25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Before doing so I might say that we are all very glad to see him back again. I hope he will not put too great a strain on his health by attending the Parliament before he is completely recovered. I ask him whether he is yet in a position to say when the Federal election will be held. Is it a fact that he has it in mind to hold the election on 26th November? Is it also a fact that the divisional returning officers have been advised to engage halls on both 26th November and 3rd December? If this decision has been taken, has it anything to do with the proposed visit of President Johnson to Australia? If it has, does the Government intend to invite President Johnson to Australia for its own political advantage?
– I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition spoilt an excellent introduction to his question by the concluding passage. If I might revert to the introduction, may I say that I appreciate his comment, as I appreciated also the kind inquiry he made as to my progress some few days ago. I welcome his suggestion that I do not overexert myself for the remainder of the session. He asked what is the election date. I have been doing all my planning, as I announced publicly some time ago, on the basis that the election will be held on 26th November. The only factor which has left any uncertainty in my mind is the necessity to pass legislation of an essential character. I am hoping that with the programme which has been proposed by the Leader of the House, and with the reasonable co-operation, which is always forthcoming on these matters, of the representative of the Opposition, we shall succeed in getting through the programme of business without undue inconvenience and over a reasonable spread of hours. That would enable us to say with authority and certainty that the election will be held on 26th November. As to a visit to this country by President Johnson, I hope that all sections of this Parliament would join in welcoming such a visit. There has never been a visit to this country by an American President.
– Not while in office. President Johnson was here before.
– Yes. The present President was here during the Second World War. Indeed, he did me the honour of showing me a film he had taken in Australia at that time. I would certainly hope that, having got as far as the Philippines, he would find it possible to include a journey to Australia in his itinerary before he returned. Unfortunately, there is no confirmation of this. The President had from my predecessor an open ended invitation to visit this country. That was renewed by me when ] was in the United States earlier this year. It would, I am sure, give great pleasure and satisfaction to the overwhelming majority of Australians if the President could make such a visit at this time. The honorable gentleman suggests that there might be some political motive for this. I can assure him that whilst we would welcome a visit by the President we do not need that to defeat the Opposition.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Australian National Line vessel “ Musgrave Range” been delayed from drydocking in Brisbane by industrial unrest? What was the basis of this unrest? Will this delay prejudice future dockings of this and other A.N.L. vessels in Brisbane?
Mr. FREETH__ The particular circumstances to which the honorable gentleman refers were these: The “ Musgrave Range “ was due to have some repairs and maintenance work done in Brisbane, but a vessel already in the dock was held up by an industrial dispute. That dispute did not directly concern the “ Musgrave Range “. The result was that the “ Musgrave Range “ was delayed for two days from going into the dock for its repair work. Fortunately, on this occasion, the “ Musgrave Range “ was able to do engine repairs while waiting its turn in the dock. But as to getting dock work done in Brisbane in future, the possibility of this kind of delay occurring will undoubtedly be a factor which will influence the Australian National Line in its consideration, just as it would influence any normal commercial enterprise in its consideration of where the best and most convenient place would be to have repair work done in the light of its operational requirements.
– My question, which is to the Prime Minister, concerns the report of the Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia, known as the Loder Committee, which was appointed two and a half years ago to investigate transportation costs in northern Australia and which made its report to the Government in August last year. The right honorable gentleman will recollect that his predecessor in September last year expressed the hope that the House would have the report during last year’s Budget session and, in October, said that he would do his best to see that it was made available for debate during that session. Will the Prime Minister consent to tabling the report in this Budget session and even permit a debate upon it?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that there has been a great deal of work done at the departmental level on various aspects of this report. It has had some preliminary examination by Cabinet, but I would not state it to be consideration of depth at this stage. There were many recommendations which covered a considerable area of Commonwealth activity. We are not yet in a position to make known the views of the Government on these recommendations, nor are we in a position to say whether or not it would be appropriate in the circumstances to have the report published.
– Is there a bit of embarrassment?
– No. The honorable gentleman will appreciate that it was the Government led by my predecessor which took the decision to set up a committee that would examine these problems.
– But its reports will be as stale as the Vernon Committee’s report.
– Nevertheless, this is the first time that any Government has sought to do that in Australia. I think that might be counted as a matter for com mendation rather than one for criticism. The Government has every desire to see that full consideration is given to the terms of the report and to ascertain the extent to which the report can be applied with advantage to the people of the north. That is the objective which the Government has in mind.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Is it a fact that his Department has temporarily withheld permission for a daily jet service to Hobart? If so, will he cut the Gordian knot of so-called airline rationalisation and see that the people of Hobart get a daily, direct jet service to Melbourne?
– Whilst I do not wish in any way to be critical of our two major airline operators, I am afraid I must say that in this case they have rather beaten the gun. I understand that last Thursday they released a statement to the Press to the effect that they intended to commence a daily jet service with the Boeing 727 to Launceston and Hobart. I understand this announcement was made in the news broadcasts on Thursday night and was published by the Press on Friday morning in Tasmania. We received the applications from the two companies at mid-day on Friday.
Unfortunately, we cannot give them permission to operate at the moment because the facilities at both airports do not meet requirements for the operation of the 727. We are undertaking work at Hobart to strengthen the aprons to carry the weight of the 727. That work will not be finished for about another week. At Launceston, the new terminal building is not yet finished. It will be completed in a few weeks’ time and will be opened by my colleague, Senator Henty, in the near future. In the meantime, the aprons in front of the existing terminal building are not suitable for the 727. In addition, we are repositioning part of the instrument landing system at Launceston. That will take another week or so to complete. We cannot agree to the landing of 727 aircraft at Launceston without this system being in operation. Under the circumstances, we had to refuse permits for this service to commence immediately. However, I can give an assurance to the honorable member that as soon as this work is completed - we are hurrying to get it done - the permits will be granted and the service will commence.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether his attention has been drawn to a statement that his Department has refused to instal postal services and money order, telephone and telegraphic facilities at the townships of Savage River and Luina on the west coast of Tasmania. Could the Minister advise me of any departmental plans to ensure that these essential services will be made available and that they will be adequate to meet the needs of members of the work force and their families in these isolated mining areas with the minimum of delay and inconvenience?
– I did see reports in the two Tasmanian newspapers of comments by the Tasmanian Premier with regard to the provision of telephone and postal facilities to the towns which the honorable member has mentioned. I should like to point out in reply that the Post Office has a policy which it applies not only to big organisations such as the company which operates the Savage River undertaking but also to private individuals within the Australian community. It is that the Department will carry the responsibility for extensions from existing services for a distance of 60 chains. This represents a total cost of $1,056. Beyond that point, the installation becomes the responsibility of the private individual. This applies to primary producers. It applies also in relation to some large mining companies. As illustrations, I point to Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation Pty. Ltd. at Weipa and the companies associated with the development of iron ore deposits in Western Australia. All these receive the benefit of the same kind of arrangement. The required plant can be purchased from and installed by private contractors approved by the Post Office or it can be purchased and then installed by the Post Office itself. ; At present, a two channel radio telephone is in operation between Savage River and Waratah. This is a low power temporary service sufficient to meet immediate requirements. Towards the middle of next year, there will be in operation a high power installation which will provide some 12 channels and which will be adequate for the needs of the area. The Postmaster-General’s Department proposes to install an automatic exchange at Waratah considerably earlier than might have been normally required. The Department has also undertaken very substantial additions to the trunk line facilities along the north coast of Tasmania to enable them to carry the additional traffic that will flow from the Savage River area. I point out to the honorable member that the operation of the telephone services within the Savage River complex will be under the control of the company and there will be no rental charges and no call charge for the internal arrangement. At present, temporary post office facilities are provided at the company canteen. The Post Office is now negotiating for the establishment of a non-official post office in the area on a basis similar to that of non-official post offices established at many other places throughout Australia. I believe that the criticism offered by the Tasmanian Premier was completely unjustified. The Post Office is a trading organisation that is intended just to cover its costs, and this is what it is doing. It has no surplus resources available for considerable expansions of the type suggested by the Premier.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to a statement attributed to him in the Press to the effect that Australian shipping companies have shown little interest in the carrying of bulk cargoes overseas. Can the Minister say when the offer to assist Australian companies to enter this vital field was made? Have Australian shipping companies had time to study the proposals? Can the right honorable gentleman say whether they are displaying the desired interest?
– I believe that the honorable member’s question arises from a headline that appeared over a Press report of a reply that I gave to a question upon notice asked by the honorable member for Stirling rather than from the substance of the reply itself. The fact is that the Minister for Shipping and Transport and I, with the authority of the Cabinet, suggested in a joint statement that companies should make to the Government proposals touching the carriage in bulk vessels of Australian bulk commodities shipped overseas. This is part of a proposal that we think would result in the establishment of a viable overseas shipping line transporting bulk commodities in large bulk carriers. Obviously, for those who interested themselves, the proposal would involve consideration of the expenditure of millions of pounds, substantial financial involvements otherwise and the arrangement of contracts for carriage. These are considerations that are not likely to have produced a result in the shape of firm proposals in the few weeks since our announcement was made. I have every confidence that there will be made to the Government proposals which will turn out finally to be acceptable to it and which will lead for the first time to the establishment of an overseas shipping line under the Australian flag to undertake the transport of bulk cargoes. But this is a thing that I would not expect to be rushed.
– As the Prime Minister has involved troops in Vietnam, will the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that he will obtain from the United States Government a firm guarantee that the United States forces in Vietnam will not use nuclear weapons without prior consultation with the Australian Government?
– I have never heard it suggested that the United States had contemplated the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam. J am certain that in all matters of consequence relating to the future course of events there the United States will continue to keep in the closest touch with Australia, as it has in the past.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen a report in the “ CourierMail “ of 26th September of a statement made on television by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that Australian forces in South Vietnam are making no military difference to the war in that country? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition having yesterday informed the House that the “ Courier-Mail “ report was accurate, will the Minister say whether there is any factual basis for such a description of the role of Australian forces in South Vietnam? In particular, will the Minister say whether there has been, since the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reportedly said in Saigon on 11th August that the Australian Army forces in Vietnam had done extremely well in the fighting and in social work, any development in the military situation affecting Australian troops which would justify the apparent inconsistency between what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in Saigon in August and what he said on television the other day?
– I would not like to be called upon to explain the inconsistency in the statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but I recall that during his visit to Saigon he was reported to have said that Australian troops had done extremely well in their new role of civic workers and soldiers, or words to that effect. Accepting what was said in the House yesterday when the honorable gentleman himself declared that the report of his statement in the “ Courier-Mail “ was correct, there is no doubt that he did say that the Australian presence in Vietnam is not militarily useful, or words to that effect. This is not a view which is likely to be acceptable or popular amongst the 4,500 Australian troops in the task force involved in Vietnam. Nor is it likely to be a view which would be subscribed to by the United States command, which has given to the control of our task force one of the most vital sectors in South Vietnam - the Phuoc Tuy province. This clearly is evidence of the great contribution made by the Australian military commitment to Vietnam. If the honorable gentleman is so concerned that 4,500 people make so little contribution to the military situation, I wonder why he is so enormously enthusiastic about what would no doubt be a comparable contribution to the civic aid programme.
– I direct the attention, of the Prime Minister to a question that 1 asked on 22nd September regarding the Govern.ment’s instructions to our representative with the United Nations relating to any proposal that the United Nations supervise a ceasefire in Vietnam, a phased withdrawal of all combatants there and the dismantling of military bases. This suggestion emanated originally from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Prime Minister said that he would give me a considered statement. I wonder whether that statement is yet available.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT__ I will check the circumstances relating to the submission to me of a considered statement. The statement, naturally, would have to be settled finally by me before it reaches the honorable gentleman. One factor which might have affected the supply of the statement is that my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has within recent hours stated in the United Nations the Australian view on a number of these matters, including the general matter of Vietnam. Possibly there has been delay until his statement had been publicly made. I will follow up the matter after question time.
(Mr. Drury having addressed a question to the Minister for Health) -
– Can the honorable member quote the number of the question?
– No. 2075 is one question on this subject and No. 2076 is another.
– Order! The question is on the notice paper.
– 1 ask a question of the Minister for Defence regarding certain Press headlines which slate that a crisis surrounds the production of defence equipment by Australian manufacturers. Can the Minister say whether a crisis does exist and, if so, what is being done about it?
– I am happy to assure the honorable gentleman that there is nothing approaching a crisis in the relations of the Australian Government with Australian industry about the production of defence equipment. There is no deep seated difference of opinion between the two groups. There are matters for discussion in this field and discussions are being carried on quietly and sensibly. They will produce a useful result. I have been involved in one or two quite amicable con ferences with groups from the manufacturing industries. They have been designed to clarify the matters that appear to be at issue and to explain why the Government feels compelled to do certain things which, in plain terms, are not always understood by the manufacturing industries. Inevitably, when a problem of this kind gets into the public domain, there is exaggeration, there are headlines and the whole picture tends to get out of perspective. If I may, I will quote the honorable gentleman some figures out of last year’s Budget, that for 1965-66. The equipment component of the defence vote was $272 million. Of this, St 18 million was in what might be called the big ticket items, such as sophisticated aircraft, warships and electronic equipment which cannot be made in Australia or which for a variety of quite valid reasons cannot be left to Australian industry. At the other end of the scale, some $140 million worth of equipment was bought from Australian industry. So the matter left in debate is one of perhaps $15 million worth of equipment which could conceivably be built by Australian industry if considerations of time, or cost or other matters were not involved. lt is on this expenditure that discussion centres at the moment. But in view of the fact that the output of Australian secondary industry is something like $6,000 million, this is a mere bagatelle in terms of dollars, although I readily admit that it could be important in terms of its technical component. There are other important matters to which the Government must pay considerable attention. I think experience has shown that, when equipment in small quantities is required from Australian industry, a long time is taken to produce it, because our research and development component is necessarily small. The cost may reach two or three limes that of the comparable equipment from overseas. There is in operation a logistic arrangement with the United States Government which offers great advantages to Australia in access to’ inventories, spare parts and things of that kind. These are all circumstances that qualify how much of our defence equipment can be procured from Australian sources. 1 can assure the honorable gentleman that the whole of this field is being patiently discussed with the manufacturing industries at the moment and I venture to suggest that the questioner and industry will be quite satisfied with the outcome.
– When addressing a County Party meeting in Perth some time ago the Minister for Trade and Industry said that Australia’s export income would have to double in the next 10 years if our necessary economic growth were to continue, and that without that export performance we would be unable to finance the imports which were essential to our developmental needs. Will the Minister say whether he or the Government has a plan to increase Australia’s export earnings to the extent he claims is essential, or will the Government jj.st leave it to chance and hope that such n increase will take place?
– The plan that the Government has and pursues in respect of the encouragement of greater export earnings for Australia is the policy of the Government in respect of a whole variety of matters with which I think the honorable member is familiar. If I remind him that Australia’s export income has almost doubled in the last 10 years that will give him some confidence that the policies of this Government will result in our export income doubling again in the next 10 years.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister concerned with the actual and potential damaging effect on export industry of the continuing activities of known Communists in key positions in industry, as instanced by the recent trouble at the State Electricity Commission establishments in Victoria which caused loss of production in many export industries? As the average Australian seems apathetic to the functions of these Communists within Australia will the Government take more action to bring their activities to the notice of the Australian people so that they may more fully understand the threat of internal Communism?
– I think that all responsible Australians are concerned that the activity and influence of avowed Communists in certain positions of influence operate in a manner harmful to the Australian economy and, on occasions, harmful to the interests of Australian export industries. Since the attempt of the Government of Sir Robert Menzies, then Mr. Menzies, to acquire constitutional power to deal directly with this situation, the position has been that the Government has but minimum direct authority, so it does become a matter of developing an awareness on the part of the Australian community to the dangers to the Australian community of the occupancy of key strategic positions in industry by Communists who have as their objective the weakening of the Australian economy.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. Have advanced tests now proved beyond doubt that the Victorian natural gas is of a type well suited to the manufacture of nitrogenous fertilisers? Are similar tests being carried out on the natural gas deposits of South Australia? Has the Minister received any indication of whether or not Moomba and/or Gidgealpa natural gas is suitable for the manufacture of nitrogenous fertiliser? Is he able to provide the House with any information on the Federal Government’s attitude towards State representation and participation in providing natural gas pipelines as common carriers?
– The natural gas in Victoria and in the Gidgealpa-Moomba area is suitable for making ammonia. However, when the establishment of a production plant is under consideration, questions arise as to the cost of the natural gas and the likely demand for the product where it is manufactured. Of course, ammonia can also be manufactured from coal and oil. The second part of the honorable members question relates to a matter of Government policy. When we are able to give him a reply on it I will ensure that he gets one.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been directed to the fact that a conference being held in Brisbane next week on South East Asia and Australia, which has been described by the Queensland Government as a Communist front and which has been refused accommodation by the Queensland university authorities, is to be addressed by a senior officer of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and by the honorable member for Wills?
– Brochures in relation to this conference have been circulating in Brisbane for some days. Included in the list of speakers certainly were the names of the honorable member for Wills and Mr. Ashbolt of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Apparently the General Manager of the A. B.C., having seen a copy of the brochure, made contact with Mr. Ashbolt who denied that he gave any authority whatsoever for his name to be included. In fact, he has since written to the organisation informing it that he will not be at the conference and that he will not address it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is it a fact that the National Executive and executives of State branches of the Returned Services League lodged a vigorous protest with the Government at the non-inclusion in the Budget of medical and hospital benefits for exservicemen of the Boer War and the 1914- 18 War? Is it a fact also that the Labour Opposition in another place succeeded in having these benefits included in the Repatriation Bill? Was a Repatriation Bill which included these benefits introduced into this House yesterday? Does the Government intend to allow debate on that Bill or will it, by a subterfuge unprecedented in parliamentary practice, introduce a new Repatriation Bill excluding the desired benefits? If so, has this action been taken to prevent full scale debate on the issue, to prohibit the Opposition from moving an amendment and to save ex-service members of the Government parties from having to vote against the proposal?
– First of all, I have not seen any protest-
– The Minister is a political trickster.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I rise to order. I very much resent the reference by the honorable member for KingsfordSmith to my colleague, the Minister, as a political trickster. I ask that the remark be withdrawn.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith whether he used the words referred to by the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– What I said was that he is a political trickster.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith to withdraw and apologise to the Chair.
– lt is true.
– Order! The honorable member for Kingston.
– To withdraw what?
– Order! The honorable member for KingsfordSmith
– I still think the introduction of the proposed Bill is a trick.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that the Standing Orders of this House-
– I withdraw.
– I call the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation.
– I was saying that I have not seen any protest submitted by the national headquarters or the State branches of the R.S.L. If any documents of that kind have been forwarded to the Minister for Repatriation, I am not aware of the fact. I will ask him whether he has received any recently relating to this matter. The second point relates to legislation that is at present before the House. As the honorable member is aware, under the Standing Orders of the House debate is permitted on legislation before the House. When any changes are made to legislation or new Bills are introduced, they are announced at the appropriate time. When a new Bill is introduced, the Standing Orders of the House will permit debate in accordance with the usual procedures.
– Order! The honorable member for Barton must cease interjecting. I warn the honorable member.
– This is a disgrace to servicemen who have served their country.
– Order! I should be reluctant to take action against the honorable member for Barton. 1 have already warned him, and I now ask him to respect the Standing Orders.
– This is a sell-out of the servicemen of World War I.
– I name the honorable member for Barton.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the honorable member for Barton be suspended from the service of the House.
– The question is that the honorable member for Barton be suspended from the service of the House. All those in favour say “ Aye “, to the contrary “No”. The House will divide. (The honorable member for EdenMonaro having entered the chamber and taken his seat) -
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro was suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours at 3.15 p.m. yesterday. It now being 3.13 p.m. I direct that the honorable member must retire from the chamber. (The honorable member for EdenMonaro having walked towards the door, and having returned to his place) -
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will retire from the chamber. The honorable member for Kingston will cease interjecting. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro can put on a show or an act if he likes, but he is not going to disregard the Standing Orders. The honorable member has been here long enough to know that he can sit down in one of the seats outside the precincts of the chamber, and I suggest to him that he now take a chair outside the precincts of the chamber. If he does not, 1 shall take action against him at the conclusion of the vote on the question before the House. I ask him to respect the Standing Orders.
– I understood you, Mr. Acting Speaker, to say that I could return at 3.15 p.m.
– Order! The question is that the honorable member for Barton be suspended from the service of the House.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Eden-Monaro entitled to vote in this division?
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is not entitled to vote in this division. He was asked before 3.15 p.m., and before the House commenced to vote, to leave the chamber. Therefore, I say that to this degree the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has no right to vote in this division. The “ Ayes “ will pass to the right of the chair; the “ Noes “ will pass to the left. I appoint the honorable members for Phillip and Mallee tellers for the “ Ayes “ and the honorable members for Wilmot and Griffith tellers for the “ Noes “.
– I will not count the division if the honorable member for EdenMonaro is not present.
– Order! 1 appoint the honorable members for Wilmot and Griffith tellers for the “ Noes “. If the honorable members for Wilmot and Griffith refuse to obey the Chair’s instruction as to the telling then the Chair again will take the action necessary. I now further appoint the honorable members for Wilmot and Griffith tellers for the “ Noes “.
– I will not count the division if the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is not here.
– Order! I therefore declare the question resolved in the affirmative and the honorable member for Barton suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, you cannot get away with that one. You ordered a count. Under what Standing Order ito o.i take it upon yourself to declare the question resolved in the affirmative, when no count was taken?
– Order! In regard to the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition: The tellers refused to count. Therefore, in accordance with precedent and practice in this House I declare the motion is carried and that the honorable member for Barton is suspended from the service of the House.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I shall move that your ruling be disagreed with. There is no precedent so far as I know, and there is no practice so far as I know, for such a decision as yours. In any case, precedent and practice do not govern this chamber in the absence of a Standing Order. The Standing Orders provide that where a situation is not covered by our Standing Orders the Standing Orders of the House of Commons prevail. Now, what section of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons gives you the authority, Sir, to act as you have done? 1 therefore move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition has a perfect right to move such a motion. If he puts it in writing and presents it to the House the question will be put.
– May 1 have time to write it out?
– Yes. (The motion having been submitted in writing) -
– The motion will be seconded by my distinguished colleague from Eden-Monaro.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, 1 second the motion that your ruling be dissented from and I desire to speak to it.
– I rise to a point of order. I suggest that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is completely improper in even being in this place.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– There is no substance in the point of order. For once he has given the correct ruling. Mr. Acting Speaker, I second the motion for dissent from your ruling because it is an unprecedentedly bad ruling in the history of this House, which I have known continuously since February 1923.
– I rise to a point of order. I repeat that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has no right to be in this place.
– I apologise to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro; I have not actually put the question. The question before the House is that the ruling of the Acting Speaker be dissented from. I call the honorable member for EdenMonaro.
– Mr Acting Speaker, I was saying–
Motion (by Mr. Aston) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– The question is, “ That the question be now put “. The “ Ayes “ will pass to the right of the Chair, the “ Noes “ to the left. The House will divide; ring the bells.
– When the Speaker has called on a division and has appointed tellers, when there has been a continuous refusal from the Opposition side to tell he has appointed tellers from the Government side and has proceeded with the division. What you are doing, Mr. Acting Speaker, is in breach of every ruling and every precedent established in this House.
Question put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.
– I rise to order. Am I entitled to receive an answer to the question which I asked and which concerns a matter of vital interest to all ex-servicemen in Australia?
– The Prime Minister has asked that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.
– I only hope the Government will have as much regard for the old soldiers as-
– Order! (The honorable member for Barton thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– by leave - On 31st August this House agreed to refer the following proposal to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works -
The first stage of the progressive rebuilding in permanent construction of H.M.A.S. “ Nirimba “ at Quakers Hill, New South Wales.
In moving the appropriate motion, I explained that the first stage of the rebuilding programme consisted of four accommodation blocks and a demonstration building, at a total estimated cost of $1,500,000. Since then, the existing wardroom at “Nirimba” has been badly damaged byfire and it is now proposed to include in Stage 1 the construction of a new wardroom at an estimated cost of $300,000. In view of the fact that the reference to the Committee was in general terms, the Committee has, I believe, already made arrangements to include the new proposed wardroom in its report.
– I ask for leave to make a statement on Vietnam and in relation to questions which I asked in this House on Wednesday, 21st September 1966, and Thursday, 22nd September 1966, in which I referred to certain observations involving General Westmoreland, about which the Prime Minister asked me for the source of my information. I now wish to give that information.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank the House. I asked the Prime Minister on Wednesday last-
Does he yet know that buildings have been erected in South Vietnam for the arrival of a third battalion of Australian troops? Does he yet know that military advisers of his Government are preparing plans for the despatch of a third battalion of Australian troops? Does he yet know that General Westmoreland, the commander of the American forces in Vietnam, has asked when the third battalionwill arrive?
There were a number of other questions which are not relevant. The Prime Minister said -
I do know that decisions as to Australian forces in Vietnam or anywhere else are decisions taken by this Government. When this Government takes such decisions, it will announce them. The next day I asked the Prime Minister -
What justification has General Westmoreland, the commander of the American forces in South Vietnam, for inquiring when the third battalion of Australian troops is to arrive in Saigon? As the Government has to date ignored the inquiry by General Westmoreland, when can the House and the country expect a statement from the Prime Minister on the subject?
The Prime Minister answered. There was some cross-fire, and the right honorable gentleman then challenged me to give him the source of my information.
The source of my information is the honorable member for Brisbane. He told me that, in company with the Ministerfor Social Services (Mr. Sinclair), he attended a social gathering at which General Westmoreland was present and that the conversation turned to the question of a third battalion. The honorable member for Brisbane told me that General Westmoreland inquired -
When are you going to send us that third battalion?
The implication, if not the assertion, was that a third battalion had been promised and the Americans were expecting it. Then General Westmoreland said to the Minister for Social Services and the honorable member for Brisbane -
Are you still having trouble with your Opposition?
The honorable member for Brisbane said: “I am a member of the Opposition “. General Westmoreland apologised and said he did not want to embarrass representatives of the Australian Government. The honorable member for Brisbane tells me that General Westmoreland is a good bloke. I believe he is.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who was in Saigon quite recently, told our Caucus, and told me privately, that all preparations have been made for the reception of a third battalion, and I have other information in my possession which tells me that buildings have been erected at Puckapunyal Campin
Victoria for housing of the third battalion of troops. I have given the House the source of my information. I believe, on the strength of what General Westmoreland said, that the American authorities had reason to believe that a third battalion was likely to be sent to Vietnam very shortly, and it was on the strength of that that I asked the Prime Minister the questions which I did.
