26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Attorney-
General’s attention been drawn to the reported offer by the Cambodian Chief of State to arrange facilities for the transmission of aid to the National Liberation Front through the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Canberra? Will action be taken in this matter when the Bill now before Parliament becomes law?
– I was not aware of the proposals to which the honourable member has referred. However, I can assure the House that what has been said and what is being suggested as being available as a means of sending funds is being kept under very close consideration by the Government. If and when the Bill which is in another place becomes law, it is found that action is needed under that law it will be taken. The type of publicity which is being given to statements of this kind is the thing which is really keeping this alive. Both sides of the House supported this legislation and condemned the action of the few who are seeking publicity and endeavouring to get propaganda for their views. If people did not give further publicity to this matter it would die very quickly.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. I refer to a recent statement by the Research and Arbitration Officer of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr R. J. L. Hawke, calling for a capital gains tax in Australia. Will the right honourable gentleman advise the House on the disabilities and dubious economic efficiency of the operation of such a tax in this country?
– We frequently hear recommendations from Socialist organisations and people with a Socialist orientation that the taxpayer should be soaked in a variety of ways. One of the ways which have been mentioned is by a tax on capital gains. This suggestion has been considered by successive governments but the recommendation has not been accepted for the following reasons: First, if a person engages in speculation he is treated as a speculator and is taxed on capital gains from the speculation. Secondly, all entrepreneurs and all other people engaged in commerce and industry pay their normal taxation. The reasons why it is felt that a capital gains tax is unfair and therefore has not been introduced are these: First, if we tax the gains, then, logically and in fairness, we must make a tax allowance for losses. I believe that in some recent years this might have meant a net loss to the Treasury. Secondly, we must take note of changes in the value of money due to inflationary pressures. This imposes a very difficult task on the tax authorities. Thirdly, a capital gains tax would discriminate between those who hold their assets and those who sell. This is the kind of discrimination that neither I nor the Government favours.
As to the economic effects, it is generally considered by those who know what they are talking about that this kind of tax could induce people to avoid the possibility of paying capital gains tax by holding on to property and assets at a time when it would be far more in their own and the nation’s interest if a sale were to take place. For all these reasons and also for the reason that the administrative cost would be high and the administrative difficulties well nigh insurmountable, it has been decided in the past not to introduce a capital gains tax and it has not been decided to introduce one in the Budget that has just been presented.
– I wish to inform honourable members that a delegation from the National Assembly of Pakistan, led by Mr Muhammad Qasim Malik, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, is at present in the gallery of the House. On behalf of all honourable members, I exend a warm welcome to members of the delegation.
Honourable members ; Hear, hear!
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is his Government conducting security censorship of all mail and cablegrams leaving the country? Is it a fact that information obtained in the application of this censorship is used by Ministers for political purposes in this House?
– I am not in a position to give any information about normal security surveillance, to which the first part of the question refers. As to the second part, I give an emphatic denial to the suggestion made.
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Army a question. Has he seen Press reports concerning a Private Graeme Cummins, who left for service in Vietnam a month ago and who has written home complaining about the shortage of socks? Can the Minister now inform the House whether there is a shortage of socks in Vietnam, and if so, what steps the Army is taking to alleviate the position?
– I saw a report about this matter in yesterday afternoon’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ and the honourable member had brought the subject to my notice earlier. There are large quantitites of socks in Australia and there has been no request from Vietnam for any additional special supplies to be sent there. However, yesterday a cable was sent to Vietnam asking whether there had been any shortage and the reply was that all demands had been met from reserves held in the theatre of war. In fact, those reserves total about 70,000 pairs, If additional supplies are required, they cao be obtained from Australia at a moment’s notice.
– I direct to the Minister for External Affairs a question that is supplementary to one asked on Tuesday of this week by the honourable member for Boothby about children in Vietnam with burn scars. Is the Minister aware that children and civilians are being injured and maimed by both sides in the war and will he agree that members of the civilian population, including children, have been badly scarred by the inhuman weapon, napalm? What action has the Australian Government taken to bring about the cessation of the use of this barbaric weapon in Vietnam?
– It is true that civilian casualties have occurred in the war in Vietnam. Some are caused by action on one side and some by action on the other. I am sure, and can state with great confidence, that any civilian casualties caused by allied action are an unfortunate, accidental and regrettable consequence of operations and not a premeditated result. On the other hand, the unfortunate truth about many of the civilian casualties that are caused by Vietcong action is that they result from deliberate and premeditated action to intimidate and terrorise innocent people. There is a very great distinction between the unfortunate and regrettable casualties that result from accidents and unpremeditated actions and those that are deliberately contrived.
On the question of napalm, recent investigations have shown - and I can give the honourable member some detailed results of those investigations - that the number of civilian injuries resulting from the use of napalm has been very much exaggerated. Indeed on a recent visit a distinguished Australian medical man was unable to find any cases at all of such civilian injuries. Napalm is used in special situations and if civilians have been injured at all as a result of its use this has been because the civilians have been deliberately used as a screen by the Vietcong in their operations.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Having regard to the drastic decline in woo] prices at auction, and the destructive and entirely negative case submitted to woolgrowers during the wool reserve price plan referendum campaign by the Committee for the Retention and Improvement of the Free Wool Market, has that Committee submitted any proposals to the Government designed or likely to restore wool prices to remunerative levels? Has any consideration been given to the need for action to be taken to lift from the auction floors lower grade wools for which there is at present an absence of demand and which are being picked up by speculators at giveaway prices with disastrous results to the tone of the market as a whole, including a lowering of the prices of the finer and better types of wool, for which there is a reasonable demand?
– The Committee to which the honourable member has referred has not submitted any proposals to the Government with regard to the marketing of wool. I understand that the Committee met in February of last year to consider this matter, but I have no knowledge of any action taken as a result of that meeting or of any decisions that may have been made. As to the honourable member’s second question about the removal from the wool market of some of the lower grade wools, I think there are only two ways in which this can be done. In the first place growers may withdraw their own product from the wool market if they so desire, and some of them have exercised their right to do this. In fact at last week’s sales in Adelaide at which prices were depressed, as much as 15% was withdrawn by growers and held for later sales.
The only other method available would be some scheme such as the reserve price plan which was considered by growers at the end of 1965. Since the growers rejected that plan there is no power which the Government or the industry can exercise to achieve the result suggested by the honourable member. I direct his attention, however, to the answer which I gave to an earlier question concerning the industry’s own approach to this matter. It has appointed a marketing committee and I have indicated to the House that that committee has reported to the Australian Wool Board or is to report to the Board. The Board will report and make recommendations to the Wool Industry Conference in October. It must be understood that this Government is always willing to consider any proposal from an industry if that proposal is substantially supported by that industry. Undoubtedly the Government will give further consideration to the matter should recommendations be made by the Wool Industry Conference.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. Does the annual report of the Department of Health state that from April last 41,000 additional age pensioners would be entitled to free medical benefits? Did the Minister say in answer to my question yesterday that this matter had not yet been resolved with the Aus tralian Medical Association? Does this mean that these pensioners have been deprived of free medical benefits since April last? What action is proposed against the Australian Medical Association for its defiance of the Government in this matter? Why should this very strong union be treated differently from industrial unions?
– As I told the House on a previous occasion the Australian Medical Association has npt rejected the Government’s request that the additional 41,000 pensioners be accepted into the pensioner medical service. It has merely deferred the matter for reasons which I have already given to the House. In view of the fact that the Australian Medical Association has not in fact refused to take the pensioners, any action along the lines implied in the honourable member’s question would, in my view, be premature.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Does the Minister acknowledge the lack of a proper and efficient civil service in some of the less developed nations in South East Asia? Does the Minister consider that an elected government may find grave difficulties in efficient administration? If so, what can this country do to help in what I suggest could be a vital and limiting factor in the establishment of the democratic process in those nations?
– The honourable gentleman’s question draws attention to what is recognised as one of the serious problems in the advancement of the welfare of the people of South East Asia. It is a problem which has often been commented on and which has been the subject of a good deal of special work within such regional bodies as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. It is true that in many of the newly independent countries, and indeed some of the older established countries in Asia, decisions on policy by a government cannot always be promptly and effectively carried out because of lack of the widely based and highly qualified public services with which some other countries such as our own are acquainted. Much of our own work depends for its success on what the public servant does rather than on what the politician does, and this problem in the less developed countries is recognised. The direct contribution which Australia has made to the solution of this problem has been mainly under the Colombo Plan, under which we have carried out special training courses, and under various other forms of external assistance we have also carried out special training courses to give expertness in particular branches. But the scores of people whom we can train are, of course, only a small proportion of the thousands, indeed tens of thousands, of people who need to be trained. I can assure the honourable member that the problem is one that causes us and other nations a good deal of concern. We are giving what attention we can to it.
– I preface a question addressed to the Treasurer by stating that in answer to a question on 14th March of this year the Treasurer informed the House that his Department had finalised the proposals for amending the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. I ask: In view of the fact that no general review of this legislation has taken place since 1959 will the Parliament be given the opportunity to consider the legislation this year?
- Mr Speaker, I hope so.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. In view of the Auditor-General’s remarks in connection with the 1965-66 accounts of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the doubtful legality of a number of activities and services provided by the Authority in Australia and overseas for departments and other organisations on a recoupment of costs basis, can the Minister advise us what legislative steps may be in preparation to legalise this situation, and whether these steps will be taken soon enough to avoid embarrassment between the Authority and its clients?
– Since the AuditorGeneral’s report, my colleagues in the Government, particularly the Treasurer and the Attorney-General, have had a close look at the Act. Now that a decision has been made to retain permanently elements of the Snowy Mountains Authority it is contemplated that there should be legislation to amend the present Act. I am afraid I am not in a position to inform the honourable member when this legislation is likely to come before the House.
– In his Budget speech the Treasurer said that the Government was confident of a steady rise in private spending for both consumption and investment. Within a fortnight of that speech the Commonwealth Statistician’s latest seasonally adjusted figures for both retail sales and new capital expenditure revealed a downturn, particularly in the capital expenditure field where the seasonally adjusted figure was the lowest since the March 1965 quarter. 1 ask him: Was such information available to the Treasurer when the Budget speech was prepared?
– As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question relating to retail sales, his information is incorrect. Retail sales have shown a steady improvement and as there has been a substantial increase in average earnings it is expected that the present level at least will be sustained. The second part of his question contains a nasty innuendo, and this is quite unlike the usual practice of the Leader of the Opposition. The whole basis of the Budget speech was designed to ensure that we placed no impediment on the opportunity of manufacturers to engage in increased capital expenditure on plant and equipment. The figures that the honourable gentleman produced relate to a period prior to the date of the presentation of the Budget and were not known to me - if that is what the honourable gentleman wants to know.
– Well, the Treasurer was wrong.
– I was not wrong because those figures antedated the period of which I spoke. ( emphasise thai the figures produced by the honourable gentleman illustrate how right were the Budget tactics. If it is true - and. of course, it is true - that there has been this fall, then to have imposed any sort of taxation which would have reduced the opportunity for an increased performance by private capital investment would have been contrary to the interests of this country because, in time, it must have had an impact on full employment.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Peking Government has indicated strong disapproval of any attempt to develop political democracy in Hong Kong, as self-government would make it more difficult for Peking to take over in the future? Last night in the House a series of Government speakers attacked as traitors critics of the British Government, which is taking no steps to develop political democracy in Hong Kong. As this panel included the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I ask: Is it Government policy to support the Peking Government’s claims to Hong Kong or will the Prime Minister take steps to encourage the British Government to establish and develop democratic institutions in Hong Kong?
– I am not very well informed about what goes on in the mind of the Government in Peking. I doubt whether that Government is very clear as to what is going on in China at the moment. But I have been to Hong Kong on occasions, as have other honourable members, and I know that many people have chosen to leave mainland China in order to enjoy the more favourable conditions which they find obtaining in that British Crown colony.
– That is what I said.
– Order! The honourable member is continually interjecting.
-I do not know what the honourable gentleman is complaining about. I think it is well known that the recent rioting, turbulence and disturbance in Hong Kong have been a product of Communist activity which has been encouraged and assisted by mainland China. I am sure that the Government of China recognises the value of Hong Kong for its own economic purposes and I would think that this in itself would have a restraining influence upon further excesses. But whilst this Communist inspired activity proceeds then necessarily there has to be a strong central administration of the colony. I do not know why honourable gentlemen opposite, conscious of the problems that the British have in maintaining law and order in these difficult circumstances, should be encouraging and sympathising with those in Australia who have set out to make the position of the British administration more difficult.
– I should like to ask a ques tion of the Treasurer. On 4th May the honourable gentleman made a statement regarding the Government’s decision to introduce a withhholding tax on interest paid to persons, including companies, who are not residents of Australia. As mention was made that this tax will be imposed on or after 1st January 1968, and in view of some concern being expressed by certain overseas investors interested in investing in northern Australia, can the Treasurer indicate when the appropriate legislation will be presented to this House?
- Mr Speaker, the legislation is now in the course of preparation andI think it must be introduced as an essential piece of legislation during the Budget session. I did make a statement in May regarding the essential features of the proposed legislation. There will be little, if any, departure from that statement.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister.I preface my remarks by saying that in recent weeks I have had many requests for copies of speeches by the right honourable gentleman. Will he consider publishing a booklet which would include his recent speeches, particularly his Alfred Deakin lecture, his speeches in this House on the Budget and foreign affairs, his speeches to the New South Wales Branch of the Chamber of Manufactures and at the recent meeting of the Federal Council of the Liberal Party?
– I am glad to know that there is a growing public interest in the statements that I am making and I feel sure that these are having an impact on many people who formerly were disposed to vote for the Australian Labor Party. As to the proceedings of the Federal Council of the Liberal Party, the statements of the President of the Party and myself at the open sessions are, of course, a matter of public record and I think the honourable member would be edified and educated if he read them. What we do in our closed session is not made public because, like the Labor Caucus, we do not decide policy; we merely have some acquaintance with policy. It is not customary for a meeting of caucus to be open to the Press. Nor has it in recent times been the practice for meetings of the Liberal Party Council to be open to the Press but, as in the case of caucus, versions of what has happened do occasionally escape and these are usually inaccurate and distorted.
The honourable gentleman will sympathise with me as I with him in this situation. There is nothing inherently permanent in this position of the Liberal Party. For example, in my State of Victoria the meetings of the council are held in public. There have been times when the meetings of our federal council have been held in public. I believe there is something to be said for holding these meetings in public rather than have distorted versions getting out to the Press. Perhaps this would be a useful practice in relation to meetings of caucus also. However, unlike the honourable gentleman, the members who sit behind me in this chamber are free to express their opinions in this House, to contribute to policy formation and on occasions to vote, where they see that necessity, against the decision of their Government. The honourable gentleman knows that the first time he votes against the decision of his caucus, he will be back in Newcastle and not in this place.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Industry say whether the negotiations for lifting tariffs on wool by the United States Administration have concluded? Also, is the United States showing any desire to continue discussions in any way on the tariff cutting principles of the Kennedy Round?
– The position is that the United States President had the authority of Congress to make cuts in tariffs but there was a terminal date to his authority which was 30th June last. I understand that the United States Administration and the Congress have yet to decide in what form, if any, they will be willing to continue to cut tariffs. Until that is done there can be no possibility, I imagine, of a general resumption of discussions on the wool tariff. However, the honourable member and the industry can be quite sure that as soon as there is a state of affairs in the American Administration in which it would be possible again to request a negotiation designed to achieve the reduction of the tariff upon wool, this Government and the Department of Trade and Industry will immediately attempt to exploit that situation.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a magnificent article published in the Melbourne ‘Age’ on Monday, 21st August, under the heading ‘Lord Howe Island - Paradise of Privacy - But the Crisis Lies Ahead’, which describes the unspoiled beauty and attraction of Lord Howe Island and then warns that the island will be almost inaccessible after 1970 because of the cancellation of the flying boat service to the island? How many more times do I have to ask the Minister to provide an alternative service before action is taken? I will make available to him the article to which I refer after question time, and hope he will be able to do something about this matter.
– Whilst I appreciate the offer by the honourable member to pass this document over, I have already read it and appreciated the contents. I confirm that the article is a pretty accurate description of this very happy little island. However, some problems are associated with the transport facilities to this island of which the honourable member is well aware. The problem is to construct an airport on terrain which is very difficult and it would be very costly to construct.
At the present time the situation is in hand because the flying boat service is still operating. It is correct to say that ultimately, due to sheer age, these aircraft will have to go out of service and off the Australian register. For quite some time negotiations on this matter have been going on with the New South Wales Government and with the Ansett-ANA organisation which operates the present service. In fact, it was only the week before last that further discussions were held. I hope that ultimately, as a result of these negotiations, some proposal will come up which will help to resolve the problem. There is also a hope that a new type of aircraft will become available which could use runway facilities below the F27 standard. Perhaps there could be some other type of aircraft of the STOL variety which could provide a service and which would require less money to be spent on airport facilities. I can assure the honourable member that this matter is still well in hand and that negotiations with the New South Wales Government have not yet been completed.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Australian Administrative Staff College, the private non-profit company at Mt Eliza, Victoria, which is sponsored by leading business organisations. Is it a fact that quite a number of senior Commonwealth public servants have benefited from attendance at courses at this College? To enable a wider sharing of the well qualified experience of Commonwealth administrators and also the proven management techniques from the industry and commerce sectors, will the Prime Minister seek advice from the Public Service Board as to the possibility and advisability of an increased number of departmental representatives undergoing these intensive studies?
– I am aware of the College and the valuable work it performs as a contribution to national efficiency in the direction which the honourable gentleman indicates. I shall be very glad to discuss with the Chairman of the Public Service Board the suggestion which the honourable gentleman has so constructively put forward.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Are any research stations in north Queensland, or anywhere in Australia, doing research work on tropical fevers? If so, how many are engaged in such research? If not, will the Minister ensure that research in this field is increased? I might say that there are many tropical fevers which cannot be identified by the medical profession in the north at the present time.
– I will be glad to examine the honourable member’s suggestion. I am sure he is aware that the School of Tropical Medicine, which comes under my Department and which is located in Sydney, is one of the premier institutions in this field in the world. It has a world wide reputation in the field of tropical diseases. 1 know that considerable attention has been given to problems in this field in northern Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Army. In view of the fact that a growing number of secondary schools are seeking to establish cadet corps units only to be informed that there is a considerable delay, can the Minister inform me what action is being taken by the Government to meet the enthusiasm of the committees in the schools concerned and to reduce the delay which is presently involved?
– In this year’s Estimates there is provision for lifting the overall ceiling of the numbers who can be catered for in cadet corps from - speaking from memory - roughly 43,000 to 45,000. I know that the honourable member is particularly concerned with one school which is next on the list for a cadet unit in the Brisbane area. I think i wrote to him about this matter some time ago. However, I will make inquiries to see what the present position is regarding the school with which he is particularly concerned.
There is one other factor which has to some extent and in some areas in particular inhibited the further growth of cadet units. I refer to the general strain on certain sectors of skilled manpower in the Army which is a consequence of the Army’s rapid expansion. If cadet units are to be established not only must they have proper instructors within their own ranks but also they need certain servicemen from the Army itself and those servicemen must be of the highest standard. This problem has not only affected the school with which the honourable member is particularly concerned but has also inhibited the too rapid expansion of cadet units generally in the last year or two.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. I refer the Minister to his speech on the Budget, in which he gave a preliminary outline of Australia’s $5.2m contribution to the Indonesian bonus export scheme. I refer the Minister to his statement that purchases made with Australian bonus export certificates will be limited to goods having a prescribed Australian content. The Minister and the Treasurer have often claimed that Australia’s civil aid is granted without strings and is not tied in any way. How can this statement be justified when Australia’s provision to Indonesia is limited to goods with a prescribed Australian content? Will not this grant be merely a transfer payment which will flow back to Australia as payment for Australian goods?
– This is a form of aid which has been discussed with the Indonesian Government and with other donor countries. It is in conformity with a plan drawn up by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is the form of aid which Indonesia itself finds most acceptable and most valuable at the present time in her attempts to restore her economy. I do not know whether the honourable gentleman was seeking to imply that he opposed this form of aid, but I assure him that this is the form of aid which in our estimation, in the estimation of other countries and international agencies and in the estimation of Indonesia itself is most likely to be beneficial.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. I am sure that the Minister is aware that patients of optometrists referred direct to opthalmologists for medical advice and treatment are denied full benefits under the National Health Act. To obtain full benefits they must first consult a general practitioner, thus involving themselves and the Commonwealth in extra expense. What is more important, they delay, often for quite a long time, obtaining medical care. Is the Minister aware of the high standard of optometric education in Australia today and the technical ability of the present-day Australian optometrist? What steps have been taken to make .1 Commonwealth benefit payable to patients of optometrists referred directly to ophthalmologists so that needless delay in treatment might be avoided?
– Careful consideration has been given to making amendments to the National Health Act which are implied in the honourable gentleman’s question. So far it has not been possible to do this. I make the point that the present procedure recognises the traditional system of medical practice both in this country and most other countries, where referrals to a specialist are made from a general practitioner. There is a very good reason for this. It is quite conceivable - it happens on many occasions - that a particular complaint which appears to be related to the eye in fact has a cause somewhere else in the body. It would be wasteful and inefficient for the optometrist to refer the person concerned to an ophthalmologist in such cases. He is not trained to determine this question. Only a person such as a general practitioner who is trained in an overall approach to medicine and the human body is capable of determining such matters.
- Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Sir. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald’ reports me as having said yesterday in the Party Room: ‘Anyone who supported trade with Communist China was a traitor to Australia.’ Although I have for many years believed and stated publicly that countries of the free world were wrong in trading with Red China, and however much I deplore the chain of events which have made a major Australian industry so largely dependent upon the Red Chinese market, nevertheless I realise that it might be futile for any one country unilaterally to suspend trade-
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. The honourable member is not correcting a statement but is making a fresh one.
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Mackellar that he cannot debate the question but can only make a personal explanation.
– I am endeavouring to make my position clear. I shall not detain the House very long. It would be futile for any one country unilaterally to suspend trade if the only result therefrom would be that another country would occupy the vacated market. In consequence I hold the view that Australia’s withdrawal of trade would be ineffective-
– My Speaker, I rise to order. The honourable member has asked for leave to make a statement to enable him to correct a report which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. That newspaper reported him as saying that anyone who supports trade with China is a traitor to Australia. Did the honourable member say that or not?
-Order! The honourable member for Yarra will not debate the question; he will sit down. I remind the honourable member for Mackellar that he may make a personal explanation when his personal integrity is at stake, but he may not debate the question or introduce any new matter. I ask him to come to the point.
– I did not use or imply the words which the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ attributed to me and to which 1 have drawn the attention of the House. Again I make it clear that I do not regard the people of mainland China as our enemy, although 1 do regard the ruling Maoist clique not merely as our enemy by also as the enemy of all humanity, including the Chinese masses.
– Mr Speaker, I should like to move that the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) be heard in his own defence following what has been said by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth).
-Order! The honourable member is being frivolous; he will resume his seat.
– I lay on the table a copy of the Trade Agreement between Australia and Romania signed by me on behalf of the Government on 18th May in Bucharest. I ask for leave to make a ministerial statement in connection with the Agreement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In a formal sense, this Agreement merely confirms the reciprocal most favoured nation tariff treatment which has, in fact, applied between the two countries in the past. In centrally planned economies, however, the tariff does not have the same influence in determining the source of imports as it has in countries such as Australia where commercial considerations determine where purchases are made. Foreign trade in countries with centrally controlled economies is conducted through a few government trading organisations and the policy of these organisations, generally speaking, has been to purchase their import requirements from countries with which they have trade agreements in preference to other sources. Because of this practice, the Agreement does more than confirm the present tariff situation. The establishment of a formal trade agreement relationship permits, and indeed encourages, the purchasing authorities in Romania to look to Australia as a source of increased imports. This is the practical consequence of the Agreement.
During my visit to Bucharest, Romanian Ministers explained their policy of expanding and improving their trading relations with the West. Already 50% of Romania’s foreign trade is with non-Socialist countries. The Ministers explained to me that the rapid development of the manufacturing sector of the Romanian economy in recent years has greatly increased the demand for imported industrial equipment and raw materials. Romania’s ability to meet this increased demand for imports is, of course, conditioned by its earnings from exports.
This Agreement is a further step in the Government’s policy of diversifying export outlets. In particular, it extends the trade links with countries with centrally controlled economies which Australia has established in the last 2 years by signing similar trade agreements with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland and Bulgaria. I look forward to increased commercial contact between such countries and Australia flowing from this series of trade agreements. At this stage I can inform the House that the Polish Minister for Foreign Trade, Mr Trampczynski, has accepted an invitation to visit Australia next month and that the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria also has accepted an invitation to visit us later this year. I hope that at an appropriate time it will be possible for a Romanian Minister also to visit this country. I regard such visits as valuable in giving practical expression to our mutual desire to expand trade.
At present purchases from Australia by the group of Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union consist mainly of wool and wheat. These countries have populations totalling some 350 million, and with their rising incomes and living standards they represent a valuable potential market for Australia. This provides us with an opportunity to diversify our markets and increase our exports. These countries could become purchasers of our iron ore and pellets, coal, wool and wool tops, wheat, hides and skins and foodstuffs such as fresh, canned and dried fruits, meat and dairy products, as well as other items of export interest to Australia. These markets, based as they are on a relatively few large central importing organisations, pose a number of problems which are new to many Australian exporters and importers. Commercial success will depend largely upon our traders establishing contact with these organisations. The Department of Trade and Industry will be ready to assist businessmen in their endeavours to increase trade with eastern European countries and with the Soviet Union.
– by leave - The Opposition welcomes the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). I congratulate him on his part in effecting this agreement between Australia and Romania. The statement delivered by the Minister is in many ways a welcome one. It shows the way in which the cold war in Europe is declining and how this is allowing trade to increase with Communist countries - countries that have, as the Minister said, a centrally controlled economy. The Australian Department of Trade and Industry, which has been engaged in these negotiations, has done well to make this agreement possible. I am not sure who was responsible for the matters mentioned on page 4 of the Minister’s printed speech, in which he says he is able to inform the House that the Polish Minister for Foreign Trade has accepted an invitation to visit Australia and the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria has also accepted an invitation to visit.
– I issued the invitations.
– I am pleased to know that the Minister has extended these invitations. I congratulate him. At the same time I must say that if we had a little more initiative along these lines on the part of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) and other Ministers I believe we would be making a greater contribution to the development of a more peaceful and better world. It seems to me that the Minister for Trade and Industry has adopted a very, praiseworthy attitude in taking the initiative in this matter and I congratulate him on having done so. I think the development of trade and of visits of this kind shows that eastern Europe is no longer a monolithic bloc; that we are not today facing a completely unqualified threat from -Communist countries, and that by the kind of initiative that is evident from this statement a great deal can be achieved to modify and change any threat that these countries represent to Australia. In view of other things that have been said by Ministers and Government supporters in recent times, this statement by the Minister for Trade and Industry comes to me as a surprise. It seems to me that this is the kind of initiative that could well be shared and supported, and I hope it receives the kind of understanding that many members on the Government side do not seem to me to be capable of giving it. I welcome this statement.
Motion (by Mr McEwen) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Dr JT. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 19 September, at 2.30 p.m.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-66 I present a report relating to the following proposed works:
Reconstruction of Sutherland wharf, Cockatoo Island Dockyard, New South Wales.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Reference to the Public Works Committee
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following proposed work bc referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Stokes Hil! Power Station, Darwin - Stage 4 extension.
In order to meet the growth indemand for electricity in the Darwin area, the generating capacity at Stokes Hill Power Station must be extended. The proposal involves the provision of an additional 16 megawatt turbo-alternator, boiler plant, electrical equipment and fuel storage, togcther with other basic provisions for future development of the station. The total estimated cost is $4,600,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 6 September (vide page 888), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House condemns the Budget because -
it places defence costa on those least able to pay them;
it fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance;
it defers and retrenches development projects; and
it allows social service and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens’.
– I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) on the Budget this week. Because the Budget is such a poor one that it cannot be defended, the Prime Minister, in order to divert public attention from it, engaged in a tirade of abuse of the Australian Labor Party rather than an attempt to defend the Budget. He spent two-thirds of his time in blackguarding, vilifying and misrepresenting the Labour Party, and he had the brazen effrontery to chide the Labor Party about outside control and faceless men. His Party asserts that it has not faceless men, but last Friday this article appeared in the Press:
The 22nd annual meeting of the Federal Council of the Liberal Party will be held in Canberra next week.
The Federal Council is the supreme governing body of the Liberal Party.
Its 54 voting members are drawn from all the State divisions of the Party as well as the Young Liberal Movement in each State.
The Labor Party’s biennial conference is alleged to be comprised of faceless and nameless men. But what of the Liberal Party?
– Did the honourable member say they were witless?
– I think the members of the Liberal Party’s governing body are halfwits.
– What is the name of the President of the Liberal Party?
– I think he is very aptly named. It is Pagan. The Prime Minister made such a poor fist of defending the Budget that his magnificent boy from Moreton (Mr Killen) tried to help him by also engaging in abuse of the forty-seven accredited Labor men who constitute the Labor Party’s conference. I emphasise that the great difference between the Labor Party’s conference and that of the Liberal Party is that the proceedings of the Labor Party’s conference are open to the public and to the Press while the proceedings of the council of the Liberal Party at ils meeting in Canberra this week were not. I understand that even the Prime Minister had to wait outside the door before being admitted. He has no right to be admitted without permission.
The Prime Minister sought to compare the state of the Welfare Fund in 1949 under a Labor Government with the amount provided by this Government. He stated that in 1949, under Labor, the amount provided for the National Welfare Fund was $187m whereas the amount provided by this Government is $l,071m. That may be so, but the important difference is that under the Chifley Labor Government the £1 was worth £1 whereas under this Government $2 is worth only about one-eighth of what the £1 was worth under a Labor Government. The Labor Party is very proud of the part played by the Curtin and Chifley Labor Governments. It will be remembered that during the war the Liberal and Country Parties, between them, had a majority in this House, but they were so incompetent that they could not govern the country during a time of war and were forced to ask a Labor Government to do it. We all know the great job that Mr Curtin did during the war and the excellent reconstruction work that Mr Chifley did in the postwar period.
There seems to be some sort of ‘give it a name’ or ‘describe it’ competition connected with the Budget under consideration. Everyone has tried to describe it, but I think the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) gave the best description. Of course, he was in a better position than anyone else to describe it. When speaking on the Melbourne television programme ‘Meet the Press’ he said:
The Federal Budget is an investors Budget and above all a businessman’s Budget. If normal manufacturing and commercial interests take the message to heart we will have a good year.
I wonder whom he meant by ‘we’. He could not have meant the one million people receiving age pensions, invalid pensions, widows pensions, war service and repatriation pensions who get nothing out of the Budget. I do not know to whom he refers. But he did mention investors and businessmen. They would be the big businessmen, not the little man in the corner shop, or the small retailer. The Treasurer went on to say that he believed the Budget would put Australia on the road to prosperity as it would be producing the goods on which its future depended. He also said:
We have a deficiency in our accounts of $595m and if I had gone any further I would have created expansion tendencies that would have led to inflation, rises in costs and all the problems associated with it.
Surely the cost of living has risen enough. If he fears that it might rise further, why does he not do something about it? Why does he not try to control prices and costs in order to prevent the more than equivalent increase in the cost of living which occurs every time there is an increase in wages? It is this increase in the cost of living that is felt most sorely by the people on fixed incomes and pensions. The Treasurer said that he had sympathy for the pensioners because they had been left out of the Budget. Will the pensioners survive on his sympathy for the next 12 months while they are struggling to sustain themselves on the mere pittance they are receiving? I do not know that his sympathy will ease their distress in any way.
I want to analyse the Budget figures to some extent to illustrate where taxation hits hardest. If we examine individual taxation we find that the pay as you earn taxpayer - the wage earner, salary earner and person beneath the middle salary or wage group - pays $l,324m. The big business people and professional men contribute, by way of individual tax, $559m. Company tax accounts for $785m and payroll tax, about which I shall say more presently, produces SI 72m. If we examine indirect taxation we find that customs produces $277m, excise on cigarettes and beer and so forth $806m, and sales tax $379m - a total of $l,462m. The big portion of indirect taxation is burdened onto the salary and wage earner in the form of excise duty and sales tax, which is a vicious tax because the poor pensioner who gets nothing out of this Budget must pay the same rate of sales tax, sometimes on foodstuffs, as the big company director pays. If we add together the Budget figures we find that the workers pay $2,724m in taxation and the other sections of the community pay $l,516m. In other words the wage and salary earners pay $ 1,208m more than the rest of the community.
In my opinion local government should be exempted from the payment of payroll tax. Municipalities provide libraries, clinics for the aged, senior citizen centres, recreaton centres, health centres and nursing ancillary services. They do a tremendous amount of social work, not for profit but as a service. I agreed when last year the
Treasurer exempted private schools from paying payroll tax because they were not operating for profit. Municipal and shire councils are in the same category and should be exempt from payroll tax. In my electorate are two important municipalities - Bankstown and Hurstville. Bankstown pays $65,000 a year in payroll tax. It could well spend that amount on social welfare work. A tremendous debt hangs over all local government authorities in Australia, so they could well do with exemption from these payments. The total local government debt in Australia is about $700m and this is increasing by about 16% per annum. The Treasurer should exempt these organisations from payroll tax.
I intend to speak about the pension situation, but before doing so I wish to quote what important people have said about the state of the economy. A Press report relating to Dr Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, was as follows:
Dr Coombs is in Perth for a few days, after having made a long tour of the north of Australia. Dr Coombs went on to say that although the inflow of capital from overseas had declined, I he decline was not sufficient to cause undue concern. He added: Most forms of expenditure were rising - but not fast enough to cause any worries about inflation. Government expenditure was expanding at a relatively faster rate than other sections of the economy - but not sufficiently fast to cause any inbalance.
The Governor of the Reserve Bank said that the state of the economy was never better than what it is at present, yet the pensioners have received nothing from this Budget. Another interesting Press report related to the Bank of New South Wales. The report was as follows:
The Bank of New South Wales said this week that Australian pensions and other social services were inadequate.
The attack, coming from Australia’s largest and most venerable trading bank, has created a sensation in political and industrial circles.
It says: The present pattern of benefits still leaves gaps in the needs of hard cases and some benefits are imperfectly adapted to the achievement of their aim.’
The bank says that industrial arbitration and official policies ‘in helping to resolve the problems of insufficient income for wage-earners have heightened those problems for people with few assets and low fixed incomes.’
It says: ‘As it stands it dissuades able-bodied pensioners from working more than for a small part of their capacity and actually encourages the dissipation of assets.’
The Review says that, although abolition of the means test is not at present a practical proposition, the trend towards relaxation of the means test requirements will undoubtedly continue.’
On maternity allowances and child endowment the bank says that, while their benefits are only marginal for those people at the higher end of the scale of incomes, ‘at the lower end of the scale the payments seem quite unrelated to any assessments of needs.’
Large increases in both benefits would be required to restore their original purchasing power,’ it says.
The combined effect of government policy in both areas is to give assistance in inverse proportion to the need.’
On medical and hospital charges, the bank says that if they rose too sharply ‘the political future of the contributory health insurance scheme could be threatened.’
Statements like those I have quoted indicate the general state of mind of the public. We know that the maximum pension payable to a single person is $13 a week. A married pensioner receives $11.75 a. week. If we compare these pensions with the basic wage we recognise that they have a low purchasing power. The basic wage is supposed to be the lowest amount on which a person can live. At present the Commonwealth basic wage is $32.80, yet the combined pension of a married pensioner couple is $9.30 less than the basic wage. Despite wage and salary increases and increases in living costs since the last pension rise, pensioners receive nothing from the Budget.
The age pension scheme was introduced many years ago in 1909 by the Deakin Government. The pension provided was 10s a week. Economic experts say that 10s then would buy as much as or even more than the present pension buys now. The Fisher Labor Government introduced the invalvid pension in 1910.
I now wish to refer to repatriation pensions. I think it would be appropriate to quote the criticism of the President of the Returned Services League, Sir Arthur Lee, rather than use my own words. The figures that I will quote will justify his criticism. He said, according to a newspaper report:
The repatriation provisions of the Budget were a disgrace to the Government and a betrayal of those who have suffered in war.
It had ignored the plight of the TPI and general rate pensioners and had abandoned war widows to the miserable amount of compensation they received prior to the Budget.
The RSL has demonstrated year after year how pension values have been eroded but the Government has maintained its ‘do nothing’ attitude.
It seems strange that Sir Arthur Lee should say this about the Government because its supporters parade themselves as champions of the returned soldiers. The report continued:
To complete this dismal picture, the war service homes allocation has been further reduced at a time when a number or improvements are urgently needed.
That is true. I think that in the last two Budgets the Government has reduced the amount allocated for the building of war service homes by $25m, and this is at a time when we need more houses. These are the facts that support the contention of the President of the RSL. He referred to the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. In 1949 the TPI pension was 84% of the basic wage; in 1950 it rose to 101% of the basic wage; by 1966 it had decreased to 93% of the basic wage, and in 1967 it is only 81% of the basic wags. This is the lowest this pension has ever been and yet there is nothing in this Budget for these people. Those receiving percentage war pensions have suffered in the same ratio. They have to suffer the rising cost of living but their pensions are deteriorating in their purchasing power. The 100% pension has fallen from 43% to 32% of the basic wage and all other pensions down the scale have deteriorated in the same percentage.
The maternity allowance was first introduced by the Fisher Labor Government the first Labor Government - in 1912. The rate then was a flat $10 for each child born. That amount was increased by a Labor government in 1943 to $30, an increase of 200%. The allowance for the second child was fixed at $32 and for the third child, $35. These amounts have not been increased since 1943. This allowance, which as I have said was introduced in 1912, was reduced during the depression and then restored to a flat payment of $10 in 1938, where it remained until 1943 when the Curtin Labor Government fixed the present figures, so the present payments have remained unaltered for 21 years. I believe that the maternity allowance should be increased. We want extra population in Australia. We should help those who give us our extra population.
The unemployment and sickness benefit is also very much out of date. For instance, a single person receives $8.25 weekly. That would not pay for board. I think the cheapest board and lodging that one could get - it would not be of much quality - would cost about $14 a week. In the case of a married couple, if the husband is sick or is disemployed he receives $14.25 a week. That sum would not go far towards keeping a wife and family; and when there are children that amount is increased by only $1.50 for each child. That means that a married couple with five children receives only $21.75 a week. One could not get a house for a rental of less than $10 a week. This would leave a married couple with about $11 a week for clothes, food and any other expenses. The maternity allowance is completely out of date and the Government should increase it.
The next matter I wish to refer to is the widow’s pension. Again this pension was first introduced by a Labor government. All these social service benefits originated in the Labor Party. This pension was first introduced by the Curtin Labor Government in 1942 and the rate at that time was only $3 for a class A widow, $2.50 for a class B widow and $2.50 for a class C widow, under 50 years of age. The present rate for a class A widow is $13 a week plus a mother’s allowance of $4 a week, making a total of $17 a week. I do not know how these widows exist rearing and educating a family on such a small pension. The class B widow is also badly treated. She receives $11.35 a week. How on earth a widow can live on that amount defeats me. I think that we should appoint one of these people who manage on these small amounts as the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. As I have said the class B widow receives only $11.35 a week and I believe this rate should be increased to at least the rate for a single age pensioner, and that is $13 a week.
Another matter I wish to discuss is the funeral benefit. This allowance was introduced by the Labor Party in 1943 when a pensioner was allowed a funeral benefit of $20. It has not been increased since. Honourable members know that the cost of dying has risen just as much as the cost of living. It is impossible to arrange a funeral for less than $120 or $130 and this small benefit contributes very little to the cost of the funeral.
When I was dealing with excise duty 1 intended to give a rundown of the amounts that are received by the Government for the various items. For instance, beer drinkers contribute $335m a year in excise duty; tobacco smokers contribute $15m and cigarette and cigar smokers contribute $201m. Incidentally, it is noted that although there is great warning about the dangers of cigarette smoking in relation to cancer, the amount received by way of excise duty does not depreciate very much. I note that the Treasurer last year received $201,037,000 in revenue from cigarette and cigar smokers. This year he expects to receive $30,000 less than this amount from cigarette and cigar smokers. So, although the warnings are given, people take very little notice of them.
