated about a fortnight ago, I think, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) - that the Reserve Bank was having general discussions with the other trading banks and the general financial institutions to see what could be done.
In the meantime, we have had various expressions of opinion. For example, last September the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Mr. Callaghan, said that the question of the banks taking an equity interest in developmental projects was one on which there were certain reservations to be held. In particular, he said that their taking an equity interest raised serious philosophical problems about the role of banks.
We progress from there to the sterling call to arms of Sir Maurice Mawby, who came out and attacked the unnecessary caution of the general financial institutions in Australia in relation to national development and investment. His comment, as reported in “ Financial Review “ of Monday last was that the traditional approach of Australian institutions contrasted unfavourably with the attitude of American financial institutions.
Progressing from there, on the following day, to a very sterling rallying cry by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) at Bendigo, he attempted to out-Herod Herod and announced that there should be something in the way of a national investment corporation. That is a very laudable thought indeed, but it needs much more development than that honorable gentleman gave to it. lt might be truly said, in the words of the cynic, that just as the devil himself knoweth not the mind of man, so the Government of this country certainly does not know what is the mind of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Let me digress here to say that his egregious proposal for a 50-50 JapaneseAustralian shipping line is something which baffles the imagination or good sense of the Australian community. With the advent of Anzac Day, it might be appropriate to make the comment, particularly with a Japanese trade delegation here, that the question arises as to who won the war and who lost the peace, especially when we find that the gentlemen who are coming along today are proposing something which very greatly resembles the greater South East Asia co-prosperity sphere. What could not be achieved by war could be won by economic penetration in peace. I would be the last to decry trade on a legitimate basis with Japan, but I share the apprehension of the vast majority of the Australian people as to what is happening today in terms of the control of the development of Australia’s national resources and in particular the dictation which will eventually result from overseas as to what our ultimate policy for development is to be. He who pays the piper calls the tune. I give the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) very great credit for his statement that at least he would make sure that Australia did not become an international quarry for its mineral resources.
The question of development, investment and mobilisation of Australian capital also highlights the position with regard to the statutory reserve deposits which, at the present time, amount to about $640 million. I find myself in the august company of the financial editor of the Sydney “ Bulletin “ who points out the absurdity of Australia running about the world asking for overseas investment to come here at a time when a very substantial nest egg, which was put away for a rainy day, can be brought out and used because that rainy day is here.
We have today accumulating evidence of our tremendous natural resources. We have had the discovery of off shore oil. We have the obvious need for the development of natural gas resources. We have the need to raise within Australia funds for this purpose. At the present time the role of the life assurance companies leaves much to be desired. A most delightful article was published in yesterday’s “ Financial Review “ which traverses the whole subject to the detriment and discomfiture of conservative Australian institutions. In particular, we have the statement that the life policy growth of lending for housing in recent years has been extremely modest and the traditional argument that a very substantial proportion of the life assurance companies investments under the 20/30 legislation is held in government securities is also a little threadbare in the light of their other activities.
One of the most remarkable activities on which we have yet to have the full spotlight focussed is that of the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Pty. Ltd. and its association with H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Pty. Ltd. I remind honorable members that last year I directed two questions to the then Treasurer, Mr. Harold Holt, asking that the Commonwealth Actuary and Insurance Commissioner should conduct an investigation into certain matters relating to the types of investment in which the M.L.C. directors were indulging. I understand on good authority that that investigation has been made and completed and that, pursuant to the Act, the Commissioner has communicated his conclusions to the interested company. Whilst the provisions of section 57 of that Act preclude the disclosure of certain information, that prohibition does not apply to the publication of the conclusions as communicated to the company concerned.
A company of that nature, holding vast assets, should, in the best interests of its policyholders and its shareholders, make a full disclosure of the recommendations. We are entitled to know, because insurance companies hold money in a fiduciary capacity and they should invest in a proper way. I think it was Professor Sir Douglas
Copland who said that we had a milk bar economy. Today he might be prepared lo revise that statement and say that we have a hire purchase economy because today hire purchase investment - anything in the nature of a high interest return - is infinitely more attractive to public institutions than the more orthodox forms of investment, and certainly in terms of Australia’s vast natural resources.