– by leave - Mr. Acting Speaker, I wish to make a statement since my name has been mentioned and the delegation of which I was leader is apparently being given as the source of information that is being quoted to this House by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). In fact, members of the delegation held a number of discussions with individual members of the South Vietnamese Government, the staff of the United States Embassy and the American armed forces. There was one particular occasion when General Westmoreland and members of the staff of the American Embassy in South Vietnam were present at a private dinner at the Australian Embassy. On no occasion was there any suggestion that members of the American forces or of the staff of the American Embassy were under the impression that the Australian Government had given any undertaking to commit forces other than those presently in service in Vietnam to operations there.
There was some discussion about future needs. There was some discussion about civilian aid. But all this was in terms of an assessment of the totality of the situation. There was no indication by any member of the American forces or of the staff of the United States Embassy that the Americans were under the impression that further Australian forces would be committed in Vietnam. Rather, the general indications were that the South Vietnamese Government and the Americans were very grateful for the assistance being provided by the Australian Government and the Australian Service personnel. The Americans and members of the Government of South Vietnam spoke in laudatory terms of the positive contribution that was being made by the Australian personnel to the advancement of peace in the Phuoc Tuy Province at present and previously in the Bien Hoa region where they had been in operations. I believe that the implication made by the Leader of the Opposition on the basis of a suggestive conversation is quite unjustified in the circumstances.
– The Minister does not deny the conversation?
– I deny the alleged purport of it.
– by leave - I would like to add a comment so that this matter may be entirely clear in the minds of honorable members. I am in no position to comment on the discussion that is alleged to have taken place between a member of this Parliament and General Westmoreland.
– The conversation is not denied by the Minister for Social Services, who Icd the delegation.
– I am saying that I am not in a position to comment on any such conversation. It is said to have been held. I am in no position to confirm it or to challenge the accuracy of the statements supposed to have been made. 1 repeat something that I put on record on an earlier occasion. I am able to say that decisions about the size and composition of Australian forces in South Vietnam are taken by the Australian Government and by nobody else. 1 have said that this Government has taken no decision to increase our forces in South Vietnam. I have said further that from time to time we review the size and composition of the Australian forces there. When any change in the composition of our forces is decided on, the decision is made public. I repeat that there has come to my notice no request by the Government of South Vietnam, which would be the appropriate source of a formal request, by the Government of the United States of America or by any officer of that Government concerning the current size of Australia’s military representation in South Vietnam.
It is quite conceivable that military men, when they come together, discuss a variety of contingencies. I do not put it beyond the bounds of possibility that at the Service level discussions relating to the size of the Australian forces at any particular time could have occurred. I say further that the size of Australia’s military participation in South
Vietnam is not determined by this Government on political considerations. It is determined on considerations that take into account our military capability and the need to rotate the trained military personnel required for our participation. These are the persuasive considerations that weigh with us and they are the factors that are taken into account when we make our review. As at this point of time, there has been no decision to increase the strength of the Australian forces in South Vietnam in the manner suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I am not excluding the possibility of some addition or subtraction of a few hundred personnel according to changing circumstances. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitiam) will be aware of the sort of thing that I have in mind. No decision has been taken to send another Australian battalion to South Vietnam.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Trade Practices Bill 1966.
Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Bill 1966.
Reference to the Public Works Committee.
– Mr. Acting Speaker I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Erection of a Migrant Hostel at Springvale, Victoria.
The proposal involves the provision at an estimated cost of S4.25 million of a permanent hostel to accommodate approximately 1,000 persons, including staff. The hostel will consist of a single storey administrative, kitchen and dining hall building linked by covered ways to three two storey accommodation blocks together with recreation facilities, child minding centre and associated engineering services. Living accommodation for hostel staff will be provided in a two storey block and three residences will be provided for managers. The buildings will be of brick load bearing construction with appropriate durable finishes. I table plans of the proposed works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Construction of New Combined Mess, Galley and Recreation Centre at H.M.A.S. “Leeuwin”, Fremantle, Western Australia.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House: - Construction of New Combined Mess, Galley and Recreation Centre at H.M.A.S. “ Leeuwin “, Fremantle, Western Australia.
The Committee has reported favorably on the master plan and proposed programme for rebuilding H.M.A.S. “ Leeuwin “ in permanent construction at an estimated cost of $3,250,000, and on the specific first stage, comprising a new mess, galley and recreation centre at an estimated cost of $725,000. In addition the Committee has recommended that there should be a more permanent arrangement for the use of outside playing fields. This recommendation has been referred to my colleague, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney), for attention. The Committee has recommended, secondly, that the replacement of the existing medical care facilities is an urgent requirement and should have priority in the rebuilding programme. Priority will be given to this item. The Committee has recommended, thirdly, that the Commonwealth should erect a chapel to replace the existing chapel located in a temporary building which will be eventually demolished. The general question of providing chapels at Service establishments from public funds is at present under consideration. On the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning of the mess, galley and recreation centre can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Development of Storage and Maintenance Facilities at Royal Australian Navy Armament Depot, Kingswood, New South Wales.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House - Development of Storage and Maintenance Facilities at Royal Australian Navy Armament Depot, Kingswood, New South Wales.
The proposal involves the construction of eight store buildings, a mechanical workshop, office and messing accommodation, and five residences all at the estimated cost of $790,000. The Committee has reported favorably on the proposal and. upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Additional Facilities at Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, South Australia.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House - Additional Facilities at Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, South Australia.
The work consists of a new artificial limb and appliance centre and a new outpatients clinic, at a total estimated cost of $574,000.
In reporting favorably on the proposal, the Committee has recommended that steps should be taken to provide natural lighting in all examination rooms and that the completion time for the outpatients clinic be reduced. Both these recommendations will be implemented as far as possible during the further development of the proposal. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the. Government’s Budget proposals in the repatriation field. The Bill appropriates the amount necessary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in connection with the amendments the Bill makes and which will come into force from the date on which the Act receives the royal assent.
The Bill provides for an amendment to the Second Schedule to the Repatriation Act to give effect to an increase of $2 per week in the special - totally and permanently incapacitated - rate of pension which in future will be $30.50 per week. Following the increase in the special - T. & P. I. - rate of pension, the additional amounts payable to certain amputees under the first six items of the Fifth Schedule to the Repatriation Act are being increased by $2 a week to $18.50. The intermediate rate war pension provided for in the First Schedule to the Repatriation Act will also be increased by $1 per week to $21.25.
The Bill also provides for an amendment to the First Schedule to the Repatriation Act to give effect to an increase of $1 per week in the rate of pension for a war widow, the new rate being $13 per week. The Bill also provides advances in the service pension area.
– J rise to order. The Minister, I submit, is persisting in tedious repetition of his own arguments. The whole of his speech so far is in the same terms as a speech he made yesterday afternoon on a Bill, upon which debate was adjourned and in respect of which leave was given yesterday to resume the debate. The Bill is on the notice paper. I submit that it is out of order to repeat in a second reading speech on what purports to be a substitute bill arguments which were advanced yesterday.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The Minister is making a second reading speech on a Bill which has just been presented to the House.
.- I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
– Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition submit his motion in writing?
– I now do so. We are unable to understand why there should be a continued delay in debating the Repatriation Bill which came to us yesterday from the Senate. Debate on that Bill could have proceeded yesterday. Instead, the Government proceeded to debate the Estimates.
– The honorable gentleman is seeking limelight.
– The Government wants to shelve the first Bill.
– Is the motion seconded?
.- 1 second the motion. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) has attempted to repeat in its entirety a speech that he has already made. The Opposition has already placed on record in this Parliament, particularly in relation to the issue which the Minister is now debating, itsview that the Government has nothing but utter contempt for ex-servicemen and their rights. We have moved dissent from your ruling, Mr. Acting Speaker, to highlight the injustice inflicted on the Opposition, probably with the best of intentions, and at the same time to give us an opportunity to show the complete contempt with which the Government treats the Parliament and exservicemen. What grounds does the Minister have for attempting to make now the same speech as he made on a measure which, through the action of the Labour Party, was amended in another place? The Government will not give one inch in this matter. It wants to take whatever credit it can for itself. It refuses to acknowledge that the Opposition has been responsible for forcing through amendments which are of vital concern to the people of this country.
Standing Order No. 85, under which the motion is moved, refers to irrelevance and tedious repetition. What is more tedious than the Minister making the same speech twice within two days? Once is bad enough. It would not be so bad if this were a tin pot issue, but repatriation is one of the most important issues to come before the Parliament. At a time when men are being conscripted, this Government refuses the Opposition the opportunity to debate fully in a democratic way the rights that exservicemen shall have. If the Government will not look after veterans of the Boer War, what chance does a kid have? None at this stage. Under the provisions of the legis lation that the Minister is introducing the totally and permanently incapacitated exserviceman will receive less than the basic wage. Even the Returned Services League was moved to protest at this.
We today have taken a point of order so that the Minister will not again deliver the speech that he made yesterday. But he insists upon doing so and has forced us to the point where we must dissent from your ruling, Mr. Acting Speaker. I suggest that you, as a man of wisdom and understanding, must know in your heart that, in the terms of Standing Order No. 85, the Minister’s speech today is irrelevant and tedious repetition, and that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is quite in order in raising this point. I do not want to prolong the debate. I know full well that the Government will gag it if it is not too ashamed to use the gag for the second time in a day. The Government has shelved the previous Bill andI suppose it would not be too much to expect that it will gag this debate. But is it not remarkable that, if we are not debating repatriation matters in the dead of night, we are doing so on a Wednesday when the proceedings of this House are not broadcast and the people cannot hear our recital of the shortcomings of the Government? Is it any wonder that the Government is shelving the other Bill? After all, it is very touchy on this issue, particularly with the Vietnam war in progress and a third battalion to be despatched as soon as the election is over. So the Government gags the debate on repatriation.
I do not like adverting to this, but I will not allow the Government to get away with it. It is touchy because it is letting down the recipients of repatriation benefits. Seated on the Government side of the House, to their credit, are many members - probably the majority of them - who fought and served this country well, but no-one in the Parliament gives less service to the cause of ex-service men and women in legislation than do those who sit opposite when repatriation benefits are before the Parliament.
– Order!The honorable member for Grayndler is getting wide of the subject before the Chair.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. ..16
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Mr. Acting Speaker, I point out to the House that I gave noticelast night of the introduction of this Bill today. This is a new Bill that has been introduced and this is the second reading speech to explain the terms of this particular measure. I would also point out that this-
– I rise to order. I raise the point of order that underthe
Standing Orders the Minister has no right to proceed with his second reading speech because, as I shall show, Repatriation Bil! [No. 2] has not been circulated to honorable members. The position is, as you know Mr. Acting Speaker, that the Minister can proceed to the second reading only if the Bill on which he wishes to make the second reading speech has been circulated to honorable members. This is Repatriation Bill [No. 2]. If you will examine the Bill which has been circulated to members and which purports to be Repatriation Bill [No. 2] you will see that there is no such description on it. It is not Repatriation Bill [No. 2]; it is simply described as “ Repatriation Bill “. Mr. Acting Speaker, in the ordinary course of events I might not take this point, but it is essential that every point of order should be taken as will prevent the Government from using a device to prevent veterans obtaining the hospital treatment to which they are entitled.
– Order! In regard to the point of order raised by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I point out that the correct Bill has been circulated to honorable members. The designation “ [No. 2] “ has been applied to the Bill to distinguish it for the benefit of honorable members. It was an administrative use of the figure “ 2 “.
– But the Minister used the term.
– For the purpose of differentiation. The Bill presented to honorable members is the correct Bill.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, because of the importance of this issue I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
– In reply to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I point out that there is no ruling in this case. I have made a statement of fact on the presentation of the Bill, therefore to that degree there is no ruling from the Chair. I have given information from the Chair to the effect that this is the correct Bill referred to by the Minister and presented to honorable members.
– I raised a point of order, Mr. Acting Speaker. Have you given a ruling on my point of order?
– I have said, in effect, that there is no substance in the point of order raised by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– Therefore, Mr. Acting Speaker, your ruling is that there is no substance in my point of order. I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
I do so because the rights of returned soldiers to hospital treatment are involved. The Government has thrown the original Bill out and is presenting another Bill purporting to be Repatriation Bill [No. 2], when it is not. Do you, Mr. Acting Speaker, accept my motion?
– Will the honorable member for Eden-Monaro put his motion in writing?
– Yes, Sir, I now do so.
– The question is: “That the ruling be dissented from “.
.- Mr. Acting Speaker, during the proceedings I have had the opportunity to compare yesterday’s Bill with the Bill which has just been circulated. There is only one substantial difference between them. There is a clause 14 in today’s Bill; there was no such clause in yesterday’s Bill. The Minister’s speech, of which he has given me a copy, makes no reference to the Bill which has been circulated today insofar as it contains this additional clause. The speech which the Minister is making refers-
– I point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the motion of dissent from my ruling at this given moment is based purely on the fact that I have ruled there is no point of order in the matter raised by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro which was that the Bill had not been presented to honorable members. So, in the strictest sense, on this occasion that is the only subject matter before the House.
– I am speaking, Mr. Acting Speaker, to the narrow point upon which you have accepted from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro a motion of dissent from your ruling.
– I rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker. Standing Order No. 86, which relates to matters which are not open to debate, refers in paragraph (k) to a motion of dissent from the ruling of the Chairman. Apparently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is out of order.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Acting Speaker, the honorable Q.C. should read the Standing Orders more closely. The one he has quoted refers to the Committee stage.
– Order! The point of order raised by the honorable member for Parramatta refers to the Committee stage of a Bill. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– The speech which the Minister has been reading, and of which he was good enough to give me a copy, refers solely to the Bill which was presented yesterday. It makes no reference to the clause which has now been added to the Bill. Accordingly–
– Order! I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has not completely grasped what I said. The matter before the House at this given moment is a motion of dissent from my ruling. My ruling was that the Bill had been circulated to honorable members. Therefore, at this given moment neither the content of the Minister’s speech nor anything else is relevant. The only factor is that the Bill to which the Minister is referring is before the House. I may point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this has nothing to do with the first Bill which was presented yesterday.
– The speech has no reference to today’s Bill. It refers only to yesterday’s.
– Order! I suggest to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that his remarks are not relevant to the motion before the Chair.
.- Mr. Acting Speaker, in speaking to the motion of dissent from your ruling that there was no ruling–
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. ..15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I call the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– Before the Minister proceeds, Mr. Acting Speaker–
– Is this a point of order?
– No, it is a point of pro cedure. I am going to ask Mr. Acting
Speaker for some light on what to me is a rather obscure situation. We now have two Bills, the one that is No. 22 on the notice paper and the one that the Minister - and I point out that he is not the Minister for Repatriation - is now introducing in this House for the first time. I direct the attention of honorable members to the front page of this Bill, in thebottom right hand corner of which appear the two capital letters “ MR “. The capital “ M “ means that this is a Bill that will subsequently be accompanied by a message, and of course this is the real reason why this Bill is being treated in this way. All other repatriation Bills that have been considered in this House have been–
– 1 take a point of order, Mr. Acting Speaker. 1 put it to you that the honorable gentleman is addressing himself to the substance of this Bill. He says he is seeking a direction as to procedure but in point offact he is speaking about the substance of the Bill, and the Minister has the floor.
– Order! As to the request of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for information regarding the letters “ MR “, I can tell him that they are an indication to the Draftsman that there is a message.
– Now you have given me the key, Sir.
– Mr. Acting Speaker–
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I want to know about procedure. Surely” I am entitled–
– Order! I suggest we might be assisted if there were fewer interjections. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has taken a procedural point of order, and I suggest that perhaps we should hear him to ascertain what his point is.
– I suggest that this is a most significant point. This is a matter that deals with the relationship of the two Houses of Parliament. During the debate on the Estimates many speakers talked about the Parliament being used as a rubber stamp. This House is being used at the moment to take away the rights of the Senate.
– I take the same point of order that I took before, Mr. Acting Speaker. I put it to you that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is speaking about the substance of the Bill. He is not raising a point of order. He has specifically said that he is asking for a procedural ruling, whatever that might be. I put a point of order - the only point of order before you, I think - that the honorable member is speaking to the substance of the Bill. I submit that the Minister for Civil Aviation has the call.
– I suggest, following the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that this is a subject matter to be dealt with in the debate on the Bill before the House rather than a procedural matter.
– There are two Bills before the House.
– If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will listen for a moment. I can follow what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is commenting on in regard to the relationship between the Bill before the House at the moment and the other Bill on the notice paper. But I do feel that the subject matter raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - and his comments on it - involves not so much a procedural point, because a procedural point at this moment does not affect the Bill before the House. I think that the subject matter raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is more suitable for debate later in the second reading stage of the Bill than at this point as a procedural matter.
– With all respect, Sir, I am trying to point out - and surely we can get agreement upon this - that there is already a Bill on the notice paper - item No. 22 under Orders of the Day - and there is the Bill that the Minister for Civil Aviation is seeking to have read a second time. Those two Bills are identical in context except for clause 14. Clause 14 has been inserted in this Bill so that it becomes a Bill which the Senate cannot amend.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - as I pointed out earlier - that the matter he is discussing at this moment should not be debated as a procedural matter or as a point of order. I point out to the House that the time of the
Minister for Civil Aviation, who represents the Minister for Repatriation, has expired.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I commend the Bill to the House.
– The question before the House is, “That this Bill be now read a second time “.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, before you put the question that the debate be adjourned I want to ask you at what stage in this debate I may state this procedural point. I think with all respect-
– Mr. Acting Speaker, if the honorable member will take thi call he can put his point immediately in accordance with the Standing Orders. If you give him the call he can proceed forthwith.
– Order! 1 remind the Attorney-General that under the Standing Orders at the moment he is not correct. The debate cannot proceed forthwith. It must be adjourned. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports can raise the matter he is now speaking about when he is making his second reading speech. This is the ruling I gave previously. When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will speak, is, of course, in his own hands. I suggest again to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that this is not the moment to raise the point he is raising.
– Surely any member of this House is entitled to ask the Chair for guidance as to procedure in the House. That, Sir, is what I am seeking. I am asking-
– Order! Honorable members will cease interjecting.
– Honorable members who claim to be interested in the working of Parliament as an institution should be particularly concerned about this point which I want the opportunity to outline. I think a subterfuge is being perpetrated through the forms of the House to destroy the right of the Senate-
– I rise to a point of order. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to withdraw the term “ subterfuge “.
– I am quite happy to withdraw the term “ subterfuge “ if it gives offence. Perhaps I could use the words “ tactical device “.
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that he is now debating the subject matter of the Bill. I have already pointed out to the honorable member that the time to raise this matter in respect to the two Bills is when he makes his second reading speech.
– If the honorable member wants to raise the issues of substance there is no reason why he cannot proceed to do so, within the forms of the House, in the compass of a few minutes. If the honorable member wants to raise the substance - and he is raising the substance - he ought to indicate whether or not that is his intention. If he is in charge of the debate for the Opposition then he can indicate immediately whether it is his intention to get to the substance forthwith. If he would so indicate the House would then know precisely where it stands.
– Perhaps I might proceed by asking you, Mr. Acting Speaker, if you would say whether, in your opinion, this is a money Bill. On the other hand, is Bill No. 22 on the notice paper a money Bill? Would the Government be prepared to debate this Bill and Bill No. 22 in conjunction?
– Mr. Acting Speaker, this point is going to the substance of the matter. 1 have indicated that I do not want to go to the substance of the matter. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports continues to go to the substance of the matter. I have indicated that if he chooses to do so he should forthwith declare that he wants today to go to the substance. He has already said that he is not going to the substance but is seeking only to put something in its correct perspective. The honorable member says that but for clause 14 there is no difference between this Bill and another Bill. For the sake of the record, I point out that this is a Bill of a different title. It is a bill with different clauses and it is an appropriation bill.
– The Attorney-General has answered one point; he has said that this Bill is an appropriation bill. Is item No. 22 an appropriation bill?
– Order! I have suggested to the honorable member for
Melbourne Ports that he should make these remarks in substance when he speaks to the second reading. We have had a number of comments from either side of the House. If the suggestion I have made is taken and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports makes his speech at the appropriate time, and if there be no further interjections from either side of the House, the House might be able to proceed with the business. Failing a decision by the House to proceed immediately with the second reading debate, the question now is that the debate be adjourned.
– I am about to move that the debate be adjourned, but I should like to make it perfectly clear that in doing so I am not unaware that the first Bill was subject to amendment in the Senate. The second Bill is not. I therefore move -
That the debate be adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Acting Clerk. - Order of the Day No. 1, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1966-67. Further consideration in Committee.
That Orders of the Day, Government business, Nos. 1 to 21 be postponed. 1 do so in order that the House can proceed with Order of the Day No. 22, Repatriation Bill 1966, and thereby provide all the benefits, including medical and hospital benefits, to war veterans of the Boer War and the Second World War.
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro cannot move for the alteration of business before the Committee. The Acting Clerk has already called on the business, which is the further consideration in Committee of that part of the Appropriation Bill dealing with the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of the Interior, the Australian Capital Territory and the Department of External Affairs.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I propose, with great regret, to move that your ruling be dissented from.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
Consideration resumed from 27th September (vide page 1 326).
Department of Labour and National Service.
Proposed expenditure, $8,649,000.
– In dealing with this section of the Estimates I want to direct my thoughts to the kind of recommendation that the Department of Labour and National Service makes to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission from time to time when the Commission is hearing applications from the Australian Council of Trade Unions with respect to margins or the basic wage. 1 propose to refer particularly to the proceedings on the last occasion. The Committee will recall that when the case was before the Commission it became public knowledge that the Government’s representative had submitted that the Government believed the time had arrived when there should be a moderate increase in the basic wage to stimulate the purchasing power of the community. I presume that was its purpose. At that time I asked the responsible Minister whether he would indicate to the House the basis of the submission and I asked him also to explain what was meant by the “ moderate increase “ which had been suggested. The Minister replied that the recommendation had been prepared by his Department and he said that he stood by it.
As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) is now at the table I propose to direct my attention to this subject and to the kind of recommendation that the Government makes to the authority which has the power to assess the living standards of Australian workers. The Commission has this power because it fixes the basic wage or the margin, if it happens to be a general case on margins. When I examined the Government’s recommendation on the last occasion I became astounded at the type of thinking behind the submission which had been presented to the Commission. The part of the recommendation which concerns me greatly appears at page 21 of the submission and reads: -
So the Commonwealth puts the view, with very great respect, that the proper approach is for the members of this bench-
That was a reference to the full bench of the Commission - and indeed of all multi-membered benches of the Commission, not only to consult together but to do their very utmost, through fullest discussion, to reach a unanimous decision upon the weighty matters that are before the Commission. There is no complete analogy that we can put to the Commission. An analogy may be the responsibility of a jury. There is the prime duty of a jury to continue discussion until agreement is reached. Deadlock can occur but it is a relatively rare event.
That kind of recommendation to an industrial tribunal which is adjudicating on a dispute which has properly been found by the tribunal to exist and which had arisen from an application for improved conditions for the workers is not the kind of submission, in my view, that should come from a responsible government. Nobody knows the state of the economy better than the Government. It would appear that the next step from the Department of Labour and National Service is to the Treasury. The present Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) was formerly the Minister for Labour and National Service, and the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) was Minister for Labour and National Service before he became Treasurer. I do not know whether the present Minister hopes to follow in the footsteps of those who went before.
I say to the Minister that the time has long passed when this kind of recommendation should be submitted by a responsible government to an authority which has to determine the future standards of the workers, without the Government having had regard to the impact on the national economy of what it is doing. The workers of Australia no longer want an extra £1 a week in their pockets; what they want is value for the £1 which is already there. If the type of thinking in which the Government has indulged for 17 years continues we will live to see the day when our economy will be wrecked as a result of its submission of reckless recommendations to the Commission. The 1961 decision of the Commission demonstrated what could happen if we attempted to provide in Australia an effective scheme for the stabilisation of prices.
There is no doubt in the mind of anyone who has explored what happened after the 1961 decision that the action taken by the Commission at that time had the greatest effect on stabilising our price structure since the 1942 decision when the basic wage and all prices, except where anomalies could be shown, were pegged for four years. If the Government was thinking in terms of what was necessary for an effective price structure in Australia it should have looked at the situation in the period between 1942 and 1946. At that time war pressures and’ the impasse in industry brought about by war production would have led to inflation in ordinary circumstances, but the situation was kept on an even keel by the policy adopted by the government of the day. Wages were pegged at a point where the country accepted the theory of quarterly adjustments in the basic wage. This system opera ed from 1942 to 1946 because a ceiling was placed on prices as at 10th February 1942. The result was that, with the operation of the system of quarterly adjustments the cost structure in Australia rose by only 8s. in four years. The present Government saw what happened as a result of the 1961 decision. Without any action on the part of the Government, the Arbitration Commission tried to stabilise price levels, and the Government should have followed that lead. I put it to the Minister and to the Government that if ever a government and a responsible department failed the nation at a time when a golden opportunity presented itself, it was this Government and this Department because they failed to follow up what the Commission had done in 1961. The Government should have recommended strongly to the Commission that no departure be made from the principles laid down in the 1961 decision. 1 remind honorable members that the 1961 decision had reversed the onus of proof requirement. In the 15 minutes available to me I have not time to analyse the entire decision, but if honorable members will look at the fifth recommendation contained in the judgment they will find that the Commission reversed the onus of proof and increased the basic wage by 12s. Because the onus of proof had been reversed, from 1961 to 1964 the cost structure throughout Australia rose by only 2s. If the Government and, in particular, this Department had been alive to the real value that the 1961 decision had proved to the nation they would have been on their feet at every opportunity recommending to the Commission that the principles laid down in the decision be not departed from. But that course does not suit this Government. The Government does not want a levelling out of prices in Australia; it wants an increase of £1 in the basic wage. In this session the Government was able to introduce a budget providing a hand-out for social services of $65 million or $70 million. Where does that amount come from? lt comes directly from revenue derived from taxation on the £1 a week increase in the basic wage. As a result, between 1961 and 1964 prices remained static, the economy was stabilised and taxation revenue increased by 5 per cent. In 1964, the Commission, having before it the fact that the price structure had risen by only 2s. since 1961. decided that the productivity of the nation had increased to such an extent as to justify its granting to the workers an increase of 18s., in addition to 2s. to cover the rise in prices.
