26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry not merely stated but also gave reasons to support its contention that the proportion of the assets of Australian companies owned overseas would increase from 26% to 46% in 10 years from 1965 if the inflow of capital were £3,000m during that period? Is he aware also that by the end of this financial year-
-Order! The honourable member is giving information. I suggest that he’ ask his question.
– J am just asking the Minister whether he is aware of certain things.
-Order! The honourable member is giving information. The preface to his question is too long.
– In those circumstances ii is impossible to ask a question. It is utterly biased.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– It is utterly contemptible.
-Order! The honourable member for Scullin will remain silent. I call the honourable member for Balaclava.
– 1 address a question to the Attorney-General. Ls there any substance in the contention that Commonwealth powers in the control of off-shore oil leases are ludicrously narrow? Has the Government abandoned the national interest by handing complete control and administration of these leases to the States? Are the letters between the late Prime Minister and Sir Henry Bolte almost unintelligible, thoroughly unsatisfactory and illiterate?
– As to the suggestion that there has been an abandonment of the national interest, this is. a matter of policy rather than of law. Perhaps I should point out that the situation that existed when this joint scheme was proposed was that each of the States had a mines department which was experienced and well staffed and which dealt, among other things, with petroleum exploration; and that the States had asserted a power, even outside the 3-mile limit, by passing Acts and granting licences, and were administering the scheme.’ It is a matter for some debate, I suppose, as to whether the Commonwealth should have established a duplicate new mines department to deal with this matter. Professor Sawer is entitled to his view on that matter, but as it is not a legal question he would be no better qualified than other citizens to express a view on it.
As to the question of whether the powers referred to in the agreement are ludicrously narrow, the professor was referring to clause 11 of the agreement between the States and the Commonwealth. I have read his statement and also the transcript of the evidence taken before the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources. The powers that were referred to in clause 11 of the agreement were the major powers of the Commonwealth, relating to defence, external affairs, trade and commerce, and so on. They were the powers that were relevant to the subject matter. I was happy to see that at least one member of the Senate Select Committee thought to ask the Professor what powers he would have added. One power he mentioned related to Aboriginals. This was inserted last May. He also mentioned section 52 (1) relating to the seat of Government, the power relating to bounties, >he power relating to the settlement of industrial disputes and another power that escapes me for the moment. I leave honourable members to judge which of these lists is ludicrously narrow. No doubt when the Senate Select Committee takes evidence from time ;o time, persona] views will be expressed one way or another by lawyers and others. I do not think a good purpose would be served by attempting to deal seriatim with these views. It would be belter to wait and see what the report of the Senate Select Committee will reveal. As to the last matter, the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the Premier, 1 would just say, that, as Professor Sawer is in one sense a practising journalist, I would hesitate to join issue with him on the question of literary style.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. I apprehend that the right honourable gentleman would have had misgivings about approval being given to Esso Standard Oil (Aust.) to borrow $30m on fixed interest in Australia. I ask whether he believes that his proposals for an Australian Industry . Development Corporation would minimise such, instances of overseas companies employing Australian capital resources to gain control of Australian natural resources? . Can the Minister say what progress has been made with his proposals for this corporation since he told me on the second day Parliament met this year that they had not then come before the new Cabinet but had been discussed with the Prime Minister?
– I would not attempt to answer the question in a manner that would involve a dissertation on policy. This would not be appropriate to question time. As to the specific matter raised, I have discussed the proposal, of which there is general knowledge, with the Prime Minister. He has agreed that it shall be discussed by the Cabinet at an appropriate time, but since the Prime Minister has been sworn in 1 have been out of the country twice, once to India and Japan and once to Geneva. As the Leader of the Opposition knows, the Prime Minister himself is now out of the country for the second time and there simply has not been the opportunity for Cabinet discussion on this matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. Has he any information yet as to whether the alleged massacre of hospitalised Biafran wounded by Nigerian troops actually took place? If this massacre did take place, what form of protest is it proposed that Australia will make against this terrible act of savagery?
– There have been numerous Press reports of the alleged atrocities in the Port Harcourt area but it is not possible for us yet officially to confirm or deny those reports. The reports of the fighting that are reaching the capital are very confused and some of them are conflicting. We have our own High Commissioner in Lagos. When we receive reports from him, the honourable member will be informed. It will then be for the Government to decide what action, if any, is appropriate.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Does the Minister accept the claim made by the present Minister for Social Services in the House of Representatives on 26th October 1967 that each square mile of the Halibut, Kingfish and Marlin oilfields contains 100,000,000 barrels pf crude oil worth $350m at the Commonwealth’s subsidy value plus the Tariff Board’s findings on price. What is the exact area of the Halibut, Kingfish and Marlin fields? What proportion do they represent of the total of Esso-BHP petroleum exploration permit holdings numbers 38, 39 and 40 which themselves are almost 14,000 square miles in area? Finally, what steps are being taken to test the unexplored remainder of these permit holdings to ascertain whether the total area could supply Australian needs in the foreseeable future?
– The honourable member has asked a lot of questions and has given a lot of information. I am sure he will excuse me if I do not reply to every question because I just cannot remember all of them. However, I shall read his question in Hansard and supply him with answers to any questions I may not deal with now. At the present time the known resources of oil in the Gippsland off-shore area are 1,200m barrels and the estimated value is S2,400m. In addition, of course, there is some natural gas. The honourable member asked what is being done to evaluate further areas. There is an agreement under which Esso-BHP has certain work requirements and these must be satisfied to enable that company to retain its various prospecting permits. This is all I can add at the moment but I will reply later to the other questions the honourable member asked.
– I address my question to the Minister for Defence. T refer to the growing importance of Australia’s fishing industry and the urgent need to protect our resources against encroachment. What contribution do the defence Services make to the prevention of unlicensed fishing in our coastal waters?
– The question raised by the honourable member is one of quite considerable magnitude, if only for the fact that the fishery resources of Australia extend virtually around the entire 12,000 miles of coastline. Up to this point the Royal Australian Navy, incidental to its other activities, has carried out some surveillance of fishing off the Australian coast generally. But, as I say, this has been incidental. Legislation introduced early in the year providing for a protected 12-mile fishing zone puts a different complexion on this subject. The matter is one for consideration by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, who has sought the assistance of the Service departments in carrying out surveys. Perhaps in the future some special service will be required for this function. In the meantime defence resources have been surveyed to see what might be done. The Navy has taken delivery of six new patrol boats and another eleven will be available before the end of the year. This means that some equipment is available to the Navy to carry out this type of service. In addition the Royal Australian Air Force, both on special missions and in conjunction with its other activities, will be able to add to the surveillance. Arrangements are now being made between the Department of Defence and the Department of Primary Industry which will enable the Navy and the Air Force to increase considerably both the range and frequency of their surveillance missions. As time goes on there will be close consultation between the Department of Defence and other interested departments to see what progress is made.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question. Believing as I do that the inhuman treatment of Private Townsend is the most important matter that could come before the Parliament at question time or any other time, and being determined not to run away from the situation myself, I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that he has issued instructions that Private Townsend is not to be submitted to any further periods of solitary confinement. Has he issued an instruction thai no further charges are to be laid against Private Townsend? If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, what action does the Minister propose to take against the officer or officers concerned in this instance, or in any previous instances when sadistic Belsen-like treatment has been administered to men who have conscientious objection to serving in the filthy war in Vietnam?
– The right honourable gentleman poses two questions. The answer to the first one is no. To the second one the answer is also no.
– My question is directed also to the Minister for the Army, to whom I have previously made representations regarding the disquiet of some of my constituents over rumours that the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps School will be moved from Healesville in Victoria to another State. Is the Minister in a position to state whether these rumours are correct and, if so, when a decision is likely to be reached on this matter?
– That the honourable gentleman has taken a close, personal interest in this matter is shown by his sustained representations to me about it. The situation is simply that the Army intends to rebuild the Army School of Medical Health, which is now situated at Healesville. However, before a final decision is made in this matter, certain aspects must be investigated, including the possible integration of the School into a three-service medical corps centre. Although this aspect is being considered by a committee, it is not expected that its report and recommendation will be available for quite some time.
– I address my question, which is quite a short one, to the Minister for National Development. What representations have been made to the Minister, and by whom, for the continuation of the present rate of production incentive on Australian crude oil beyond the expiry date of current subsidy legislation in September 1970?
– Off hand 1 can only state that the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association has made various representations to the Government on this matter. I may be wrong, but 1 believe that some members of the Association, apart from off-shore drillers, all of whom are members of the APEA, have made representations to the Government on the matter. At a recent meeting in Melbourne members of the Association recommended that an incentive should be maintained after September 1970.
– I ask my question of the Minister for External Territories. In view of the criticisms which have appeared in the daily Press that certain members of the House of Assembly in Port Moresby are disturbed by the fact that several Government departments, including Treasury, are to remain under the control of the Administrator, can the Minister say when an allocation of portfolios might be expected between ministerial members and assistant ministerial members?
– During the debate on the amendments that were made to the PapuaNew Guinea legislation, I made plain that the overwhelming feeling conveyed in evidence taken by the select committee of the House of Assembly from the community of Papua-New Guinea was that final authority for government should rest with Australia. Of course, this view must be a consideration in determining the allocation of portfolios. The Administrator has announced that the portfolios of agriculture, stock, fisheries, education, health, public works and so on, associated with departments responsible for a considerable number of important policy decisions, are to be the responsibility of ministerial members. Treasury does not come within this category. It is felt that as this portfolio is associated with a department involved in making many important policy decisions, it should remain with the Administration. I point out that in the present budget for the Territory 34% of revenue is raised locally compared with 60% provided by the Australian Government, with the remaining 6% representing loans guaranteed by the Australian Government. As to the announcement of the allocation of particular portfolios, 1 point out that, firstly, the House has to assemble and appoint a committee to choose and discuss wilh the Administration the various ministerial and assistant ministerial members and when agreement is reached I will be asked to appoint these members and assistant ministerial members to portfolios. Assistant ministerial members will be appointed to portfolios such as Treasury.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask: Will the exploration incentive of 75c a barrel that is payable to Esso-BHP for Gippsland-Bass Strait crude oil result in an additional profit of over $83m a year to an already highly profitable venture? Will the subsidy of S83m on this oilfield make it the most highly subsidised industry in Australia, the cost being borne by the Australian motorist and primary producer? Finally, what will be the extent of this additional crippling burden on Australia’s already overtaxed and high cost transport system?
– This incentive payment, which is for a duration of 5 years, will expire some time in 1970. My understanding of the position is that an area of the Esso-BHP field will be in production a few months before the expiration of that time. The figure quoted by the honourable member sounds quite extravagant.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister propose to reintroduce an incentive subsidy?
– The honourable member asked a question. He should wait to get the answer.
– The answer-
-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.
– I am sure that the Government would not repudiate an undertaking approved by Parliament that was designed to encourage exploration for oil in Australia and to ensure that oil, if found, would be sold at a reasonable price. This provision was introduced against the background of the first producing oilfield being unable to sell its oil in Australia at a reasonable price. It was in those circumstances that the Government and the Opposition concurred in a policy designed to ensure that that oil would be sold at a reasonable price and to assure others willing to spend their money on searching that if oil were found in commercial quantities and marketed within a 5-year period it would be sold in Australia at a profitable price. We will not turn away from that assurance. If there is any embarrassment here at all it is because the search for oil has been so magnificently successful in the Bass Strait. I would hate to think that it is regarded as unfortunate that we ever had a policy which encouraged the wonderfully successful Bass Strait and other explorations. I think the policy was right and the Government will stand by it. But the question remains as to whether the Government will continue this policy or whether another policy will be adopted. This is a matter which the Government will consider in due course. It is conceivable that some of the producing companies will find that a policy that is not necessarily built around a high price incentive but around another incentive is even more attractive than the policy at present appertaining, but I cannot speculate on the future.
– What about the other two questions?
– I ask the honourable member to put them on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. As the sealing of the Western Australian section of the Eyre Highway is well advanced, and considering the importance of completing this link with the Eastern States, will the Minister say what plans have been formulated for the sealing of the South Australian section of this highway? If there are no such plans, will the Minister say whether an approach has been made by the South Australian Government to the Federal Government for financial assistance to complete the section of the highway in that State?
– It is true, I understand, that considerable progress has been made in the Western Australian section of the Eyre Highway towards the sealing of this main trunk road between Adelaide and Perth. I am not aware of any particular approach that has been made by the South Australian Government respecting its part of the road. Of course, it is principally the responsibility of State governments to construct, build and design the roads within their States. At the same time, tremendous financial assistance has been provided by the Commonwealth under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement which is designed to provide funds for the States, 60% of those funds being available for roads such as the one to which the honourable member refers, the balance to be spent on rural roads. At the end of June 1969 the period of operation of the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement will terminate and it will be necessary for the Government to consider its future policy. Towards this end, studies are already in hand by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, as a result of which advice will be taken and considered by the Government and a policy will be formulated for financial assistance after that time. I have no knowledge of any particular approach having been made by the South Australian Government concerning the specific road to which the honourable gentleman’s question refers, but I have no doubt that that Government is as concerned as those who use the road that the standard of the road should continue to improve as quickly as money and circumstances will permit.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that under Military Regulation 203 (XLV) it is an offence to ill-treat any horse or other animal? Will the Minister consider extending the scope of this provision to cover serving soldiers including conscientious objectors in detention?
– Mr Speaker, i would not dignify that question with a reply.
– Does the Minister for National Development agree that some loose thinking still persists regarding the best crops to grow on land surrounding the Ord River in Western Australia add the proposed Nogoa Dam in Queensland? Whilst I recognise the importance of expenditure of the nature involved in these projects in order to aid development in northern Australia, nevertheless I . ask: Will the Minister assure rae of his interest in the eventual completion of the Chowilla Dam iri South Australia when technical doubts concerning construction and salinity are removed? Does he agree that proven need exists for additional water requirements to sustain the growth of industrial development . and population around Adelaide?
– The crops which it is intended to grow at the Ord and at Emerald are crops which have been grown there already. In the case of the Ord, I think it is true to say that no national development project has had a more powerful searchlight thrown on it. The results of cropping over 5 years, showing the returns that could be expected from this area, were available before the Government agreed to proceed with the project. Regarding the Chowilla Dam project, the River Murray Commission agrees that an urgent need exists for additional water from the Murray. The technical assessment carried out by the technical committee of the River Murray Commission, which was composed of officers from the three States concerned and from the Commonwealth, has shown that it is likely that a greater quantity of water, of a better quality, can be made available more cheaply by an up-river storage rather than by a storage in the Chowilla Dam. In order to check the figures work now is being carried out by the Snowy Mountains Authority on the alternative site in the up-river area. If, as a result of this work, it is discovered that this area is more suitable then it would be preferred and the three Premiers and the Prime Minister would have to make a decision on what additional storage should be built on the River Murray.
– I ask the Minister for National Development what percentage of the capital employed in oil exploration in Australia is provided by foreign companies? Will the Minister deny that it exceeds twothirds of the total? How does the Minister propose to avoid the transmission overseas, df (he proportion of exploration incentive payable to such foreign holdings?
– I do not have, with me the percentage of foreign capital employed in the search for oil in Australia. It varies, of course, from 100% in the case of the associated group in Queensland to 50% in the case of Esso-BHP and down to about 17% in the case of Ampol. It varies quite considerably. From memory I think that 37% of the oil bearing area in Aus- . tralia is held by Australian companies. The. rest is held either by overseas companies or joint overseas and Australian companies in . combination. The honourable member has asked what methods we hope to use to prevent the transmission overseas of large profits. The main way in which this is done is, of course, by taxation. It is a fact that through royalties and taxation something of the order of 50% of the profits of oil drilling remains in Australia with the Australian Government.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister fdr External Affairs, concerns the Paris peace talks on Vietnam. In observing that the reports of the talks would suggest that absolutely no progress is being made, I ask whether the Minister has any information which would justify any degree of optimism?
– I think the more credible attitude at the present time would be hope rather than optimism. Of course all of us do place very great hopes on a fruitful outcome of these talks. I think it may be useful to go back to the beginning of this sequence of events. When President
Johnson made bis announcement on 31st March of his intention to limit the area of bombing of North Vietnam, he made it clear that he hoped that the restraint shown by the United States of America would be matched by some restraint in military activity on the other side. Unfortunately that restraint has not come. The reinforcement of the enemy forces in South Vietnam has continued at a record rate since 31st March. The attacks on Saigon have been renewed with undiminished ferocity. The demilitarised zone is still being used consistently for military activity. Because of this absence of any restraint on the part of the other side, it has not been possible for the United States to proceed with further limitation. Against that background we come to the talks in Paris. At the talks in Paris the apparent stalemate has been, arrived at because the North Vietnamese delegates will not even admit that they are participating in operations south of the 17th Parallel. When they talk of limitation of bombing, they make it clear that they mean not only a limitation of bombing but the ending , of all flights which may be necessary for reconnaissance purposes if there were to be any limitation of military activity by North Vietnam.
Or J. F. Cairns - Have they agreed to stop bombing America?
-Order! The honourable member for Yarra has interjected twice. He will restrain himself.
– I am aware that the honourable member for Yarra is a frank and open partisan of North Vietnam, but I am speaking on behalf of the cause that the Australian Government is supporting on behalf of the Australian people.
– Why do you make such gutter statements?
-Order! The honourable member for Reid has interjected twice. I remind him that all interjections are out of order.
– In the course of the discussions in Paris, statements have been made by both sides and have been fully publicised. In fact, the actual texts of the statements by both sides-
– Isn’t that surprising?
– I warn the honourable member for Yarra.
– The texts of the statements have appeared in the Press and are well known. They shaw an inability up to the present to proceed beyond the point where the United States says: ‘If there is some sign of restraint on the part of North Vietnam then we can proceed to talk about the ending of all bombing’. The North Vietnamese respond to this appeal to show some readiness to exercise restraint on their side by denying that they are even engaged in the war.
– My question to the Acting Prime Minister is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Newcastle. In the interests of the Australian people will the Acting Prime Minister resist the campaign of Esso-BHP. and a group of oil companies to load Australian primary and secondary industries with increased costs on petrol and petroleum products? Because of the major market in close proximity to the Esso-BHP off-shore wells does the Acting Prime Minister feel that the proposed price increases are justified? As an urgent need exists to help many of our export industries, will the right honourable gentleman have second thoughts on the generosity of the Government in giving additional rewards to wealthy companies that will completely destroy the effect of the subsidy to Australian primary producers?
– The honourable member spoke at the outset of his question of a campaign conducted by Esso-BHP. I am not aware of any campaign being conducted by Esso-BHP. He spoke of a campaign to load an additional cost upon Australian primary and secondary industries and upon the community. To the best of my knowledge the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is not a seller of petrol products. Esso, in a different guise altogether, and not in the partnership, is, I understand, a vendor of petrol products. But I just do not understand the question. I think it has no relevance to the facts of the situation today.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Now that the drought in south eastern Australia has broken, will the Minister give consideration to the preparation of a White Paper giving details of stock and crop losses since the onset of drought conditions in 1964, the effects and costs of drought relief, and policies now operating or contemplated which may reduce the scale of future disasters of this kind?
– I think that this question could be dealt with better if the honourable member were to put it on notice. I will see that a full and proper reply is furnished to him.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Bearing in mind that competent authorities such as the Apple and Pear Board and fruit exporters organisations, with their great knowledge of the industry, have calculated that growers should, because of devaluation, receive between 70c and 80c a bushel for fruit exported to the United Kingdom, will the Treasurer explain to the House the basis on which the figures of SOc a bushel for apples and 53c for pears were arrived at by the Government?
– In this case the Government appointed a group of officials who were given complete independence in making their report to the Government. They carried out a survey in Tasmania and Western Australia. They took the average of realised prices over a period for sales of apples and pears in the one market in which growers can sell their products - the United Kingdom market’. The officials looked at the matter from the point of view of Government policy. They decided that it would not be proper to have regard to the wholesale price because various costs were loaded into it which would not necessarily be reflected in the return to the Australian exporters. The committee calculated the full possible effect of devaluation on returns to the Australian exporters of apples and pears. That independent body of highly qualified technical officers, operating within a general Government policy decision, recommended the two amounts which the honourable gentleman has mentioned. The Government did not depart from their decision; it agreed to the amounts recommended.
– My question, directed to the Attorney-General, relates to the considerable agitation that exists in some States to have abortion legalised. Does the Government have any intention substantially to relax or otherwise alter the law in respect of abortion in the territories under its jurisdiction? Will the AttorneyGeneral undertake to have this matter discussed at the meeting of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General so that all the grave consequences of any change in the law might be appreciated before any decision is made to emulate Great Britain and certain other countries in this respect?