I wanted to speak about other things on the Budget but time does not permit me to do this as I see the red light indicates that my time has almost expired. I strongly support the amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) which state:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House condemns the Budget because -
it places defence costs on those least able to pay them;
This refers to the pensioners. The amendment continues:
It gives me great pleasure to support this amendment and I hope that the Government members will join with us in trying to help the pensioners who deserve better than they are receiving.
- Mr Deputy Speaker- ‘[Quorum formed]. I thank the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) for providing some additional audience. I listened with interest to the speech made by the honourable member for Banks (Mr Costa) and whilst he had quite a number of constructive points to make, I did note that he claimed that all major social service benefits in operation at present have been provided by or initiated by a Labor government. Certainly, over the years, a number of important benefits have been initiated by a Labor government. But if the honourable member examines the record very carefully I think he will find that the record of governments on this side of politics in the field of social services, and particularly in initiating new types of benefits, is far better than that of the Labor Opposition. The honourable member did not mention, of course, during his particular reference to social service benefits that the only time that a social service pension has been reduced was during the period of a Labor government. I merely refer to this to balance out some of the comments that the honourable member made in relation to the record of past governments in this place.
The key note of this Budget has been continued stability based on sound long term growth which will benefit all sections of the community. The private sector of the economy has been given added encouragement; Government expenditure has been contained at a lower level; and, despite an 18% rise in defence expenditure taxation has not been increased. The Annual Report of the Reserve Bank of Australia for 30th June 1967 stated:
During 1966-67 internal equilibrium was broadly maintained while the economy continued to grow and to respond to a changing composition of demand.
This assessment, applying to a rapidly developing country, with substantial defence and international commitments and heavily increasing payments to the National Welfare Fund and other substantial domestic expenditures, is an achievement which is almost unique and certainly the envy of most countries today. The increased Government expenditure without increased taxation this year is estimated at $56 lm, and this is estimated to be $61m above last year’s Budget excess of expenditure over receipts. This really is a measure of the stimulus given to the economy, particularly to the private sector which the Treasurer has so correctly stated as responsible for the largest part of production, and has a critical role to play in national growth and progress.
The Opposition, during this debate, has indicated its inability to recognise these, pertinent points which I have mentioned. Perhaps more significantly, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and other Opposition speakers have failed to establish any unanimity on what their foreign policy is supposed to be, particularly in relation to Vietnam. I suppose this is understandable because the various wings of the Labor Party have different approaches, and indeed all Opposition members are subject to outside direction. However, one thing that appears certain is that the Opposition disagrees with the Government policy in Vietnam and South East Asia. This was a policy on which the people of Australia made a decisive decision at the end of last year.
Let us look at the most critical centre of conflict in Asia today - South Vietnam - and let me state, rather paradoxically, that we cannot see this conflict clearly if we look only at Vietnam. This is not only a local struggle. Behind Vietnam lies a wider conflict which extends from the northern frontiers of India to the dividing line in Korea; which engages the world wide diplomacy of the Soviet Union no less than the world wide diplomacy of the United States of America; and which casts the shadow of fear over millions of people in all lands of southern Asia no less than the shadow of terror over the villagers of the Mekong delta. This is a war that affects the fate of all countries in South East Asia. It is a war that throws into sharp relief the aim of international Communism to dominate them by force. These are things seen most vividly and felt most painfully by the countries in the region. Australia is part of this struggle because we cannot allow it to be lost by default. We are not in it at the behest of any nation or group of nations. We are in it by our own choice and our own decision, because the matter is one of crucial importance to us in the future.
I ask: Should the free nations fail and the countries of South East Asia fall progressively under Che domination of spreading Communism, what security would be left to Australia in a few short years? This is the fundamental on which Australia’s foreign policy is predicated. We believe we should not hold off until an enemy reaches our shores. We have never done it before. We believe that we are now fighting an international threat to freedom, and we believe that the place to fight it is in its sphere and at its source. There are some people, of course, who disagree with the Government’s policy. But that is exactly the point. They have the right to disagree because this is a free country. One wonders what rights the people of South Vietnam would have if the war were lost and their allies withdrew. This is the cornerstone of our policy - the right of peoples to choose, without fear or coercion, a way of life. This is the policy on which the Government of this country undeviatingly stands. 1 want now to refer to some matters relating to civil aviation. In the financial year just ended, Australia’s airlines, including Qantas Airways Ltd and the services within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, carried over 5 million passengers. Of this figure, domestic services on the Australian mainland and between the mainland and Papua and New Guinea, but not including internal Territory services, carried over 4.5 million. This is an exceptional achievement for a country with a population of only 1 1 .75 million. It demonstrates the great air mindedness of Australians and also our dependence upon efficient air services. My Department’s traffic estimates for the next few years for domestic services are based on an annual growth rate of about 7.5%. This, of course, is quite conservative. On this basis our domestic airlines will carry about 5.2 million passengers by 1970 and 7.4 million passengers by 1975. During 1966, more Chan 560,000 international air passengers were carried into and out of Australia. If the growth rate continues at about recent annual levels, the number of passengers carried by air into and out of Australia should be close to 1 million by 1970.
Australia should benefit enormously from the big increase in traffic expected on the Pacific routes in the next few years. In the past year we have already seen a substantial increase in capacity provided by the airlines on the South Pacific routes, with the introduction of greater frequency of services and of new carriers. The airlines plan quite dramatic increases in capacity on the South Pacific routes in the next 4 or 5 years, to meet the expected traffic growth. This year the International Air Transport Association estimates that passenger traffic on scheduled domestic and international air services operated by IATA member airlines, which indeed carry about 90% of the world scheduled traffic, should rise by 15% to a total of 186 million passengers, and freight is expected to show a 25% increase.
The airlines have a very important role to play in Australia’s efforts to develop our tourist industry. About 90% of overseas visitors to Australia travel by air. So the tourist field is one of considerable importance to the Government and to our own international airline, Qantas. Tourism provides a major stimulus to our national economy and also gives an excellent opportunity to earn foreign exchange. By the 1970s, tourism is expected to be one of Australia’s principal foreign exchange earners. Already this side of the industry has shown an encouraging response to the variety of incentive air fares which are available between Australia and many countries. Many of these incentive fares have been supported and, on occasions, initiated by Australia.
To realise the full potential of world tourism, we indeed must see greater cooperation between the airlines, tourist associations and governments. This is now being consolidated in Australia. The Australian Government has already introduced a number of measures designed to facilitate the movement of passengers and freight into Australia. For example, the new oral baggage declaration means that more than 75% of all arriving international passengers do not have to make written declarations. Cargo movement has also been speeded up by a new documentation procedure, and this should help Australian firms which are trying to build up overseas markets.
I want to refer very briefly to aircraft development, because new aircraft types coming into service in the next few years will have a profound effect on the type of growth that I have mentioned. Let us take first the large subsonic jets which are expected to be in international airline service around 1971 - just ahead of the first supersonic airliners. These aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, will weigh about 680,000 lb or just over 300 tons; and the later variants are expected to weigh even more. Not surprisingly, they are known as jumbo jets. Present day large jet aircraft carry between 120 and 140 passengers. The Boeing 747 will be able to carry up to 500 passengers, or as cargo aircraft, over 220,000 lb of freight. The cabin area of this aircraft will be 20 feet wide and 190 feet long, and there will be a small top deck aft of the cockpit.
Of course, the main problem with aircraft of this size is the large number of passengers that each can handle. Radical changes in airport terminals throughout the world will be necessary to handle these aircraft efficiently. We are perhaps more fortunate in Australia than many other countries in this regard because the new international terminals which we are building in Sydney and Melbourne have been designed to handle a mass flow of passengers rather than a segmented flow. Also, the new terminal facilities in Brisbane can be designed to handle a mass flow of passengers, and our other international terminals in other parts of Australia can be modified as required. These big aircraft with their huge cargo capacity of about 3i times that of the current jet aircraft could also play a particularly important role in developing the air freight market for Australian manufacturers.
The next major development which we can expect during the next decade is, of course, the supersonic airliner. While the jumbo jet can be properly described as evolutionary - it is really a growth version of present-day technology - the commercial supersonic airliner can properly be described as revolutionary. It will bring the largest speed advance yet made in passenger transport and will reduce flying time on the world’s longest routes by about half. This is of particular importance to Australia because of our geographic isolation. The first of the supersonics to be seen in Australia should be the Concorde, which is a joint venture by the British and the French. The Concorde will carry 136 passengers and will cruise at 1,450 miles per hour. The first American supersonic aircraft will be a swing wing type. It will fly at 1,800 miles per hour and will carry between 250 and 300 passengers. The impact of these two new types of aircraft on international operations into Australia could have a more profound effect thun any other single transport advance in our history. The Commonwealth Government is playing its part in developing the technical side of the airways system to handle these developments. Safe operation m the future will depend more on automatic systems and improved technical facilities.
We are expanding our radar network. We have advanced our radar programme, the estimated cost of which is $9.5m, to cover all of our busier air routes. We are also expanding our communications network and our system of navigational aids. As honourable members know, this is going on concurrently with the largest airport expansion programme in our history. Last year capital expenditure on Commonwealth owned airports increased by more than 38% to $22.6m. Higher speeds, particularly supersonic speeds, will bring new problems of communication between ground station and aircraft and between ground station and ground station. Communications between air traffic controllers, for example between Sydney and Darwin and Sydney and Fiji, will need to be instantaneous and no more difficult than picking up a telephone and speaking into it. An aircraft travelling at 1,800 m.p.h. covers 150 miles in 5 minutes. If the pilot of a supersonic aircraft wishes, for some reason, to change his flight plan, he must be . able to get approval from air traffic control as quickly as possible. This will call for really reliable high speed communications. At a later date we may use communications bounced off satellites.
Some promising experiments are already being carried out with the American ATS- IB synchronous satellite positioned more than 22,000 miles above the earth and stationary above a position some 1,400 miles due south of the Hawaiian islands. There is little - doubt that a system of this kind could bring major improvements in aircraft communications, navigation and air traffic control. Tests with the ATS-1B, in which Qantas participated, showed that good communications were possible over ranges exceeding 9,000 miles. The results have been very encouraging but a great deal of work needs to be done before satellite communications with aircraft over long distances can be regarded as a practical proposition.
Improved materials are quite obviously the key to future developments of both aircraft and engines. Aircraft designers never seem to stop. They no sooner push one design off their drawing boards than they are quickly devising something to make it obsolete. A great deal of research is going on throughout the world into the development of hypersonic airliners which will fly at speeds of between four to seven times the speed of sound. So, as the frontier of flight is being pushed into the hypersonic range, so the barrier of material requirements becomes more formidable. Greater speed means vastly increased surface temperatures due to aerodynamic heating. Localised temperatures on parts of the airframe of a hypersonic aircraft, such as the wing leading edges, fins end engine intakes, could rise as high as 1,900 degrees centigrade, and naturally the number of materials capable of withstanding this temperature is limited.
Higher speed also results in higher pressure loads on the surface of the aircraft and heavier structure is needed to resist these forces. The temperatures which would be experienced by various parts of a hypersonic air breathing engine would range from 1,000 degrees centigrade to 2,500 degrees. This development obviously will require some of the so-called super alloys and other materials which we will undoubtedly see in the later part of this century. On top of all this we will need to monitor the structural integrity of all these complex components even more carefully and systematically than we do today. This will require more sophisticated techniques, particularly in the nondestructive testing field and 1 am glad to say that my Department is very active in promoting the use of these techniques throughout industry. This, then, Sir, is the challenge which the aviation industry presents to the materials engineer and the metallurgist - the challenge of providing and safely maintaining the materials which aviation needs to progress.
I want to deal briefly with a couple of matters of criticism raised by the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine). In his speech the honourable member again criticised my Department’s supervision of the airworthiness of civil aircraft and once again did so without justification. I have made it clear on a number of occasions that the Department’s airworthiness officers cannot directly supervise the airworthiness of every aircraft because to do so would require a staff of several thousand. Therefore, my Department uses a system of surveillance similar to that used by all other major operating countries. It is a system which has produced a record of airworthiness equal to any in the world. The honourable member’s criticism gives a false indication of the airworthiness situation with respect to the aircraft which crashed last year at Tennant Creek. A very thorough and comprehensive investigation of the circumstances of this accident was carried out by air safety investigators of my Department. Although they were unable to establish positively the cause of the accident, they did establish that the aircraft was airworthy at the time of departure for its last flight. Investigation of the allegations that a propeller had come off this aircraft on four separate occasions revealed that the aircraft in question has at no time had any propeller problems recorded in its maintenance documents, although another aircraft of the same type did on one occasion have some vibration in one engine. On no occasion has a propeller come off a Lockheed Hudson civil aircraft on the Australian register.
The honourable member for East Sydney referred also to air fare increases and to the terminal building at Canberra Airport. Approval for a new terminal building was announced by me some time ago and recently the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) announced that tenders would be called during the next 2 or 3 months for construction of the terminal. The honourable member for East Sydney said that air fares had increased by 5% last October, by 10% recently and that there would be a further increase of 10%. His remarks are recorded on page 377 of Hansard of 23rd August this year. The facts are that there was a 3% increase in domestic air fares in September last year and an increase of 5% on 7th August this year.
I want to refer briefly to the important matter of northern development. Much has been said in recent times about northern development. Many rash and uninformed allegations have been made. The Commonwealth Government is playing a most significant part in the development of the north, but northern development must always remain a co-operative effort between the Commonwealth and State governments and between public and private enterprise. For its part the Commonwealth Government has recognised a special responsibility. The Northern Division of the Department of National Development provides advice and information and acts as a link with develop ing authorities. The Commonwealth, as in the case of the brigalow and beef roads schemes, has made money available and has pursued a policy of assisting and encouraging private enterprise. Since 1945 the population of northern Australia has increased by about 40%. Private investment has increased substantially and there are commitments for major projects in northern Australia worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these are associated with mining which, from 1972 onwards, should be earning Australia an extra $200m a year in export income on the basis of existing contracts.
More than $130m has been provided directly by the Commonwealth to assist with specific developments in the north. In Queensland this assistance has been for such projects as strengthening of the Townsville to Mount Isa railway, the building of beef roads, the development of brigalow lands, the construction of a coal loader at Gladstone and wharf development at Weipa, which could become the site of Queensland’s second alumina plant. Since the Commonwealth and the States in 1961 began an extensive programme of beef roads construction more than 4,000 miles of roads have been completed, are under way or have been approved for construction. The total approved Commonwealth expenditure to date is nearly $58m and the Commonwealth has promised a further $50m over the next 7 years in a Bill which was introduced earlier this year. This expenditure does not take account of the enormous development that has taken place in aviation facilities and defence and communications in northern Australia. I mention these factors in some detail as proof positive which is there for everyone to see that the Federal Government has a positive approach to northern development.
I have not yet mentioned the benefits that northern Australia will derive from other Commonwealth programmes. For example, there is a programme to assist the States with water conservation and to accelerate the planting rate in Government softwood plantations. The Commonwealth last year offered the States about $20m in long term loans over the next 5 years with the aim of increasing Australia’s rate of softwood planting from the present 40,000 acres per year to 75,000 acres per year. The
Commonwealth will also contribute up to $50m for selected additional water conservation projects over the next 5 years. However, because spectacular developments do not occur each week, some people tend to forget that the long and continuing job of northern development goes on all the time. One important, continuing and necessarily painstaking task is to seek out, measure and evaluate natural resources and to find ways to develop them. In this connection by far the largest percentage of mapping activity is being concentrated in northern Australia. Some 80% of the annual expenditure of the Bureau of Mineral Resources is being spent in northern Australia. Finally on this subject, the north shares in national expenditure on social services and education - for example, the Townsville University - on defence - an example of that is the Townsville Army base which is now being constructed - on developmental roads and many other items. I feel that this record is a wonderful one of contribution to national welfare by a responsible government.
In conclusion I would say that this Budget is an earnest of the continuing objective of the Government to maintain a balanced and ever expanding economy so that we can effectively provide for the welfare and prosperity of our people and accept our international responsibilities. It is a tremendous challenge which only a government of free thought and unrestricted action can meet.
– In speaking in this debate I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Since the Parliament resumed its sittings for the Budget session four weeks ago I have been amazed at the number of petitions which have been presented to the House by honourable members. Twenty-two petitions have been presented praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants. It is surprising that during the Budget debate the ten Government supporters who presented petitions on behalf of their constituents made no mention of the petitions that they had presented. Twelve honourable members from this side of the House presented similar petitions. I understand that once a petition has been presented to the Parliament it is put into a store room and that is the last that we hear of it. But one would have expected some reference to them by Government supporters. We have been told that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has assured Government supporters that they may offer criticisms at their Caucus meetings and may introduce their complaints in this chamber. He has told them that there is no compulsion on them from their parties. I would have expected some honourable members opposite to use the forms of the House during this debate to have given effect to the petitions to which many thousands of people within their districts put their signatures.
During the debate honourable members opposite, from the Prime Minister right down to the backbenchers, have brought the old draught horse back from the paddock by discussing the internal affairs of the Australian Labor Party and by referring to the so-called faceless men of the Australian Labor Party. These references have been made in this chamber and in another place, as well as at all general elections and byelections. One would have expected the old draught horse to be quite weary by now. It must have been a surprise to Government supporters when the Australian Labor Party was given nation-wide publicity recently over the Federal conference which was held in Adelaide in early August. All prominent journalists throughout the nation, together with all television services, had an opportunity to attend the conference, as did also rank and file members of the Party. We opened up our doors to them all. The honourable- member for Banks (Mr Costa) went to some length to tell the House about the closed doors of the present Federal Council of the Liberal Party which is now being held. It must have been a surprise to honourable members opposite when they saw that the Labor Party was prepared to open its doors to everybody.
I want to take this opportunity for the benefit of members of the Liberal Party to put names to the faces of the so-called faceless men who attended the last Federal conference of the Labor Party in Adelaide. From South Australia we had the State Branch Secretary, Mr G. T. Virgo; there was myself, a member of this Parliament. Mr Clyde Cameron, a member of this Parliament; Mr Fred Birrell, a member of this Parliament; Mr Don Dunstan, Premier of South Australia; and we had also Mr Charlie Wells, who is Secretary of the Port Adelaide Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. I come now to Victoria. Government supporters always seem to take delight in referring to what they call the bogey branch of the ALP. Victoria was represented by Mr Bill Hartley, who is State Branch Secretary of the Party; Mr Bill Brown, who is State President; Dr Jim Cairns, a member of this Parliament; Mr George Crawford, Secretary of the Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union of Australia; Mr Wally Butler, Organiser and Assistant Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union (Australian Section); and Mr Ted Ennis, who is Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
New South Wales was represented by Mr Bill Colbourne, State Branch Secretary of the ALP; Mr Charlie Oliver, State Branch President of the ALP; Mr Reg Downing, who is leader of the ALP in the New South Wales Legislative Council; Mr Fred Bowen who is President of the Trades and Labour Council in New South Wales; Mrs Kath Anderson, who is Chairman of the Sydney County Council; and Mr Jim Coulthart Federal Secretary of the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees Association. From Western Australia we had Mr Joe Chamberlain, who is State Branch Secretary of the Australian Labor Party; Mr Kim Beazley, a member of this Parliament; Mr Colin Jamieson, a member of the Western Australian Parliament; Mr Jack Coleman, Secretary of the Western Australian Trades and Labour Council; Mr Harry Webb, who is a member of this Parliament; and Mr Joe Berinson, who is a pharmacist. Queensland was represented by Mr Tom Burns, who is State Branch Secretary; Mr Ernie Adsett a rank and file member of the ALP; Mr Bill Hayden, a member of this Parliament; Mr Clem Jones, who is Lord Mayor of Brisbane; Mr Jack Houston, who is Leader of the Opposition in the Queensland Parliament; and Mr Bert Milliner, who after the next Senate election will be in another place in this Parliament.
I come next to Tasmania which was represented by Mr Lance Barnard, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place; Mr Doug Lowe, State Branch Secretary of the ALP: Mr Lynch, who is Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union in Tasmania. Mr Merv Everett, Minister for Health in the Tasmanian Government; Mr Ralph Taylor who is State Secretary of the Australian Railways Union; and Mr Neil Batt, who is a teacher. They are the so-called faceless men of the Australian Labor Party who attended the Federal conference held in Adelaide recently.
A decision made by the Federal Conference will extend representation at its future meetings to include the six leaders of the Australian Labor Party in the State parliaments - either Premiers or Leaders of the Opposition, as the case may be - and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Party in each House of this Parliament. I would think that the Government would concentrate on some of the important affairs of this country rather than bring out the old draught horses and get down in the gutter by indulging in these references to so called faceless men.
I want to deal with the matter that was raised in this Parliament in the grievance debate on 17th August- by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones), who used the forms of this House to spread allegations of gloom and despondency about the economy of South Australia. Normally, Mr Deputy Speaker, I would take no notice of such irresponsible comment. However, I believe that when the honourable member attacks a responsible Labor government such as we have in South Australia, I have some obligation to correct what can be described only as ‘flagrant inaccuracies’. Since the honourable member made his attack on the South Australian Government, I have tried to obtain in the city of Elizabeth, which, incidentally, is in the electorate that I represent in this House, some evidence that the honourable member has inspected the district. So far, I have been unsuccessful, though there is evidence that some time ago he proceeded through it at 70 miles an hour in a 40 miles an hour zone. I have established that the Leader of the Liberal Party Opposition in the State Parliament, together with the newly selected Liberal candidate for the
State seat of Gawler and the member for Mitcham in the House of Assembly, recently made an inspection. This fact leads me to believe seriously, after reading the speech that the honourable member for Adelaide made in this chamber, that he is re-echoing, parrot like, the secondhand material supplied to him by these people.
The honourable member stated that he had certain statistics which he had obtained from the Department of Immigration and which would show in no uncertain way how inept the South Australian Government is and how, after only two years, financial bungling and complete political mismanagement have brought South Australia to her knees in a state of chaos. Those are pretty harsh words. The honourable member’s statistics show that in 1965-66 Australia received 142,761 migrants, of whom 15.68% went to South Australia. But for the year 1963-64, he quoted a figure of 64,392 for the total migrant intake. The Department of Immigration’s latest quarterly statistical summary, entitled Australian Immigration’, reveals that 122.318 migrants arrived in Australia in 1963-64 - about double the figure given by the honourable member for Adelaide. His ability at statistical miscalculation is equally evident in his assessment of migrant departures. He stated that in 1963-64 South Australia lost 824, or 9.5%, of the 9,102 migrants who arrived in that year, and in 1965-66, 2,089, or 15.31%, of the 18,343 who arrived. In other words, in 2 years the rate of departures increased by about 6%. His own figures show clearly his inability to make the easiest mathematical calculations, for 2,089 is 11.3% of 18,343, not 15.31%. Correction of this figure automatically breaks down the increase in two years from about 6% to about 1.76%. The honourable member’s statistics are not accurate and I for one do not accept them.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was making some comments about the irresponsible criticism of the South Australian economy offered by the honourable member for Adelaide. The honourable member had submitted inaccurate figures relating to departures of migrants from South Australia, and I will continue my efforts to set the record straight. The actual number of migrants to arrive in South Australia in 1963-64 was 17,611, not 9,102, and since 12,767 of these migrants were from the United Kingdom and so were not compelled to register with the Commonwealth Department of Immigration no positive statistics can be obtained of the number of migrants leaving South Australia. One would think that instead of spreading a spirit of gloom and despondency around bis own State, the honourable member for Adelaide would be criticising the Commonwealth Government, of which he is a supporter, for not providing the same guarantees for migrants that the South Australian Government provides.
No migrant is brought to South Australia under the Labor Government’s immigration scheme unless employment and accommodation can be provided for him. This is the complete reverse of the immigration scheme administered by the Commonwealth Government. When a shipload of immigrants, usually numbering between 700 and 800, arrives in Fremantle the immigrants are met by an officer of the Department of Labor and National Service. All luggage is consigned from the place of embarkation to Melbourne. The officer then allocates migrants to particular States and they are transferred to Commonwealth hostels in the various States. I asked the Minister for Labor and National Service (Mr Bury) a question relating to the allocation of migrants who are brought to this country under the Commonwealth assisted passage migration scheme. It followed a question I had asked him a few days before. At that time he implied that he had not heard the full question. On 13th April 1967 I asked the Minister this question:
Last week I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relative to the consultation by his departmental officers with the various State governments concerning the intake of migrants. At the time the Minister implied that he did not hear the full question, and this was indicated in his reply. I now ask the Minister whether before allocation of immigrants at Fremantle by officers of his Department to the various States the State governments are consulted as to their economic capacity to accept their quotas of immigrants. If the economy of a particular State is not buoyant at the time of allocation what Commonwealth assistance is given to that State to enable it to accept its quota of immigrants?
The Minister replied:
After immigrants arrive in Perth - and, of course, a great number arrive by air at other places - they generally go to the centres which they themselves chose originally before coming here. We indicate to the remainder what the employment opportunities are in the various States and where the prospects for their expertise or trade are best. The process that we follow is through our Employment Service to contact the State authorities- t ask honourable members to take particular note of that - when, as is now the case in South Australia, employment opportunities are not as great as in other States. In such circumstances we tend to encourage the immigrants to go elsewhere. In South Australia there has been a mild slump in new employment opportunities but I am glad to say that recently the employment situation has improved in that State. We take these factors into account. We are in touch with just about everybody concerned about employment opportunities - with industry, government authorities and so forth. This does not mean that there would necessarily be any firm communication with the Premiers of the States, but if they make representations to us we heed those representations carefully. We do not see any particular need to assist specific States to absorb immigrants because there are other States most anxious to get them, particularly when employment opportunities are good, so we encourage the immigrants to go to those States. lt is most interesting to study the way in which South Australia absorbs such a large proportion of the total number of immigrants coming to Australia. Although South Australia has only 9% of the total population of Australia it has for many years been taking between 14 and 15% of all immigrants coming to this country. In the case of immigrants from the United Kingdom, South Australia has been taking about 25% of the total. In other words, about a quarter of all the immigrants from the United Kingdom settle in South Australia. When I received the reply from the Minister for Labour and National Service which I have just quoted I brought it to the attention of the then Premier of South Australia, Mr Frank Walsh. Mr Walsh consulted his Minister for Labour and Industry who told him that at no time had the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service consulted the Department of Labour and Industry in South Australia.
The honourable member for Adelaide stated that South Australia had the highest unemployment rate and that workers in that State received less overtime payments than workers in any other State. As to overtime, the honourable member is completely careless of the facts. He said that overtime in South Australia is a thing of the past. I have figures on this subject which have been supplied by the Department of Labour and National Service. These are the figures for 23rd June last and they are the latest figures available. They show that 39.5% of all the workers in the State worked overtime, whereas the average proportion for the whole of Australia was only 34.4%. Only in Western Australia, where the figure was 42.1%, was there a higher proportion of employees working overtime. The figure for Victoria was 29%, Tasmania 25.4% and Queensland 32%. For New South Wales, which is supposed to be an expanding and prosperous State, the figure was 37.7%.
– What about unemployment?
– The honourable member for Grey asks about unemployment, and I am coming to that now. The honourable member for Adelaide talked about unemployment during his attack on the economy of South Australia, saying that there was disgust, discontent, disillusionment and outright despair in South Australia at the economic unprosperity of the State. He further stated that South Australia now had its highest unemployment rate for 2 years. I took the opportunity of discussing this matter with the present Premier of South Australia, Mr Don Dunstan, with whom I have had an association lasting for many years. He referred me to part of a speech he made in the South Australian Parliament, in which he said:
Unemployment in South Australia at the moment can largely be attributed to the low demand for consumer durables, which were influenced by two factors (by the 1965 drought, affecting our markets in the Eastern States, and by the action of the Commonwealth Government in relation to works and loan undertakings). But the unemployment registered in this State at the moment is stated by the member-
That is the honourable member for Adelaide: as to indicate unprosperity hitherto unknown in South Australia. In the September quarter of 1961 the level of unemployment in South Australia reached 12,148 persons, or 150% above the present level of unemployment in this State.
We all know that the blame for the situation that obtained there in 1961 rests with the Commonwealth Government which in that year imposed a credit squeeze on the country. If the honourable member for
Angas (Mr Giles), who is interjecting, will restrain himself I think he will be interested to hear what the Premier of South Australia had to say. He said:
Secondly, the honourable member does not seem to have turned (nor do the Ministers concerned) to the basic indicator of prosperity in this State, that is, the net value of production and its increase. We are told that this State is stagnant, but in 1965- 66 (the latest year for available statistics) the net value of production in South Australia was $862.8m, an all-time record; and factory production, on present statistics, increased at the average rate of 9% a year, which is much greater than the average Australian growth rate. Do these figures indicate stagnation for South Australia?
In 1961 the figures of unemployment in this State were an all time post-war record, but at that time the State Government was not charged with responsibility in the matter, lt was clearly the result of Commonwealth policies, and the Opposition at that time in this State stated clearly what it meant to South Australia, but the Commonwealth refused to recognise the needs of the people in this State. We do not find the same today although, in fact, that is where the blame lies. We are well aware of the financial relations between the State Governments and the Commonwealth Government.
One would expect that, instead of going round spreading gloom and despondency regarding South Australia, those honourable members on the Government side who represent South Australian electorates would be bending their efforts towards getting some benefit for the State. They should be criticising the Government to which they belong and accusing it of deliberately refraining from giving South Australia the same treatment in connection with Commonwealth works as is being given to other States. Perhaps they are not aware of the facts relating to this matter.
I remind them that in 1962-63 the amount expended on Commonwealth works in South Australia was $15.6m whereas in 1966-67 the figure dropped to $ 11.3m. In other words, in 1966-67 that State received $4.3m less. Western Australia received $5.1m in 1962-63, but by 1966-67 the amount had increased by $6m to SI 1.1m. New South Wales received $2S.3m in 1962-63 and $55.8m in 1966-67 - an increase of $27.5m. Victoria received $19m in 1962-63 and $44.8m in 1966-67, or an increase of $25. 8m. Queensland received $11.3m in 1962-63, but in 1966-67 that figure was increased by 518.4m to $29.7m. Tasmania received $2m in 1962-63 and $2. 3m in
Northern Territory received $21m In 1962-63, and by 1966-67, the figure had increased by $18m to $39m. Those figures were forwarded by correspondence to the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) by the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly). We can therefore justly claim that this Government has denied South Australia a fair share of Commonwealth public works. And this despite the fact that there are a great many Commonwealth Departments accommodated in privately owned buildings in the city of Adelaide. They are housed mainly in buildings belonging to insurance companies and in the ‘Advertiser’ building which is owned by the ‘Advertiser’ newspaper, the only morning newspaper in South Australia. In fact, when that building was being erected, it was recognised that the rentals that would be paid by the Commonwealth Government for accommodation for its departments would cover the cost of the building within 10 years.
I remind the House that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) expressed some concern recently when it was pointed out that rentals paid for office space for Commonwealth departments amounted to approximately $12m a year. Th. figures which I have given show that whereas South Australia received $4.3m less in 1966-67 than it did in 1962-63 all other States received increases in expenditure on public works. The honourable member for Adelaide went to some length to paint a picture of gloom about the State of South Australia. I appeal to those Government members who represent South Australian electorates not to adopt a parochial outlook because in doing so they are merely helping to cover up the faults of the Liberal Party which is now in opposition in their State. The only way by which the Liberal Party was able to stay in government there prior to 1965 was by gerrymandering the electorates so that one-third of the population was represented by twenty-six members in country electorates and two-thirds of the population was represented by only thirteen members in metropolitan electorates.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Locock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have just listened to a very gloomy contribution from the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls). The honourable member is gloomy, he looks gloomy and he has painted a picture of the gloom that has spread over South Australia since the miasma of socialism descended upon that once vigorous State. He has endeavoured to explain reasons for the situation which was so ably described by that vigorous young man, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones). I heard the speech of the honourable member for Adelaide, and I was very impressed. I heard the score. I think all will agree that the score is as given by the honourable member for Adelaide despite the efforts of the honourable member for Bonython to explain the situation. I remind honourable members that at the last Federal election the Labor Party received in South Australia the most disastrous defeat it has ever suffered in that State. The situation is tremendously interesting to me as a Queenslander. Queensland suffered under Socialism for 39 years. We used to look with envy at South Australia, a State considerably smaller than Queensland and considerably poorer in natural resources, but which all the time, under the vigorous Government of Sir Thomas Playford, was leaving Queensland for dead. South Australia attracted industry and migrants. It attracted young people from Queensland where there were no job opportunities for them because industry could not be attracted there. Thank goodness the situation has changed. We are gloomy about the present situation in South Australia - a position influenced by its present Labor Administration - but we believe that Queensland will continue to prosper.
Industry and development are attracted to areas where there is a climate of opportunity. This is the situation in Queensland today. We have a problem of seasonal unemployment in Queensland simply because Queensland has been a primary producing State and there have been insufficient industries to provide stable job opportunities. The position is changing and at Brisbane, Townsville and Gladstone industries are developing that will provide more job opportunities and greater prosperity.
I want now to refer to some aspects relating to the Department of Territories, which comes under my administration. This Budget makes substantial provision for the Territories, particularly for Papua and New Guinea and for the Northern Territory. There are six Australian territories under the administration of the Minister for Territories. The future of Norfolk Island is now firmly bound up with the tourist industry. The number of tourists has increased from fewer than 700 in 1959 to an estimated 9,000 in 1967. This is progress. Tourism has formed an important source of revenue for the Island and, indirectly, for the Administration which gained the bulk of its local revenue of $250,000 from the sale of stamps and liquor and from customs duties. The Commonwealth grant to the Administration this year will be $66,000 which is the same as that provided last year.
In relation to Nauru, a historic development has been the conclusion of a phosphate agreement with the Nauruan people. This agreement provides for the purchase by the Nauruans of the assets of the British Phosphate Commissioners, payment to be made within 3 years, and for the management of the enterprise by the British Phosphate Commissioners for this 3-year period, after which, if the assets have been paid for, the Nauruans may take over the whole operation of the enterprise. For the next 3 years and thereafter until reviewed at the request of either party, the British Phosphate Commissioners will purchase all Nauruan phosphate output on an agreed price basis. Discussions of basic importance to the future of the Nauruan people are in progress regarding their delegation’s request for independence. The outcome of these, discussions will be reported to Parliament in due course.
The main activity at Christmas Island is the exploitation of the Island’s phosphate deposits. The Christmas Island Phosphate Commissioners - representing the Australian and New Zealand Governments - recently took steps to increase production from 800,000 tons a year to 1.5 million tons, at a capital cost of $A8.8m, and have been authorised to investigate raising the level of production to 2.5 million tons a year. Lower cost rock phosphate from Christmas Island is pooled with other imports and is thus an important factor in keeping the price of phosphate fertilisers in Australia at the lowest possible level.
Several important changes have been taking place at Cocos (Keeling) Islands. A direct radio telegraph circuit has been installed between Australia and South Africa and there is no longer a -need for the Overseas Telecommunications Commission’s relay station on Direction Island. The establishment maintained there, which dated from 1902, has therefore ceased. With the introduction of new types of aircraft Qantas Airways Ltd and South African Airways no longer call at Cocos Island. The Island continues, however, to provide an important air traffic facility.
Soundly based economic development in the Northern Territory is one of the Governments major aims, and it is pleasing to be able to report substantial successes and additional major prospects. A good deal of discussion on northern development is concentrated on what is the best form of organisation. Another approach argues for spectacular government expenditure, but without specifying what the money should be spent on. The Government’s approach is to contribute to activities, which have prospects of success, by basic research and investigations and by encouragement and support of private interests which have capital, knowledge and enterprise to contribute to production and development. Government support of Territory development takes many forms: Mineral surveys and agricultural trials; the provision of roads and port facilities; appropriate laws and effective administration; negotiation of suitable conditions for major projects; community services, especially education and health, without which a stable community and expanding work force are not achievable. Expenditure by or for the Northern Territory Administration on these activities, and on advancement of the Aboriginal people, is expected to total $52.6m this year, which is an increase of $4.2m or practically double the expenditure of 5 years ago.
Commonwealth expenditure by the Northern Territory Administration and the other departments and instrumentalities which operate there is expected this year to total about $93m, or almost double the corresponding figure 5 years ago. These are re markable increases. This is putting the Government’s policy of sound, purposeful development into action. The results vindicate the policy. Developments in mining have been dramatic. We Australians have had too many spectacular mineral discoveries in the last few years to appreciate the significance of what is happening. Ten years ago Northern Territory mineral production totalled $9.3m. In 1967-68 it will almost certainly exceed SI 5m. In recent years, the established industries - copper, gold and tin - have expanded. We now have major new developments, including manganese production at Groote Eylandt, which began in 1966 and which is now approaching 300,000 tons per annum, from the largest ore deposit in Australia and one of the largest manganese deposits in the world. We also have iron ore exports from the Frances Creek field, which commenced this year, and from Mount Bundey which is expected to commence early in 1968, and which together will total 700,000 tons per annum when in full production. There is a commitment for a 500,000 ton alumina plant at Gove by 1971 by a partnership of Swiss and Australian interests. We have had continued investigations by Mount Isa Mines Ltd of a major lead-zinc deposit at McArthur River, which could open up possibilities for major regional development in the Gulf area. Furthermore, there are promising prospects for lead-zinc at Woodcutters near Darwin and for natural gas in the Amadeus Basin in the centre.
All these developments are private enterprise based. All have Government encouragement and support, including financing of major new port facilities at Darwin and railway reconstruction for the iron ore projects, the detailed negotiation of conditions for the Gove leases, and the basic exploration activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources that disclosed the prospects at Woodcutters. They all add up to major progress and prospects.
The cattle industry is still the mainstay of rural production in the Territory. It is Government policy to support private enterprise by research and by the constant improvement of facilities for the industry. Measures taken have included the beef roads programme, commenced in 1962, on which $10. 3m has already been spent and for which $3.3m is provided in 1967-68.
This S29m programme has been a major factor in revolutionising the industry and enabling it to explore new market opportunities, particularly in the United States of America. Two meat works are now established at Darwin and Katherine, and substantial property improvement programmes have been undertaken by many pastoralists and pastoral companies. The number of cattle processed through the meat works last year was 42,000 compared with 26,000 3 years ago. The Government has provided a freight subsidy on superphosphate in order to encourage the establishment of improved pastures. Freight subsidies will be given on stud stock to encourage herd improvement. Also provision is made for generous drought relief as well as freight concessions and loans at special interest rates to assist restocking after the central Australian drought. An animal industry research laboratory will be completed at Alice Springs this year at a cost of $430,000. Agricultural prospects are attracting greater interest. The Government welcomes and assists the movement towards more intensive land use. Prospects at present are centred around mixed farming and grazing and the development of improved pastures and fodder crops, with the added possibility of large scale exports of grain sorghum. Large capital investments will be required if these prospects are to be fully realised. To provide and enhance security of tenure and to remove restrictions no longer suited to today’s conditions, the Government initiated changes in land tenure in the pastoral and agricultural industries. These were passed last month by the Legislative Council for the Territory. This is despite opposition from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who did everything they could to prevent this legislation going through when they were in Darwin. They tried to prevent provision of the security so necessary to develop our great resources in the Northern Territory. In the rural industries, the Government looks forward in the Northern Territory to continued progress with full scope for the application of enterprise and capital under conditions that also safeguard essential community interests.
The success of the Government’s development policy for the Northern Territory is being increasingly reflected in the growth of its towns, particularly Darwin in the north and Alice Springs in the centre. Darwin’s population has been growing at almost 10% a year. A modern town plan providing for the growth of the city over the next decade has been adopted, and the Government’s programme for the building of housing and town facilities of all kinds including roads, public utilities, hospitals and schools - construction of a second large high school is about to commence - is rapidly developing a modern city. Private enterprise is playing its part in housing, also, and in the growth of commerce and industry. In the last 4 years the value of new buildings completed has risen by onethird and factory production has increased 70% to $13.5m. Similar growth is taking place at Alice Springs as in other Territory towns.
The advancement of Aborigines is a major feature of the Government’s policy in the northern Territory and this year’s provision of $7. 6m for recurrent and capital expenditures for Aboriginal advancement is 25% higher than last year. Three aspects of advancement may be mentioned particularly - they are education, employment and land rights. The education programme for Aboriginals will be expanded substantially in 1968. This includes increased attention to pre-school and post-primary facilities for Aboriginal children. A large part of this expansion programme has to be undertaken in remote settlements, missions and cattle stations and takes the form of supplying more than 100 mobile and demountable buildings and increasing the numbers of teachers. During 1967-68, enrolments are expected to increase from 4,100 to about 5,500 pupils.