I come now to 1965. What the Government did then was to complain about the Commission’s decision in 1964. It should really have complained about the decision in 1965. The 1965 decision - the blame for this lies at the door of the Government - abandoned the onus of proof and laid down that price variations as shown by the “ C “ Series Index or the Consumer Price Index - variations which had been taken into consideration since 1934 - should no longer be considered in assessing the basic wage. From then on there was chaos. After three years of stability there were two years in which there was an upward trend in prices. This gave the Government additional income by way of taxation, but at what cost? If the 1961 decision had been followed again in 1965, things would have been much better, but in fact from 1965 we saw a spiralling of costs and prices. It has not stopped yet. I warn the Government that if this state of affairs continues Australian commodities will be priced out of the world’s markets within a decade. We are now living in a much more highly competitive world.
I make a strong appeal to the Government to set up a committee headed by the President of the Commission which brought down the 1961 decision. I do not hesitate to mention his name. I believe that the decision given in 1961 was the result of the brainwork of Sir Richard Kirby and of those close to him. I say that the Government should set up a committee presided over by Sir Richard Kirby or someone of equal calibre - someone who appreciates, as Sir Richard Kirby did in 1961, the need to maintain the value of the money in the worker’s pay envelope, someone who realises that any extra money given to the workers by way of an increase of the basic wage to meet price increases can be paid from extra profits.
It is tragic that this Government, when formulating recommendations to the Commission since 1961, has not paid due regard to the stabilising effect on the economy of the Commission’s 1961 decision. I know that the present Minister for Labour and National Service did not hold his portfolio in 1961, but I plead with him now to examine, or to set up a committee to examine, the impact which the 1961 decision had on the nation’s economy. There can be no denying that breaking away from the principles of that decision has resulted in destruction of the value of the worker’s pay envelope. Under present conditions if $4 or $6 were added to the basic wage there would be no possible chance of levelling out the economy unless the captains of industry who make hum profits had placed upon them the onus of showing why costs and prices should rise because of that increase. It is not an extra $6 that the worker wants. What he wants is to maintain the value of the money already in his pay envelope. What the nation wants is not continual increases of the basic wage by $2 a week but the type of stability that was enjoyed after the Commission gave its decision in 1961.
I appeal to the Minister to analyse, before it is too late, what happened between 1961 and 1964 and to compare it with what happened between 1942 and 1946. If he does so, he will see how prices can be stabilised and how the purchasing power of the workers can be increased without causing inflation within the economy. If the Government were to make recommendations to the Commission based on what was done in 1961, it would at least be doing something to stabilise prices and to guarantee the future sale of the nation’s products on the world’s markets. We cannot expect to go on putting an extra $2 into the worker’s pocket and taking $2.50 out. That can only smash the national economy.
.- It was most interesting to listen to the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). I do not disagree with much of what he said. It was interesting to hear him say what the working man or the unionist wants today is not an extra $6 in the basic wage but stability of the value of the money already in his pay envelope. However. I have seen but little sign of this attitude when the annual applications in respect of the basic wage are made to the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. I do not think the faults are all on the one side. There are faults, but I think they are fairly evenly distributed. I respect the honorable member for Blaxland as one who has fought to restrict the power of those who have sought to disrupt the trade union movement, to damage the Australian economy, to upset the stability of our industries and to lessen the opportunities for the sale of our commodities on overseas markets.
But I would have been most interested to hear him comment on what is happening in Victoria at the moment. There is an on and off strike at Yallourn and Morwell, the two areas which produce power for Melbourne and the great industries of Victoria - a strike which does not have the endorsement of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Indeed, the A.C.T.U. has ordered the trade unionists there to go back to work. There is no doubt in the mind of anybody in Victoria that this strike is inspired by the Communist dominated unions in those areas. The strike has been called not to gain perhaps an extra SI a week but to break the power of the A.C.T.U., which, to give it credit, has endeavoured to bring a stabilising influence to bear on the trade union movement of Australia in recent years.
We all know that at the moment there is in the trade union movement a battle between the Communist-led shop stewards and the A.C.T.U. It is a battle which has yet to be won, as the honorable member for Blaxland knows. Whilst not disagreeing with many of the things that the honorable member said, I would have liked to hear some reference from him to this battle which, is going on within the trade union movement, a battle in which the intention of one side is to place the Australian economy in jeopardy, to force up prices to the workers and to disrupt industry and thereby cause discontent within. The honorable member for Blaxland knows just as all other honorable members do that Communism can breed only where there is fertile soil for it to breed - where there is disruption and unhappiness.
I rose to speak mainly about the rehabilitation of Service personnel, for which provision is made in the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service. I realise that it is not possible for any honorable member who knows that things which he might like to see done have not been done to propose amendments that would mean altering the Budget provisions already made by the Government. I and many other honorable members could set out to make great stars or apostles of themselves by moving for the adoption of every proposal that they believed was necessary or was popular with the public at the present time, even if this meant proposing amendments to various bills or to the estimates for various departments. The Australian Government, as the honorable member for Blaxland said, knows better than does anybody else the state of the economy. This Government, having assessed what the economy can afford to pay, has decided what sum shall be expended to meet Australia’s requirements in the ensuing financial year. It would be wrong for me, perhaps just to gain political kudos, to suggest that every bill or section of the Estimates should be amended, and to move accordingly. The proposed expenditure for the year has been decided. The sum to be allocated to each department and to be spent in the discharge of every responsibility of the Government has been decided. Any change in the proposed expenditure now would possibly throw the economy out of gear.
However, I want to see further advances made in the rehabilitation of national servicemen and members of the Permanent Army. We must remember that the national servicemen who were called up in the first intake under the present scheme will be discharged in about March or April of next year on completion of their two years’ service. It has always been my opinion and, I think, the opinion of most people who have investigated the rehabilitation facilities available to the members of all the Services of a variety of countries throughout the world that the provision made in Australia for the rehabilitation of servicemen is very good indeed. There may be many things that we think should have been done. We may think that the existing provisions should have been extended or assistance increased in a number of respects. Nevertheless, in these matters Australia stands out when compared with other countries.
I should like to give the Committee some details of the rehabilitation facilities in other countries. In the United Kingdom, exservicemen come under the health scheme on their discharge. This covers them for most of their invalidities and disabilities. They are fully covered by the scheme in the same way as is every other member of the community in the United Kingdom. Formerly, they were entitled to further education and training grants. I understand that these have now virtually been terminated. In Canada, provision is made for war service grants; education assistance to the children of war dead; returned soldiers’ insurance; veterans’ insurance, rehabilitation and welfare; treatment services; and land settlement and home construction assistance. I shall not go into the details. I say only that the assistance given by these means is very substantial. I believe that the rehabilitation measures adopted in Australia during and after the last war equalled or even exceeded those available in Canada. In New Zealand, provision is made for war veterans’ allowance; war bursaries and rehabilitation grants, such as education assistance; farm, trading and settlement loans; and trade training and educational facilities for ex-servicemen. In Australia, we provide for medical services; social worker services; the Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme; funeral grants; business re-establishment loans and tools of trade; service pensions; telephone rental concessions; and the Korea and Malaya training scheme. 1 see no reason why we should not provide rehabilitation facilities the equal of those that we have provided before to men who serve in Vietnam, Malaysia and other theatres of risk. We are calling up for service young men in their twentieth year. They are being required to undergo compulsory training. I believe that there is an obligation on the Government and the people of this country to make sure that the rehabilitation facilities provided for them are second to none. I direct attention particularly to the rehabilitation measures that were introduced during and after the last war by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. Under that scheme, a serviceman who had served overseas was entitled on his return and discharge to various rehabilitation measures, including university training if he wished, or training in a technical college or in any other sphere that he wished to enter. We are calling up today young men aged 20. Many describe them as boys, but I do not regard them as boys. They are young men. A young man may have been working in industry or on a farm. He may have been prepared during his two years of service if he had not previously matriculated, to undertake matriculation with the assistance of the Army Education Service. I do not see why a young man who does this should not, on his return to Australia, if he is suitable and capable, be offered an opportunity to go on to higher learning. Such opportunities would do much to help in the rehabilitation of these young men who are asked to serve.
I would like the Government, in the forthcoming year, after it has won the general election, to announce a better and more detailed rehabilitation scheme for our servicemen than we have at present. I distinctly recall what happened after the last war, as I am sure other honorable members do. Great numbers of men returned to Australia after service abroad, aged 22, 23 or 24, and many of them even older. Many decided to take advantage of the rehabilitation scheme offered by the Government of the day. I acknowledge that that was a Labour government and I give it due credit. The scheme that it introduced was a good one and ex-servicemen appreciated it greatly. In the situation in which we find ourselves today - it is claimed that we are not actually at war, but there can be little doubt in the mind of anybody that we are at war - I can see no reason why a man who is sent to Vietnam and who serves his country gloriously and well while he is there should not, on his return home, be given every facility that this country can afford for his rehabilitation.
I suggest to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) that before the first group of national service trainees is discharged, the best possible rehabilitation facilities be organised for these young gentlemen. I would not like them to have to wait until they have been out of the forces for, say, six or twelve months and have re-established themselves in civilian jobs. A suitable rehabilitation scheme will have to be announced very soon so that these men will know on their return from service that they are entitled to the benefits of the scheme. I am sure that the Minister is sympathetic. I trust that he will use his best endeavours with his colleagues in the Cabinet to ensure that the maximum possible rehabilitation benefits are provided without delay.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, I agree wholeheartedly with the closing remarks made by the honorable member lor La Trobe (Mr. Jess). I believe that a man who has still some working life ahead of him will always derive an advantage from further training. There is no age limit in this. Probably not enough thought has been given to the kind of training and educational facilities that ought to be placed at the disposal of men on their discharge from the Services and return to civilian life, whether they are regular soldiers in the strict sense or whether they are young national service trainees. I was 31, I think, when I returned from the last war. Four years of university training were made available to me. Men who served in the last war, of course, knew that this sort of opportunity was available to them on the day when they left the forces. This knowledge had a substantial effect on one’s attitude when one began to think about one’s return to civilian life in the last days before leaving the forces. This is a very important aspect of the responsibilities of the Department of Labour and National Service and it is probably one on which we all would be in complete agreement with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) if he were to develop a wide ranging rehabilitation system.
I wish to discuss the national service training scheme as it at present operates. It comes under the administration of the Minister 1Or Labour and National Service and it has assumed overriding significance in thousands of Australian homes. In 1964, the Government, not exactly lightheartedly, but evidently without much consideration of the implications of the scheme or of the ultimate employment of the men who were to be called up, embarked on the present national service training scheme. It should be made clear to the people of Australia that this scheme does not provide for national service as we used to think of it. The Defence Act makes adequate provision for liability to serve and service in the armed forces of Australia by all males between the ages of 18 and 60, I would think, in Part IV. This has been part of our legislation since 1909 or thereabouts. The Act was amended last year to make it obligatory for men to serve anywhere in the world. The general principles behind the legislation are substantially the same as those that have prevailed for the last half century. I am convinced that the average citizen does not realise the fundamental difference between the system implemented since 1964, now known as national service, and the system by which we recruit for the Regular Army and national service as it was known prior to 1957. This system is a direct descendant of that introduced 13 or 14 years ago, when the first legislation, known colloquially to its victims as Nasho was introduced. Under that system a man was called up for about 90 days’ training and then served in the Citizen Military Forces for a further period. The Australian people were acustomed to the idea; this was part of a pattern, although in recent years the voluntary system has prevailed for the most part. Because of long standing tradition, the people accepted it.
In 1964 when the present conscription system was introduced - I think it is fair to call it “ conscription “ as distinct from “ national service “ - the average Australian citizen thought that overseas service in the Regular Army would be voluntarily. It was not made clear, although I have no doubt it was stated clearly enough in the House, that this system was designed to fill the Regular Army. I am sure there is confusion in the minds of the citizens of
Australia between what you might call “ universal training “, which may be necessary at times - I do not accept that it is necessary now - and conscription into a regular force which is to participate in an overseas expeditionary force, as is presently the case. The present system is fundamentally different from anything that has applied in Australia before. 1 believe it is different even from the system introduced in 1943 when service under the universal provisions of the Defence Act was extended to include the outer reaches of the Australian Territories. Here is something that has been introduced as a basically different concept into Australian military and national thinking. I am still concerned that the people of Australia do not realise all the implications of this system, moral and otherwise. Why did the Government have to introduce it? I suppose there were two reasons. One was the failure of recruiting but perhaps the major reason was that our foreign policy was demanding a greater regular commitment in the forces. This was not made clear two years ago when the system was introduced. I am positive that it was not apparent to anybody two years ago that the Government proposed to send expeditionary forces to the war in Vietnam, although there was already a commitment in Malaysia. We had to expand our regular forces to accept these two commitments. It is an odd piece of strategy that you should have this kind of commitment at one end of South East Asia and another commitment at the other end.
Why has recruiting not kept pace with demands? This was a valid point referred to by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). When you enter the armed forces, no matter whether for three years, three months or a lifetime, you accept an absolute commitment. The commitment of a service person is quite different from that of anybody else, even members of the police forces or the fire brigades. In the armed services when the chips are down your life is the sacrifice you are laying on the table. I believe it is time the community accepted a similar commitment towards the servicemen. It does not matter much to me whether a man serves in the Citizen Military Forces or the Regular Army. What matters is our commitment. We should move into a new field of thinking towards rehabilitation rights, education training rights, housing rights and so on. I would be quite happy to support the view that there should be almost a continuing advantage through the rest of one’s life after one has served for a reasonable period. We might provide something like war service homes and educational benefits. I am not convinced that the Commonwealth employees’ compensation scheme provides adequate compensation for the citizen soldier or the regular soldier who is injured or for the dependants of those who are killed. I believe that these things are some of the reasons for the recruiting failure.
The real reason for the demand for soldiering stems from a foreign policy which has not yet been adequately explained to the people of Australia and which does not have a solid philosophical base. This has probably been part of the history of Australia. We have not given a great deal of thought to this matter. We still operate as if we were in the European context. We have always associated ourselves with the commitments that come from British commitments. Now we seem to have accepted policies that come from commitments of America. I do not believe that sufficient thought has been given to our foreign policy or to the defence policy behind it. 1 take strong exception to the present system of conscripting a small group in the community. Figures provided in answer to a question asked in August by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) show that of 122,000 persons who registered for national service, 46,837 were selected by means of the ballots conducted by the Department of Labour and National Service. Those 46,000 persons were accepted for examination. A number have had their callups deferred. A number have been exempted. A number have been called into the Army and a number are in Vietnam. I believe that this system is an act of immorality on the part of the Australian Government. If the Australian people support it, I believe it is an act of national immorality. If the Government implements the system without the support of the people, it is an even greater act of immorality.
– Does the honorable member say it is an act of immorality even if the people support it?
– If the people support it I would still consider it to be an act of immorality, although I will concede that if it has the imprimatur of a democracy through the ballot box, it is a system we all have to accept. I look at the matter this way; The Government says that it has a commitment. What is the commitment? It is one that will involve the absolute and unlimited sacrifice of some people. It does not matter whether one million or 10,000 are killed in a war, it is still an absolute commitment to those involved. In this case, we think that the Australian people have not voluntarily accepted the commitment. The voluntary recruiting system has failed. The average citizen of military age has not accepted service in Vietnam as a duty. The Government has said it is a national duty and that it has to pick somebody. Whom shall it pick? There may be strong economic and other reasons to select 20 year old persons. I do not see any reason why the Government should pick 20 year old people. If it picked 25 year old or 30 year old people, who would have had years of voting before they were called up, and who would have family responsibilities, I would see something in it. At least the Government would have thrown out a challenge and would face the responsibility for it. I believe that in chosing this age group the Government is guilty of an act of immorality. But it has also created a system of inequality. Some 1 22,000 were registered; some 46,000 were balloted. A number were exempted for all sorts of reasons. Some were eventually called up. Why were they chosen? You might say that the law of chance prevailed and Tom Smith rather than Tom Jones served eventually in Vietnam. One was killed and one goes on in civilian life. You might say it is the luck of the game. I do not think any nation worth its salt can live by chance of this nature. There has to be a consensus, a national support and a universal application of the principle of equality of sacrifice before you can say: “ This is national policy “. I believe we are guilty of inequality in our demands upon people. While the system continues it will be so insidious in the community that large numbers of people will be able to avoid the sacrifice that is implied. Large numbers will not even know what it means. Every year there are 100,000 young people in any particular age group. Only 100,000 Australian families out of 4 million Australian families are directly affected by registration for national service. This is about 2i per cent. The other 97i per cent, carry on business as usual. If we demand an absolute commitment there must be equality of sacrifice all round. It must be something in which all the resources of the nation are committed. I believe that in adopting the present system the Government has been guilty of shirking its responsibilities. The system means risking the lives of some and business as usual for the great many. Nobody in an Australian community can justify such a system. Apart from that, difficulties and uncertainties flow from it. Who is in? Who is out? Why will the Government not say which birth dates have been drawn? Why is it that this is a secret to everybody except the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) and his colleagues who turn up at the ballot box? Why can the Government not say that the people born on this date will be called up and those born on other dates will not? Does the Government suggest that if it announces that the birth date of, say, 3rd August has been drawn, people born on that date will blow through or something of the sort? Is this the kind of faith that we have in the people of Australia? Of course it is not.
The system has, 1 believe, been introduced without proper and adequate explanation. It has been introduced in such a way that it sows seeds of doubt throughout the community. I understand that a large number of people will be called up in October or whenever the next ballot is. We do not know yet who they will be. But they will be 20 years of age and they will have a future before them. Are they in or are they out? What will happen? How can they plan for their future? Why should we create this hiatus in the lives of young Australians? What have they done to us? The 18 and 19 year olds are battling to get into universities, and that is bad enough; but when they are 20 they are faced with this ultimate sacrifice, and it is business as usual and spearfishing for the rest. I say this clearly: I have the greatest contempt for those who perpetrate this system, yet hide behind all sorts of reasons and do not offer themselves. I am one of the people who are being vilified around this country by honorable members opposite through a process of
McCarthyism that attempts to intimidate me and discourage me from going to meetings and so on.
But I say firmly and clearly that the people of Australia have something to answer for. The people of South Vietnam have not called their young men to the colours in any wholesale way. There is no equality of sacrifice or diversion of effort there. Young Australians are being called on to make sacrifices in a cause in which the people in the country concerned are not actively engaged. I refer honorable members opposite to newspaper reports which support what I have been saying for weeks since I have returned from Vietnam. They can find the newspapers in the Library for themselves. Let us look to the facts, look to all the causes and look to our own consciences. If Australians must lake up this challenge, it is for all of us. Let the Government call up 450,000 and say it intends to do it. Then we will know that it is dinkum. I may not support it, but at least I will honour the resolution with which it acts.
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has just made several rather strange statements. We would have expected that he would have raised his usual objections to the war in Vietnam, and he is entitled to do that.
– I will do that when the estimates for the Department of External Affairs are before us.
– He is quite entitled to speak against conscription and national service. But I thought he made two rather strange statements for a member of the Parliament. First, he made an extraordinary statement which I challenged him, by way of interjection, to repeat and to my surprise he did so. I thought he had made an inadvertent error. He said: “If the people of Australia support conscription, they have committed an act of immorality.”
– If they support this conscription.
– The honorable member interjects and accepts that what I have said is substantially true.
– This gentleman in the Australian Labour Party has, by this statement, set himself up as the final arbiter of the morals of the Australian people. What he is saying, I suspect, is that on 26th November the Australian people will overwhelmingly support the policies on national service of this Government.
– Do not be so sure.
– He is anticipating this, I am not. He is saying to the . people: “ If you do this, you will commit an act of immorality “.
– That is true.
– I do not know what qualifications the honorable member has that enable him to be the final arbiter of morality. Perhaps one day he will enlighten me by telling me of his qualifications. The other statement he made, to which I took objection, was an insinuation about the ballot that is conducted and at each of which I personally have had the honour to represent the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury). The honorable member said in rather a sneaky way: “ The honorable member for Higinbotham in his secret session draws the ballot “. This, if it was meant to do anything, was obviously meant to cast some sort of a smear on the system. He then had the impertinence to say that this system has sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of the people. The system has not sown the seeds of doubt; it is this kind of smear by the honorable member for Wills that has sown the seeds of doubt, if indeed seeds of doubt have been sown. As I said, I have had the honour to be present at each of the ballots conducted so far. At each of them, between 20 and 30 Press, television and radio commentators have been present and on each occasion an extraordinarily distinguished Australian not associated with politics has drawn the marbles. In his presence, the marbles have been drawn, supervised, checked and re-checked by myself as representative of the Minister. Any smear on the secrecy of the ballot is necessarily a smear and a slur on the character and integrity not only of myself - I must become used to this, being in the political arena - but also of the distinguished Australians and the senior officers of the Department of Labour and National Service who are present at the ballot.
One might well say that the Press of Australia reflects the opinion of the people. I can tell the honorable member for Wills that, since the reason for maintaining the secrecy of the birth dates was explained at the first ballot, we have not received one question from any Pressman about the reason for the birth dates not being disclosed. I would have thought that, he being a person who sets himself up as an expert on morality, the reason for not divulging the birth dates would have become quite apparent without my having to spell it out for him, but let me try to do so. This is an arrangement between the young men of 20 and the Government. This is an individual relationship between the young men and the Government. I cannot see what right the honorable member for Wills or the general public have for wanting to know whether a young man’s birth date has been drawn out of the barrel. This is up to the young man and the Government.
Let mc give an instance of what could happen if the birth dates were revealed. As the honorable member for Wills said, many young men are balloted in but are not accepted. There can be many reasons for this. They may be medically unfit or they may not pass the mental fitness tests. They may be married. Let me take the hypothetical case of a young man who is applying for a position. He is aged 20. His employer may approach him and say: “ You were born on 3rd August 1946. I know your marble was drawn out of the barrel, because it was published in the newspaper. Why are you not in the Army? “ If we published the birth dates that were drawn, we would place young men such as this in the position of having to defend themselves against their prospective employers, and to me this would not be right. Why should our young men be placed in such a position? This is a relationship between the young men and the Government. I can think of thousands of situations in which the divulging of this information could cause harm. Let us consider young star footballers, particularly in Melbourne at this time of the year. As soon as the birth dates were announced, the sports writers would ascertain which football star or cricket star was affected by the draw and this would become headline news. If that young man for one reason or another were not called up, he would have to justify himself to the public and to the world. I do not believe that we should put young people in such a position. There are many other reasons for maintaining secrecy as to the birth dates, but I will content myself at this stage with the explanation I have given.
I should like to support strongly the plea by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), for the very generous rehabilitation benefits that the Government is soon to announce for servicemen serving abroad today and, in particular, for the national servicemen. Like myself, there are a great many members in this House who voluntarily joined up on their eighteenth birthdays and served in the Air Force, Army or Navy and who are prepared to say that rather than their lives suffering from service in the forces their lives were benefited. Notwithstanding this, I believe that in the present context we are taking only a few of those available and we should be extremely generous in our rehabilitation benefits for them.
I come now to some of the comments of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). In his usual thoughtful way he made a contribution on the vexed question of conciliation and arbitration. It is one of the facts of life that we as a Government, and as a Parliament, can argue here - and we have been arguing for two months on one aspect of financial policy, namely, the Budget, and whether it is a good or bad Budget - about financial measues yet, strangely, almost as important a fiscal weapon is in the hands of a body completely outside the Parliament. I refer, of course, to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which, by raising or lowering the basic wage by even one shilling a week, can produce an impact of £5 million on the national wages bill. The decisions of the Commission are of a momentous nature. I am not persuaded that we have anything near the perfect system, and I was impressed with the views put by the honorable member for Blaxland that price stability is what we should aim for. With due respect to him, however, I must say that he did not put forward many concrete ways in which price stability could be maintained ad infinitum. He referred to 1961. 1 am sure he was not advocating a repetition of the financial measures that were implemented in November 1960 which caused the stability we had over the next two years. However, this is one of the dilemmas a government finds itself in when there is overfull employment, as we have at the moment.
The honorable member spoke of the inequity to the worker in his not getting a greater share of increased productivity. This concerns me also, but I do not go as far as the honorable member for Blaxland. I have been trying to find figures and to ascertain whether any deep research has been done on the three aspects of where productivity goes. Obviously if there is an increase in productivity - and all of us know how impossible it is to measure this with any degree of accuracy - it can go to the worker, and I would be the first to agree that he should get his just share, or to management, capital, or call it what we will. The honorable member for Blaxland did not show us - and I do not blame him, because I have not seen any figures on it - that the relationship of profits to shareholders’ funds has increased since 1960. I do not believe it has. He did not prove that it had, because the figures are not available. I have been critical in this Parliament of universities, particularly those undertaking research in the humanities, but if any subject is crying out for some real research, here it is: Where is the increased productivity going? Is it going to the worker? If so, how much is going to him? Once that information is provided then we, as parliamentarians, can judge whether or not what is happening is equitable. How much of increased productivity is going to capital? Of course, there is a third possibility. Is it going in the increased price of money? This is one aspect that concerns me. Is too much of it being siphoned off in the additional price of money?
I hope that after this Government is returned at the next election it will give some consideration to the pleas of the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - and, indeed, of its President, Sir Richard Kirby - who have asked the Government to provide guide lines to the Commission as to the basis for the making of basic wage determinations. The Government does this in respect of the Reserve Bank of Australia. It says to the Reserve Bank: “ These are certain broad guide lines or criteria to which you should look “ and it refers to the overseas trading position, the balance of payments situation and so forth. I know that this is fraught with all sorts of difficulties, both economic and political, but I think it is fair to the judges, if we are going to persist with the present system, that the Government should give them some guide lines.
I conclude by referring to a phenomenon that is occurring in Australia today. It worries me that too many people - too many honorable members of this Parliament, even - are not aware of it, or do not attach as much significance to it as I think they should. I refer to the question of working mothers. In the last five years the male work force has increased by 11 per cent. In that period the female work force has increased by 28 per cent. Almost all of them are married women. By 1970, which is not a long way off, one in every three married women in Australia will be working. We do not know what impact this is having on the home and on the institution of marriage. We do not know why they are working. I am not going to settle for the over simplified view that they are doing it purely because they cannot afford the necessities of life. There are other more complex reasons than this. The fact is that we do not know enough about it. I advocate some form of national survey. If the Government cannot do it - and I can understand that the Department of Labour and National Service might be inhibited - the Government could make a grant to a university or some research foundation to perform this extraordinarily important piece of research. Why are married women returning to work? What is the effect on juvenile delinquency? What is the effect on the home? What will be the effect in the future on our declining birth rate? To me this situation is one of the urgent problems of our day. Few of us are thinking about it, and very little is being done about it.