– I have noticed that this matter is under consideration in New South Wales and that the Attorney-General of Victoria has recently referred it to the Chief Justices Law Revision Committee. I think in a previous answer to a question on this subject I pointed out that the populations of areas under the Commonwealth’s direct control in this matter - the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory - are small compared with the rest of Australia and that this was not a matter in relation to which I had received any pressure to change the law before changes were made in other areas. I am prepared to discuss the matter with the Attorneys-General when next we meet. Whether as a result of that meeting there will be any change in the law must remain a matter of some doubt I would add only that as a long term project we are preparing a draft new criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory. In the ordinary course of events abortion would be considered in its place in that code.
– I ask the Treasurer a question about the profits of oil exploration companies and the relation which Government actions have had to those profits. Does the right honourable gentleman still hold the view which he expressed in March last year in answer to a question asked by the honourable member for North Sydney when he said that these companies make no allowance for special taxation concessions for depreciation, which are probably greater in Australia than in most countries and which compare favourably with the best; that they take no notice of decisions of the Government, particularly those under the jurisdiction of his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, to increase the amount allowed for the sale of Australian oil from $3 to $3.50 a barrel, the amount of $3 having been recommended by the Tariff Board; and that they do not give any due consideration to the royalty payments in Australia, which happen to be, on any comparison, favourable to the oil operators in this country? In the light of subsequent major discoveries by, for example, the Esso group, does the right honourable gentleman now hold the view that at the appropriate time there should be a review of these concessions, incentives and royalties?
– As to the assumptions made in the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question in relation to a statement that I made in the House in answer to the honourable member for North Sydney, statements were made on behalf of certain overseas oil producers that taxation in Australia was higher than that of any other country. I made an analysis and on advice given to me by the taxation authorities I said that I did not think that taxation and other concessions in Australia were out of line with or were substantially higher than those allowed in other countries. In fact I believe that overseas oil producers are fairly well off here compared with other parts of the world. That has nothing whatever to do with the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, which relates to the incentives which are being given for oil exploration in this country and to the policy of the Government at the expiration of the period referred to In the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry. As to the first part of the question, the Minister for Trade and Industry has already given an answer with which I agree. As to the second part, if and when there is a change in the Government’s policy it will be announced in this House.
– by leave - I present the report of the Commonwealth Actuary on the third quinquennial investigation of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, together with a minute addressed to me by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board when forwarding the Actuary’s report. I want also to outline the Government’s decisions on the issues raised by the report. The Actuary’s investigation was in respect of the 5-year period from 1st July 1959 to 30th June 1964. It is of special significance because it is the first full scale actuarial review of the Fund since the basis of the scheme was revised following the report of the Allison Committee in 1959, and some particularly complex issues have been thrown up.
The Actuary’s valuation of the Fund as at 30th June 1964 showed the following results: A surplus of $4,465,770 in respect of members who entered the Fund before 14th December 1959; and a deficiency of $3,260,000 in respect of members who entered the Fund after 14th December 1959. Subsequently I shall refer to the two classes of members as the pre-1959 and the post-1959 entrants. The distinction between them is due to the different bases on which they contribute. Those who entered before 14th December 1959 contribute on much the same basis as Superannuation Fund contributors; that is, they purchase units of benefit commensurate to their age and rate of pay. Those who entered after 14th December 1959 contribute a percentage of salary which applies to each member during service, regardless of salary changes. At present the percentage is normally 5% but it increases to 12% for higher ages of entry.
Honourable members will appreciate that a result showing a surplus in one part of the Fund and a deficiency in another immediately raises an important issue. Added to this, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board did not agree in all respects with the recommendations made by the Actuary concerning the action that should be taken as a consequence of the Iatter’s findings. These and other considerations have necessitated intensive examination by the Government of the whole of the issues involved. The first possibility that had to be considered was whether the deficiency should be offset against the surplus. We have decided against this because the two groups of members contribute on different bases and it would be inequitable to use the surplus of one group to make good the deficiency of the other. Moreover, this action would not remove the causes of the deficiency in respect of the post-1959 entrants because these entrants will steadily become a bigger proportion of the membership of the Fund and further deficits in relation to them would accumulate. - We have also rejected the possibility of using the. surplus in respect of pre-1959 entrants to increase the benefits payable on retirement to those entrants and, correspondingly, of .liquidating the deficiency in respect of post-1959 entrants by reducing the - benefits payable . to them on retirement. The existing scale of benefits “has been established in relation to the pay and . conditions of . the defence forces and the Government would consider it wrong in principle that- there should be two different scales of benefits for those who became members of the Fund before 14th December 1959 and those who became members after that time.
It is therefore necessary to-deal separately with the surplus and the deficiency. Taking the pre-1959 entrants first, there is on the Actuary’s calculations a surplus of $4,465,770 as at 30th June 1964 for disposal. Various courses of action have been proposed. The Actuary pointed out in his report the complexities that arise from the contribution basis of the pre-1959 entrants, and proposed that the surplus be used, in part, to rationalise the contribution structure of this group, any surplus remaining to be refunded in cash. The DFRB Board, however, while endorsing the Actuary’s recommendations for a rationalisation of the contribution basis, recommended that the whole of the surplus, with interest, be distributed in cash.
The Government has decided to adopt the Board’s recommendation. It is accordingly intended that there will be a cash refund of the surplus, with interest from 1st July 1964, to eligible pensioners and contributors in the pre-1959 group. I emphasise the word ‘eligible’ because not all current pensioners will receive a payment and the amount of the payment to individuals will vary according to circumstances. The distribution will be made on a basis to be determined by me after receiving the advice of the Actuary. The aim will be to devise the simplest possible basis commensurate with the essential requirement that each person concerned will receive his fair share. However, there are many thousands of contributors’ records to be consulted and many thousands of calculations to be made. I emphasise at this stage, therefore, that appreciable delays before payments are made will probably prove to toe unavoidable. It is intended that priority will be given to the making of payments to pensioners.
In regard to the contribution basis of pre-1959 entrants, the Government has been impressed with the Actuary’s emphasis- on the need for rationalisation and also by the many complaints that have been made about the complexities of- the existing basis. We have accordingly decided to put in hand a general review of the contribution basis of “prei1959 entrants with a view particularly to ascertaining whether it would be practicable to convert the basis to a percentage of salary as in the case of post- 1959 contributors. This review will be made in the first -instance by the Treasury in consultation with the Commonwealth Actuary and the DFRB Board. The review will inevitably be a complex exercise and will take some time to complete. Whether it will result in a simplified basis of contributions for pre- 1959 entrants I am unable at this stage to forecast. Pending the results of the review there will be no change in the contribution rates payable by the pre-1959 entrants.
Consistent with the decision we have taken in the case of post-1959 entrants to which I shall refer later, and subject to an important qualification I shall also refer to later, we have decided to adopt an overall proportion of 20% as the Fund’s share of benefits payable to pre-1959 entrants. At present the Fund’s share of such benefits is 15% of entitlements taken up before 14th December 1959 and 22i% of entitlements taken up subsequently.
I turn now to the post-1959 entrants where we have had to consider the action to be taken to deal with the deficiency of $3,260,000 as at 30th June 1964 reported by the Actuary. There is one point I should mention first of all. Since the Actuary’s investigation was completed, provision has been made for the Commonwealth to meet charges on the Fund that ensue from the participation of DFRB contributors in active Service operations. The Actuary has advised that this development, which has particular relevance to the post-1959 section of the Fund, has operated to reduce the deficiency by an estimated $200,000.
Essentially, there are three possible ways of dealing with the deficiency; first, to reduce benefits; second, to increase- contributions; and third, to reduce the proportion of benefits met by the Fund and consequently to increase the proportion met by the Commonwealth. I have already indicated that the Government considers a reduction in benefits for post:1959 entrants to be wrong in principle. This means that we have had to seek a solution in terms of an increase in contributions or a reduction in the proportion of benefits met by the Fund, or a combination of these two methods. We have decided that the appropriate course is such a combination.
An increase in contributions is, of course, the traditional method of meeting a deficiency, and there are many examples of superannuation funds based on percentage-of-salary contributions which have been obliged to increase their contribution rates to meet the problem of rising salaries and benefits. In the case of the DFRB Fund, there is also the important consideration that increases in benefits were granted in 1962 and 1963 without any increase in contributions. I wish to recall what my predecessor said in the second reading speech on the 1963 Bill. He stated that no change would then be made to the contribution scale adopted in 1959 but that the increased entitlements being provided might call for some adjustment in contributions following the actuarial investigation as at 30th June 1964. The actuarial investigation has indicated that contribution rates are not adequate to support the existing scale of benefits.
The amount of increase in the rate of contributions payable by post-1959 entrants will be 4% of salary. This will mean that a member now contributing 5% of salary will in future contribute 5i% of salary, while a member now contributing, say, 8% of salary will in future contribute 84%. In the case of a private, group 1, the increase will be from $4.38 to $4.82 a fortnight at present rates of pay. In the case of a colonel currently contributing $16.67 a fortnight, the new rate of contribution will be $18.34 a fortnight. The increase will not be retrospective and will apply from the first pay-day after the date of amending legislation.
Concurrently with this increase in contributions, there will be a reduction from 224% to 20% in the proportion of benefits to post- 1959 entrants payable by the Fund. This means, of course, that the proportion of such benefits payable by the Commonwealth will be increased from 774% to 80%. The Actuary has estimated that the combined effect of these decisions will be to restore the solvency of the Fund in respect of post-1959 entrants.
The important stipulation is made that the increases in the proportion of benefits payable by the Commonwealth, in respect of both pre- 1959 and post-1959 entrants, should not of themselves lead to future surpluses in the Fund, which would be regarded as available for distribution, lt is therefore a firm decision of the Government that any future surpluses in the Fund will not be available for distribution except, to the extent, if any, that they are in excess of the amount required from 1st July 1964 to meet the proportions of benefits at present payable by the Fund.
Legislation will be introduced in the budget session to authorise the distribution of the surplus to eligible pre-1959 entrants. The legislation will also provide for the revised basis of financing benefits and for the contribution increase for post- 1959 entrants, both of these to apply from the first appropriate pay-day after the amending legislation receives Royal assent.
Before concluding, I should like to express my thanks to all those members who have helped me in giving effect to the reforms that I have just announced. In particular I thank my colleague, the former Minister for Air, the honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) for the enormous amount of work he did on this matter. I pay my compliments also and extend my thanks to the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) for his help. I believe that this is a generous measure. I thank all those gentleman who have contributed to making it as generous as it is.
Consideration resumed from 28 May (vide page 1691).
Section 52 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections (1.) to (3.), inclusive, and inserting in their stead the following subsections: -
*(3a.) The following are prescribed matters for the purposes of this section: -
– I move:
After proposed sub-section (3a.), add the following sub-sections: “(3b.) A person is not guilty of an offence against this section for failing to answer truthfully any question, or failing to furnish any information, relating to another person if -
the first-mentioned person is a member of the family of the other person;
the first-mentioned person had, in the opinion of the court before which he is charged with the offence, reasonable cause, founded upon compassionate or other grounds, for the failure; or
the first-mentioned person is a minister of religion, a legal practitioner or a registered medical practitioner and the answering of the question or the furnishing of the information would require him to reveal a communication of confidence made to him in the course of his profession. “(3c.) In considering for the purposes of paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section whether a person had reasonable cause for failing to answer truthfully any question, or failing to furnish any information, relating to another person, a court shall take into account any relationship between those persons other than a relationship existing by reason of the first-mentioned person being a member of the family of the other person. “(3d.) In this section, ‘member of the family’, in relation to a person, means -
the wife of the person;
the father, step-father, mother or stepmother of the person or a guardian of the person or another person standing in loco parentis to the person; or
a brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister of the person.”.’.
Since the original national service scheme was introduced in 1951 the Secretary of my Department has been empowered to require any person to answer questions relating to men who are liable to register for service or to render service under the Act. The amendments to the Act proposed by clause 21 of the Bill do not alter this general obligation, although they extend the matters about which questions could be asked to include a person’s place of living or place of employment though only when the Secretary has reason to believe there is a failure to comply with a requirement of the Act such as failure to register: No prosecution has ever been launched under the relevant section of the legislation giving this power, which has been there since 1951, and noone would ever suppose that it would be used in the way some people have suggested. This legislation was last before the House in 1964. It is extraordinary that although this power has been in the Act since 1951, the only record I can find of any member adverting to the possible use of this power was in a passing reference by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron).
The close consideration of the Bill on this occasion has pointed up the obligation of people to answer questions and to furnish information and has brought out the fact that, as originally drafted, section 52 could be put to use in ways not really intended. The Government, having had its attention drawn to this possibility, has considered that family relationships and recognised confidential professional relationships - which covers of course ministers of religion, lawyers and doctors - should not be invaded. The amendment gives effect to this principle by protecting from penalty immediate members of the person’s family, ministers of religion, legal practitioners and registered medical practitioners.
– What about trade unions?
– This relationship does not apply to them, but it will apply to legal practitioners and registered medical practitioners who might be requested to reveal a confidence received in the practice of their professions. Another group that will be covered by the amendment - they were mentioned yesterday - comprises those in a similar situation to family members. These people include de facto wives. It is not possible to identify in this measure some people as clearly as one can identify doctors and certain other people I have mentioned. 1 am referring to members of professions who are not required to register in all States as doctors are. One might include among them psychologists and social workers provided their relationship with the man who has not registered for national service is of the kind 1 have mentioned. What I propose to require by the amendment is that a court shall not convict a person when in the opinion of the court there was reasonable cause founded on compassionate or other grounds for that person’s failure to answer questions or supply information.
– The Opposition will still oppose clause 21, the purpose of which is to insert new sub-sections into section 52 of the principal Act, even though it is to be modified by the latest amendment circulated by the Minister for National1 Service (Mr Bury). It is no answer or consolation to state that no objections were made to section 52 of the Act when the House last considered this legislation in 1964. At that time conscription was not the issue that it now is. Early in 1964 it was not possible to conscript men for overseas service, although towards the end of that year conscription was brought in for that purpose. The then Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies, said that it was being done in order to defend Australian territories against Indonesian confrontation. Obviously a new situation has arisen since then. Nor is it any answer or consolation to state that there has never been a prosecution under section 52 of the Act. If this section were a brutum fulmen, why double the penalty, as is to be done by clause 21 of the Bill? Again, it is no answer or consolation to state that there would be no offence committed if close relatives, members of the clergy, legal practitioners or medical practitioners were to refuse to answer questions. The very fact that it would not be an offence for them to refuse to answer domestic or confidential questions highlights the very fact that it would be an offence if any of them were to refuse to attend at any time or place when summoned to appear before an official of the Department of Labour and National Service. Their refusal to do so would still be an offence. lt is true that it is no offence if these people refuse to answer questions, but they can still be harassed to attend, however close their domestic or confidential relations may be. There are other relatives who are not exempted. An article which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 17th May 1968, prior to the first amendment being circulated, pointed out that in some families persons such as aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins- . . are almost as important to young men as their parents and brothers and sisters yet the Government is willing to impose on them a conflict between family loyalty and legal responsibility.
Clause 22, which proposes the insertion of section 52aa relating to the obligations of the principal executive officers of educational or other institutions, is now to be deleted according to the latest series of amendments circulated by the Minister. In an earlier series of amendments circulated by the Minister the obligation was to rest purely on the principal executive officers of educational institutions. Officers of other institutions were to be excluded. It should be no consolation to such persons to think that they will not now have to attend to answer questions. Persons who can be summoned are not just relatives and they are not just people who have been consulted in a professional or confessional capacity by young men. They may be office bearers in any of a wide variety of institutions.
Officers of educational institutions can still be summoned under the clause with which we are dealing and they will commit an offence if they refuse to answer questions. Officers of financial institutions such as banks, hire purchase organisations, credit unions or department stores operating credit facilities can be summoned. There are special requirements for persons under 21 - persons of military age, call-up age - who wish to obtain credit from these institutions. Usually they must have guarantors and they must give their age, place of employment and place of residence to such institutions. Any employee of such an institution can still be summoned and interrogated, subject to penalty, under clause 21 as now amended. There are a great number of sporting, religious and political bodies, social organisations and trade unions and in all of these bodies those persons under 21 are in a special category. They pay smaller fees and they may have special rights or special obligations. They are categorised by age and a record is kept of their residence and, very often, place of employment. Very often it is clear from the nature of the organisation what the characteristics of the young persons are - their health or psychology. Under clause 21 as it is now to be amended any office bearer of any such body can be required to attend and give information and can be penalised if he does not.
There are other institutions where records are kept, such as hospitals. A registered medical practitioner cannot be required to answer questions but he can be summoned and has to turn up. However, an official of a hospital can be summoned and he has to turn up. and answer questions. Honourable members- have only to look at the number of institutions and organisations to which young persons can belong and in which young persons are readily indentifiable to see the range of interrogation to which persons can be subjected under clause 21. The amendment merely scratches the surface. The close relatives and the close professional and confessional associations may be sacroscanct from interrogation but they are not preserved from attending. Other persons not only have to attend but have to answer questions.
The whole purpose of this Bill and the whole manner in which it has been handled arouse justifiable suspicion as to the motives for introducing this clause, as to the motives for amending it and as to the Minister’s persistence with it to this stage. This Bill is the most serious assault on our civil liberties since the Crimes Act 1960. It should not be on our statute book. The fact that there have been no prosecutions in the past and the fact that honourable members did not protest in the different circumstances that obtained in 1964 and in earlier years is no excuse for saying that we should now preserve the section. The Opposition will vote against the whole clause.
– Whilst 1 do not agree with the final assumptions of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitiam), 1 do have some concern about one matter relating to proposed new sub-sections (3b.), (3c.) and (3d.). Sub-section (3b.) states:
A person is not guilty of an offence against this section for failing to answer truthfully any question, or failing to furnish any information, relating to another person if -
the first-mentioned person is a member of the family of the other person; . . .
The term ‘member of the family’ is a very wide provision and could be taken to include any member of the family at all. However sub-section (3d.) then proceeds to define what is meant by ‘member of the family’.
– Would the honourable member say that a guardian is a member of the family?
– A guardian is included in paragraph (a) of sub-section (3d.). I am not quarrelling with that. What I am quarrelling with .is that whereas the clause uses the general verbiage ‘member of the family’ in sub-section (3b.) the exclusion is limited in sub-section (3d.) to the wife, father, stepfather, mother, step-mother, guardian or other person standing in loco parentis, brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister. The Government has gone to a great deal of trouble to come up quite unextended in. the field of family connections, but why stay there? I can see no reason for this reduction in what is meant by a ‘member of the family’. If it is the intention of sub-section (3d.) to spell out what is meant by ‘member of the family’ then it should spell it out and there should not be the limitations as to the people that the Leader of the Opposition spoke about, the aunts, uncles and grandparents. In many cases, these young men stay for quite lengthy periods with grandparents who would have some information about their grandchildren. I would suggest either that proposed new sub-section (3b.) should be deleted or that it should be allowed to stand in the form set out in the amendment, which is:
the first-mentioned person is a member of the family of the other person but with the addition of these words, which are taken from the definition of ‘member of the family’ in proposed new sub-section (3d.):
I find fault with the drafting of the amendments for the reasons that I have given and for no other reasons.
- Mr Chairman, I rise to bring one matter to the attention of the Committee. I do not know on what basis honourable members opposite conduct their business as members of Parliament. Honourable members will see that proposed sub-section (3b.) (c) states that the persons included in this provision are: a minister of religion, a legal practitioner or a registered medical practitioner. . . .
I believe that members of Parliament, both. Commonwealth and State, should be listed also in this provision. . As the Bill stands at. the moment, an officer of the Department of Labour and National Service could summon any member of this Parliament and demand access to the files and records of that member. This is an interpretation which must be able to be placed on the Bill.
– If other people can be summoned by an officer of the Department, why cannot a member of Parliament be so summoned? I believe that members of Parliament should have the right to the confidences of the people who come to see them. No member could possibly carry on as a confidant of the people who come to him with representations if any doubt whatsoever existed about the right of the member of Parliament to respect their confidences. If there is any doubt about this matter because of the drafting of the amendment - and I believe, from the reading of it, that considerable doubt exists - a further amendment should be brought forward which excludes the Department and the Minister from the right to invade the private confidences which a constituent may have reposed in a member of Parliament.
Mr KILLEN (Moreton) 13.531- Mr Chairman, I wish to refer to several of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Before I do so, I wonder whether I may have your indulgence, Sir, and the leave of the Committee to read what the Australian Labor Party - the party that the Leader of the Opposition leads - said on the matter of defence only last year? lt is relevant to this clause. Page 33 of the ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’ of the Australian Labor Party carries the statement:
The Labor Party insists upon the adequate defence of Australia and asserts the need for defence forces of the highest professional standards.
It goes on:
A strong citizen army should be created for the defence of Australia and her overseas territories. If this force can be raised by voluntary means then it should be a voluntary force. If such a force cannot be raised voluntarily and if the international situation is deemed to indicate a threatened attack on Australia and her overseas territories, then the force should be raised or augmented on a National Service basis.