In employment, in addition to expanding post-primary and adult training in its own institutions, the Government’s policy has been to expand employment opportunities at normal wages and conditions. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s decision on Aboriginal wages in the pastoral industry requires that Aboriginal employees receive full award rates from 1st December 1968. In the meantime the Government has participated in discussions with representatives of Aboriginal employees and the pastoral employers, which led to substantial interim wage increases for Aboriginal workers in the industry. Earlier this year conditions of Government employment were reviewed, and from 6th July normal Public Service conditions have applied in the Departments of Civil Aviation, Army, Navy and Supply and most branches of the Northern Territory Administration.
I now wish to refer to land rights. A Government Bill on Aboriginal land tenure was introduced in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory earlier this year. The Bill would enable individual Aboriginals, Aboriginal co-operatives and Aboriginal companies to obtain leases of land on Aboriginal reserves subject to the recommendation of a special land board with an Aboriginal majority. The Bill would also permit Aboriginals to obtain grants of vacant Crown land without restriction of area. A few weeks ago I made a tour of the Northern Territory. I was very pleased indeed to see the progress that was being made in the advancement of Aboriginals.
– Did the Minister go in a VIP aircraft?
– I did because otherwise I would not have been able to visit these outback places. As I said, I was tremendously impressed by the advancement of the Aboriginals. One great factor has mitigated to some degree this advancement. In Australia we have a political element which endeavours to make political use of the Aboriginal as a political cause and endeavours to bring failure on the efforts to advance these people. In other words, Aboriginals are being used. This has been recognised by the Aboriginals themselves. I met Aboriginal leaders in the Northern Territory and they told me this. They admitted that they were being used by these subversive elements. They are realising that great changes are taking place. Here, I would like to quote from a newspaper article. I thou.ght the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) who is trying to interject might be present ?o 1 brought it with me. I think this article contains information that a lot of people in this House would appreciate. I mentioned that these people are being used and that they are realising it. This quotation is taken from the column, ‘Data’, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’ on 31st August. The article is about an interview with Mr
Charles Perkins who, as we know, is a very prominent Aboriginal leader. The article states:
DATA yesterday asked Mr Perkins why he had resigned from the Federal Council.
This is the Federal Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of which the honourable member for Wills is VicePresident and a vocal supporter. He has been a very great leader in this operation. According to this article, Mr Perkins said:
I don’t agree with certain people in positions of responsibility on the executive of the Council. The Federal Executive is so constructed at present that it represents only one opinion. I don’t believe it represents Aboriginal opinion any longer.
It has done good work in the past, but I wish to dissociate myself from any decisions it is likely to make from now on.
In my opinion his next remarks are his most important, when he said:
There is a subversive influence in Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia which is trying to undermine the confidence of the Aboriginal people to cope with their situation, to undermine the confidence of the white community in the Aboriginal people, and by so doing to create a situation of disorganisation which can be manipulated politically.
This states the position very plainly indeed. These people realise this. In this respect I think we could quote the words of Barnum who said that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time. Those people who were fortunate enough to listen to the honourble member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) yesterday will have a very clear understanding of what he said. Another thing we must remember is that members of the Labor Party complained after the last general election that Aboriginals were influenced to vote for the present member for the Northern Territory. What happened in this case was that they saw an honest and honourable man in the honourable member for the Northern Territory and they gave him their vote. They knew he was honest in his endeavours to advance their cause.
I now want to turn to another important area. In Papua and New Guinea the Government continues its policy of selfdetermination - of assisting the people of the Territory to advance to the stage at which they are ready to choose their own future form of government. This involves a programme of balanced economic, social and political development. It involves developing the Territory’s resources, both physical and human, so that a sound structure of government is built up as quickly as practicable. We have to expand Australian financial assistance to speed up this development and at the same time avoid building a structure of government so dependent on outside financial help that control by a Territory government of its own affairs is impossible. We have to determine, in consultation with the representatives of the Territory people, the incentives and security to be provided to expatriate investors and expatriate public servants in order to attract the investment and skills that the Territory people lack, but without unnecessarily aggravating the problems of differences in living standards and without unnecessarily confining the control of a future Territory government over the Territory’s natural resources.
The aims are to reconcile the many conflicting considerations in the way which will best benefit the people of the Territory; to increase the degree of real participation by the Territory’s people in all aspects of their own social, economic and politic il affairs and by their representatives in the making of decisions of government; to move as quickly as possible in the building ot social, economic and administrative capacity consistent with sound and not sham development; to move at the pace wanted by the majority of the people in political development. I do not propose to speak about constitutional development now. The report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development was recently adopted by the House of Assembly. It recommended, among other things, a limited system of ministerial responsibility. This report is now being considered by the Government.
The overall scene in the Territory is one of dramatic expansion of activity in all fields. This year’s Budget totals about $141m; 10 years ago it was $31m. This year’s Australian grant is about $78m; 10 years ago it was about $22m. In addition to the Territory Budget civil expenditure by Commonwealth authorities directly in the Territory will this year be more than $42m whereas 5 years ago it was slightly less than $14m. In 1964 a World Bank mission made an economic survey of the Territory and recommended a 5-year programme of economic development. The
Government accepted the mission’s programmes for increased production as a working basis for planning, stating at the time that there was no question of imposing decisions on the Territory without regard to the views of the people’s elected representatives and the opinions of people and organisations directly interested in the economic development of the Territory. The Government also recognised that this programme would involve increased financial assistance in the years immediately ahead. In accordance with this approach, emphasis is being placed on building up the productive potential of the Territory so that local resources will be able to bear an increasing share of the costs of services; so that the present extreme degree of financial dependence will continue to be reduced; and so that living standards may be raised. In proportionate terms the trend is in the right direction. This year’s local revenue will provide almost 40% of total administration receipts compared with 30% 10 years ago. Papuans and New Guineans are paying more taxes to their local governments and to the Administration and modest charges are being made for certain hospital and educational services. Nevertheless, the present level of total Australian civil expenditure represents approximately $35 or more per head compared with approximately $4.5 received by most other developing countries.
In the economic field there have been major developments. The value of exports has doubled in the last 10 years. Participation by Papuans and New Guineans on their own account in agricultural activities is accelerating. Substantial investments are beng made in new crops such as tea, pyrethrum and palm oil. Major expansion is occurring in forestry, production is increasing steeply and surveys aimed at the offer of new large concessions are well under way. The Papua and New Guinea Development Bank is now operating and it is proposed that its capital will be raised to at least $3. 5m this year. Substantial expenditures are being made on roads, bridges, port facilities, aerodromes, power and communications, and negotiations are in course with the United Natons development programme for a basic transport survey. An agreement for the further testing and subsequent working of the Bougainville copper deposits has been approved by the House of Assembly. This could lead to a capital investment of more than $10Om The Administration has secured an option to take up a substantial shareholding in this projected copper enterprise at Bougainville. Such a holding would preserve the principle of Territory participation in this tremendous project There is a need to make arrangements now in respect of major new Territory enterprises so that opportunities can be provided in the future for the local people to participate in these enterprises. Equity holdings taken up now by the Administration is one way of doing this. Scope for such arrangements exists in relation to the new palm oil venture in New Britain, in the timber industries and a variety of other industries.
While emphasis is being placed on the economic development of the Territory, measures for social advancement are being continued and expanded. Expenditure of the order of $50m will be provided in 1967-68 for education, health, housing and public utilities. In the field of education a broadening of the primary base in recent years has opened the way for substantial expansion in the secondary, technical and tertiary spheres. The Government welcomes increasing interest amongst young Australians in a period of voluntary service in the Territory living under local conditions. Such service benefits the Australians who undertake it as well as the Territory and the Government sees room for considerable further expansion in the number of Australian volunteers in the Territory. In relation to housing the most important development in 1967-68 will be the commencement of operation of the Housing Commission of Papua and New Guinea. The Commission will be responsible for undertaking housing matters generally and will give particular attention to the problems of urban housing.
The question of review in relation to the building up of the Administrative capacity in the Territory is of major importance. We now have a public service structured to Territory conditions and in which maximum opportunity for advancement can be provided for local officers. The question of a review of the Arbitrator’s decision on the salaries of local officers has been raised in another place and no doubt it will be fully discussed there. I have noted also the com ments made in this House about local officers, salaries and the salaries of expatriate officers. These comparisons give rise to difficulties which at the present stage are real but unavoidable. In the long term the basis of Territory public service salaries must be Territory conditions and not conditions in Australia on which salaries of overseas officers are based. The processes of the relevant Territory legislation were fully complied with and the inquiry made before the Arbitrator’s decision was arrived at was lengthy and thorough. In all Territories much has been accomplished though much remains to be done. There have, of course, been some criticisms and some of these may be justified. But there is no easy way to develop and the Government, while not complacent, is proud of what has been accomplished in the administration of the Territories.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) has been very wise in his choice of subject matter. In point of fact had he referred to his native State of Queensland he may have had to admit, with a red face, that Queensland has the lowest migrant intake in Australia today, the lowest growth rate of population, and in addition, the least assistance for development in terms of water conservation. Although Queensland is blessed with 40% of Australia’s water resources, the direct allocation from the Commonwealth at the present time tor that State is precisely nil. Very smart stalling tactics have been introduced in the States Grants (Water Resources Measurement) Bill. This will conveniently postpone action for at least 12 months and give the Government some breathing space whilst it is recovering from the impact of its defence maladministration.
It is very interesting also to note the depleted, serried ranks of the Liberal Party at the present time. No doubt with the Liberal Party Federal Conference sitting, some members of the Liberal Party consider it more important to be down at another place currying favour with their newly found masters than to come here and devote their time to their duties in this House. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) is trying to interject. He will have his chance to speak later. Out of sixty-one members of his Party in this House, how many are here at the present time? There are five. What a magnificent response! At least, the members of the Australian Country Party pay their speakers the courtesy of coming along to listen and to provide a cheer squad. The Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) certainly needed a cheer squad, as he waded through page after page of what had been prepared for him in the way of departmental handout. He floundered his way through the official exordium. Today in this country we have a Senate election approaching. Of course, word has gone out that it is time for all good men to come to the aid of the Liberal Party. After the recent Corio by-election, election jitters are the order of the day. We have no less a person than Mr Pagan, the master of the Liberal Party, stating that they have the formidable task of winning five out of the six States. There is not much hope of that with the remarkable plummeting in the stocks of the Liberal Party. As a matter of fact, no Prime Minister has ever experienced a bigger drop in public support than the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt).
– With a record majority.
– He will lose it quick smart when he goes to the people again. In 1966 the Government got a majority on an emotional issue - a well worn stock in trade. It panicked the people into voting for it, because it was lacking completely in policy. Since then, the Government has ignored the people of Australia. Now comes the reaction, the back lash, and it will be a pretty nasty one. Today we face a climax in our national affairs. It is something entirely different from the position as represented to the Australian people by the Government last November. This Government is bankrupt in terms of foreign policy. It is verging on bankruptcy when it comes to balancing its Budget. Let there be no mistake about that. In terms of budgets, for many years to come this Government will be facing the consequences of the improvidence of the former Prime Minister. Where is the magnificent fighter bomber bargain that he obtained overseas today? Already it has had an impact on the Budget, and for years to come Australia will be in a financial straight-jacket, attempting to meet the con sequences of this utter stupidity. I am glad that the Minister for Defence is at the table at the present time. He was almost angelic in his praise of the Fill aeroplane. He soared right up into the empyrean heights. He was almost shaking hands with the angels. In point of fact, what have we got? The Minister for Defence said that it is a complete and utter bargain at any price.
– At whatever price it will cost.
– It is the price that the Government paid for the purpose of buying votes in 1963. The Government is getting the consequences of that action today. .It does not know what the aircraft will cost. It has no idea of the ultimate cost. The Government bought a bomber from the drawing board. It was untried and untested and as yet it is unperfected. For years to come the Government will be endeavouring to make excuses to the Australian people. Its apologia will have to last, not for one year but for generations. It will continue until the Government is tumbled out of office unceremoniously as it will be.
At this time there is trepidation within the Federal Conference of the Liberal Party. People are bucking their brands off there. Today, they are no longer lead by the old master. He knew exactly when to get out. He has left all the troubles behind to a pretty incompetent gang. There is an old saying that nothing ever grows in the shade of the oak tree. One by one, Ming mercilessly knocked off every potential rival to his leadership. Today the members of the Liberal Party are led by a man who is the laughing stock of Australia. Was there ever a Prime Minister who went abroad and brought back poorer results than the present Prime Minister? If television were the order of the day in Parliament the Australian people could see members of his own Party fidgeting at his attempts to reply to questions asked by the Opposition. They fidget at his garrulousness and ineptitude. Within his own Party at the present time there are those who are prepared to try on the imperial purple - to try on the crown for size.
We have quite a unique position in this Coalition Government. The first mate of the ship is certainly a better warrior and a better leader than is the Prime Minister, and every member of his Party knows it. The second mate is prepared to suborn mutiny if he can possibly achieve it. Do not let there be any mistake on these matters. Let us have a look at this wonderful Party. Where is it heading at the present time? Firstly, Mr Pagan stated that the present Federal Council is the governing body of the Liberal Party. But immediately, with a very fine flurry of feathers, in comes the Prime Minister to say that so far as he is concerned, he is the boss. He is a very little man walking around in very big shoes. His own Party is well aware of that. The members of the Liberal Party are commencing to feel their oats. There are members who are literally bucking their brands off today. In future they will be having their say in making policy. Where do members of the Liberal Party stand as a Party? Let us see what the ‘Canberra Times’ had to say about them on 6th September. Under the heading ‘Still Secret’ the following article appeared:
The president of the Liberal Party, Mr Pagan, glosses over the fact that the party’s Federal Council still meets in secret. ‘Whether this council meets in public or in private’, he said on Monday, ‘the significant fact of political life is that we are the advisers, not the masters, of our parliamentary party’. It is indeed a significant fact (if not the significant fact) that decisions made by the Liberal Parly Federal Council, are in contrast to the Labor Federal Conference’s, not binding on party parliamentarians. But it is also a significant fact that the Liberal Party describes its Federal Council as the party’s supreme governing body; that the recommendations of that body are intended to guide, influence and if possible be put into effect by the Government of the Commonwealth; and that they bear upon the lives of a great many Australians. The people are entitled to observe this process and learn what winds blow them about. The party seeks the public confidence; it will have more right to it if it abandons this unreasonable secrecy.
I think it was Walt Whitman who once said that silence is the element in which great things are wrought. If that is correct, the Liberal Party today in its solemn conclave must be achieving wonders. What does the Federal Conference consist of? We have fifty-four people assembled from the length and breadth of Australia. They are not faceless men. They are two-faced men. These fifty-four lords of lotus land are flexing their muscles for the first time. They are going to tell the Liberal parliamentarians that in future they are not running a debating society; that they are there to make decisions and that the Liberal parliamentarians can jump through the hoops. For the first time the Liberal Party is to feel the lash of party criticism on its back. Opposition members have been living in a goldfish bowl for a long time. The water is fine. I say to Liberal Party members: Come and join us and see how you like it. Here is a party which is not prepared to publicise its decisions, a party which is not prepared to admit the Press to its conferences. Here is a party which meets in secret, which discusses its affairs in secret and which communicates nothing to the people of Australia.
At the present time we have a quite unique situation. The former Leader of the Liberal Party is now Warden of the Cinque Ports. He has left Australia to sink. He has left it with a Prime Minister who does not have the confidence of his own Party. Let there be no mistake about that. The Liberal Party was never anything more than the personal plaything of Sir Robert Menzies. He could arch his eyebrows and everyone would jump. He chose his own Cabinet. He sacked Ministers when he chose to do so. He massacred them if necessary. Louis XIV said: ‘The state, it is I.’ Sir Robert Menzies said: ‘I am the Liberal Party.’ And he was. He made the Party’s policy; he made its rules; he governed it. He flogged it into submission. When a dictator goes and somebody else who just cannot maintain the posture of an autocrat is in charge, the mutiny commences. It is on well and truly. Take the relations at the present time between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. Let us remember what the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) said after the Corio by-election. He said: ‘The result of Corio will teach the ratbags in the Liberal Party a lesson.’ Apparently they needed to be taught a lesson. No love is lost today between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. What is the position with regard to the Basic Industries Group? Who is Mr BIG? If ever he wears the imperial purple the hemline will drag in the dust. He is the spokesman for the New South Wales faction of the Liberal Party. He is opposed to the Victorian faction. The men whom he represents - the manufacturers - have a bone to pick with the Country Party and its overseas trading policies.
Let us look at another matter .hat is the cause not merely of friction but downright dissension. I refer to the matter of electoral redistribution. Why have the people of Australia had to wait so many years te get a fair and equitable redistribution of electoral boundaries? What is the reason for the delay? Let the Liberal Party come clean on this matter. There is only one reason for the delay: The Country Party wants a gerrymander and the Liberals do not want to give it in the form required. The Liberals want to rob the Country Party of certain seats because they believe that the Country Party now is expendable. If the Liberal Party goes ahead in this way it will make the biggest mistake of all time. Before leaving, the former Leader of the Liberal Party impressed upon the present Prime Minister the necessity to maintain the coalition at all costs, because he knew that neither of the two Parties could ever supply in its own right a government which could control Australia.
At present apprehension within the Liberal Party has reached such a pitch that there have even been strong moves made to postpone the Senate elections. Some senior members of the Party have already approached the Prime Minister and warned him of the dire consequences of holding the Senate elections as planned. Already the halls have been booked tentatively. The election is planned for either the last Saturday of November or the first Saturday of December. In the meantime the Government
– The decision on the date has yet to be made.
– You had your say, Mr Minister. I am entitled to the courtesy of being heard, and I will insist on my right.
Let us look at another matter that is causing a flutter in the dovecotes of this very well regulated family - this wonderful coalition. What has been the reaction to the Budget by people named Askin and Bolte from New South Wales and Victoria? What is their reaction to being short changed as they were by the snide Budget introduced last year and the snide Budget introduced again this year? They have been very vocal in their criticism of financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, and correctly so. Today we do not have merely three mendicant Stales; we have six. They are out with the begging bowls all the time. As for the sovereignty of the States, the position ha.< now deteriorated to the stage where no less than 30% of Federal money made available to the States has a string attached under section 96 of the Constitution. Let any Government supporter deny that if he can. What is sitting opposite on the Government benches today is no longer a movement; it is only a monument. Honourable members opposite are complacent, arrogant and self satisfied. They are incompetent and inefficient. They are a curse to Australia.
What is the situation facing this Government externally? Let us see what the Prime Minister did on his recent peregrinations. First he went to the United States. He tried to big note himself by getting his riding instructions from an American General in the Hawaiian Islands but his initial trumpet call did not rally the American people. Then he attempted to come to grips with the Texan who governs the United States and is its President. Armed, as he should have been, with the information that Australia purchases twice as much from the United States, leaving aside defence purchases, as we sell to that country, our Prims Minister timidly asked whether something could be done about sales of wool to the United States. He asked whether the tariff on wool could be lifted or modified. He got his answer in a typical Texan drawl: ‘Yes, perhaps we could do something for you, son, if you could do something for us in the way of accepting some sales of tobacco.’ Our Prime Minister asked: What can you do for us, Mr President, in the matter of sugar? We have more sugar than we can sell and the price we are getting is catastrophic’ The reply was simple: ‘We have it running out of our ears. Go and have a talk to Castro.’ When the talk turned to zinc and lead similar answers were given - ‘What are we to do with our own producers?’ Finally our Prime Minister came to the $64 question: ‘Can we get some more money in to carry on? For 12 of the last 13 years we have had to depend on investment from you and the United Kingdom to balance our adverse trading position.’ The answer was: ‘All right, but there is a little matter of some trading banks that we would like you to admit into Australia. Could you not fix them up with some charters?’ A simple matter. Our Prime Minister further asked: ‘What is to be done about the equalisation tax - a matter of H% - which makes borrowing virtually prohibitive today?’ The answer was: ‘Go and see if. you can hold Congress together, son, I am darned if I can.’ When the redemption of some loans was mentioned, and the floating of further loans, the answer was a lemon.
Having achieved precisely nothing in the United States, our worthy Prime Minister flew off to the United Kingdom. Having told them in the United Kingdom what they should do about entering the Common Market, our Prime Minister went further and tried to tell them what they should do about Singapore and their proposal to withdraw their forces from that area. He knew quite well in advance what the plans were, but he had to put on an act anyhow. The result was that Britain had to act in its own self-interests and Australia, for a change, had to stand on its feet and grow up. That is the situation we are in today. The foreign policy of this Government is an utter failure and its trading policy is the same. It was only yesterday that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), admitted quite frankly - I give him credit for it - that he could not do any good in relation to either sugar prices or wheat prices.
What is the Government’s policy in relation to immigration at the present time? It is bidding as hard as it can to get people but it cannot get them here as we have not a good name abroad because of the treatment we are giving to migrants who come here. The best that Britain could extract from honourable members opposite was a tirade from the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) the other night when he chose to have a bash at Mr Wilson and the mess that he inherited from a former British Conservative Government of the same kidney as himself. There is one thing that we really could do if this Government ever had the ability, the honesty or the sincerity and that would be to throw our gates wide open to these people. Britain today is in a terrible plight, but that plight does not go to the discredit of the present Government. It is possible for us to open our gates and to bring the people here.
– Which people?
– At the present time 750,000 people are unemployed in Britain. In addition to that Britain, from stark necessity, has to abandon her posture of being a world power and knock cravenly at the door of the European Common Community. It has to put up with the rebuffs of de Gaulle. Yet they are our kith and kin. What is this Government prepared to do about it? Precisely nothing. It has not a plan. The Prime Minister said the other night when speaking in the Budget debate that he did not believe in planning. We should be bringing whole industries here. There is room in Australia for them all and we will need them because we need numbers. We need numbers now as never before because unless we stand on our feet we cannot depend on anyone else for assistance. Britain has had to go out of Singapore and this Government well knew that it would have to do so. But in doing so Britain literally pulled the leg from under the defence and foreign policy of this Government.
As for the United States of America, let me remind honourable members of the dictum of General MacArthur: Never fight a land war on the continent of Asia. She is heavily involved in Asia today and wants to get off the hook. I am not going to debate the merits and demerits of the present involvement, but throughout the world today every sane person would like to see that rotten, dirty, filthy contest finished and peace restored to a country which has literally been put through the worst Gethsemane that any country has had to endure since the dropping of the atomic bomb. Whilst we have this Government parading as a potential aggressor on the continent of Asia, let us look at our true trading position and see where we stand today. We are in the process of exchanging masters. For generations we were the main source of raw materials for our parent colonial power. We were treated quite well by it, but nevertheless we were its source of raw materials. We are now to be the quarry and market garden, apparently, for Japan. At the moment we must trade wherever we can, but in the long term we take an entirely different approach. Japan today is set on a course, to achieve by peaceful economic penetration what she could not achieve by aggression, by setting up the equivalent today of the Greater South East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. There are only two countries in Oceana or in Asia which at the present time have the status either in industry or in technology to become leading industrial powers. One of them is Japan and the other, lagging horribly behind, is Australia. The others are nowhere.
What is the Australian Government prepared to do in relation to Indonesia? There has been a most marked silence on this question. What about a little trade with these people? They are nearest to us. We get 20% of our petrol from them. Why could we not get 60% or 70% from them? There is an obvious answer that the United States would not allow it because the other 70% or so that we get from the Persian Gulf comes mainly from little sheikdoms which are under the dominance of the Arabian American Oil Co. Indonesia is a very good potential market for our primary products. Could we not sell them our wheat, our meat and our dairy produce on an exchange basis? Are not these people capable of supplying our needs in rubber, tin, tropical timber and numerous other commodities? Is it not to our advantage to secure a stable economy there and to secure a stable government without worrying too much about questions of ideology? What does the Government intend to do with regard to Indonesia? Nothing whatever. One of the most notable omissions in the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) was the Government’s attitude and policy on Indonesia. As a matter of fact the Government has a very red face on the question of Indonesia. The Fill bombers which were ordered were part of the panic propaganda which was being propagated in regard to potential aggression from Indonesia a few years ago. The aircraft have not even arrived here yet to meet that threat which never really existed.
If we are to achieve anything today as a trading nation we must consider what we can do with Indonesia. This Government is prepared to ignore it and to bypass it because bigger dogs have their paws on the bone. We have been warned off so far as Indonesia is concerned. It is their legitimate prey, not ours. I say in conclusion that the Government in this Budget has failed on all three counts. We have neither defence nor development nor welfare, and unless and until we have a change of government Australia will face the future with uncertainty and in a state of abject peril.
– Last year’s immigration programme was 148,000 settlers. This comprised 92,000 assisted settlers and 56,000 unassisted settlers. The assisted programme was substantially achieved and 88,722 assisted migrants arrived in the 1966-67 financial year. This number included 70,569 from Britain. The value of British migrants cannot be overstated because of the facilities they possess to assimilate. They share our language, they share an orientation to our institutions and we have what might be described as a likeness. With the unassisted programme there is not the same degree of ability to forecast accurately nor to stimulate the arrival rate. Unlike the assisted settler whose movement is arranged directly by the Department of Immigration, unassisted settlers make their own transport arrangements and therefore we cannot state precisely the number of unassisted settler arrivals for this year at this point of time. The Commonwealth Statistician compiles figures and from those available - up till the end of May - it is clear that arrivals for the full year will fall some thousands short of the 56,000 programme of unassisted migrants.
When final figures are available shortly I expect that the short fall in the overall programme of 148,000 will be about 8,000. The achievement of 140,000 new settlers is most worthwhile and is a credit to officers of the Immigration Department. More importantly, it emphasises the attraction that Australia represents to people in other parts of the world. Normally, a shortfall of 8,000 in a programme of this magnitude, or a little more than 5%, would not be significant and I would not attach great importance to it but for its portent for the programme for 1967-68 and, indeed, the programmes of future years.
In determining the programme for this year, we were faced with three possible courses. The first was to adopt the number that we believed we could absorb; the second was to adopt the number that we could reasonably see was achievable. However, neither of these would have accurately reflected the attitude that motivates us. The third possibility was a median point between the two. It seemed to us that in programme formulation, it would not accurately manifest our policy to let the number in the programme be set merely by the answer to the question: How many settlers do we confidently expect that we shall be able to recruit? Nor can it realistically be set by the answer to the question: How many can we absorb? Therefore, notwithstanding the difficulties that we face in obtaining migrants under the prevailing conditions in Europe, the Government has again set a target of 148,000-92,000 assisted settlers and 56,000 unassisted settlers.
From what I have said it will be clear to honourable members that we are by no means assured of reaching this target. In this context I was unable to ask the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) for an allocation of funds in the Budget for a number of assisted migrants beyond the number that 1 confidently expect. Especially is this so in a budgetary context aimed at holding down the growth of expenditure in the public sector. Therefore, the Estimates provide funds for 81,000 assisted passages, which we expect, as against the 92,000 we hope for. The additional 1 1,000 assisted settlers, if we get them, will cost another $3. 3m. It will be well to understand that it is not appropriate to earmark these funds until new measures that I have initiated become effective in achieving all or some part of the extra numbers.
The crux of the problem in this financial year is that we cannot maintain trie recent high level of assisted migration from Britain; more than 70,000 assisted settlers in the last 3 years- a total of 210,000. If the full fare passengers are added, we have had a quarter of a million settlers from Britain in the last 3 years. The intensity of this activity may be judged by the contrast with the prior 3 years, when a total of 123,000 assisted settlers came from Britain. Such intensity cannot be indefinitely maintained. A lull must be expected and it is in this financial year that we shall experience it. The falling off of applications in January, February and March of 1967 will produce lower departure rates this financial year, for it takes 6 to 9 months for an applicant to position himself for departure. Application rates are currently running at a reasonable level. We hope for an increase but such an increase cannot greatly affect the departure rate this year because of the time factor that I have mentioned. The estimates are based on a flow of no more than 55,000 settlers from Britain this financial year. The real significance of this number should not be over-emphasised as indicating a decline when it is remembered that it is higher than any number prior to the last 3 years.
To achieve the overall target of 92,000 assisted migrants we must obtain a further 37,000 migrants - including any additional numbers from Britain - from all other sources, which last year yielded only 18,000. To make this possible I have taken action to (a) build up the flow from established sources in continental Europe, particularly the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Greece; (b) develop new programmes such as the special passage assistance programme and new sources such as Spain and Turkey.
I shall now discuss each of these separately. First, it is worth reminding the House that conditions of prosperity in Europe in this decade have greatly advanced with a consequential diminution of the impetus to migrate. The decade will be remembered for the ‘guest workers’. Between 4 million and 5 million workers are employed in countries that are not their normal place of residence. To the extent that they are currently absorbed in the European work force, they are not available to migrate. I shall deal with our response to this great work force movement later. I should also remind honourable members that our activities in any country are subject to the attitudes and policies of host countries, lt was this factor primarily that led me to make a journey to Europe earlier this year.
I deal now with the Netherlands. In the peak year, 1965-66, we received 11,103 assisted migrants from that country. They have, of course, been most successful and welcome settlers. In recent years, the, number of assisted settlers has fallen to about 1,500 annually. Last year, only 1,383 assisted settlers arrived. At The Hague. I had discussions with the Netherlands Government and as a result I expect to make arrangements that will enable many more Dutch families to migrate to Australia at less individual cost to themselves. I hope for 3,000 assisted Dutch migrants in 1967-68.
Results in migration from Germany in recent years have averaged only about a quarter of the 10,151 assisted arrivals in 1960-61. Last year only 2,932 assisted settlers arrived from Germany.
I directed my discussions with the German Government to achieving increased facility for publicity of Australia and to opportunities. The changes will not be dramatic but will be most useful. Indeed the increase in applications during the last few months promises a larger intake of these excellent settlers this year. I hope that the number will in fact be bigger than I can realistically estimate at this stage. 1 deal with Italy now. Assisted migration has been virtually suspended by the Italian Government since 1962-63. Since then only a mere trickle of persons - mostly dependants of former assisted migrants - have been eligible. Family reunion and chain migration of unassisted settlers has continued without interruption. We have received more than 45,000 in the last 4 years at, I regret to say, a declining rate. We are anxious to rejuvenate this valuable source of migrants, both assisted and unassisted. Negotiation of a new agreement to include provision for assisted migration continues. Both governments aim at having the new agreement concluded and ready for signature during the visit to Australia later this month of the Italian Head of State, Signor Saragat. Today, officials are engaged in discussions. Later, 1 shall continue my discussions with Senator Oliva, who is now in Australia and who, as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has ministerial responsibility in this area. While I was in Rome in June, the Italian Government agreed to an important interim arrangement for assisted migration to Australia. Italians resident outside Italy are presently eligible for movement to Australia under the provisions of the special passage assistance programme. We can now offer that unilateral assistance to Italian citizens in Italy who possess the eligibility qualifications. It is a gesture that I greatly value and warmly received.
The peak of migration from Greece was 16,990 settlers in 1964-65, of whom 3,507 were assisted. The next year 15,137 settlers arrived, of whom 2,673 were assisted. Last year, 2,888 assisted settlers arrived. But unassisted settlers were over 5,000 down on the previous year. I had most cordial and promising talks with the Greek Government, and the responsible ministers. As a result, we have very good prospects of obtaining additional numbers of Greek guest workers experienced in Europe and now returned to Greece. We are optimistic that the eligibility provisions for assisted passage will be put on a sounder basis. The House will be aware of the agreement by the Greek Government that fiancees of Greeks in Australia may in the future receive assisted passages. This is a valuable and human development and I warmly welcome it.
Malta with its small population cannot be expected to yield 4,000 to 5,000 annually as it has in the past; indeed there was a sharp decline last year. The recent announcement of co-operative housing finance is to be applauded. Applications in Austria, though still relatively small, have shown an encouraging revival in recent months. I am optimistic that it will be maintained and constitute a very useful supplement to our numbers. We have never received more than a few hundred Belgian migrants, but guest workers in Belgium are now covered by the special passage assistance programme and we have an encouraging rate of departures from that country of both Belgian and non-Belgian nationals. J had discussions in Geneva with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Our record in this field is preeminent and we shall continue to make assisted passages available to refugees. We are planning for up to 2,000 this financial year. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the dedication and warm humanity of the High Commissioner, Prince Sadruddin, who recently visited us in Australia.
I now come to the special passage assistance programme. It is this programme which I expect to provide the greatest part of the increased numbers we will attract in sources outside Britain. In essence it enables us to give unilateral assisted passage to persons making application in a country of which they are not nationals. In general terms the recipient can travel to Australia for $25. Some problems have arisen in relation to processing dependants still in the home country, but generally these are now resolved. The scheme was instituted on 1st July 1966 and it produced 6,000 migrants in 1966-67, its first year of operation. It is gaining momentum rapidly and is providing us with many worthwhile settler families. We are planning for 17,000 in 1967-68. Our posts in Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland have been already strengthened to cope with larger numbers. It is possible, and indeed I hope that we will obtain even more than that figure. Certainly there will be no limitations applied and our publicity efforts will be actively addressed to the great body of people we seek to attract.
I now wish to say something about Spain. The number of settlers from Spain reached 4,578 in 1962-63, of whom 4,330 were assisted migrants. They were excellent and well received settlers, and they are still making a real contribution to the development of our country. Unfortunately assisted migration was suspended by the Spanish Government in March 1963 and since then only a trickle, dependants of earlier settlers, have been arriving in Australia. I was very warmly received in talks with the Spanish Government and its Ministers. The Spanish are famous for their strength of character, pride and courtesy. I was able to emphasise that it is these qualities which make the Spanish so welcome as settlers in our country. I am delighted to be able to inform the House that the Spanish Government has agreed to a resumption of assisted passage migration. It will be limited and carefully regulated to ensure ready and happy absorption into our community. I am confident that early success will justify and lead to a more extensive departure of Spanish settlers with the full concurrence of their government.
Then I come to Turkey. Some Turkish workers now living outside Turkey already are moving to Australia under the special passage assistance programme scheme. They are well regarded in Europe and will, I am sure, be warmly welcomed in Australia. A draft of an agreement to provide for movements direct from Turkey has been received from the Turkish Government and is now under active consideration. I expect a delegation of officials to arrive in Australia within a few weeks to pursue at first hand the discussions I had in Ankara. I am hopeful that we will have a beneficial intake of selected migrant workers and their families as a result.
A migration mission is now operating as part of the Australian Embassy in Belgrade. At present it deals with applications from Yugoslavs nominated bv relatives in Aus tralia. The Secretary of my Department at my direction was recently in Yugoslavia. Judged from his reports it would seem that there are good reasons to consider the possibility of receiving from that country assisted settlers, and this presents prospects of a flow of skilled and semiskilled workers and their families of good quality.
I should now say something about unassisted immigrants. Because unassisted settlers book their own passages and are stimulated by friends, relatives, employers or their own independent interest, it is possible to estimate only, on past experience, the number likely to come in the ensuing year. I expect these will be 16,000 British, 12,500 Italian, 8,000 Greek, 1,500 Maltese and 18,000 from all the other countries, giving an estimated total of 56,000 immigrants paying their full fares.
To fulfil our programme will cost more money. There will be increased expenses for increased assistance with fares, expanded publicity and information services, improved pre-embarkation counselling and facilities, continued strengthening of overseas operations including, where necessary, new posts and new regional offices, and better post-arrival facilities. All these things are most important if we are to reach the target that has been set. I am confident that the money will be made available if the settlers are available. We have many activities in operation to increase the numbers but it will take time for results to show.
It so happens, Mr Speaker, that I am the last on the list of speakers for this debate. It will please everybody to know that we will take a vote as soon as I have finished. But in the nature of things I cannot allow that vote to be taken without making some reference to various speeches I have heard from honourable members opposite, especially that of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), who spoke just a little while ago and who seemed to me to sum it all up. The honourable member spoke of leadership. How extraordinary it is to hear talk of leadership emanating from that side of the House. Why, one hardly knows who the Leader of the Opposition is. Is it that person who has the title of Leader of the Opposition, or is it the President of the Australian Labor
Party, who is in another place? Which faction is led by whom? We had the spectacle - and this has not been denied - of discussion in the Labor Caucus extending over three caucus periods, the subject of the discussion allegedly being the constitutional situation governing the question whether or not the second chamber should frustrate the elected government in the popular lower chamber. This matter was presented, according to all the usual leaks of information, as being one of constitutional importance. We were vouchsafed the numbers in the vote that was finally taken. We were also given authority to rely on our earlier assessments of how Opposition members would line up.
There is no doubt whatever that the left wingers lined up against the right wingers. There is no doubt whatever that the people who supported the proposition that the Budget should be rejected in the Upper House were those like Senator Murphy, who is the Leader of the Opposition in that chamber, and Senator Cohen, who is Deputy Leader. Both can claim the support of the left wingers in that chamber and in this, Can anyone imagine the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, or the Leader so-called, commanding the support of the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine)? Can anyone imagine this being possible? That honourable member bows in obeisance every time he passes the senator who is the President of the Australian Labor Party. Can anyone imagine the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) being prepared to discuss an issue like this on a constitutional basis? The only way he can discuss it is on a factional basis. And so we have the left wing lining up against the right wing. The right wing, it would appear, could muster 39 votes to the left wing’s 28 votes.
– Ah, now.
– Well, what were the numbers? Were they 38 to 29? Were they 39 to 28? What were they? The fact is that the left wing in the Caucus at present has more significance, as is illustrated by this vote, than does the right wing, because the right wing had to enlist the support of the no-election faction in Caucus in order to win.
The Opposition would have us believe that there are no such things as factions within the Party. This is the picture that the Leader of the Opposition tries to project to the Press. But it is common knowledge that these factions exist. One needs only to talk to members on the other side to be convinced of it. They are quite prepared to say: ‘Look at that chap. He is a left winger. Be wary of that fellow.’ They recognise it themselves. We who sit over here see it constantly, day after day after day. We know what a man is going to say before he gets up. Who among those sitting in this House last night was not able to predict what the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) would say about Hong Kong? Who was not able to predict that he would be supported by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton)? And who was not able to predict that the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) would get up and, in better language, pull their thoughts together into a more precise political philosophy that can be expressed? Who was surprised to see the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) leap to his feet wanting the call? We can pick out the left wingers here. There is no need to catalogue them. Anybody who spends any time in this place knows them instinctively and knows how they will vote on any issue. As to the idea of the resolution of this issue in caucus, the left wingers would throw completely aside the traditions of constitutional usage extending over centuries of the buildup of the parliamentary system, just to determine it on the sheer immediate point of political advantage for the dominance of their faction over the right wing faction.
We therefore have demonstrated quite clearly a situation in which, at any time that one’s imagination can bring one to the point of contemplating a government from the opposite side of the House, one has to think of portfolios. No doubt there would be a bit of horse trading. I wonder whether the honourable member for Yarra would be Minister for Defence or Minister for External Affairs. I should think the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has pre-empted that in the shake up before the leadership vote when, no doubt, there were certain promises given and taken. Again, anyone can imagine the sort of scallywagging there would be on the part of the honourable member for Oxley, wishing to put himself in a position of authority in relation to pronunciamentos about the downtrodden people of the world. This is an interesting subject. The only thing that leads me to any form of relaxation is that I believe the time when the Opposition presents a possible alternative government is so far in the future that one need not worry greatly about it.
There is one thing that should not be overlooked. It is that we have a government which does act responsibly and which is looked at and judged for its responsibility. If there is another party which claims to be an alternative government, then that party must act responsibly, too. And it is on the basis of performance in this House that one can judge responsibility.
– Now tell us about Corio.
– I will tell the honourable member about Corio.
– You are making hard work of this, you know.
-Order! There are far too many interjections. The honourable member for East Sydney is out of his seat and must cease interjecting.
– At about the time of the Corio by-election there was a meeting of the organisational wing of the Labor Party in Adelaide. As a result of that meeting, it was said that Labor would re-write its policy in relation to Vietnam. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) had come back from a visit to Vietnam some short time before. When he came back, I thought: ‘Now, here, at last, is a glimmer of some sense of reality on the Opposition side’. But it was too much to be hoped for. Much as I like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition it must be disclosed to one and all that when the Leader was elected to his present position, he had a choice for his deputy leader. He could take as his deputy leader either the honourable member for Yarra who is the obvious leader of the left wing in this House and seek thereby to weld the two factions together by joint leadership, or he could take somebody else who would not use the position of deputy leader as a platform to destroy him. Nobody was better experienced in using the position of deputy leader to destroy a leader than was the present Leader of the Opposition. He used that platform for some years to cut down his own leader with a want of loyalty which could only have left everybody here surprised and staggered had they not known him as well as they did.