If we are scratching the bottom of the barrel for natural resources, let’ me remind the House of aggregate losses of $100 million in recent years in wild cat investments. For instance, Reid Murray lost S38 million; and that is a minimum assessment of the loss. H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Pty. Ltd. lost $34 million and, on present reports, is still losing, the result depending on the liquidation of its assets. Latec Investments Ltd. lost $15 million and the Sydney Guarantee Corporation $8.5 million. But if honorable members want the summit of wild cat investment, just consider the order for the FI IIA bomber on which we stand to lose a good $80 million or more on the original quotation.
.- Six months or more ago in this Parliament I directed the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to the activities of the chemical fertiliser companies of Australia. I pointed out that takeovers were going on, mergers were being consummated and, in general, there was a strong tendency towards the concentration of the whole of the chemical fertiliser industry in Australia in the hands of a few interests.
I gave the illustration of the activities that preceded the takeover of Cresco Fertilisers Ltd. by W. G. Grace and Co., one of the largest gas, oil and fertiliser producers of the United States, in competition with Esso. I pointed out that share prices for Cresco shares had increased from about £2 10s. to about £5 per share and I suggested that unless extreme care was taken by the Commonwealth Government, and by the State Governments, to the extent that they were empowered, the inevitable result of all these operations by the chemical fertiliser producers would be a substantial increase in the price of chemical fertilisers to the Australian primary producers. The Minister was courteous, and was good enough to send me a letter in respect of my representations. He did not express any great fears and suggested that competition would keep everything in the garden rosy. Since then there has been one rise in the price of superphosphate in Victoria of 7s. a ton.
– That was due to a rise in the price of the rock.
– I will deal with that in a moment. I know that the honorable member for Corangamite is an apologist for the big fertiliser combines. More recently, there was a rise of £1 a ton in the price of superphosphate. The honorable member has suggested that the reason for the price rise was an increase in the price of phosphate rock.
– One of the reasons was
– I anticipated that the honorable member would baree in to defend these people. He will suggest that another reason for the rise was an increase in the price of sulphuric acid, lt is perfectly true that the prices of phosphatic rock and sulphuric acid have increased, lt is perfectly true also that’, as a result of the action of the Australian Labour Party in incorporating in its election policy in 1961 a. promise that if returned t’o office it would pay a superphosphate bounty of £3 a ton, the Government parlies, after criticising our proposal, subsequently promised a bonus of £3 a ton on the production of superphosphate. The inevitable result was, as we had suggested, a tremendously enlarged demand for and use of superphosphate in Australia. Inevitably, as the honorable member for Corangamite knows, being one who is skilled in matters of banking and commerce, when production increases in an industry the overhead costs tend to reduce. I made bold to say on a previous occasion that if this Government was game enough to set up a committee to ascertain whether the increased production counterbalanced the increased costs of phosphatic rock and sulphuric acid, it would be found that’ they probably balanced exactly and that there was no justification whatever for the loading of the increased price onto superphosphate and other mixed chemical fertilisers. I have prepared a brief on this subject which I will unload in this
Parliament when the time is appropriate. lt shows that the movement in Australia for the merging of the chemical industries is of an insidious character and can have no other result than the bleeding of the primary producers, and when you bleed them you bleed the whole of the Australian economy.
The situation today is that very largely the control of Australian chemical fertiliser interests is in the hands of American investors; and worse still, there has even been an encroachment into the fertiliser industry by Japanese interests. After all, this is not an industry that requires a great degree of technical skill. People like Cuming Smith and Co. Ltd., Wishart and Co. and Nobel (Australasia) Pty. Ltd. 40 or 50 years ago were satisfactorily manufacturing superphosphate and other types of fertiliser in Australia, and it is all hooey to say we have to have Japanese and American techniques before we can produce the requisite artificial fertilisers for the use of the primary producers of this country.
As a result of all these mergers, Amalgamated Chemicals Ltd. has been swallowed up, Cuming Smith and Co. Ltd. has been swallowed up, Cresco Fertilisers Ltd. has been swallowed up and Australian Fertilisers Ltd., A.C.F. and Shirleys Fertilisers Ltd. of Brisbane, and practically the whole of the fertiliser manufacturing industries of Australia, are in the hands of a very small group indeed. There is one co-operative organisation standing outside. If it were not for that organisation the Lord alone knows what the primary producers of Australia would be paying for their fertilisers.