I give that quotation for this reason: Given a certain set of circumstances, there would be no difference between the views of the members of the Opposition and the members of the Government on the importance of national service. - Plainly, conflict arises as to- where national service trainees should be engaged. If for the purposes of my argument I can put that conflict to one side, a set- of circumstances can be envisaged in which the Government and the Opposition would be as one on the matter of national service.
What would the Leader of the Opposition suggest if he were leading a government implementing Labor Party policy to provide a national service scheme and he were faced with precisely the same problem as the Government ‘ is faced with today? Happily, it is not a vast problem because the overwhelming majority of Australians, and young Australians in particular, accept their responsibility, and quite cheerfully. But the whole purpose of this legislation - this is the assumption on which the Bill rests - is to pick up those who blatantly refuse to accept their responsibility. I ask the Leader of the Opposition: What would he, leading a government, do with a person who blatantly refused to accept his responsibility? Would the honourable gentleman say: ‘Oh, well, I cannot do anything about it because that would represent an infringement of civil liberties’?
I have argued during the course of this debate that in matters of defence, but not in other matters, the State is entitled to have some claim on every person who lives within its framework. This is the case here. This Bill is not aimed, to use the extravagant language of the Leader of the Opposition, at providing for a wide range of powers of interrogation to be launched against the whole community. The provision in proposed new section 52 is aimed against the shirkers in Australia. I think it is about time that that was said in that form. The Leader of the Opposition goes on and ruins his case by exaggerating it. He said that the questions that a person may be asked under this provision extend over a very wide range. That is not true. If the honourable gentleman looks at the proposed new section he will see that a person can have put to him questions relating to prescribed matters only. These prescribed matters are denned. They are very limited. Clause 2 V provides that the prescribed matters for the purposes of the proposed new section are:
These prescribed matters do not cover a wide range of interrogation. The prescribed matters are very narrowly defined. I remind the honourable gentleman again that this provision is aimed against the shirkers of this country. I invite him - I hope that the honourable gentleman will be disposed to state his attitude - to inform me what he would do, faced with these circumstances, to try to prevail upon a person who shirked his obligations to accept them?
The last thing that I wish to say is this: In the matter of civil liberties we can go to an extreme. I have never heard the honourable gentleman complain about the provision that exists in the income tax legislation giving power beyond description, untrammelled power, to the Commissioner of Taxation. In the matter of taxation, the State says: ‘Unless our taxes are collected, we cannot run the paraphernalia associated with a modern community’. Again, concerning this legislation, the State says that without powers to pick up shirkers in the matter of defence it cannot discharge its responsibility. I hope that the honourable gentleman will be encouraged to state his attitude as to what he, leading a government, would do in facing up to the problem of dealing with people who shirk their responsibility. Let me put it in the starkest form: If his government decided that some particular conflict should be entered into by Australia, and some young Liberal was contumacious to state authority, what would the honourable gentleman do in that circumstance? I ask the honourable gentleman whether he will be good enough to state exactly what his attitude would be in facing up to such a problem as the Minister and the present Government are facing.
- Mr Chairman, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) commenced his discussion on this amendment by chiding the Opposition for not having taken notice of section 52 of the principal Act, and for not criticising the provisions in that section. He went on to say that not one prosecution had yet been taken out under section 52 of the Act. When the Bill was introduced on 1st May, quite substantial amendments to section 52 of the principal Act were put before us. On 14th May, the Minister introduced further amendments to section 52 of the Act. Yesterday. 28th May, at approximately 2.30 in the afternoon, still further amendments to section 52 were circulated. I think I am right in saying that, comparing the set of amendments brought down on 14th May with the amendments brought down on 28th May, sub-section (3b.) remains sub-section (3b), and that a new sub-section (3c.) is introduced while the old sub-section (3c.) becomes sub-section (3d.)
The Minister had a host of advisers around him when preparing amendments to the Bill. Representations were made from a variety of organisations. The Minister started off his speech by chiding Opposition members. We have very little research facilities available to us. The research facilities in the Library have been in operation for the last 2 or 3 years only. Yet the Minister chides us for not having found the anomalies in the original Act. Then the honourable member for Morton (Mr Killen) asked us certain questions. Why does not the honourable member ask the Minister why there is a need for widening the scope of the section in the original Bill under which section no action had been taken against any person? Why is it necessary to make any alteration? The scope of the original section 52 certainly is widened.
Last night during the course of discussions on the Bill one honourable member opposite said that the Bill had been discussed by the committee which examined it. Yet, although the Minister introduced amendments yesterday, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) introduced an amendment also - an amendment to clause 22. If honourable members opposite are so well informed on what is happening in relation to legislation why is it that the honourable member for Bradfield did not know that clause 22 was to be deleted? It is not up to members of the Opposition to explain their attitudes and say what we would do if we come into power. The honourable member for Morton quoted from our policy and platform about a volunteer service augmented by national service if needs be. But the honourable member did admit that there are qualifications as to whether or not the conscripts would be sent overseas. The honourable member will find that spelt out exactly on the next page of our policy and platform.
The situation in relation to this clause is that questions can be asked. Wider scope is given in the new section. There is no reason why this section should have been amended in the way proposed. The Minister, in his second reading speech, said:
The overwhelming majority of young men and their families accept the obligation imposed by national service.
The Minister went on to say:
A small number, however, are seeking to evade, or are defaulting in, their obligations at one or more of these stages.
The Secretary to the Department of Labour and National Service has the right to query people, under the original Act. I for one do not disagree with that. If there are a few evaders I think it is up to the Government to seek them out. If 326 young men will register then those who will not register should be sought out. I make no apologies at all for saying that. While the Act is m force the Government has the right - and indeed the duty - to find the evaders. I make no complaint about that, but I do not think that the Government needs to throw its net as wide as it is being thrown under the new section. I agree with the honourable member for Moreton when he says that proposed sub-section (3a.) spells out the prescribed matters and the questions that can be asked. The authority to do that is already in the original Act. Section 53 of the original Act gives an authorised person authority to query any person whom he reasonably suspects to be a person liable to register. What the Government is doing here. I am afraid, is breeding that comtemptible person who, because he dislikes a family for some reason or other, is likely to report the 20 year old lad in that family for not having registered. An authorised person can go along to some institution or other and ask about the whereabouts, the address or place of employment of a person whom the Secretary believes is required to register. I do not think this provision is at all necessary. I think the Opposition is absolutely correct in opposing it. I am certain that if honourable members opposite had spoken privately to some of the officers in the Department of Labour and National Service they would have been told that the provisions in the present Act are absolutely sufficient for the officers to do whatever they need to do. I am reasonably certain that some of those officers will say privately that they do not want these new provisions in the Act. Newspaper editors, church leaders, leaders of our tertiary and technical institutions all have criticised this and other provisions designed to turn certain sections of the community into pimps and informers. There is no reason for the enlargement of this section of the Act. The Minister has said that not one case has yet been taken up under it. I ask the Minister why the Government wants further powers.
– The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart), who has just resumed his seat, has answered his own question. The Government obviously needs further powers to carry out the duty which the honourable member agreed that the Government has to search out those who seek to evade the responsibilities which the National Service Act imposes upon them. 1 would hope that the Minister at the table, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), would comment on the question raised by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) a few minutes ago in this debate because it had not occurred to me that there was any doubt that privilege existed between constituent and member of Parliament. I am sure that most honourable members would consider that communications with a constituent, where necessary, should be regarded as privileged. I had assumed that this privilege was in no way threatened. I hope the Minister will clarify this matter.
– I oppose the clause because it is a form of civil conscription into a secret security service. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), when debating an earlier clause, explained that Australia is a country in which the Commonwealth cannot possibly conscript anyone but military service personnel. We are conscripting young men to carry arms or, if they will not do that, to do the odd jobs about the place such as cleaning the latrines, driving trucks or going out under fire to rescue the wounded. We do not conscript young women to nurse the wounded or man the typewriters and the ambulances. We are conscripting the personnel of Young Men’s Christian Association hostels, under this provision, to disclose information. We are conscripting travel agents also. This is a form of civil conscription just as surely as the civil conscription of the medical profession, which was thrown out by the courts, during the term of a Labor government. It was a form of civil conscription to make doctors use certain printed forms and to do other things. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) said that we give unlimited power to the tax collectors. We do not give unlimited power to the tax collectors to conscript people as informers. We do not give unlimited power to electoral officers to ask people how much the honourable member for Moreton overspent on election expenses.
– I suppose the honourable member completed his own return.
– I follow the advice of an honourable gentleman as learned in these matters as the honourable gentleman who is interjecting. The Leader of our Party is not bound to answer questions of policy any more than is the Leader of the Parties opposite. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has been asked to declare what he would do with shirkers, but this is not the point. The point is: What are these people shirking? This relates to the whole basis of our opposition to a National Service Bill in a lime of peace.
The honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) not very long ago informed us that Australia is being faced with the worst threat in her history - that there had never been anything like it before. We are faced with a bigger threat than ever before yet if honourable members read the Hansard report of yesterday’s proceedings in another place they will see that we are not at war. If this threat is so vital, so damaging and so terrible, why are we not at war? If we are at war there is a case for conscription for overseas service.
– Why are we trading with the enemy?
– Yes. There is a case for conscription if this nation is threatened as it was threatened in World War II. I would remind honourable members, and anyone else who is interested in this subject, that it was not necessary to introduce such inquisitorial legislation to convince proprietors of hostels, travel agents and people in all other manner of occupations that they had a duty to the Commonwealth in its time of need and dire danger. If it were not necessary then, why is it necessary now? I submit that it is necessary because these people’ ure not convinced that they are in dire danger. The Government, with all the powers of the Press that it has on its side, with all its friends who own the newspapers which support them politically in editorials at election time, and with the support of people who control all kinds of mass media, has still been unable to convince the people of Australia that there is a genuine threat. The Government makes a big case of the vast majority of people who are convinced, lt even quotes gallup polls. But this vast majority still provided a fairly even vote at the last Senate election.
– 1 rise to order, Mr Chairman. Has this anything to do with the clause under discussion?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– What I am saying does have relevance. 1 am pointing out that this provision has been brought in because of an alleged terrible threat to Australia, lt has been brought in on the grounds that we are under an unprecedented threat and I am pointing out that it is a meagre threat, a doubtful threat and a discredited threat. It will continue to be discredited as time passes. This is why I oppose the clause, the Bill and the Act it is amending.
– Who is the Opposition trying to shelter? We are not dealing with conscientious objectors, as defined in the legislation. We are not dealing with conscientious objectors as the Opposition would like to have them defined; that is, people who conscientiously object to serving in a particular war. We are simply dealing with draft dodgers, shirkers - call them whatever we like. We are dealing with people who do not put forward any conscientious reason why they should not be duly enrolled for national service. These are the people the Opposition is trying to shelter. It is claimed that inquisitorial methods are being used to enforce the law, but what is happening? Under the clause under discussion power is sought for an officer of the Department of Labour and National Service to. question people who may have information bearing upon the liability of a particular person to be enrolled, and that person is required to give a true answer. The objection to this provision is based on the grounds that it is inquisitorial and is contrary to all the sentiments of a free community. 1 suggest that we do not hesitate to take such action as this when an offence is alleged to have been committed. We do not hesitate to subpoena witnesses, to put them in the box, to crossexamine them under oath and to require them to tell the truth in relation to the charge that is being heard. We do not hesitate to do it in such instances so why should we hesitate to give the same power to an officer of the Department in cases of this kind?
Surely the principle is simply that if the law is to be enforced we should use all reasonable methods - not unreasonable or excessive methods - to enforce it. Reference was made by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) a moment ago to the powers that we give to the Commissioner of Taxation. It is interesting to examine section 263 of the Income Tax Assessment Act which states:
The Commissioner, or any officer authorised by him in that behalf, shall at all times-
And this could be in the middle of the night - have full and free access to all buildings, places, books, documents and other papers for any of the purposes of this Act, and for that purpose may make extracts from or copies of any such books, documents or papers.
There could not be much wider power than this, but it is regarded apparently as being necessary and reasonable - not excessive - in order to carry out the law, which is that people should pay taxes as provided by Act of Parliament. As another instance we can consider customs procedures. Travellers coming to this country are required to open their suitcases for inspection by customs officials, revealing, it may be, the most intimate and private things. There could not be any greater intrusion upon a person’s privacy than compelling him to open his suitcase for such examinations as are carried out by customs officials. The principle is perfectly clear: In order to enforce the law one uses such means as may be reasonable for the purpose.
Is it unreasonable to require that people who have information that will lead to the discovery of a breach of the law in respect of the draft should give that information? The amendment proposed by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) specifically excludes certain people, including all close relatives or others who, on compassionate grounds, ought not to be required to give this kind of information because it would offend the sentiments of the community. This is all there is to it. There is nothing more; there is nothing unreasonable about it. If honourable members make a great song and dance about preventing the Minister or his officers from having this power it can be for one reason only - that they are seeking to shelter these people. It is on no rational ground, no ground that would commend itself to any sensible citizen. There is only one reason - they are seeking to shelter these people.
Who are these people? They are not conscientious objectors. Even on the widest definition of conscientious objection, they are plain and simple shirkers. Why should they not perform the duty that other members in the community are performing? Here we have a matter of simple justice. If the majority obey the law willingly why should some be sheltered from obeying the law, carrying out their duties and accepting their obligations? This is not just. This is no justification whatever in the eyes of any reasonable person, and the Opposition can only have some motive which is not very creditable.
– The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) wanted to know whom we are trying to shelter. We are trying to shelter everyone. It has been a tradition of long standing that in the application of the law not only do you proceed with reasonableness but also with a due regard for the rights of people. The clause under discussion deals not so much with a person who is not serving as with a person who knows he is not serving. The honourable member for Bradfield drew the analogy of a customs inspection. Suppose that my colleague and I arrive at Sydney Airport. Suppose that my colleague knows that I have in my suitcase fifteen undeclared transistor radios. He is not compelled to reveal that I have them. The Government does not expect other people to act as informers in this way. We have opposed that kind of demand for information since the dawn of thinking. Under this clause the Government is saying that a person who knows something must reveal his knowledge. Until only the other day the Government said that everybody - mothers, fathers, sons and daughters - who knew must tell. Now the Government has decided that this is not necessary or desirable. It has surrendered on this point. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) said in effect: ‘What is the Opposition getting upstaged about? The Government has hardly ever used this power. Why does the Opposition think that it would use it now?’ I think the Government could use the power now, because in his second reading speech the Minister said:
It has also become evident that extensions of the existing powers are required to enable more effective detection of those who seek to evade their obligations by not registering when required.
Was the Minister just reading that statement because his Department had prepared it for him or was he reading it because he means to enforce the provision? This is the issue before us. The Government is trying to turn Australia into a nation of informers. It is trying to confer upon the Secretary of the Department powers that it would not give to anybody else. Remember that no matter how estimable the Secretary of the Department may be, he is an administrative officer - an anonymous person as far as the rest of the community is concerned.
He will have power to summon anybody before him and demand information. This we will resist.
The honourable member for Bradfield said that we on this side of the chamber are trying to protect the shirkers. Who are the shirkers? In my opinion the shirkers are all those people of military age who say that there is a war in Vietnam in which we should fight for our survival but who send other people to do the fighting while they stay at home. On the other side of the chamber sits a reasonable number of such men. Because the Government has stepped into the field of selective sacrifice for purposes of its own political gimmickry it is beset with the problem of enforcing the system.
– 1 rise to order. 1 object to the remarks directed by the honourable member to me as a member sitting on this side of the chamber, and I ask that he withdraw them.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I did not refer to the honourable member for Angas. He is obviously over military age.
– The honourable member referred to members on this side. Did that reference include me?
– If the honourable member does not know at his age, I am not surprised. It is an age old use of the debating slide to say that if you are against this provision you are for the shirkers. If I am opposed to capital punishment I am for the murderers. If I am opposed to vigorous prison sentences I am for the burglars. That is the age old hysterical argument of conservatives. The honourable member for Bradfield, who ordinarily brings to debates a reasonable amount of logic-
Opposition members - Oh!
– I withdraw the remark. The honourable member usually applies a great deal of critical attention to many problems. He sees in this legislation a parallel with the powers conferred under the taxation law. Is it not clear even to honourable members opposite that the legislation now before us is completely different from any other law which this
Parliament imposes? Here we are imposing on the subject the requirement to do service which involves life or death. In the taxation law we deal with property. In the National Service Act we deal with people. Honourable members opposite are materialists; we on this side are true Socialists, concerned with social values and people. That is the difference between the Opposition and Government supporters. What bothers me is that honourable members opposite, such as the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Bradfield, often give the impression that they stand for the protection of our ancient and inalienable rights, but when we are dealing with the subject of defence they are overcome with hysteria and are unable to apply the usual values that one expects of them. We are trying to bring into this legislation, much as we dislike it in its entirety, the continuing theme of protective law. We submit that under this legislation we are not entitled to demand from people anything that we do not demand from them under other legislation. We are not entitled to empower an anonymous secretary of a department to impose upon people the necessity to inform. Honourable members opposite say that we are being unreasonable in this. They said the same thing a week or two ago when we objected to the provision that parents and other members of families and professional people should inform. As a result of public clamour over this Bill we have bad a sequence of amendments to it. It is disappointing that honourable members opposite cannot see where the principles lie. I am afraid that this situation will persist until honourable members opposite realise that the obligation of service imposed on young people by this legislation is completely different from the obligations imposed by other legislation. It is irrelevant to refer to the customs law or the taxation law in this context. For some reason which beggars thought at this moment the Government is unable to grapple with this situation in the human way I would ordinarily have expected of it.
The provision which we are now debating will affect only a handful of people. In his remarks the Minister twice used the term small number’. He referred to a small number of institutions and a small number of people. The Government is prepared to destroy the whole fabric of protective devices of the law to get at a few people. I do not think we are advancing our cause by referring to them as shirkers. A lot of people have refused to serve in this war because they do not like the war. Many have refused to serve because they will not don military uniforms at all. This has been a continuing theme in recent years. Conscientious objection and all sorts of other rights have gradually been written more carefully into law. This legislation takes us backwards. It establishes a most dangerous set of military procedures. Anybody with any consciousness of history and tradition and the development of our rights in these matters should vote against this clause.
– The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) asked me a question about the application of the amendment to families. He suggested that the definition of ‘member of the family’ was not sufficiently wide. The term ‘member of the family’ is too vague. This is why the draftsman has made an effort to reduce it to precision. Those other persons whom the honourable member has in mind would normally be covered by proposed new sub-section (3c). That is its purpose. To answer the query raised by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro), members of Parliament also would be covered in this sub-section.
– Why does proposed new subsection (3c) cover these people?
– Where members of a family have a particular relationship the court would have a discretion. The sub-section does not directly define the members of a family; the court has a discretion.
– What bad purpose would be served by including aunts, uncles and grand> parents in the definition of members of the family?
– In the Government’s view this is adequately covered because to many persons another member of the immediate family may mean nothing at all in personal terms whereas, on the other hand, sometimes he could mean much to distant relatives. This clause provides for that. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) said that the powers involved in this provision are extremely limited and restrict the matters about which questions can be asked.
All that can be asked of a person must relate to his liability to register or render service, other than in special cases where the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service has a special reason to believe that someone has failed to register. In that case he can ask questions about a person’s place of living or employment. This is extremely limited information. The information on the registration cards of the overwhelming proportion of young men is very much more extensive than that which can be asked for under this provision. The clause provides for a- very limited, hedged around questioning process. If we really boil down the posture of honourable members opposite - I can understand it from their point of view, because they are against national service - they wish… to reduce the questioning to the point where .it is impossible to ask anyone anything. The logical consequence of what they are driving at is that national service should be not. compulsory but voluntary.
– lt is selective.
– It is very important to remember that it is selective. If we are to have selective national service it must be fair. If large numbers of people evade their obligations-
– A small number.
– If they are encouraged to do so, the process of evasion could spread. Although we may think that the number who evade service is small, we cannot be sure. If we are to make national service fair, and if we are to be able to look in the eye those who go to Vietnam and do the fighting, we, as a government and a nation, should be able to say that we are treating them fairly and that they are taking an equal chance with everybody else. The logical consequence of what the Opposition is trying to do is to make national service voluntary. Its view is that we should never ask questions or do anything to make sure that the system is reasonably fair. I agree that it would be absurd to go to extreme lengths or to behave in an oppressive manner. No-one has every suggested that that should happen, nor is it necessary that it shall happen. But unless people can be questioned by officers who are employed for the purpose, ana unless there is power for them to question, we can say that very shortly national service will become voluntary. We can reasonably ask our young men to serve, particularly when service is on a very restricted selective basis, only if everybody is in the same boat. If we are not prepared to question anybody and are not prepared to lift a finger to make the scheme work, all we will do is wreck the whole scheme.
– The honourable member, for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has asked’ whom the Austraiian Labor Party is seeking to protect in opposing this clause. He has reverted to his argument of yesterday that all young persons who object to the war in Vietnam are cowards, shirkers or spivs- even those whom the courts have acknowledged under the very stringent terms of the Act as having genuine conscientious objections to war and to military service.