So the Leader of the Opposition did not seek to put his own status, his own reputation and capacity to the test by taking the left winger to see whether they could weld together. Not a bit of it. He preferred to take the very pleasant man who is now Deputy Leader of the Opposition rather than risk that unity between the two factions because such are the members of the left wing of the Labor Party that not even the Leader of the Opposition can trust them. So we have this group of twentynine who are not trusted by their own leader. They would cut him down in a moment if they were given the opportunity, using the Senate constantly as a power base for their own ambitions to get control of the Labor Party.
– We are getting under your skin.
– Not under my skin. This is getting under the honourable member’s skin and it will remain under his skin continually. It must remain under his skin until the Party gets rid of these pernicious forces within it who do not know what stability of government in this country means. They are men who, ideologically and intellectually, are orientated to a philosophy which has been rejected time and again by the people of this country. We now have in another place a power group determined to use the constitutional practice of the centuries for the benefit of their own take-off, to gain complete power over the Labor Party. For the time being, they are prepared to let the Leader of the Opposition masquerade as its leader, and, when the moment comes, they will cut him down completely.
Why is it that the Leader of the Opposition is not prepared to make clear, unequivocal and forthright statements of his beliefs as to policy? The reason he cannot do it is because he is afraid of what the left wing would say. Would it not be an interesting experiment to put the Leader of the Opposition in a sound proof broadcasting compartment and in another the honourable member for Yarra, or the senator who is President of the Australian
Labor Party, or the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and get them to explain the Labor Party’s foreign policy with relation to Vietnam? The likelihood of their coinciding is as rare as the likelihood of anybody in the right wing faction picking the thimble and pea trick which the left wing is using against them. These are the things which make it very regrettable that there is not today a responsible Opposition, and, while the Opposition is not responsible, it cannot be regarded as a possible alternative government.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– In accordance with standing order 226 the Committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the Bill.
– I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the order and groupings shown in the schedule which has been circulated to honourable members. The consideration of the items in groups of departments which have a functional association with one another has met the convenience of the Committee in past years. The schedule is as follows:
Department of the Treasury
Advance to the Treasurer
Department of Civil Aviation
Department of Shippingand Transport
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Department of Education and Science
Broadcasting and Television Services
Department of Customs and Excise
Department of Trade and Industry
Department of Primary Industry
Department of Defence
Department of the Navy
Department of the Army
Department of Air
Department of Supply
Department of Health
Department of Housing
Department of the Interior
Department of Immigration
Department of Labour and National Service
Department of National Development
Prime Minister’s Department
Department of Social Services
Department of Territories
Department of Works
Department of External Affairs
– Is it the wish of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the order suggested by the Treasurer? There being no objection, the right honourable gentleman’s suggestion will be adopted.
– Honourable members will have noticed that in the Appropriation Bills this year there is no separate Part 3 for the appropriations for the Territories. These appropriations are now shown under the relevant departments in Part 1 of the Bills. This change is in accordance with the policy of classifying expenditure as far as possible on a departmental basis. It is in line with action which was taken in previous years to incorporate the ‘Miscellaneous Services’ section and the ‘War and Repatriation’ section within the appropriations of the controlling departments. The policy is, in part, a result of recommendations made by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and the present change has been agreed to by the Committee.
The re-arrangement will not cause any loss of information because the Territory items retain their present identity although they are now located in Part 1. The receipts and expenditures for each of the Territories are shown in the summary tables attached to the Budget speech. The change should facilitate our parliamentary debates as it will now be possible for all appropriations of a department to be considered together.
Proposed expenditure, $3,940,000.
– The estimates for the Parliament are now under discussion. I would like to make some reference to the amazing remarks made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) on the Budget. The Minister for Immigration is one of the Ministers charged with the responsibility of looking after this Parliament. As Leader of the House he should at least show some respect for it. But what did he do in his speech? He just turned on his abuse and showed his ignorance. He abused the Australian Labor Party by referring to its so-called left wing and right wing in this Parliament. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Immigration has arrived back in his seat.
Although the Minister spoke about the Labor Party we did not hear anything from him about what goes on in the Liberal Party. He has never told us why he was demoted from the august position of Attorney-General to the very minor post of Minister for Immigration. However, this demotion is understandable when we realise that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) knows that there is dissension among the eighty-one members in the coalition parties who have all one thing in mind - the Prime Ministership. This creates dissension and it has brought about the demotion of our friend from his ministerial post of AttorneyGeneral. Perhaps the reason for this action was that he was incompetent to hold the position of Attorney-General with the result that now he is down in the very minor post of Minister for Immigration.
We heard his diatribe about immigration and his trip around the world and how many people he prevailed upon to come to Australia. But the Minister has never told anyone where he was going to put these people when they arrived here. I suggest that there will be a big industrial flare up in the tent industry because many tents will be needed to give accommodation to the hundreds and thousands of migrants whom he has persuaded to come here. It must have been dissension on the other side which brought an explanation from the Prime Minister that after the Senate elections he was going to take another look at the ministerial posts. Evidently, some dissension has been created among front bench members and the Minister for Immigration is one who is likely to be out after the Senate election which, I am informed authoritatively, will be held in the last week of November. However, the Minister for Immigration has my sympathy because he is not a bad sort of chap. He has my deepest sympathy because he has to put up with people on the front benches opposite and on the back benches as well.
Being a very close observer of what goes on in this House, I find that after a long period of 17 years - almost 18 years-
– Too long.
– That is true. As I was about to say, after 17 or 18 years of Liberal-Country Party government in Australia, there are very obvious signs of collapse in the coalition ranks which have been propped up for the best part of this time by various subterfuges used by the political trickster, Sir Robert Menzies, now in oblivion. When he first saw the cracks appearing in the Liberal-Country Party structure, he was so well versed in political trickery as to know the writing was on the wall. So, he just quietly disappeared from the political scene into private retirement after handing over control of the shambles known as the Liberal-Country Party coalition - whose philosophies we know are poles apart - to the present Prime Minister, better known, if not so favourably known, as ‘Handsome Harold’. I might add, that it is the genera] opinion of most members, including members of his own Party, that he is not as handsome as he tries to make people believe. Close observation from this side of the chamber shows unerringly that back bench members of both shades of opinion in the coalition are very hostile to the Prime Minister’s leadership. This has been shown at different periods over the last couple of years by very critical speeches made by several back bench members opposite such as the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), who is really sour on the Prime Minister. I might advise the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who has left his seat, that there was a brawl in the Liberal-Country Party caucus yesterday and two members came to blows. So much for the unity that exists in the LiberalCountry Party coalition. The honourable member for Mackellar and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who does not appear to be in the chamber at the moment, ignore the Prime Minister altogether. The stern discipline which should be in evidence in the Parliament as imposed by a leader of a government is absent.
However, the three recalcitrant members mentioned are gaining support from unexpected quarters. Who can forget the Prime Minister’s interjection during the maiden speech of the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John), which was an unforgivable breach of parliamentary etiquette. I might add that one cannot help but notice the very bitter feeling between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Country Party and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), who takes exception to many measures brought to this House by the Prime Minister. Honourable members are aware of the recent criticisms of the actions of the Minister for Trade and Industry by an ex-member of the Country Party, Mr Charles Russell, who now claims leadership of the Basic Industries Group, which he claims is the organisation behind the Liberal Reform Movement. How strange it is that we find an ex-Country Party member now leading a Liberal Reform Movement, whatever that means. Anything can happen in politics. Could it be that members of BIG are receiving favourable concessions from the Prime Minister in return for their vigorous criticisms of the leader of the Country Party and the Deputy Prime Minister, whom no doubt the Prime Minister seeks to destroy so as he can replace him in the deputy leadership with another shadowy figure, who lurks in the background of the Liberal ministerial group. I refer to that very ambitious gentleman, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), who has been known since the last Budget as the ‘tragic Treasurer’.
In other quarters we see undisputed evidence of dissension, hate and political jealousies rampant in the Liberal-Country Party coalition which is slowly destroying the economy of our great country. This is what I am concerned with. This Government has even tried its hand at eroding the great white Australian policy, evidence of which is shown on all sides. One only has to have a glance at the population statistics of Australia to appreciate this. The Liberal Party suffered an inglorious defeat at the recent by-election in Corio when a Liberal majority of 9,000 votes was reduced by the present honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) to an absolute Labour majority. This was a crushing and humiliating defeat that shows the resentment of the people at the change of front by ‘Handsome Harold’, the Prime Minister. That result amounted to a catastrophic reduction of 11% in the Liberal-Country Party vote, and that is the reason why the present Ministers are becoming edgy about the coming Capricornia by-election and the Senate election in the very near future.
– What was the reduction in your vote?
– I have been here 18 years and my constituents know that they have a good member to look after them. I am concerned as to why this Government changes its Minister for Immigration so often. What happened to Hubert Opperman? He was one of the best of the weak and decrepit lot on the front bench. What happened to the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), who was Minister for the Navy? I might say that he was a very smart Minister for the Navy, too. But what happened to him? He was axed by the Prime Minister. What for? I want to know about these mysteries of the Parliament. After the last election more changes were made. The then Attorney-General, the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden) was axed and given the minor portfolio of Immigration. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Bowen) jumped into the hot seat of the AttorneyGeneral, straight from the back benches, which was a meritorious leap. I wonder what influential person brought that about?
Now I would like to refer to Mr Speaker. For some years he was the Liberal Party Whip, and he was a very good Whip. He was assisted by various deputies. The honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), who is now the Minister for Works, recently assisted Mr Speaker as Deputy Whip. Since 1949 I have observed in the House that the usual custom is for the Whip to be next in line for appointment to the Ministry, from where he has the opportunity to attain the higher position of Prime Minister. I am curious to know why Mr Speaker was denied this honour. But the Deputy Whip was brought into the Ministry to give him that very opportunity of advancement and Mr Speaker was dumped into the Speaker’s chair.
– Order! I would suggest to the honourable member for KingsfordSmith that he restrain himself. The words that he used are a reflection upon the Chair and I ask that he withdraw them.
– I withdraw ‘dumped’ and substitute ‘placed’. Of course I know that Mr Speaker is not the possessor of extreme wealth as is the former Deputy Whip, who was honoured for his services in that capacity by elevation to the Ministry. However, one day Mr Speaker may find all of us addressing him as ‘Sir William’, the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Let us briefly examine the decrepit body that is called the Liberal Party. What is its composition? Is it a political party in the true sense of the words? Is it a political party organisation? I would like to know its composition. Of course big business promotes it but who are the men behind the scenes? I notice that my time has nearly gone, Mr Chairman, and I would like to take my second quarter of an hour so that I can put-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– With your permission 1 would like to take my extra quarter of an hour.
– Order! The honourable member cannot continue when there are other members rising to take the call.
– When one starts to discuss the topic of Parliament in Australia, particularly after a speech such as we have just heard, one is forced to admit that parliamentarians as a class are far from popular and often far from respected. Nevertheless, it is equally true that they are the men and women who make our laws and direct the destiny of the nation. The net result is that all too many men and women of ability and stature are prepared to do anything at all in the country and for the country and Parliament, except become members of Parliament. This is a tragic fact for this young country. One might well ask who is to blame. Is it easy to blame the Press. Of course, the Press shares the blame. It has a delight in the kind of attitude which flows into cartoons of great black cars bearing bloated, overweight politicians puffing bloated, overweight cigars. The Press, however, has a number of reasons for its attitude, one of which is that the average person enjoys knocking politicians as good Australian fun. Perhaps it is a lampooning of authority in a way that lets the steam off a national inferiority complex. But the Press may well have another and more serious reason, too, because it is also in the business of public opinion making and commenting on day to day affairs in such a way that it frequently sees itself as in opposition to Parliament.
Having said that much, it is also abundantly clear to me that there is still a large measure of blame left and that this blame lies squarely at the door of Parliament and parliamentarians themselves. We certainly deserve many of the gibes and the taunts from the public. In fact, the thing which I find the most astonishing paradox in my 4 years’ experience in this place is the difference between the reality of the average hard working, ordinary person who is a member of parliament and the pretentious nonsense and incredibly bad public image he succeeds in purveying inside the chambers of Parliament. The average honourable member serves on three or four committees, which are surprisingly demanding and exacting in the amount of effort required from members. Most aspects of Government activity are covered by these groups, which meet during luncheon and dinner suspensions of the sitting. The level of discussion and information is high - very high by any standard. After a few years in this place the average member of Parliament who works hard is very wellinformed about Australia and how it is governed. Most members work hard and painstakingly in their own electorates to see that their constituents are served in the amazing variety of ways expected of members of Parliament today. Few have an evening or a weekend to themselves for month in month out, and they always have their hands in their pockets. They plod away at voluminous tasks of reading, writing and speaking with a pathetically inadequate set of tools and very little assistance. The salary is a bare minimum to enable them to undertake the many demands made upon them and hanging over their heads all the time is the prospect that a few months can see them out and forgotten in the precarious race of political life.
Earlier this year we had a referendum at which we simply sought the right to increase the number of seats in the lower House slightly, without creating more senators. The Australian people turned down that proposal. Virtually their attitude was: ‘No more politicians’. Frankly, I more than half agree with them. There is no point in having more and more men going down the same lane that we are treading here at this moment. We are not using what we have with efficiency. There is surely no executive position in this nation for which so little thought, preparation and assistance is given to enable the occupants of the office to function well.
The average member comes in here and finds no attempt made to orientate him to his task. He picks up advice where he can. He is swamped with an undifferentiated daily load of paper. Big, little, black, blue and brindle envelopes and packages start to arrive on every subject in the nation. Inquiries come from hundreds of people - often on the most unusual and complicated issues in governmental administration. So he sits down in his little office, often with a totally inexperienced stenographer, and starts in to tackle the mound of messages and demands. Soon his wastepaper basket is groaning with reports, appeals and publications which he cannot hope to read and which he will never read. An even more pathetic pile is the one beside his desk where he puts dozens of articles and reports which he hopes to read one day. It grows and grows until he has a periodical weeding out day and the wastepaper basket works overtime once again. Yet this is one of a mere hundred or so men charged with the oversight of the affairs of a nation of 12 million people, which is growing every day.
What is his equipment? One aged typewriter, a filing cabinet, a telephone and a desk. His staff consists of one girl typist. When she is sick or on leave he has no girl typist. When she goes to lunch or knocks off at 5 o’clock, his office closes. Does he have a single trained assistant? Not likely. Can he have a car to take him to a packed series of engagements, a city speaking appointment or a conference? No fear. The Press might criticise the big black car. What about research? Would not it be a good idea to have the services of, say a young graduate in social science who would be able to go into the details of problems in his electorate, such as pensioners on the breadline? This is just a pipe dream. He gets nothing at all to enable him to be free to think and to contribute to the nation’s life.
No wonder it is said that the Parliament is at the mercy of the bureaucracy. We talk about having more members, but this is no answer at all. The answer lies in providing honourable members with adequate modern techniques and equipment to enable them to devote their time to the right pursuits. I can hear the cynics start to enumerate those members of Parliament whom they say could not make good use of such things. It is easy to say that. That may be so. But the amazing thing to me is the high calibre of the men who have stood for and gained office in this place. Many of them, if not most, make real financial sacrifices to do so. The cost of such provisions would not be great. Even if, in a number of instances, they were inadequately used for a time, the fact that the nation cared enough to provide these decent facilities and staff for its members of Parliament would soon bring better and better men to contemplate election to this House. We need to attract more trained minds in the technological and scientific fields. We need men of wide and outstanding business experience. We need men who have proved that they can manage their own businesses and so might be trusted with wider responsibilities.
As for modern management techniques, if ever any institution needed a solid examination it is this one. If modern universities are so complex that senior members of staff must be equipped with such things as a systematic guide and handbook for every facet of the university’s activities, kept up to date every day with the latest changes and developments in staffing, conditions and programmes, how much more is there a need for such a directory to be carefully prepared and edited for the continuous briefing of members of Parliament? Yet for the majority of members, the simplest information is often the cause of searches, telephone calls and letters which take days rather than moments to supply an answer.
I said earlier that 1 did not blame the public for getting a poor idea of the average member. A visitor comes to Canberra and enters this chamber which on most occasions is almost empty. The so-called debate is often the weakest effort in a member’s life, being a one sided repetition of party jargon, which quotes figures to prove cases which fail to convince either the opposition or the audience. Frankly, I am very doubtful indeed of the value of the debating system as it is pursued here. Little attempt is made to marshal successive arguments and to present a balanced team effort by either side. The really important debates all take place in the respective party rooms. All that the public hears, far too often, is inconsequential apologia directed at scoring off the opposing side.
It would seem to me to be sensible to have far less speeches tied to current legislation. Three goods speakers on either side of the House could cover adequately the pros and cons of most issues. The remainder of the members would then be freer to speak on topics of real concern to themselves and to their constituents or much more often than at present, and on special topics agreed upon by groups of speakers, such as we hear discussed at present as matters of urgency. If members of the several parliamentary committees, for instance, were to present an integrated series of speeches each session on a major topic under investigation by their committee, without the need to move any motion, perhaps, other than that the Government be requested to take note of so and so, then the standard of public regard for parliamentary debate would be greatly increased. In this way many more issues of wide public concern could be aired and, as a result, the Press and the Parliament could co-operate to sift the facts and to give a new sense of significance and responsibility to this chamber.
Let me conclude by making some concrete proposals for the most serious consideration of the Government. It is not too much to say, in my opinion, that the stature and even the future of the parliamentary institution is under fire at this moment. Here is what I need to do my job properly in my electorate: Firstly, I need a qualified assistant - possibly a man - who would be able to look at much of my mail and bring to my attention items which I ought to consider. He ought to be situated in my electoral office in Ashfield. He should interview in the first instance most of the people who come with routine problems. He would be able to deal with a good half of such matters without coming to see me at all. The rest, the constituents with special needs, would then get speedier and more complete attention where it was most needed.
Secondly, I need modern equipment. I have bought an electric typewriter and two dictating machines at my own expense, but I also need a photo-copying machine and a duplicator so as to keep sections of people informed about new legislation and to promote the proper kind of exchange between me, as their representative, and professional and social groupings in my electorate. For example, I ought to be able to let all the school teachers in the electorate of Evans have copies of new developments and projects bearing on their fields, or to let all the doctors and chemists have a report on new health legislation and so forth.
Thirdly, I need transportation. I like my own car, and the cost is not the prime factor here. But it is plain inefficiency to have me searching around for a parking space, and sometimes getting booked for overstaying my time in places where I have to go for official meetings and conferences. No business house of any standing would treat even its junior executives in this way. Of course, the big black cars are a wrong kind of status symbol. What is wrong with a grey popular make of sedan driven by a driver in plain clothes, available when required, to drop me near a city office or a local appointment so that I would save some hours of effort in handling my own caT?
Fourthly, I need a loose leaf compendium, which I mentioned earlier, kept constantly up to date, in which I would have from each department a standardised summary of new procedures, personnel changes and the rest. It would mean that I could look up a detail in a moment or direct an inquiry to a particular person which, at present, must go through the hands of Ministers and heads of departments, wasting all of our respective times. These are just a few personal things that I believe I have the right to ask as a member seeking to do his job for some 80,000 or more members of my constituency. As regards the other matters such as making debate in this House more meaningful, I sincerely hope that some of the points I have made will be treated seriously by those in a position to give effect to them.
– Our parliamentary system, which we have inherited from the Mother of Parliaments, has stood the test of time. I feel that it will continue to do so as long as we proceed in the way we have been proceeding. No doubt some improvements will be made to the system as the years roll by. We may well ask why this system of parliamentary government has stood the test of time so well. In my opinion the system whereby members of Parliament come from all walks of life is the sound foundation on which this Parliament stands and will continue to stand as long as we retain our present system of electing members of Parliament. While we continue to bring to this Parliament the practical knowledge from so many walks of life - not only the academic walks of life but also the practical - we will continue to progress. There is no substitute in my book for practical experience. Nothing will make this country tick better than bringing this philosophy to bear in the Parliament itself. We see this practical experience every day of the week in this Parliament and I hope we continue to see it.
The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) referred to some of the problems which he meets in carrying out his duty as a parliamentarian both here and in his electorate. I am firmly of the opinion that the staff of the Parliament makes our job in this place considerably easier than it otherwise would be. I pay a tribute to the Clerks. I pay a particular tribute to the officers of Hansard, who are so efficient, working away regardless of the hour of day or night, bringing forth the next day every word spoken in this place. Their tremendous efforts on our behalf are appreciated by me and, I am sure, by other honourable members also. The Library plays a big part in the working life of a parliamentarian. It is never too much trouble for the staff of the Library to search for information required by honourable members. The efforts of the Library staff have been of considerable assistance to me and, no doubt, to many other honourable members. To be able to go to the Library and obtain information on matters touching upon debates in this place is, having regard to the pace of modern life, of tremendous assistance to honourable members. Let us not forget, also, that great guy who looks after our transport worries in Canberra. He is a tremendous help to honourable members. There is no doubt that one can do a lot of work if one has a lot of helpers.
– Is the honourable member referring to Gordon Pike?
– Gordon Pike is the man. He looks after our transport needs. He removes a lot of responsibilities from our shoulders. I thank all of the staff of the Parliament for the great work they do.
The examination of the Estimates is an important aspect of our work. Since I have been here - it is not many years yet - the manner in which these vast expenditures are detailed has improved considerably. As these expenditures are set out now it is so much easier to understand them and to do our job. If we are to get through all the work that has to be done in a necessarily relatively short budget session and if we are diligently to examine the Estimates, it is important that all the facts should be presented clearly. This is done in the information supplied by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon).
During the last week or two - during the school holidays - we have had many visitors to Canberra. This is good. Included amongst those visitors have been students from Western Australia. They have come about 2,000 miles to look at Canberra and see how it ticks. The presence of students from so far away is rare because of the expense involved. I applaud their visiting Canberra. I would urge more students to visit this place - not just students from Western Australia but students from all over Australia. Let them come to see their capital - not ours or the Australian Capital Territory’s, but Australia’s capital. This is the capital of the leaders of the future. No doubt the members representing the constituencies from which these visitors come play their part in looking after their constituents. Some people have better opportunities than others to visit Canberra and the Parliament.
Young people today are taking a greater interest in the government of this country and in the affairs of countries to our north and elsewhere. They are hungry for information. They want to know more about the workings of Parliament. They want to know what makes Parliament tick. They want to know what the Administration does. It is fair enough that they should want to know these things. The more information that we can give to our students about the working of this Parliament - I am not talking about politics but about the administration of this place - the better informed they will be and the better able they will be to make their judgment on how the system works. This is important. I have talked to students who have been to Canberra, seen the Parliament at work and seen the development that is going on in Canberra. Their visit has imbued them with a great enthusiasm to ascertain more about this place. This information should be available to them. There may be some difficulties associated with disseminating this information. I know that some information goes out now, but there is room for greater dissemination of information. Tha information must go out in varying and appropriate forms to the different areas and schools. Some schools have facilities for screening films, whereas others do not. As a Parliament we have a responsibility to do all these things for the younger generation if for nobody else. There is a tremendous interest in the screening or televising of documentaries showing what is happening in the world. Such programmes are far better than many of the westerns and other junk that is televised today. Much of what is seen by the youngsters today is not in the best interests of this country. Documentaries can be compiled which will be of tremendous interest to the young generation. We as a Parliament should be doing more to encourage the dissemination of information of this kind.
Parliament is discussed a great deal in public gatherings. People want to know who runs the country, whether the country is run by an executive or by Parliament, and whether Parliament is a rubber stamp. I do not believe that Parliament is a rubber stamp. It is here to do a job and it does that job. Members of Parliament have every opportunity in this place to say what they think. If they have a good case I believe that those responsible in the Cabinet listen to that case. I believe that the parliamentary system we have is a sound one and that it will continue to work well. We parliamentarians represent the people as only we can represent them. We know much better than perhaps any member of the Cabinet just what takes place in our electorates. This is the essence of parliamentary representation of areas. Because we represent 124 different areas in this country the people of those areas are much closer to us with their problems than they otherwise would be. The ordinary member of Parliament is closer to the areas that he represents and knows more about the problems of those areas than would a member of Cabinet. But here in this chamber is the place where we can try to do something about them. This is what I have endeavoured to do. I have heard many times, and no doubt will hear again, that we achieve nothing by doing so, but I feel that what we say here is effective and must be effective. I believe that the people and the Government recognise that each individual member represents a group of people as well as representing Australia as a whole. Therefore, his voice must be heard; This Parliament has a big responsibility in determining our future. If matters are not stated here, where can they be stated?
The city of Canberra was developed from open country. We talk a lot about what Parliament should do to encourage decentralisation by steering the nation in the direction it has to go. A decision was made to build the capital of Australia here. I believe that decisions such as that will be made again and are being made now to build cities and big towns out in the open country where new areas can be developed. This can be done. Should we as a Parliament say nothing about this? Should we continue to permit our largest cities to become even larger? If our system of government is to be recognised as we want it to be recognised, if the people are to be represented as they should be instead of representation being promulgated through two large cities of Australia, if we are to have representation of country areas and the voice of the people in those areas is to come into the Parliament and bring forward new ideals, I feel that we must do what should be done, that is, develop more areas and build new cities away from the big cities of Australia. It is our responsibility as parliamentarians to do this.
I have the greatest faith in our democratic system and I have the greatest faith in our parliamentary system which I do not doubt will be with us for many years. It is up to us, firstly, as parliamentarians to preserve that system while we are here; and secondly, it is up to the people of Australia at election time to take an interest in what is happening around them, to face up to their responsibilities and to do what they feel is right. I have always found from my study of parliaments in Australia that the people are very much alive to this responsibility. When something is wrong in Australia they set out to do something about it. All I say to them is that if things are going to drift, do not let them drift too far. Be awake to the future. It is for this reason that I want the young people of Australia to be interested in our future. This is why I want more information moving out from Canberra to tell the young people what we are doing. This is why I should like more students to come to Canberra so that they can see for themselves how this place is developing. I believe that we should provide every opportunity to young people to come to Canberra and we should encourage them to do so, week by week and year by year.
– I propose to take advantage of my second period in this debate to say something about the institution of Parliament. We all hear much airy fairy talk about the institution of Parliament. But first I should like to say something complimentary about the people who make Parliament tick, and I am not referring to the politicians. The people who make it tick are the attendants who dance attendance on us from day to day, the young ladies who are typists and who make it possible for us to do our work, the radio commentator who makes us sound so much better and who is entitled to our thanks, and last but not least the reporters in the Press gallery. Despite the vicious attacks made by the Press barons on the reporters when they were striking for better conditions, the reporters remained loyal to their job of reporting Parliament. Despite the enormous profits made by the newspaper companies, I believe that the Press barons are still considering the claims of those very loyal members of their staff, the reporters in the Press gallery. I believe that the Public Service Board should take into consideration the work performed by the attendants at Parliament House and should give greater consideration to providing better conditions and greater salaries for all those whom I have mentioned. Let them not be suppressed or frightened by this august body, the Public Service Board, when they seek better wages and conditions.
Parliament is quite an edifying place. I nave been here for 18 years, thanks to the good sense of the people in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith, and I am looking forward to a longer period in this House. But of course the people in my electorate know that I do the job for them. We hear airy fairy talk about cars driving us about and members of Parliament being provided with chauffeurs so that they can go here and there, but I believe that it is personal contact which is demanded by people who elect us to Parliament. We should go and see the people who need us and give them our advice and help. We should visit the pensioners, the invalids and the bed-ridden people and ascertain what they want. We should be in closer contact with the people of our electorates so that we are aware of the misery and poverty that is in our midst.
I believe that the people of Australia should be aware of the composition of Parliament which is made up of three political parties. Many people do not even know the organisation of the parties. The three parties in this House are the Australian Labor Party, the Country Party and the Liberal Party. I propose to state how they should be composed and how they are set up. I take this opportunity to advise the people of Australia who are listening to my speech that in the true sense of the word the organisation of a political party calls for branch organisations in various sections of an electorate, branch delegates joining into State councils and federal council so that every section has representation, a State conference to be held annually at which policy is decided on a State basis, and federal conferences to be held at wider periods to formulate federal policy to guide members on a federal basis. The Labor Party has all these things.
It should be known that the Liberal Party of Australia confers none of these concessions on its members. It has no State or Federal conference. No executive committees are elected to guide members on policy. Control of the Liberal Party, which with the Country Party constitutes our Government, is vested in the hands of a coterie of a few wealthy individuals, who are nameless and faceless, who meet behind closed doors and who hand down the policy formulated by the various representatives of the huge monopolies now operating in all sections of our community. Instead of listening to the airy fairy stories that are published in the Press the people should be aware of how the Liberal Party is constituted and how policy is framed in little organisations that are dotted about the place. This policy is passed on to the Prime Minister who is told what these wealthy individuals have decided. The Prime Minister meets a select number of hand picked Ministers who form the Cabinet. It is interesting to know that three-quarters of the Ministers who sit on the front bench in this place have never been to a Cabinet meeting. Honourable members opposite talk about dictatorship, but only a few hand picked members of the Government constitute the Cabinet. They decide what measures are to be brought down in Parliament, after they have received their instructions from their very wealthy supporters. Many people in Australia do not realise that then we see the spectacle of prepared speeches being handed around to Government supporters who are instructed to speak in favour of some measure decided upon by the Prime Minister.
– What rot.
– What rot, the honourable member says. This is the first time this matter has been brought to public notice. It is interesting to note that many of the so called Ministers on the front bench have never been to a Cabinet meeting. Who will deny that? It is strange but true. Everything that is true is strange to honourable members opposite. Big business decides what is to be done, and woe betide the member opposite who does not slavishly and meekly follow the instructions of the Prime Minister. Big business appoints the leader and all Ministers. None is allowed to be elected by popular vote within the Government Parties. Who can deny that? Ministers are selected, just as every honourable member opposite is selected, by the powers that be which describe themselves as the Federal Council of the Liberal Party of Australia - a body that met behind closed doors in Canberra a couple of days ago.
– It does not meet behind closed doors.
– Hold on, now. The Liberal Party is just one component in the machinery of a huge political conspiracy.
The Australian Labor Party, as honourable members opposite and the people outside this House know, is the only really democratic Party in Australia. In contrast to the Liberal Party, all its leaders, both executive and parliamentary, are democratically elected by the rank and file members of the Party. There is no disputing that. There are branches of the Labor Party in all suburbs and towns and these send delegates to the Annual Conference in each State to elect the Executives that carry out Labor’s policy from year too year in the respective States. Each State Conference elects six delegates to attend the Federal Conference, representation on which has been widened this year by the election of four Federal parliamentary leaders and six State parliamentary leaders. The Liberal Party did not have the corresponding leaders at its Federal Council meeting. Some Liberal members of this Parliament were invited by Mr Pagan - that is a good name for a Liberal - to address the Federal Council, which, as I have said, meets behind closed doors. A duly elected Liberal member of this Parliament who wished to attend the meeting of the Council would have to sit in the public gallery. Is that not true?
– The honourable member is wrong.
– I am not wrong. As 1 have said, Mr Chairman, the representation at the Federal Conference of the Labor Party has been extended by the election of th<! four Federal parliamentary leaders and the six State parliamentary leaders.
– Does the representation include any members of the Young Labor Movement?
– Yes. One who attended is a member of the Queensland Parliament. How the honourable member would mislead people. The Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party numbers among its members the Secretary and President of each State body, and the Federal Parliamentary leader and his deputy, who in turn are elected in Federal Caucus by popular vote of all members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, who in turn are elected by popular vote. I emphasise that the correct expression is ‘elected’, not ‘selected’. This is the democratic way in which the
Labor Party operates - the only political party in Australia to do so. 1 might mention, Mr Chairman, that it is the only political party in Australia that condemns and has a rule disallowing any contact with the Communist Party of Australia. Can members of the Liberal Party say that they have such a rule? Can members o: the Australian Country Party say that they have such a rule? They cannot.
– Yes, we can.
– No, they cannot. We have in this House a member of the Liberal Party, who in the final count, was returned by 60 preference votes of a Communist Party candidate. Let honourable members opposite dispute that if they can.
– They cannot.
– Of course they cannot. All conferences of the Labor Party are open to the public. Can the Liberal Party make a similar claim? If not, why not? So much for this so called democratic Libera] Party. So much for the hypocrisy that we see in this House. So much for the hypocrisy of the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) who would like a car driven by a chauffeur. I am satisfied to do my work as member for Kingsford-Smith with the help of a very competent young lady who acts as my secretary and who is quite capable of looking after the work in Sydney while I am in Canberra doing my job as the representative of my constituents. Personal contact with constituents is demanded of and should be ensured by all members of this Parliament. What is the trouble with the parliamentary situation here? We find that some honourable members opposite have two or three jobs. Some of them are big lawyers and they come to Canberra in their spare time. They receive two or three incomes for their two or three jobs. A father rearing a family of four or five children, on the other hand, is forced to look for a second job so that he may keep his family in some sort of comfort. This Parliament is a great institution.
– The honourable member is not much of an ornament to it.
– I shall be here when the honourable member is gone. I suggest that members of the Liberal Party look again at some of those people who sit in august jobs on the bench and elsewhere, sitting in judgment on the family man and determining how much he and his wife and children are to eat each week, and how much rent he is to pay, in the process of declaring the basic wage. Members of the Country Party are even worse than the Liberals, for they would have us all on starvation incomes. I suggest that instead they ought to do what they can to induce those responsible for determining wages and the like to adopt a better, brighter and broader approach to the problems of the workers. Let them look into the accommodation in which some people have to live, and especially into the situation in the kitchens. Let them take note of the way in which real estate racketeers are getting away with charging £10, £12 or £14 - pounds, not dollars - a week for shanties in which workers have to try to rear families. Ministers come into the chamber with salty tears in their eyes and wonder how the poor people throughout the country must feel about this Government, which year by year is reducing the value of the dollar and slowly but surely is starving the working people of Australia into submission.
- Mr Chairman, I do not propose to follow the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) into a discussion of party policies and platforms or the composition of the Ministry. I believe that this is one occasion above all others in the year when we should be objective and consider the institution of Parliament in an unbiased manner. In my experience, which has extended over all the years during which the honourable member has sat in this place, it has always been customary, during the consideration of the estimates for the Parliament, for honourable members to bend their minds objectively to the subject. There was one sentence uttered by the honourable member with which I agree wholeheartedly: This Parliament is a great institution. I wish to confine my remarks to it as an institution.
The proposed expenditure of $3,940,000 for the Parliament is the lowest of all those that are listed in the Second Schedule to the Appropriation Bill (No. 1). This, according to my arithmetic, represents a modest increase of $236,594 over the actual expenditure on Parliament in the previous financial year.
I was very interested, as were no doubt many other members, in the remarks made earlier this afternoon by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). I agree with him that there is a great need to raise the status of the Parliament in the minds of the public. 1 agree with him that there is a need to attract by every possible means a greater and still greater number of men and women of capacity, of calibre and of experience. I do not think we can have too many people in this Parliament of experience over a wide range of activities. It is unfortunate that there is a tendency in some quarters to play down the importance of the role of Parliament and I think, as the honourable member for Evans said, that we ourselves in the Parliament are to some extent to blame for this.
I think we all accept the fact that criticism by the Press and by the public of Parliament and parliamentarians is something we have to live with. This is part and parcel of a parliamentary democracy. I do not think we should mind criticism provided it is legitimate; in other words, provided it is fair and objective and constructive. I do not think that some of the destructive forms of criticism that are voiced and printed from time to time, some of them grossly misleading and inaccurate, do justice to those who print or publish them or those who circulate or state them. Such people merely do harm to themselves and to the country and to the people’s Parliament. After all, this Parliament is the Parliament of the people of Australia. 1 think it is a good thing to remind ourselves occasionally of the constitutional status of the Parliament. The Parliament, according to the Constitution, consists of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Representatives. I think it is fair to say, too, that Parliament comprises a fair crosssection of the people of Australia. I would hazard a guess that the senators and members of this Parliament are no better and no worse than the people who elect them and send them here as their representatives. I have said before in this chamber, and I say again without any apology, that I regard Parliament and the law courts as the main bulwarks of a democratic society. It is clearly, I believe, in the best interests of the people of Australia to uphold our democratic parliamentary system through the secret ballot and also to uphold the rule of law.
I have referred, as honourable members will observe, to Parliament and the law courts because by no other means can the rights and liberties of the people be preserved and upheld. The clear alternative to this system is dictatorship and the law of the jungle. If we allow the rights and powers of Parliament to be undermined or whittled away we are failing in our duty to protect the interests of the people who send us here.
The honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Curtin), in the first of his speeches this afternoon, made what I thought was an unfortunate reference to Mr Speaker. Last February when the House elected our new Speaker I recall that one newspaper commentator stated that the office of Speaker was approximately equal to that of a very junior Minister. In other words, the writer was giving the Parliament of the nation approximate equality with a minor department of government. I did not see any correction of this and I believe that the record should be put straight. The statement was presumably made because of the financial appropriation that I referred to earlier, being the list of all the appropriations for departments and services which we are now considering. This, of course, is an entirely wrong basis of approach and results in a completely illogical assumption. There is absolutely no basis of comparison between the holder of the high office of Speaker of this Parliament and the head of a minor government department.
This National Parliament, it goes without saying, is the supreme legislative body of the country, and all Commonwealth Government departments, major or minor, are responsible to the people’s Parliament. It also goes without saying that our Parliament is modelled on the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and I personally would like to see commensurate status and recognition given to the officers of the National Parliament of Australia. It is true that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives rank fourth and fifth respectively in the Commonwealth table of precedence, but their allowances, I understand, are less than 11759/67-r R-pSi those of junior Ministers. Surely this is an anomaly and scarcely in keeping with the dignity and importance of their positions as Presiding Officers of the National Parliament.
I believe, too, that the permanent officers of this Parliament are given insufficient recognition and remuneration. They work for very long hours and very often under great pressure. The senior officers in particular work extremely hard and carry heavy responsibilities. Indeed they are the mainstay of the Parliament. 1 consider that the pay and conditions of permanent officers of the Parliament should be such as to attract capable younger men who would be prepared to give to the Parliament similar dedicated and capable service in the years that lie ahead.
I should like at this point, if I may with deep respect, to offer my congratulations to our new Speaker on settling so quickly into his high and important office. His distinguished predecessor, Sir John McLeay, had served for a record term and had won the profound respect and indeed the affection of all members for his wisdom, tolerance and understanding and for his ability to ensure that the business of the House was dealt with efficiently and expeditiously. The role of Speaker, since this has been raised by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, should, I think, be referred to at perhaps a little greater length. The role of the Speaker of this House is clearly not an easy one. He has great responsibilities. The successful functioning of the House depends very largely upon him. It is his responsibility to maintain the high traditions that have come down to us through the centuries of British parliamentary government, a form of government which cherishes the principles of liberty, freedom of speech, the rule of law and the rights of minorities. He has to uphold at all times the dignity and authority of the Chair in order to safeguard these traditions and the rights and privileges of the House and of every member of the House. Above all he must be utterly impartial and fair. Our Speakers do measure up to these standards and we have been very fortunate.
The Presiding Officer of the House must endeavour to submerge, as far as he can, his own political beliefs while at the same time serving the electorate which he represents.
His sincerity and integrity must be beyond all shadow of doubt both inside and outside the House. He must always remember that the office he holds symbolises the high traditions and the standing of the Parliament itself. Truly, Sir, an exacting and difficult job. Similar responsibilities and obligations devolve upon you, Sir, as Chairman of Committees. In that capacity you are also the Deputy Speaker of the House and, if I may say so, and as I think all honourable members will agree, you have filled this role with distinction and ability over a number of years.