– I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mackinnon). - Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) misunderstood my remarks. When I referred to the secrecy of the ballot I meant - and I do not think it could be implied from my remarks - no suggestion of dishonesty or anything of that nature in regard to the ballot. 1 was speaking of secrecy as such and of the unknown dates. I hold my view, and the honorable member holds his views. On the question of doubt, my remarks had nothing to do with doubts about the validity of the conduct of the ballot but the doubts in the minds of the registrants - if that is the term - about whether they are in or out. If I had to conduct such a ballot and if I had to choose somebody from the other side of the chamber to help I could think of nobody in whom [ would place more trust in such a matter than the honorable member for Higinbotham, although we often disagree on matters of politics.
– I thank the honorable member very much. I accept the explanation.
.- Now that the members of the mutual admiration society have decided to resume their seats I can commence speaking. At. the outset I intend to refer to some of the remarks of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). [ was interested in what he said about married women in the work force. On 25th August the honorable member asked the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) a question about the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service. The Minister said that he intended to introduce a Bill for the removal of the marriage bar in the Commonwealth Public Service. I hope that when that Bill is introduced it will provide that there shall be no discrimination in any shape or form against the women in the Public Service. Of course we know that now, apart from the marriage bar, whereby a woman has to resign and apply for her job again, but not on the permanent staff, a woman does not get the same rate of pay as the male worker doing the same work in the same section receives. While the Opposition would support a Bill for the employment of married women on a permanent basis, we would hope that it would include the principle of equal pay for equal work. It is a recognised fact that women have become an important factor in the Australian work force. The Australian Labour Party, of course, is not opposed to the employment of women but objects to women being employed at cheap rates. It is noticeable that the employment of women has not been responsible for a reduction in the cost of commodities. It is clear, therefore - 1 do not refer to the Commonwealth Public Service in this regard - that the cheaper wage rates which are paid to female employees result in increased profits for the employers.
In my view the Minister and the Government stand condemned for their failure to promote the principle of equal pay for the sexes for work of equal value. The Minister and the Government have failed to honour obligations under the 195.1 International Labour Organisation convention and recommendation concerning equal remuneration for the sexes for work of equal value. The Minister and the Government have failed to ratify Convention No. Ill and Recommendation No. 1 1 1 concerning discrimination between the sexes. The Minister and the Government have failed to implement the 1962 recommendation regarding the provision of vocational training for girls and women. The Minister, or his predecessor, and the Government have refused to establish a Status of Women Commission as was done in the United States of America. So it is reasonable to say that this Government, while urging the employment of women, has blatantly and unashamedly used the female work force as a source of cheap labour. This is part and parcel of a deliberate campaign to reduce the standard of living of Australian workers. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. .lames Harrison), when referring to this aspect, pointed out that the recent increase in the basic wage does not give the worker the purchasing power that he had formerly, and that even though a $2 increase in the basic wage resulted from the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, that increase was swallowed up almost before it appeared in the pay packet. When the quarterly cost of living adjustments applied, the worker knew that the wage he received in one quarter would at least purchase as much as it did in the previous quarter but that is not the case today. There is always a time lag, so plainly the worker’s pay is behind increases in the cost of living. As I have said, this is all part and parcel of the cheap labour campaign. The Government wants cheap labour and is not concerned very much how it gets cheap labour.
Another important point is that employers are prepared to use the channels of the Arbitration Commission to fight workers’ claims for increases. If the employers win outright, that is well and good. They accept the decision. But if they lose, they meet behind closed doors and decide to increase prices, so the workers find themselves no better off than they were before the basic wage was increased. The actions of the employers have repercussions on other sections of the community. Why should this be? Why should not the employers be required to justify an increase in prices in exactly the same way as the workers are required to justify a claim for an increase in wages?
There is at present a move in Western Australia by the Brand Liberal Government to remove the system of quarterly adjustments of the basic wage. The court in that State has always been free and untrammelled in applying these quarterly adjustments. As a result, the cost of living in Western Australia is no higher than it is in the other States. In fact, in many instances it is lower. It should be remembered, too, that cost of living adjustments were introduced in the 1930s when costs were falling. When costs were falling the employers accepted the quarterly adjustments because wages were being reduced, but when wages started to rise there were immediate moves to get rid of quarterly cost of living adjustments, first of all in the Federal court, then in some of the State courts and now a move is being made by the Liberal Government of Western Australia in the same direction.
I have already mentioned the Government’s refusal to implement certain I.L.O. decisions. When the Government has been challenged about its attitude towards these decisions it has made excuses.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was talking about the employment of women in the Commonwealth Public Service and the failure of the Government to implement decisions of the International Labour Organisation. When the Government is challenged on its attitude to I.L.O. decisions it makes the excuse that some States will not agree to ratify the I.L.O. conventions. My view is that this Government is not seriously supporting the decisions of the I.L.O. In particular it is very keen to ensure that Convention No. 100 is not ratified.
It is the responsibility of the Government to apply the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in the case of its own employees, but it does not do so. It is not doing so with respect to the Commonwealth Public Service at the present time. Men and women are working alongside one another in the Public Service, doing the same kind of work but receiving different rates of pay. When this question is raised, the Government, of course, often replies that the matter is the responsibility of some other body such as the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. If the Government was genuine it would try to reach agreement with State Governments and arrange for a joint effort to enact the necessary legislation in the various State Parliaments. This kind of thing has been done before. Arrangements have been made for uniform legislation on various matters to be passed in the State Parliaments. I contend that this could be done in respect of equal pay for the sexes. It should not be very difficult because there is no doubt that the State Labour Governments would co-operate. The State Liberal Governments should do so because the Liberal Party’s platform gives as one of that Party’s objectives “ acceptance of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value”. Is the Government two-faced about this, or is it the fact that the Country Party tail is wagging the Liberal Party dog? We know, of course, that the Country Party is opposed to the principle of equal pay for the sexes. However, the Liberal Party at least has clearly set out its policy in the Party’s platform, although it has done nothing to implement it, despite the decision of the I.L.O.
As well as helping to keep down the purchasing power of the basic wage and seeking to employ women at cheap rates of pay despite increased productivity, the Government now intends to turn a blind eye to the greater productivity that will result from automation. Why does the Government hide its head in the sand in connection with this matter? It says that automation will not cause any difficulties and that everyone in the work force will have employment even after automation has been introduced. That may be the position for a time, but we must look to the future. What does the Minister think, for instance, of the opinions expressed in other countries in which automation is being introduced? Why should Australia be the only country that will escape the unemployment that results from the introduction of automation?
In the United States of America automation has become a solid reality. It is an awesome fact of industrial life that is causing more and more worry to the trade unions and some employers. In America there is not the slightest question that automation is, in the words of the late President Kennedy, “ the major problem of the 60’s “. The United States Department of Labour has estimated that 1.8 million workers are being replaced each year by new machines and computers, while at the same time another 1 million workers are coming on to the labour market. Despite a 40 per cent, increase in manufacturing output in the last decade, total manufacturing employment has failed to increase. In industry after industry employment is declining while production is increasing, and it is considered sound business practice to instal expensive machinery and to dismiss more costly workers. I suggest to the Minister that this is the kind of situation that will ultimately exist in this country, as we become more highly industrialised and as automation takes over.
In the United States of America it has been found, as it will be found here, that few industries can be immunised against the effects of this new technology. Just as in the 19th century industry was revolutionised in what has been universally called the industrial revolution, so American industry is again being changed as the automation revolution moves in with explosive energy. There is a difference, however, between the two revolutions. Workers’ organisations were weak during the industrial revolution; today they are strong. Unions now are alive to the fact that the new technology will not create jobs, that automation is specifically intended to make manual labour unnecessary, and that it does so. lt has done so in America, where there is quite a substantial degree of unemployment, and it will do so here. I suggest to the Minister and his Department that this is what will occur, and that instead of sitting back and doing very little about it, they should do something to implement the decisions of the Australian Council of Trade Unions on this matter.
The machines of the first industrial revolution supplemented or augmented man’s muscle power. The new machines not only augment his muscle power but also take the place of his brain. The new machines and computers can work with precision and speed that no human being can match. Throw a switch and the computer does what it is told. The A.C.T.U. has passed several resolutions on this important subject, and is to hold a seminar on it very shortly. The attitude o; the A.C.T.U. is that the introduction of planned automation by joint government, trade union and employer consultation holds out the promise of vast improvements in the standard of living. Its application can eliminate routine repetitive or arduous work. lt believes that the objectives should be, first, the avoidance of dislocations of the labour force which cause social hardships or labour displacement; secondly, training or re-training in skills to meet the new technological development; and thirdly, ensuring that purchasing power is expanded to keep pace with the nation’s productive capacity and with the lessened need for human effort accompanied by improved living standards and greater leisure. The A.C.T.U. has declared -
The principle which should be pursued is the establishment of an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the trade union movement, employers’ organisations and the Federal and State Governments.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to speak about what I consider a serious anomaly in the calling up of national servicemen. Section 31 (4.) of the National Service Act provides that a court of summary jurisdiction constituted by a Police, Stipendiary or Special Magistrate may defer the liability for service of any registrant upon whom or upon whose parents or dependants the rendering of service would impose exceptional hardship. It is the definition of exceptional hardship - or the lack of a precise definition - which is creating difficulty in many rural areas of Australia. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) knows, I have raised with him several times cases, in my opinion, of extreme hardship, either for the boy called up or for the parents of the boy. Under the provisions of the Act a deferment on the grounds of exceptional hardship is temporary only. It merely postpones the commencement of national service for a period decided by the court. The deferment may be for a period not exceeding 12 months and may be subject to conditions imposed by the magistrate. A person to whom such a deferment has been granted may subsequently apply for further deferment.
The point which I wish to make is that it has been recognised - quite rightly - by the Minister, since the inception of the national service scheme that the rendering of service would impose some hardship on young people or on their parents or dependants. In order that there should be no question of partiality it was decided that applications for deferment would be decided by an independent judicial authority. In a letter to me the Minister said that on the whole this arrangement had proved quite satisfactory. It is this phrase “ on the whole “ which concerns me, because one could rightly infer that there may be cases where this arrangement has not been satisfactory. In a matter such as this it is of vital importance that there be no doubt whatsoever about the definition of exceptional hardship. The decision as to whether or not an application is to be approved is left entirely to the magistrate. I do not know whether any other honorable member has sat in courts where magistrates preside to pass judgment on such applications. The magistrate is the sole person who determines whether a boy will be called up or whether he will get deferment on the ground of exceptional hardship. The magistrate is concerned only with the evidence placed before him by the applicant and exercises his judgment accordingly. An officer of the Attorney-General’s Department represents the Department of Labour and National Service. His job is to place before the magistrate the facts of the case as known to him.
I have no objection in principle to this method. What I do object to is the magistrate being put in the position of having to make firm and precise decisions about exceptional hardship, because I maintain that a magistrate cannot do this unless he knows his subject and knows the problems of rural areas. It is wrong to ask him to judge, and impossible for him to judge properly unless he has this knowledge. After all, Mr. Deputy Chairman, if you were going to appoint somebody to pass judgment on the problems of brigalow scrub clearing, and the problems to be faced on certain types of flood country, you would not appoint a magistrate to do it. You would appoint somebody who had a knowledge of that particular problem. 1 suggest to the Minister that in order to avoid the serious problems that are arising - certainly in my area - regarding the imprecise definition of the term “exceptional hardship” as applied to rural areas, the Department should make people available to advise and assist the courts in interpreting this phase.
How could a magistrate pass judgment on applications for deferment and say that there was no exceptional hardship caused to a man whose property has been devastated by drought for two years, or a man who has lost his breeding stock and is restocking, or a man who may have disease rampant in his stock, or a man who may be following a particular breeding line in his stud? The last man may have particularly high class stud cattle or pigs and could be following a breeding programme. If his son has to go away he has to get somebody to take his place. Can this man get labour? How does a magistrate, sometimes sitting 400 miles away from the place concerned, know whether this man can get skilled and efficient labour to replace the son who is being called away? Of course the man cannot get such labour. Yet because of the jurisdiction he holds the magistrate can, in effect, pass judgment on such people. In my opinion the judgments are not consistent. I know magistrates in my area who seem to be deferment happy - but they will defer a trainee for only a few months at a time. Anybody knows, surely, how little can be done in a few months in some of the drought stricken areas. If their sons are taken, where will these men on the land in my area get their labour from, when they have to compete for labour with coal mines at Moura and Cracow? Once having obtained a short deferment the applicant has to brief his solicitor or barrister again and get deferred for another two or three months. This procedure goes on until he gets two or three deferments, then finally he is called up.
To me this is wrong and it could be avoided. I will say in fairness that the Minister at the table (Mr. Bury) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) have at all times attempted to help in any case I have put to them. They have been completely fair about it. But the point is that it is impossible to define this term “ exceptional hardship “ unless the magistrate concerned has some knowledge of the particular conditions.
I would like to give examples to illustrate my case. They will leave no honorable member in doubt as to the inability of some magistrates to pass judgment on the definition of “ exceptional hardship “. One case concerns a father who has been on crutches, cripppled, for 40 years. He has two sons, farms 6,500 acres of land, most of it poor country, and is $22,000 in debt. He runs a mixed farm in a drought stricken area. He is completely incapacitated. His son was called up for national service and the magistrate advised the father to cut down on his production, to do less on the farm. He advised the lad concerned to send his money home while he is in the Army in order to help pay the debts of his father. The Minister knows that what I say is right, because I have seen the transcript of the proceedings. I know of another tragic case concerning a father whose leg was amputated in an accident. He was told - by the same magistrate - to cut down production so that he would be able to look after the farm in spite of his incapacity. The magistrate said: “ Why can’t your 12 year old son come home at the weekends and help with the mustering and dipping?” I do not think this magistrate would know what mustering and dipping entailed in scrub country with brigalow whipstick suckers like this property has. A lot of the properties concerned are in such country, but this is the sort of thing that is happening.
Again I stress the point that the Minister is aware of those cases, but he makes it quite clear that hardship cases are decided by the courts and that neither he nor the officers of his Department have any administrative discretion in the matter. When one of these boys is called into the Army I have to ask the Minister for the Army to try to do something about it. Again I say that the Minister is most co-operative. In fairness I must say that he does look at every case and up to the present he has passed sound judgment. Another case - I could mention 20 more if I had the time - concerns a father who has a permanent back injury. He cannot ride a horse, nor c;.n he do any work with the cattle. He relies entirely on his son to do this work. He lives in an area which has been devastated by drought during the last two years, an area where it is impossible to get skilled labour. To obtain skilled labour in these areas it is not simply a matter of advertising and getting somebody to come onto the property and do some work. If a person has a stud herd of either cattle or pigs and has to leave the animals in somebody’s charge for two years, he can only hope that when he returns he will find they have been well looked after.
Another case concerns a boy in Monto. In that instance the magistrate granted a deferment but told the boy that he would have to get someone to replace him. The boy did the right thing. He advertised in “ Country Life “ throughout Queensland and managed to get a married couple who lasted at the job for only a short time. In the middle of one night they packed their bags and walked out, leaving the pigs unfed and the cows unmilked. Anybody who understands cows and pigs would know what damage could be done to that herd. Yet in these cases the magistrate says there is no exceptional hardship. With the exception of the case which I next propose to cite he has put all these cases into the same category. In the next case, after three deferments the boy was found to be medically unfit. In that case justice was done, irrespective of how it was achieved. In that instance there was certainly exceptional hardship. That boy is working 20 hours a day now, yet according to the Army he is medically unfit, whatever that may mean. Nevertheless he is doing something for the country in terms of increased primary production. I object strongly to magistrates in country areas telling fathers and boys to cut down on primary production, especially at a time when the Government desperately needs an improved balance of payments position and desperately needs increased efficient production.
A standard has been set for apprentices and students. There can be no argument about a student being a student and an apprentice being an apprentice within the various definitions, but how do we decide, and how can anybody say, that a boy on the land, brought up in the area, does not serve an apprenticeship on the farm? He does serve an apprenticeship and is just as important to the economy of this country as, if not more important than, many who are getting an automatic deferment until they pass some examination. I fail to see why priority should be given to somebody who is studying French or music when a person who is earning export income which is urgently needed by this country is taken away. So far as I am concerned the two persons should at least be equal.
Again I suggest that the Minister should think seriously about the situation of people in these areas, and particularly those in the more remote areas. I cannot speak with any authority of areas in the south, but my remarks certainly apply to the remote areas in the north. I suggest to the Minister that a magistrate when hearing applications for deferment should have the advantage of having present an impartial agricultural or stock adviser so that he can question him about the importance of the farm work in question or ask whether the case is justified on the grounds of exceptional hardship. The agricultural advisers present at the hearing could be independent advisers appointed by the Minister. I am quite certain that this suggestion, if adopted, would give the fathers, the sons and the communities a greater appreciation of the problem and a greater sense of justice with regard to the calling up of youths in rural areas. It would also give them a fairer judgment with regard to deferments on the ground of exceptional hardship which, in my opinion, is not capable of definition.
.- I should like to speak on the subject which has been brought up by the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) because Country Party members have been advocating certain things along the same lines for many months and possibly for more than a year. A student at a university or an apprentice, as has been pointed out, is really in the same position as a boy on the farm who, it may be said, is serving his apprenticeship with his father and is learning the trade of primary production. If honorable members look at “ Hansard “ they will see that I asked the former Minister for Labour and National Service a question on this subject at least nine months ago, if not 12 months ago. The Minister answered that the farm boy who was attending an agricultural college would be treated in exactly the same way as a student at a university. But this answer was not very satisfactory to us because we knew that only a few attended agricultural colleges whereas on the farms there were thousands of young men learning their trade. If this decision related only to those attending agricultural colleges it would not meet our requirements.
This is a case that needs to be looked into. It is a matter that has been considered by the Minister and the Government after some advocacy, although whether or not it was as a result of the advocacy I am not sure. Where exceptional hardship can be proved there should be a deferment and then a further deferment in 12 months’ time if the situation is still the same. But for borderline cases and even for general cases, after much advocacy the Government decided that it would form, and has formed, special units of the Citizen Military Forces. When a man aged 20 is about to register for national service training, he is given the opportunity to lodge an application to join the C.M.F. It is accepted now that he can join the C.M.F. if he lodges his application at the same time as he submits his national service registration form. In the C.M.F. the young men must serve at least 30 days each year and the service can be given at an appropriate time. I am not able to say what the situation is in Queensland, but in the electorate which I represent they would not be asked to serve at seeding or harvest time, or if they are engaged in the dried fruits industry they would not be required to serve at picking time or at times when the vines had to be pruned. The time would be worked out as near as possible - perhaps not exactly - to suit the serviceman so that he could do this work at home and continue in production which is so important. At the same time he would be serving his country or preparing himself to serve his country.
It has been said by many honorable members that it is very hard to define “ exceptional hardship “. I agree with them. Many magistrates in the area which I represent have a very good knowledge of what goes on in the area because most of them have been magistrates in rural areas for a long time. I can name some who have been in the country for many years. They are right up to date in their knowledge of what is happening. Nevertheless, the decisions of some magistrates are considered to be quite unfair. It must be remembered that we sometimes read that a man is given six months in gaol for a certain offence, whereas for another offence which people generally regard as much more serious the accused gets off with a fine of $20. If magistrates are not giving correct decisions, this is not the fault of the Department of Labour and National Service. It is the judiciary which may be at fault. I am not saying the judiciary is at fault, but the question of deciding hardship does go beyond the Department of Labour and National Service.
So far as I am concerned - I cannot speak for my Party on this - in some cases deferments should not have been granted. In one case a young man was given the chance to go on to a property which belonged to his wealthy uncle. It was apparent and had been stated that if he worked well on the property his uncle would give it to him in a few years. There was no suggestion that other people were not available to run the property; others were available. But the boy said that the hardship in his case was that if he had to do national service he would lose his opportunity to get the property. I do not regard that as hardship. Another young man who did not have a wealthy uncle would have to serve. Where war is concerned, I think the cheapest thing we can spend is money. I do not believe that deferment should be granted just because the bright future of some young man on the land or some young man in business would be jeopardised by his going into the Forces. The young man who does not appear to have a bright future should be on exactly the same level as the young man with the rich uncle. Reference has been made on many occasions in this chamber to hardship caused to parents who own properties and who are not in the best of health. In one such case in the Mallee electorate that was brought to my notice - the case of a father who is suffering from a heart condition and who has only one son - the son was granted deferment. I believe that in such cases deferment should be granted, and I think it is granted in most cases. Now that we have the C.M.F. as an alternative, all cases submitted should be capable of settlement under one of the two headings.
As we are talking about national service, I should like to relate what happened when I was going home from Canberra last weekend. After passing through Melbourne, and just as I got to the other side of a place named Marong, I saw a young man in uniform who wanted a lift. I picked him up in my car. He told me that his car had broken down and that he wanted to get to Adelaide. Everything I am telling the Committee is perfectly true. I cannot bring the young man here - although I suppose I could, if necessary, because I know what camp he is in. I thought that this was a good opportunity to gain information, so I said: “ How do the boys in your camp regard national service? “ He replied: “When they go into the Regular Army units, once they know they are going away, they are quite happy and like to get away. Until they go into the proper units with other volunteers and regular soldiers who are going overseas, some of them are a bit unsettled; but once they get into these units with their mates they are happy.” That is what he told me, word for word. I said to him: “ How do you find the general public reacting to this callup? “ He answered: “ I find that people are more happy now about it than they have been for a long time.” He also said: “Those people around Melbourne who go about with placards against Vietnam and the call up do not know what they are talking about.” Those are the exact words he used to me - “ do not know what they are talking about “.
I took him as far as a place named Bridgewater. He said to me: “I will have no trouble in getting a ride to Charlton, then to Warracknabeal, Dimboola, Bordertown and on to Adelaide. When you are in uniform, people recognise it. They recognise that you are giving service and they are very pleased to give you a lift.” I said: “ If you had not had a uniform on, probably I would not have picked you up, because there are so many reports of people having picked men up in their cars and the next minute having a revolver pushed into their ribs, being made step out of the car and then seeing the car being driven off without them.” I thought this was a good opportunity to find out how the national service trainee feels about national service. This lad was quite happy with his position, and he told me so.
– Is the honorable member sure the lad was not absent without leave?
– I do not know whether he was, but I do know that he told me his car had broken down. He appeared to me to be a good Australian, and I did what I do with all people I think are good Australians - I took his word. I thought he was genuine and I treated him as such. I believe that what he told me was true and I think it is worth repeating in this place.
.- -I think everybody would agree with the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) that only exceptionally dangerous national conditions would justify the calling up for national service of the people to whom they referred. Indeed, I would go further and say that only the gravest of national dangers - danger amounting almost to a crisis - would justify any government in calling people up to fight overseas against their will. When a nation that is so desirous as ours is of building up its population that it sends people scouring the length and breadth of the earth in order to secure migrants and spends on the bringing to the country of each migrant approximately $600 or $800 - this is really only the initial expense - and when that nation enlists those people in national service to serve overseas, it must indeed be in grave danger. A nation should only do these things if there is no other way of meeting the difficulties that confront it. Is there no other way of meeting the position that operates in Vietnam than the compulsory balloting in of national servicemen to the tune of some 2,000-odd for service overseas? The other day, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) this question -
Does the Acting Prime Minister know that Major-General Vickery, who is now a member of the Military Board, said that 32,000 servicemen in tile Citizen Military Forces had volunteered for service anywhere in the world and that they could have fulfilled the role of national servicemen drafted into the Army for overseas service, and that he further commented that conscription for overseas service was introduced into Australia not for a military reason but for a political reason? What is the political reason?
The Deputy Prime Minister replied -
I am not aware of what the General may have said. As to why national service has been introduced, it has been stated many times in the House that it was introduced because the number of volunteers coming forward was inadequate for purposes that the Government regarded as necessary.
I heard the distinguished General speaking on television. He was most emphatic thai there was no military necessity for national service trainees to go overseas. Furthermore, he was opposed to national service training within Australia for military reasons. This report of his statement appeared in the “ Age “ of 6th June 1966-
The Citizen Military Force conceivably could have fulfilled the role of national servicemen drafted into the army for overseas service, MajorGeneral N. A. Vickery said last night. He declined to comment on conscription for overseas service, which he said was a matter of Government policy, but he said the C.M.F. had the numbers to fill the places of the national servicemen.
I heard that telecast. The panel examining the Genera] asked: “ Do you mean to say that those people who have enlisted in the C.M.F. could be sent to Vietnam? “ He said: “ Most decidedly they could “. The report of the General’s views continued -
The citizen soldier volunteered for overseas service when he joined the C.M.F.
The report stated later -
General Vickery said that, at its present strength and recruiting rate, the C.M.F. was capable of training men to full efficiency for the type of war they might have to fight
At this stage he was against universal military training. It would swamp the forces with recruits.
Training would be ineffective because the forces would not have enough experienced servicemen to spare for instruction.
The Army would have a large number of semitrained soldiers when it required high quality soldiers.
The point that I make is that these are com- ments made by a highly placed General in the Citizen Military Forces who has since been appointed to the Military Board. When he was questioned by the panel of interviewers, he stated emphatically that the introduction of national service training and the conscripting of men for service overseas was decided on not for military reasons but for a political reason.
– He did say that. I challenge anybody who doubts me to get the text of his remarks on the “Meet the Press “ programme in Melbourne on this occasion last June and to find out exactly what was said. I heard the General’s statements. I was amazed.
– The honorable member did not read out the last statement that he mentioned.
– Why did he not read it out?
– The report from which I was reading is not a full one. 1 have told the Committee of the questioning of the General by the panel before which he appeared on television. I have mentioned some of the questions that were asked and some of the replies that were given. I have told the Committee exactly what the General said in reply. He was emphatic that conscription for overseas purposes was introduced not for military reasons but for a political reason. It is reported that he said that there were 32,000 members of tue Citizen Military Forces and that all members of the C.M.F. had enlisted for oveseas service. The statement that I say he made later under questioning is only a corollary of those statements. The questions that I wish the Government to clarify are: Did it or did it not endeavour, by a system of recruitment, to obtain men for overseas service? Is the distinguished General correct or is the Government correct? Was the Deputy Prime Minister correct when he said that it was impossible to obtain, as volunteers, from the Australian population the 1,500 recruits that were required for overseas service when conscription was introduced? Is it true that conscription had to extend to aliens - to unnaturalised immigrants whom we are enticing to come here and each of whom is costing us $600 or $800 to bring here? Those are the questions that have to be answered in the light of the statements that have been made on these matters.