– He did not. ‘
– He categorised them yesterday as mostly shirkers or spivs. But this amendment does not deal with conscientious objectors; it deals with persons who are liable to be summoned to answer questions and who may be required to answer questions. They can be asked questions on two matters: Firstly, the liability of a person to register or render service; and, secondly, the address of the place of living or employment of a person whom the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service has reason to believe is required to register but has failed to register or to comply with a notice served on him. The questions need not be directed merely to the age of any person or class of persons or to the residence or employment of any person or class of persons. The provision is much wider than that. Questions may be directed also to the liability of a person to render service. A person may be exempted from service for certain physical or mental conditions and his service may be deferred on the ground of exceptional hardship. Under this clause, therefore, any person who can give evidence concerning the mental or physical condition of a 20-year old or any person who can give evidence regarding the exceptional hardship of a 20-year old can be summoned to come in and answer questions asked by an official of the Department of Labour and National Service. It is not specified that the interrogator must be such an official, but presumably he would be.
It is true that there are provisions in the law for a person to be summoned to give evidence in court. There are certain exceptions about a person being required to answer questions which might incriminate him. hut I know of no provisions which require a person to attend before an official in camera to answer such a variety of questions. Under this clause the exception upon which he can be excused from answering questions is that he is a close relative of the person about whom the questions are asked or that he has some professional or confessional connection with him. but on all other matters he can be required to answer questions. A parallel has been drawn with the taxation and customs provisions in the law. If one wants to have a proper parallel one could say that a member of Parliament, or any person who is a neighbour, could be required to go into the office of the Taxation Brunch to answer questions concerning the movements of his neighbour. He could be asked: When does he leave for work? When does he come home from work? When does his wife go out? Where does she go? When does she come home? What do his children do? Are they really at an educational institution or do they engage in part time employment? One has only to look at the number of questions upon which a taxpayer has to answer questions !o see how many other persons could give evidence on those matters. If one wants to draw a parellel between, this legislation and the taxation law, one has to consider the number of people who could be summoned before a taxation official to answer questions concerning the comings and goings, the activities, the liabilities and the expenditures of any other taxpayer in the country. We do not do it under the taxation laws.
The honourable member for Bradfield mentioned also the customs laws. In that legislation we do not provide that any person who has been on a trip with another person must come in to an office of the Department of Customs and Excise to answer questions put to him by a customs official as to where a returning traveller had been. We do not require that when a person has booked a trip through some travel agent, that travel agent can be summoned to the customs office and asked the itinerary of a returning traveller. We do not give power to customs officers to go to other travellers and to ask: While he was away, what shops did he go to? Did you see him with any transistor radios or electrical goods, or with any other dutiable material? What did he have with him on the ship or in the aircraft? What did he put in his portmanteaus, his pockets and so on? If we want to draw the parallels with this legislation, we should look at the comparable provisions which could be inserted in the taxation and customs laws. We do not have them in the customs and taxation laws and we should not have them in the national service law.
I could go further. What about the social services legislation? There is a very great number of questions which could be asked of applicants for social service benefits. If we want to tighten those laws in accordance with the principles of the national service legislation with which we are dealing, we should provide that the Department of Social Services can issue a notice requiring anybody in the community to come in to the Department and answer questions about the activities of any person who has applied for social service benefits or who is already receiving them. The Department might ask these people: ‘Whom is the widow pensioner living with? What does she do to supplement her income? Does she really look after her children? Is the person who is receiving an invalid pension actually physically able to work? Where does he go? Who is in fact dependent on him? Who helps to support him?’ If we look at all those matters we can see how very much further we have to go in improving our social services, taxation and custom laws before they match this legislation which the honourable member for Bradfield is justifying.
– What about the shirkers?
– It is not the shirkers. How many shirkers are there? Nobody has told us how many shirkers are involved. If there was universal service on the Israeli pattern, as the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is now advocating, everybody in the community would know that the 20-year old was liable to render service. If we published birth dates, everybody would be able to check on the defaulting young man of 20 years of age in the same way as business houses can check on forged $10 notes from a published list of numbers. But because we do not have universal service and because we do not publish birth dates, we must embark on this vast system of interrogation and inquisition. Only a handful of people is involved. Nobody has suggested that there are more than 200 of these people in the whole community. But because we have to trace them and because the Department of Labour and National Service is not prepared to go about its duties in the same way as all other Commonwealth departments do, everybody in the community is caught in the drag net provision of section 21. Whatever a person’s position or occupation may be, he is caught by this clause. It covers everybody in the community. They are the people we are seeking to protect by our amendment. Why should people have to be brought before an official to answer questions and, in most instances, be compelled to answer those questions? There has never been a provision like this in any Commonwealth law, even in war time. The only countries in the English speaking world where you will find provisions like this at the moment are South Africa and Rhodesia. The members of the Liberal Party exposed themselves as antiliberal and ill-liberal in their deliberations yesterday and today. We are protecting the community by opposing clause 21.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Chairman, when I heard the speech of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) about 25 minutes ago, I thought that what he said was extremely effective. He summed up the position rather succinctly and put it in a nutshell. I realised how very effective it was when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in a characteristically corkscrew argument, tried to get away from the real issue before us. As the honourable member for Bradfield said, why should there be all this objection to our provision? We are not seeking to find those people who, under the Act can properly claim exemption for conscientious objection but those who are not prepared to do their duty.
I rose only to ask Opposition members one question. They have one set of standards for some things and a different set of standards for other things. They talk about pimping and informing. What happens in a dockyard such as Garden Island when a man drives his truck in and a crane driver says: ‘1 do not think the man down there driving the truck is a member of my union. Therefore I refuse to work this crane.’? He then reports his objection to a shop steward and the workers in the dockyard go out on strike. Of course, this is perfectly legal. I refer to Hansard for the Senate of Thursday night last when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Cohen) informed the Senate and the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) that a group of soldiers in uniform at the Australian War Memorial had taken a sign reading ‘Down with the Vietnam war’ from a bus. He said he believed that some of these men may have served in Vietnam. The Australian Labor Party claims that it is wrong to tell about a man who refuses to do his national service but believes there is nothing wrong with telling about a man who feels upset because someone displayed a sign on a bus. A soldier is perfectly entitled to be upset if he has been in Vietnam and has seen his own comrades killed or wounded. But Senator Cohen in the Senate on Thursday night asked the Minister for the Army to investigate this incident. He said that these soldiers had no right to do what they did. Let us apply the same set of standards to all issues instead of saying on the one hand: ‘We do not’ believe in informing or telling because it is wrong and unjust’ and then informing and telling on people who do something that I believe they have a perfectly logical right to do.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) is putting on the bravest possible front on this measure. No other clause in the Bill has caused the Government more embarrassment, produced more amendments or more public criticism of an intrusion on fundamental rights, not merely from political parties but also from the libertarian section of the Australian community. Any first year law student in his earliest studies is soon taught to distinguish between continental administrative law and the traditional method of detection of wrong doers. Even with people who commit the most heinous crimes in the criminal calendar - the murderer and the rapist - the convention is clear. It is not merely a convention; it is the law. They have the right to be warned by the police constable who has first formed the reasonable belief that they may have committed a crime. They are asked if they wish to make a statement that can be used in evidence against them. Even when that statement is produced in court when they are on trial for their liberty, it is thoroughly scrutinised. The jury is appropriately directed on the law and in certain cases a jury can be dismissed and the accused liberated. If a man’s liberty depends upon that statement, the question to be determined is whether it was obtained by improper means. We object at all times to any accretions to the inordinate and unreasonable right which this Government has already conferred on the administration.
Let us have a look at what is involved in this provision. Here for the first time we find something new in the concept of criminal liability. Under the legislation, prescribed matters include the liability for persons to register and to render service. It does not merely apply to someone who has evaded service but also to someone who is yet to register. In other words, punishment can be inflicted for the first time in criminal jurisprudence on persons who have knowledge of a crime that has not yet been committed - the crime of failing to register for national service. What a shocking state of affairs this is, but it is justified by this Government. More amendments will be spawned because from day to day criticism is growing. The Government has had to back down and has had to take in water on this measure in a way that has humiliated it. By the time the Bill gets to the Senate there will be still more amendments. They will be presented on almost a daily basis. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) sets some store by his claim that there is substantial identity between the new section 52, as amended by clause 21 of the Bill, and what was contained in section 52 of the principal Act. The fact is there is not even a remote resemblance between them. The new provisions are completely different. In any case, these provisions should be looked at in their contest.
For the first time this Government has chosen to bare its fangs. We know that the Government is totalitarian in its outlook and we also know what it proposes to do on this occasion. If the Government contends that proposed new section 52 and section 52 of the Principal Act are the same, why has it chosen to make this alteration? The variations are considerable. Firstly, the penalty is doubled. Secondly, there is a limit on the time in which the answer is to be given. Thirdly, the definition of prescribed matter is entirely different from what it was in the terms of the original legislation.
The Government is talking with its tongue in its cheek when it says that it is exempting parents and defined categories of relatives from any penalty for default. As a matter of fact, the provision still remains for relatives to be either served with a notice - the method of service is not prescribed and honourable members know the vagaries of the postal service - or alternatively hauled before an unknown and unidentifiable public servant at the national service registration office at a capital city. This will be done at great cost and inconvenience to these people. They will be browbeaten and interrogated. Every artifice will be used on these people, many of whom are old folk, to persuade them to incriminate their own flesh and blood. This legislation is an invasion of the sanctity and the privacy of families. That is why there has been such an outcry against it. No expenses will be given to these people when they attend offices in the capital cities for the purpose of being interrogated. They will receive no legal assistance and reimbursement if they should take someone along to advise them on their rights. Although the Government is prepared to brow-beat these people it is not prepared to prosecute them. As to categories of relatives, the omission of uncles, aunts and cousins is most obvious.
These new provisions are grossly offensive. Where is there parallel legislation? It is all right for the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) to talk of the powers of the Commissioner of Taxation under section 263 of the Income Tax Act. But even in that Act there is a limitation as to how the information can be used. There is no such limitation in the amendment now before us. The Government also has a further ace up its sleeve in clause 24 which amends section 54 of the principal Act. If the Government does not catch the registrant after taking his family along to a capital city, at great expense and inconvenience to them, and submitting them to interrogation and brow-beating by an officer of the Department of Labour and National Service, it can send an officer from the Department along to the home of the parents. This officer can say: ‘We have reason to believe that so and so is your son. Is he here?’ The process of interrogation can be repeated.
The Government has yet to explain the reason for amending section 54 by. adding the words ‘hinder or’. The Government is two-timing: It has bowed before the wind of public protest, but it has kept an ace up its sleeve which it will use against the parents and relatives of registrants in appropriate cases. Let the Minister for Labour and National Service answer that if he can. To hinder will apparently be to refuse to answer questions that will be most craftily framed and asked at the family residence. In other words, if the Government does not catch a young man on the roundabouts of section 52, it will catch him on the swings of section 54. The Opposition says, and says advisedly, that this Government has already adequate powers under the National Service Act in its original form to deal with appropriate cases of omission to register for duty. The Government has completely failed to give us details of the few - I emphasise the word few’ - alleged evaders there are. The Government is using extreme totalitarian measures which reflect discredit upon it and which have already caused it to lose the support of major sections of the Australian community which are usually its political supporters.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
After section 52 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “52aa. - (1.) The Secretary may, by notice in writing served on the principal executive officer of an educational or other institution, require the person on whom the notice is served to furnish, within fourteen days after the service of the notice, such information as is required by the notice relating to the names, dates and places of birth and addresses of the places of living of male persons referred to in the notice being persons who have been or are students at, or have been or are otherwise connected with, the institution. “ (2.) Where a person is required by a notice served on him under this section to furnish any information within fourteen days after service of the notice, the person shall not refuse or fail within that period to furnish that information if that information is in his possession. “ (3.) The principal executive officer of an educational or other institution shall permit the Secretary, or a person authorized by the Secretary, to have full and free access at all reasonable times to all records kept by the institution relating to the names, dates and places of birth and addresses of the places of living of male persons who have been, or are students at, or have been or are otherwise connected with, the institution, and shall permit the Secretary or authorized person to make copies of, and take extracts from, those records. “ (4.) A reference in this section to an educa tional institution includes a reference to a university, college or school.
Penalty: Four hundred dollars.”
– I oppose this clause. Accepting that there should be a national service scheme, as members on this side of the chamber do, I remind the Committee that the present scheme of national service pre-dates and undoubtedly will post-date our present involvement in Vietnam. Justice and equity vis-a-vis the overwhelming majority who accept their obligation under the Act demand that all reasonable steps be taken to ensure that those who seek to avoid or default in their obligations do not escape. The clause as submitted would have enabled my Department to seek or have access to the names, addresses, dates and places of birth of male students. Its purpose was to reveal the existence of those of whom the Department was unaware and whowere liable to register or render serviceand had not done so.
The Government has most carefully examined this whole area of obtaining information on a voluntary basis from educational institutions, including universities. Since the introduction of this Bill it has examined the matter in further detail. In the light of the discussions which have ensued with education authorities, particularly universities, it is now evident that to require information in the present form would present problems of varied magnitude, including those flowing from the nature of the records themselves and the confidential nature of much of the information. As a result the Government has decided not to proceed with clause 22 but to rely on other methods of detecting any defaulters among the student group.
I presume that there would be no desire on the part of universities to win themselves the reputation of being harbourers of draft dodgers and I expect that they will cooperate, as they have in the past. Of course a good many of them took objection to having education institutions singled out as such, although this was part of the British Act because these people are a distinct group and are not gainfully employed. However, educational institutions Are not excluded from other provisions of the Bill, including clause 21, which the Committee has just discussed. In view of these factors, 1 oppose the clause.
– The Opposition joins with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) in opposing this clause. When the Bill was introduced on 1st May it contained this clause providing that universities, colleges, schools and other institutions could be required to furnish information and give access to their records concerning not only present students but former students. This is as wide a clause as one could imagine, in time and liberty. When the debate on the Bill was resumed a fortnight ago the Minister circulated some amendments which would have limited the institutions from which information could be sought to universities, colleges and schools. There were also some modifications to the information which could be secured. Nevertheless, the universities, to their credit, still objected to this truncated clause.
The Minister has now accepted, with what good grace he can, the exclusion of the whole clause. He still does it with some lack of grace. He says he hopes that the universities will still collaborate.
In the past universities have refused to open their records and collaborate in giving this information. I hope that they will be fortified in pursuing that course. They now know that a government with a bloated majority and overweening confidence can still be stopped in its tracks. In this case the universities have shown themselves to be citadels of liberty. They have spoken up. I hope that they will recall what the Liberal Party tried to do in this case. The Liberal Party dropped its mask and showed what it would do if it could. This fact should be recalled by every person who values our procedures and our liberties.
This is a clause which was never resorted to in wartime. It is not the clause to which Britain resorted in her National Service Act. The clause to which the Minister referred is by no means as wide as this.
We support the exclusion of the clause. We hope that other people in the community will take heart from the example of the universities. I conclude with the following quotation from the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ editorial of 27th May:
Aunts, uncles and employers should take a lesson from the universities; aunts should establish representative councils; uncles should set up staff associations; and employers should form senates.
I quote that because all relatives, all employers, all travel agents and all organisations are still subject to the inquisitorial and investigatory methods that were previously imposed upon universities by this clause.
- Mr Chairman, I believe that there is something I should say on this matter. This Bill was brought before the House about a month ago. On the very night it was introduced, or the next day, a professor - for whom I have some regard - at one of the universities was in touch with me and immediately afterwards I went to see the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). I was convinced that sub-section (3.) of the proposed new section 52aa should be dropped and I am bound to say that I received a most favourable reception from the Minister. I am sure he will not mind my saying so. This was long before there was pressure from university bodies, chancellors, vice-chancellors and so on and it was long before there was any pressure from the Opposition. This was something that flowed from the personal relationship I had. I think it should be said that the favourable reception given to me was not the result of pressure but because the Minister did indeed have a liberal mind. Far from being criticised because he has a flexible mind, the reverse should be the case.
Most of us probably remember the matrimonial causes legislation brought down by Sir Garfield Barwick when he was Attorney-General and how that Bill lay on the table for a matter of months during which time many representations were made by many organisations and many members of this House. I myself made representations. As a result of those representations and following further consideration the then Attorney-General did not hesitate to make amendments to that Bill. This is not a weakness; this is a strength in a Minister. Arguments are being put forward on the other side that the Minister has yielded on every point will result in him or other Ministers becoming stubborn, contumelious, recalcitrant and unwilling to accept any amendments. The Minister should be commended, and from my personal knowledge of this matter, I commend him.
– Whether or not the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) is to be commended and whether or not the Opposition is to be commended leaves me with an indifference that borders on the abysmal. I am interested in the fact that this material could be drafted and presented to the House. Whether it is not being proceeded with because of the Minister’s virtue or because of pressure from outside is not important. What is important is the complete and utter lack of perception in the Government’s advisers or the Government itself which allowed this clause to be drafted in the first place. In some circumstances it could have utterly destroyed the relationship of confidence and trust between the students of a university and the governing body of that university. It is the sheer inability, apparent in the drafting of this clause, to appreciate what a university is that interests me.
There were two methods open to the Government to secure information. But the Government said: ‘We will march a search body into a university and go through its records’. This is the mentality of the police state. The people who drafted this clause have no perception whatever.
They could have shifted from that dictatorial approach and simply asked the university concerned to supply the information. Even this could destroy the relationship between universities and their students.
The utter fatuous lack of perception of what is going on in the world today is the other striking thing about this clause. It shows how utterly blind some of the advisers of the Government are. Our world is roaring with unrest from the student sector of the community. By and large, however, there is no such unrest in Australia although recently an incident occurred in which the sheer stupidity of the Queensland police produced a student crisis, although of smaller dimension than most of the recent crises involving students. But in a world where student unrest is prevalent, the Government produces in this clause the one thing by which a violent minority in a university - and the people rioting may not even be university students in many cases, as I think they arc not in the Sorbonne in Paris - could get the whole student body on its side.
This clause shows a complete lack of ideological perception, an insensitivity to civil liberties and insensitivity to the nature of universities, as well as a total blindness to what is going on in the world today. If the Minister for Labour and National Service is responsible personally for squashing this clause, I congratulate him. But he needs to have a jolly good look at the people who drafted this clause and view with the utmost suspicion the nature of their advice in the future.
- Mr Chairman, I welcome the display of warmth from the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), but I think the Committee at least deserves to observe this fact: Universities are - [Quorum formed]. Mr Chairman, I was about to say to the Committee that I hope we will not lose sight of the fact that universities do not deserve to be placed in special institutional1 category apart from the rest of the community. The thesis propounded by the honourable member for Fremantle postulates that every university in this country is something set apart from the main stream of our social and community activities. Speaking for myself,
I say that this is rubbish. The honourable gentleman referred to the action of the Queensland police recently. Now, I welcome the opportunity for people to dissent and for them to be given scope to do that. ButI hope that my honourable friend will not lose sight of the fact that most of those who were engaged in the dissenting incident in Queensland blocked traffic and held up the legitimate business of people going about their work. The honourable gentleman looks as if I have put him out. Let me be out with him a little more. A newspaper seller - and a person selling newspapers is not a capitalist - was involved with some of those dissenting. For some university students to go over and to take hold of his papers–
– Mr Chairman, I rise to order. Nothing in this clause bears on university students. The clause was to impose an obligation on university authorities, who have nothing to do with blocking traffic in Brisbane or any other incident. This clause bears upon the liability of university authorities to expose their records andto give information from them to the Commonwealth. The honourable member’s remarks have nothing whatever to do with the clause.
– Order!I would suggest to the honourable member for Moreton that the Leader of the Opposition is correct and that in any case the honourable member for Moreton has replied to the perhaps irrelevant remarks of the honourable member for Fremantle.
– Mr Chairman, I have made what I regard as being my dominant point, namely, that universities should not be put apart from the rest of the community.
Concerning this clause, I say that I have no strong views on it one way or the other. If the Commonwealth wishes to pick up those who are assiduous in the business of protecting draft dodgers and workers, the provisions arein the Bill. I have never seen such vigorous defence of a collection of shirkers as I have seen from the Labor Party in the last 36 hours. If the Commonwealth wishes to pick up those who protect the shirkers, provision exists under clause 21 for this to be done. For my part, I rest on that point. I think that the view put by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and by the honourable member for Fremantle in holding that universities are to be apart from the main stream of our life is a most unreal view. If they go around the community they will find very few people who will subscribe to that view.
- Mr Chairman–
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 23 agreed to.
Clauses 24 and 25 - by leave - taken together.