This Twenty-sixth Parliament is notable in several respects. I have already referred to the fact that we have a new Speaker. We have for the first time for many years a woman member of the House of Representatives. We also have an independent member for the first time for many years. For the first time in the history of this Parliament the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has full voting rights in this chamber. We now have in our midst one of the youngest members ever to sit in this National Parliament. At the beginning of this Parliament last February, we witnessed the largest influx of new members for 17 years, an influx of youth and talent which I believe enriches this House of the Parliament. For the first time since its inception in the middle 1950s, the Foreign Affairs Committee has functioned as a joint committee in accordance with the original intention. This, I believe, is a big step forward. I hope that in the course of time more joint committees will be brought into being. I think there is a good case to be made for the establishment of a joint committee on immigration because both sides of the chamber look at this great matter of immigration and the building of the nation’s population from much the same point of view.
Finally, and by no means least, in this twenty-sixth Parliament we have a relatively new Prime Minister leading a government in his own right as a victorious party leader. We also have a new Leader of the Opposition and a new Deputy Leader of the Opposition. All these changes denote progress, with the march of time, government becomes more and more complex. The responsibilities, therefore, of all members of this Parliament become heavier and more complex. We all, in our own way, do our best to keep abreast of developments, to keep our minds informed, to cope with our responsibilities in our electorates, and to fulfil our obligations here in this chamber, by serving on committees, and acting in all the various other ways in which we are expected to act as members.
I would have liked, if time had permitted, to say something more about committees. I have already made one or two suggestions. I hope that the various parties will give consideration to the suggestions that have been made with regard to the time limitation on speeches. I speak as one who has served on the Standing Orders Committee of this chamber for a number of years. This matter has come up for consideration from time to time, but each time it has been referred back to the parties. I am not aware that this question has ever been brought to fruition but I feel - and I know there are other members who agree with me - that there is a good case to be made out for a revision of the time limits on speeches. I think there is also a case to be made out for a review with relation to the size of a quorum. There is probably a need to consider, or reconsider, the whole question of sitting days. Above all, I hope that in the course of this Parliament we shall be able to avoid the end of session rush, the bottlenecks and the sittings into the small hours of the morning such as have characterised so many sessions in recent years.
– In this debate on the Estimates, we look at this particular time at the estimated expenditure for the Parliament. My colleagues in the House would be only too well aware that this embraces all aspects of the institution to which we are linked - the Library, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Joint House Department, the standing committees of the House with respect to Public Works and Public Accounts, the conveyance of ourselves as members of the Federal Parliament and the maintenance of Ministers’ and members’ rooms. These all find a place in the estimated cost of running this institution.
I choose the word ‘institution’ very deliberately because this is the time of the year when surely we should look at the fundamental value of the institution of Parliament. This reminds us that so often at this time of the year we hear the critics, even amongst our numbers, say that the institution of Parliament is waning so far as its influence is concerned. I want to make my own case perfectly clear, I, like so many of my colleagues in this House, have a deep, well founded belief in the institution of Parliament
There are some notes that I would sound by way of guidance for me and for those who may hear my voice. To me, democracy depends on this recognition of the value of the institution. Because so many would say that the private member is losing his effectiveness; because so many would suggest that the Parliament itself is not worth its existence; because in the opinion of so many, the Executive rules the country, I think it is pertinent for me to quote quickly from a recent work by Neville Johnson in the United Kingdom entitled Parliament and Administration’. This writer says:
It seems to me that the argument about the need to remedy the weakness of Parliament rests upon foundations which are less strong than its supporters may believe. Parliament’s relations with the Executive were not so fundamentally different in the nineteenth century from what they are now as we can easily see by turning to some of the standard works on parliamentary government of a century or so ago.
In the context of the British conception of Parliament, many of the procedures and activities of the House of Commons make better sense and have a greater degree of political effectiveness than some of its critics will allow. Above all, there is a certain internal consistency in the pattern of procedures and powers which constitute Parliament which is often neglected by those who would graft onto current British parliamentary practice devices which are really consistent only with another species of parliament
That quotation brings me to the affirmation that we dare not just discard forms and procedures because they may have been traditional. I believe there are many aspects of our operations which, being traditional, we must constantly research to see what their fundamental basis may represent. In the retention of certain of our procedures, may I underline, as I endeavoured to do in a contribution in the House only yesterday, the value of eternal vigilance. Who was it that years ago gave to us a cliche which often is repeated and the truth of which cannot be denied? It was Rousseau who said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
In the context of the parliamentary institution, it is my firm belief that this is true. Some would criticise the contention that we are statesmen but, being elected to come to a national Parliament, we have the status of statesmen upon us, and if we are worth our salt then we must be eternally vigilant for it is only by eternal vigilance that we will protect democracy so far as the institution of Parliament is concerned.
So there is an appropriation of funds for the whole operation of government. There is the importance of adequate and regular reporting to this House. We have a high statutory officer in the person of the Auditor-General. We have certain statutory corporations. There are departments, bureaus and other institutions which are required under the legislation to bring an annual report to this House each year. Let there be any freedom in this or any neglect on our part and we will see broken down this basic conception of the Parliament being supreme, even over any executive government which may be elected. In the ultimate, there is control over those statutory corporations to which I have made reference.
Adequate scrutiny and discussion must always exist in a Parliament of this kind so far as the revenues of the country and the accompanying expenditures are concerned. There are some who say that we should never neglect to look at expenditure. In the same terms, as a Parliament, we must give constant scrutiny to the sources of the revenues which make the expenditure possible. So today, as I have said, I remind myself and those who listen to me that the Parliament must be vigilant to protect itself from the changes which, although they may be expedient, may make inroads into the supremacy of this Parliament. Yesterday it was my responsibility to say that if there is to be a change in appropriations, if any one department is to be on a new concept, if we are to have a one line appropriation, let us research just what this means for fear that we will not have enough detail as a Parliament, to evaluate whether the department is being correctly organised and administered. To do this, the parliamentary programme, under the Leader of the House, must provide adequate opportunity for debate. This is a precious right of any Parliament. We have a natural responsibility to look to the Leader of the House to make our requirements as a Parliament made known. One of the things that we have learned to appreciate in recent years is the provision of opportunity to debate reports of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conferences. We have been able to try to evaluate the worth of this Commonwealth which is under so much criticism today. It is because of the reaction of the Leader of the House in the provision of time that we are able to debate such an important subject.
Statutory committees, which are provided in this Parliament and. in other Australian parliaments, have a great influence in the sphere I have mentioned. The Parliament should always ensure that the statutory committees are adequately serviced, encouraged and used. There is provision in our legislation respecting these committees enabling the House to remit problems to the statutory committees. In the history of the Public Accounts Committee this has never yet been done by the House of Representatives. It is there as an available avenue for use in the interests of the supremacy of the Parliament. The House receives reports from such committees and it also receives minutes in respect of the Public Accounts Committee relative to the action taken by the Administration with, of course, ultimate responsibility resting on the Executive. When the statutory committee reports these Treasury minutes to the Parliament it is an indication that the reporting action bas been rounded off - the circle of responsibility has been followed. These reports are not just lost. I would be ashamed to be associated with a reporting device akin to committees that we see out in the ordinary commercial field where reports and recommendations forwarded are lost or never heard of. Thank goodness that in the concept of the Public Accounts Committee and other parliamentary committees when a report has been submitted there is a later indication that cognisance has been taken of the contents of that report. In connection with these committees I point out that adequate work of depth and value cannot be performed unless proper tools are provided. My colleague, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), as a private member pointed out that he cannot perform his duties as such unless he is given the tools of trade with which to work. If time permits I will support him on the same lines.
I point out how inadequate is the staffing of the particular Committee with which I am associated and about which I have spoken today. Not long ago in ‘Canberra Comments’, which is produced by the Chamber of Commerce, it was stated that the Public Accounts Committee itself is in need of strengthening by giving it adequate specialised staff, more time for its inquiries in the parliamentary schedule, and better public inquiry room facilities. In that publication the following comment appeared:
Inquiries into the efficiency with which funds arespent are equally important as investigations as to whether moneys have been satisfactorily accounted for.
Research staff is required. Let me put it on record that in January 1966 representations were made for increased staff for this statutory Committee. I am afraid that it wilt be 1968 before we find out whether the submission has been approved or rejected for we wait, at the moment, with no indication of what the position may be. Of course, we drew the palriament’s attention to this in the Eighty-ninth Report of the Committee - this marking the end of the Sixth Committee last year. We stated:
Research work for a Committee of this nature is essential and the present staff is inadequate to cope with programmes reasonably designed to make an impact upon the Public Service and also to influence a good proportion of the Items in the Annual Estimates of the Parliament.
The Public Service is under criticism today and, as the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has justifiably said in recent years, every estimate should be looked at. The Public Accounts Committee is desirous of doing this, but it has inadequate tools to perform the work.
Finally, I come to my responsibilities as a private member. I have a task to do in Canberra. I am removed from my home, my office and my own personal secretary. I have to find an answer for my commitments, heavy as they are, in the typists that are available here. There are two typists for the >whole team of Government members. When some of my new colleagues protested the other day we received a circular stating that some private work was being done, that the typists could not be increased in number, that there were no rooms available for them and that typists would not be able to do the private work of members, even though they are removed from their homes, or emergency correspondence relating to personal, electorate and church matters, all of which are part of a member’s life. Is this fair? It is quite impossible for me to do my work and to give of my best efforts if I have not the services of a private secretary in Canberra to help me and to enable me to keep my mind clear for the research and valuable work I must do. I do not care if there is inadequate accommodation. I am a private member who, in this debate, says he needs the tools of trade. I support the remarks of the honourable member for Evans. I ask for a typist to be made available to do any of the work I want done.
– Does the honourable member want a liveried chauffeur?
– Yes, I would like a chauffeur, too. We have been asking for a new Parliament House and a joint committee, was appointed. I wonder how long it will be before we see plans.
– There is no joint committee now. r
– There was. The committee will have to be re-appointed. If we add to the present Parliament House let us add to it so that members can be given proper facilities. Let us not be put off by the promise of a new Parliament House suitable for the work we do and suitable for this national capital. In the new building, when it is constructed, I hope there will be better party room facilities with adequate maps so that members, during the course of their party room debates, can see the areas of the world about which they sire speaking. I hope that we will have better facilities so that we do not have to sit in party rooms which are ill designed for the numbers that occupy them.
In my electorate, how poorly off I am. When my secretary is due for her leave I have to do the work personally, pay for a relief secretary or call on my wife to meet the emergency. When I am away from my electorate I have to close my office doors. This is not fair. This is not the way, as the honourable member for Evans said, to treat a responsible executive, for an executive I am if I am doing the work that is commissioned for me to perform. These are fundamental aspects of parliamentary representation. I remind myself again, and I remind those who listen to me, that the institution of Parliament requires the provision of these facilities and the support and understanding that I have tried to indicate.
Mr BRYANT (Wills) (5.43)- I support the closing remarks of the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver). One of the problems we face as ordinary members of this Parliament is that most of the people who make the decisions on our behalf - that is, the senior Ministers - have had very little experience of being private members in recent times. The Treasurer ‘ (Mr McMahon) came into the Parliament in 1949 and he was made a Minister in 1951. He would not know what it is like to be deprived of his office staff because they are enjoying properly earned leave. My own office has been closed for the last 2 weeks, and it will be closed for the next week. The door is shut. All I can do is to put a sign on the door suggesting that callers ring a certain telephone number. I regard this as a serious reflection .upon the capacity of Parliament to perform its work. We live in a highly literate, demanding society. I believe - and I put this to honourable members on the other side for whom I have a reasonable regard - that something should be done about the situation. The Prime Minister has been a Minister for 17 or 18 years. Before that he was a Minister on some other occasions. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), I think, has had a similar parliamentary career to that of our friend the Treasurer. In other words, these men little know what it is like to have very few resources at their disposal. I think it is time for a small revolt from all of us. It is not a political question. It is a different world and I for one work pretty much around the clock and do whatever comes my way no matter what it is whether it is parliamentary or not because I believe that is the way that this Parliament works. I again support the honourable member for Swan on the letter we received from the Speaker. In my 12 years in this Parliament it is the first suggestion from anyone in what passes for an authority that the member’s work is under scrutiny, surveillance or direction. I believe that in this place each one of us is equal. I am the honourable member for Wills, the Prime Minister is the honourable member for Higgins and the Treasurer is the honourable member for Lowe. Each one of us is a member of Parliament and a direct representative of the people. Any office that is conferred by this Parliament only flows from the membership of this Parliament. The member has no executive authority, no prestige and no status outside this Parliament. The Prime Minister of Australia is Prime Minister because he is a member of this Parliament. He has all the rights and duties of that office. He is entitled to all the resources necessary to do the job but this does not make a difference in his fundamental task for the people.
This afternoon I hope that honourable members will start to look at this institution as ,it is- the executive authority of a modern nation. To all intents and purposes, this is the real authority which runs the country. .The Ministry comes from Parliament and .the charter of public departments flows from Acts of this Parliament. Our Parliament today is the end result of 700 years of evolution. We should start to look at many of its functions, the way it carries these functions out and the way it works and . we should change them where necessary. It is my belief that this Parliament is too. restrictive in its procedures in this chamber. I believe that Parliament is much too inflexible in the way it goes about its work. In fact, Parliament is run with machine like precision. The Speaker takes his place in the chair, reads prayers, and bang, it is on. The bells ring at the start of a day and away we go. Each one of us is caught in an inexorable machine in which it is almost impossible to change the tempo df the moment to fit the needs of the moment. For instance, last night on the motion for the adjournment the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), who is the Leader of the House spoke in response to a debate that’ had taken place. According to the Standing Orders he was closing the debate and this was the end of it. The
Minister is a man of exquisite courtesy occasionally. We are not always accustomed to such courtesy from the ministerial bench, except for the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly), who is so courteous that we hear from him very little. In this case, the Minister for Immigration decided that other people ought to be heard but we had to go through some rather odd procedures to enable that to happen. I say that the procedures are inflexible and they prevent proper discussion.
Finally, I believe we are executive dominated. We cannot ignore these facts. The Ministry makes its decision. The Ministry in the present situation is selected by the Prime Minister. The parties on the other side either support the Ministry or do not support it. It does not seem to make much difference whether they do or do not as this procedure still rolls on. There is little opportunity for discussion or consideration whatsoever. Recently the Parliament considered the Aged Persons Homes Act. The Labor Party, put forward the proposal that the trade union movement should be included in the list of bodies such as the returned soldiers organisations and church organisations which were to be assisted under the legislation. It would not have been of much trouble to fit in the trade union movement. To me this’ seemed eminently reasonable and I think perhaps members on the other side might have thought the same. But why was not it accepted? Why could not we sit down and say: That is reasonable enough. Even if that fellow from Wills has suggested this’ it is not terribly subversive.’ In this case the suggestion did not come from myself but from other members of my Party. However, there was no machinery to consider such a matter. This was a very minute matter but the machinery rolled on. It did not matter a darn what we did. We threw our recommendation across King’s Hall to the other place. It came back to us and it went backwards and forwards between the two Houses. In the end we decided that it would be better, perhaps, if people got on with building homes as provided by the machinery. This is not the way that any of us would treat each other if we were dealing with private affairs. I have sat with members of Parliament on committees of all sorts. I have found complete communion of spirit between, these members on some matters, on committees dealing with the Library and Aboriginal people and so on. With these members, on political matters in this House I might be in complete disagreement about 90% of the time. So, I believe we have to design new machinery. I am not sure how it will be done but I have some ideas. There has to be more consultation between members. I put this forward as the most pressing requirement if the Parliament is to work.
One of the most depressing features of the referendum held in May was not the fact that the proposal to change the Constitution was rejected, but that people behind the No case said that there was something wrong with members of Parliament and that they did not trust them. This probably flows from the fact that people do not realise that the give and take that is involved in parliamentary debate is not necessarily directed against the institution. But there is a great deal of denigration of this Parliament that comes from people who write in the newspapers and so on. All the members of the Press gallery in this place do not do this but there are a number of people who spend a great deal of time writing this Parliament down. They have little appreciation of the work a member of Parliament has to do. Members of Parliament have three or four functions to perform. We are legislative in the first instance. It was an ancient tradition for a member to go to the Commons and sit there for a few hours a week. They passed laws or they did not and that was that. Our legislative function is the most important as far as the nation is concerned. But probably in the present day and age our representative function is more important. We are the continuing ombudsmen of the Australian parliamentary system. When a citizen walks into our office and we take down his complaints and talk on the phone to some public department about a matter of some urgency we have broken some of the knots in the red tape. This is a very important function of a member of Parliament because we live in such a highly complicated and complex society. In such a society the average citizen, particularly new Australians and elderly folk, find themselves completely baffled in trying to deal with departmental procedures. I believe that it is important that we should have the necessary facilities to carry out these functions properly.
Another matter I want to deal with concerns the furniture in our offices. Who designed this furniture? I think it must have been someone who was Queen Victoria’s aunt. Some time ago I wrote to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) and suggested it was reasonable, after a certain number of years in Parliament that one should have enough shelving to hold, say, the parliamentary papers. Perhaps I am a bower bird about these papers but, if you have been in Parliament for 8 or 9 years you will have insufficient shelving to carry the papers for that period. With exquisite courtesy, the Minister wrote to me and said that I could have the shelves if I paid for them myself. Being a man of infinite capacity I built them myself. This is surely not a way for a parliamentary system to work.
Finally, the Parliament is a protective device for the community. This is the court of last appeal. This is the place where we have to protect the rights and traditions of the Australian community. I am nol sure that we are too tender about this on most occasions. I believe that we have to meet more sensibly. Honourable members can obtain from the papers office a list of the days and hours of sitting of the Parliament since Federation. In 1901, the year of Federation, we met for 113 days. This is perhaps hardly a fair comparison since it was the first year of the new Parliament. In 1947 the Parliament sat 92 days; in 1948 it sat 90 days; in 1949 it sat 80 days; in 1950, the first flush of this new Government, it sat 83 days; in 1965 it sat 76 days; in 1966 it sat 55 days; and this year it will probably sit about 60 days. We cannot conduct the business of this nation in that time.
Neither can we conduct the business in the nonsensical hours during which we meet. What an idiotic procedure. We fly into Canberra on Tuesday and we buzz out again on Thursday night or Friday morning. We have no time to stop, look and talk. There is no way in which members can get accommodation round the place. I have pointed out to people that although Canberra was built for Parliament it certainly was not built for parliamentarians. All of us have families and a large continent such as ours presents transport difficulties. I feel that we should give serious consideration to changing the sitting hours of the Parliament and that we should tit for longer periods during the year. I personally resent sitting after about 10 p.m. or 10.30 p.m. Like most of us, I am endowed with reasonable health but I find that the day becomes tedious at about that hour and I feel that we cannot possibly carry out our duties properly. I believe that we observe the present hours to meet the administrative convenience of the Cabinet and that we are conducting the legislative discussion and consultative processes of this Parliament during whatever time is left after the Ministry has dealt with its files. I do not think that we spend enough time on legislation. I feel that the answer to this is in the committee system.
I was a member of the Select Committee on Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines about 3 or 4 years ago and there were three or four members from each side of the chamber on the Committee. We started from different ends of the solar system, the stellar system or the political system in our views but after consideration we arrived at the same conclusions. One of the interesting features to me was the fact that as soon as one of the members of that Committee became the Minister for Territories - I refer to the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Barnes) - he became the private possession of his Department. Although he had signed a recommendation late in 1963 that there should be a standing committee on aborigines, in early 1964 when we approached him as the Minister for Territories regarding the proposed committee he said that we did not need it now as we had a department to handle the matter. Why did he have more faith in his Department than he had in his colleagues? In that way we were removed again from the field of decision, the field of consulation, and the Minister became the public relations officer for his Department.
We have plenty of evidence in this Parliament on how committees can work. I think that the Public Accounts Committee functions smoothly and I think the Public Works Committee functions smoothly. Perhaps those two Committees should do a little more, but there are limits to what people can do. I believe that there could.be countless more committees. There are lots of fields in which Ministers, if they have any faith in this institution, could call upon members of Parliament for assistance. Take the integration of the Services for example. It is not a controversial political issue but it is something to which members of this Parliament could turn their attention. Then there are certain developments in the field of education, such as the national matriculation standard, which we could examine. There are plenty of opportunities to consider matters free of the ordinary biases that are created by ordinary departmental procedures. I believe that we must change to fit into the important, democratic and literate society that we represent. As I say, I am not too sure what these changes will mean but I do believe our standing orders have to be made more flexible so that more members from the back benches on both sides of the House can play a part. This is probably step one. Secondly, the hours of sitting have to be rationalised in the interests of the health of the people concerned. Thirdly, the resources behind the Parliament - the Library, the secretarial typing service and so on - have to be adequate to meet the task that each one of us is required to perform.
I hope that honourable members from both sides of the House will remember that this Parliament is probably one of the most effective democratic institutions in the world if it is made to work properly and that Australia is a stable, secure society. This is one of the places in which experimental development in parliamentary work can be carried out without fear of damaging the administrative and political system of the nation.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House of certain decisions that the Commonwealth Government has taken in respect of Aboriginals following the referendum in May of this year and subsequent discussions with the States.
Before doing so, may I briefly remind honourable members, of the two changes that have been made in the Constitution and the reasons for them?
Section 127 of the Constitution has been repealed. This section provided that, in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives should not be counted. The framers of the Constitution had, as their principal reason for including this section in the Constitution, the practical difficulty of counting the Aboriginal population at that time. In 1900 this was a very substantial problem. Today, however, the facilities for including Aboriginals in a census are greater and the need for the section no longer exists. This was the first change.
The second change has been the deletion of the words ‘other than the aboriginal race in any State’ from paragraph xxvi of section 51. Section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution formerly read:
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
The people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.’
This part of the Constitution had been framed as a protection for Aboriginals but a belief had developed that it was discriminatory and, while the Government considered this to be erroneous, the belief persisted.
It was felt therefore that the words in question should be removed and this has now been done. One effect of omitting the words has been to confer upon the Commonwealth a power to make special laws for the people of the Aboriginal race in any State if the Parliament considers it desirable or necessary. This is what we call a concurrent legislative power. In other words, it is now possible for the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate, but it does not mean that the States automatically lose their existing powers. There has been, and there is, no intention on the part of the Commonwealth that authority should be, as it were, wrested from the States.
The public voted overwhelmingly in support of these changes and the Govern ment took steps to recognise the implications of that vote. In my second reading speech on the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Bill 1967 on 1st March of this year, I said that, if proposals relating to Aboriginals were approved, the Government ‘would regard it as desirable to hold discussions with the States to secure the widest measure of agreement with respect of Aboriginal advancement’.
Commonwealth and State Ministers directly concerned with Aboriginal affairs met in Perth on 21st July for their normal biennial meeting. My colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), represented the Commonwealth Government. A wide ranging discussion took place on policy and administrative matters relating to Aboriginals. There was a general agreement among the States on their relationship with the Commonwealth in these matters and there will be, of course, further consultations in the future. A report on the meeting recently held will be made to the House by my colleague, the Minister for Territories, I believe at the conclusion of what I now have to say.
I would stress at this point that, while the Commonwealth Parliament is now in a position to make laws and to prevail should a conflict arise with the States, the Commonwealth does not seek to intrude unnecessarily in this field, or into areas of activity currently being dealt with by the States. There is a big variation in circumstances and needs of Aboriginals in the different States, as all honourable members who have made a study of this matter, will readily agree. For this reason, administration has to be on a regional - or State - basis if it is to be effective. This is the only practical way of ensuring that Aboriginals receive direct attention and assistance.
The Government believes that the needs of Aboriginals should continue to be kept in their true perspective as predominantly social problems and not magnified or misrepresented to suggest that the problem* are racial. The Government also believesthat it is not right to say that the Commonwealth and the States have done little in the past for Aboriginals. A great deal has been done by Australian governments in recent years and I will say more on this, point later.
The prime function of the Commonwealth, in the light of these changes to the Constitution, will be to carry out a policy co-ordinating role. The Commonwealth will not assume the responsibility for administration which is largely with the States, except in those areas like the Northern Territory where we already have a direct commitment. There will be a significant advantage in policy co-ordination and this should facilitate the sharing of experience by the Commonwealth and the States in the interests of our Aboriginal citizens. It will also allow us to keep the Aboriginal question properly in its perspective in our international relationships.
To achieve this objective, the Government proposes to establish an Office of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra. Its task will be to co-ordinate policy and to provide the machinery necessary for joint consultations as the need arises with the States and with relevant Commonwealth departments. The new Office will draw on the experience of the Department of Territories and have its assistance in any administrative support that may be needed. The Office itself, however, will come within the Prime Minister’s Department. It will thus come under my own administration and have a central status as the Commonwealth agency co-ordinating policy affecting Aboriginals. This arrangement will facilitate communication between the Premiers of the States and myself on Aboriginal matters, and further it will provide a special avenue of communication with the Government by Aboriginals themselves or by organisations representing them.
The Commonwealth will make appropriate financial provision required by the policies and particular decisions adopted in the future by the Commonwealth either on its own initiative or arising out of Commonwealth and State consultation. We will also continue the present practice of making financial provision for Aboriginal advancement through its Departments of Territories and Interior where our direct responsibilities are concerned and to the States in the general context of CommonwealthState financial arrangements. Through the Department of Health we will conduct special health surveys and campaigns among Aboriginals, as we have in the past, in co-operation with the States. We will continue to finance the Australian
Institute of Aboriginal Studies through the Department of Education and Science. The Office of Aboriginal Affairs will be able to exercise a valuable co-ordinating role in all these matters. These Government activities, Commonwealth and State, have been strongly and effectively supported by church missions and by many voluntary organisations throughout Australia. This devoted work, I am confident, will continue.
The Commonwealth has already done much in its own right to advance the welfare of the Aboriginals as members of the Australian community. I pay tribute to the States for what they have done in their own fields. At the same time, I commend to your notice the work and results achieved by our own Department of Territories which, for a number of years now, has accepted tasks beyond the normal limits of its responsibilities in Aboriginal welfare.
The Government long ago established a policy of assimilation as the proper policy for Aboriginals. At a conference of Ministers in 1965, the definition of assimilation was revised to read as follows:
The policy of assimilation seeks that all persona of Aboriginal decent will choose-
I emphasise the words ‘will choose’: to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community - enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibility and influenced by the same hopes and loyalties as other Australians. Any special measures taken are regarded as temporary measures, not based on race, but intended to meet their need for special care and assistance, and to make the transition from one stage to another in such a way as will be favourable to their social, economic and political advantage.
The word ‘assimilation’ is often misunderstood. There is nothing mandatory or arbitrary about it and it does not mean interbreeding with the avowed objective of eventually eliminating the Aboriginal physical features or Aboriginal culture. It may be that this will happen but if it does it is a matter of individual decision and not of policy. Assimilation means that the Aboriginals can be similar to other citizens, not, of course, in looks, but with regard to all the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. Our aim is to help the Aboriginals to become an integral part of our Australian community life.
The Ac-original population in Australia is increasing and some forecasts suggest that the number might double by the end of the century. The Aboriginal population in Australia is now a little over 130,000. It is made up of 44,600 full blooded Aboriginals, 77,500 part Aboriginals and 8.000 Torres Strait Islanders. There is, as honourable members know, the widest range of social levels in our Aboriginal population. There are nomads - a few only now - living an utterly primitive life remote from civilisation. There are some living a tribal existence and some living an urban existence. There are others at all stages of advancement between this and full participation in the life of the wider Australian community as fully assimilated citizens. It is wrong perhaps to put a money value on what we are doing for Aboriginals but at least some figures will give evidence that what we are doing is increasing in scale. Last year the Commonwealth and the States spent $21m specifically on Aboriginal advancement and this year the figure will be higher. Our own figure is significantly higher and we await the States Budget provisions, but we know they will be higher. In 1944 Australian Governments were spending just under $500,000, so there has been a very big and important . increase in expenditure - from less than $500,000 to $21m.
The Commonwealth has already provided $4,500,000 for Aboriginal advancement this year - a 27% increase on expenditure last year. There are other less visible areas of Government assistance to Aboriginals because, as citizens, they benefit in the normal way like other Australians from the services provided by various Government Departments.
In the last few years the Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory legislatures have been active in progressively removing all discriminatory legislation from the relevant Acts of Commonwealth and State Parliaments and, therefore, direct benefits are not as readily identifiable as they were in the past.
It is sometimes thought that the bulk of the problems arising in connection with Aboriginals will disappear provided money is made available on a large scale. This approach does not sufficiently recognise the fact that many of the problems are psychological and social in character and that the expenditure of money that is not directed to solutions based on assured practical foundations will not resolve, but may accentuate, some of the problems.
Assimilation as we have defined it is two-way, requiring adjustment in outlook and a sympathetic understanding on the part of citizens both of European and Aboriginal race in the community. In the legal and formal sense none of the opportunities open to Australians generally are closed to Aboriginals. What is needed in many cases is help which will equip the Aboriginal, by education and iri every possible way, aud in their outlook, to avail themselves of these opportunities. To attain our goal, patience, persistence and understanding are essential. What we are doing will not mean that Aboriginals, as citizens, will lose their identity, their pride of race and their culture. It will mean that, through successive generations, cultural adjustments will take place - as they do in every society the world over- and that our Aboriginals will grow, without any enforced transition, into the national environment in which they live.
– by leave - The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has stated the Government’s intentions regarding the Commonwealth’s participation in Aboriginal affairs. He mentioned the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Aboriginal welfare, held in Perth on 21st July under the chairmanship of the Hon. E. H. M. Lewis, MLA, Minister for Education and Native Welfare in Western Australia. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the following statement which gives in some detail an account of the proceedings of the conference.
A conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs was held in Perth on 21st July under the chairmanship of the Honourable E. H. M. Lewis, M.L.A., Minister for Native Welfare in Western Australia. A list of those present is attached to this statement
The Perth conferencehadbefore it thePrime Minister’s statement in the second reading speech on the Constitution (Aboriginals) Alteration Bill that if the referendum were successful, the Commonwealth would regard it as desirable to hold discussions with the States to secure the widest measure of agreement with respect to Aboriginal advancement. The State Ministers formulated a common approach by the States for consideration by the Commonwealth. This reads as follows:
I agreed to convey the views of State Ministers to the Commonwealth Government. The statement that has just been made by the Prime Minister has indicated the action which the Commonwealth proposes to take. The conference at Perth made a review of Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia. Some of the progress noted by those participating in the Perth conference was as follows:
Legislative changes to remove discriminatory and protective provisions applicable to Aborigines by reasons of their race are virtually complete.
In 1966-67 Australian Governments spent almost $15,000,000 directly on Aboriginal welfare. When another $5,000,000 or $6,000,000 is added to allow for the costs incurred by Education, Health, Housing and Social Service Departments in relation to Aborigines, it appears that some $21,000,000 annually is being expended on Aboriginal advancement
Efforts are continuing to expand and train welfare staffs. Throughout Australia there is now 1 full-time member of Government and mission staffs to every 70 Aborigines and part-Aborigines.
Special housing ‘programmes are being extended, both by construction by welfare authorities and an increasing number through normal community housing schemes.
Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal children are responding to encouragement to stay at school longer.
Greater emphasis is being placed on vocational training and employment opportunities and on advice and assistance in family living where required to help families to make the difficult transition from ‘fringe dwelling’ to life as part of the community.
More staff, more money, new institutions and programmes can only go part of the way towards resolving all the varied problems in this field. Acceptance of Aborigines and part-Aborigines on the part of the community and personal encouragement to them are needed. Response by the Aboriginal people themselves is another essential element of real progress. The efforts of all three, the Aboriginal people, the community and Governments need to be welded together if we arc to have a satisfactory result. Ministers at the Perth conference considered that there were hopeful signs in respect of all three elements. They believed that it was not realistic to think that the social changes involved could be made in a short space of time. Continued and accelerated progress was the requirement and is in prospect.
No change was made at the Perth conference to the common objective of assimilation accepted by all Australian Governments since 1951. The policy of assimilation seeks that all persons of Aboriginal descent will choose to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community- enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same’ responsibilities and influenced by the same hopes and loyalties as other Australians. The Conference went a considerable distance in formulating agreed policy statements in a number of fields. These are covered under the main headings below.
Training and Employment: Conference recognised the key importance of adequate training and employment opportunities for the advancement of Aborigines and supported special programmes to these ends where existing programmes had not been fully effective. Ministers considered that advancement in other fields needs to be matched by the economic advancement of Aborigines. In remote areas real problems are being encountered in providing suitable or enough employment opportunities for Aborigines and it is not easy for the Aborigines to move or adjust to areas of greater opportunity. It was agreed that more work is needed to assess employment potentials and stimulate employment opportunities.
Conference supported equality under awards and equality of wages and employment conditions for Aborigines and would regard it as proper for welfare administrations where necessary to take an active role in assisting Aborigines to obtain those conditions. In many cases there will be a need for the welfare administration to advise young people on job opportunities, assist them in obtaining proper placement and keep in touch with them when they have been placed. It was agreed that employment conditions appropriate to normal industry should not necessarily apply to areas where Aborigines are in a training or relief situation.
Business Undertakings: Conference recognised that the advancement of Aborigines should be considered not only in terms of their becoming wage and salary earners in the community but also in their taking up avenues of self-employment or business undertakings. These developments should be fostered wherever possible. Conference drew attention to the value of the continuing development of individual business and corporate enterprises conducted by Aborigines and affirmed that the further development of such projects would continue to be encouraged by advice and financial assistance where appropriate. As well as special arrangements, such enterprises have access to the normal banking and financial arrangements and where applicable, incentives for industrial development.
Land Matters: Ministers noted that considerable attention had been devoted to the question of land rights’ for Aborigines during the referendum campaign. A major concern appeared to be that Aborigines should have the opportunity to own or lease land on reserves and they should be given assistance to establish themselves on the land.
To make more effective use of Reserve lands South Australia has recently established an Aboriginal Lands Trust consisting wholly of Aboriginal members ‘to sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise deal with’ lands vested in it Legislation providing for the lease of land in Aboriginal reserves to Aboriginal co-operative societies and predominantly Aboriginal companies and the creation of an Aboriginal Reserves Land Board with an Aboriginal majority is currently being considered by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. Aborigines in the Northern Territory can already obtain leases on Reserves or elsewhere by the normal processes or leases outside Reserves of up to 160 acres. In the legislation referred to it is proposed that the latter provision be retained but without limitation of area.
In Queensland any Aboriginal can own or hold land in his own right or obtain leases in Aboriginal Reserves. Many do. In Western Australia assistance is provided to suitable applicants in establishing farms. Two applications have been granted in respect of reserves set aside for land settlement.
Conference recognised that in some States and the Northern Territory Aboriginal reserve land constitutes a resource for advancing Aborigines and supported measures to make effective use of this resource. The actual measures to be taken would vary according to local land law and potential usage, and the views of the local legislation and the Aboriginal people. Such proposals should not, however, restrict other developments, e.g., by mining, forestry or other industries which could be of considerable direct and indirect benefit to the Aborigines by providing them with employment opportunities, the opportunity to benefit from improved community facilities and to participate in wider community affairs.
Advancement of Women: In many Aboriginal communities which are still traditionally oriented in varying degrees women have an inferior status resulting from systems of marriage promise, marriage at puberty and polygamous unions. Other factors which may retard their well being and social advancement are early child-bearing and frequent births together with lack of or inability to make use of infant welfare services. Even when traditional influences have been largely put aside, Aboriginal women still face difficulties because of education and social handicaps in following careers or adjusting to a modern home environment
Remedial measures include education, social training especially in home management, participation in community social activities and, where sought by the individual person or family concerned, the availability of family planning advice and facilities. Conference supported balanced programmes for advancing the status of Aboriginal women to be formulated within the framework of overall programmes.
Aboriginal Culture: Traditional Aboriginal culture was inextricably bound up with religion, kinship and areas of ritual or sacred significance. Much of it has inevitably been lost or set aside by necessary adjustments to a new or settled way of life.
Conference recognised the value to Aborigines and to the enrichment of Australian cultural life of encouraging pride and participation in elements of traditional Aboriginal culture in such forms as legend, music, dance and art. It is not the policy of welfare administrations to seek to destroy such cultural elements, but to encourage them, in promoting the advancement of Aborigines in the general community.
Consultation with Aborigines: Ministers noted that there appeared to be some misconception that Aboriginal affairs administrations tend to act without consulting Aborigines and part-Aborigines or without regard for their views.
Conference re-affirmed that Aborigines and part- Aborigines should be consulted at all levels in formulating and carrying out policies for their advancement. The need for and value of such consultation has been recognised for some time past and a number of measures taken to obtain it For example in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, Aborigines are members of the welfare boards. The Aboriginal Lands Trust in South Australia is wholly composed of Aborigines. In Queensland and South Australia, councils have been established by law for the management of Aboriginal affairs in particular areas. In all States and the Northern Territory Aborigines participate in councils and committees concerned with advising on and managing Aboriginal affairs at various levels.
Entry on to Reserves: Conference agreed that in the interests of the Aboriginal people in those States and the Northern Territory where there are still congregations of Aborigines on reserves a form of permit system should be retained until such time as their communities through their own Councils can handle this matter or until ‘such time as permits are no longer necessary. Conference noted the increasing burden being placed on Aboriginal communities in remote areas by research work and by the demands of commercial
T.V. and film units and suggested that while the permit system is retained the views of Aboriginal communities should be sought
The Conference noted developments in a number of other fields.
Education: Greatly intensified efforts have been made in recent years to provide full educational opportunities for Aborigines. Increasing provision is being made for pre-schools and adult education. Special note was made of the increasing number of Aborigines and part-Aborigines progressing to secondary education and staying at school longer. Authoritative figures to document this progress are not available because more and more Aboriginal children are merging with the general educational stream and are not counted separately. Where necessary special schools have been established to ensure that Aborigines have equal opportunities. All administrations have programmes for financial assistance, scholarships or bursaries for this purpose. It was clear to Ministers that no Aboriginal or part-Aboriginal child had to forego educational opportunities because of his family’s financial position.
Housing: Ministers drew attention to factors apart from finance which were important in the resolution of Aboriginal housing problems. These include the capacity of the Aborigines themselves to manage a new housing situation and the acceptance of Aboriginal housing by the community. Precipitate action to locate Aborigines in houses for which they are not suited or in areas where undue social stresses can occur might do damage to long-term programmes.
Many part-Aborigines and Aborigines can be provided for by normal Housing Commission programmes, or by normal home-financing schemes. Although sometimes unavoidable, it is generally undesirable that they should be grouped in houses which are designated as Aboriginal bousing. For those unaccustomed to the concept of modern housing or its use, transitional-type housing is needed to enable progression from stage to stage. In both cases it is necessary to provide suitable housing adapted to the Aborigines’ stage of development and capacity to pay.
For both Aborigines and part-Aborigines special assistance from welfare authorities and agencies is frequently necessary to enable them to adjust satisfactorily to a new environment. This could involve ensuring that they understand their new obligations and supporting them when in difficulties. Conference noted that considerable expenditure on housing for Aborigines and part- Aborigines by Aboriginal welfare authorities totalling S6,294,000 in the last 5 years and that in addition, houses allotted to Aborigines by the various State and Territory housing authorities were in excess of 1,000.
Social Services: Conference noted the considerable advance made in recent years in paying pensions direct to Aborigines rather than through some other person or authority on behalf of the pensioner. The process was almost complete in South Australia and Queensland and there was a distinct trend towards direct payment in other areas. Pensioners in New South Wales and Victoria have received their pensions direct since 1960. The position is kept under review by the Department of Social Services with the object of hastening the transition to direct payment wherever practicable.
Publicity: Conference noted the considerable amount of publicity material including films prepared and distributed by the Commonwealth and in particular the new publication ‘The Australian Aborigines’ which gives a concise account of the efforts of governments and progress achieved in Aboriginal advancement throughout Australia. Conference expressed appreciation to the Department of Territories for the preparation of this material and acknowledged the value of its impact in Australia and overseas.
Missions and Voluntary Organisations: Conference acknowledged the considerable contribution of Christian missions to Aboriginal advancement over the years. It re-affirmed its recognition of the assistance which can be given by voluntary organisations which have a record of genuine interest in promoting Aboriginal advancement. It looked forward to continued co-operation from such organisations in the advancement of Aborigines and part-Aborigines and in adding to the community’s understanding of these matters.
Training of Staff: Ministers noted that the oneyear course for patrol officers at the Australian School of Pacific Administration was successful in training field officers and that South Australia had participated in the course and expressed its appreciation of the opportunity to do so. Conference took note of plans to extend the course to two years to provide further training in case and group work
Central Australian Reserves: Ministers noted that it was proposed to include Aboriginal observers at future meetings of the Central Reserves Committee composed of representatives from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. They noted that the Committee considered there was a need for research into the migratory trends of Aborigines in the Central Reserves area.