As an outsider looking on, 1 think that there could be something in what General Vickery has said. If the cause for which we are fighting in Vietnam is such that out of the native born population and the migrants who have come here we cannot obtain 1.500 men to serve willingly as volunteers, conscription may have been essential to obtain the required numbers. However, if this was the case, it proves that the cause for which we are fighting is not one that inspires or appeals to the masses of the Australian people. I firmly believe that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) should look again at the statement made by Major-General Vickery of the Citizen Military Forces, who is now a member of the Military Board. Particularly, the right honorable gentleman should consider whether it is correct that the General specifically said that it was a political reason and not military reasons that caused the Government to enlist national service trainees for overseas service. If the Prime Minister says that the reason was not a political one, I am entitled to ask him: What are the military reasons that cause him to insist that Australians such as those mentioned by the honorable member for Mallee and the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) must be called up to fight in the Vietnam war? I say that the only military reason could be a grave national danger, amounting to a crisis. That is the only reason that would justify the Government’s calling up men against their will and forcing them to fight overseas. If there is no such military reason, the political reason should be divulged so that we may consider it. If the Government could not, by any means at its disposal, induce 1,500 men or thereabouts to enlist over a period, it should consider again very seriously the cause for which we are fighting in Vietnam.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, I want to answer the remarks made by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). He has read only part of what was said on the occasion when Major-General Vickery was interviewed on television. It is rather interesting to read the whole and to consider the interpretation that the honorable member has, either intentionally or unintentionally, placed on reports of tie interview.
– He was dishonest.
– I am not suggesting that he was dishonest. But I am suggesting that he was careless. I have a report of the interview before me. The honorable member began by saying that only the most urgent crisis would justify a nation’s calling up men for national service training and sending them overseas. One of the things that the Australian public is becoming very much more aware of these days is the difference between the policy of the Australian Labour Party - if there is any it is confused and varying - and that of the Government. It appears that the Labour Party has no policy at all on the defence of this country. Indeed, it would do nothing until a crisis was upon us and had reached its most urgent stage.
– That would be the time when the parties opposite would step out of the picture, as they did once before
– I do not know what the honorable member for Stirling is saying. If he would only keep quiet and listen, he might learn something. The Labour Party, it seems, would do nothing. It would allow the situation in South East Asia to deteriorate to a stage at which Australia would be under a direct threat. Only at that stage would it possibly think of doing something. But as far as defence training and requirements in the South East Asian theatre, particularly at this stage, are concerned, this would not be good enough for the defence of Australia or of the Australian people.
The Government, on the advice of its advisers, both diplomatic and military, has realised that there is a crisis in South East Asia; that there are threats to Australia in South East Asia and possibly threats to the peace of the world. The Government has realised that we must put our house in order and prepare our forces to play their part in the defence of the free nations in this theatre. 1 do not think anybody who looks at what is happening in the remaining free countries of South East Asia would deny that the Communists are moving and exerting an influence in each and every country to the northof Australia. So the difference between our policy and that of the Opposition is that the Government at this stage says that we must be prepared; that we will not have the time we had in the First World War to send troops to Europe or to the Mediterranean; that we will not have the time we had in the Second World War again to send troops to Europe or to the Mediterranean; and that the threats to our sphere of influence are close to our shores at this time.
– From whom - China?
– The honorable member knows as well as I that the threats are from Communists in the area and from the Chinese Communist influences in these countries. Let me come back to the article which the honorable member for Scullin so glibly quoted. Although I personally like the honorable member for Scullin, I think it is rather contemptible to quote or partially quote what a General of the Army has said when he does not have the right of reply. It is not right to quote only portions of what he said. The article from which the honorable member for Scullin quoted appeared in the “ Age “ of 6th June 1966. The date was about the only thing the honorable member for Scullin got right. The article reads -
The Citizen Military Force conceivably could have fulfilled the role of national servicemen drafted into the army for overseas service, MajorGeneral! N. A. Vickery said last night.
But this would have displaced the CMF from its intended role in the defence machine and unbalanced the military structure, he said.
The honorable member neglected to read this next part -
General Vickery, GOC 3 Division CMF, was interviewed on Channel Seven’s Meet the Press programme.
He declined to comment on conscription for overseas service, which he said was a matter of Government policy, but he said the CMF had the numbers to fill the places of national servicemen.
The article continues -
But to use the CMF in this role would be to mistake its purpose, which was to stand as a reserve force behind a full-strength Regular Army.
Those are the things which the honorable member for Scullin intentionally or unintentionally omitted. He purported to quote what a General, in his advice on defence policy, had said but he selected only those portions of the article which suited his case or the extraordinarily bewildered case of the Opposition. Referring to the General, the article states -
At this stage he was against universal military training.
The General was referring to universal military training, not selective national service training. He was referring to complete mobilisation of military forces. The article continues -
It would swamp the forces with recruits.
In other words, we do not have the instructors, the non-commissioned officers and the junior officers to cope with universal training at this time. I again protest at the manner in which the honorable member for Scullin quoted the remarks of the General, who has no right to claim that he has been misquoted. Honorable members on both sides should be sure that when they quote the remarks of people in official positions who cannot themselves reply, they quote them correctly and in their perspective.
On the advice given to it the Government is of the opinion that there is an emergency - a threat - moving towards Australia which, if not checked, will certainly confront Australia. It is not necessary to quote the remarks only of those people whom honorable members opposite quote when it suits their case. I could quote the remarks of Lee Kuan Yew, quoted by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), who said that if the advance of Communism were not stopped in Vietnam, eventually it would mean the overthrow of Singapore, Thailand and the other countries of the area. Statesmen from Asian countries could be quoted but it is extraordinary that honorable members opposite do not quote those who do not support their case. I suggest that on November 26th the Australian people will clearly make a decision whether they support the bewildered policy or nonexistent policy on defence put forward by the Labour Party or whether they accept the fact that it is necessary for the Australian people to be ready, trained and able to go out and take their place with the other free nations to stop the advance of Communism which eventually will threaten us.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. The honorable member for La Trobe implied that I had deliberately suppressed portions of an article from which I quoted in order to give the article a slant which it did not have. That is gross misrepresentation. I am willing to have not only the article but the complete transcript of the television interview incorporated in “ Hansard “. If this were done it would prove beyond doubt that what I quoted was a just version of the General’s remarks.
.- The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) launched a peroration about the defence needs of this country. May I remind him that our defence needs pivot in a large degree on the productivity and general industrial activity of the constituency that I represent and that which the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) represents? I again refer, as I have done repeatedly in this place, to the chronic problem of female unemployment in my constituency. We have a new Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury). This problem merits his attention. At present, almost 6,000 women and girls who are capable of working are unemployed within the City of Greater Wollongong and the adjoining district. If documentation of this kind is required I have it here by the ream. First let me quote the President of the South Coast Chamber of Manufactures, Mr. Simpson, who, as reported in the “ Daily Mercury “ of 5th August last, said -
Moreover, the employment situation for females in this city is more dismal now than it was 12 months ago.
I quote again the Liberal Party member for the State seat of Wollongong, who said in the New South Wales Parliament in the first week of September, as reported in the “ South Coast Times “, that no one could expect newcomers to settle permanently in Wollongong unless they saw full employment opportunities, including jobs for women. He said -
The problem of unemployment for females on the South Coast is grave. People have come to Wollongong wishing to establish a new home and seeding to set up a house for the whole family. lt is well known that many women in our area would like to have jobs available for which no previous training is needed. This must always be expected. The people want such work and it is up to the Government to do something about it.
When I first raised this matter in the House, the present Minister’s predecessor in office, on the advice of the egregious honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), told the House that women queueing up for employment at a local chain store were queueing up for a bargain sale. A little later he admitted that there was a problem. The Liberal member for Wollongong in the State Parliament at first tried to duck for cover and refused to present a petition on unemployment to the State Parliament. Now he has decided that the problem exists, because he needs to save his political hide. If further documentation is required, here is a statement from Mr. A. J. Howard, Managing Director of Strata Development Corporation. On 27th July last, he said -
There were at present more than 5,000 employable women without jobs in the Wollongong area.
The Minister’s predecessor, when pressed, finally said it was the responsibiltiy of the State Government. When the State Government was pressed, being under the influence of the Country Party, it could not do anything because this city was not within the area of decentralisation. What does this Government intend to do? What has it done? Nothing. What is the present Minister capable of doing? I will leave that to him, but my guess - it is a shrewd one - is that he will do precisely nothing either, because he is not capable of doing anything.
If we want to take this matter further, I have here the stringent criticism written by the Financial Editor of the “ Sydney
Morning Herald” in the issue of 14th November 1964. This is serious. He said -
Moreover, there seems to be something impermanent about the present abnormal preponderance of males over females in the population of the Wollongong-Port Kembla district.
This imbalance of the sexes is aggravated if teenage girls find they have to leave their home district to get employment.
He continued -
The sex ratio can only be restored to a more normal balance either by more young wives coming into the district - in which case the female unemployment will rise more sharply than ever - or else by unmarried men leaving the region and finding jobs elsewhere.
This is the classic economic scissors movement. The Financial Editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ also said -
More and more contemporary family budgets depend on the wife earning wages at various stages of the married life. Areas in which this is markedly below the average occurrence are under-privileged areas, unless or until employers like B.H.P. come to pay special loadings to married men or all men.
In the 1961 census, Wollongong had the worst example of disproportion between the sexes of any city in Australia. There were 72,000 men and only 61,000 women. That imbalance has been due to the policy of the steel industry of, where possible, bringing out single migrants because it is easier to accommodate them in hostels. The problem has been further aggravated by girls and married women leaving the city and going elsewhere. The Minister, of course, is discreetly silent on this. His Government always has been and intends to be, because it does not have any solution to the problem.
What is the situation with wages? The average unskilled steel worker in my constituency has a take home wage of about £18 10s. a week. The national average is somewhere near £27 10s. or £27 15s. Is there any wonder that there is acute unemployment - that an unusually high percentage of women are forced to go out on the labour market seeking work that is not there in order to supplement family incomes? Migrants are being induced to come from the United Kingdom. They are being offered jobs as production operators at £22 a week. But the expression “ production operator” is only a euphemism for an unskilled labourer. The migrants are brought out, dumped in hostels under the control of the Minister and they are trapped there. When the realities are brought home to them and they find that the £22 a week was based upon some overtime which is now largely non-existent, they want to move elsewhere. They were told in Britain by the agents for the steel industry that there would be work for their wives and for their adolescent children. There is neither. When they eventually come to the local parliamentarians and ask for a transfer to another hostel in another major city where employment can be found, they are told they cannot get it. In other words, this Minister and his Department are conducting a system of industrial peonage.
What is the general employment position in Australia? The figures are there for all to see. The Minister, of course, puts the boldest possible front on the latest statistics. He can rationalise if he- chooses. He can clutch at the straw. He can draw what comfort he likes from the slight rise in employment in the housing industry. But if the Minister were quite frank he would tell the House that there was also a fall in other forms of construction in the housing industry. These are the statistics. In August 1 964, 25,975 people were registered as unemployed. In 1966, the figure was more than double that; it was 54,279. In the same period, job vacancies dropped from 43,616 to 37,432. The position is even worse than this, because there is a considerable amount of what is euphemistically termed over employment. I quote from the “ Australian Financial Review “ of 23rd September last. The article is headed “ Economy going nowhere “, and states -
Business expectations are falling and unless the long-awaited upturn in consumer spending occurs soon the shakeout in the over-employment many businesses carry for some time after their operations run at less than top capacity will inevitably occur.
Let us go on to another facet of the present situation and let us consider the comments of Mr. Justice Taylor of the New South Wales Industrial Commission. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th August last reported the scathing remarks of Mr. Justice Taylor in these terms -
The President of the N.S.W. Industrial Commission, Mr. Justice Taylor, said yesterday the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission was threatening to do away with the basic wage.
He said that if the Arbitration Commission followed its present trend of thought, the basic wage, which ensured a decent standard of living for the worker, would cease to exist.
He was also reported to have said - . . the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission’s assessment of the capacity of the economy to pay an award wage seemed most unscientific. “ It is based on very sparse information, and out of the whole of the discussion it seems to me you pluck a figure out of the air “, he said.
That is precisely the situation. The report continued - “The argument before the Court is that the concept of basing a wage on the real needs nf a worker should be discarded, and that the wage should be based on the capacity of the economy to pay. “The Commission is teetering on the edge of overthrowing the traditional conception of the Australian basic wage.” in spite of such a system and such deficiencies in fact finding, let us consider what this Government did. The last Labour Administration had inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provision for an Office of Economic and Industrial Research. The functions of the office were to be to collect and compile, in accordance with the directions of the Chief Judge, information which might be or assistance to the Court and to Conciliation Commissioners in the exercise of their powers; to keep information so collected and compiled up to date; to carry out research in respect of such matters as the Chief Judge directed; and to make the information collected and compiled available to such persons or organisations as desired to obtain the information. This Government chose to repeal that section of the Act. But what do we find developing now? I shall quote from the judgment of Mr. Commissioner Winter in the recent General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. case. This, I think, is a classic criticism of uncontrolled greed and profit taking. Mr. Commissioner Winter is reported in the “Australian Financial Review” as saying - “ Apart from a little inexpensive flattery, it is not enthusiastic about showing appreciation of those who have helped to create the wealth that is the company “, he said. “ Its employees and its customers have deserved well of G.M.-H. “ In fact, its general attitude might be described as being mercenary. “ Such an attitude makes a mockery of any pretence to industrial partnership between employer and employees.”
There can be little doubt that I am of the opinion, in all the circumstances, that employees of the company have a moral entitlement to share in the extreme profits being made. It is astonishing that the company of its own volition has not taken such a step.
What is the attitude of the trade union movement to the general question of arbitration? It is disillusioned and cynical, and it has every right to be, because the only commodity in Australia today the price of which is strictly controlled is the sale of human labour. This is to the eternal discredit of the present Government. There will be, Oi” course, a trade union demonstration in Canberra of representatives from Sydney and from my constituency in the middle of next month. The trade unionists will have a good deal to say, they will get a good deal of publicity, and they will get the support of members of the Opposition.
The delays in arbitration are nothing short of scandalous at present. The decision on margins in the metal trades award case has been unduly and scandalously delayed. The demands of the trade union movement are quite simple. It wants protection against price increases. It wants consistent wage fixing policies. It wants a fair share of productivity gains and it wants a share of exceptional profits being made in certain cases. It wants the abolition of the penal clauses. The right to sell or to withhold human labour is the fundamental right of every human being.
– First I should like to refer to one or two remarks made by the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor), since he was the last speaker. He referred to the discontent, as he called it, of many members of the trade union movement with arbitration. It is true that certain members of the trade union movement have been vocal on the subject of arbitration, but I suggest that some of those people who have been so outspoken when decisions have gone against them should bear in mind the very many occasions when decisions of the various arbitration bodies have gone in their favour. Some people are disposed to want it good all the time rather than to take the rough with the smooth. As a result of the system that has developed in Australia over the years we have better labour relations than almost any other country. We have fewer strikes and fewer lost hours and we have one of the highest standards of living, which is enjoyed by a greater proportion of the labour force, in the world. These people who grumble at the system at the first sign of something they seek not being given should take a good look at the alternatives and at what happens when disputes are turned into dog fights and the strongest side wins after the lapse of a lengthy period.
– What does the Government do about people who poke their prices up? Nothing.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Failes).- Order!
– Why does the Minister talk such humbug?
– I feel that the only method of controlling the honorable member is to considerably increase the price ofgood dinners.
– That is a stab in the back.
– A stab in the back? Oh, no, surely not. I should like now to refer to the speech of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). 1 am sure that on these matters all honorable members regard him with respect and listen carefully to what he says. He commenced by asking me to expand on the reasons that led ;he Government and myself in particular to suggest to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that on this occasion a moderate increase in the basic wage was, in our judgment, justified by a balanced view of all economic circumstances. The factors bearing on this, as the honorable member will know, are complicated and diverse. This is not the occasion to canvass them, but if he has not seen a copy of the submission we made I will certainly supply him with one. It expands on all the various reasons we deduced for our view. The honorable member criticised our suggestion - and let me emphasise that it was only a suggestion - to the Commission that a more satisfactory way of conducting its business would be for the judges, instead of indulging in separate judgments, to get together to iron out their differences. I agree that if the proceedings of this Commission were on all fours in every respect with a court of law this would not be the type of suggestion for an outsider to make. However, we must look at the history of this situation. If, as occurred before the last case began, there is canvassing of whether particular people on the Commission should be nominated for the job, the parties believing that the result would be favorable or unfavorable to them depending entirely on the composition of the Commission, this would be a very unhealthy state of affairs to persist. In the outcome it is better if the people who have listened to the evidence get together and compare notes. This process would be more likely to result in a more sensible determination, quite apart from the other factors involved. 1 agree that much more could be achieved if the workers were more concerned with preserving the value of the pound they have already than with seeking an additional pound for their take-home pay. The honorable member for Blaxland can correct me if he feels that I am misrepresenting him, but if all people in the community - and not only members of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - were more interested in preserving the value of the pounds they have already rather than seeking additional pounds in their pay packet our chances of achieving stable prices would be very much greater. One of the main factors promoting instability of prices is that everyone in the community - the wage earner, salary earner, profit earner and even members of this Parliament - is seeking each year to increase his pay, and to increase it to a far greater degree than the productivity of the country can satisfactorily underwrite. If the majority of the people in the community continue to seek additional money it is inevitable that prices will increase.
The honorable member for Blaxland said that wages and prices were pegged between 1942 and 1946, but in those years exceptional circumstances prevailed. We had a war situation and an atmosphere of rigid control on almost every activity. However, we must be concerned with the present situation. What happened 20 years ago in another generation with different modes of thought often can be irrelevant to current circumstances. However, if the honorable member refers to what happened from 1946 to 1949 under the same regime he will see that at the end of that period prices were increasing by about 10 per cent per annum. It is all very well to say that if we had prices control-
– There was the war, of course.
– That is right. There are many other factors but I mention only the rapid increase in prices which took place between 1946 and 1949, and the exceptional circumstances which existed particularly from 1942 to 1946, because what was done then has been held up as a model of what should be done now to keep prices stable. Attached to this is the rather naive belief that in ordinary circumstances of peace one can, by some edict, fix prices, keep everything stable and generally prevent instability. The fact is that if economic circumstances are unstable and if wages, salaries and other costs are rising at a rapid rate, it is quite impossible to fix prices at anything like a stable level.
The honorable member for Blaxland indicated at one stage that the Government was a little blithe and offhand about this process of basic wage increases. He said words to the effect that if the basic wage were increased, government revenue would be increased, and therefore the Government would not be worried about it. One cannot measure these things arithmetically, but out of the basic wage increase of $2 a week something of the rough order; - no-one can measure it accurately and be sure - of 25 per cent, might flow back over a full year to government revenues. But the other side of the coin is that these increases lead at the same time to a large addition to expenditure. The other side of the equation is balanced by the fact that outgoings of the Commonwealth and the States - between them the Commonwealth and the States employ labour on a huge scale - are increased tremendously.
In this day and age budgets are directed basically towards the economy as a whole having regard to what is essential for the Government to accomplish in its own right. It would be an extremely cynical and irresponsible view for any government to take - certainly this Government does not - that it supports an increase in wages or anything else merely as an easy means of increasing revenue. It is important to remember that in the process of inflation government finance, private finance and personal income generally become more difficult to manage over a period when the attitudes of the community at large are such that it is highly orientated towards the inflationary process.
I should like to turn now to the particularly good speeches made by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) and the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). They both referred to a rehabilitation scheme for national servicemen when these young men are discharged from the Army. I assure both honorable members that provision will be made for national servicemen. Considerable thought has been given to this matter which comes mainly within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in another place, but my own Department will be concerned vitally and closely with many of the arrangements. I am sure when the details of the proposed scheme are announced neither of the honorable gentlemen to whom I have referred, nor honorable members opposite who spoke in the same strain, will be disappointed.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) surprisingly, I think, did good service in clarifying some of the issues of the national service scheme. He made quite clear, although it is still not clear in the minds of many people, that the basic objective of the national service scheme at present is to fill the ranks of the professional Regular Army so that it can be raised to the minimum number required for Australia’s defence. He did a service in this respect because this objective is quite independent of our commitment to Vietnam. The decision to raise the Regular Army to a total of 40,000 men was made well before the decision relating to Vietnam was made and before the decision to call up national servicemen to make up the numbers was made.
To start with, considerable efforts were made to recruit 40,000 instead of 24.000 for the permanent Regular Army. These efforts were not successful. Pay and conditions were improved and the number of recruits did increase but only to a minor extent. This is understandable. It is no great reflection on Australian youths that they were not prepared to join the Army. Temptations in other directions and the opportunities which an economy with full employment offers to a young man - in fact, life in general in Australia - are such that quite understandably they did not flock to the colours. So it became essential to introduce national service. The basic purpose of national service was to make up the difference between the number we could recruit voluntarily and the minimum number required for the Australian Regular Army in the world conditions in which we now find ourselves, irrespective of any particular operations in Vietnam or elsewhere.
The honorable member for Wills referred to the fact that we had been part of the European complex and had been tied first to that complex and then to some other complex - he suggested the United States of America. The fact is that in this part of the world and in this day and age Australia, of all the Western type countries, is the only country which cannot leave this area and consequently cannot maintain its security without a properly trained Regular Army of at least 40,000. Any man in Australia who thinks that we can dispense with such a force wants his head read. The honorable member for Wills pointed up the position very clearly. Having been recruited, the national servicemen become part and parcel of the Regular Army. From now on, every unit of any size in the Regular Army will contain a considerable national service component. Australia is not the first country to adopt this practice. Almost every country in the Western world which is determined to defend itself has had to resort at one time or another to compulsory service. The present plan is no reflection on the Australian people for not volunteering, even under the relatively attractive conditions we have established.
The Committee will recall that the honorable member for Wills also asked why compulsory service applies only to 20 year olds. I would have thought this had already been explained sufficiently in the past but I will dwell on it again. Men of 20 years of age were selected for a complex of reasons, partly military and partly civilian. There is very little doubt, and this is so in the opinion of the Services, that a man of 20 or 21 years makes a better soldier than one of 18 or 19 years. At 20 most youths are already committed to some line of activity. If they are in a job they can return to it at the end of two years. We have taken steps to ensure that they shall not suffer by being away from their job. If they are apprenticed their call-up can be deferred until they complete their apprenticeship. If they are students their call-up can be deferred until they complete their course. The point is that at that stage they have a niche.
On the other hand, in most cases they have not yet reached the stage in life when they are unduly committed to family arrangements. Fewer young men of that age are married so there is less disruption to wives and families than there would be at any subsequent age. The honorable member for Wills mentioned the age of 25. By the time they reach 25 a very large proportion of young men have a wife and family and the disruption at that age is much more severe. I add that it would be silly and useless to call up more people than the Army can effectively train or are required. From every viewpoint it is desirable to keep the number of those completely committed to military service to the minimum, both for the sake of the people concerned and also for the sake of the economy and the development of Australia as a whole. So a system had to be devised to keep the numbers down; hence the ballot system. The honorable member for Wills may talk about the seeds of doubt being sown about this process, but no-one has yet come up with a fairer system of selection. If anybody does I will be the first to give ear to him. The seeds of doubt are sown not by the system itself but by some of the criticisms that are levelled at it.
– Why not get volunteers?
– The honorable member for Stirling keeps asking why we do not get volunteers.
– You have not tried.
– This was tried over a long period. It would be very desirable to get volunteers if we could do so. A point I want to make in connection with the comments about cases of exceptional hardship is that if the circumstances of any individual aged 20 are such that national service would impose a particular hardship on himself or his family or relatives, the option of joining the Citizen Military Forces is now completely available. If such a person lives near a C.M.F. unit he may join that unit. If he lives more than 25 miles from one of the regular C.M.F. units or if he has particular difficulties in getting to parades, he may join one of the special units. If his occupation is such that he cannot attend the regular parades, he can again join a special unit and attend two camps a year instead of participating in the national service training scheme on a compulsory basis.
Now perhaps I should refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Higinbotham about the problem of married women. He suggested that a national survey of this problem should be made, and this is certainly something that we will consider. On the whole I agree with him that it is probably not the best thing to have a government department conduct such a survey, but we will certainly have a look at the problem. In some fields surveys may be profitably conducted. Sometimes they produce useful information while at other times they merely confirm the obvious.
The honorable member for Stirling referred to the removal of the marriage bar. I assure him that he will have full opportunity - at least I hope so, and I am always optimistic - before the end of this session to debate this subject as it applies to the Public Service. The honorable member also brought up the subject of equal pay for the sexes. 1 do not want to dwell too long on this, but I say in a preliminary kind of way that equal pay for work of equal value is a very desirable objective and one to which I personally subscribe. At the same time, however, it is quite obvious that if we implemented such a policy overnight we would produce a considerable degree of dislocation in industry. We would redistribute incomes in a way which the honorable member for Stirling, if he really thought this problem through, would not be prepared to accept as something that should happen overnight.
– What about nurses?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has asked about nurses. I will say something about them because there is something else involved in the case of nurses. There is not only the question of equal pay for work of equal value; there is the valuing of the work as such, however it is done, whether by males or by females. If one carried out a very critical survey in this respect, one might well come to the conclusion that a trained nursing sister of many years experience might quite rightly be entitled to be paid more than some young man who was engaged in some form of relatively unskilled employment.
– What about teachers?
– I know that the honorable member for Hindmarsh would drag his fascinating trail all over the map, but he has not yet made his contribution, so I do not intend to follow him any further.
– Then why not round off?
– 1 will round off at some length. It is surprising what an arc one can describe when stimulated by the remarks of the honorable member. As far as margins are concerned, it is Commonwealth policy to pay the same margins to women as to men, and this is a desirable first step, but when one comes to the basic income structure of the country, this is governed mainly by the operations of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Any real move for equal pay for the sexes must be taken into account by the members of that Commission when they are fixing wages. If we suddenly increase the income stream in one direction without at the same time increasing the volume of goods and services that the extra money can buy, we will produce some very curious results.
– May the rest of us get into this conversation between the Minister and the honorable member for Hindmarsh?
– The honorable member for Stirling is free at any time to persuade his friends to make an appearance before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and make submissions about equal pay for the sexes, just as is the retired trade unionist from Watson (Mr. Cope), who is so often inclined to talk about the proceedings of the Commission.
There were some other fascinating speeches, including that of the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson). The honorable member cited a number of cases of exceptional hardship. I would like to point out to him, apropos of this problem of exceptional hardship in rural areas, that during the last few months 80 per cent, of applications in rural areas for deferment on grounds of exceptional hardship have been granted, as distinct from 50 per cent, in the cities. As the honorable member very rightly pointed out, decision in these cases have been taken out of the administrative field and into the judicial field. I suggest that the honorable member for Dawson think very carefully before advocating that too much administrative discretion be given to Ministers. The opportunities, over a long period, of political interference with the national service training scheme would in fact destroy its basis, because it would be very difficult to convince an individual that the treatment he was receiving was fair when compared with that given to some other person. As long as I administer the scheme the basis of my policy will be that as far as possible all individuals will be treated completely on a par. They willbetreated quite objectively by someone other than myself and outside my Department.