– 1 oppose clauses 24 and 25 because of the proposal to add the words ‘hinder or’ before the word ‘prevent’ in sections 54 and 54a of the National Service Act. Section 54 provides:
A parent or guardian of a person required to register or render service under this Act shall not prevent that person from so doing or from complying with any other requirement of this Act
The insertion of the words ‘hinder or’ before the word ‘prevent’ would increase considerably the scope of a possible offence committed by a parent or guardian. The Opposition believes that the word ‘prevent’ is strong enough and that it should b? sufficient to have to prove that the parent or the guardian prevents a person from registering or rendering service. The word hinder’ should not be added. The reason for this is that if a parent or guardian considers that his son would be wrong in rendering military service, that parent or guardian has the right to advise his son accordingly. Under the present proposal, if the parent or guardian so advised the son, the parent or guardian would be committing the offence of hindering the son and could be charged with having committed such an offence. ‘Minder’ is a word with a fairly extensive meaning. The Opposition believes that the Government, in moving this amendment, is going too far as, in fact, we believe the Government was going too far in many of the amendments to the National Service Act.
Similarly we believe that the insertion of the words ‘hinder or’ before the word prevent’ in section 54a is going too far. Section 54a provides:
An employer shall not prevent an employee from registering, or from rendering service, under this Act, or from complying with any requirement of this Act.
This section applies to an employer, as distinct from the other section which applies to a parent or a guardian. The Government seeks to insert the words hinder or’ before the word ‘prevent’ in the section dealing with the employer. This, we believe, is going too far. An employer who prevents a person from registering or rendering service, we would expect, is committing an offence. But if the employer merely said: ‘Do not go down this afternoon, go down tomorrow’, he could be held guilty of hindering a person from registering or rendering service. We believe that the addition of the words ‘hinder or’ in both sections is unnecessary, is the result of a bureaucratic attitude to the administration of. the law, and ought to be resisted. We cannot see the reason for this bureaucracy or the reason why the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) had to withdraw completely clause 22. We on this side of the chamber cannot understand how the Government has been moved into this position. We cannot understand why any person with a regard for what is reasonably necessary would want to go as far as adding - the words ‘hinder or’. If a parent or guardian has taken some action to prevent his son, or if an employer has taken some action to prevent his employee from registering or rendering service, surely a provision to meet this contingency should be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Government.
At the second reading of the National Service Bill most of the Opposition speakers, including myself, said that we opposed the Government’s present system of national service because it had been introduced for a bad purpose and because it was unfair and discriminatory. In speeches made by Opposition members on the second reading of the Bill we asked the Government to say whether or not it was reasonably necessary to go as far as the Government wanted to go, even in defence of its own system of national service. Was the law fair and reasonable? Did the Government agree with the principles that ought to be applied in testing law? Most of the speakers on the other side of the chamber, during the course of the debate, have said, in effect, that there are very few cases where the law has gone as far as we are pushing it in this
National Service Bill. Some speakers have claimed that the law has gone as far as this in the taxation and customs legislation, but that certaintly is very arguable, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) showed. It is fairly clear that the law has never gone as far as this in the criminal calendar. No one has gone quite so far as to provide in legislation that it shall be an offence to refuse to answer questions about a murderer, garrotter or a person convicted of rape, and the worst possible offence on the calendar is murder. Even then a person can decline to answer questions. Liberal Party backbenchers would not advocate that it should be a statutory offence for a person to fail to answer questions about a murder. But, of course, anyone who may be suspected of not rendering national service is in quite a different category. The draft dodger, it appears, is a greater criminal in the eyes of the supporters of the Government than any murderer. At the bottom of the criminal calendar, according to Government supporters, is the draft dodger. To take that view one has to have a jingoistic attitude to life and has to regard these things as of some special significance over and above everything else. I do not think it is a fair view to take. The State would not be as supreme as that in Australia in 1968.
The people who fail to register under this legislation consist of a number who conscientiously object to the legislation - they are in one category, they are draft resisters and I would separate them from others - and others who merely avoid service because of some selfish reason for wanting to escape or to do something else. But even they are not such terrible criminals as to justify the sneers and the acrimony that have come from Government supporters during the course of this debate - an acrimony which has led some people to think they could easily be fascists. These young men are ordinary young men, very like many other young men. I cannot understand the bitterness and the sneering of Government supporters when they talk about such people. It seems to be a little unreasonable in this affluent Australia. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) the other day showed some familiarity with Freud when he said that no-one was very sure of the reasons why he did certain things. This, presumably, did not apply to the honourable member himself, who is crystal clear at a high intellectual level of knowledge on his reasons for doing things. I do not think his attitude shows much sympathy for those few young Australians who have perhaps avoided their responsibilities under this legislation. I do not think it is reasonable to ask the Committee to be willing to introduce into this Bill the kinds of provisions that are in this Bill that one finds only in a police state.
On behalf of the Opposition I express our opposition to the extension of section 54 which makes it an offence, in effect, for a parent or guardian even to delay a letter or to say a few words to a son to try to point out, if he believes it, that military service under particular circumstances might be morally wrong. This does tend to indicate, as the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said, that the Government and its advisers are completely out of touch with ordinary men and women.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) exaggerates the position. It is not an offence to advise children, but it is an offence to hinder. The offence of hindering would be intercepting mail or doing something of a positive character. If it is simply a matter of trying to prevent without being successful then no offence is committed, but if the conduct has been successful in stopping a candidate registering then it is an offence. [Quorum formed.] The amendment brings this legislation in line with what the Government has always regarded as a reasonable provision in the Defence (Reestablishment Act) 1965 which relates to an employer who hinders an employee from joining a reserve or some other voluntary force.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses agreed to.
Sections 55 and 56 of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - 54c…….
Australia before commencing to render service under this Act, or after having commenced to render that service but before completing that service, unless he has obtained the permission in writing of the Secretary.
Penalty: Two hundred dollars. (2.) A prosecution for an offence against the last preceding sub-section may be commenced at any time. 56a. - (1.) This section applies in relation to a person who -
– by leave - I move:
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) has given very little explanation of the proposed new sections.
The first of them, that which will require employers to inform on their employees, the Minister justifies in these terms:
The current legislation also provides that a person shall not employ, or retain in his employment for more than 7 days, a person who is required to register and has not registered or who has been called up for service and has failed to render service … a number of honourable members, and most recently the Australian Council of Churches, have represented to me that a man should not be deprived of the right to earn a living when the fact that he may be a defaulter is known, or has been made known, to my Department and there is no question of employer connivance in his possible default. Where default is apparent, it is. of course, my Department’s job to prosecute him as a defaulter. The Bill therefore recasts the present provision simply-
I draw attention to the word ‘simply’: to require that an employer shall notify my Department of any person in his employ who he has reason to believe is a defaulter.
That passage is thoroughly deceptive. The Minister gives the impression that the only change being made to the existing Act is to require an employer to give this information. If honourable members read the new clause they will see how greatly it differs from the original provision. This is a complete change in attitude and spirit, as well as in the letter of the law.
Proposed section 55, the subject of the first of the three amendments to the clause, is as objectionable and obnoxious from the point of view of employers as was clause 22 from the point of view of educators. Employers are no less well organised than educators, but it has been the educators who have protested against the Bill. As a result’ clause 22 has been deleted while proposed section 55 stands. The section imposes upon employers a special obligation to play the informer over and above that already imposed upon them under clause 21. Under clause 21 any employer may be summoned to come before the Department and answer questions about any of his employees. But proposed section 55 requires an employer to volunteer other information under penalty. Employers who wish to be completely sure of staying on the right side of the law will have to serve notice of all younger employees who do not produce certificates of exemption. This will be their sole protection against the ambiguity noted in earlier clauses and in this instance in the formula ‘has reason to believe’. On 17th May the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ pointed out:
If the employer is a careless private detective or informer, he will be liable to a penalty of $400.
Proposed section 55 is the most offensive of the pimping provisions still surviving. It is not too late for the Government to retreat from the overbearing stance implicit in this section. It is not too late for the Government to bring its thinking back in line with responsible public opinion as expressed by the leader writer of the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 9th May when he wrote:
Even on grounds of political expediency it is difficult to sympathise with the Government’s apparent determination to force these two objectionable amendments through in the face of clearly expressed public protest. There has been little evidence in Australia of serious and irresponsible draft evasion, compared with the spreading rash of dramatic dissent in “the United States. The Government will merely create more trouble for itself if it saddles national service with administrative regulations which are thoroughly offensive in themselves.
We hope that the Government has coming to it what it deserves but employers, it is regrettable to note, have not made the protest that educators made, and made successfully.
The second amendment is designed to cure the situation where the Government, in the interests of restraining a group of draft dodgers, nowhere estimated to exceed 200 in number, requires all those liable for service to obtain permission in writing from the Secretary of the Department before they may leave Australia. Why should this group of people be the only ones required to obtain permission before leaving the country?
The third amendment deals with the position of travel agents and their employees and airline and shipping companies. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
There are, however, a number of aspects on which further discussion with the airline and shipping companies is necesary before this could be given practical effect.
The Minister’s qualification is understandable. We would hope that in the intervening 4 weeks he might now have devised some reasons for this clause and could give some features of the scheme which has now been worked out with the airline and shipping companies. If proposed section 56a is retained in its present form it will produce ramifications of the most serious character for all those who cater for the needs of Australians travelling overseas. If there were universal service or if birth dates were published the Government would have no difficulty in finding who is evading the law. In these provisions the Government has imposed on corporations, officials and individuals, whatever their walk of life or their relationships to 20-year olds, the obligation to inform, to carry out police work, to pimp, to spy and to investigate. For the first time under our laws they ;ire required to do all these things in respect of a handful of people. I conclude my remarks by quoting from an editorial in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 11th May: lt is intolerable and impractical to ask employers and others, including airline employees, to do the Department of Labour and National Service’s job for it in detecting and reporting people who may be defaulters.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– This clause contains provisions which require employers to inform upon their employees and cover the restrictions on the freedom of travel and various other things that flow from that, such as the requirement that travel companies and other bodies become part of the Government’s national informing system. I believe that the most objectionable feature of the Bill is this requirement on people to become the agents of the police service of the Department of Labour and National Service. This is repugnant to all things in which we believe. It is something which we should resist. That is why the Opposition is opposing this clause tonight and why we have opposed this type of provision throughout the Bill.
Honourable members opposite are continually trying to sidetrack the debate by suggesting that we want to protect shirkers, as they call them. Somehow it seems to be difficult to get through to honourable members opposite that this clause does not apply to shirkers, to use their word. Indeed, many of us on this side of the chamber do not accept that the people concerned are necessarily shirkers. Many of them are honest draft resisters, if 1 may put it that way. Many of them do not believe in the foreign policy for which they may be asked to sacrifice their lives. The term ‘shirker’ is something that Government supports have dragged out of the past. The suggestion by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) that these young men are cowards, spivs and shirkers is quite unbecoming to the general trend of this discussion. This and other clauses of the Bill are not related particularly to the duties of a person who is called upon to serve; they are related to persons who are associated with him. One such person is the employer, who is required to inform the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service or a registrar of certain matters. The clause applies equally to a person who operates an airline company or a shipping service. Such people are supposed to inform or even in some way to prevent a person from avoiding service.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said, this provision is a complete change in the letter and the whole spirit of the legislation and, consequently, we are opposing it as vigorously as we can. Some of the difficulties that flow from the Government’s behaviour would be overcome if the birth dates of those to be called up were published. Foi the life of me I cannot see why the dates that come out of the barrel are not published. If the birth dales of those who are required to serve happen to be 15th February, 16th February, 3rd March or 4th April - or whatever they may be - why should they not be published so that everybody will know? But these dates remain secret and nobody has ever adequately explained why they should continue to be secret. There have been only some rather obscure and vague grounds that the Government has put forward on various occasions. If the dates were published people would know, when they went to birthday functions, whether those about them would ordinarily be required to serve.
Why should members of the community be required to determine whether breaches of the law have taken place and whether the law should be enforced? This is the particular function of a police force. The Government is attempting to turn the whole community into a police force. The Minister has said that the official will ask only a number of simple questions relating to a person’s birthday, his place of birth, his occupation and so on. The Minister says: Surely that is not such a serious breach of the principle’. But we of the Opposition believe that it is. I believe that all of our traditions and legal procedures show that what we on this side of the chamber advocate is the way that the community has always operated. It is proposed also by this clause to confer certain powers upon the Secretary of the Department. He is to be able to summon people almost from anywhere to go almost anywhere in order to give information. Of course, to the public the Secretary is an anonymous person. He is a public servant, highly placed. No matter how capable or competent, he is still some obscure, unknown person placed in this position of authority, so far as the public are concerned. I do not believe that we should tolerate that.
I ask honourable members to consider for a moment the position in which we are placing young people with respect to freedom of travel. Suppose a person of 20 or 21 years of age wants to travel. He might have already completed his service or in some other way fulfilled his obligations by undertaking service in the Citizen Military Forces or something of that nature prior to the date on which he proposes to travel. Such a person will still be required to produce some sort of evidence to show that he is free to leave the country. That provision is bad enough, but in addition we are imposing a duty upon airline companies, agents, owners or charterers of a ship or aircraft, and employees, to check to see whether people are entitled to leave the country. What is Australia coming to? This is the end result of actions by the Government in which it has stepped on to the slippery path of restriction. One restriction leads to another. If we put up one strand of barbed wire we have to continue the operation until we have a whole concentration camp. The astonishing thing is that the Minister at the table and his principal advisers, as well as other members of the Cabinet, have drifted into this operation and have been rather shocked and surprised to think that people resent the measure.
The honourable member for Bradfield seemed to claim for himself, after somebody had brought the matter to his notice, that he was the first person to resent some of these pimping provisions. If the honourable member looks at the record he will see that, on the very night when the Bill was introduced, some of us expressed resentment of it. The Minister just drifted into the House and introduced it. He did not make much of an announcement to show that he would produce a Bill of this nature. Some of us who were in the chamber at the time pointed out by interjection that we were being turned into a nation of pimps. One of my friends suggested that, in effect, we were all to become agents of the Gestapo as a result of this legislation. This possibility, I believe, flows from the very philosophy that Government supporters have expressed in this debate. Time after time they have told us about the duties of a citizen and the all embracing and overwhelming power and authority of the state. Where have we heard of that concept before? That, of course, is incipient Fascism. Although it is incipient Fascism in this country, it is, of course, real Fascism almost anywhere else. One would almost think that some of the speeches we have heard from honourable members opposite were written by the late Benito Mussolini who said:
The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty and its aim. Fascism conceives of the state as an absolute in, comparisons with which all individuals or groups are relative.
If this is not the very spirit and essence of the statements which have come from honourable members opposite, particularly the honourable member for Bradfield and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes), my understanding of English is at fault.
– It sounds like irrelevancy.
– It is nothing of the sort. We can debate that later. The honourable member’s contributions to this debate have been remarkable for their irrelevance. Benito Mussolini went on to say:
For us Fascists the state is not merely a guardian preoccupied solely with the duty of assuring the personal safety of the citizens, nor it it an organisation with purely material aims, such as to guarantee a certain level of well being and peaceful conditions of life-
We have all heard honourable members opposite sneering at the idea of a welfare state - for a mere council of administration would be sufficient to realise such objects. Nor is it a purely political creation divorced from all contact with the complex material reality which makes up the life of the individual and the life of the people as a whole. The state as conceived of and created by Fascism is a spiritual and moral fact of itself and so its political . . . and juridical existence is justified by that.
That, of course, is the very basis upon which much of this legislation is based. We have placed administrative convenience and law reforms before common sense and all the rights and traditions to which Australian citizens should be heir, lt is not good enough to demand that the very delicate fabric upon which liberty and a free society are moulded should be destroyed just to gather up three or four defaulters, draft resistors or conscientious objectors - call them by whatever term one likes. It is the duty and tradition of the ordinary police services of the community to see that our laws are enforced and not to trespass on the inherited and traditional rights of the citizens of this country.
– The clause before the Committee is clause 26 which inserts into the principal Act new sections 54c, 55, 56 and 56a. I support the amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The whole Bill is obnoxious but this clause is particularly obnoxious, lt tries to make employers and organisations become pimps and top-offs of young men. lt tries to make them policemen ;in:I requires them to accept the responsibility of the Department of Labour and National Service. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 17th May 1968 published an editorial headed ‘Pimps and dodgers’. It said:
The Federal Government lacks both sense and sensibility when it comes to dealing with issues involving our civil liberties.
This clause is an infringement of our civil liberties. The provisions of the Crimes Aci, the telephone tapping leglislation and the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act were all enacted by this Government and now it has introduced a further infringement of the civil liberties of the people of Australia. The editorial went on to say:
Earlier this week Mr Bowen used the full force of his position as Attorney-General to warn Parliament and the nation of the sinister convergence in Canberra of some 100 school children, university students. . . .
It also said:
The Government has demonstrated a similar want of proportion with its amendments to the National Service Act. It is incredible to think that the Government wants to foist legislation of the sort on us which, as Mr Whitlam fairly said, only the South African and Rhodesian among the English speaking Legislatures would attempt. For the sake of making it easier for the Department of Labour and National Service to catch a small number of draft dodgers, the Government is prepared to make informers of the general public.
The clause before the Committee particularly calls on employers to notify the Secretary or Registrar of the names and addresses of the employees who have failed to register or to render service. The clause requires the shipping companies and the airline companies to ensure that a person who is liable to render service is not given authority lo leave Australia by ship or aircraft. The Department of Labour and National Service calls on shipping and airline companies to become policemen on its behalf. Why? This conscription Bill has become necessary because of the Government’s desperate policies resulting from its intrusion into the internal affairs of another country. It is conscripting our men and moving them into the jungles of Vietnam. This drastic legislation is an infringement of the civil liberties of firms and employers who normally under most circumstances are supporters of the Government. This clause intrudes into their private affairs. The Government wants the private employers to do its work, but the Minister has not told us how many people have been draft dodgers. We have been trying to find out but he does not give us the figure. He said in his second reading speech:
The overwhelming majority of young men and their families accept the obligations imposed oy national service.
He went on to say:
A small number, however, are seeking lo evade, or ure defaulting in, their obligations at one or more of these stages.
A few people are defaulting and as a result we have this drastic legislation which is moving in on our liberties. The legislation has been criticised day after day by journals all over Australia and by many organisations. In fact, it is a disgrace. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) scoffs again. Earlier tonight what did he have to say? He said that the draft dodgers are shirkers. The Liberal member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) called them cowards and spivs. We know that many of these people, who have failed to register and who will not register, have done so on moral grounds. Many young people will not register because of their conscientious beliefs. They believe that national service is military service and that in military service they learn to kill, so they will not register. To make sure they register the Government proposes to call in the employers, the shipping companies and the airline companies. The Government will not face its own responsibilities. The Department of Labour and National Service wants to rake in the general public to carry out the job of policemen and to pimp on the few who do not register.
In the closing stages of this lengthy discussion on the Bill, I feel that every Australian should be made aware of its drastic nature. It was a badly drafted Bill. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) said that in the light of his experience he had to withdraw certain clauses and make certain amendments. But this legislation was first introduced 4 years ago. He announced amendments on 14th May and only yesterday, 14 days later, he decided to withdraw the amendments in the light of experience. I hope that the time will come when the people of Australia will speak out on this question of continuing infringement on our liberties. The Government, because of fear, wants to conscript not the wealth of the country but the youth of the country for military service overseas. It is not prepared to conscript the wealth of the nation but it conscripts our youth and sends them to this bottomless pit of human suffering in Vietnam.
– I wish to take only 2 or 3 minutes to express a point of view in relation to this section of the Bill as a whole. I take only 2 or 3 minutes because I know the gag is in the offing and other members of my Party want to speak. I am astonished and disgusted to find that provisions such as those in the Bill are brought into this Parliament, an Australian Parliament. We have two lessons to learn in Australia. First of all, the Australian people must learn from this that they cannot afford to relax their efforts to protect their freedoms and democratic rights in Australia. However well intentioned some people may be, they still tend to believe they can defend democracy and, in trying to do so, destroy it. These are the two important lessons that come out of the Bill. I want to express my disgust and disappointment that the management of the Bill was left to only one Minister, with a number of backbench minions to support him. The rest of the Cabinet stayed away. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), who has on other occasions been very vocal about the need for trial by jury and the protection of the jury system in Australia has not taken part in this debate. He has made a few fleeting visits to the chamber but has not spoken on the Bill. I want to register my disappointment and digust that the Attorney-General has acted in this way because on several occasions he has stood up in this House and spoken in favour of trial by jury.
Decisions on the Bill now before us have been made by the twelve top people in the Government who have not appeared in the House during the debate. Decisions by this group have been made every now and then, and amendments have come forward in dribs and drabs. This is not the way to run a Government. Surely there should have been a closer examination of this part of the Bill. The Bill itself should serve as a warning to the Australian people that they cannot afford to relax and that they must be continually watchful for their freedom.
– I am encouraged by the extravagance of the views presented by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) to make a few remarks. The honourable gentleman did not refer to the clause now before the Committee; he traipsed over the whole gamut of the Bill. He said a most extraordinary thing. He said, amongst other things-
– It was an extraordinary truth.