To those who work in this very difficult field it has been apparent for some time now that one of their major tasks is to inform the public better of what is being done and attempted in Aboriginal affairs. This statement will be one of the ways of doing this, lt is part of this process of informing the public that Governments should be credited with what they have done. This Conference has also made a valuable contribution in encouraging a review of what further remains to be done.
When we direct our minds to future programmes we must constantly have before us that the well-being and interests of individuals and families are at stake. There is at the present time a great desire for dramatic, immediate solutions to the remaining problems. Much more has been achieved than is realised. The situation now is incomparably better than it was 10, or 15 years ago, in terms of money and resources being employed and in terms of opportunities open to the Aboriginal people. Of course success is achieved when Aboriginal people live in the community, without attracting any notice as a ‘problem’. Thus the successes, and there are many, are not seen. The remaining problems are.
Little real hope lies in dramatic, immediate solutions. Social and human problems are involved that require time as well as money, staff and effort. Certainly much more needs to be done to help the Aboriginal people, both by Governments and by sympathetic, practical help from community organisations and individuals. We can be confident that this will be forthcoming.
Victoria: The Hon. E. R. Meagher, M.B.E., E.D., MLA., Minister of Housing and Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
– by leave - There are two reasons why appreciation should be expressed about the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in relation to Aboriginals. The first is that early in his career as Prime Minister he was prepared to seek an amendment of the Constitution on an issue more significant than that which his predecessor was prepared to consider. After years of requests for amendment of section 51 (xxvi) he accepted the challenge immediately and it is now amended. The second is that he is now moving to some new Commonwealth action on behalf of Aboriginals. It marks a noteworthy advance that a statement on Aboriginal policy has been delivered at the Prime Ministerial level. What we in the Opposition had hoped for was that responsibility for the affairs of the Aboriginal people would have been vested in the Prime Minister through a Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs held by the Prime Minister as one of his responsibilities. In this way, with the first member of the Government giving his mind to their affairs, steps might be taken to remedy the years that the locust has eaten. It had also been our wish that a standing committee of the Parliament might have been set up to study their needs and concern itself with their disabilities. The body the Prime Minister proposes is therefore welcome but disappointing from our point of view and its inadequacy, we feel, will be proven in time.
The first thing to be said about the Aboriginal people is that they are poor. Most of them are desperately poor. This may not be a racial statement but it is certainly a social statement and it seems to me to be a fact. There are probably 106,000 of them - 43,000 Aboriginals and 63,000 part-Aboriginals. It would be gratifying to be able to say that this poverty is only among those living in remote areas. This remoteness does account for some poverty in that there is no development there, but they are poor almost wherever they are. Secondly, where development does take place in a remote area it is the immediate assumption of State and federal governments that a white population must be attracted immediately, housed immediately, provided with amenities immediately and paid district disability loadings in addition to ordinary wages. It is also often the assumption that the natives can shift. The Yirrkala inquiry was occasioned by the excision of land from a reserve, by the intention to create a white occupied town, and by the undefined rights, status and fate of the resident Aboriginal population. This is honestly typical of our history.
Thirdly, we flinch from facing the fact that their employment opportunities at the present time are diminishing. The cattle industry has always been an employer of Aborigines, but changes in the working of pastoral properties are steadily reducing the need for a large labour force in that industry. As the demand for stockmen decreases more and more Aboriginal youths will become dispirited and disillusioned unless remedial action is taken. Where Aborigines live on the fringes of towns, in the cities or in the north, their needs for vocational training are great and the policies of complacency pursued by Australian governments in the past are simply going to generate purposelessness, despair and passivity, or else a socially explosive atmosphere among them. We want an effective vocational effort. Can we give our minds to creating job opportunities for them, or are they to be increasingly unwanted and inefficient hangers-on in primary industries, increasingly resented in country towns7 The drift is that way.
In many areas there is no acquisition of real skill in the use of oral and written
English; no ability to read with understanding where there is some ability to read; no working knowledge of numbers and number concepts; no intelligent effort by education departments to provide specialist and remedial education for their special disabilities. They are, therefore, educationally underprivileged. As a consequence they are vocationally handicapped. They lack the flexibility to change jobs when they have a diminishing foothold in employment in primary industry. Do we have the belief that after a special effort at education and training they can emerge as an effective kind of worker? We have no right to reject that hypothesis because we have not made the special effort.
The Aboriginal population at present is an underprivileged, underfed, underpaid, untrained labour force, increasing in numbers and not closely considered. While we enthuse about the development of our natural resources we make no real effort to draw this force into the process of development. We are allowing social dynamite to accumulate. It is impossible to make Aborigines who are simply devoid of European background and incentives act as if they had European background and incentives. Hence the malignant short-cuts proposed sometimes by country justices of the peace in Western Australia who demand from their benches the right to flog. Hence the missionaries who forget the limitations of the authority they have in their vocation and do flog. They would not as parish clergy in a European community assume that they had the right to flog anybody. It is part of our gratuitous and unwarranted assumption of authority over Aborigines that these things happen or are suggested.
Aborigines often live in country which is not suitable for much diversity in land use; hence employment opportunities are limited. Elsewhere many are employed on seasonal work. I am leaving aside the Aborigines who live in regions of minimal contact with Europeans. Fay Gale in her study of Aborigines in South Australia suggests that where circumstances lead Aborigines to become independent and selfreliant they are socially more acceptable. There are still areas where the Aboriginal people are traditionally-oriented in their life - in the Warburton Range; in the Rawlinson Range; at Jigalong and at Balgo in Western Australia; in the Mount Davies area of South Australia; at Haasts Bluff, Areyonga, Papunya, Yuendumu, Hooker Creek, Oenpelli, Goulburn Island, Maningreda, Milingimbi, Elcho Island, and Yirrkala in the Northern Territory. New South Wales and Victoria have no traditionallyoriented people. Queensland possibly has not. Their total is only some 7,500 out of 106,000. It is clearly necessary to make the effort to avoid the mistakes of the past with these people. The thing we need to avoid at all costs is what we have always done - the reducing of the Aboriginal people to purposelessness. In the words of the anthropologist Professor R. M. Berndt:
The religion of an indigenous native group which has had little or no alien contacts is a living faith, something quite inseparable from the pattern of everyday life and thought. The religion of this people has grown out of a particular material and spiritual requirement in such a way that it is a very real and important aspect of each person’s life. There is no sharp demarcation between the secular and the sacred.
It is this which we always shatter. Their art, their myths, their dances, their song series, their rites and ceremonies all made their place in the universe intelligible. They have always been approached with an utter lack of respect, envisaged either as labour to be useful to someone else or nuisances to be moved on. They have always been planned for or not planned for without being consulted. Let us be clear on one thing. I make no plea for sentimentality. But any policy not founded on the recognition that we owe them some restitution will be a false policy. I am not talking about handouts when I say we do owe them a generosity of approach that we have never exhibited, generally speaking, in our history. We also need to get over our assumption that their culture and thought are worthless.
We also need to beware of the smooth quotation of expenditure statistics. It is possible to spend a lot of money on the housing of Europeans at a government or mission settlement and to quote this as Aboriginal welfare. Sometimes, where the settlement represents a concentration of Aboriginal population with inadequate hygienic preparation, the concentration of population involves an increase in mortality statistics and an intensification of the spread of disease. Tuberculosis and leprosy did not spread in the nomadic state. We also need to beware of imputed educational expenditures relating to Aborigines. It may be fair enough to say that if one-quarter of a class is Aboriginal, one-quarter of the teacher’s salary may be attributed to Aboriginal expenditure. Very often, however, there is no effort to adapt teaching to their special educational needs.
We want as definite objectives the drastic reduction of neo-natal, infant and child mortality, an end to yaws, hookworm, tuberculosis and leprosy. We want these as declared objectives within a definite period of time. We want the recruitment of the medical staff to do the job. We want an Aboriginal voice to be heard in their own affairs. No more plans for them without consultation, in effect. Can the Commonwealth, in taking action, start afresh? Today the residual Aboriginal group is hyper-sensitive, hyper-suspicious and united to some extent in a distrust of the whites. We have richly earned that distrust. Can the Commonwealth, first and foremost, set out to deserve trust? The Prime Minister has suggested Commonwealth co-ordinating action. The Australian people have not voted for the same old policy as before. There is a need for a new survey of needs and a new approach.
– I pre sent the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - agreed to.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. The motion of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) that the paper be noted has not yet been put to the House.
-Order! The Prime Minister did not formally move such a motion. There is no motion before the House.
– Am I entitled to move that the paper presented by the Prime Minister be noted?
– No. That can be done immediately only by a Minister.
– I heard him say that he was moving that the paper be noted.
– The Prime Minister did not formally move such a motion. Nor was it asked for; nor was the adjournment of the debate sought by the Opposition. After the Prime Minister had presented the paper, a statement was made by the Minister for Territories by leave and that was followed by a statement made, by leave, by the honourable member for Fremantle. There was no motion before the Chair and there is none now. The Clerk has called on the next order of the day.
– I ask for leave to speak to the paper.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I ask for leave of the House–
-Order! The next business has been called on. The honourable member will resume his seat.
Consideration resumed (vide page 972). Second Schedule.
Proposed expenditure, $3,940,000.
- Mr Chairman, today we in this Parliament function under a Constitution which is literally a compromise between parochial rivalries and jealousies of the States and which was finally hammered out by the fathers of the Constitution after some 50 years of Convention meetings. We operate under a transitional form of government that was devised for colonial territoriesor conquered nations. The Australian Constitution is the most archaic and the least amended in the world. It was framed by members of State parliaments. May we have some order, Sir?
– Order! I suggest that the Leader of the House and the honorable member for Mackellar might have their conversation outside the chamber.
– I apologise, Sir.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. Our Constitution was framed by members of State parliaments in the 1890s on the United States model of the 1780s. The American model has been altered more often, more extensively and more recently than the Australian. Hence it is that a Constitution of this type can produce a conservative government in charge of the affairs of this country today - a government that contains what would have been some of the best minds of the nineteenth century.
Our Parliament has fewer functions and discharges fewer powers than any other national parliament. In what other industrial country, in an age of advanced technology, would we find such ruthless restrictions on the right to pass laws on industrial matters, wages, living costs, restrictive trade practices, interest rates, companies, marketing and transport? Our constitutional anomalies, archaisms and shortcomings are more irksome as we develop in trade and commerce and technology. Today, we have a paradoxical situation in which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission exercises an economic dictatorship without let or hindrance and virtually beyond the powers or the competence of our Parliament. Where else but in this country and under such a Constitution could we have an anomalous situation in which section 92 of the Constitution - a much publicised and well understood section - was turned by a sequence of judicial interpretations to a purpose entirely different from that intended and thereby brought about results entirely different from those that were envisaged by the men who framed it? Where else but in this country would we perpetuate this anomaly, this paradox, which is such that even Lord Wright of Durley, who was the judge presiding in the court of appeal in the James fruit case some 35 years ago, subsequently published a monograph in which he stated that if he were to sit on the same case again he would come to an entirely different decision? This is one of the few instances in the whole history of British jurisprudence in which a judge ever chose gratuitously to admit that he had erred in his judgment.
We function under what is nothing less than a horse and buggy Constitution, Sir, in a jet age, an age of advanced technology, an age of electronics, an age of fantastically fast and efficient means of communication. We tolerate this Constitution with advances in economics and in trade and commerce never contemplated by our founding fathers and the people of Australia in earlier days. This is to the dis credit of successive parliaments. Parliamentarians, regardless of party, have not Deen sufficiently educated in the need for constitutional reform. Well intentioned parliamentarians, cutting right across the limitations of party allegiances, have from time to time attempted to educate the Australian people. This campaign will continue until finally we get a Constitution that is consonant with a mature, growing and progressive Australian nation. In this age of satellites, in the jargon of astro-physics, our satellites are controlled by inertial guidance. That exactly describes this Parliament. When future historians pass their verdict on this age and the English people and their offshoots in the various parts of the English speaking world, that verdict will be that our two greatest contributions to mankind have been the English language and the parliamentary institution.
I take issue with those people who choose in any way to denigrate this Parliament. After all, it is composed of a cross section of the Australian people. Whatever may be our training, our qualifications, our education and our limitations, we in this place speak for the people whom we represent. We are entitled to a courteous hearing, to respect and to our proper place in the scheme of public administration and legislation. I have always been proud to be a parliamentarian. I see in this chamber men who, regardless of party associations, have the same feeling. It is up to those mcn and to all of us to make sure that the conduct of the affairs of the Parliament is kept on that plane. I give great credit to a man with whom I would disagree diametrically over ideology - the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) - for the contributions that he has made on the issue of parliamentary reform. That is a subject that literally transcends party considerations. I commend to the reading of every honourable member the speech that he made on this subject several weeks ago.
We function, of course, under a limited Constitution. We have a limited monarchy which has adapted itself to the needs of our time and which has gained correspondingly in respect and esteem, and whatever may be the feelings of people who sometimes attack the monarchy system, there is at least this to be said about it: It makes for some continuity of succession and removes any need for the ruler to trim his sails according to the winds of political expediency. I would say that one of the besetting weaknesses of the United States political system today is the need for quadrennial presidential elections.
Parliament is the great assize of the Australian nation. Parliament is a court. It is the high court of Parliament. It is a court which makes its own laws and which has an inherent right to punish for contempt, and among the things that have galled me and antagonised me most have been the suggestions that there has been undercover interference with the telephone communications of members of the Parliament. I could not tolerate, nor could any man reared in the traditions of British parliamentary democracy tolerate, an answer such as that given here a few days ago by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) when he would neither confirm nor deny that the telephones of parliamentarians were being tapped. As members of the Parliament we have rights under the Constitution and the Speaker of the House is the guardian of our traditional rights, liberties and privileges. It is not that we are sacrosanct; we claim our rights in the name of the people who have elected us to come to this place and legislate on their behalf, and woe betide any Prime Minister or any Attorney-General who tolerates the tapping of telephones used by members of Parliament, whether it be in the House or outside it.
We are entitled to privacy in our communications with our constituents. We are entitled to privacy in our communications with our parliamentary colleagues. We are entitled to privacy within the precincts of this House in the use of the telephonic communication system that is installed here.
– That implies that if a member of the Opposition, being a member of Parliament, is inclined to commit treason or sedition that is all right, but it is not all right for anybody else in the community.
– Every member of the Parliament, as the Minister well knows, has a right-
– There is a statute which says, as the honourable member knows, that permission must be obtained before a telephone is tapped.
– The Minister will have a chance to make a contribution to this debate later if he so desires. Every member of the Parliament has a perfect right to the repute which follows his taking an oath of allegiance every time he comes to this place. And I challenge the Minister to tell me the number of prosecutions for treason that there have been involving members of English-speaking parliaments. I challenge him to name any persons so prosecuted.
– There is a statutory provision under which telephone tapping may be permitted.
– It is something that may be permitted in the Fascist minds of certain elements more interested in gaining a trifling political advantage than upholding the standards of parliamentary freedom and democratic liberty.
Now, in the time that remains to me, let me say a word of tribute to members of the Parliamentary Library staff. They perform a wonderful service for every member of this House and we are all indebted to them for the assistance they give us. When Parliament is in session they are sorely overworked and they are entitled to relief. I must say also that I support the claims which have been made by my colleagues for extra assistance in the work we do for our constituents. I represent one of the most onerous and fast-growing electorates in Australia. The district has 170,000 residents and there are 30,000-odd migrants who have not yet obtained Australian citizenship but who have a claim on my services.
– Order! The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) will cease interjecting.
– Of course, Sir, there is no circus that cannot afford at least one clown, and the honourable member often appears as the clown in this House. Assistance to parliamentarians is something that is certainly required. Consider the position of a member of the Opposition Executive. There are fourteen of us - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and thirteen others - and we have to cope with twentysix members of the Federal Ministry. We are entitled^ to more assistance than just the secretary that each of us has in his office in his electorate. Ministers get up in this House and read speeches which in the main they have scarcely perused and which have been prepared for them by their staffs. They have every possible facility for research. We are pegged down - and quite deliberately and quite unfairly-
– What assistance did the New South Wales Labor Government provide for members of the Opposition Executive?
– The Minister can have his say later. We are pegged down quite unfairly to personal research, and we have to put our health and our leisure time in jeopardy in order to do it. We are entitled to assistance. We ask for it in the name of common decency. We are entitled to this assistance and we will keep on fighting until we get it.
Another matter I should mention in connection with the Parliament is that of the gerrymander. For 12 years the people of Australia have been denied equitable parliamentary representation. In that period wc have seen the most grave distortion in the history of this institution. There are today electorates with 120,000 people and there are others with a mere 30,000. This situation is just crazy and is the very negation of democracy. There is an urgent need for redistribution but that redistribution has yet to be consumated. The process of bringing it about will strain to the limit the relations between the two coalition Parties that form this Government, but until it is brought about the people of Australia will have inadequate representation on the most undemocratic possible basis.
– I did not have the advantage of hearing all the speech of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) because of certain asides that were coming from close to where I am now standing. However I do not think the honourable member will receive any sympathy from the people with his claim that a member of Parliament should be treated in some way differently from other members of the community. If the honourable member breaks a traffic law I do not think he should be allowed to escape having to pay the appropriate fine. If a person in the community is elected to this Parliament and commits an act of treason he should be dealt with for it in the same way as any other citizen.
However, I do not want to waste my time on the speech made by the honourable member for Cunningham.
I turn my attention to a small matter connected with the Parliament, but nevertheless one that has caused me some irritation. I refer to the title of the Parliament itself. In the last few days I have heard various members referring to the Parliament and the Government in various ways. One member talks of the Commonwealth Parliament and the Commonwealth Government. Then we hear another speaking of the National Parliament and the National Government. There is a variety of titles. People speak of the Federal Government and the Federal Parliament. It seems to me that something should be done to lay down a clear name for this, the Australian Parliament - and that is the name that I personally favour. It is the Australian Parliament and it should be known as such.
It is interesting to look at the Constitution and see what’ it says on this matter. Part L section 1 says:
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called The Parliament’, or “The Parliament of the Commonwealth’.
I am not the only one who finds the title Parliament of the Commonwealth’ confusing. Many years ago the words ‘The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia* were printed on most letterheads and other papers used within the Parliament. Imagine the confusion that must exist in the minds of people who come to this country as migrants, and young people growing up here, about the British Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Nations, CommonwealthState relations and Commonwealth relations - the last referring to relations between Australia and other countries. It would seem to me that something could be done about this matter. A former member for Sturt, Sir Keith Wilson, the father of the present honourable member for Sturt, raised this matter a couple of years ago. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and other honourable members also have raised it. The former member for Sturt took the matter up with Mr Speaker. He drew Mr Speaker’s attention to the fact that the writing paper that we used every day, and the parliamentary notice paper had the heading ‘Parliament of the Commonwealth’. He was successful in having added the words ‘of Australia’. That description was clear and decisive. But I submit that we could go one step further, that we ought to be referring to this Parliament as the Parliament of Australia. In fact, we are using this heading on our Parliamentary writing paper now.
I understand that it is the opinion of the legal experts that this title is not a satisfactory one from a legal point of view. Indeed, Sir Keith Wilson was told by the then Speaker of the House that to be of any effect in a court of law, all papers used by this Parliament should be headed ‘Parliament of the Commonwealth’, or ‘Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia’. The last description rather interests me because nowhere in the Constitution can I find reference to the ‘Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia’. Yet Sir Keith Wilson was told by Mr Speaker of the day that this description would be recognised in a court of law. He was also told that the heading The Parliament’ would be recognised in a court of law, but that heading does not describe any particular parliament. It could refer to a parliament back of Bourke, or the Victorian Parliament, or the Tasmanian Parliament, or this Parliament. According to the Commonwealth Constitution, the words ‘The Parliament’ refer only to the Australian Parliament, the National Parliament, or the Commonwealth Parliament. I submit that the words ‘The Parliament’ could have added to them the words of Australia’. The addition of those words would eliminate all the confusion that now arises because of the various terms used in describing this Parliament. Let us call it the Australian Parliament. The only objection I can find to my suggestion is one that is alleged to be held by the State Parliaments, but I point out that they have their own individual titles, such as the Victorian Parliament, the Tasmanian Parliament, the New South Wales Parliament, and so on. I do not believe that there would be any real objection from the various Premiers to the use of the title ‘Parliament of Australia’.
The ‘Age’ published a leading article on this matter in 1965 when Sir Keith Wilson raised it in this House. It suggested that the Prime Minister of the day, Sir Robert
Menzies, should take part in seeking some clarification of the position and eliminating the ambiguity connected with the name of this Parliament. It went on to say:
It would perhaps be impossible to abandon completely the use of ‘Commonwealth’ as a synonym fox Australia and Australian. For example, Mr Bolte and other Premiers would probably resent the term ‘Australian Government’ in reference to their annual trip to Canberra. . . .
I cannot speak for the Premiers of other States, indeed I cannot really speak for Sir Henry Bolte, but I do not believe that Sir Henry Bolte would be opposed to this Parliament being known as the Australian Parliament because he is a real, true, dinky-di Australian.
– I am stating the simple truth. In fact, I can tell a story to prove that he is a real Australian. On alighting from the plane upon his return from one of his successful trips overseas selling Victoria - and those trips are the reason why Victoria is the fastest growing State in Australia today and why it has more migrants and factories than any other State - he was asked by a pressman: ‘Sir Henry, when you travel overseas, do you travel as a Victorian or an Australian?’ His reply was: ‘I travel as an Australian. They would not recognise this other thing.’ That was his frank answer and it demonstrated to me that he is a true, dinky-di Australian. I am quite sure that, as Premier of Victoria, he would not have any objection whatever to describing this Parliament as the Australian Parliament.
So, Mr Chairman, I ask you to kindly take up with Mr Speaker the question of the name of this Parliament. I think we have gone on for too long using all sorts of descriptions. I know that the honourable member for Scullin could call it other names, but when we call it the National Parliament or the Commonwealth Parliament or the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, it becomes too confusing. Again, I ask you to take up with Mr Speaker the desirability of using the simple term: ‘Parliament of Australia’, or Australian Parliament’.
I turn now to one other matter which I want to clear up fairly quickly as the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald
Cameron) is to follow me. It relates to the letters used after the name of a member of this Parliament. Here again, we have some confusion. I receive correspondence from this Parliament, the Australian Parliament, addressed to Peter J. Nixon, Esq., M.P. I refer now to the letters ‘M.P.’. These letters are also used after the names of the members of the various State Parliaments. Some States use the letters ‘M.L.A.’, and I think Tasmania uses ‘M.H.A.’, but some States use the letters ‘M.P.’ after the names of their members of Parliament. This confuses people who are trying to distinguish between a member of a State parliament and a member of the national Parliament. I suggest, through you Mr Chairman, that it would be of advantage if Mr Speaker were to take this matter up with the Speakers of the various State houses of parliament with a view to arriving at some agreement as to the letters which should be used after the names of the members of their respective Parliaments. I am confident that some agreement in this direction would eliminate the confusion and irritation now being felt by many people in Australia.
We members of Parliament are under no misunderstanding about the matter but many members of the public are, and I suggest that it would be a simple matter to avoid any confusion. Perhaps the letters M.P.’ could be applied only to the members of this Parliament. I understand that in the Constitution the members of this Parliament are referred to as members of Parliament, and not as members of the House of Representatives. This, apparently, is where our use of the letters began, apart from the fact that this description was handed down by the Mother of Parliaments. When travelling overseas, the letters ‘M.P.’ would be satisfactory after the names of any member of any Parliament, but confusion does arise within Australia. I raised it on one occasion with Sir Robert Menzies but he, being the great traditionalist that he is, said that ‘M.P.’ had been handed down from the Mother of Parliaments and he preferred it. Once again I respectfully suggest that you might take this matter up with Mr Speaker with a view to arriving at some clarification of the confusion that now exists in connection with the letters which are used after the names of the members of the various Parliaments in Australia.
– I wish to dedicate the few minutes at my disposal to my hard working secretary in Brisbane. In doing so, I feel that I must refer again to the matter raised earlier tonight by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) and, although I do not often agree with him, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) for, on this occasion, his views run almost parallel with mine on this matter. This evening, we heard a contribution from the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) who told us about the difficulties experienced by a member of Parliament in keeping his work up to date. He of all people should fully appreciate those difficulties, having once been a member of a Labor Government in New South Wales which, because of its mean attitude, caused the members of that Parliament to suffer great hardship. I do not go so far as to describe my own Government in that way, but I do feel that I must draw the attention of the House to some of the things that the members of this Parliament are required to put up with.
In this House there are three major parties, and I want to refer to the House typists. The Country Party comprises twenty-one members. They are our brothers in work. Five of those members have acquired secretaries by virtue of their positions. The remaining sixteen members have the services of one typist. The Australian Labor Party has forty-one members, two of whom I take it for granted have been allocated secretaries. The remaining thirtynine members share the services of two typists. My own Party, the Liberal Party of Australia - the senior Party in the Australian coalition Government - has sixty members, of whom twenty-two are either Ministers or are in positions that entitle them to a secretary. The remaining thirtyeight members share the services of two typists. The situation is absolutely ridiculous. The two lasses who work for my Party are so hard working that when they go home at night all they want to do is to go to bed to sleep. They well and truly put in their 40 hours a week. I ask every member of this House and every person in Australia, no matter what they think of members of Parliament, whether they think it is fanthat these girls should have to work so hard.
– Cannot the honourable member write?
-It might take the honourable member all day to compose a letter but some members have to write twenty to thirty letters a day and they need assistance. In these days of modern transport most members live within reasonable travelling time of Canberra. I include in this category honourable members from my own aTea of Brisbane. We spend 3± days of a 5 day week in Canberra. We spend only 1 i days a week in our home offices and yet during the remainder of the week we have to answer all our correspondence sharing a typist with about seventeen other members.
We have been told during the last 2 or 3 days that there is not sufficient space to accommodate new typists, although more typists would be available if there were sufficient room for them. This is a matter of urgency and of priority. Even if other rooms have to be cleared, space should be made available for typists. I place my hand on a pile of books that I have received in the last few days. These books include reports from various Government departments. The pile is about IS inches high and represents only a few days deliveries.
– How many pages do the reports contain?
– I do not have the time to count the pages, although I know that the honourable member does this. My ambition is to read all these books and reports but we get so many publications that it is almost impossible to read one quarter of what we receive. We are living in a new Australia and a new generation of Australians is entering into public life. We must keep pace with modern trends. As the honourable member for Evans suggested earlier today, we must consider the appointment of young graduates to assist members of Parliament to go through these publications to determine what is important and what is not important. We save a few dollars each year by not providing assistance yet we throw away millions of dollars worth of knowledge because the average member has not the time to examine the publications he receives. I leave this thought with the powers that be for consideration.
Finally, I wish to refer to the role of my secretary. I reiterate how much I appreciate her work. She does a wonderful job. The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), whilst he is not of my Party, has, I know, enjoyed her hospitality on occasions. Every electorate differs from other electorates, frequently by virtue of the age groups therein. There are some affluent electorates whose residents need little assistance. Other electorates can be described as old electorates, and the members representing such electorates have to spend a lot of time assisting the many people who come to see them. But every year for 3 weeks an honourable member is left alone while his secretary is on holidays. As a Liberal I support the idea of 3 weeks holiday, but my point is that for 3 weeks a year my office is left unoperational because I am out or, if I am there, I do not have the services of a typist. I have letters galore to answer, but no-one to type my replies. I would suggest that a typing pool system could be considered. Earlier tonight some members said that when their secretaries are on holidays they have to get their wives in to do the work for them. I know of an honourable member who gets his daughter to help him. I am not married: I have neither wife nor daughter. I am at a complete disadvantage. I leave these thoughts with you, Mr Chairman, and trust that you will carry them to the powers that be for consideration, because honourable members have a real problem.
– I suppose that in respect of the last problem mentioned by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), namely, that of having no wife and child, the solution is in his own hands. The honourable member related a harrowing tale of staggering home at night absolutely exhausted. I agree substantially with what he said, and this is one of my reasons for speaking tonight. This Parliament House is the most important place in the nation. Here decisions are made that determine whether a man will have work and whether he will be able to feed and clothe his wife and family. From this place emanates decisions that determine whether a man will have a home for his family to live in and whether education, health and other services, will be available to make his life and the life of his family full and happy. In this place we decide whether our nation will be at peace or at war. When we think about it, this is an awesome responsibility. Of course, the greater part of this burden devolves upon the Government and the Executive, but in a democracy every honourable member has a job to do and a task to fulfil. Apart from the Cabinet, members opposite have a task to perform. Every member of the Opposition has a job to do. The role of an Opposition in a democracy is extremely important. I propose to show that the scales are heavily weighted in favour of the Government, but first I want to refer to what was said by the honourable member for Griffith.
I appreciate and praise the services provided by the people who assist us. In no way are my words intended as criticism of them, but rather as criticism of the people who command in high places - the Government, the Cabinet and those who make the decisions about what assistance we may or may not get. The Library staff in every way performs magnificently, and I praise its work. The typists - all four of them - who do all the typing for all honourable members, work well and hard. This situation has improved. It is true that the Library provides a research service which is extremely valuable to all of us. I know that many honourable members take advantage of it. However, in my view the assistance we get is not satisfactory.
The word ‘politician’ is not the most respected word in our community. This is unfortunate because although we are different types of people and we come from different callings, collectively we have a good deal of knowledge. A great many of us are out to do the job that we come to do and to do it as well as we can whatever we think or whatever side of the House we sit. Honourable members who sit in this place are a pretty fair cross section of the community who send us here. We are out to do the job that is entrusted to us. It is a tremendously important job. As I said before we make decisions in this place which affects the livelihood of every Australian and the nation itself.
I now want to say something about the assistance we are given. I want to take the job of the ordinary member first of alL While I am an ordinary member of Parliament, I am also a member of the Opposition executive. But, as an ordinary member, my first task and responsibility is to my electorate. It is part of the responsibility of a member of Parliament to deal with what are regarded as electoral matters. I have a host of electoral matters to deal with. A great number of people come to me for advice and for guidance, and for assistance. The great majority of those people are genuine and are people who need help, guidance and assistance. All of us here in our own way endeavour to provide that guidance and assistance in the best way we can. I consider the fact that we are able to help people who need help is one of the good things about being a member of Parliament. This is something which I know everyone feels. When you have helped someone who needs help it makes all of the frustrations of being a member of Parliament worthwhile. The ordinary member of Parliament is given assistance in his electorate. He is given a secretary. Indeed, I am sure that if everyone else’s secretary is the same as mine then he or she is one of the hardest worked people in Australia. I am sure that every honourable member’s secretary is in this position. These people are loyal, devoted and hardworking and I know we all respect them for the great job they do. We are very sorry that we are forced to put this work load upon them.
In this place, as the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) pointed out, the ordinary member on the Government and Opposition side - about forty in number from both sides of the Houseare given two typists to assist them to do their work. I addressed an Apex Club meeting a year or two ago at which I spoke to some forty or fifty people about Parliament. After I made my address I was questioned very closely and intelligently by these people. When I revealed to them that the people who are given the task of running this country were given two typists to assist them in their work, they burst into laughter. Indeed, in the last Parliament two typists had to do the work of fifty or more Opposition members. The people at this meeting were astonished. I really believe that if people outside Parliament knew that this situation existed then, despite the fact that newspapers and other people criticise us for wanting all the perks in the world - I will have something to say about that in a minute - they would demand that we be given greater assistance to do the job which they entrusted to us.
Having discussed the ordinary member of Parliament, the Cabinet and the shadow cabinet, I now want to say that the scales are very heavily weighed against the Opposition. On the Government side there are twenty-six Ministers each of whom has a complete department upon which to call for information and research and anything they might want. We on this side of the House have what we term a shadow cabinet of which there are fourteen members. It is the task of these members individually, to shadow, as we call it, one or more of the Ministers on the Government side. What sort of assistance do we get to do this? Members of the Cabinet have all the resources of their respective departments behind them. The Ministers not only have this, but have a personal staff. I do not know the number of their personal staffs. However, I observe them in their rounds and travels and I do not think there would be a Minister without five or six people on his personal staff. I am not complaining about this. I realise that Ministers have a tremendously responsible job. But, so do we. The role of an Opposition in a democracy is also important. My colleagues who sit on this front bench with me have no assistance. Each one of us has a job of shadowing one or two Ministers on the Government side and to do this we have the facilities which an ordinary member has at his disposal - the use collectively with forty other members of two typists. I say that this is not good enough. If our Parliament and our democracy is to work and if we on this side of the chamber are to do our job, I think we deserve a better deal than this.
We might say that this sort of thing has happened down the years. That is true and it might have been the case in the time of the Labor Government. But I believe the responsibility of this Parliament and of the Government have expanded to such a degree that there ought to be a very close look at this sort of thing. I am not asking for more money or that I be given a motor car or any additional travel facilities or anything like that at all. I merely ask, as a shadow Minister for the Opposition, that I be given an opportunity to do the job I am asked to do on behalf of the Opposition and of the people whom I represent. I believe all members realise the sort of job that shadow Cabinet Ministers have to do. For example we are aware of the tremendous task that the shadow Minister for Trade and Industry has to perform. He does this task capably. Our shadow Minister has the task of shadowing the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) alone, without any assistance. He has to read reports and do research in addition to performing his electoral work. He has to read such documents as Tariff Board reports. We can appreciate the work involved here when we consider that one man alone, sitting down 7 days a week reading and studying these reports would still not be able to give enough attention to the material. So it is tremendously important for a man in this position to have assistance. I have the job of shadowing the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann). He might cast a long shadow. But the plain fact is that I do not have any assistance. The Minister has the whole resources of the Department of Primary Industry and his own persona] staff at his disposal. I agree that he needs this sort of assistance. But, I say that I need assistance and facilities if I am going to do my job. I ask for this.
In the two or three minutes remaining to me I want to say something about the sittings of this Parliament. More than a century ago the House of Commons used to sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It did this because the squires who hopped in their horse and buggies and drove to the House of Commons took two days to get there and two days to get back. We are still sitting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It becomes legislation by exhaustion, particularly towards the end of the session. I have never seen the sense in this. I have always thought that we ought to sit at least 5 days a week and that we ought to get over in a fortnight or 3 weeks things that we now take 5 or 6 weeks to do. Travelling backwards and forwards from far afield around Australia to Canberra is exhausting; it takes a great deal of time and effort. I do not think that we can properly concentrate on the job in hand if we are doing this sort of thing.
I want to say something about modernising procedures in this chamber. When I was in Asia a year or two ago I looked at some of the legislatures. I saw such things as electronic devices for counting divisions and I noticed how quickly the members voted. I suppose that we take 10 minutes or so to record a division. This is old fashioned and it is time that we started doing something more modern. That may not be possible in this building but we ought to try to be a little more up to date in the new Parliament House which I understand will be built in the years to come. ^1
– I have nothing new to say in this debate but I want to repeat something that I have said before, and I am encouraged to do so by something that the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) said a few moments ago. I think that it will be agreed that as the business of government has become more complex the procedures of this chamber are not altogether adequate to cope with its responsibilities. Indeed, the Standing Orders Committee meets from time to time but it does not consider fundamental changes. I would be against introducing a number of fundamental changes at the one time but I think that the time has come for some fundamental changes to be made. I have discussed these matters with the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), for example, who is sitting here and whom I believe will be speaking in this debate at a later stage. I think that he will speak about our committee system. I want to speak about something that is a little more pedestrian because unless our routine is correctly established then the matters that the honourable member for Bradfield has in mind will not work satisfactorily.
A moment ago the honourable member for Bendigo drew attention - and I think very rightly - to our habit of rushing to Canberra for 3 days and then going home for the weekend. I am sure that honourable members will agree with me that they have responsibilities in their electorates and have to be in their electorates for some time in order to attend functions, carry out their electoral duties and serve their constituents. But the prime function of a member of
Parliament is here in this chamber and his duties in this chamber should surely take precedence over every other duty. But what happens under the present situation? We travel to Canberra on Tuesday mornings and some honourable members travel very long distances. Indeed, some travel overnight. By the time we reach here many of us are not in a position to carry out the duties of the day efficiently. This difficulty is clearly recognised by the Parliament because there is no adjournment debate on Tuesday nights as a matter of practice. This implies recognition of the fact that many honourable members have come long distances and are tired. Wednesday is a day when we are already in Canberra but the morning is consumed by the necessary party meetings. On Thursday we are all preparing to go home. Frankly this is not good enough and I suggest that what we should do is spend 2 sitting weeks here and then have 1 week home to attend to the business of our electorates.
If we met here on Tuesday and sat through to Thursday of the following week that would give us time over the weekends for committees and it would enable us to have 2 weekends out of every 3 in our electorates. It would also enable us to have a break in our electorates every 3 weeks when we could get our desks cleared and carry out our duties to our constituents. But it would also focus our attention in this chamber, because our primary duty and our real function is in this chamber. It is not our secondary function to be in this chamber. I suggest that if we sat on a regular schedule of 2 weeks with 1 week in our electorate we would get a much better allocation of time than we have at present. We would also divide our travelling time by three. This aspect is not so important for those like myself who live in Sydney, which is comparatively close, but it is very important for those who live some distance away and for whom travelling is a very major section of their working life.
The electorate very properly wants its member to be available but no electorate ever resents the fact that its member is in Canberra carrying out his primary duties in this chamber. If we were to arrange our programme in this way - and it could be done - we would have a great deal more time available to serve our electorates effectively and also we would have more time in this chamber. What is much more important we would have a continuous time in this chamber instead of rushing here and then rushing home for the weekend.
– What about my wife and children?
– My friend wants to know about his wife and children. May I suggest to him that if in every 3 weeks he were to have 10 days continuously at home with his wife and children, as be would in the kind of situation that I have suggested, he would be able to give them what is colloquially known as a fair go. What is of more importance to a member of Parliament, he would be able to give his electorate a fair go because he would be able to carry out his duty to his constituents. Not only would honourable members divide their travelling time by three and so have extra time available for parliamentary work, but more importantly they would avoid the disruption of travelling, which colours the outlook of members of Parliament. At the present time we travel to Canberra on Tuesday and by Thursday we are thinking of going home.
Parliamentary debates in this House are in a way almost secondary to our other life. This is wrong. This House for a member of Parliament should be the most important part of his parliamentary life. I am not suggesting that it should be the whole of his parliamentary life. I know - and nobody would know this better than I would - that in the electorate he has duties which he should perform and which the electors very rightly expect him to perform. But still and all, his most important functions as a member are here in this House. If we could revise our sitting routine in the way I have suggested, which is in line with what the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) suggested to this House a moment ago, then we would make a much more efficient use of our time. We would cut down travelling. We would have continuity in this House. We could get down and do some work without being always haunted by the thought that we are just coming or we are just going.
– I support the remarks that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has just made. It is not unusual for the honourable member to be right. On several other occasions he has agreed with what I have had to say. But the interesting thing to me is what we are going to do about the matter. We have heard from honourable members of various shades of opinion in each of the parties the same plea or complaint. Here we are gathered together discussing the Parliament - its domination by the ministerial arrangements and so on - and we have three members of the Ministry and one member of the Cabinet here listening to us. Somewhere along the line we have to evolve machinery which allows us to discuss this matter, to make a decision and to stick with it altogether in a non-party way.
– Do you mean that the city people stick together?
– No. It is not a question that concerns only city people. I do not know in what way one dennes the honourable member’s habits - whether they are sectarian, sectional, parochial or what. But he seems to think that the whole world is ganging up against him and his particular set of spinifex sandhills. This is not true. In my consideration of this matter, I have a great deal of sympathy for those honourable members who do not live in the capital cities. We who live in the capital cities fly home. Within an hour or so of leaving here we are back in our homes. But a person from Boort, or wherever the honourable member for Mallee comes from, or a person who comes from Bendigo, which i3 a little more suburban, is seriously inconvenienced in his work. We, as members of Parliament, have to take a grip upon the situation and do something about it. I make these points in support of those that the honourable member for Mackellar has mentioned. I want to speak about the Standing Orders themselves. The Standing Orders define the way in which the Parliament works. There is a Standing Orders Committee. It is provided for in standing order 25. This Committee was appointed after the beginning of this Parliament, but it has not met at all this year. I am a member of it. The honourable member for Mackellar recently asked how the Committee was proposed to operate. He asked whether it was going to take evidence in public. He also asked whether it was going to ask members to discuss and to consult. Again I think the question that we must face is: What is the machinery by which we are able to examine the Standing Orders and make them work for our benefit?