A more interesting development has taken place recently. It is well known that the gas in the gas deposits off the coast of Victoria is saturated with a high petrochemical content. It is also well known that under the Bolte Government, because of the reluctance of this Government to assure Victoria of the requisite finance to take over, manage and operate the whole of the gas and oil deposits off the Gippsland coast, the petro-chemical processing industry in Victoria - and to the extent that it will be piped to other States, the industry in the rest of Australia - will be eventually lodged in the lap of private enterprise, operated in the main by Japanese and
American capital. Then the farming community will be for it. When that happens somebody will be able to say: “ I told you what would happen under Tory government in Australia .
This is only one aspect of the problem we are facing. My immediate representations are these: By virtue of the vastly increased demand for superphosphate and mixtures of an associated character there has been this enormous demand and the Australian fertiliser industry, as at present constituted, is unable to supply the orders of the primary producers within a reasonable period of time. Worse still, the very large consumers are able to get their requirements. There is always a tendency on the part of a seller to supply the very large purchaser. The result is that I have received a number of complaints from small farmers, who after all comprise the largest portion of the farming community. It is for them that the struggle is greatest. If one of these farmers wants two, three, four or five tons within a month he cannot get it. He will be lucky if he gets his order within six months. Alongside of him on the larger holdings he sees the large bulk distributors busily engaged spreading superphosphate. By virtue of their superior purchasing power they apparently find no difficulty whatever in getting supplies from the superphosphate companies. Perhaps this is a natural trend on the part of these great monopolies, these instrumentalities manufacturing fertilisers, which are almost completely dominated by American capital.
I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) - and I have no doubt that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) who is at the table will convey this message to him - to intervene and request the fertiliser companies to establish a priority list so that the orders that are flowing in now from potato growers, cereal growers and others will be at least partly fulfilled. If the companies cannot supply these growers with their complete orders they should at least see that they receive some portion of them. This is a wry serious matter. The Government wants primary producers to produce for export.It points out that the economy of Australia is based on the prosperity of primary producers, yet one of the largest manufacturing instrumentalities in Australia is, from the point of view of justice in distribution, incompetent, and one type of fertiliser and chemical user is being favoured at the expense of others. I earnestly ask the Minister to do something about this matter.I promise the Parliament that 1 will make some revelations later, that will shock the people of Australia, about the concentration of power in the fertiliser chemical industries of Australia. From being originally in the hands of Australian manufacturers it is now in the hands of American and Japanese interests to the detriment of Australian primary producers.
Question resolved in the affimative.
House adjourned at11.6p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Immigration. (Question No. 1623.)
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The Department of Immigration engages in a most intense programme of publicity and information about Australia designed to attract and inform potential settlers from Britain.
Booklets and pamphlets specially prepared to inform prospective settlers in Britain cover subjects including employment, education, wages and taxation, housing, health and social services, hostels and general facts about Australia. About a quarter of a million of each of these pamphlets, which are revised two, three, and four times a year, to keep them up to date, are distributed each year. These are compiled most carefully in consultation with all the authorities expert in the subjects concerned.
In addition, special arrangements are made for -
frequent publication of special feature articles in the British Press - often by British journalists assisted to visit Australia to gather factual information;
special features on television and radio, produced not only by the Department of Immigration but also by British television producers assisted to visit Australia;
distribution of specially made colour films showing life in Australia as lived by the ordinary Australian;
special films and information evenings for prospective settlers and window displays and exhibitions to encourage migration;
distribution of many series of colour slides and black and white photographs showing a wide range of aspects of life in Australia;
distribution to home-town newspapers in Britain of hundreds of stories about happily settled migrants which are widely published, accompanied by photographs;
widespread national and provincial Press advertising of the assisted passage scheme and the opportunities for British settlers in Australia.
This financial year nearly $250,000 is being spent directly on advertising and publicity about migration in Britain. This is out of a total publicity vote of almost $800,000, most of which is being spent overseas on migration information and publicity in Europe as well as Britain.
Every intending British migrant is seen, with his family, by an Australian Immigration officer at an interview specially arranged near where he lives. At this interview, lasting half an hour or more, the migrant is able to ask questions on matters not covered by earlier letters to him or booklets.
Finally, the department employs three specially trained lecturers in Britain, to address organisations and schools as required.
Civil Aviation: Compensation for Loss of Greyhounds. (Question No. 1638.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 April 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660420_reps_25_hor51/>.