– I do not want the dowager leader to rouse himself too much.
– 1 repeat that it was an extraordinary truth.
– I will come to that in a moment. I am dealing with one of the remarks passed by the honourable member for Bendigo. He said that the people of Australia need to be warned by this legislation, or something to that effect.
– 1 said that the people should be very watchful.
– lt was an extraordinary thing that although members of the Opposition have been saying this now for nigh on 19 years, they have been blundering and stumbling from one incredible defeat to another - and this is bad for government. 1 just pause to make that obversation in passing. The constant theme of the argument that I have advanced throughout the Committee stage of this Bill is that the Australian Labor Party has involved itself in one of the most vigorous defences that 1 have ever seen - and this is. going back over a pretty substantial period of time. But what has been the nature of this defence? It has not been a defence - certainly not under clause 26 of the conscientious objector. Yesterday I said that I respect a man who has a deep-rooted conviction that any involvement in any military role is obnoxious, provided that this conviction is genuine. But I hope it will not be misunderstood when I say that I have a supreme contempt for the person who would trade on that conviction while not holding it strongly or genuinely.
Clause 26 does not deal with the conscientious objector as the honourable member for Bendigo suggested. This provision deals with the rights of the state. I come now to what the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said about the state. It is all very fine to trot out some freshly polished slogans about facism and to say that those who believe that where the defence of the state is involved the state has the right to ask of every person who lives within it to spring to that defence are fascists. This is stupidity carried to an appalling extreme.
– It is a method of argument.
– I say to the honourable member for Capricornia that the State has every right to ask every person who lives within the State to defend it. That is not Fascism; it is not chauvinism; it is simply the reality of experience and history. If the honourable gentleman wishes to deny that, all I can say is that he is parading himself as a social anarchist. I am sure my friend will agree that a distinguishing feature of the Labor Party throughout this debate has been its attitude that social liberties and civil liberties should be without let or hindrance. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) expressed this with great conviction and sincerity. No-one quarrels with the honourable member for Reid. He was a very gallant soldier in the last war and underwent dreadful experiences. But in matters of political philosophy I differ substantially from my friend. I put to the honourable member that if we allow civil liberty without civil responsibility, we will have a complete mockery of the whole apparatus of the state and of all that the state is doing. The Bill under discussion concerns defence; it is not a matter that touches upon, as I observed a week or so ago, starting price betting. This concerns the defence of the country, and I believe that the Government - the state as it were, in its corporate sense - is entitled to ask all who live in it to accept their responsibilities. But the honourable member for Bendigo, not content with some exuberant statements on this clause - when he did touch it peripherally - went on to say that under this clause the State, the Government or the Minister could ask all sorts of questions. This simply is not true. What has confounded me throughout the course of this debate has been the willingness of my friends opposite to read into a provision something which simply is not there. All that is provided under clause 26 is power to ask an employer a few questions that are essentially restricted. They are not without end as the honourable member for Bendigo has suggested. I hope on this clause the Opposition will not persist in adopting the view it has adopted hitherto. However, I suppose this is a pretty forlorn hope.
Under clause 26, all that is being asked of an employer is to give information relating to those few people who are not conscientious objectors, but who take the view that their individual liberty can be placed in a position of advantage ahead of the welfare of the entire community who live with and around them.
– 1 will not detain the House for very long. I was provoked by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who cost me the Prime Ministership of Australia in 1961, to say a few words in answer to the spurious arguments he advanced. I was a member of a government that imposed conscription for the defence of Australia and its Territories. But 1 am not prepared and never have been prepared to impose conscription on Australian youth to serve in a war in another country into which they were not invited by the Government of that country. They were invited to go by the United States Government which is just as much a foreign government to the government of South Vietnam as the Australian Government is. I believe it is right for a government to conscript its men and women if necessary for the defence of the nation. But I believe, too, that even at that stage every conscientious objector has a right to be heard and to obtain exemption from service if he can prove his case. I believe that anybody who wants to resist the draft and avoid going to Vietnam because he objects to that war has a moral right to be heard.
The honourable member for Moreton, who is a most distinguished member of the Anglican community, knows that the last Lambeth Conference investigated the whole question of the morality of wars. Every church is now examining the moral obligations of communities not only in regard to particular wars but also in regard to all wars. Tonight the Committee is considering a segment of the population, the unfortunate people who have been dragged from their homes and submitted to Belsen-like treatment in an Australian Army camp. Indeed the treatment given to Townsend is little different from that given Cardinal Mindszenty by the Hungarian Stalinist Communists back in -1956.
– What rubbish!
– The honourable member who interjects is the greatest exponent of rubbish 1 have ever come across. He has been brainwashed by the very people who think that anybody who happened to be born at a particular time in a particular year should be included in the lottery of death, and if his number is drawn out of the ballot he should be required to go off and be killed while the rest of the community, including the young men whose numbers did not come out of the barrel, wallow in affluence. This is the rottenest thing to happen in the- history of this country. That is why I regard this Bill as disgraceful. I think that everything that has been done by this Government in regard to Vietnam constitutes a series of criminal acts against the young men who are being sent there and against the peace of the world. Let us get out of the whole filthy mess as soon as we can.
But to return to the clause or, as the old English gentleman used to say, to return to our mutton, I emphasise that a moral question is involved. A man’ whose life is involved at this point in time has as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as anyone whose number does not go into the lottery barrel. 1 have no excuses to make and no pleas to offer for a speech made when the Curtin Government was in office and I was a backbencher or for speeches made when I was a member of the second Curtin Government and when I was a member of the Chifley Government, about the safety and security of Australia, because this nation’s safety and security were then involved. Australia’s safety and security are not involved in this war. It is just so much humbug, poppycock and unadulterated rubbish to claim that it is. Some day the Australian people will escape from their cowardice, cupidity, avarice and selfishness and realise that the youth of this nation who are being sent to kill or be killed, to murder or be murdered, should be permitted like everybody else in the community to make their own choice about whether they should offer themselves for national service.
The Government has imposed conscription because it could not get any volunteers. Few young men showed any wish t’o become involved in this affair. I respect every man who has an honest opinion and does his duty according to his conscience. I do not like to see young men of military age voting men who are little older than children to their death. After all, some backbenchers on the Government side were born only 4, 5, 10 or 15 years earlier than the young men who are being conscripted for service.
– That statement is a bit below the honourable member’s standard.
– I do not know what the honourable member’s standards are, but I tell the truth as I see it, and I stand by it. I am willing to stand by what I have done and be counted. I like men who are willing to stand by what they do and be counted. I have a sneaking admiration for people who sit in public places, refuse to move and have to be carried away. At’ least they have the moral courage of their convictions. However, I do not agree with their causing inconvenience to the public. I have stood up and given my testimony and 1 am willing to be counted when the vote is taken on the third reading of the Bill.
- Mr Chairman, I feel that the Committee should come down to earth and return to the clause that is before it. I do not propose to pursue the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) into Eastern Europe to consider the case of Cardinal Mindszenty. Let me return to the clause, which provides for a new section 55 to include these words:
Where at any time an employer has reason to believe that a person employed by him -
is required to register under this Aci but has not registered;
has failed to comply with the requirements of a notice served on him under section twenty-six of this Act; or
has failed to render the service, or part of the service, that he is liable to render under this Act, the employer shall-
I am now omitting unnecessary words.
This procedure has been represented by Opposition members as snooping, and as everything that we detest in the conduct of spies, pimps, stool pigeons and other such people. Indeed earlier in this debate the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) told members that when a murder is committed people who can give information about it are not required to answer any questions in relation to the incident. My impression, from a hazy connection with the law, is that people who have such information can not merely be questioned about the incident, but also can be subpoenaed, put in the witness box and questioned about it, and if they are shown to be hostile witnesses they can be crossexamined.
– lt would be a felony to refuse to answer.
– Such a person would indeed commit a criminal offence if he failed to answer. However, 1 pass over the interpretation of the law in this matter. The real proposition that the right honourable member for Melbourne has put to the Committee is that a law, having been agreed to by a democratically elected Parliament, should be ignored and frustrated by certain people. When a law is passed, reasonable, proper and sensible means should be prescribed for enforcing it. In the long run the honourable member’s argument spells anarchy. If laws are frustrated, the ultimate result will be anarchy. I am sure that no-one, including the right honourable gentleman, would wish to witness anarchy here. The honourable member’s difficulty is that he is still living in 1917. The world situation is now quite different. Never again will Australian troops be sent to the Middle East or to France to fight in wars with which our connection may seem to many people to be somewhat nebulous. Wars in which Australians are engaged and are likely to be engaged in the future will be in defence of this country. Where is the front line in any war? In 1938 Stanley Baldwin said-
– Mt Chairman, I take a point of order only because this debate is to be gagged. I submit that the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) is not speaking relevantly to the point in issue, and thus he will deprive members on this side of the chamber of an opportunity to speak.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honourable member for Yarra.
– We are now concerned only with wars in defence of this country. In 1938 Stanley Baldwin said that for Britain the front line was then the Rhine. Where is our front line? Let me point out that if we were to defend ourselves on the shores of Australia, we should be attempting to defend ourselves on one of out most vulnerable areas. Our capital cities are situated at various points on the coastline, which is where the majority of our population lives.
– Mr Chairman, again I ask you to advise the Committee whether the honourable member is speaking to the clause.
– Order! The honourable member for Bradfield is again going over ground that he traversed earlier. I suggest that he speak more closely to the clause that is before the Committee.
– 1 bow to your decision, Mr Chairman. I was led astray by the right honourable member for Melbourne, who said that the war in Vietnam was not a war in defence of Australia. However, 1 am prepared to move on to another matter. Let us talk about’ snoopers, stoolpigeons, agents provocateurs, pimps, Fascists and people like that. In New South Wales a Labor government passed a law - and I am speaking about snoopers now - to the effect that all shops should be closed at a certain time of day. This included not only the great emporiums in the cities but every little corner store where the unfortunate owner himself served in the shop.
– Mr Chairman-
– I am speaking about snoopers.
– Mr Chairman, I ask you to rule on whether this is relevant.
– I point out to the honourable member for Yarra that what the honourable member for Bradfield said was in relation to the clause under discussion. The honourable member for Bradfield is using an illustration to justify sustaining the clause. I call the honourable member for Bradfield.
– The question is to what extent it is justifiable to snoop into the affairs of other people and I am using the illustration of the owners of little corner stores who were snooped upon by a whole army of informers under the auspices of a New South Wales Labor government. These unfortunate people were hailed before the courts and fined. If that is not snooping then I would not know what snooping is. If honourable members opposite are against snooping then that is all right, but they should not be selective about it. [f this kind of thing is repugnant to the sentiments of this community - as it was in the case I have referred to because the Government went out of office at the next election - all right. But I suggest that where information is being sought relating to such an important matter as the defence of this country, then this degree of socalled snooping - the questioning of people who have relevant information about draft dodgers - is justifiable. In the other case it was not and the wrath of the electors was duly vented upon the Government concerned.
This is a matter for the conscience of the community, lt is a question whether the defence of the country is important enough to justify questioning people who have the required information. No doubt differing views will be held on this. My view is that the safety of the state is paramount and that this degree of questioning of people with relevant information about an offence that has been committed - and a serious offence - is justifiable. I do not believe that it is right to pass a law and then frustrate it by refusing to take reasonable and proper steps to ensure that it is enforced.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the amendments (Mr Whitlam’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the clause be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Section 37 of the Principal Actis amended -
– I move:
Omit the clause, insert the following clause:
Section 57 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: “(3.) The Secretary,’ or a person to whom the Secretary has delegated his powers and functions under this sub-section, may, by writing under his hand, certify that a prescribed form of. registration or a notification of change of address was not received at any National Service Registration Office from a person specified in the certificate before a date so specified.”.’
The amendment, which has been circulated in my name, is purely a machinery amendment arising out of the fact that clause 22 has been deleted. Consequential upon that, this change has become necessary.
– The amendment to clause 27 illustrates the general incompetence with which the National Service Bill has been introduced.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
– I can quite understand the hilarity and good humour of honourable members opposite. It is quite apparent that they have not read the National Service Bill.
Motion (by Mr Sneddon) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is granted.
– Mr Speaker, is it correct that if leave is refused by one member, leave is not granted?
– No. Only if it is refused by two or more members.
Motion (by Mr Bury) agreed to:
That the report be adopted.
Motion (by Mr Bury) - by leave - proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– The Opposition wants to express, at this stage, its unqualified opposition to the third reading of this Bill.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 27
-Order! I did not observe this. The honourable members have been called as tellers.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr McMahon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. The Loan Act 1967, which was passed by Parliament during the Budget session, authorises the borrowing of up to $300m and the expenditure of the proceeds of the borrowing on Defence Services. As 1 explained in my second reading speech on that measure, it seemed likely that total borrowings in Australia and overseas for the year would fall short of our borrowing requirement, but it was not possible to estimate with any accuracy the size of the likely shortfall. Authority was therefore sought to borrow a round figure of $300m, the same upper limit as had been specified in the comparable Loan Act in 1966-67.
Particularly because of the heavy weighting of tax collections in the last month of the financial year, there is still some uncertainty as to the amount which it will bc necessary to borrow from the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1967-68. It appears likely that the existing borrowing authority will be adequate, but there is a possibility - ] emphasise that it is no more than a possibility - that the amount we will need to borrow from the Reserve Bank could exceed $300m. I consider it prudent, therefore, to seek an increase of $60m in the upper limit of the amount which may be borrowed. Accordingly, the Loan Bill 1968 seeks to amend the Loan Act 1967 to increase the amount that may be borrowed for defence purposes in the current financial year by $60m to $360m and to make a corresponding increase in the expenditure on Defence Services that may be met from the Loan Fund.
In the Budget it was estimated that total expenditure on Defence Services in 1967-68 would be $1,1 18m. It was estimated that, of this, about Si 23m would be met from drawings under the credit arrangements for purchases in the United States of America, leaving about $995m to be met from appropriations. The additional Estimates which were recently passed by Parliament authorised increases in some items of expenditure to be met from appropriations. But, as I indicated at the time, we do not expect the overall Budget provisions to be exceeded this year. The effect of the Loan Bill 1968 is that, of the total expenditure to be met from appropriations, an amount of up to $360m may be charged to the Loan Fund where it will be financed from funds borrowed under the authority of the amended Loan Act.
It is our usual practice to charge part of our defence expenditure to the Loan Fund when net loan proceeds are not adequate to finance the excess of expenditure over receipts. The purpose of this Bill is to increase the amount that may be charged to the Loan Fund and, thence, the amount that may be borrowed from the Reserve Bank, in order to ensure that our borrowing authority is adequate to cover the range of possible eventualities. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1028), on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is a Bill to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1967 for the purpose of giving effect to the International Convention on Load Lines 1966, and for other purposes. The conference on the International Convention on Load Lines, at which fifty-two countries were represented, discussed the possible need for the repositioning of the load line on all forms of shipping, because of new methods of construction and new designs of ships. As a result of this Convention there has been a substantial increase in loads. Before I proceed to deal with this I should like very briefly to draw attention to the fact that this Convention resulted from a conference held in 1966. Now, in 1968, we are asked to ratify the Convention, lt will enable shipping companies and ship owners to enjoy a substantial increase in profit from freight because of the increased carrying capacity of ships. But let us consider what was done in regard to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention. 1960. It was 7 years before that Convention came before the Parliament for ratification and the . ratifying measure was not assented to until 18th September 1967. Under this Convention ship owners were required to introduce considerable improvements in the standards of ships. Its purpose was to make life at sea much safer, lt is apparent that legislation resulting in a profit for the ship owners comes before the Parliament much more quickly than does legislation which will involve them in expense. I merely draw attention to this fact.
This convention does contain a number of improvements. 1 do not want to go into any detail because the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) has «n his second reading speech set out the amendments contained in the Bill, the type of ships involved and the alteration to the construction of ships which makes them much safer today and enables them to carry more cargo than they did previously. We accept that. Now owners as well as masters are responsible for alterations to the load line and for overloading a ship. Previously only the master was responsible. I understand also that for the first time we have a definition of salt water. It must now have a specific gravity of 1.025. This was not included in the previous legislation.
The carrying capacity of ships has been increased. The Minister in his second reading speech pointed out that tankers and bulk ships will be able to carry anything from 10% to 20% more cargo. What does this mean? It means, for example, that ships working on the Australian coast at the present time, such as the ‘Darling River’ of 49.375 tons and the ‘Bogona’ of 54,000 tons, will now have their draft increased from 38 feet to approximately 42 feet. This represents an additional 5,000 to 6,000 tons of cargo. A tanker of 28.000 to 38.000 tons and some 600 feet in length will be able to carry an additional 1,400 tons of cargo. The large tankers of 140,000 to 150,000 tons - these are now becoming an every day and accepted feature of the oil trade - will be able to carry an additional 10,000 to 12,000 tons of cargo. So honourable members can quite clearly see that this realignment of the load line really represents a substantial increase in the revenue of shipping companies today. We can readily understand now why it takes only 2 years to have these amendments ratified while it takes 7 years to have recommendations affecting the safety of lives at sea ratified.
I am not altogether happy with some aspects of this Bill. One of these is the penalties. I consider that the penalties are inadequate. I do not propose to move any amendment because the Opposition supports the Bill, hut I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the clauses in which I think the penalties should be increased. I hope that at some stage the Government will consider increasing the penalties >roposed in new section 190aa, sub-sections (1.), (2.), (3.): (4.) and (5.). Sub-section (5.) provides:
A person shall not obstruct or hinder a surveyor in the exercise of his powers under this section, and shall, unless he has reasonable excuse for failing to do so, comply with any requirement made by the Minister or a surveyor under this section.
I have pointed out to honourable members just what is involved. A substantial increase in revenue will accrue to the shipping industry as the result of the realignment of the load line. Yet we find that, where the shipowner or the master obstructs the surveyor in carrying out his duties by not making available to him the information that is required, there is only a miserly maximum penalty of $500. This is one section that should be the subject of further consideration.
The next section I mention is proposed new section I 91b, sub-section (I.), which provides:
If a ship, not being a Safety Convention ship, has been marked in accordance with the regulations with subdivision load lines and the ship is not, except with reasonable cause, kept so marked, the owner and master of the ship are each guilty of an offence against this Act punishable upon conviction by a fine not exceeding One thousand dollars.
Once again I consider that the fine of SI. 000 is inadequate for an offence such as this, especially when we realise the results that can flow from it. 1 will produce some facts shortly to show that ships are overladen and that fines have been imposed for this offence, even in past years. In proposed new section 191b, sub-section (2.), there is a similar reference. This sub-section reads:
If a ship, not being a Safety Convention ship, has been marked in accordance with the regulations with subdivision load lines and any person, except with reasonable cause, conceals, removes, alters, defaces or obliterates, or suffers any person under his control to conceal, remove, alter, deface or obliterate any such mark, he is guilty of an offence against this Act punishable upon conviction by a fine not exceeding One thousand dollars.
Once again I draw the Minister’s attention to that section.
I turn to proposed new section 227a, subsection (1.). Without reading it T draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that once again, in my opinion the maximum penalty of $1,000 is inadequate. I want to speak very briefly on the provisions of proposed new section 227b. This section deals with the penalties that are imposed on a company for overloading a vessel. I would like the Minister at some later stage to explain why the table in this section goes only to 40,000 tons. The list reads:
A 40,000-ton tanker today is almost in the rowing boat classification. In recent weeks a Japanese shipyard handed over a 276,000- ton tanker and orders have already been placed for ships of approximately 300,000 tons. All major shipyards in Japan now have facilities for building tankers of 500,000 tons. But this Bill does not increase the penalties when a ship exceeds 40,000 tons. It must be obvious to honourable members that when a ship of that size is overloaded, the increased profits are substantial.
I will give honourable members some idea of the number of ships that have been prosecuted in Australian ports by the Department of Shipping and Transport. In 1963 the ‘North Monarch’, a tanker registered in Liberia, was fined $50 with $16.70 costs for an approximate overloading of 4 inches. In 1964 the ‘Fiamma’ was fined $2,000 with SI 6.70 costs. In 1965 the Atlantic Baronit’ was fined $500 with $18.80 costs. In 1965 the ‘Havdrott’ was fined $400 with $12.50 costs. In 1966 the ‘Bannervale’ was fined $500. In 1967 the “Star Yeranta’ was fined $500 with $10.90 costs. In 1967 the ‘Tykaion’ was fined §1,000 with $17 costs. So honourable members can see that even in Australian ports, which do not handle as many ships as overseas ports do, quite a considerable number of ships are overladen.