This very evening the very important question of Aboriginals was raised in this chamber. We saw confusion develop which I think silenced the House. I think that it was completely unfair to both sides of the Parliament. The creation of the situation may well have been unintentional on the part of the Ministry. But the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Harold Holt) made an important statement on a matter for which a lot of people have been campaigning for 10 years. One honourable member from this side of the chamber spoke on the matter. The honourable member for Mackellar wished to speak from the other side of the chamber. There were a number of other honourable members from this side of the House who would have liked to have taken the opportunity of participating in the debate and discussing the matter. I think it would have been a fairly non-partisan debate. But it’ was one in which we were entitled to have a say. On this occasion the Prime Minister of Australia has used this Parliament as his forum and has silenced the rest of us because the machinery is so inflexible. There are no standing orders by which the matter could have been taken further unless the Prime Minister himself did something. But he had walked out the door. I could find no machinery in the Standing Orders by which he could be recalled It is our duty to take a hand in the situation.
Apart from the inflexibility of the Standing Orders, there is the ministerial domination of them. This is a Parliament of people. It is a Parliament of members. For the time being some of the members are Ministers of State with executive authority over departments. But their authority only stems from their membership here. Of course, in the natural order of things people who run an organisation such as this have designed the machinery to ensure that they keep control of it. But when one looks at the Standing Orders one finds that they are an instrument for the Ministry. If one turns to the Standing Orders concerning tariff resolu tions or the limitations of debates, one finds such things rest’ on the authority of the Minister. Standing Order 92 (c) provides:
When any motion of any kind whatsoever has been moved, a Minister may at any time declare that the motion is an urgent motion, and, on such declaration, the question ‘That the motion be considered an urgent motion’ shall be put forthwith - no debate or amendment being allowed . . .
Of course, the matter is in our own hands. The majority of members who are not in the Ministry can say that this will not do. But we have become so saddled with the Ministry and the leadership principle in this place that when the leader on one side or the other puts his hand up the rest of us just follow. I think that this has to stop. I do not know the machinery by which we can stop it without upsetting the party apparatus that we have developed. But I think that it is our duty to get control of the situation and to make some fundamental changes of this nature.
The Parliament itself is not the financial initiating authority nor, taking a combination of the Constitution and the Standing Orders, may it be so. For instance, Standing Order 292 provides:
No proposal for the appropriation of any public moneys shall be made unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended to the House by message of the Governor-General, but a bill, except a bill to grant and apply a sum for the service of a year, which requires the Governor-General’s recommendation may be brought in by a Minister. . . .
What is the principle behind that standing order? There is what is known as the ‘doctrine of the financial initiative of the Crown’. The Crown, of course, has no authority whatsoever. That was substantially removed on 31st January 1649 outside Whitehall. There has been a continual erosion of the authority of the Crown ever since. It is fantastic to suggest that the Crown or any other mystique has any authority that does not stem from this Parliament itself. What we have done is to continue the feudal system in standing order 292 and, in a large measure, in the Constitution. It is a piece of nonsense. Who tells the Governor-General to send the message? It is the Ministry. Who comprises the Ministry? They are members of this place. So the Ministry sends a message to the Governor-General: ‘Please send us a message so that we can get some money’. When we come in here and say: ‘We would like an extra million dollars spent on this and that’, the Ministry tells the Governor-General and he comes back and tells us. We should be evolving a system which gives this Parliament authority in these matters. T have no time whatever for continuing the mistakes of the feudal system.
If this Parliament has to be the authority, it should be appropriate for the Parliament to exercise some financial initiative. I realise that this would create all sorts of complications. The Treasury officials would go into a flap. The Auditor-General would have. hysterics. But until we do this we will not be in command of the country. We have passed our executive initiative to a group of people who, while they are largely responsible to us in theory, are not responsible to us in practice. I would hope that honourable members in this House will examine these procedures and principles and do something about them. I hope that when the Standing Orders Committee gets down to the business of examining these matters, it will create the opportunity for members to come before it and express a point of view. Then we will have to establish some machinery by which the Parliament can discuss and consider each case on its merits in accordance with the views of each one of us without being bound by party views. It is quite possible that the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) and I might have different views about a certain standing order. But the Standing Orders are the property of Parliament. They are not the property of parties. They are not Executive instruments.
There are several other matters I would raise in this debate. For instance, while we are discussing the Parliament this evening how many honourable members are present in the chamber - 30 or 40? Where are the others? They are not away loafing. As far as I can see most honourable members apply themselves assiduously to their tasks. Why are they not in the chamber? It is because they have other work to do. What sort of work is it? Perhaps they are working with books and papers. How can you do that effectively in this chamber? I have tried it. My friends who sit beside me accuse me of being an empire builder and a nuisance. My friend the honourable member for Bendigo, lavishly equipped by nature with long legs, uses his knees as a resting place for books. How can anybody work effectively in this place? With all the modern developments is there nobody with the wit and will to rearrange the seating in this place? We are considering the building of a new Parliament House. Perhaps it is time that we experimented with new types of seating. The average Boeing aircraft is only one-fifth or one-sixth the size of this chamber, yet you can sit comfortably in it in twos, particularly in the first class section. The ancient and revered seating in this place should be cast out. We should design the place so that we can sit and work comfortably here, listening to the important speeches and sleeping during the others. We should have the facilities to act in a responsible way and give the impression that the Parliament is a chamber for discussion and that members are concerned with its affairs.
I wish to refer to the tapping of telephones. This matter was dealt with by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). At the present moment the Government may be proceeding in the way that we all fear. Telephone tapping is an invasion of privacy and a usurping of civil rights. It is a presumption of civil power or military power that has no place in a democracy. It is unlikely that people will use for subversive or criminal activities telephones that can be easily tapped. The suggestion that one member of this Parliament may authorise the tapping of another member’s telephone is an arrogant assumption of power, authority and rectitude which has no place here. I hear the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) endeavouring to interrupt me. Presumably he does so because he is in the Ministry. Why is he in the Ministry? Somebody selected him. It may be that he is the most intelligent, the most super-dooper hi-fi member in the Parliament, but it is doubtful. It is not likely that he would indulge in subversive activities. The Ministry takes unto itself the presumption that it is pure and that it must supervise other honourable members. This is an insult to all of us. The Prime Minister is prejudicing the whole position of Parliament. He is perpetuating some of the things that are said in the streets when people talk about parliamentarians - about politicians. Generally the people seem to know that their own representative is all right; it is the one a long way oft who gets around in expensive motor cars and so on.
Every honourable member is in duty bound to prevent the Ministry - the Attorney-General or the Prime Minister - from proceeding in this way. If the citizenry of any electorate send us here, that is a measure of their faith and trust in us, and they are the only people with the right to remove us. They are the only people with the right to carry out a scrutiny of us. There must be no inhibition of a member’s carrying out his duty, whatever it is. The suggestion that the telephones of honourable members are tapped and the Prime Minister’s refusal to state emphatically that they are not tapped and will not be tapped or that some have been tapped are serious trespasses on the power and rights of this Parliament. I personally resent the presumptuous way in which Ministers assume that they are right and that each one of the rest of us is wrong.
I agree and disagree with a large number of honourable members on all sorts of occasions, but at least I think the people of Australia have sent here an honest and sincere body of people who will do their duty with a conscience clear of any taints of disloyalty. Australia has never had a traitor. Nobody has ever betrayed the country. It is unlikely that any of us sitting here will ever betray this country. The Prime Minister will do the Parliament a great service if he says that the telephones of honourable members will not be tapped.
– If you have nothing to hide why do you resent anybody hearing what you say?
– How would the honourable member like somebody listening to his conversations?
– I repeat: If you have nothing to hide why are you afraid of being heard? There can be no secrets in this business. If you do something the people will know about it. It ill behoves anybody to complain constantly about being overheard and then to talk about loyalty and the negation of democracy. One honourable member opposite spoke about the negation of democracy. His party is controlled by the thirty-six faceless men.
– Oh, bury it.
– The Labor Party is very touchy about the thirty-six faceless men. I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) called the Federal Executive the twelve witless men. The people who are compelled to obey the ukase or the orders of these people come into this place and talk about the negation of democracy. If ever there has been an example of negation of democracy it has been the example of thirty-six people outside the Parliament deciding what an entire party in the Parliament will do. That is a negation of democracy.
The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has claimed that the primary function of a member of this Parliament lies iri this place. This proves what I have for a long time thought about the honourable member. When you represent an electorate such as Mackellar, which is Palm Beach enclosed between the Pacific Ocean and Pittwater, you do not get the kind of problems that you get in an industrial or country electorate. So if you have only one function, it is here, but some people - the Country Party, and particularly the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) will agree with this - have the task of going through huge country or industrial electorates and having to fell people what is going on in this place, the bush capital of Australia. Thank God for the assistance of television in this task.
We are discussing the estimates for the Parliament. I think we should pause for a moment and examine the Parliament itself. In 1901 we got a Commonwealth Constitution establishing the Federal Parliament. After much argument the Parliament was placed here in this sheep station just near Queanbeyan in New South Wales. The first stone for Parliament House was laid in about 1913. The 1920 construction of the capital began. Prior to that time there was nothing. I think the Commonwealth Parliament met in a place which now houses Sir Henry Bolte and the Victorian Parliament. Later the Commonwealth Parliament came here. At that time Australia consisted virtually of a few small provinces on the south east of the continent. As a matter of fact, even now 80 of the 124 members of this place represent an area bounded by the eastern and southern coastline and a line drawn from Brisbane to where the River Murray crosses the South Australian border. About two-thirds of the membership of this place represents a very small part of Australia. I am told that Sydney and Melbourne are the worst examples of centralisation the world has ever seen. In this fleshpot of Canberra, on the edge of the continent less than 80 miles from the coast, 2,000 miles from Perth and 3,000 miles from North West Cape, where some of us will be going within a few weeks, has grown up a democracy and the Federal Parliament. Of the 124 members 80 come from this tiny corner of Australia. If we take a line from a bit west of Adelaide to Brisbane we find that 100 of the 124 members are within this very small part of Australia. This was . the part within which the British could settle because they were used to these climatic, conditions and the high rainfall which we have in at least part of the area. There were lush pastures, so they settled in this area. Yet we in this tiny south-east corner call ourselves Australians and this arrogant group of people call themselves the Australian Parliament, and the arrogant bureaucracy back us up in this claim.
In Canberra we have spent $57m and if we drive about this area now we can see where another $57m is being spent. The deep seated thoughts in members of Parliament and in the people living here are: Let us spend the money here. This is the place. We will get a much greater yield if we spend it here’. We see other evidence of huge expenditure in this south eastern part of Australia. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is familiar with the Warringah expressway where $80m is being spent on 9 miles of road approaching the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We sec buildings going up in Sydney. For the planning and development of Australia Square the expenditure is $100m and other buildings will cost $27m. From the latest report of the Director-General of Civil Aviation we see that the expenditure on Tullamarine airport is $45m and at Mascot it is $53m. A total of $l,484m is being spent on a few small works in this little corner of Australia, and yet we have the arrogance, the impudence and the impertinence to say that this expenditure is on
Australia. People in other parts of the country know very well that they will be neglected unless we have a clean breath of fresh air through this place. The Parliament ought not to be here. Putting it here was a mistake. It was an anachronism.
– The honourable member was the mistake.
– The honourable member, the plutocrat of Pymble, suggests that I was the mistake. We should move the Parliament and Canberra itself out into the real Australia, the place where the real productivity is about to take place, out to the booming frontier, to the place where men have gone for 150 years, out among the whitened bones of their predecessors, the whitened bones of dead cattle and the rusty iron.
The honourable member for Bradfield scorns the tiny places of Australia, but of course this is the arrogance that I am concerned about. We know now what can happen in 8 short years. We first went to the Ord River on 1st August 1959 - 8 years ago. At that time there was nothing in that area, but now that part of Australia is being neglected because of the strength, power, arrogance and impertinence of people who say that we should spend the money right here. And so we have seen $57m spent on Canberra. AH members of Parliament should go to the Ord River district to see what is happening there - not only the forty-seven members from New South Wales who can come to Canberra in a 45 minute flight from Sydney and the thirty-three members from Victoria who take a few more minutes to get here from Melbourne, but all members.
– A flight plus a 5-hour car drive sometimes.
– The honourable member for Gippsland must drive slowly unless something is wrong in the area that he comes from. The Parliament is wrongly sited. It should be established perhaps in the centre of the Fitzroy Basin, in central Queensland, at Rockhampton in the electorate of Capricornia, or perhaps in the west or the centre of Australia. The Parliament is modelled on the Mother of Parliament at Westminster. What nonsense is this? Half the members of the Mother of Parliament at Westminster, the House of Commons, live within 30 minutes of that place. In Australia we may live 2,000 miles away and yet we have to conform to this pattern. The book which decides what we do here was written by Sir Erskine May; this Parliament is modelled on the Mother of Parliament. Tied to these old conventions, which are hundreds of years old, we have to make the Parliament work. But these conventions are not suitable for this country which this Parliament is alleged to be running. The same remark is equally true no matter which party is in office because the Treasury bench was once occupied by Labor which now has many members for New South Wales, many members for Victoria and many Senators. The Opposition is now supposed to control the Senate, yet it is difficult to get $4m for the Ord River Dam, with all its magnificent productivity, because the fanatical knockers have had their say. I refer to those who live in this part of the country and listen to people about them who say: ‘Let us spend the money here; it is too far away up there’.
Are we in this place entitled to run Australia and be entrusted with this magnificent continent? Let us examine our resources. A conservative estimate by Edward Ward and Co. places our mineral resources in 15 years at $4,000m per year, of which more than half is in the north at the Hammersley Range development, Mount Tom Price, Mount Newman, Cape Lambert Port and the Robe River. We have the aluminium and the beef industries. Jack Kelly has estimated the return from beef at $640m, but that has been proved already to be understated; in 15 years it will be $1 ,000m. In the monsoon area which has more water than any other part of Australia we can grow grain which Japan needs for its stock industries. Japan is paying $56 per ton for sorghum. We have available to us another $2, 000m from those sources and another $2, 000m for minerals, so we could have from north Australia exports to the value of $4,000m which is more than our present total exports from north and south Australia put together. And so we sit here smugly and complacently in Canberra, in the south east corner of the country about 80 miles from the coast where the British first sent their convicts. We are tied to this part of the country and yet we call ourselves Australians. The real
Australia is out in the hot white light, in the great expanses of this country. The emotional call of it is enough, but the economic call is terrific.
Why can we not leave this bush capital? Why should not all members of Parliament who represent metropolitan electorates in Sydney and Melbourne go out and see these areas. Take the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), who has been twittering about something, and others and let them see the magnificent heritage that we have in Australia. If we do not do something about the rest of Australia we may as well put the Brisbane line across the continent, and let the rest of it go where it belongs. In the northern part of Australia freights were $40 per ton on goods carried inwards or outwards. They were prohibitive. The gigantic internal freights have now gone to nothing because fertilisers can be brought from other places in great ships. An ore carrier of 200,000 tons has been laid down and there have been tremendous undertakings. A 20,000 ton train can be loaded by merely pressing a button. The train goes into a tunnel where the ore is waiting and the train is quickly loaded. These things can happen in Australia because we have had stable Government. Other countries have tremendous resources of iron ore and other materials but nobody can be sure that an investment in those places will be secure because some turmoil may offset the arrangements. But in Australia we have a stable Government which can enable these things to happen. But let us understand our destiny and jet this Parliament work properly as it should do.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I would very much like to pursue the honourable member for Tilba Tilba, who preceded me, to the Fitzroy basin or wherever else he feels like going. I thought that his paraphrase of Kipling was rather verbose. What do they know of Australia who only Sydney know? The trouble is, however, that I simply have not enough time. Though I am not using the lectern that is so thoughtfully provided by Mr Speaker, I do have a text. It is taken from the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer, which was written in the early 1600s. Though over three centuries old, it is still very modern and apposite to our situation. It refers to:
The two extremes, - of too much stiffness in refusing, and of loo much easiness in admitting any variation.
Again it observes:
There was never any thing by the wit of man jo well devised, or so sure established, which in continuance of dme hath not been corrupted.
I suggest, without wishing to be too radical, that this Parliament is not entirely perfect. There are many traditions beloved by many of my friends - by the majority of members in this chamber. Some of those traditions are ornamental and rather pleasant. About 18 months ago, I was in the Parliament of Malawi in central Africa and 1 saw the Speaker enter the chamber from the end opposite to the chair and bow to the empty chair before taking his place. I learned later why this was done. At Westminster, an early parliament had once asked the king whether it might have some place of its own in which it might meet. He replied: ‘Yes. You may have my private chapel.’ So, when the Speaker entered the chamber in Malawi he bowed not to the empty chair but to the invisible altar. Well, this is a very pleasant thing, and 1 have no objection to it.
There are in this place some customs that look inefficient and are not. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) made a great error. He said that we should have an electronic means of recording the voting in divisions. Perhaps he has never been in a parliament where the only weapon that the opposition had with which to help it insist on being heard was the opportunity to gum up the works by calling divisions so that in the end the government had to say: ‘Rather than have one division after another, wasting many minutes every time, we may as well let opposition members speak’. I have been in such a parliament, and I warn any Opposition member here who thinks that we should bring ourselves up to date by adopting electronic means of counting divisions that he ought to think a second time. Again, we have a long break of 2 hours v/hen the sitting is suspended at dinner time. I have been in a parliament where there were situations in which a government faced a crisis during the afternoon and the
Cabinet found it rather convenient to have 2 hours in which to sort out the matter concerned.
This is the second sort of tradition, which is based on practices that look inefficient but in fact have very real meaning. But there is a third sort, which produces what I shall describe as the cobwebs. There are those who oppose the work of committees in this place on the ground that they belong to the American system and that this is inconsistent with the Westminster system and therefore we should not have it. The mere fact that every new country has adopted the American presidential and congressional system instead of the Westminster model might make us think again. But no; we arc wedded to the Westminster system- These traditions are cobwebs that should be brushed away.
Before we ask ourselves whether this Parliament is efficient and determine the things that should be improved, we must ask: What is the Parliament supposed to do? How can we say whether it is doing well or badly the things that it is supposed to do, or how its procedures ought to be altered, until we first answer the question: What is it supposed to do? What is its role? The basic facts of modern parliamentary government, though it was not ever thus, are these: First of all the respective parties - basically two, in our system - put their respective cases to the electors. The electorate returns its verdict and the successful party forms a government. If Lt is a party like those at present on this side of the Parliament the Prime Minister chooses his Ministers. If it is like the party that sits on the other side of the Parliament the selection is made by Caucus. And there could be other ways of making it. A party appeals to the electorate, it is elected, a ministry is chosen and that ministry is the. government. At the very first meeting of the new parliament, the campaign begins for the next election, which may occur 3 years thence or even sooner. It is the duty of members on the government side of the parliament to support the government and is the duty of those on the other side to criticise the government, because, always, both sides are looking to the next election, which is no more than 3 years off. However, matters are not as simple as this.
Ministers, having taken up their portfolios, have entered into a close association with the bureaucracy and are no longer just ordinary members of parliament. Those who form the bureaucracy are clever, experienced and immensely powerful mcn. Let us have no doubt about that. It is the bureaucracy that drafts regulations, makes decisions in innumerable individual cases and does all the things that no one man could possibly do even if he had the experience and the knowledge required. It is the bureaucracy that, out of the plentitude of its wisdom and experience, advises Ministers. And Ministers often, though not always, are as clay in the hands of their officials. As the honourable member for Bendigo rightly said, the opposition has not such able assistance - unless it is a very wealthy party and builds up its own party organisational bureaucracy. Backbenchers on the government side are in a dilemma. As things are, they cannot participate in the framing of policy. This is done by Ministers and the bureaucrats. Nor can backbenchers oppose their own government. So what do they do? They become merely voting members and support the government in all circumstances, whether right or wrong. They cannot assume the role adopted by opposition backbenchers. In a current affairs bulletin entitled ‘Backbenchers’, the author of which I know very well, it was pointed out that there is a chance - one in four - of a backbencher winning a place in the Ministry. So the philosophy is: ‘Never blot your copybook. Enter the fierce race for that prize.’
I have spoken about the realities of party government. The people are getting rather sick of this situation, and this is very dangerous for this institution. Once the people begin to feel that the institution that governs them is somewhat less than perfect, they begin to cast round for some alternatives. This is a dangerous situation. Parliament has other functions, of course. One of them is sometimes to turn a government out of office, as happened, for example, in 1941. But this probably will not happen again in the lifetime of any member now present. It will certainly not happen in mine. Again, Parliament is a reservoir of Ministers. One has to be a member of Parliament to be a Minister. But if the work of backbenchers becomes so uninteresting, merely involving voting and saying: ‘Yea, yea,’ the sort of people who have any quality and should be encouraged to enter Parliament will not enter it. It is fine to be first rate and a Minister, like my honourable friend, the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly), who is the only member of the front bench now present and who is very distinguished and a unique character. He is first class. But we shall not get even second class people to enter the Parliament if backbenchers cannot take any part in the framing of policy and cannot influence it. In this sort of situation, we shall get only third raters in the Parliament. When this happens, Ministers become third raters, too. This is the pity of it all - that backbenchers are not put to work and have no function except to vote and say: ‘Yea, yea,’ or: Nay, nay,’ as the case may be. Parliament once was the great forum of the nation.
– There is plenty of work for backbenchers.
– Oh, yes, there is plenty of work. We work very hard, but maybe at the wrong things. This is supposed to be the great forum of the nation. Here we are at this time in Australia, a small country with fewer than 12 million people, on the fringe of the boiling cauldron of Asia from which anything may emerge, the British having told us they will withdraw from Asia in the not very distant future - and who supposes the Americans will stay very long after they get their feet out of the bog in South Vietnam? Wc see trade blocs being formed and difficulties developing in regard to our exports, the things on which we live. We can be throttled by these trade blocs. We live in a scientific revolution when small countries have great difficulty in living at all.
We are facing great problems in many directions, but what are we talking about here? We are talking about the revised version of the Labor Party’s scriptures handed down from the Adelaide summit. We arc talking about the antics of some bizarre students of a Victorian university. And this is the great forum of the nation! Is Parliament performing its proper function? Clearly it is not. And there are always elections in Australia. So if we choose to spend all our time on the froth and bubble of politics and not in dealing wilh the great affairs of the nation, is it surprising that people should lose, faith in the institution? Is it surprising that we should be regarded as of little account? I can assure the Committee that this is how ordinary citizens are looking upon the institution. I know this because I talk to them and they talk to me.
The other thing that Parliament does, of course, or should do, is to exercise some scrutiny over the public servants, the officials. The Government - the Executive - consists of Ministers, a few people at the top, and underneath them is a vast complex bureaucracy. It is like an iceberg, with only a little bit sticking out on top - like the honourable gentleman at the table - and below the vast bulk. So the second great function of the Parliament is to maintain a scrutiny pf the bureaucracy. We have now an excellent Public Accounts Committee but very little else.
Well, what is the remedy? Parliament is ill-informed; that is why it is not a great forum. Parliament is ill-informed; that is why it keeps no proper control over this vast bureaucracy. And all the time Parliament is distracted by electioneering. Again I ask: What is the remedy? I have 3 minutes in which to give the remedy, but for the benefit of those who would like to pursue this matter further, I believe the Canberra Times’ will be publishing tomorrow an article in which I deal with this matter in some detail, so that any honourable member who wants a copy of the article can find it in that newspaper. An honourable member suggests I am broadcasting an advertisement. Well, if I am, it is worth it.
In the couple of minutes remaining to me I would like to say a word or two about the Library, because the great disability of Parliament is lack of real information. That is why our debates are so vapid. We began about 2 years ago to ask for, and at last we have succeeded in getting, three research workers. They are all first class people, with first class minds and first class experience. They are doing a tremendous job for this Parliament but they are too few. The same applies to the reference section. These services have to be expanded. These people have to be given assistance because the Library is the first source of information for Parliament. The second, I suggest, is the system of committees the establishment of which I have advocated on other occasions.
Yesterday 1 referred to the need for a committee along the lines of the select committee on the nationalised industries in Britain. I made this suggestion in relation to the Post Office. The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) did not even reply. This shows the great influence that back benchers have - or think they have if they flatter themselves - on the Executive. The PostmasterGeneral having heard the suggestion and having heard very constructive speeches from the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) and the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), did not even deign to reply to the debate. So I say to my colleagues on the back benches: Do not flatter yourselves. But I shall have more to say about this later.
This committee which exists in England is designed to do the very job that I suggest should be done - to serve as a bridge between the Parliament and nationalised industries such as the Post Office is going to be. There could be other committees such as one to deal with tariff proposals. Honourable members will be interested to read about this in the Canberra Times’ tomorrow, and also about another useful committee on social questions. They will see what is proposed, why it is proposed and how effective this could be in making members better informed at least on some matters. But this is the mere beginning.
Well, Mr Chairman, this has been a very brief adumbration of some ideas that have been maturing in my mind for some time. I hope to have the opportunity on later occasions of pursuing these matters further, and some day the mountain - I believe it is shaking a little - will bring forth something better than a mouse.
– The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) deplored the decline in the authority and influence of the Parliament. I remind him that this is not a peculiarly Australian trend. In fact we in Australia are better off in this regard than a number of other countries. That is because, for one thing, we have a very lively electorate, and, for another, we have a federal system. But in countries which have a unitary form of government the decline in the power and prestige of their parliaments is a very serious matter indeed. There have been at least two international conferences within the space of the last 5 years which have discussed this subject and expressed concern, but they have not, to my knowledge, brought forth any practical solution of the problem.
The decline of parliaments generally throughout the world has been a phenomenon associated with the growth of wealth, the affluent times in which we presently live, and also, at the other end of the scale, the increase in the number of new democracies in the world in which the electorates are not fully informed of the procedures of the democratic system. In the one case, in the affluent societies, the electorates are too disinterested to follow closely the actions of their parliaments, while in the new democracies they are simply ignorant and so unable to follow what is being done. Therefore power has gravitated to the centre, the executive, and away from the parliament. I am going to suggest a course of action tonight to remedy this situation, which is not quite so serious in Australia as it is in other countries but nevertheless is a matter that is of pressing urgency for us.
I believe we should beware of the danger of having a government in power in circumstances such as these which is dedicated through its policies to an authoritarian system. Any Socialist or other authoritarian doctrine practised by . a government which has a weak parliament could be extremely dangerous to the freedoms and liberties of the individuals in the country in which such a government exists. This is a real danger. It is something that we must protect ourselves against in Australia.
Since our trouble here is not ignorance but is rather a lack of interest in the activities of Parliament, what we should do to correct this is, I suggest, to consult the people more frequently than we do. We have held a number of referendums since federation. We should hold a great many more. We should hold them far more frequently and on far more trivial issues than we have ever put to the people before. Referendums on matters of lesser importance and on more frequent occasions would be welcomed by the people. This would encourage them to think of their parliaments and to think of their demo cratic system. I believe this development would result in a good response from the people. It would also encourage them to take an interest in the proceedings of this Parliament generally and that in its turn would be a stimulus to the members of the Parliament and, finally, to the Government of the day. The type of question which could be put to the people immediately is, for example, whether we should have in our Constitution provision enabling us to create under-secretaries. We could not do this in 1949 because the Constitution barred us. As a result, we have an overloaded Ministry, which is rather expensive and which, I believe, creates too much of a gulf between the ministerial side and the back bench side of the Parliament. We should have a bridge, and the most useful and effective bridge is the type of undersecretary that has been so useful in the British parliamentary system. Put that to the people by way of referendum and 1 am sure it would be carried.
Similarly with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review of 1959. Some of those recommendations could and should be put to the people, not all at the one time, but in some order of priority. I would say that at the top of the list of priorities should be the question of whether this Parliament should have the power to admit new States into the Commonwealth because that also has a bearing on the effectiveness of our democratic system directly in this Parliament in the other chamber. There is little doubt that, with proportional voting, and with the Senate numbers as they are, the division of Australia into smaller States would create a far more interesting and active chamber than we have experienced in the past. It would also be much more effective.
– We would be more overgoverned.
– My friend says we would be more over-governed if we had more States. This is a canard. It has been demolished so many times that it makes no difference. We have in Australia a lop-sided form of government because the original conception of the designers of this Federation was the creation of a great number of States. The whole of our Constitution was drawn up around this concept of a number of small States. The Senate was supposed to be an area House. It has never operated as an area House because we have never had this large number of small States in Australia. And we cannot achieve those small States because, unfortunately, our Constitution contains certain limitations which prevent us from putting to the people the question of allowing new States to be created.
It is a question which I believe should be put to the people as was recommended by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. That recommendation was unanimously endorsed at the time by representatives of all parties in this chamber, and I see no reason why it should not be put to the people for their consideration and possible endorsement. Those are the types of questions which could be posed to the people. We could have them coming forward to the people at frequent intervals so that they might feel that they were playing an active part in governing Australia and that their knowledge and judgment were appreciated by the Government of this country. In other words, we would have a more responsible electorate than we have at the present time.
There is another small change which I should like to see in this Parliament, and I mention it just in passing. Instead of increasing the size of this Parliament, as has been proposed at various times, I believe it would be much more sensible, much more economic and much more efficient if we were to give members of Parliament some further assistance with their clerical work. This is something that we need not contemplate immediately, but I believe we should consider it very seriously when the pressure mounts for an increase in the number of parliamentarians. To my mind, it would be much more sensible to provide the existing number of parliamentarians with further secretarial assistance so that they could do a much more efficient job in looking after the direct interests of their constituents and so that they will have more freedom to concentrate upon the legislative work in the Parliament.
To my mind, there would be no danger that this would be wasteful because everyone who has had experience of this Parliament knows that the pressure which is on members of the Federal House mounts daily. There does not seem to be any way whatsoever of a member being able to get some relief from this pressure if he wishes to remain in the Parliament.
– If he wishes to stay alive.
– If he wishes to stay alive as a member of Parliament. I suggest we should take note of this worldwide trend towards the concentration of power in the hands of the Executive, apply it to our circumstances here in Australia and take corrective measures before it is too late. We should also look at this question of increasing the size of the Parliament more seriously than we have in the past and see whether that is the answer to the problems of which we are so aware at the present time. An honourable member says that nobody is listening. Unfortunately, that is true. This debate is being broadcast, even at this late hour, but there will be very few people in Australia interested enough in the happenings of the Parliament to be listening to the proceedings now. This is what we have to change; so I recommend to the Government tonight that it consult the people more frequently than it has done in the past by way of referendum to enlist their interest and support for the strengthening of the Parliament.
Mr SCHOLES (Corio) 110.29]- We are discussing the estimates for the Parliament, and I think most members of this place can well feel proud of the debate so far. It has been conducted in a very reasoned and proper manner. I think the reason for this is that most of the people who have taken part in it have known something about the subject we are debating. This is a matter which is beyond parry dominance and politics, and possibly that of Ministers. For example, Mr Speaker is not here and he is virtually responsible for the conduct of the Parliament. During the debate members have referred to grievances that have arisen over the year, but which I do not intend to canvass because obviously .1 have not been a member long enough to enable me to comment on them. I want, however, as a person who has been interested in the Parliament for long enough to have listened to the broadcasts of its proceedings since the Second World War - probably longer than most honourable members have listened to them - to express my opinion of the Parliament and its workings. Parliament is important in Australia. Parliament can be degraded, not so much by the activities of members but by the manner in which people seem to seize on incidents that occur and which are newsworthy. These matters are publicised and the achievements of the Parliament are frequently overlooked. Any government, no matter what its political colour, must have some achievements during its term of office, whether it be in power for 3 or 4 months or for 18 or 20 years. The country is governed. There is no doubt of that. But Parliament is the place where government should occur.
This evening, immediately after the suspension of the sitting, we had an example of the disrespect with which the Parliament is being treated by Ministers. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) began addressing the Parliament by saying: ‘The Government has decided’. Cabinet had decided, and possibly members of the Government Parties, if they were fortunate enough to have been consulted, had decided, but this Parliament had not been consulted. No motion was before it and therefore the Parliament had not decided. Had it been left to Parliament, no doubt a motion would have been carried, but the fact is that the Prime Minister treated Parliament with considerable contempt. In many other ways the Parliament is being treated with contempt. It is most unusual to read in the Press that a Minister has made a statement to the Parliament concerning the Government’s policy intentions. More often do we read in the Press that a Minister has stated that he intends to tell the Parliament what the Government’s policy is. I do not think this is good enough.
Further, I am concerned at the manner in which honourable members are using words that I think should be regarded as unparliamentary. In this chamber every day this week, every day last week and every day the week before members accused other honourable members of being traitors and of having treasonous intentions. No Australian in the history of this country, much less a member of this Parliament or of any parliament in Australia, has ever been accused of or tried for treason. I sincerely hope that no Australian ever will be so charged. These words should not be used lightly and they should not become part of the daily language of the Parliament. It is bad enough for one member to accuse another member of having treasonous intentions, but tonight a Minister implied, in an interjection, that there may be members of this Parliament who are less than loyal to their country. This is not true of any member, not even of any member on the Government side. The fact is that it is becoming a useful publicity vehicle to criticise or label people. It is bad enough to accuse members of the Parliament, who have the right to reply to accusations levelled at them, but it is far worse to label outsiders who have no opportunity of defending themselves against such accusations which, if repeated as a direct quotation of what was said in the Parliament, the person accused can do nothing about. Before a person is charged with the most serious offence ‘that one can commit in Australia, he should have the right to defend himself and he should have the right to a fair trial. No matter how violent is the difference of opinion between persons, no honourable member should charge anyone with having a treasonous intent.
It is proper that an honourable member, in making his contributions to the debates in the Parliament, should speak about what he believes to be true and that he should support those policies on which he was elected. When a person stands for election he stands by the platform of a party unless he is, like the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson), an independent. If a person is elected to this place and subsequently admits that he does not support the platform or policies of the party he represents, then he is not being true to the people who voted for him.
– The honourable member said that a member should speak in accordance with what he believes to be true.
– That is right. Any person who is a member of a political party and who does not believe in the policies of that party quite obviously is not being honest with himself.
– I cannot follow that.
– I cannot help that. Another matter of importance is the way members are elected to the Parliament. At present a redistribution of electorates is contemplated. It is also proposed that the redistribution should be carried out on a basis similar to the recent redistribution of electorates in Victoria authorised by a party of the same political colour as the Government. In other words, there will be a loading of seats against metropolitan electorates - a loading against people who live in metropolitan areas. This has been the situation in South Australia where, because of the provisions of an Act, country people have double the representation that metropolitan people have. Thus 6,000 people in a country electorate elect a member whereas 20,000 people elect a member in the metropolitan area. In Victoria, as a result of the recent redistribution, although the two main political parties received exactly the same percentage of votes, one party won sixteen seats and the other more than forty seats. This is not democratic and it is necessary to evolve an electoral system that truly reflects the way people vote for the Parliament. If the Commonwealth electorates are to be loaded in favour of country districts then those people who do not live in country areas are being denied their rights and are being regarded as less than equal citizens when compared to country people.
Another important electoral matter is that those people whose surnames commence with the letter A enjoy an electoral advantage. It is important that no person should have a natural advantage in an election. It is only fair that there should be a ballot for House of Representatives elections similar to the ballot that is conducted in respect of the Senate elections. This would give every candidate an equal opportunity to have his name appear first on the ballot paper, thus acquiring what is known as the donkey vote. It has become a regular practice of some political parties to choose candidates whose name commence with A or B for close seats. It is a known fact that in close seats persons whose names do not commence with early letters of the alphabet have little chance of winning Liberal Party pre-selections Liberal Party members who represent close seats all appeared near the top of the ballot papers during the election.
During the short time I have been a member of this place the debates have been almost exclusively devoted to one subject. We have, of course, debated the Budget and we are now debating the Estimates, but our debates have primarily been concerned with foreign affairs. I believe, as everyone else, that the subject of foreign affairs is important. I do, however, believe that there are other matters equally as important and that when these other matters are before the Parliament it would be a good thing if they could be debated. When other matters have been before the Parliament in this session most of the members opposite seem to have felt that it was better to debate the merits or demerits of the Australian Labor Party rather than what is good or bad for this country.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) made some comments on the establishment of a committee system which would help backbenchers to participate more in government. I do not see how backbenchers, especially backbenchers on the Government side who are at least morally obliged to support the Cabinet almost exclusively, can participate in government if the committees do not have the right to call before them Ministers, leaders of departments, defence experts and so on, inc publicly question them on matters which affect that committee. Members of committees will not be able to get the information they want if they cannot call such people before them. Therefore, the committee system cannot work. Under the Crimes Act members of departments are not entitled to give information which may be critical of the Government of the day or of their departments. No committee system could possibly function unless this Act were altered and these people were free to give what information they felt was necessary, as is done in the United States of America. Members of the defence forces and others are called before committees and are questioned quite often in public by people who may well oppose government policy in order that the facts ran be ascertained. I suggest it would be pointless to set up committees of this or any other Parliament unless these committees could obtain the necessary information from whatever source they felt that the information should come. Backbenchers would be no better off than they are now if, as members of committees, they did not have access to the information that they required.
I do not intend to say any more. I believe that honourable members should treat Parliament seriously. I have said this before. I hope that members who have said that they have too much work and who are seeking to have their staff complement increased have good grounds for their complaints and I hope 1 will be here long enough to find out what those grounds are.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment. Clause 9. (I.) In proceedings for an offence against this Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
In sub-cause (1.), after “is”, insert “prima facie “.
– I move:
I think 1 should say a word or two about the amendment. This is an amendment to clause 9 paragraph (1 . ) of the Defence Force Protection Bill 1967. This paragraph when it passed through this- House, read:
In proceedings for an offence against this Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
Honourable members will recall that 1 explained that this was a common provision where the name or name and address of a printer appeared in accordance with law. This could fairly be taken to be evidence of what it stated. The amendment which the Senate has passed and has recommended to us in. its message is that the words ‘prima facie’ should be inserted before the word ‘evidence’. This amendment is accepted by the Government. I think I should say that as the section stood originally when it passed through this House, it conveyed as a matter of law precisely the same meaning. The reason why the draftsman of this Parliament does not insert the words ‘prima facie’, and has not done so, say, for the last 6 years, is that they are otiose. However it has been inserted in another place. It does not change the meaning and the Government therefore is prepared to accept the amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Proposed expenditure, $3,940,000.
– Firstly, I want to refer to the manner in which the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) spoke in regard to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) tonight. Accidents happen in the best regulated families and concerns and it was from the Prime Minister’s courtesy in thinking that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) was to follow him that confusion arose. The honourable member may remember that the Prime Minister did state that the paper would be noted and agreed to. Some misunderstanding has occurred in this regard. But it is quite wrong to blame the Prime Minister for discourtesy. On the contrary, the Prime Minister was desirous that the honourable member for Fremantle should express his views which I think were views that every member of this House agrees with. We are indebted to such a gentleman as the honourable member for Fremantle and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) for their great interest in the Aboriginals, not over a short period, but for many years.
The honourable member for Corio spoke about the election of members to this chamber. I think that it has been shown on many occasions that the person at the top of the ballot paper has an undue advantage over the rest on the ticket. This happened in my own electorate, where we had the biggest panel in the whole of Australia. There were nine candidates and a young gentleman who had retired from the Royal Australian Air Force was at the top of the ballot paper. Although he was not known in the area - he came from Queensland - and he took no part in the election whatsoever, he received 2,200 votes out of a total of 94,500 votes cast. That proves conclusively to me that being at the head of the list does give an advantage. Therefore I agree with the honourable member for Corio that there should be a draw for positions.
On this occasion we are in agreement with the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). It is not very often we agree with him but I do pay a tribute to him because he made a very worthwhile contribution to this debate today. I was sorry that he took my interjection the wrong way. Proud as he is to be the honourable member for Cunningham, I am more proud to be the honourable member for Mitchell, which is the largest electorate in New South Wales and the third largest electorate in Australia. The electorate of Mitchell is very important. It has 110,000 people on the electoral roll and its population is over 300,000. It also has the highest birth rate in Australia with an average of thirty-nine births to every 1,000 people. I am very proud of this birth rate in the electorate of Mitchell.