– A lot of the Minister’s colleagues are starting to yawn.
– Well, the honorable member for Hindmarsh is not. I do not know whether he is eager to say something on this occasion, but he will have to contain his impatience a little longer. Now I refer to my good friend, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). I thought that tonight he was unusually calm and, most of the time, quite lucid. He will not, I am sure, resent it if I say that when he talks about foreign investment I wonder now and again whether he has a touch of rabies. However, I happened to skim the article to which he referred, and my understanding
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. The Minister said that at times he thought I had a touch of rabies. If that remark had been made by any other member of this Parliament I would have objected to it.
– I point out to the honorable member for Scullin that I do not think he was malevolent in quoting Major-General Vickery, but, if I may say so, I do not think he got the same understanding of the purport of the statement as others did. The honorable member for La Trobe pointed this out very clearly.
– He did not point anything out.
– Yes he did. I understood the honorable member for La Trobe to point out that what General Vickery said was that the Citizen Military Force was certainly equipped to fight overseas, if necessary. As far as commenting on conscription is concerned, the honorable member for La Trobe said that General Vickery, quite naturally, would not comment on this because he was wrapped up with the C.M.F. and this was a political matter. So it is, because basically the military factors are subordinate to political questions. National service is a political question. It is bound up fundamentally with Australia’s survival and this is certainly a major political end to which any military consideration should be bent. Our survival is currently wrapped up with the effort we are making in Vietnam. Even more fundamentally it depends upon the strength of our armed forces, of which national service is an indispensable ingredient without which our security could be in grave jeopardy.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman–
Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Mr. Deputy Chairman - Mr. Failes.)
Majority .. ..12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed expenditure, $25,66S,000.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed expenditure, $21,498,700.
.- In the few minutes available to me to speak on these estimates I want to say something about the development of Canberra, both past, present and future. For the past eight years I have been coming to Canberra, and I must say that in those years I have, with some pride as an Australian, seen Canberra grow in beauty. It is not my objective on this occasion to level criticism at the Government for the amount which has been spent on Canberra. 1 should like to see increasingly more spent on Canberra in future. We know that Canberra has been developed while the States have been starved of finance. Even some Commonwealth parliamentarians have been critical of the expenditure on Canberra at a time when the States have been starved of finance, when there has been insufficient money to develop State education and insufficient funds available to develop State public works, State housing and other projects. They complain that although the States have been without funds enormous sums have been spent on Canberra.
My only criticism would be that during this period I should have liked to see a little more spent on Canberra. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is now at the table, is smiling. Although I wish that more had been spent, I do not detract in any way from what has been achieved because when one looks at the beauty of Canberra, as an Australian one feels very proud. Expression is given to this feeling in Dorothea Mackellars poem “ My Country “ -
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges.
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons, 1 love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!
I ask honorable members to think of the beauty which has grown with development and planning to convert Canberra from a second class sheep station to the National Capital. We have taken the trees of the old countries. We have taken the deodars from the Himalayas, the cedrus Atlanticus from the Lebanons, the prunuses from the Caucuses, the oaks of England, the willows and weeping elms of China and the silver birches of the Soviet Union. In addition, we have many beautiful trees from other parts of Australia blending with the good old Australian gum. The wealth of trees makes this Canberra of ours a soft, lovely, beautiful and serene city. Would it not be wonderful if our conservative Government would only plan the beauty of Australia in this Socialist way? It could turn the sunburnt country into a soft, green country. It could use the advances of science to develop the country as it should be developed.
When Canberra was originally planned by Burley Griffin the authorities expected that the city would ultimately have a population of only some 70,000 peopleNow, as stated in “The Growth of Canberra “, a review by Lord Holford, it is expected that the population by 1980 will bc 355,000, and that by the turn of the century Canberra will have a population in the vicinity of half a million people. A problem that has to be faced is that when planning was in progress for the capital city in the days of Griffin it was thought that Australia’s population would ultimately be about 10 million or possibly 20 million. Now, with the development of science and the coming of the atomic age in which atomic isotopes are used for distilling water, salt water can be converted to a form suitable for irrigation, and trace elements can be used to develop the fertility of our soil, we know that the population of Australia will one day exceed 100 million. Therefore the planners of Canberra should be thinking not of a capital city of a nation of between 10 million and 20 million people but of a capital city of a nation of between 100 million and 150 million people. It should not be thought of as the capital of a small nation. We should be planning a capital city for what one day will possibly be one of the great nations.
I remind the Minister that I am not levelling criticism at the Government. I know of the difficulties in getting finance from the Treasury to develop this city. I know also of the criticisms levelled by the States at the Commonwealth Treasury. I feel that all members of Parliament should read and consider the report by this man of foresight, Lord Holford. He has made certain criticisms of the standards and status of some of our buildings. He says that the architecture of most of our buildings in Canberra is not up to international standards. He says that so far the only building of any note is the National Library which is still being constructed. We have to think about these things. We must stop thinking on a small scale. We must start thinking that one day Canberra will be the capital of a nation of 150 million people. I have been toying with this idea for some years, but it was really brought home to me last year when I was in Washington, D.C. I looked at Washington and saw evidence of the great foresight shown by those who planned the city. Consequently, I wish to make a couple of suggestions. Lord Holford said in his report -
The problems that face the development of the Government Triangle do not seem to me to consist in finding sites, but in keeping its communications clear and in creating not only fine buildings but also a distinguished and enlightened setting for them.
It seems to me that even with the planning by the National Capital Development Commission there is too much cramming together of buildings. Too many buildings have already been planned for the Government Triangle. I should like to sec Parliament House situated on Capital Hill. I would like our present Parliament House, which was only intended to be a temporary building in the first place, demolished when the new Parliament House is built on Capital Hill. I would like Parliament House to be on Capital Hill, with nothing to obstruct the view from it over the lake, up Anzac Parade to the Australian War Memorial. If Canberra is to be the capital of Australia and the structures here are to represent a vast nation, we must give the impression of vastness in the capital. 1 do not want Parliament House to be situated down on the lakeside with other buildings cluttered around it and the existing Parliament House behind it, and behind that a convention centre, and behind that centre a national gallery and other structures on Capital Hill. I want to see a capital which has, in its government triangle in particular, distinguished buildings of beautiful architectural design. 1 want to see erected on Capital Hill a Parliament House that will be the pride of, not a small nation but a nation that some day will be great. Now is the time to start thinking and planning for the future. I am not criticising the Government’s achievements in the past; I give the Government credit for anything that it has been able to do in its sixteen years of office. It has at least tried to do something to make this a great national capital. But we are moving very fast indeed, and in the last 16 years we have never appreciated fully the great potential of Australia. Great mineral deposits have been discovered, but in fact we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of this great country. I repeat that my reason for wanting the new Parliament House to be erected on Capital Hill and for suggesting the demolition of the present Parliament House so as to permit of an unimpeded view from this spot to the Australian War Memorial, is that I want to give a feeling of great expanse, a feeling of openness. I want to avoid any feeling of being cramped. This is a great, broad land. For heaven’s sake, let us get away from the mentality of those who would have tenement houses in such a land.
There is another aspect of Lord Holford’s report with which I wish to deal briefly. lt relates to transportation. No doubt my colleague the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) would be more competent than I am to discuss this subject. Lord Holford says in his report -
I was asked during my last visit in August 1965 why I wanted to discuss with the Commission public transport and mass-transit systems when it was obvious that the private car, supported by a few buses, and running on freeways and distribution roads, would suffice for all traffic needs for as far ahead as one could foresee.
There are several reasons. Planners should always try to avoid and profit by the mistakes of the past, and Canberra is being planned for a greater future than that of the averagc town of its present size.
He goes on to say -
The opportunity exists now. For those reasons, we should look at the transport system of Canberra now. We must avoid making mistakes which would cost a great deal to rectify later. Lord Holford has given us the benefit of his great wisdom and foresight in these matters. I do not say that I agree with everything that he says, or that we should accept the whole of his recommendations, but 1 do ask the Government to give serious consideration to what he has said with relation to transport within the city of Canberra.
After all, what are just over 35 years in the history of a country like Australia? 1 believe that by the turn of the century it will be necessary to have underground or subway railways in this city. Most capital cities of the world are building subways. In 1960, when I was in Peking and when the Chinese people were rebuilding that ancient city, I saw that they had started upon the building of subways. If that can be done in cities such as Peking, why cannot it be done in our Australian cities? We have better techniques, more skill and more mechanical equipment for getting the job done in the correct and efficient manner.
In conclusion, let me say that, whatever government succeeds this Holt-McEwen Administration I hope that it will strive to build a great and wonderful capital city, a city of which Australians may justly feel proud, and a city that will symbolise the growth of Australian nationalism.
.- The section of the estimates for the Department of the Interior about which I wish to make a few points is the provision of SI 40,000 for the Electoral Branch. I understand from a reply to a question given by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) that the estimated cost of conducting a general election in Australia is in the vicinity of $1 million.
– It is more than that; it is $1.5 million.
– I thank the Minister for that correction. I think most honorable members will agree with me when I say that the Divisional Returning Officers do an excellent job, at short notice, in organising the manning of polling booths at every election. Their task is no light one, especially when we realise that in some electorates there are 120 booths and that in electorates such as Dawson there are 250. The Divisional Returning Officers do a magnificent job in finding people to act as presiding officers and booth clerks in the polling booths at the various centres.
But I feel that these officers could do an even better job if they were able to visit the polling centres in the various electorates at least once during the term of each Parliament. I realise, of course, that one can only guess at what is the term of a Parliament, and 1 know that these men have other duties to perform. There are elections other than Federal elections and there is the conduct of the census. But if they were given more opportunity to visit the various polling centres, they would have a better idea of just what facilities are available. I would remind the Minister that in a number of polling booths the lighting facilities are not all that are to be desired. This is most inconvenient when voting is continued until 8 p.m., especially if one is attempting to complete a complicated ballot paper such as a Senate ballot paper. With poor lighting, the elector often is writing in his own shadow. I believe that this may contribute greatly to the large number of informal votes recorded at Senate elections, lt may be a reason why there are so many more informal Senate ballot papers than there are House of Representatives ballot papers. On the latter there are, at the most, only four or five candidates named, except in most exceptional circumstances.
With the centralising of education many of the small country schools which were formerly available for use as polling booths have been closed down and in some cases have been moved to other areas. This is so particularly in Queensland. Some of the small school buildings are now being used for housing, for Country Women’s Association rest rooms and for other purposes. They are no longer available to the Divisional Returning Officer, with the result that often he finds it necessary to arrange for space in a private home to be used as a polling booth. I am not saying there is anything wrong with this, although some criticism may be offered of the rentals charged in some instances. For example, in one case the rental charged for a comfortable front room was only $1, whereas at another place the rental asked for the use of an open verandah in a house on high stumps, which necessitated the climbing of many steps, was $3. The verandah was wide open and electors complained about lack of secrecy when recording their votes, yet the Divisional Returning Officer was asked to pay a rental of 30s. for those poor facilities.
If Divisional Returning Officers were afforded facilities to travel about by car to visit polling centres, they could see for themselves what the conditions were and they would be able to discuss with people on the spot the most suitable locations for polling centres. There are, of course, different polling centres for State and Federal elections in some instances. Sometimes people vote at one polling booth in State and local authority elections and then they turn up at the same location to vote at a Federal election only to find that there is no polling booth there and that they have to go somewhere else to cast their vote.
This brings me to the question of the hours of polling. I have mentioned the problem of lighting at polling booths. Al some booths, it must be remembered, there is no electricity and kerosene lamps have to be used. Often, even if there is electric lighting, the light is too far behind the voter as he completes his ballot paper for him to be able to see clearly what he is doing. On 1st October 1964, I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) whether he knew of any reasons why the hours of polling at Commonwealth elections should not be shortened from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. He said that this could not be done. I also asked him could he tell me what were the hours of polling in the various States at local authority and State elections. He said that he was not sure but he would find out and give me the information, and he subsequently did so. He also said that for some time requests had been made that the hours of polling be shortened to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. These requests were received principally from Queensland. This is understandable, because almost everywhere in that State, even in summer, it is definitely dark by 8 p.m. and lights are needed to see what one is doing. The Minister said also that in the southern States the later voting hours were more favoured, particularly in country areas, by voters who worked in the fields and paddocks and who found it better to vote during the later polling hours. He said that his own experience was that a high percentage of electors liked to vote between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Minister later provided me with a list showing the hours of polling at the various elections in the respective States. The hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. are the general rule for Commonwealth elections. This gives a spread of 12 hours. In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the hours of voting in State elections are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; in Queensland 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and in Tasmania, 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The position in respect of local authority elections is more complicated. In the cities listed in the Local Government Act of Victoria, the hours of voting are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is still daylight in many parts of Victoria at 8 p.m. in the summer. In the shires, the hours of voting are from 8 a.m. to a time not earlier than 4 p.m. There is an option allowing for polling booths to be closed at any time after 4 p.m. In the towns, boroughs and cities not listed in the Local Government Act, the hours are from 8 a.m. to a time not earlier than 5 p.m. In the last two instances, the hours may be shorter than the period from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. which is laid down in Queensland. In South Australia, in elections for metropolitan corporations, polling takes place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., and in elections for country corporations and district councils, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. In Western Australia, the hours of polling are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In Tasmania, they are from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m., the same as in State elections.
I just make the point that, whether or not voters prefer to vote later and are opposed to shorter polling hours, in local authority elections, in many instances, the hours o-‘ voting are shorter than those prescribed for Commonwealth elections.
I believe that people are creatures of habit. Any storekeeper will tell us that if his closing time is 5 p.m., someone will come along five minutes later seeking service. If his closing time is 8 p.m., someone will arrive wanting to be served five minutes later. If his closing time is 10 p.m., someone will be at his door al 5 past 10 wanting to be served. The same sort of thing applies to polling booths. Those who have manned them find that the same people repeatedly come along at the lii st minute to vote. Let mc just give an illustration of what can be done, lt has been pointed out to me that the first issue of food coupons and clothing coupons to Australian civilians under the rationing arrangements introduced during the war was made over two days - Saturday and Sunday. The electoral officers arranged for the issuing offices to remain open on the two days to make the issue. At the second issue, when this became necessary, the same number of people were issued with coupons on Saturday only. I may be corrected on this, if I am not right, but I believe that the hours of issuing were from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. This shows that it would bc possible for the same number of people as vote now in local authority and State elections to vote in Commonwealth elections in the shorter period allowed for local authority and State elections. The additional hours of polling are not needed. I believe that they to some extent delay the counting of votes and they certainly mean much longer working hours for those who perform the functions of the Commonwealth Electoral Office at election times by working as assistant returning officers, presiding officers, assistant presiding officers, poll clerks and the like.
Here, I want to discuss the rates of remuneration. I do not know when they were last reviewed, but they seem to be very much out of proportion with the work that is done. 1 have not been able to get figures for all the States. However, I know that in Queensland the rates paid in respect of State elections are higher than those paid in respect of Commonwealth elections though the hours worked are fewer. We must also remember that those officers who attend the scrutiny do not just collect the voting figures for the House of Representatives. They have also to provide a total for the Senate. Let me take the case of a poll clerk. 1 do not pick out this category for any particular reason. A poll clerk who is not engaged in the scrutiny receives SI 0.50 for a day of 13 hours. He is expected to be at the polling booth at 7 a.m., one hour before polling begins. This is necessary. 1 believe that he should read his instructions, regardless of how much experience he has had. From time to time, cases of polling officers not having read the instructions that they received from the divisional returning officer crop up. For example, 1 have found that many people are in effect disfranchised because the presiding officer, for one reason or another, has failed to initial a ballot paper before handing it to the voter. A poll clerk has to remain at the booth for 13 hours and may not leave it unattended at any time. For this, as I have said, he receives remuneration of $10.50. An assistant presiding officer who is not engaged at the scrutiny receives Si 2.50 for a working day of 13 hours. A presiding officer who is not engaged at the scrutiny and who is in charge of a booth containing only one table receives SI 2.75. If in charge of a booth containing two or more tables, he receives $17.25. In many country districts an officer may have to drive 20 or more miles to deliver his ballot box. The only additional remuneration that he receives for this is 9c a mile. The document setting out the rates of remuneration specifically states -
The above mentioned remuneration has been determined on the basis that the hours of service on polling day shall he held to commence at 7 a.m. and to end at midnight and includes all personal expenses such as board and residence, refreshments, &c.
Those rates are totally out of keeping with rates that can be obtained elsewhere for similar hours. The people who are employed lor an additional three or four hours as scrutineers receive, in the case of a presiding officer in charge of two or more tables, $3 for three hours, In other words, if he works from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. he gets only $1 an hour. I do not think you would get people to work for these rates if it were not Saturday work and some of them have time to spare. The rates should be revised. Perhaps costs could be reduced by reducing the number of polling places. In these days of modern travel and modern roads some of the smaller polling places could be eliminated, thus reducing costs.
.- I crave the indulgence of the Committee to raise a matter which the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) may not consider to be wholly his responsibility. However, I have been advised that the matter does fall within the Minister’s jurisdiction. His departmental officers have told me that they cannot do much about the matter, so I asked the Minister to see what can be done.
The problem to which I refer relates to conditions on Thursday Island. Thursday Island is not a very big island, but it is perhaps the main island of the Torres Strait Islands. There are SO or 100 islands in the Torres Strait. The availability of land on Thursday Island is very limited, not only because the Island is small but also because there is no natural water supply except the catchment from small hills. Dams have been scooped out of the earth in which to collect this water. These dams must be kept clear of residences because of pollution. The Army owns an area of ground on the Island. It used to accommodate the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion, but since the last war it has not been occupied, although I have tried without success to get the Minister for the Army to re-form the battalion.
It has now been decided to dispose of the land. For the last 25 or 27 years - ever since the war ended - that land has been occupied by ex-servicemen. Perhaps the buildings they have erected on it are not up to standard but I am sure that these people will bring the buildings up to standard if they can obtain secure tenure to the land. If the Government puts the land up for auction the present occupants will not have enough money to bid against the more influential people on the Island. The traders on the Island could easily outbid the ex-servicemen who are virtually squatters on the land. These ex-servicemen have no chance of getting other land on which to house their families. I would urge the Minister to confer with the Minister for the Army (Mr. J. M. Fraser) to see whether the land can be leased to the present occupants instead of being sold. I do not think the Treasury would lose anything by leasing the land but the ex-service occupants would gain a lot. After all, they served their country. They are very good citizens.
As I have said, the buildings are admittedly sub-standard. The local authorities have cut off the water to these buildings notwithstanding that they have been supplying water for the last 20 years. They are trying to drive the ex-servicemen off the land. I contacted officers of the Department of the Interior who told me that it was rumoured that a man who had a house on the land would buy up all the land, build humpies on it, and let them to the islanders for £7 or £8 a week. The rumour may be right or it may be wrong. I do not know. I have made inquiries in the Department and I have been told that the man already has a house on the land. This is not so. He does not have a house on the land. He has a house on the edge of it. His house is not within the boundaries of the land in question. There is no reason why he should get the land before anybody else. I fear that he may be offered the land in question because he already has a house near it. I would be grateful if the Minister would look into the matter.
I visited Thursday Island recently and had a look at the area. I looked at the house owned by the man who is rumoured to be about to buy the subject land. His house is not on the subject land. The ex-servicemen who have squatted on the land are entitled to an opportunity to lease the area. If the Government leases the area it will get as much money in the long run as it would get if it sold it outright because not many people would be interested in buying it. There would be a few people on the Island with enough money to outbid the exservicemen, who are just labourers living there with their families. I do not know where to go to put my case. I have been chased from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Interior and nobody seems to know who has the responsibility in this matter. The Army does not want to touch it and the Department of the Interior says that it wants to sell the land. I ask the Minister to take this matter up with the Army to see whether this land can be declared leasehold land. If this were done it would assist these ex-servicemen and their families. I think I can guarantee that if the men had security of tenure they would raise the standard of their houses. They have no chance of getting other land on the Island. They face hardship if they are put off this land.
If these ex-servicemen are given secure tenure of the land I do not think other people on the Island will be adversely affected. The people who want to exploit this land and build houses on it claim that the present dwellings are sub-standard, but judged by our standards many of the houses and shops elsewhere on this Island are substandard. I do not think the homes on the land in question are as bad as some people would have us believe. I am sure that if the ex-servicemen had leases of their land they would find some way to bring their homes up to a standard acceptable to the local authorities who would then restore water supplies to the land. I again urge the Minister to do what he can for these exservicemen and their families.
.- I wish to make a few observations about a section of the Public Service with which few people come in contact and about which even fewer know anything. I refer to the Electoral Branch to which the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) referred a few minutes ago. The functions of the Branch are quite important and well known to all honorable members. Officers of the Branch must carry out their duties without favour to anyone. We all know this. The rules governing the conduct of elections sometimes seem ambiguous and complex. Divisional returning officers are very busy people. It is about these people and their offsiders - they normally have only one assistant each - that I would like to talk in detail. As a matter of fact, half the time the Divisional Returning Officer for the Herbert Division is too busy to talk to me. He is always running up and down the electorate. I know that he is a member of the Liberal Party. That may be why he does not want to talk to me, but I do not think it is the real reason. Things could be worse: He could be a member of the Country Party.
Most people think that divisional returning officers work only at election time once every three years, just as they think that members of Parliament work only when the Parliament is in session. Most honorable members will agree that the most demanding time in our life is when the Parliament is not in session and we are back in our electorates running all over the place, doing all sorts of odd jobs and attending all sorts of functions. The same thing applies to officers of the Electoral Branch. They do not sit on their tails for three years and get off them only to run an election.
In my opinion most government departments are amply staffed and have adequate accommodation. Rarely have I seen electoral officers with sufficient room. They usually have their screens in one part of the town and their office elsewhere. They are very cramped for space. They are pushed and squeezed by other departments until they have a minimum of space whereas in some departments we see quite extravagant and wasteful uses of space and manpower. In addition to the election for the House of Representatives, which we normally have every three years, the election for one House only in 1963 has meant that we now have an election for the Senate every three years but in a different year. We also have a census now every five years instead of every 10 years. This means that we have a major function almost every year. We therefore have a reprint of the roll almost every year, and the printing of the supplemental roll. All this has come about since 1961, but there has been virtually no change in the organisation of the Department.
Prior to 1961, a habitation index review was held every 18 months. As we all know, one or two or more officers - as many as can be found by the Divisional Returning Officer - go from house to house checking the number of inmates. This is now done every year instead of every 18 months to 2 years. This alone imposes quite a load on the officers. When the election for the Senate and the House of Representatives was held at the same time, the roll was reprinted every two or three years. Now this is done almost every year and requires a considerable amount of work. Most divisions have a stable population, and movement of electors is at a minimum. But in the Herbert Division the movement is very much greater. We have the Army there, with people coming and going. Insurance managers, bank officers and others come and go because of the nature of the area, and the movements on the roll amount to 12,000 to 18,000 a year. This is an additional burden on the staff and this work has increased over the past few years. As I said, the staff still numbers only two.
Elections have been increased from one every three years to two every three years. Before 1961, the enrolment was 42,000 to 44,000; it now exceeds 50,000. But the same staff is expected to do all this work. Roll alterations have increased by 30 to 50 per cent, in this time. Nowadays, the Divisional Returning Officer has 20 times as many court cases as he did before. In the old days, we hardly had a court case involving a person who had not voted or had not enrolled; but now the Divisional Returning Officer is expected to prosecute as many people as he can. I think this is a very good idea. All eligible people should vote at elections and should be enrolled so that they can vote. We have seen what happens in other fields when people do not exercise their franchise. The control slips away from the majority to the minority simply because of the number of people who will not vote. Therefore, I very much favour acting being taken against those who do not vote or do not enrol. This is one way to keep the democracy that we know today. Lazy people should not be allowed to destroy democracy for themselves and for others.
I am nol trying to convey the impression that the officers to whom I have referred have complained about their lot. They have not complained to me, but when I go to their office 1 can see what a pickle they are really in. I go there quite often, just as most honorable members visit their electoral offices often. This office is in the same building as the office of the member in Townsville. T go there on behalf of people who want to be enrolled and on behalf of people who claim they have voted though they have been told that they did not vote. The reason for mistakes such as this is obvious; the officers are overworked. I think it would not hurt if the Department compared the work in some divisions with the work in others. As I said earlier, all divisions are not alike, but unfortunately the same yardstick seems to be used on all of them. It should be possible to maintain efficiency without imposing any great strain on the public purse. There is a vast difference between divisions. For instance, the Kennedy Division has 15 subdivisions, each of more than 15,000 square miles. The work in such a division could not be compared with the work in city divisions that cover three or four square miles, with perhaps 40,000 people enrolled. The division which adjoins mine has 200 polling booths. The normal country division has about 100 polling booths.
As the honorable member for Wide Bay mentioned, in addition to elections, the census is now held more frequently and this is quite an involved business. Then occasionally we have a referendum, such as the one that was never held for reasons which the Government kept to itself. A lot of work arises from referendums. A tremendous amount of literature was put in the hands of officers for the referendum that was to be held. Most of it was never delivered. However, the roll was reprinted. Now an election will bc held at the end of this year and a census will be taken. The roll will be reprinted again. All this work must be done by the officer and his one clerk, lt is only rarely that he receives any reasonable assistance from the Department.
The Commonwealth Electoral Office seems to be the Cinderella of the Public Service. To overcome this attitude, it would be better to place the office under the control of a statutory body and divorce it completely from the Public Service. In this way some of the problems that arise at present may be solved. I hope the Minister will look at this suggestion. He knows what happens in his own division, but I think it is time that someone spoke about the conditions of Divisional Returning Officers.
I would like to express my appreciation of the assistance I have received from officers of the Department of the Interior. Generally speaking, they look after honorable members very well in their electorates.
They are particularly good. They will do anything within reason. The two officers in Townsville, Mr. Deagon and Mr. Lepworth are very good. They certainly do anything they can to help, and I appreciate the assistance they have given to me over the past five years or so.