I believe we should have a close look at the question of penalties and that there should be some increase and some additional deterrent by way of penalty imposed on ships that are overladen. I ask the Minister to have a further look at this question. 1 am pleased to see that the Minister for Shipping and Transport has accepted the suggested amendment to proposed new section 227b (2) dealing with the tonnage of a ship which reads:
In proceedings for an offence against the last preceding sub-section in respect of a ship, a certificate signed by the Minister that a number of tons specified in the certificate is the deadweight tonnage of the ship specified in the latest edition, or a supplement to the latest edition, of the Register Book issued by the Committee of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping is evidence that the deadweight tonnage of the ship is that number of tons.
I privately drew the attention of the Minister to the situation that could arise if a ship was not on the Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. It is a well known fact that not all ships are registered with Lloyds. Ships, and particularly tankers, of Liberia, Panama, Greece and Norway in the main do not register with Lloyds. I am pleased that the Minister has accepted the suggestion and that in the Committee stage he will move the appropriate amendments to’ cover this omission.
I believe that this matter should be reviewed much more frequently than has been the case in the past. We know that since the previous convention in 1930 there has not been any great change in the design of ships until the last 10 or 15 years. I hope that we will not have to wait for another 36 years before there is a further review of the load line formula. 1 believe there should bc a regular review in the light of the major increase in shipping. About 10 years ago a bulk cargo ship carrying 10,000 or 15.000 tons was considered to be a fairly big ship. A ship carrying 10,000 to 15,000 tons of ore or coal was considered to be substantial. But what is the position today? We now have bulk carrying ships which can carry 100,000 tons of cargo. Also, we now have tankers of 276,000 tons and plans have been made for the construction of even larger tankers. I believe that the change in load line regulations should be a subject of continuing investigation and consideration by the International Convention in order to keep the number of lives lost at sea to a minimum. 1 am thinking particularly of tankers.
Honourable members will remember the incident last year in which a tanker went aground off the English coast at great cost to the British Government. There was a great loss of fish and birds because of oil spillage. I believe if such occurrences were made the subject of a continuing investigation then we would not have to contend with the problem of ships breaking up and losing or discharging their cargo into the sea and as a result causing a great amount of damage. This is especially important in the case of tankers.
We also had the case of the vehicular ferry, the ‘Wahine’, which foundered in Wellington Harbour. All of us were greatly concerned with this great tragedy. What was the real reason for it? A marine inquiry has not yet been held, but at the coroner’s inquiry the life jackets in use were very strongly criticised. Incidentally, the same type of life jacket that was used on the Wahine’ is in use on Australian ships. From all accounts these life jackets are completely unsatisfactory. I just make this point in passing. What was the real reason for the Wahine’ foundering? We have similar ships to the ‘Wahine’ operating on the Australian coast. We have the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ and the ‘Empress of Australia’, just to mention two. Was the ‘Wahine’ soundly designed, with sufficient stability to continue to float in such circumstances? I feel these are some of the matters that should be considered when load lines are being reviewed. I hope that some serious consideration will be given to these questions when new ships come into operation. We should not have to wait another 36 years before we have another International Convention on Load Lines to determine the load line formula. 1 believe that consideration of load lines should be continuous because so many different types of ships are now coming into operation. There are new ships built to carry natural gas and so on. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to bear these facts in mind.
As a result of the new load line formula, increased cargoes may be carried. As I pointed out, bulk carrying ships of 50,000 tons are operating on the Australian coast. Under the new load line formula these ships can draw an additional four feet of water. What is going to be the effect on Australian ports? The Government signs these internation conventions which involve State Governments, harbour boards and so on, but it does not consider the increased costs involved. Not many ports in Australia could handle these ships fully laden. In my electorate of Newcastle, a fully laden 50,000 ton ship even under the present load line formula cannot enter the port of Newcastle. Under the new load line there would be no possibility of a ship of. this size entering the port of Newcastle. At present part of the cargo on board these big ships is unloaded at Port Kembla and the rest is unloaded at the port of Newcastle. I do not know whether, under the new load line formula, the ships will be able to enter even Port Kembla. It is no use the Government saying that port development is the responsibility of the State Governments. I agree it is the responsibility of the State Governments but in the case of the ports of Port Kembla. Balmain and Newcastle the Government saw fit to make a grant to the New South Wales Government at the time of the 1963 election so that port development could be carried out in those three ports. Also, a non-repayable grant plus special loans were made available for deepening the bar at the port of Newcastle. I believe such Commonwealth assistance has to be given again.
The Government has to look at the question of making available to each of the port authorities either special loans or special non-repayable grants, particularly in view of the fact that as a result of the new load line formula ships will draw more water. Harbour depths which were satisfactory previously will no longer be satisfactory. One reads of facilities overseas being provided for these large ships. At Hamburg provision has been made for 70.000 ton grain carriers; in Liverpool for 1 00,000 ton grain carriers and in Rotterdam for ships of a similar tonnage. We do not have a grain port in Australia which could accommodate ships of that size under the present load line formula. If we are to deepen harbours and provide facilities whereby ships can draw additional water to carry additional cargo the Government has to provide finance to the State Governments. I would like to give the House the water depths at a few ports and anchorages. The depth of water at Glebe Island No. 7 wharf in Sydney Harbour is 35 feet. The water depth at the entrance of Botany Bay is 50 feet, with 37 feet in the swinging basin, lt would not be possible to take a very large tanker in there. At Port Kembla the depth is 50 feet with 36 feet in the entrance to the inner harbour. Newcastle Harbour entrance has a depth of 36 feet, with the channels having 30 feet. At Port Adelaide the depth is 35 feet compared with 30 feet at the entrance of Port Lincoln and 32 feet at the berth. The north-west channel at Brisbane has a depth of 41 feet 6 inches but there is only 30 feet of water at the Pinkinbah railway wharf, where bulk wheat is loaded. Water depth at Owen anchorage at Fremantle and at Cockburn Sound is 38 feet. It is to be dredged to a depth of 45 feet. At the inner entrance to the harbour the depth is 36 feet. A depth of 33 feet is found at Weipa where bulk ships will obviously be carrying around 100,000 tons of bauxite, and clearly will need deeper water. I ask the Government to give facts like these serious consideration.
In order that I will not have to rise to my feet continuously when the Bill is in Committee, I should like to make some reference to matters on which the Minister might elect to reply now or later, dealing with article 5, exceptions to which are set out in the schedule to the Bill. One of them to which I call the Minister’s attention, (1) (b) refers to ‘New ships of less than 24 metres (79 feet) in length’. I ask the Minister why this limit is laid down. Why should there be a minimum length of 79 feet?
Is it not a fact that some oil tenders servicing oil rigs off the Australian coastline are shorter than 79 feet and are at sea for upwards of a couple of days? Do they not carry passengers as well as goods and supplies to the oil rigs? Why should they be excluded? Also, why exclude ships of less than 150 tons? Are not the two or three men operating these ships entitled to the same protection as that afforded crews numbering 30, 40 or 100 on larger vessels? I should like the Minister to answer those questions.
Exception (l.)(d) is concerned with pleasure yachts not engaged in trade’. I refer the Minister in particular to the ‘New Endeavour’, which operates off the Australian coastline. People are not paid to work on it; they pay the owners to work on this 200 ton gross sailing ship. People pay for the fun of working before the mast, but in shipping circles this vessel is not considered to be seaworthy. Clearly it should be covered by these regulations. I refer in conclusion to fishing vessels. Division 5, section 218 (I.) (b) of the existing Act refers to ‘ships solely engaged in fishing,’ whereas this Bill provides for fishing vessels to be included among the exceptions. It is well known that many small ships or boats - call them what you like - servicing the oil rigs are really fishing boats. Under the Bill they will be exempted. I feel that the provision in the existing Act, that a vessel shall be solely engaged in fishing, is better than the one included in the Bill. Under the Bill, a boat registered as a fishing vessel must not necessarily be kept functioning as a fishing boat. As the law stands it must be. I should like the Minister to tell the House what he believes should be the maximum and minimum sizes of fishing vessels? I have here a brochure put out by Acres Fishing Vessels, which is a most substantial Norwegian shipbuilding company that I visited last year. This company builds fishing vessels of various lengths including 125 feet, 126 feet, 133 feet 6i inches, 137 feet 10 inches, 190 feet and even 231 feet 7 inches. Are such big boats to be regarded as fishing vessels? If so, they will be exempt from the provisions of the Load Line Agreement. I should like the Minister - and so would a lot of other people - to supply some information on these points. I do not wish to delay the passage of the Bill other than to intimate that in Committee we on this side will not oppose the Bill apart from moving an amendment along the lines that I mentioned earlier. Indeed, we will support the Bill.
– The Government is to be complimented for bringing the Australian rules into line with the new international regulations on load lines. My experience in the many years I have been at sea has been that the Navigation Act has been applied to the credit of all our governments. Australian laws in this respect are most thorough and always have been. I am sure that they always will be kept up to the mark. In his second-reading speech the Minister said:
The most significant change is that large ships, such as the new, large tankers, ore carriers, and bulk carriers, will be permitted to operate lower in the water by a reduction of some 10% to 20% in the amount of freeboard. . . .
I am dwelling on this point because of its importance. I do not wish to appear to be correcting the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) but he seemed to have freeboard mixed up with draught.
– I know what it means.
– Freeboard is the distance between the Plimsoll Line and the top of the main deck.
– That is correct.
– For big tankers this distance is about 36 inches. A 10% reduction in the freeboard would represent for them an increase in draught of about 3i inches. A 10% increase in freeboard should not be confused with a 10% increase in draught. A ship would not be an extra 4 feet lower in the water. In the instance I mentioned it would be 31 inches lower.
– The honourable member’s information is quite different from mine.
– I am emphasising this point because I can readily see how the confusion has arisen. The variation provided for in the Bill will not result in an increase in the draught of a ship from 38 feet to 42 feet. The proposed variation in freeboard can be brought about because nowadays the closures fitted to vessels are different from those used a few years ago when wooden hatches and canvas covers were the vogue. To use a seafaring term, they have gone by the board, having been replaced by steel hatch covers, which are much safer. The introduction of these steel hatches has enabled a decrease in freeboard, which is the distance between the Plimsoll line and the top of the main deck. I am referring not to the top of the bulwark but to the top of the main deck. A decrease of 10% in this distance is not as bad as one would imagine it to be.
Ships are safer now because they are built more watertight. The position is not the same as it was in the days of Samuel Plimsoll when ships were easily lost. Ships today are insured by underwriters. For example, the ‘Wahine’ was insured for $6m and it was a total loss. Lloyds, which is the principal insurance firm in the world, has a set of rules known as Lloyds Rules and Lloyds Scantling Numbers and Lloyds will not insure a ship unless it meets the requirements laid down. Lloyds is in effect a group of underwriters - there could be as many as 1,000 - who get together at a meeting and decide that they will take a certain proportion of a risk. In fact the fine print on an insurance policy for a ship sometimes takes half a day to read because there are so many names of underwriters to read. Obviously when these people meet as a Lloyds committee to insure a ship they make’ quite sure that it is able to bear all possible strains. Decreased freeboard is something that has come about with the modernisation of ships. When one looks at the side of a ship one can see the Plimsoll line and the fresh water and salt water markings. Specifications are laid down for the specific gravity of salt water and fresh water.
The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) was quite right when he spoke about life packets, but what can be done about them7 It is easy to say that better life jackets must be designed. When we travel in an aircraft the hostess tells us that a rubber life jacket is under the seat and she shows us how to put it on. But rubber life jackets are not considered safe at sea. There is so much material moving on a ship when it is in trouble that a rubber life jacket can be punctured and so be of no use whatsoever. That is why ships still use the old kapok life jackets. Even when a kapok life jacket is torn there is still buoyancy in it but once a rubber life jacket is punctured it is finished. Perhaps both should be carried. In the ‘Wahine’ disaster it was said that some life jackets were too big for the children. These difficulties can be overcome very easily. However, for many years the kapok life jacket has been found to be the most suitable. [ have spoken in the House, before about the building of ships. It should be remembered that ships of 250,000 tons and 300,000 tons are built for specific runs, usually between two ports. Only a few ports in the world can take them. I have always been of the opinion that ships should be built for ports and not ports built for ships. If ports are to be built for ships, the taxpayers of Australia will have to meet the cost. I object to that. I think that if a shipowner wants to engage in the Australian trade he should build a ship that is suitable for that trade. The honourable member for Newcastle referred to the depth of Newcastle harbour. I have seen workmen deepening the Newcastle harbour for 40 years and they will be deepening it for another 40 years. To my knowledge three firms have gone broke doing this work, lt is not possible to remove much rock from a reef because heavy blasting can damage foreshore buildings. That is why I think the proper thing is for ships to be built for ports. I know that port facilities must be modernised. That is progress. But it is very costly to shift rock and who is going to pay for it? The shipowners say that they will not pay for it and the port authorities are not inclined to do so.
– The honourable member does not blame the shipowners, does he?
– No. As I said, port improvement is a very costly business but it is progress. We have to bring our standards up to world requirements. The standard of shipbuilding in Australia is improving. I was pleased to hear the honourable member for Newcastle refer to the ships that are being built in his electorate. They are very fine ships and are doing a very good job.
A lot of the credit for modern safety requirements must be given to the unions. This is especially true of the Waterside Workers Federation as far as ships’ gear is concerned. The Federation knows when gear, is or is not safe and its protests and the protests of other unions have brought the matter of safety to the notice of this House so that the laws could be altered. In many cases that’ has been why the Government has altered regulations under the Stevedoring Industry Act and the Navigation Act. I have no fears at all about decreasing the freeboard by between 10% and 20%. lt may sound odd to do this but it is just keeping up with the times and keeping pace with other nations.
– I congratulate the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) on the case he has presented for harbour improvement on the east coast of Australia and particularly the case he presented for the port in his own electorate and the port in my electorate, Port Kembla, which is one of the ten major ports of Australia. I listened with great interest to what the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) has had to say, but there is a limit to the extent to which ships can be built for ports. Progress cannot be held back, lt is perfectly true, as the honourable member for Newcastle said, that the new giant tankers are to operate on particular routes. In many cases I understand that they will load and discharge not in the port itself but at a mole, a solid wharf extending some distance out from the land. These ships will connect to a pipeline and their cargoes will be pumped ashore into suitable containers. Ships of that size have to be constructed in docks because there could be serious structural damage done in the launching process with part of the ship floating and the other part on the land.
My main concern is to see that Australia does keep within a reasonable step of the modern transport revolution which is occurring today. To get down to exact details, I am concerned particularly with the prospects for Australia’s coal export trade. Coal is one of the main mineral exports of Australia today, lt bulks larger in Australia’s export revenue than most honourable members realise. An overwhelming proportion of the coal that we export in the form of hard coking coal comes from the Bulli seam in my constituency. That coal is going to Japan. The grave prospect is that in the not so distant future our exports will be seriously diminished. I will give the reason.
– The workers are getting a great profit from it.
– If the honourable member will listen, he may hear something of interest to himself. He may make his contribution at a later stage. In the case of the Japanese coal trade, endeavours are being made to standardise on a ship with a capacity of 100,000 tons or thereabouts. Already approaches have been made in that direction by the Japanese to every other maritime nation. This standard is for bulk carrier ships and is quite distinct from bulk tankers. To be perfectly frank, it is doubtful whether any port on the eastern coast of Australia can accommodate a bulk cargo ship of that capacity for coal transport today.
Now, it has been only economies of scale and particularly the highly competitive basis on which Australian prices have been quoted to the Japanese that have enabled Australia to gain and hold its share of that trade. Already there are coal export ports in Canada - and the Canadians do not let the grass grow under their feet - which are capable of accommodating 100,000 tonners. What is the Government prepared to do about this matter?
– The honourable member should remember that-
– I ask the honourable member to please be quiet, if he can.
– Those Canadian ports are hundreds of miles away, are they not?
– The honourable member may make his contribution in due course. In the meantime if he listens to me, he will learn. Undoubtedly, these Canadian ports will represent a considerable advantage in the coal trade. The fashion in which this trade will be carried out will involve following a triangular route. Japanese shipping companies are thinking in terms of their ships going to the East Indies, getting a cargo of oil there and discharging it at ports on the Australian east coast. The ships then will go to northern Australia and load with bauxite to be taken to Canada. Canadian interests are exploiting our alumina deposits to a major extent. The ships will load with coal at a Canadian port and will complete the triangle by returning to Japan.
In Australia, the port position is confusion worse confounded. Australia has no fewer than thirty-five major port authorities for its ports. Between them, these authorities do the best that they can with the limited finance at their disposal. The Commonwealth, which has the financial sinews of the nation, is short-changing those authorities. The Commonwealth cannot have the best of both worlds. It needs to put its own house in order. I point out that in Australia, which admittedly is not a major maritime transport nation, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) for some reason controls overseas shipping. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) merely controls the internal Australian shipping trade. We have the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) coming into the picture on the question of stevedoring. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) enters the field regarding certain aspects of restrictive practices and 1 am informed that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) is responsible for port development in the Northern Territory.
Where is the Government’s plan to deal with future Australian port development? It is no good doing the . Pharisee act and passing on the other side of the street. This is a national responsibility. It is a defence responsibility. It is the responsibility of the National Government to ensure that we in an island continent, with a maritime tradition inherited from our British forefathers, play our part as the common carriers of the Pacific Ocean. In relation to world shipping tonnage today, it is interesting to note that not less than 54% of world tonnage is for the carriage of oil. Also, 40% of the total tonnage of ships plying the Seven Seas is in the form of tankers. Take the case of the Idemitsu Maru, a ship which was launched some 2 years ago by a Japanese firm and which then held the record for size. That ship draws a depth of 56 feet. The maximum depth in the entrance channel to the Port Kembla inner harbour is 36 feet. As a member of the New South Wales Parliament, I was closely associated with the design, the construction and the necessary validating legislation for the building of that port. We based our figures at that time on the Suez Canal which had a depth in the early 1950s of 28 feet. We thought that, to play safe, we would make the depth of the Port Kembla inner harbour. 32 feet. Then, as we saw things developing, we increased the depth to 36 feet. We thought that we were within reasonable limits to cope with major ships. But today, as the honourable member for Newcastle said, it is necessary for the major ships in the iron ore trade to come into Port Kembla to offload portion of their iron ore cargo and then to go to Newcastle with the rest of their load.
At the present time with a ship of standard construction - I am speaking in terms of its cross section - 55,000 tonners would be about the limit for Port Kembla while the limit for Newcastle would be approximately 45,000 tonners. I would like to hear the Minister for Shipping and Transport make his contribution on this matter because this is his responsibility as well as being the responsibility of the Australian nation, ft certainly does cost money to deepen harbours. By the same token it will cost Australia very big money if it loses its Japanese export trade in coal. It is a quqestion of fitting in with the pattern, which is a matter of trying to standardise development throughout the world with these bulk cargo carriers.
The Minister has his responsibility. His background is essentially a rural one. I have no doubt that he has a contribution to make in this regard. But the responsibility is a vital one. We speak here today, and throughout the whole history of this Parliament we have expatiated at great length, on the need for a national shipping line. We also need a national harbours plan. This needs to be integrated with the general planning for bulk cargo ships throughout the world today.
A question arises also regarding the variation in freeboard which will mean an increase of 10% to 20% in the permitted tonnage that a ship may carry. This variation in the freeboard allowance will mean a doubling in the profit of the shipping companies. It is quite conceivable - I think that my figures will be fairly correct - that the first 80% of the load will just about cover everything in the way of operating costs, depreciation and all the other factors associated with the operation of a ship. The other 20% of the load is the cream in the coffee. It is profit that goes to the shareholders or that goes later for further development. These new limits quite easily could double the profit of some of the major shipping interests. I will warrant that no concession will be given to Australian exporting interests in this regard.
The honourable member for Newcastle also made passing reference to the question of ships operating under flags of convenience. There are many such ships still operating off the Australian coast today. It is a disgrace that they are allowed to come here. I have seen some of these ships. They were no better than coffin ships. The decks were rotten. The ring bolts could be kicked off. The ships’ gear was rotten and unsafe. The waterside workers would refuse to use the gear. In other words the port gear, such as travelling cranes, at Port Kembla had to be used in the interests of human life and safety.
The development of the ports of Newcastle, Sydney and Port Kembla, is an integral part of the major conurbation of Australia. Those cities are located in the major industrial centre of Australia and are adjacent to the main coking coal, steam coal and gas coal producing centres in Australia. Those ports are entitled to special treatment, but they are not getting it. Port Kembla, like any other port, cannot claim to have full status or to be a port in its own right unless and until it has adequate docking facilities. Facilities at Port Kembla’s sister city of Newcastle were developed in an earlier era and in a different dispensation. We had co-operation between the Commonwealth and State governments then.
Docking facilities are not merely for commercial interests. They also have distinct naval advantages. There is a strong case for the establishment of a graving dock at Port Kembla because this is the major steel producing centre in the Southern Hemisphere. Within its boundaries nearly 4 million tons of ingot steel is produced each year. It has the major rolling mills in the Southern Hemisphere. The size of the plates that are rolled there is amongst the largest in the world and eminently suited for ship building. Traditionally the major consumers of steel throughout the world always have been the shipbuilding industry and the automotive industry.