The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan) said that we should consider ourselves fortunate because this Parliament had certain conditions and concessions that were much better than those of other parliaments. But good as our Parliament and our parliamentary system are, there is no reason why we should not endeavour to make them better. As the honourable member for Mackellar stated, the time has come when we should think of improving the procedures and methods of the Parliament. A great deal of time is wasted because of the meal hours and other formalities.
I am proud to tell honourable members that of the great number of people that I represent, one in four is a new settler from overseas. These people require guidance and attention and demand a great deal of one’s time. It does seem unfair to me, having 110,000 people on the roll and a fairly extensive area to cover, that I should have the same clerical staff as the honourable member for West Sydney (Mr Minogue), who has 31,000 constituents. I think that if he stood in the centre of his electorate he would not have to walk 3 miles in any direction, except when he wanted to go to Lord Howe Island. It does seem unfair that I should have the same clerical staff as a member with a much lesser number of voters and a much lesser area to cover. There would be no business organisation that would allocate the same staff for 31,000 customers as it would for 100,000 customers. I have applied to the Prime Minister for assistance in this regard and I have been promised that assistance. But I remind honourable members that 9 months of our term of office has already gone and unless I receive assistance in the near future most of the period will have elapsed.
Representing an area such as I do, with seventeen large towns and fourteen smaller towns, a heavy demand is made on my time attending all the charitable functions and social activities that one is required to attend. There is no getting away from the fact that the electors demand that we attend these functions. It is part of our electoral system that we should do this and I am happy to conform with that system. I take great delight in being at these functions and I obtain a better understanding of my fellow men. But I do appeal to the Government to consider the position. Only three electorates in Australia have more than 100,000 voters. If necessary those three should be given priority over the rest of the electorates in regard to staff arrangements. That would assist the members who represent them to do a much better job than we are able to do now because of the lack of time and the lack of staff.
I am assured by the authorities that by 1969 there will be 150,000 people on the roll in the Mitchell electorate and that the population will be 500,000. That will be 120,000 more than the population of Tasmania, which has five members of the House of Representatives and ten senators. One man one vote? The honourable member for Cunningham spoke about redistribution1. Of course that is long overdue but it would not have been long overdue had his Party not opposed the previous proposals that were before the House. We would have had a redistribution and I would not have been in the position that I atn in now of representing a population of 300,000, of which 110,000 are eligible to vote. 1 think that every honourable member should take great pride in being elected to this chamber. We belong to the most exclusive sect in Australia. I do not mean that we are exclusive brethren. I do not think any of us would claim to be brothers but we do belong to a most exclusive sect. Do honourable members realise that there have been only 600 members of this chamber since Federation? This is remarkable. It should make us very proud to be a member of this assembly. We could be likened to the great ‘600 at Balaclava. The list of casualties - of premature retirements and deaths that have occurred amongst our predecessors because of the arduous duties that they have had to perform - is remarkable. But we still find people happy to obtain the great honour to represent their electorates in this chamber. I think we all should be proud of the fact that our electors have thought so much of us that they have requested us to come here and represent them.
My time is running out and I want to say a word regarding committees. Committees are now taking a larger proportion of the business of this Parliament. But many of us are on so many committees which are allowed to meet only during the meal breaks, that we find that because of duplication we are not able to attend our meetings as frequently as we would like. I would appeal to the leaders of all parties to agree to allow members on committees to meet while the House is in session. I cannot understand why we cannot meet while the House is in session because we would be congregated together, and if it were necessary to attend a division we could move quickly into the House. I also want to pay a tribute to the Library and to the great courtesy and assistance that the research officers have given to each and every one of us. The Library is doing a magnificent job under very difficult conditions. If possible, we would like to see the number of research officers doubled.
– There are a few points which I would like to raise, and
I am sure that the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) would agree with many of them because he displays a great deal of interest in subjects which call for equality of representation and defence of the rights of people. One of the first things about which I want to speak is the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries. The Government has legislation which has gone through-
– I raise a point of order. This matter comes under the Department of the Interior.
– The question has already been discussed by previous speakers.
– I would suggest to the honourable member for Oxley that the matter of redistribution comes more under the Department of the Interior than the Parliament. Although it affects Parliament in the sense of numbers, still it is under the administration of the Department of the Interior and I would suggest that it would be covered more conveniently under the Department of the Interior.
– With respect, the first point about which I want to speak is the principle of democratic representation as distinct from the actual machinery of the legislation. Secondly, I would remind you, Mr Chairman, with due deference, that the subject has been raised and canvassed by previous speakers this evening. I have heard them myself. In view of this, may I proceed in terms of democratic representation as the point of discussion?
– If the honourable member desires to discuss the representation of Parliament as such then I would say that his remarks should be limited to matters affecting the Parliament itself and should not extend in any way to the question of redistribution in the wider and general sense,
– Could I ask your guidance on this? The point I wanted to make was that the principle of one vote one value is a democratic right. We would be opposed to any form of legislation which would allow certain representatives to represent some people, goats and spinifex. I admit that the Australian Country Party represents goats and spinifex very well. But legislation which has been introduced in this House - and this is a brazen effrontery in a democratic system - is a challenge to the fundamental and democratic right of people to expect that they will have representation proportionate to their numbers, as they have expressed it at elections. The point I want to make - and T am seeking your guidance on this matter, Mr Chairman - is that what we ought to be seeking is that at all times minority groups should achieve the best possible representation in this House. This means that electoral boundaries will be drawn on the principle of one vote one value. We represent people. We are not here to represent goats and cows. If we have a system of legislation which gerrymanders electorates so that rural areas are below quota in population in electoral numbers, then what we are doing-
– Order! The honourable member for Oxley is discussing matters that are the concern of and connected with the Department of the Interior and are therefore under the control of the Minister for the Interior. These matters are technical matters relating to the Department of the Interior.
– I will accept your guidance. I will leave the matter now. I will discuss, when the estimates for the Department of the Interior are before us, the brazen manner in which the Country Party has tried to extend its long apathy which is going to be cut short as support diminishes.
I want to speak about the question of staff for members of Parliament. We come into this Parliament - every one of us regardless of our politics - with a sense of dedication. I believe that this is so. I would be loath to take any cynical view which would cause me to believe otherwise. We come here with a sense of dedication and we want to do a job. We want to see that the best form of legislation is introduced in this chamber. We want to have the opportunity to analyse fully the various forms of legislation introduced here. We want to see that the ultimate result will be a carefully tailored presentation of a well thought out and well debated subject.
There is all too much evidence that what is going through this Parliament in a steamroller fashion is the decision of Cabinet which meets behind closed doors and which establishes what the Government is going to do as a matter of policy. This is mutely followed by Government supporters who use their numbers to carry the particular legislation that has been put forward. We have heard discussion - and I mention this incidentally - in the last few days about the freedom of Government supporters to vote according to their consciences. Some Government supporters must have elastic consciences. I can remember a couple of cases which I shall mention. There was one case in 1962 or 1963 - and I ask you to reflect on this, Mr Chairman, because you have a good memory - when, if an honourable member had voted according to his conscience against the Government, that vote, because of the slender majority of the Government, would have been sufficient to cause the failure of the Government.
There was a celebrated occasion when the nation was poised in anticipation, awaiting the failure of the Government, when the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) threatened that, because social services legislation that was coming before this House was unfair, inequitable and against the principles that he espoused, it was his intention to vote against this legislation. In the meantime we arrived at the moment of voting. In an unprecedented style the then Prime Minister, who is now Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, entered this chamber and participated in the vote. After he had entered the chamber, he sat down on his chair at the centre table, turned around and fixed his baleful stare on the honourable member for Mackellar who entered ashen faced, mute, and meekly took his place and voted with the Government. I mention this because it is important. Much has been made of the virtue of the freedom to vote according to one’s conscience. What happened to the honourable member for Mackellar on the occasion to which I have referred? What happened to his conscience? To what sort of duress was he subjected by his Party in order to force him to vote against a principle which he had so firmly espoused in this place and through the Press? What happened then to the freedom to vote according to conscience?
Take that celebrated nosedive - that crash with ignominy - of the then Minister for Air, the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). He had the cheek to express disagreement with the iron man of the Government, the deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen). The Minister had the brazen effrontery to suggest that Mr McEwen’s attitude towards the European Economic Community was unrealistic, as indeed it was at that time. Of course, the result was quickly following. The Minister was on the back benches within about 48 hours. So much for the freedom to speak on that occasion. What happens to Government supporters and Ministers if they in any way try to exercise the so-called freedom which they are supposed to have? What happens is a manifestation of the power that exists at present in the hands of the Executive. It is symptomatic of the way in which legislation is bulldozed through this chamber.
There is one way in which we can circumvent what is happening. We will not achieve our aim because the sort of staff contribution which I seek will not be provided. If it were provided it would mean that honourable members on this side would have facilities to have prepared for them a fully analysed and documented case in answer to the Government’s case. What happens on the Government side? When in doubt during question time Ministers rush over to the seats on Mr Speaker’s right, converse with departmental officers and get notes. We had the experience a few days ago of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) rushing back from one of those seats where public servants sit, sometimes tittering and talking to one another, and being unable to read the writing of a note that had been handed to him relating to foreign policy. This is what goes on. Ministers come into this place and deliver speeches which they have not looked at until they get here. This is the extent to which the Public Service has control of the Executive. It is an indication also of the kind of resources available to the Ministry. The Ministers would be complete failures without this prop to hold them up. ls it not time that the shadow cabinet - the Executive on this side - had the same kind of professional staff provided for it as is provided for the Ministry? If we really believe that this Federal Parliament deserves the prestige which we are always talking about and if we want to enhance our image, surely there is an obligation on all of us to see that the highest level of debate proceeds in the chamber and that the best available information is provided to those participating in the debate. It would be no problem for the Government to provide a specialist officer for each member of the Opposition shadow cabinet - an officer who would have travel rights to proceed to Canberra with the Opposition Executive member and who would be able to carry out the research work which would otherwise bog down the member and prevent him from participating effectively in the debate. It is not time we proceeded to do something along these lines?
We are not. amateurs. We have the responsibility of running the country. In the last year the national income amounted to more than S23,000m The Government is the biggest business in the country, yet we who are the alternative Government are treated like amateurs. We will continue to be treated in this way because the Cabinet does not want anyone else to have this kind of specialist staff available. It fears that it would have to meet us on equal terms if the staff were made available to us. But the Cabinet would have to meet on equal terms not only the Opposition executive but also back bench members on both sides. Having regard to the facilities available to the Opposition’s Executive members, they do a tremendous job on behalf of the Opposition, not only in holding the Government but also in embarrassing it. The Executive members have to do all their own research work. They cannot walk into their office, make a request for this or that and sit back and wait for it to be presented in digested form. They have to do research and display resource, iniative and ability. None of this is needed on the Government side. Until these services are provided for the Opposition this Parliament will continue at its present level. My suggestion is the only way in which to develop the Executive to a much higher pitch of performance.
What is the position in the United States Congress with regard to personal staff? The Library has provided me with some details. Senator Dirksen has a staff of 28, excluding his staff of 3 in his capacity as minority leader. He also has a staff of 3 in his State office. Senator Fulbright has a staff of 11. Most senatorial staffs are approximately 12. House of Representatives members have smaller staffs - approximately 4 to 6, plus 1 to 3 in their State offices. This is a different arrangement from that which holds in this country. Specialist staff should be available not only to occupants of the Opposition front bench but also to occupants of the back benches on both sides of the chamber. Surely honourable members on the back benches on both sides should be united in this. We all should have specialist staff. We come here with a sense of dedication. We want to do something worth while. We want to make a contribution, but we are tied down with fiddling, searching work, finding materia] that can be obtained by a person with minimum qualifications in many cases. If we are to be tied down in this way our ability to function in the Parliament will be restricted.
Finally I refer to the matter of transportation for members of the Opposition Executive. Is it not time that they were provided with transport rights equal to those accorded to Ministers? In my electorate a few weeks ago, while a Minister was overseas, his wife and two of her lady friends were involved in a collision while travelling in a new Commonwealth Pontiac motor car. Where were they going? They were going to Brisbane on a shopping expedition. What is more important, for those three women to go on a shopping expedition or for members of the Opposition Executive to have travel rights when carrying out their parliamentary duties? I suggest that this matter deserves serious consideration. Stopping this amateurish approach by the Government is one way in which we may make a beneficial contribution.
– As it is late my remarks will be brief. I express my appreciation of the services rendered to me by officers of the Parliament. Hansard does a wonderful job for the Parliament by recording so accurately the debates in this place. I have been in the Parliament for 211 years and in all that time I have never been able to find fault with the courtesy of the attendants. Every time I have met them they have treated me in a ‘ first class manner. The same observation applies to the girls who look after us in the dining room. I have the highest praise for everybody who works in this place. Everybody has treated me excellently in every way.
I rebut what has been said by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). On every occasion on which the estimates for the Parliament have been before us he has advanced his plan for a system of sitting on 5 days in 2 consecutive weeks and then having a week off. I have always opposed this scheme. When 1 see the honourable member for Mackellar supported by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) - they sit on opposite sides and are very seldom seen together - I am suspicious. Something is wrong. Those two honourable gentlemen live in cities. Last Friday we left Canberra at 8 a.m. and we were at Essendon at 8.4S a.m. If the honourable member for Wills had a car waiting for him he could have been home at 9 a.m. The honourable member for Mackellar is continually saying that we should adopt the theory that he has put forward, but it is not practical to do so. It has been proved in the past that it is not practical to sit for the hours that he has suggested. Long before most honourable members were in this place, when Mr Chifley was Prime Minister and I was a member of the Opposition, we used to sit on Fridays. The proposal was that we would sit until 5 p.m.; but by 3.30 p.m. on most occasions the House was so sparsely attended that it had to rise.
I invite honourable members to consider what would happen if we accepted the proposal advanced by the honourable member for Mackellar. Late on a Friday night honourable members representing Sydney and Melbourne electorates would travel home by fast aeroplane and would return to Canberra early on Monday morning, but those who live in far distant places like the area that I represent would have no opportunity to visit their electorate. My electorate is one of the hardest to get to and to come from. It may not be realised that if I travel by public transport I have to leave home at 8.45 a.m. on a Monday morning to be in Canberra for a 2.30 p.m. sitting on Tuesday. A member coming from Western Australia could leave home at midnight on Monday and arrive here at the same time as I do. If I were to return to my electorate by public transport on a Friday I would not arrive home until 7.15 p.m. I remind honourable members that I have seen more of this Parliament in the last 20 years than any other man and, although I am quite humble about this, I have some knowledge of how the Parliament works. If the theory propounded by the honourable member for Mackellar was sound it would have been adopted 6 years ago, but it has been passed over time and again. I suggest that we should not take his suggestion very seriously because it is one which would suit only members representing city electorates. We must remember that a large part of Australia is represented by members from country electorates.
There is another matter to which I should like to refer very quickly. If we walk out into King’s Hall and go into one of (he galleries we see a notice which states: Strangers must not pass this point’. One of my constituents who visited me recently asked who these strangers were. I told him that he was one of the strangers referred to in the notice. He said: ‘But I am one of the people who keep the institution of Parliament going’. I have previously suggested to Mr Speaker, and I make the suggestion again, that action be taken to remove the word ‘strangers’ and to replace it with the word ‘visitors’ which has a much better sound. People who come to Canberra and visit this place are not strangers; they are Australians. Therefore, let the notices say visitors’ rather than ‘strangers’. I believe that this is a change which definitely should be made.
The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) who is now interjecting has said that tie has a vast electorate. I asked one of my friends from New South Wales whether the honourable member meant that it was vast in area or vast in numbers. I was told that it was only a moderate sized electorate, so I presume he means that it is vast in numbers. I said that the honourable member would want to see a re-distribution, but I was told that had it not been for the Country Party and the Labor Party on the last occasion that a re-distribution was proposed the honourable member would have had a re-distribution of his electorate. I should point out that at the time this issue was last raised we considered that the redistribution proposed was not a fair one and that it was not in the best interests of Australia.
– The honourable member means that it was not in the best interests of the Country Party.
– The honourable member should not interject in this manner. The Labor Party supported our contention on that occasion. It was the Liberal Party which wanted the re-distribution. On that occasion the debate took place in respect of New South Wales; Victoria did not come into the discussion. After the Country Party had stated its position the Prime Minister of the day said that it would not be much use going any further and so the matter was dropped. There will be a redistribution soon. I hope that the honourable member for Mitchel] will be happy with the electorate that he has after the redistribution has taken place. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) said that we should keep the Parliament on a high level. I suggest to the Committee that there are few, if any, Parliaments in the world with a standard as high as the standard we have here. One of the great things about this place is that we have a democracy. Throughout the world all sorts of parliaments and governments have been tried, but they have never proved to be any good and have not stood the test of time unless they have had their foundations on those principles that have uplifted mankind down through the ages.
– One man, one vote, one value.
– On the subject of one man, one vote, one value, a subject in which the Labor Party takes so much interest, I have pointed out on numerous occasions how inconsistent its attitude is.
– Mr Chairman, I rise to order. Earlier in the debate you ruled the honourable member for Oxley out of order when speaking on this subject, yet he was making a much more coherent statement about it than the honourable member for Mallee. I suggest that to be consistent under the Standing Orders you must declare the honourable member’s remarks to be invalid.
– Order! I point out to the honourable member for Wills that I told the honourable member for Oxley that if he dealt with the subject of redistribution as it related to the membership of the Parliament he would have to confine his remarks to its relationship to the Parliament and relate the matter to the debate on the estimates for the Parliament. I ruled that he could not debate the machinery or the presentation of the redistribution which came within the administration of the Minister for the Interior. In explaining to me why he felt that he should speak on this subject in this section of the debate on the Estimates, the honourable member for Oxley used certain illustrations. To that extent I have felt that it was fair to allow the honourable member for Mallee to comment briefly on some of the matters which were mentioned by the honourable member for Oxley in his explanation. I hope that the honourable member for Mallee will not develop the theme of the discussion on re-distribution.
– I merely intended to draw to the attention of the honourable member for Oxley the fact that the Labor Party never seems to worry about Tasmania having as many senators as New South Wales has. I move on now to the request by honourable members for more staff. I remind the Committee that this would add to the Public Service. One of the most frequent comments that 1 hear from people whom I represent and others with whom I may be travelling is that the Public Service in Australia is becoming too large. In the time that I have been in this place I have never heard the Labor Party make that complaint. Although some honourable members say that that they want more staff, it is not so very long ago that members did not have even a secretary. Now they have secretaries but they want more staff. How many do they want- - two or three secretaries?
– I would write fifty letters for every one written by the honourable member and I would see fifty people for every one that he saw.
– I am restrained in replying to the honourable member because I always adopt the principle of confining myself to policy rather than personalities.
Honourable members will realise how inaccurate his statement is.
– Does the honourable member think that a member representing 30,000 people needs the same staff as one who represents 100,000?
– Order! The honourable member for Mitchell has already spoken on the estimates for this Department.
– On the subject of increased staff for members, I have heard some honourable members tonight say that they want more staff, but I know that they are doing other jobs in addition to representing their electorate in this place. If a member has two jobs and wants more staff, it should not be supplied to him.
– I rise to order, Mr Chairman. The honourable member for Mallee stated that honourable members who are asking for additional staff are doing outside jobs.
– I did not refer to the honourable member for Mitchell.
– I have no outside jobs, and I have not left my electorate for one day since being elected, apart from coming to Canberra.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– What I meant was that if a member of Parliament has two jobs* he has no case for increased staff. The honourable member for Mitchell immediately took a point of order and misquoted me. All honourable members present heard the misquotation. With respect to the Parliament generally, I believe that its standard is very high. If it continues as at present, this Parliament will remain the envy of the world. Its members are elected in a democratic way. The only aspect of its affairs that I deplore is the bickering that goes on between members. As I have stated on many occasions, let us find fault with and oppose policies, but for goodness sake let us avoid raising personalities.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Howson) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, during the last couple of weeks, we have heard a fair bit of discussion by Government supporters concerning the relative virtues of policies and the various ways in which policies are decided. So I thought that this evening I would contribute a few pertinent remarks on this subject. First of all, I would like to display to the House a copy of the policy of each of the three parties represented in this chamber. As honourable members can see when 1 hold up these documents, whether one measures in terms of length, breadth, depth or quality, the policy of the Australian Labor Party has twice the dimensions of the other two. I want to deal first with the Liberal Party of Australia. I have here the latest copy of the policy of that Party, the members of which say they are not subject to any direction from outside this Parliament. Incidentally, that Party has been conducting a secret conference this week, held in a smoke filled environment in curtained rooms with shrouded windows. Goodness knows what sort of discussions are going on. The country does not know. Indeed, no-one even knows’ who are the people who are attending the conference. We understand, although we are not certain, that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) was called over; perhaps ‘summoned over’ might be a better description. He went in haste to attend this conference. The policy of the Party was to be decided. Om would think that a democratic party would be very happy about having its up to date policy available in the community. Of course, the National Library of Australia and the Parliamentary Library are the first two places where one would think the most up to date policy would be available if in fact the Liberal Party was as keen to have it available for public scrutiny as it claims. On this reasonable assumption I went to the Parliamentary Library and obtained the latest copy available of the Liberal Party’s policy. It is dated 1960. It is not possible to get a more recent copy than that. The policy covers only fifteen pages. It is in vague and general terms and all through it are wide open gateways. It says nothing, it means nothing and it will take the country nowhere.
Labor’s policy has been decided at a completely open meeting attended by delegates from each State, democratically elected. The debates and proceedings are fully covered by the Press and the final outcome is a fairly extensive document of nearly seventy pages, lt is a comprehensive document and a plan for action for !his country. The members of the Executive of the Labor Party are known, as are the delegates to the Federal Conference. But who are the manipulators, the anonymous power wielders in charge of the Liberal Party? I managed to obtain some details of these people, but it was not easy. They are the representatives of big business who control the functions of the Liberal Party and determine the future course of events in this country. They ensure to their own satisfaction that the policies adopted by the Liberal Party will be the policies which will best serve their vested interests.
– The oil companies.
– That is so. It is appropriate that the honourable member for Wills should say that at this stage, because I have in my hand a list of the Executive of the Liberal Party and the first name on the list is Sir W. Anderson. His business interests are shown as the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Dental Hospital of Melbourne, NKS Holdings Ltd, and his former interests are shown as the Shell Co. of Australia, Asphalt Cold Mix Ltd, Shell Queensland Development Co. Ltd, Shell Refining Co. Ltd and Shell Chemicals Ltd. I am sure that the coal mining industry would be interested to learn that this man of power has affiliations with the oil companies. The coal mining industry frequently complains that crude oil is being dumped in Australia at a price below cost because it is an extraneous output at the refineries. It is produced to keep up the throughput capacities of the refineries and the oil companies are prepared to lose on it so that the full capacities of the refineries will be utilised. The coal industry is suffering, but this man of power is one of those in control of the oil industry. Mr Bethune is- listed and so is Mr H. Bolte, pastoralist, who modestly describes himself in those terms. Mr D. Brand has his interests listed as Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Co., Commercial Union Assurance Co., E.S. and A. Bank Ltd, and National Mortgages and Agency Co. of New Zealand Ltd. Mr H. V. Halbert also appears. His name appears in various journals available in the Library, such as ‘Who’s Who’ and ‘Rydge’s Directorships’. He is. modestly listed as a business proprietor and company director. He also sets himself down for R. Garnock Engineering Co.
I come now on the list to Senator N. H. D. Henty, a former director of T. Norman Henty Pty Ltd. The business interests of Sir Philip McBride are shown as the Bank of Adelaide, Elder Smith, Goldsbrough Mort and Co. Ltd, Adelaide and Wallaroo Fertilisers, and WallarooMount Lyell Fertilisers. Then appears Mr J. V. Mcconnell, an accountant with G. J. Coles and Co. Ltd from 1933 to 1940. Since 1945 he has been general secretary of the Liberal Party of Victoria. I will not tonight take time to go through all the list. I will read it as a little serial so that honourable members who care to collect my speeches will have the complete list. Woolworths Ltd also has representatives on the Board of either the Reserve Bank or the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. I want to establish the tie-up of the big business interests which Control this community. This tie-up is not for the benefit of people operating small businesses, the small scale entrepreneurs, but for the big monopoly interests in the community. There is no free enterprise in this community. A bill has been introduced into this House to deal with restrictive trade practices which clearly establishes that free enterprise is a myth.
Then I come to another name on this list, J. E. Pagan. Let us have a look at his associations. I have listed here Rowe Industries, Australian Advisory Board of Northern and Employers Group of Insurance Companies, Northern Life Assurance Company of Australia Ltd and New South Wales Co-operative Permanent Building and Investment Society, Employers Liability Assurance Corporation Ltd. Then I have listed R. J. Southey, and against his name we find B.P. Australia Ltd, William
Haughton and Co. Ltd, Buckley and Nunn Ltd, International Computers and Tabulators Aust. Pty Ltd. These are the people of big business, the manipulators, the anonymous men of power who determine the policies of the Liberal Party, ensuring that those policies will serve their best interests. Then if we go to the Reserve Bank of Australia we find the same tie-up exists. I have not time to follow this through now. I will catch up with it later. I know this is a disappointment to honourable members opposite. The point I want to make is that these people have these business interests. They are sitting on the boards of major companies in Australia. I have here an interesting book called ‘The Controllers’ by Miss Hylda A. Rolfe who carried out a survey of interlocking directorates in large Australian companies.
– The red book of Mao.
– Can’t you take it? I understand that the honourable member who is interjecting - I do not know how true this is - is one of the wealthiest shareholders in Australia. No doubt this explains why he is so concerned. But let us not waste time on one man of wealth. Let us take the broad principle involved. Miss Rolfe establishes very clearly in her survey that through old school tie associations and club associations and through interlocking directorships these people are meeting one another and exchanging their views and the results are as she has set out in her book:
Interlocking directorates, then, result from multiple directorships held by functional directors for some special purpose. The purpose need not necessarily be readily discernible and indeed may be consciously concealed; it nevertheless confers some advantage on at least one of the companies so linked. The advantage may take the form of the maintenance of common policy, the creation and/or continuation of a particular trading situation, or the protection of an investment interest, or a combination of any of these.
If I had time I would take the House through from the leaders of the Liberal Party to the Reserve Bank of Australia and show the tie-up there between interlocking directorships, then to the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and show the tie-up there between interlocking directorships. I have here a very interesting article which refers to H. G. Palmer and Dr Pollard and how they met. I might have trouble raising a loan of a couple of dollars from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) because he is as broke as I am, but H, G. Palmer was able to send one of his assistants over to raise $7m just like that before the company crashed.
These are the relationships of the Liberal Party in our community. It is part and parcel of the establishment. It is associated with these interlocking and multiple directorships. Here we see the tie-up of capitalist power in this community. When I speak of capitalist power I am not talking about the battler who is trying to get some small organisation, employing 1,000 or so, operating; I am not talking about the wageearner who has a few hundred dollars invested in shares. I am talking about the people in Collins House who are tied up with the big mineral industries of this country. It is interesting to see how these people manage to get wonderful concessions and how the Government is prepared to vary long established guidelines to suit these people.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to direct the attention of the House to a matter which concerns a constituent of mine, Mr Jan Syne of Queanbeyan, and to the difficulties he has experienced with signs on roads leading into Canberra. This is a matter that has affected him personally very considerably and it could affect people throughout Australia. I will give the House first a short background of what has happened to Mr Jan Syne. He was driving from Queanbeyan towards Canberra and passing the Naval Station at Harmon. The road signs at that point state that the speed limit on that road is 40 miles an hour. Mr Syne is of the opinion that he was doing 30 miles an hour, but he was booked for doing 34 miles an hour. It is a fact that he was driving a vehicle with an all up laden weight of about 21 tons. That puts his vehicle well over the 13 tons limit. So he should drive at a maximum of 20 miles an hour within the city limits and a maximum of 30 miles an hour elsewhere, as prescribed in the relevant traffic ordinance.
It was not until he, approaching Canberra, passed over the hill at Fyshwick, approaching Canberra, that he saw a sign proclaiming Canberra. He reasonably assumed that that sign proclaimed the city limits of Canberra. But in law it does not. In law the city limits of Canberra are as they are gazetted. I have copies of the relevant maps and gazettes with me. It would be a major job for anyone to discover exactly where the city limits are. If I read just two or three lines at the beginning of the schedule that this man is expected to follow in order to discover where the city limits are, I think honourable members will understand the practical impossibility of doing so. The schedule commences with these words:
All that part of the Australian Capital Territory commencing at Crace Trigonometrical Station; and bounded thence by lines bearing 62 degrees 16 minutes 5 seconds for 2,175.25 feet, 99 degrees 22 minutes 40 seconds for 451.56 feet . . .
And so it goes on. It would take me about half an hour to read it. I do not have time to do that and nobody would want me to do it. The point is that this man would need a survey team in order to find out where the city limits are. They are not marked. Yet the law requires him to read and study these documents and somehow or other to discover where the city limits are, or perhaps to discover more or less where they are as a result of general conversation.
The courts, both at the hearing in the Magistrates Court last year and at the de novo hearing in the Supreme Court by His Honour, Mr Justice Joske, on 16th June, seemed to take the view that the burden of evidence was that Mr Syme could reasonably have been expected to know where the city limits were and tie was convicted of driving at a speed in excess of 20 miles an hour; but at the same time neither the court nor the police really knew where the city limits of Canberra were. They have not changed for many years. Yet they are not known exactly. In fact the eastern city limit is about a quarter of a mile towards Queanbeyan from the naval station. Nobody knows exactly where the city limits are.
The reason why I am bringing this matter to the attention of the House is that I have made representations to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) and also the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) to have the signs moved. The point is that these signs are supposed to publish on the roads gazetted information, but they are grossly misleading. As far as I know, there is not a single sign on an access road into Canberra which properly and accurately proclaims the city limits.
This man has spent almost $400 in contesting two cases. He was fined $40. As a matter of principle he believes that, he should not have been convicted on this charge. I agree with him to this extent: These signs that proclaim cities should be on the city limits. This should apply throughout Australia. If that is not so, I do not see how we can expect any ordinary man on the road to do the incredible amount of research that has to be done and to carry with him the vast library and the trigonometrical instruments that would have to be used. It is ludicrous to expect people to find out from government gazettes where city limits are. The city limits determine the speed limits. But nothing on the road tells people what their speed should be. There is, I think a case within the Australian Capital Territory to set an example to the rest of Australia in connection with this matter and I have asked the AttorneyGeneral to convey this idea to the State Attorneys-General for their consideration. It is completely anomalous to have signs publishing something other than what they appear to publish. This sign announces Canberra. It does hot have to say ‘City limit’. Our speed signs say ‘40’. They do not say ‘Speed limit 40 miles per hour’. Within reason, the signs should in fact publish to the public on the public ways what they purport to publish. They should not be misleading, and it is not realistic to expect the ordinary man on the road, the average truck driver who happens to drive a vehicle with an all up weight of more than 13 tons to do the research and the practical surveying that would be necessary for him to discover where the city limit is. Nor do I think it is just to depend on this man knowing where these limits are, simply from general knowledge.
– I am grateful for the opportunity to bring for ward the matter with which I am about to deal in view of the fact that I am going overseas and probably will not be in the House again this year. With respect, I consider that the matter which I propose to raise is of much greater importance than that raised a few moments ago by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro). I think, too, that it is an appropriate matter to be raised on the adjournment debate. It concerns the affect of sonic booms on householders in the Newcastle district resulting from the supersonic speeds of the Mirage jet aircraft.
Numerous complaints have been brought to the notice, not only of myself, but of other Federal members, including the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr C. K. Jones) of damage done to homes in the Newcastle district. I think that when I unfold certain facts honourable members will agree that the matter is worthy of mention here. Let me refer to one particular case. There are many others like it in the Newcastle district. I have taken the matter up with the Department and an excuse has been put forward which to me is somewhat laughable. I might say, with due respect to the lawyers in the House, it is a real legal excuse.
I wrote to the Department in connection with a complaint by Mrs Vivian Beacom of 9 Bardia Road, Shortland, in the Hunter electorate. She complained that in August last year a Royal Australian Air Force aeroplane broke the sound barrier over her home causing certain damage. Mrs Beacom immediately advised the R.A.A.F. at Williamtown of the matter and was referred to Penrith and then to Canberra. I understand that a Mr White from the Public Works Department in Newcastle called at her home and inspected the damage and later advised Mrs Beacom that the R.A.A.F. accepted responsibility. He also advised Mrs Beacom that she should apply for a grant of $75 to pay for the damage. Since then Mrs Beacom has heard nothing.
I took up the matter and wrote to tha Minister for Air (Mr Howson) on 16th January this year. The letter received by Mrs Beacom from the Commonwealth
Crown Solicitor’s Office in Phillip Street, Sydney, contained a statement that I describe as a legal excuse. The excuse put forward by the lawyers was that it was not the speed of the aircraft, but the waves of air from the aircraft reaching the ground and bouncing off the ground which caused the damage. In other words, it was not the aircraft but the air waves set up as a result of the speed of the aircraft which caused the damage.
The Commonwealth Crown Solicitor went on to say that it was similar to waves of water crashing against the breakwater outside a home in Sydney, and not the speed boat that dashed past, which caused the damage. Mr Speaker, have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? If there had been no speed boat, how could the waves have originated and bumped against the breakwater? Similarly, if there had been no Mirage dashing across the sky, how could its air waves have bounced off the ground and damaged the house? I will read the letter from the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor for the benefit of the House. The Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) is a lawyer and no doubt he has given excuses like this when he has been asked for legal advice. The letter is in these terms:
As you are no doubt aware, sonic boom is not an isolated sound occasioned by the aircraft breaking through a barrier, but is caused by shock waves which build up around an aircraft flying at supersonic speeds - normally about 762 miles per hour at sea level.
It is not the aircraft, it is the waves. The letter continues:
The waves form a cone extending back from the nose of the aircraft much like the waves created by a boat speeding over water.
Exactly what I said earlier. The letter goes on:
These shock waves travel to the ground at the speed of sound and follow the path of the aircraft. The sound waves become audible when they slap against the surface of the earth just as water washing against the shore can be heard.
Not the aircraft, no - the air waves. There are regulations governing the speed of water craft on Sydney harbour, and I suppose this applies in other States of the Commonwealth as well, to prevent them travelling above certain speeds, particularly when there are small fishing boats about, because they cause inconvenience and pos sibly accidents. The Police make regulations to prevent boats speeding and accept responsibility for implementing those laws, but not the Air Force. This would be one of the weakest, most frivolous statements ever to come from a lawyer’s pen. The letter continues:
Experience, and tests conducted over a period of many months, have shown that the likelihood of property damage from sonic boom is remote, and that this is particularly so when the aircraft is travelling at a height in excess of 30,000 feet. The Mirage aircraft at present flying out of the RAAF base, Williamtown, travel supersonic each time they are airborne and each flight is a necessary and carefully planned pilot training exercise. In general, all training is carried out, whenever possible, away from populated areas and pilots are forbidden to fly supersonic below a ceiling of 30,000 feet.
Yesterday, during question time, I referred to an aircraft accident in which the crew member was killed when he was practising aerobatics for Air Force week. Obviously the training exercise was being carried out over a populated area and at low altitude. Karpys the young man who was killed, came from South Australia. His plane almost killed his wife when it crashed into the civilian area of the Williamtown air base. I am sorry that I have had to refer to this tragedy during what has been the recounting of the mirthful aspect of damage from supersonic booms.
The argument advanced by the Crown Solicitor’s office was shockingly weak. Five windows were broken in the home of an ordinary working man, who is a returned serviceman receiving a military pension. The supersonic booms broke cut glass in a china cabinet. I have followed this matter up on several occasions and have appealed to the Department to pay the $15 claimed as compensation, but the Department has refused to meet the cost. It is adopting the attitude to the residents of Newcastle that they must expect that damage will result from sonic booms from Mirage aircraft. It is a pity that the Department has adopted this attitude, particularly in respect of working class people who are decent citizens, many of whom have had their homes damaged. A good citizen is one who takes great pride in his home. The people involved in this case take great pride in their home. They are paying it off through the War Service Homes Division and they deserve more sympathetic consideration by the Department than they have received. I urge the Minister to have his officers examine the ridiculous excuse from the Crown Solicitor’s Office and to consider paying appropriate compensation.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.2 a.m. (Friday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Surface Damage by Aircraft Acts -
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
What expenditure did his Department incur in the last financial year in each State?
– The Minister for Supply has supplied the following information:
Expenditure incurred by the Department of Supply in each State in the financial year 1966-67 relating to Appropriations and Trust Fund was as follows:
The comparatively high expenditure in South Australia was due to the activities of the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury and Woomera.
The principal offices of the Department are currently in Victoria and New South Wales and the main factories and laboratories are located in these States. For these reasons, the expenditures in Victoria and New South Wales were also comparatively high. However, caution should bo exercised in drawing any conclusions from the above figures, as they merely reflect payments made in each State and do not take into account the value of supplies produced in one State but purchased in another.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
When is it now expected that the new National Broadcasting Stations will be established and put into operation at (a) Port Hedland, (b) Broome and (c) Derby?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On present indications, the new National Broadcasting Stations being established at Broome and Derby will commence transmission before the end of this year and at Port Hedland in early 1968.
Air Conditioning in Postal Buildings (Question No. 447)
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1. (a) Yes. (b) No.
Overhead fans and/or evaporative coolers are usually satisfactory in areas south of the Tropic of Capricorn, but prevailing local conditions such as unsuitable water supply could warrant the provision of air conditioners.
Concerning the last part of the honourable member’s question, it is not practicable to define specific areas where either overhead fans or evaporative coolers would be provided exclusively.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
How many applicants who have lodged deposits for telephones but who have not yet had telephones installed are located in the electoral divisions of (a) Petrie, (b) Dawson, (c) Kennedy, (d) Leichhardt and (e) Herbert?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Although statistics of connections of service proceeding are not kept in terms of electoral divisions, a special study has been made of the position at 28th August in the electoral divisions of Petrie, Dawson, Kennedy, Leichhardt and Herbert and the details are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
In what circumstances has the Department of Supply fitted or tested, retreaded or recapped tyres on its vehicles in recent years?
– The Minister for Supply has supplied the following information:
It is regular practice in the Department’ of Supply to have suitable used tyres retreaded and recapped. This follows the normal practice of operators of large fleets of vehicles. Stock retreaded or recapped tyres are not used by the Department.
The performance of retreaded or recapped tyres is supervised closely. This supervision takes the usual form of frequent inspections and review of mileage travelled.
There is consultation with the tyre industry on such aspects as recommended mileages and results achieved but no special testing as such has been undertaken.
Australian Embassy in Tokyo : Agricultural Attache (Question No. 527)
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s question are as follows:
Other matters relating to agriculture are handled by the appropriate member of the Embassy’s staff, depending upon the nature of the subject.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What countries have ratified or acceded to:
the 1948 Brussels revision of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works;
the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention and the three protocols annexed to it; and
the 1961 Neighbouring Rights Convention, . and when did each of them do so?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The date shown opposite the name of each country is the date on which that country became a party to the convention concerned, whether by ratification or accession.
The 1948 Brussels revision of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
China (Question No. 543)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
Isit a fact that:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Ter ritories, upon notice:
How many New Guineans have received Australian flying scholarships?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Five Papuans and New Guineans have been awarded flying scholarships to enable them to train to basic commercial pilot’s licence standard. Four are sponsored jointly by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Papua and New Guinea Administration and one by the Department of Civil Aviation.
Two of the five were university students, one a public servant, one an airlines operations clerk and one a trainee teacher.
Each scholarship covers the cost of a minimum of 165 hours flying training at the South Pacific Aero Club at Port Moresby, plus fees for theoretical studies and examinations, cost of text books, maps, flying clothes, etc.; air fares within the Territory; and cost of accommodation. A living allowance is also provided under the scholarship.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What are the principal commodities and their respective values which Australia exported to Mainland China in the last ten years?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Details of the values of the principal commodities exported to Mainland China for the years 1957-58 to 1966-67 inclusive are contained in publications and preliminary tabulations provided Appendix ‘A’. These details were compiled from by the Commonwealth Statistician.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What was the total value of exports to Mainland China in each of the last 10 years?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Details of the total value of exports to Mainland China for the years 1957-58 to 1966-67 inclusive are contained in Appendix ‘A’ to the answer to your Question No. 471.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows: 1 and 2. No.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670907_reps_26_hor56/>.