.- 1 wish to speak briefly in support of the remarks made by the honorable members for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) and Herbert (Mr. Hayden) about the conditions of Divisional Returning Officers. I understand that these officers have a salary of about $5,000 a year. I must admit that 1 was amazed to learn that the Divisional Returning Officer for Dawson does not have a typist. I understand this is the practice throughout Queensland, at least. I think it is very strange when I go to see these officers and find they must do their own typing. They have other officers on the staff, but, if anything has to be typed, they must type it themselves. As the Minister knows, these are responsible officers holding responsible positions. I would like to know why they are not provided with typists. It seems to me that there is ample work for typists, but in any event using a person on this salary for typing work is a waste. The officer must train himself to type with one or two fingers, or as many fingers as he can learn to use. But the point is that the quality of the typing is not the best. The Divisional Returning Officer cannot be blamed for the quality of the work; he may make three or four attempts to type one letter properly. This system surely can be improved. There may be a reason for it, but I would suggest that the increasing volume of work justifies consideration being given to the appointment of clerk-typists, such as we have in Canberra. The Public Service is full of them. Clerk typists should be appointed to assist the Divisional Returning Officers in the various electorates.
I suggest, too, that perhaps some money could be saved by wisely scrutinising the number of polling booths provided in some electorates. I do not go so far as to say that money would be saved; I suggest that it might be. I think there are more polling booths in Dawson than in any other electorate. In Dawson there are 210 booths, most of which apparently were designed in the days of the horse and sulky. Several are li to 2 miles apart. In these days of motor cars - and, I was going to say, of reasonable roads, but we do not have many of them in Dawson - polling booths need not be so close, and consideration should be given to the abandonment of some of them. I know that there is a yardstick for determining the number of booths, but I believe the Government should examine the possibility of pruning the number. I do not put this forward to gain political advantage in any way, because I know that this is the feeling of the Country Party and of others in the area. The problem of manning these booths is considerable. Furthermore, difficulty is experienced in procuring suitable sites for booths. As the honorable member for Wide Bay said, booths are located under verandahs, beside houses, in types of humpies and in tents.
Another matter to which 1 draw the attention of the Minister is the peculiar shape of the electorate of Dawson. Incidentally, my friend the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) eulogised the development taking place in Canberra. I agree that it is pleasant to see, but I suggest that if he visits Dawson he would see the best natural scenery in Australia - scenery that does not have to be developed. The shape of the Dawson electorate defies imagination. It is only when one has to traverse it by car, as I have to do, that one realises the situation. I now realise why my two predecessors lived in Brisbane and not in the electorate. It is an extremely difficult electorate to serve - difficult in the sense of covering it. As the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) knows, I have to travel through his electorate to get about the Dawson electorate. If a person is in Pink Lily or Gracemere he finds himself travelling, as I have to travel, from Sarina 250 miles through the electorate of Kennedy to get back into Dawson again. There is a tail in this central section of Dawson. I have virtually to traverse the Redex car reliability trial route at times. I say this seriously, because a Redex trial route passed through Carmila, Flaggy Rock, St. Lawrence and Marlborough.
I usually take the Bruce Highway when travelling from Mackay, which is the centre of population in Dawson, to the bottom section of my electorate, but I have to pass through 250 miles of another electorate in my travels. Furthermore, Dawson touches the electorate of Capricornia. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Capricornia has told me that my electorate is within 400 yards of his backyard. At times I must pass through Mount Morgan, which is in the electorate of Capricornia, to get back into my electorate. Apart from this sector of the electorate, however, the boundaries are reasonably logical in that they follow the Dawson River. The electorate includes a number of small towns which add to the extraordinary number of polling booths. At the bottom end of Dawson another amazing phenomenon occurs. In travelling around the Mount Perry and Gin Gin area a person has to cross the ranges to get back into the Dawson electorate and, as my colleague the honorable member for Wide Bay knows, passes within a mile of the post office in the middle of that electorate. I admit there are reasons for the peculiar shape of the Dawson electorate. There is no community of interest between, say, Longford Creek in the north and Gin Gin in the south. The electorate is 600 miles from north to south and in the bottom section of the electorate one is virtually in the suburbs of the Wide Bay electorate and in the ….-…- section in the suburbs of the electorate of the honorable member for Capricornia. I can appreciate the problem confronting the Commissioners, because they must find a specified number of electors to constitute an electorate, but in all seriousness I suggest that at some future time, when practicable, serious consideration be given to making this electorate more homogeneous. Not only would it be to the benefit of the member representing the area but, more importantly, it would be of far greater benefit to the electors in the area. At present there is considerable difficulty in travelling by road from the top part of the electorate to the bottom part. This is not conducive to efficiency in providing the electors with the best possible service. 1 have found, too, that maps of the electorate are difficult to follow. They seem to be overprints of Department of Lands maps. It is impossible in many instances in Dawson to ascertain the location of polling booths. I should have thought that a map showing the polling booths would be available. Sometimes I am asked by people how to get to a polling booth. It is obvious that unless they know the area well and can swim a few creeks they will not get to the booth. This is not satisfactory. In conclusion I emphasise the problems of the Divisional Returning Officers and urge that those officers be provided with clerical assistance, particularly as their work has increased over the years. I believe it is degrading for a man in charge of an office, who must interview people, to have to type his own correspondence, frequently using only two fingers. This situation should be remedied.
.-! will not delay the Committee for very long, but I should like to mention again the future development of Canberra and in particular the Canberra Airport, a subject that I did not have time to cover in my earlier remarks. Surely all parliamentarians and all residents of Canberra must be concerned about the existing airport. The Government, or the National Capital Development Commission, should give some indication of its plans for the future Canberra Airport.
I should like to mention again the experience 1 had last year. I am sure many honorable members have had a similar experience. I visited Washington, D.C, last year and landed al Dulles International Airport. The distance from the airport to the city is about 20 miles. The whole route is lined with beautiful trees which soften the landscape and give a marvellous effect. I hope that the Government, or the National Capital Development Commission - whoever is responsible for planning the location of the future airport - will provide not a mere transit airport but an airport of international standard with runways of sufficient length to handle the jet aircraft at present in service and the aircraft of the future. Wherever the airport is located - it may even be 20 miles from the city and in the State of New South Wales - the road connecting it to the centre of Canberra should be so constructed as to emphasise the softness of trees and show the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
My colleague and friend, the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), spoke about the beauty of his electorate. I was there not so long ago during the last Queensland election and saw the beauty of that area. In my earlier remarks I tried to indicate what a good job succeeding governments have done - I give this Government full credit for what it has done in this regard in the past 16 years although I give it credit for very little else - in changing Canberra from a second class sheep station to a city of some beauty. A softness and serenity has been developed of which we in Australia should be proud. I hope that governments of the future will make even greater efforts to give us a city of extreme beauty. A government with real vision can step beyond the development and planning of Canberra to the development and planning of the whole of Australia. There is no limit to this nation’s development.
I want to make one last plug to have the new Parliament House situated on Capital Hill. I do not know whether the Minister has been provided with proper maps indicating what will happen if the new Parliament House is situated on the shore of the lake. If it is of any height the view of the National Library - that beautiful structure which is represented on the front page of this year’s annual report of the National Capital Development Commission, that beautiful structure which exhibits an international standard of architecture - will be obscured from the opposite side of the lake. Anyone travelling across King’s Avenue Bridge from the existing airport or, when it is demolished, from the Defence buildings at Russell Hill will not be able to see the National Library because it will be obscured by the new Parliament House on the lake foreshore.
I think I have expressed to the Committee Lord Holford’s view that the Parliamentary triangle is already cluttered with too many buildings and that we should limit the sites. I believe we should build the new Parliament House on Capital Hill so that the view I have mentioned will not be obscured. I know there will be some criticism of my speech.
– What about slum clearance?
– I know there is so much else to be done but I believe what I have suggested can be done. I know complaints have been made about the Sydney Opera House at Bennelong Point. I have always struggled, and will continue to struggle, to have a greater share of the nation’s productivity passed on to the people of this country, but while struggling for this there is no reason why we cannot develop a great city of international stature. Lord Holford said that Canberra should have buildings of international stature which will gain respect for us throughout the world. As well as seeking to gain the respect of other countries we should also seek to gain the respect of our own people by having a national capital of which they will be proud.
In other countries people take great national pride in their capital cities. Every American is proud of Washington. I spent two days in Washington and was captivated by its beauty. Admittedly, I also saw the slums, the like of which I hope we will never have in our capital city. The early planners of Washington, Paris and so many other beautiful cities of the world deserve great credit. Surely the national pride of all Australians, irrespective of their political thoughts, demands a national capital which will give a lead to the development of our nation.
.- I will follow the example set by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and not take the full time allotted to me. I want to raise a matter relating to the Australian Capital Territory Police Force of which the Minister for the Interior is in charge. This matter was mentioned last year but I understand that he has done nothing about it.
– I raised it.
– The honorable member for Wilmot reminds me that he raised it last year. I am raising it now. I hope, Mr. Minister, that you will adopt my suggestion and provide a much needed aid to the efficiency of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. You, as Minister in charge of the Police Force, should know full well that that body of public servants, by the very nature of their work, are subjected not only to temptation but also to criticism from all sections of the community. The Minister can remove one possible ground for criticism of the Australian Capital Territory police. It is a criticism that is levelled against police in the various States from time to time.
There is an increase in the number of road accidents in every part of the Commonwealth, and in the Australian Capital Territory as well as everywhere else it is necessary in a great majority of cases of accidents for a tow truck to come and take away the wrecked vehicle. This is necessary to prevent obstruction of traffic and also to safeguard the property of the unfortunate car owner. The members of the police force are adversely criticised from time to time by hungry tow truck drivers who accuse the police of showing favoritism to one tow truck driver or another. In the metropolitan area of Sydney competition has become so fierce that tow truck drivers are virtually cruising around at night looking for crashes so that they can. if I may use the vernacular, get a quid. lt was suggested to the Minister last year that he should make a tow truck available to the Australian Capital Territory police in order to put a stop to these hungry tow truck drivers getting at each other’s throats and accusing the police force of showing favouritism. But the only reason I can obtain for the failure of the Minister and the Government to accept this suggestion is that it is opposed to Government policy because it would be interfering with free enterprise, and that the people and organisations who like to preserve free enterprise would complain that the introduction of a police tow truck would mean taking away the livelihood of some free enterprise operator. But it is very important that the Minister should protect the good name of his police force, of which he should be proud. He should try to remove any ground for suspicion of the members of the police force, or take temptation out of their way so that they will not be persuaded to look for an easy quid. This, of course, they seldom do, although they are accused of it. The Minister should make tow trucks available to the Australian Capital Territory police so that they may get wrecked vehicles off the road as quickly as possible, expedite the flow of traffic and protect the vehicles and property of car owners involved in smashes. I believe that the Minister will do this and I hope that this time next year I will be able to stand up in this Parliament and thank him for accepting the suggestion put forward previously by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and by me.
– Let me reply first to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). I do not think there is any ground for levelling criticism at the Australian Capital Territory Police Force in connection with this matter. In my experience as Minister for the Interior I have never received one complaint of the kind suggested by the honorable member. I do not know whether there is any valid ground for levelling this criticism at the police forces in the large capital cities, but there is certainly no ground for it in Canberra. If I may take a moment to do so, I would like to pay a tribute to the very high standard of the Canberra police force. I believe that the police here enjoy the admiration of the people of Canberra for the efficiency with which they carry out their duties and the courtesy that they show.
The honorable members for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton), Herbert (Mr. Harding) and Dawson (Dr. Patterson) have all mentioned the salaries paid to Divisional Returning Officers. This is a matter on which I am not at the moment fully informed. I sympathise with the plea made by these honorable members, but as they know, the rates of pay and conditions of employment of Commonwealth public servants are set by the Public Service Board, which makes a full investigation of the work carried out by and the demands made on the personnel. However, I am quite sure that the contributions made by honorable members tonight will help to obtain better remuneration in the future for these Divisional Returning Officers. These officers do have a fairly full time job. As honorable members have said, as the electorates grow in size the task of these officers in keeping up to date with growth and movement of population is tremendous. In addition there are increased electoral activities in elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate and possibly in referendums. These Divisional Returning Officers also do a good deal of work in connection with trade union ballots and they help other organisations in carrying out elections, helping them to run the elections and to count their votes.
– The census is another activity.
– That is correct. Instead of having a census every ten years we are now having one every five years, and a census requires a considerable effort on the part of Divisional Returning Officers in organising and collecting the forms.
I should have included the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) amongst those who pleaded for the Divisional Returning Officers. The honorable member also mentioned facilities in Branches of the Electoral Office. I know there are a few in which the standards may not be all that are desired, but generally throughout Australia I can say that the standards have improved tremendously in recent years. It is our aim to improve facilities wherever possible, and in tropical areas to provide air conditioning in offices.
The honorable member for Wide Bay also suggested that Divisional Returning Officers should be able to visit prospective polling booths to see that facilities are up to standard. I may say that Divisional Returning Officers can use their cars to visit these polling booths if they first obtain permission from the Chief Commonwealth Electoral Officer, and this is done in big electorates where considerable distances are involved.
– If a railway service is available do they have to use the railway?
– It is a matter of applying to the Chief Commonwealth Electoral Officer. He will consider the application and approve it if he considers the travel is necessary.
The matter of voting hours was brought up. This is brought up regularly each year during the debate on the Estimates for the Department of the Interior, and also when we are debating electoral bills that come before the Parliament. It has been the practice in Commonwealth elections for the voting hours to be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. I would not like to see any alteration in these hours except on an Australia-wide basis. Four of the States have adopted similar voting hours, and I think that if the Commonwealth voting hours were not in conformity with those of the majority of the States we would only produce greater confusion for the voters.
– Why do you not lead the way?
– It is not a case of leading the way. If a request came from the States for a conference between the various State Ministers and the Commonwealth Minister, that conference could be held and it could decide on matters such as voting hours and many other matters relating to elections. I think the allimportant point is to achieve uniformity of voting conditions throughout Australia, so that the electors will not become confused.
The size of polling booths was also mentioned in discussions tonight. According to our present procedure, when it appears that a polling booth is being used by fewer than 20 voters, and that this number will not build up, the member for that electorate is informed and asked if he would agree to that booth being eliminated. This is to enable the member to advance any reasons why it should not be abolished. A polling booth might be quite isolated, and there might be justification for maintaining it. Personally, I think there is some merit in slightly extending the minimum size of polling booths to accommodate about 30 voters, because with the advent of the motor car people can get to polling booths much more easily than they could in days gone by. However, I would not like this to be made the subject of a stringent, arbitrary decision. There must be some flexibility, because circumstances vary.
The honorable member for Leichhardt asked me to look at the use of Commonwealth land on Thursday Island for residential purposes. The Commonwealth holds two areas of land on Thursday Island, one being of about 400 acres and the other of about 1,100 acres. This land has been used by the Army, but some of it is now surplus to Army requirements. The general procedure followed in disposing of such land is to make it available first to the State Government concerned. That Government in turn decides whether it will lease it or sell it. I know the special circumstances that the honorable member for Leichhardt has brought up. People are squatting on this land; they have been there for many years. The honorable member has asked me to give sympathetic consideration to the Commonwealth giving a direct lease to the people concerned. I assure him that I will examine the matter to see whether anything can be done.
Tonight the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) sang some of the sweetest music that I have heard him sing for a long time. He was quite eulogistic in his remarks about the National Capital. I support him wholeheartedly. 1 know that those remarks will have the full endorsement of most members of the Parliament. I believe that Canberra, as the National Capital, is doing more for this Parliament and for the nation than we realise. It is making us more mature as a nation. It is teaching us all to adopt a national outlook rather than a parochial outlook. It is teaching us not to adopt a prejudiced State attitude to problems which affect the nation. The concept behind the establishment of the National Capital was to get away from the bigotry that existed between States. I am proud to be able to say that the majority of the members of this Parliament speak from u national viewpoint rather than merely from a State viewpoint. We do so because we all get together in one capital city away from the direct influences of Sydney, Melbourne and the other great cities of Australia.
When building a capital city it is important to build a city of which one can be proud. For us to be proud of a capital city it must have beauty, grace and charm. Our forefathers wanted this city to be a garden city. They wanted it to be well planned Thanks to his foresight, Walter Burley Griffin planned a city in which we all can take pride. The concept of this city revolved around a lake in the middle. It has only been in recent years that we have been able to construct that lake and to fill it. When 1 hear people condemn the lake I look at them askance, because I think that nothing has made this city what it is more than the lake has. The best way of stifling criticism of the lake is to invite people to come to Canberra to look at it for themselves. When people go away they are absolutely convinced that the lake was worthwhile. Construction of the lake was absolutely necessary to fulfil the original plan and to unite the area.
Canberra would never have been selected by Scrivener if it had not been possible to provide for a lake in the middle, because originally the central area was a flood plain on which people could not build. No beauti ful gardens or trees could have been established there. The only provision that could be made for the centre of the city was the construction of an artificial lake. When an artificial lake is built within a national capital and it is desired to maintain it as part of a garden city, it is important to retain the serenity and peacefulness of that lake. That is why the Government has not permitted motorised craft on the lake. I believe that if speed boats were allowed to ply on the lake and to disturb its peacefulness and serenity, it would lose a lot of its effectiveness.
The size of Canberra has grown. Walter Burley Griffin predicted that it would be a city of 25.000 inhabitants, with the number rising possibly to 75,000. Today the population is nearer to 100,000. By 1980 it could be 250,000. Lord Holford predicts that the figure could be considerably higher than that. But Canberra will never be complete until we have a permanent Parliament House. The building we now occupy is a provisional Parliament House. Walter Burley Griffin proposed that Parliament House be situated on Camp Hill, not on Capitol Hill. Camp Hill is the hill immediately behind the present Parliament House and is not the bigger hill which lies further back. Walter Burley Griffin’s idea was that on Capitol Hill a monumental building should be erected which could be used on ceremonial occasions. Camp Hill is not a satisfactory site for a new Parliament House, because the present Parliament House would stand immediately in front of it. I do not think that even in our wildest dreams we could contemplate demolishing this building, lt is a very fine building, and a lot of tradition attaches to it. The two alternative sites for a new Parliament House are the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin and the top of Capitol Hill. Numerous people have investigated the potentialities of these two very good sites. But when all the factors are taken into consideration, the great weight of opinion must come down in favour of the site on the foreshore of the lake. I do not want to enter into a long argument about this matter. If we did so, we would be here all night.
I hope that members of the next Parliament will get together during its lifetime, decide on a site, and make some positive proposals for building a new Parliament House. Australia is growing up as a nation. If Canberra is to be the hub of this great nation, if it is to be the city in which are made decisions which determmine the rate of development of this country, if Canberra is to be the microcosm from which stems growth, development and enthusiasm, then I believe that we must soon decide to erect a permanent Parliament House. As I said a moment ago, I hope that in the life of the next Parliament that decision will be made without too much excitement being engendered. We cannot delay the decision indefinitely.
The honorable member for Reid referred to the establishment of an alternative airport for Canberra. In our plans for the next 20 or 30 years, provision is being made for an airport of international standard at Mulligan’s Flat, which is situated on the far side of Gungahlin. However, I do not envisage this airport being built for at least 10 years. The cost of the airport would be considerable, and I do not think Canberra warrants an international airport at this stage. What is necessary is a good airport, one that can handle international passengers to and from Melbourne and Sydney. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) has already announced that there will be a new treminal constructed on the present Canberra site. 1 believe that there are to be extensions of the runway. The design and size of the air terminal are under consideration.
I am happy to announce that in addition to the estimates under discussion provision will be made this year for an improvement of the road link between King’s Avenue Bridge and the airport. There will be an upgrading of the road through Duntroon and a new bridge will be built across Woolshed Creek on the road leading straight to the airport. This work will be started this year and I hope it will be completed in the next financial year. The ultimate plan is for a dual highway from King’s Avenue to the airport, but for the immediate future only one highway will be built. It will be of a standard which will, I hope, give people a respectable opinion of Canberra when they enter it via the airport.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Council - Importation of Steel - Dairy Farm in Vietnam - School Cadet Corps.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I take this opportunity of raising an important matter, having been deprived of speaking on the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service because the Government saw fit to gag the debate. The matterI want to bring before the Parliament is of national importance and is causing concern to many decent Australian citizens. It relates to the call up of 20 year old conscripts for the Australian Army, and to the sending of them overseas. I want to refer also to the behaviour of magistrates in the courts of petty sessions and judges in courts of appeal towards conscientious objectors who come before them. I want to refer to the legal rights of conscripts. I wonder whether these legal rights have been forgotten by some people. A Sydney judge surely overstepped the limit recently when he asked a young man in Sydney: “ What would you do if an invader tried to rape your mother? “ If those were not the exact words used they express what His Honour meant to convey. Further, the judge spoke of the 20 years of freedom that this young man had enjoyed as an Australian citizen and asked what he was now doing to earn such freedom. How would the judge know what freedom this young man had had and what the circumstances of his life had been? What had this to do with the appeal?
– What would the honorable member for Hunter know about it?
– Listen to the old reactionary waking up over on the Government side. The man about whom these remarks were passed by this judge is named Simon Townsend. He was a journalist, and I hope that his journalist friends in the Press gallery will give appropriate publicity to this matter. He appeared before Judge Curlewis and his appeal was dismissed. The report I have of the case states that Simon Townsend told Judge Curlewis that he would not kill. He says that when Judge Curlewis posed a situation in which
Townsend’s mother might be a victim of an invader’s atrocity, Townsend said that he would i!o everything to defend her and, in the emotion of the situation, might kill the attacker, but was quite sure he would suffer in conscience for such an act. He continues that Judge Curlewis spoke of the 20 years of freedom that Simon Townsend had enjoyed and asked him whether he did not think he should repay the debt of sacrifice which had been incurred so that he could enjoy such freedom. Simon Townsend replied that he felt he was repaying the debt by being a good law abiding citizen and by furthering the cause of peace for which World War II soldiers thought they were fighting.
There seems to be a great deal of prejudgment by certain members of the judiciary when dealing with these matters. They seem to have locked minds before they hear the facts of a case. Recently, in Sydney, Judge Goran displayed a similar outlook. It is not easy for a young man to take an unpopular stand because of the dictates of his conscience. In fact, to my mind, it takes a lot oi courage of a special kind to do so. Asking a young man in effect whether he would stand by while his mother was being raped was an outrageous thing. It was wounding to this young man, a young Australian, and to his family, and does little credit to the law.
I wish to refer also to the way in which certain real cases of hardship are treated by magistrates. I will instance a particular case. A married man with a 13 months old child, and a wife who was expecting another child in 6 months time, applied for deferment of national service on the ground of hardship. The wife, 19 years of age, is an asthmatic and according to the medical evidence she needs someone to be with her whenever she suffers an attack of asthma. The applicant said that his wife and child depend on his personal care. The magistrate said that the wife’s mother lived nearby and therefore the wife had someone to care for her if she became ill. He said that he did not consider it a case of exceptional hardship. The applicant was under the impression that he was applying for permanent deferment but was told that there was no such deferment on the ground of hardship. In fact, there was no deferment at all for him, and for his sick wife, a girl of 19 with one baby in her arms and another coming.
From my experience as a police officer for many years I know that the average man on the bench is human and, on many occasions, merciful, and is not given to sadistic expressions of the type I refer to tonight. The average Australian citizen can usually depend on fair treatment from the bench. I hesitate to believe that some of the courts are not as impartial as they should be, particularly when dealing with conscripts or deferment applications, but I have been told that the courts have had their orders from this Government, that they have been told that the Government wants to crack down on conscientious objectors. The evidence I have disclosed indicates that the Government has instructed the magistrates that only in exceptional cases should they grant deferment to those seeking it on compassionate grounds. It is harder to believe when the figures for the voluntary enlistment of our young men show an enormous number of rejections. It is almost unbelievable while the call up seeks to hang on desperately to every 20 year old. In a recent reply to a question by Senator McClelland, the Minister supplied figures for rejections of volunteers which would shock the nation.
I wish to mention a final case of deferment put before a Melbourne magistrate. A mother asked that her son be left with her as he was part of her support. She had other younger children. The magistrate said to her: “You appear to be young enough to go out to work yourself and some of the other children might soon be able to help. Surely someone would look after the younger children if you had to go to work.” The young conscript - the 20 year old son - was ordered into the Army. What sort of a soldier does the Army expect that man to be? There is a certain savagery in these cases which is not justified by the circumstances of the undeclared war in Vietnam. We have about 5,000 troops in Vietnam, about half of whom are young conscripts. We are not fighting an all out war. We are not actually going all the way with L.B.J., despite the Prime Minister’s statement in the United States which caused a belly laugh to ripple around the world. We do not have our backs to the wall. We are not in danger of invasion. The bulk of our manpower over 20 years of age is proceeding with civilian duties.
Big business is making enormous profits out of strategic materials. Seventeen members of the Liberal Party sit opposite, and none of them has indicated his intention to enlist. Mount lsa Mines Ltd. is making an annual profit of about SI 6 million. This is surely a case in point. Money manpower has not been called up - only the 20 years old kids. The war, for these young fellows, was a shock and the most unexpected event in their lives. Surely, therefore, there should be more decorum in the handling of these cases. I hope that Parliament will take care of the rights and wrongs of the situation. The coming Federal elections will place the issue squarely before the Australian people. If conscientious objection is a crime, or if seeking deferment is a sort of criminal act. why does not the Government say so? If, on the other hand, it is the law, let it be administered as such and let us be saved from the inhumanity and savagery of cases such as I have quoted.
.- In last Saturday evening’s edition of the Melbourne “ Herald “ an article appeared headed “ Labour Speaks “. Underneath that heading was a sub-heading “ Need for Vigilance “. The article was written by Bill Hartley, Victorian Secretary of the Australian Labour Party. It read, in part -
Civil liberty in Australia is strongly dependent on the vigilance exercised by major political purties in protecting their own machines and thus our system of parliamentary democracy from infiltration by those who would repress liberty and turn Australia into another Spain or .South Africa.
Honorable members will note that no mention is made of any of the Communist bloc countries. The article continued -
Since the war the Fascist-leaning National Civic Council has made three major takeover bids for control of Australian political parties. The first was for control of the A.L.P.
Later in the article, this appeared -
In the Ballarat area, the Liberal Party member for Ballarat North. Mr. Tom Evans, is carrying nut a rearguard action to stop this infiltration. Two of the other Liberal Party MP’s for the area - Mr. Erwin and Mr. Dickie - are maintaining an apparently detached but actually frightened silence about the affair.
The NCC influence in the Ballarat Liberal machine is such that an organiser who complained about it was sacked.
We know who the organiser is to whom they are referring. He wrote to the Secretary of the State Liberal Party and resigned of his own volition, of his own accord. If it were not for certain people involved in this lying trash, people who are unable to defend themselves, I would not now be attempting to highlight that which most decent thinking people would push aside without further thought.
The two people to whom I refer are my two colleagues who unfortunately are not in a position to defend themselves. There are five members in the Ballarat area - one Federal member, two of the Legislative Council and two members of the Legislative Assembly. Three of them are: Mr. Evans. Liberal, an Anglican; Mr. Dickie, Liberal, an Anglican; and myself, Liberal, an Anglican. Two members were purposely not mentioned in this article and it was implied that they were members of the National Civic Council and were infiltrating the Liberal Party. One is Mr. Byrne, M.L.C., Liberal, a Catholic; the other is Mr. Stephen. M.L.A., Liberal, a Catholic.
Since this article appeared I have endeavoured to check on the National Civic Council. I found that Mr. Santamaria, a man whom I have never met in my life, to whom I have never spoken on the telephone and with whom 1 have never had any written communication, is the President of the National Civic Council. I found out also that Mr. Santamaria on one occasion when speaking before a public audience was asked about the membership of the National Civic Council and replied that most of the members were Catholic and that a number of the associate members were Protestant. I have found out also since making these inquiries that one of the National Civic Council organisers in New South Wales is a member of the Australian Labour Party. Honorable members opposite had better find him. I found out, too. that the National Civic Council is non-Communist and has no Communist members. It is not seditious in any way and it is not disloyal to our Queen or our country. I have made these inquiries and this is what I found out about this organisation.
– I rise to order. It is contrary to Standing Orders for an honorable member to take the name of our sovereign Queen in vain. The honorable member is calling her name into question in order to support a flimsy argument.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– It is not that it was implied that Mr. Byrne and Mr. Stephen were members of the National Civic Council - they are not members of the National Civic Council; but what the Victorian Executive is getting at is that they are Catholic. This is the point. It is because they are Catholic and because all their lives they and their families before them have been members of the Liberal Party. In fact, Mr. Stephen, who has been a personal friend of mine of long standing - over 16 or 17 years - has always been a member of the Liberal Party. In 1955 he supported me in a pre-selection ballot against Mr. Byrne. In 1956 he supported Mr. Dickie against Mr. Byrne. This man, who is a Catholic, has no forum in which to defend himself, but he is treated in this cheap insidious way. It is implied that he and Mr. Byrne are members of the National Civic Council and, as such, that they are evil.
To show further what the Victorian Executive is like, I refer to Councillor Holland, who holds one of the Melbourne seats - I forget which. He did not get a nomination for a seat in the redistribution. Do honorable members know why? It was because he is a Catholic. I want Mr. Hartley to come down to Ballarat, to get up on a platform and to say directly to all the people there that he does not want any Catholic’s vote. That is what I want Mr. Hartley to do.
– I raise a point of order. I do not think that the honorable member is entitled to say anything about sectarianism in regard to the Australian Labour Party. Only just recently-
– Order ! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states -
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom te change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Walter James in a book entitled “The Christian in Politics “ states -
It is wrong to confine attention to individual and State. Between them are many intermediate groupings - school, college, trade union, professional association, city, country, nation, Church, Revolutionaries are often impatient of these lesser associations, but they are of vital importance to the Christian politician because it is in them that the ordinary citizen exercises his freedom.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– 1 crave the indulgence of the House to talk about something a little bit tougher - the importation of steel from Japan. Prefabricated steel is coming into Australia, to the detriment of the average technician here. The recent developments in this country regarding the use of steel from Japan and other cheap labour countries can only react in a very detrimental manner to the employment possibilities of Australian citizens. Members of the public should protest in every conceivable manner to their respective members of Parliament, both State and Federal, and call on employer organisations whose interests are adversely affected to join forces with the trade union movement to bring to an end the importation of prefabricated steel to Australia from Japan and other cheap labour countries. Let me turn to the development of Australia’s mineral resources and the construction of oil refineries. The various monopolies concerned, many of them of overseas origin, are turning to other countries with much cheaper labour for the steel with which to construct their plants. In addition to being a major threat to the employment of our steel technicians, this in fact constitutes a peaceful conquest of Australia by those overseas monopolies - a fact to which I have drawn attention in the past. The Federal Government, an employers’ government, has had this fact forcibly pointed out to it on a number of occasions but so far has failed to do anything about it. It was as a result of its failures that the Government suffered a resounding defeat in a recent by-election in Queensland when Dr. R. Patterson won the seat of Dawson for Labour by calling for a reversal of the Government’s action and by demanding that the Government take over the development of northern Australia for the Australian people.
Mineral wealth exists in unbelievable quantities in the northern part of our continent, but all that is happening is that this Government is allowing foreign monopolies to grab that wealth at an extremely low price, leaving us with the quarry holes to lament. Recently an American millionaire was quoted as saying: “ Christopher Colombus may have discovered America but we American businessmen have discovered the mineral potential of Australia and that represents a fast buck.” - a fast buck for the American monopolies. Not Only the Americans have discovered the Australian wealth; to a very large degree, so have the Japanese big business tycoons. Recently it was reported that one of the leading Japanese industrialists had stated in an interview that be believed that part of Australia belonged to Japan. He pointed out also that the Japanese industrialists, by gaining control of thousands of square miles of Australia and bringing in their own work forces and machinery, were accomplishing what so many Australians had died or been wounded in preventing - the taking over of our country by the Japanese imperialists.
Not only have the foreign monopolies - the Japanese included - gained control of huge tracts of our country, but in building their plants they have not even accorded our technicians the opportunity to work on these projects. A typical example of this is to be found at Gladstone in Queensland where a huge aluminium refining plant is being constructed for Queensland Alumina Ltd. It was intended originally that much of the steel fabrication work be done at Gladstone, following the carrying out of some prefabrication in workshops in the various States. This was done for a while, but then it was found that there was a drying up of orders for work in Australia. Much of the steel which could have been fabricated at Gladstone has been fabricated in Japanese workshops and shipped to the site, only a very minor amount of work having to be performed upon it on site. The various unions concerned have had consultations with the managements of some of the bigger workshops in Sydney and, in fact, with representatives of our national metal trades employers. The overall situation is that these developments are creating tremendous problems for both employers and workers alike.
We have a position now where pockets of unemployment exist. In the Sydney area, some of the largest steel construction shops are working with a minimum of overtime or no overtime at all and employing only a portion of the work force they could employ if their shops had the work to carry out. It has been reported that, in addition to what is happening at Gladstone, a new horizontal cracker plant, which is to be constructed at the Boral company’s works in Sydney, is to be built largely from prefabricated steel imported from Japan and that, as a result of that move, this job, which would employ between 180 and 200 men, will employ less than half that number.
It is also reported that plant extensions at the Shell refinery at Clyde, New South Wales, will be made from steel fabricated in Japan, again greatly reducing the employment of Australian workers who are normally employed on this type of work. Indications are that the Japanese big business tycoons are considering very seriously an iron pelletising plant at Kwinana, Western Australia. No doubt, if this plant is proceeded with, these Japanese exploiters will have the steel made in Japan and will use a minimum of Australian labour to assemble it on site. Not only is a very large volume of prefabricated Japanese steel being imported, but incidental items, such as welding electrodes manufactured in Japan are being imported with it. From these few examples - no doubt the list is far from complete - it can be seen that Australian workers, and in particular my own union members, are very rapidly being placed in a position where they will be unemployed while the development of industry continues in the interests of tremendous profit making for the owners.
Very important reports of infiltration of the steel construction industry in this country by the Japanese monopolies were published in the “ Australian Financial Review “ of 4th May 1966. The article stated that the Japanese railway industry has won its first order to build locomotives for Australia. Before winning that contract, however, the Japanese were supplying rolling stock and rails for government railways in Australia. They have the following current orders: 62 bogie ore wagons for the Commonwealth Railways 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. North Australia Railway, the manufacturer being Kinki Sharyo which a few years ago also built streamlined carriages for the Commonwealth Railways Trans-Australian Railway; a total of 144 iron ore bogie hopper wagons under construction by Nippon Sharyo for the primate Hamersley standard gauge export line in the north west of Western Australia, which will serve our fabulous iron ore deposits and is supposedly part of our tremendous national development; locomotives that Japan will supply for the 90 centimeter gauge State Electricity Commission network at Yallourn, Victoria; and two electric locomotives that have been ordered from Hitachi Ltd. through its Australian representative, F. Kanematsu (Aus.) Ltd., the total cost of which, including spares, will be $448,000. Strangely enough, the huge wartime munitions manufacturer, the Mitsubishi organisation, also holds orders to build 1,900 freight vehicles for the New Zealand Government Railways.
It is interesting to note that the biggest Australian monoply - the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. - whose hostile attitude towards trade union members is well known, is complaining bitterly to the Federal Government about the importation of Japanese steel. Obviously its profits are affected and it sees danger to its shareholders dividends. We must protest with all our vigour and in every possible way against these developments in the interests of retaining Australian workers’ employment and wages.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First I must say that I regret that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) is not in the chamber tonight. I did him the courtesy of informing the Opposition Whip that I proposed to raise a matter and that I was prompted to raise it by a remark that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro made. I refer to the establishment of a dairy herd in Vietnam and its subsequent dissipation. I happen to have an intimate knowledge, to some extent, of this herd. It was formed when the South Vietnamese Government, under the Colombo Plan, asked the Australian Government to establish an experimental dairy farm at Ben Cat, some 35 to 40 miles north of Saigon. The expert who was entrusted with the forming of the herd was a man named Lyle, a near neighbour, though not an immediate neighbour, of mine. He had been an artillery officer in the Sixth Division and is a man of high ability and repute, and his word would be irrefutable. Hp was entrusted with the purchase of more than 100 Jersey cows, most of them in calf, and also with the purchase of some £75,000 worth of modern dairy equipment, which included milk treatment plant, refrigerator, pasteurising plant, bottling equipment, electrical generating plant, general farm machinery and two ice cooled motor vans for transporting milk. The basic idea was to supply milk to the women and children of Saigon.
Mr. Lyle established 400 acres of pasture.. I have seen photographs of it, and by any standards it was good. He and his wife were constantly menaced by Vietcong action while they were at the farm. They constructed a concrete pill box into which they retired when they were attacked. The house was shot up from time to time. The herd was constantly interfered with. Cows were hamstrung and their udders were mutilated. There were several shootings of cattle and members of the staff were murdered. On more than one occasion, Mr. Lyle found the heads of members of his staff on the fence behind the dairy. Early in 1961, he relinquished the management of the farm after some two years of this menacing behaviour. The establishment had come into productivity and some deliveries of milk had been made to Saigon.
Early in 1961, another Australian, a former Royal Australian Air Force officer by the name of Arthur, became adviser on the project and took over management of it. The defences were strengthened, watchtowers were built and the number of guards was increased. Mr. Arthur at first resided at the farm, but later, when security deteriorated, he supervised it by visiting it by road from Saigon until he was kidnapped. After a time, he was released in exchange for medical supplies and he then supervised the farm by visiting it by helicopter. Incidents continued. Numbers of cattle were stolen and grown cattle and calves were shot. Late in 1962, the Vietcong, in an attack in strength, damaged installations, wounded several guards and killed other persons, including the wife of an employee. Later, a milk truck was captured while on its way to Saigon loaded with fresh milk for the residents of that city. Still later, workmen were kidnapped, more guards were killed and wounded, buildings were damaged and several cattle were stolen.
– On what date was that?
– I am reciting irrefutable facts. In mid-1964, the Vietcong entered the farm. Some intimidated the guards while others rounded up and removed 83 cattle, which were later recovered. Vietcong attacks increased and the situation at the farm became increasingly untenable until it was finally abandoned in mid-1964. This is a correct record of what happened. These are facts. I have discussed these matters with the original manager since his return to Australia and I checked and crosschecked these facts when I was in South Vietnam. The Vietcong occupied and pillaged the farm in mid-July 1964. The buildings were looted and destroyed and those housing the milk plant were burnt. Neither the farm nor the herd was ever subjected to aerial attack prior to its abandonment or subsequent to its occupation by the Vietcong. The statement that the farm was abandoned because of bombing by the United States Air Force is not founded on fact. I say that it is dangerous to make such statements and that no responsible person should do so unless he is sure of his facts.
– I shall not delay the House for very long. I wish to direct attention to the hate campaign that exists in the world and to show honorable members how this may come closer to home than they perhaps think. I am prompted to do so by an article in today’s Melbourne “ Herald “. Under the heading “Youngsters Learn to Hate - Even at Kindergarten “, the following appears -
Australian Associated Press - Tokyo, Tues. - “ Paper tiger, bang. bang. Paper tiger, bang, bang.” The children sang in unison, pointing toy machine guns and rifles at imaginary capitalists and revisionists, the “ paper tigers “ of the song.
A recent Japanese visitor to China described this scene in a kindergarten there - part of the cradle-to-the-grave indoctrination that the Mao Tse-tung regime is imparting to the country.
Children do not escape it, in school or out. They draw pictures of what they think American bomber pilots look like. They play in parks where the amusements have a political twist.
A typical carnival handgrip machine - squeeze it as hard as you can and try to ring the bell - is fitted with a plaster head of President Johnson, American Associated Press says. When a youngster squeezes the handgrip he can imagine himself wringing the neck of the U.S. President.
The article also states -
In the palace girls work at embroideryembroidering portraits of Mao. Boys in an art class draw cartoons - of bayoneted American soldiers. Their age: About 10.
When the children grow up they may enter the Pioneers movement and wear red scarves around their necks. These are seen everywhere. Later they may go into the Young Communist League or the more recent and prominent youth force, the Red Guards.
Will the indoctrination stick?
The article proceeds in similar vein. I mention this matter in order to show that the Liberal Party Government of this country is following the same pattern in Australia. I am prompted to do so by the announcement that a Sydney Grammar School boy has been expelled because he has refused to wear the school Army cadet uniform. An article in the “ Sun “ newspaper stated recently -
The boy had refused to wear the uniform because he disagrees with Australia’s role in the Vietnam war.
He said that he had decided not to wear the uniform after taking part in an exercise at Singleton during the holidays. According to the article, he said -
We were made to take part in a “search and destroy “ operation at camp. We had to go out and “ shoot “ other schoolboys playing the part of Vietcong. They were dressed in black pyjamas and had red stars sewn on their caps. This sort of thing propagates the idea that it is right to kill the Vietcong. It also shows the school cadets are serving as a preliminary training ground for the war in Vietnam. I feel this is wrong and some protest should be made.
What is the difference between that kind of thing and the events that are occurring in Communist China today? I suggest there is no difference at all. In both instances there is indoctrination and there is a hate compaign. How do we know that the Vietcong will always be against us? Why, some members of the Mau Mau are now running a country, and at one time they were fighting the British.
This boy’s mother said that she personally was opposed to compulsory cadet training and the war in Vietnam. She said: “But I have tried to keep my own views out ot the subject “. Before I proceed further I wish to place on record that I congratulate this lad for the courage he has displayed. Let us hope there are thousands more like him and that they will awaken an apathetic Australian public to the fact that the tactics practised by the Communists are being practised by this Government and the people associated with it in order to compel boys to be indoctrinated in a hate campaign. Provision is made in the Budget for a grant of $1,250,000 to the United Nations for peace promoting activities. Yet, we have this Government indoctrinating boys at school who are only five years older than the children in China to whom I have referred.
– Which side is the honorable member on?
– I know that honorable members opposite do not like this very much. I wonder what the parents think when boys such as this go to camp at Singleton and instead of being told how to fight they participate in a hate campaign against people they have never se:n the people of countries with which we shall have to live as time goes by. Is not the distinction between what is happening in Australia and what is happening in China today a distinction without a difference? I would like to know how the Government selects the enemies for these boys.
– Whose side is the honorable member on?
– How touchy Government supporters are about the conscription of schoolboys. They have guilty consciences. Their hands drip with the blood of conscript boys. All honorable members opposite have on their hands the blood of boys they sent to their doom in a war in which those boys should not have been fighting. This kid who stood up against their infamous conduct and policy shows more courage than they show. Let the Government defend this type of thing. When the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) was Minister for the Army he had fellows out at South Head dressed like members of the Ku Klux Klan and going through all kinds of torture so as to practise, he said, for war. That was a scandal. Those soldiers were on all kinds of diets. They were persecuted in, it was said, the same way as an enemy would persecute them to make them tell the truth. You may do that to men, but you have no right whatever to do it to school kids.
I would like Government supporters to attempt to justify this treatment of a 15 year old boy whose politics may not be in line with those of the Government. It seems that they condone the boy’s expulsion from school. It is claimed that he was not expelled but was told he could not stay. I do not know what the difference is. Why is that boy not entitled to be educated at the school of his choice? We are told that this is the great freedom of choice Government, but apparently that is not so when it is conscripting children. Why should that boy have to practice Communist doctrines under a Liberal Government and be expelled from school if he will not do so? I place these things on record tonight because I would like to see the Government try to defend its actions. I hope the Government, desperate as it is. is not so short of conscripts that it has to take boys from a college like Sydney Grammar School. 1 hope that parents of boys in school cadet corps will know that they are not training to defend Australia but to be conscripted to fight on foreign battlefields for policies which this Government knows to be wrong.
I believe that many boys now in the school cadet corps will go straight from those corps to Vietnam and Asia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has said that Australia will be the policeman of Asia as time goes on. He has said that we will be in Asia for years to come. Under this Government, boys of 15 and even 10 years of age will be ultimately conscripted if the sacrifice and courage of this Sydney Grammar School pupil does not awaken an apathetic Australia to the dangers of the Government continuing in office. It is conscripting kids, victimising and indoctrinating them. Once again I congratulate this kid. He has the right stuff. I hope there will be many more like him. If honorable members opposite are not ashamed of supporting a policy that allows this kind of thing to happen, that is their worry.
– In one sense at least the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) is in strange company in this debate. First, I would like to make one or two points clear about school cadet corps and the way they operate, because the interpretation placed on school cadet corps by the honorable member for Grayndler could lead to wrong conclusions. Membership of a cadet unit is completely voluntary as far as the Army is concerned. It is well known that there is a waiting list-
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that the clock in the chamber seems to have stopped.
– Order! There is no substance in the matter referred to by the honorable member.
– It is well known that a number of schools want to start cadet units but, because of certain limitations, the rate at which units can bc expanded at any one time is restricted. It is entirely a matter for the individual school whether membership of its cadet unit is compulsory or voluntary. This is not a matter for the Army. The exercise which is the subject of this discussion took place at an annual camp. At such camps exercise plans are drawn up by the brigade commander but they are always subject to any amendments or alteration on the advice or suggestion of the school officers of that particular cadet unit. In this particular case the enemies were not designated as Vietcong, although in the briefing it was stated that the tactics being used by the friendly forces were those that would be used by our forces in South Vietnam or in South East Asia, and that the tactics that were being used by the so called enemy were similar to the tactics which we could expect to come against in the South East Asia theatre.
– Did they have black pyjamas?
– They did net have black pyjamas; they had black hats with, I think, red stars on them, to distinguish the two forces. If the honorable gentleman thinks that there is anything particularly significant about that, there must be something slightly strange about him. There are one or two things which, in addition, can be said, and perhaps should be said, because there is a suggestion, or more than a suggestion, that this incident has occurred as a result of people who are certainly opposed to what the Government is doing in South Vietnam, and this whole activity could well have been designed to highlight and to incite opposition to what the Government is doing in South Vietnam in concert with many other people.
So that the honorable member for Grayndler may know the company in which he is operating tonight, I should like to give him certain information. This cadet is the son of a Mrs. Ann Margaret Butler Michaelis. of 28 Redan Street, Mosman, New South Wales. Mrs. Michaelis is a committee member of the Association of International Co-operation and Disarmament. The Association of International Cooperation and Disarmament, as many people wil know, is regarded as being under Communist influence. It superseded the New South Wales Peace Committee for International Co-operation and Disarmament, also known as the New South Wales Peace Committee, which was also known to be a Communist inspired organisation. This is the circumstance, and this is the company which the honorable member for Grayndler is keeping this evening.
Here is some additional information. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 14th April 1966, by authority of the Association of International Co-operation and Disarmament there was placed a large advertisement for the purpose of opposing the despatch of conscripts - national servicemen - to Vietnam. A number of organisations were alleged to be in support of this particular protest and some of these organisations were listed. One of these was given as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Australian Section, New South Wales Branch, the Secretary of which was named as Mrs. Michaelis of Redan
Street, Mosman. This is the street address of Mrs. A. M. Michaelis, mother of Robert Michaelis
– Why are you slandering, under privilege, a defenceless woman who cannot defend herself?
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler has already spoken-
– And spoken very poorly.
– The honour of the Liberal Party!
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler has spoken on the motion for the adjournment and the Minister for the Army is replying to the remarks made by him. I suggest that the Minister be given a hearing.
– How would he like somebody to attack his mother under cover of privilege?
– If what I have said is an attack, this attack is in the minds of honorable members opposite. I have done nothing but state the facts of the situation. I have done nothing but state the membership of certain organisations. I have done nothing but state the origins of people who are trying to oppose what is happening in South Vietnam and the origins of this particular instance, which was introduced into this House by the honorable member for Grayndler.
– Mr. Acting Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.21. a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Television Companies. (Question No. 1846.)
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Station: TCN Sydney
Licensee: Television Corporation Ltd.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
Whataction does the Government propose to take to prevent the importation of highly inflammable children’s clothing?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question -
An import control would not he effective whilstsimilar goods may he manufactured locally andsold without restriction. However, if all States legislate to prevent the manufacture and saleofinflammable children’s clothing, she Commonwealth would be prepared to support the States’ action by introducing similar controls over imports.
t asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How many television viewers’ licences are current in each of the States?
Mr.Hulme. - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Australian Overseas Shipping. (Question No. 1858.)
m asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The information requested in relation to overseas voyages made by vessels of the Australian National Line and the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Limited during the live years from 1st July 1961 to 30th June 1966 is as follows -
Forgan Bridge, Queensland. (Question No. 1979.)
n asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
As the honorable member has indicated in his question, the reliability of the Forgan Bridge to which he refers is a matter for the Queensland authorities. The bridge has no particular defence significance which would warrant an approach to the Queensland Government on the matter or the use of Army engineers to examine it.
Water Development Projects. (Question No. 1980.)
n asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) and (b)-
Snowy Mountains Scheme - New South Wales. Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme - Western Australia.
Western Australia Northern Development - Western Australia.
Chowilla Reservoir - South Australia.
Blowering Reservoir - New South Wales.
South-west Region Water Supplies - Western Australia.
Gordon River Road - Tasmania (road being constructed as first stage in the development of a hydro-electric project). 2. (i) No Commonwealth loans or grants for specific works have been made to the Northern Territory. (ii)-
Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme- $1 0,000,000.
Western Australia Northern Development $ 17,000,000
Under the Western Australia Giant (Northern Development) Act 1958-1959 grants totalling $10,000,000 were made available for development of the northern part of the State.
Of the total amount, some $8,158,000 was spent on the Ord River Diversion Dam and Main Irrigation Channel.
Under the Western Australia (Northern Development) Agreement Act 1963 an amount of $7,000,000 was made available to Western Australia which included a grant of $4,046,000 for the Ord Irrigation Project.
Chowilla Reservoir - Commonwealth sharing the cost (est. $43,000,000) equally with the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Expenditure by the Commonwealth to 30th June 1966 was $728,000.
Gordon River Road- $5,000,000. Payments to 30th June 1966 amounted to $3,204,000.
Snowy Mountains Scheme - advances made to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority totalled $575 million at 30th June 1966. The whole scheme is expected to cost approximately $800 million.
Chowilla Reservoir - Loan to New South Wales to cover that State’s share of the capital cost of the reservoir. Payments by the Commonwealth to 30th June 1966 were $728,000.
Blowering Dam - Commonwealth financing half the total cost by means of interest-bearing loans. Payments to 30th June 1966 were $9,913,000.
South-west Region Water Supplies (being the second stage of the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme) - Commonwealth is to provide financial assistance of up to $10,500,000 by way of repayable interest-bearing loans. $1,200,000 paid to the State in 1965-66.
n asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. (Question No. 2067.)
m asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The table below gives the number of -
n asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Over the last live years expenditure under the heading “ Capital Works and Services “ (Statement No. 3, Item No. 11, attached to the Budget Speech) has been financed from the Consolidated Revenue with the exception of portion of the expenditure of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. Total expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under this heading, including expenditure of the Authority, was: -
Details of funds provided from the Loan Fund for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority have been provided in answer to Question No. 2070.
n asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cigarette Smoking and Lung Cancer. (Question No. 2075.)
n asked the Minister for
Is it a fact there is a relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer?
If so, will he arrange (a) for his Department to undertake a campaign, utilising the various forms of mass communication media, to warn the public of this relationship and (b) to initiate action for all packets of cigarettes to bear at the time of sale a stamp of specified size as a warning to the consumer?
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
s asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
How many residents of (a) the United States of America and (b) the United Kingdom are there (for taxation purposes) in each of the following categories - (i) companies or individuals not engaged in business through a permanent establishment in Australia, and (ii) public companies engaged in business through a permanent establishment in Australia, (iii) private companies so engaged and (iv) individuals so engaged?
– Available taxation statistics do not classify non-resident taxpayers according to country of residence or as to whether they are engaged in business through a permanent establishment in Australia. The information available does not therefore permit of an answer to the honorable member’s question.
s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Medical Benefits Organisations.
s. - On 13th September 1966, I answered Question No. 1 870, asked by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), concerning Medical Benefits Organisations. I now find that the information given in answer to part 4 of the question contained an inaccuracy. The correct answer is as under -
These figures do not include payments in respect of contract medical organisations.
– On 23rd August, the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) asked a question as follows -
Will the Minister for Defence inform the House of the methods used to ascertain the number of Vietcong wounded and killed in engagement with our troops? Will the Minister also explain the arrangements made for hospitalisation and treatment of captured wounded Vietcong? If wounded Vietcong are hospitalised and treated by Australian personnel, who bears the expense of the general treatment of these prisoners? I ask these questions in view of the conflicting statements which are appearing in the Press from time to time and having very disturbing effects on the public.
I now provide the following information -
The .method used by Australian troops to assess the number of Vietcong and North Vietnamese killed is to carry out an actual body count of enemy dead. The number of wounded is assessed from after-action reports from the troops taking part. Wounded Vietcong and North Vietnamese soldiers captured by our forces are treated in accordance with Article 12 of the 1949 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in the Field. They are dealt with humanely and are not left without medical assistance or care. After treatment by medical orderlies, in the field, prisoners requiring further attention are moved to the battalion Regimental Aid Post, or the main Task Force area, where medical officers and more advanced facilities are available. Only immediate medical treatment is given by Australians. They are not given hospital treatment in Australian hospitals. Prisoners are handed over to South Vietnamese medical authorities as soon as practicable after capture. The cost of the treatment rendered by our forces is a normal charge against the Army funds for the Vietnam theatre.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660928_reps_25_hor53/>.