If Australia is to get anywhere it must knuckle down to the task. In this Mouse Government supporters speak a lot of trash about Australia’s national defence. In an earlier Bill tonight reference was made to over $ 1,100m being spent on defence. A couple of hundred million dollars could be spent in the real defence of Australia by developing the harbours on the east and north coasts. Already, the iron ore carriers of 100,000 tons capacity are coming to the north west coast of Western Australia. The Government is not prepared to do anything to make the harbours on the east coast of Australia available to ships of that type and tonnage.
– I wish to add a few words to the concern that has been expressed by my colleagues in relation to port facilities. I draw attention to the position at the port of Gladstone where ships of increased tonnage have placed a burden on the port authorities there in increasing depths. Like the people in Port Kembla and Newcastle, the people in Gladstone are interested in the Japanese trade. We see this innovation of larger ships entering into the bulk cargo trade. The trend has been established. In the early part of bis second reading speech, I think the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) said that the Navigation Bill gives effect to the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation and also the International Convention respecting Load Lines, 1966.
In recent times there has been a change in the construction of ships, particularly in the post-war period. Ships are becoming broader in the beam. The carrying capacity has been increased by this method more so than by increasing the length. Also we have seen innovations in the provision of watertight compartments and watertight hatch covers. I note that there is provision in the Bill for the increase or the reduction in freeboard to be applicable only in cases where certain standards have been complied with.
I do raise with the Minister the question of inspections and surveys. 1 notice - and this is quite reasonable - that the initial survey should be taken when the ship is put into service. The periodical survey is at intervals not exceeding 5 years. I know that that conforms to international standards. But I ask the Minister whether that is not too long a period between inspections. There is quite an amount of depreciation and running down of gear. 1 think some honourable members have spoken already on the conditions of ships running under flags of convenience and have said that very little is spent by way of maintenance on these vessels. There is provision in the Bill for a detailed inspection within 3 months of each anniversary. I ask the Minister whether this is not so much a survey as a mere inspection to see that certain standards are conformed to. I think there is a vast difference between a survey and an inspection. I would like to see surveys in Australia at much more frequent intervals than 5 years.
Other honourable members have spoken of the advantages that will flow to many of the ships trading on the Australian coast by the adoption of the new rules referred to in the Bill, and of how this will increase the carrying capacity of ships like the ‘River Darling’ and others and the benefits to ship owners. It is recognised internationally that safety must always be the first consideration. Like the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) 1 pay tribute to the laws relating to navigation. Most disasters at sea are caused by an infringement of the Navigation Act. In recent times disasters at sea off the Australian coast have revealed these infringements. I, like the honourable member for Newcastle, make the point that, while it took the Government . so long to introduce in this Parliament a Bill to conform with the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, it did not take half that time to introduce this measure, which will bring some amount of profit to those people operating the ships.
I do not believe that those operating ships off the Australian coast should be penalised by being asked to carry out conditions other with those that are recognised as conforming to the standards set by Lloyds of London. Lloyds are recognised throughout the world for their high standards not only in relation to construction but in relation to other requirements before issuing certificates. I ask the Minister whether some consideration could not be given to making more frequent surveys, with the annual inspection, than the 5 year surveys.
– Mr Speaker, throughout the course of this debate I think that considerable latitude has been shown by you and those who have occupied your chair in discussion .of the actual subject matter of the Bill. This is, of course, a Bill to amend the Navigation Act. Perhaps this implies a wider connotation than the actual substance of the Bill which is intended to implement the international load line convention. There was mention by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) of the relatively longer time it took to implement legislation to adopt the convention relating to safety of life at sea. I am advised that the convention concerning safety of life at sea involved considerably more drafting. Consequently it was a far more difficult measure to implement administratively here and also within the context of the other nations which are parties to the convention. It took them much longer to accede to the requirement to legislate in accordance with that convention. The time difference between the implementation of the two conventions was certainly not related to the financial gain by any of the parties interested because of variation of load lines.
The debate has centred around a number of issues. For example, the honourable member for Newcastle referred to variations in penalties that are being imposed and those which he thought might be more suited to the advantages accruing to the shipping companies as a result of the increased load capacity facilitated by the extensions specified in the legislation. In fact, the penalties themselves are substantially greater than those provided in the original provisions which the Bill is replacing. Where, for instance, there is at present a penalty of £100 or $200 this will become $500. Likewise, there has been a pro rata increase in penalties in every instance. The honourable member for Newcastle also rereferred to proposed new section 227b and to the schedule contained therein. This is, of course, a considerable extension of the existing provisions which provide for a penalty of only $1,000 for every inch by which a ship is overloaded. In the new schedule the penalty varies according to the size of the vessel. Concerning vessels in excess of 40,000 tons, to which the honourable member referred particularly, I am told that the penalty of $8,000 is not the total penalty but is the fine applied in respect of every inch or part of an inch by which the ship is overloaded. Actually, this could be a considerable fine.
I am told that for low freight rate cargoes, such as oil, the penalty would be more than sufficient deterrent to overloading even in the case of large tankers and that for special high freight rate cargoes, such as refrigerated cargoes, the penalty would be no less a deterrent. While it may seem that there is to be an extension of the permissible loading capacity with possible added advantages to be gained from carrying excess cargo, I am assured that the penalties are reasonable enough to cater for any complaints. It is difficult to determine arbitrarily what should be a reasonable penalty but it would appear to me, from my examination of the legislation, that the penalties proposed are such as to provide reasonably for any offences.
There was some discussion of the exceptions referred to in Article 5 in the schedule to the Bill. The honourable member for Newcastle mentioned fishing vessels and other vessels. He mentioned ships of less than 79 feet in length and others specified in the schedule. It is, of course, intended that such vessels shall be subjected to load lines. If the honourable member refers to proposed section 222 he will see that in addition to the international load line certificate there is to be a load line certificate for domestic vessels. All vessels will have a load line. Those complying with the international standard will have an international load line while those that are included within the exceptions, including fishing vessels, will be required to have a domestic load line which is prescribed in a different sense.
– Will they be enforced?
– Yes. It is intended that there shall be a domestic load line as well as an international one. There has been some considerable discussion about safety, and this factor must necessarily be in our minds, particularly as a result of the Wahine’ disaster. This has prompted the concern of the Department of Shipping and Transport. We have had a remarkable safety record on the Australian coastline and the Government and all those concerned with shipping must endeavour in every way they can to maintain that record. Accordingly, considerable studies have been instituted to try to ensure that if there are any defects in the present system necessary steps will be taken to overcome those defects. This matter will be pursued in the hope that there will be no likelihood of a similar disaster occurring in Australian waters. I commend the Bill to the House.
– What about the ‘New Endeavour’ and other pleasure craft not engaged in trade?
– The honourable member did not mention the ‘New Endeavour’.
– I did. I specifically mentioned it because it appeared to me that pleasure craft were not included.
– I did not hear the honourable member’s reference to the ‘New Endeavour’ althoughI did hear mention of pleasure yachts not engaged in trade. The New Endeavour’ is registered in the United Kingdom as a pleasure yacht and, as a result, is not registered in the Australian trade as she would be if she were purely an Australian vessel. Approaches have been made to the Board of Trade and I am advised that it has contacted the owners of the vessel and has pointed out that under the United Kingdom Marine Shipping Act, under which she is registered, she is required to comply with regulations relating to construction, lifesaving and fire appliances and that for these purposes she should be surveyed for the issue of the appropriate certificates. I can assure the honourable member that the situation concerning this vessel has been brought to the Government’s attention. We are in contact with the Board of Trade which has the specific responsibility of trying to ensure that if in any way the ‘New Endeavour’ is not complying with these regulations she will do so as soon as possible. Australian pleasure vessels will come within the ambit of proposed section 222 to which I referred the honourable member earlier.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I have two amendments to the Bill. One is related to clause8, which reads in part:
After section 190 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted:- 190aa. - (1.) A surveyor may at any reasonable time go on board a ship and inspect the ship and any part of the ship, including the hull, boilers, machinery and equipment of the ship, and may require the certificate of competency of the master or of any officer of the ship, or any certificate relating to the ship, to be produced to him.
The second amendment relates to clause 12, which reads in part:
Division 5 of Part IV. of the Principal Act is repealed and the following Division inserted in its stead: -
Division 5. - Load Lines.
227b.- (2.) In proceedings for an offence against the last preceding sub-section in respect of a ship, a certificate signed by the Minister that a number of tons specified in the certificate is the deadweight tonnage of the ship specified in the latest edition, or a supplement to the latest edition, of the Register Book issued bythe Committee of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping is evidence that the deadweight tonnage of the ship is that number of tons.
I move: 1.In clause 8, in proposed section 190aa (1.), after ‘certificate’ second appearing, insert ‘or other document’.
In clause 12, omit sub-section (2.) of proposed section 227b, insert the following subsection: - “(2.) The Minister may, by writing under his band, certify, in relation to a ship specified in the certicate, that-
In his speech on the second reading the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) referred to clause 12. It was felt initially that it was not necessary to refer to cases where vessels were registered other than within Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, but because of the concern expressed by the honourable member, the Government is prepared to amend clause 12 in this fashion. I commend the amendments to honourable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos S to 13, Government Business, being called on.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1151), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-! do not intend to detain the House for long on this measure. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has asked me to express the support of the Opposition for this Bill. Almost the only criticism one could make of the Bill is the English in which it is expressed, because, with due deference to the Parliamentary Draftsman, hundreds of words have been employed to express fairly simple ideas.
In some ways this legislation puts the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the same footing as a university in respect of its finances. The CSIRO will present a budget to the Minister and have it approved. Under this legislation the CSIRO will have a great deal more flexibility in dealing with its finances and its affairs than it has had in the past. Clause 6, which is the vital clause in the Bill, reads:
After section 9 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: 9a (1.) Subject to the approval of the Minister and subject to any regulations that are applicable, the Organisation may . . . accept moneys or other property given . . . and agree to any conditions subject to which moneys are, or other property is, given . . . and may act as trustees of moneys or other property vested in the Organisation upon trust.
That seems to express the essence of the clause. I do not know whether this is a new concept, because I understand that money have been given to the CSIRO in the past. This clause seems to regularise this matter. The clause reads further: (2.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, where the Organisation has agreed to any conditions … the moneys or other property shall be dealt with by the Organisation in accordance with those conditions or in accordance with the powers and duties of the Organisation as trustee, as the case may be.
This certainly seems to set the CSIRO free to handle ils financial affairs. The provision in clause 7 makes clear how power may be delegated by the body. Then there is the entirely technical change in clause 8, which provides that in the Advisory Council twelve members rather than six shall constitute a quorum. The salaries scale is up-dated to permit the executive of the CSIRO not to have to seek the approval of the Minister before making a new appointment unless the salary of the position exceeds $10,073. I must say that there is a certain mystery about the figure of $10,073, but at least the new provision gives greater discretion to the executive than if it could appoint without ministerial consent only in cases where the salary was below $3,000.
A very wise provision was mentioned by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) but I cannot see it in the Bill. It was to the effect that the CSIRO may now appoint scientists who do not meet the normal health standards set by the Commonwealth Public Service. This is a wise move because a man may be a brilliant research scholar; his mind may be operating in a new field of immense importance to the nation; but he may be an epileptic or may suffer from some other disability which would preclude his appointment to the Public Service. Now a discretionary power is vested in the executive of the CSIRO to appoint such a man.
I do not think anything more need be said about this measure. The other freeing aspects are perhaps those contained in Part VI, which deals with finance. Proposed new section 26c (2.) provides that where the CSIRO receives money from the sale or lease of land; where it receives money in respect of work carried out; where it receives money as fees or royalties in respect of a discovery or invention, or an improvement in a process, apparatus or machine; and where it receives money as interest from an investment, that money may be paid to the credit of a special account. That seems to be another way of increasing the financial autonomy of the CSIRO and it is to be welcomed.
Proposed new section 26d seems to liberalise the matter of payments on contracts, lt reads:
The organisation shall not, except with the approval of the Minister, enter into a contract involving the payment by the Organisation of an amount exceeding Fifty thousand dollars.
There would be many payments of less than $50,000 in respect of which the CSIRO has discretionary power, subject to the limitation that it must tender an annual report to the Minister to be tabled in the Parliament.
I think that the CSIRO has reason to be fairly happy with the changes embodied in this Bil). Up to the present I think it has reason to be happy about its relationship with the Ministry of Education and Science. We have no criticism to offer to this measure, lt seems to be an important step forward in the development of the CSIRO. Support for the CSIRO in this Parliament is, 1 think, unanimous. We realise the tremendous significance of the research work which it is doing. Some of the large scale research that it is now undertaking into agriculture and pastures on range lands of Australia has tremendous implications for the future of this country. The CSIRO has done a good deal of pioneering work in land utilisation and pasture improvement. As an organisation it has never provoked controversy of any significance during almost 50 years of existence. We join with the Minister in welcoming this ‘ legisation and we wish it a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 8 May (vide page 1221), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this amending Bill is to insert a new section 6a in the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act. As was pointed out by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) in his second reading speech, the amendment is necessary because of an application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by the Seamen’s Union of Australia for an award providing for long service leave to be granted on the basis of service as a seaman in the maritime industry rather than on the basis of service with one employer. There is a conditional agreement between the union and the ship owners on a draft of the award, but the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had to defer making an award pending the passing of this Bill. One of the ship owners sought to be covered by the award is the Australian National Line. As the law stands the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission cannot join the Australian National Line as a respondent to the proposed award. The Minister rightly pointed out that section 41a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act permits the Commission to make an award that is not in accord with a law of the Commonwealth, but it may not make an award that is not in accord with certain Acts, one of which is the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act. Among other
Acts which are mentioned are the Superannuation Act and the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, but it is the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act with which we are concerned in this amending Bill.
The Furlough Act applies to employees of the Australian National Line, including seamen, but without this amendment the Commission will not be able to join the Australian National Line as a party to the award which has already been agreed to in draft form between the union and the ship owners, including the Australian National Line. The Bill will insert a provision which states that the Furlough Act will not affect an award made by or an agreement filed with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in relation to long service leave for seamen. The Opposition has no objection to the Bill and supports it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 8 May (vide page 1222), on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports the measure now before the House. This is a very small Bill which provides for the repeal of sections 78, 79 and 81 of the Commonwealth Railways Act 1917-1966. These three sections have been in the -Act since it was introduced in 1917. The limitation of $4,000 in the case of death and $2,000 in the case of temporary disablement which have been imposed on claims against the Commissioner for Railways are a disgrace to any government, especially when they have been in existence for so long and there has been no attempt either to increase the amounts or to bring them into line with what are today regarded as acceptable amounts. It is not that no claims have been made under these sections of the Commonwealth Railways Act; numerous claims have been made.
– Payments have been made.
– Ex gratia payments have been made, but the limitations on the amounts claimed should not have remained in the legislation for so long. This is obvious when one realises how little effort was required to bring about a change. The Bill is printed on one small sheet of paper which is not even printed on each side. It took the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) about 5 minutes to make his second reading speech and it has taken me even less time to indicate the Opposition’s support for the measure.
Mr WILSON (Sturt) Ill.8]-As has been pointed out by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), under the law which this Bill proposes to amend, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has been in a privileged position in respect of legal actions against him. A person who has a claim arising from a cause of action against the Commonwealth Railways must, under the present law, have instituted his proceedings within a period of 6 months after the act complained of occurred. Furthermore, the existing Act prescribes that the claimant must have given notice of the occurrence of the cause of action within a reasonable time. The Act prescribes also that the claimant must have given one month’s notice of his intention to commence proceedings. A cause of action having been established, the claimant may not claim damages above the amounts prescribed in the present legislation. The Bill will take away those privileges by repealing the sections which confer them. This business undertaking of the Commonwealth which was set up by legislation of this Parliament will henceforth, when the Bill now before the House becomes law, be in a position no different from that of a private business undertaking.
Clause 7 of the Bill deals with the application of the proposals to causes of action that might now be in existence. That clause states:
The provisions of the sections of the principal Act repealed by this Act do not apply, and shall be deemed not to have applied, in relation to an action in respect of a cause of action that arose before the date of commencement of this Act, other than an action in which judgment was given before that date.
This is a generous provision in that it retrospectively confers rights on those who under the present law have lost their right to recover damages because of the lapse of time since the cause of action arose. If they now sue within the period prescribed by the statute of limitations in force in the State where the cause of action arose, there is no ceiling limit on the damages that they might recover. This retrospective operation of the Bill, now before us does not extend to cases in which judgment was given before the date of the commencement of this amending legislation.
I express concern for those people who, appreciating the limitations imposed by the present law gave the notice as required, instituted proceedings within the prescribed time, prosecuted their cause of action to judgment and received an award of compensation which, but for the limitation of the amount which the court may now award, would have been much higher. I understand that in many of these cases it has been the practice to ask the court to determine an amount of compensation or damages that would have been awarded but for the limitation fixed in the present legislation, and that the Commissioner for Railways, on receiving in the judgment a recommendation of the judge hearing the case, has made an ex gratia payment to such claimants of the amount that he would have awarded but for the limitation. I would like to be assured that this has been so in all cases where but for the limitation in clause 7 of the Bill claimants would have received higher amounts of compensation.
I also express concern for those whose actions failed because the court in its judgment found that the notice of the cause of action was not delivered to the Commissioner for Railways - I quote from the legislation - ‘as soon as practicable after the occurrence of the cause of action’, and the Commissioner was found by the court to have been prejudiced by the failure to give such notice or the court on the facts found that the cause of action did not arise within 6 months of the date of the commencement of the proceedings. If there are cases falling within either category, it seems to me unfair that those claimants who have complied or who have endeavoured to comply with the formalities of the present law are to be prejudiced whilst those who have failed to act within the time limits prescribed are to have rights to compensation retrospectively conferred upon them. If there are many such cases, I believe that they should be looked into to see whether on the merits they should be reopened and treated in a similar manner to those causes of action that have not yet come before the courts and been brought to judgment. If, as may be the case, no people are affected in this way, I commend the Bill before the House. I am pleased that it has been brought in so that those who happen to be unfortunate enough to have a cause of action that arises as a consequence of injury caused by the Commonwealth railways will be in no worse position than they would be if their unfortunate accident had been caused by some private business undertaking or private individual.
– in reply - I would like to give the assurances that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) has asked for. As a result of a private inquiry he made of me, I had a survey made back to 1917, and I am told that there are no cases that have been affected in the category to which he referred. In any cases affected by the limitations imposed under the Act, ex gratia payments have been made. So there is no need for the honourable gentleman to feel that some people have been excluded because of the application of this section in the past.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9 May (vide page 1287), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I am rather sorry that a measure of such significance as this should be brought on at this time of the evening. The ‘Taxpayers’ Bulletin’, as recently as 21st May 1968, referring to this legislation, said:
The Bill of 35 pages requires careful study before one can form any opinion as to its economic effect on this all important sector of Australia’s national development.
We hope that the Government will allow the Bill to lie on the table for a reasonable dme to permit interested parties to study the proposals and, if necessary, make representations for revision.
In his second reading speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) indicated that in essence the Government was rewriting what might be described as the mining code or the mining provisions of the Income Tax Act. He said in the course of his second reading speech:
On examination, the Government came to the view that it would not be desirable to attempt further piecemeal amendment of existing provisions which have been added to and amended many times. Further, the provisions are expressed in general terms; for the most part they do not state with any precision which capital expenditures are within their scope and which are not. It was therefore decided to undertake a thorough review of the relevant provisions of the law. The Bill before the House reflects the results of that review.
This is a matter not only of tax significance but also of social and economic impact as well. I want, even at this late hour of the night, to indicate that at least here is an example of the tax law being used to encourage economic development in a particular direction by the grant of various concessions. In a moment I want to try to indicate the magnitude of this problem. In a recent survey of the mineral industry published by a stockbroking firm, Edward Ward and Co., a forecast of production and exports from 1967 to 1982 is set out. The survey had this to say:
This growth in the Australian mineral industry will require very substantial capital expenditures. One authority-
The authority cited is Sir Maurice Mawby, Chairman of Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, who was speaking to the Australian Industries Development Association in June 1967- has recently stated that some fifty mineral pro jects in Australia either under construction or about to begin will collectively involve expenditures of more than $2,500m.
The writer notes that these sums are large by any standards, lt is that sort of capital expenditure which is the subject of the amendments before us. As most people know, a mining venture is considered or used to be in my accounting days, a wasting asset. When a mine is finished all that is left is a hole in the ground. In the course of mining a company was expected to use all of its capital outlay, and nothing would be left. Provision was made to write the initial capital cost off over the life of the venture. This is virtually the pattern which has been followed. The mining provisions in the taxation acts of Great Britain and to a great extent the United States and Canada are similar to those of Australia. What happens is that money expenses that are capital and would be so treated in another sort of venture are really allowed to be written off at fairly rapid rates in as short a time as 4 to 5 years. Therefore this sort of expenditure for the most part will be allowable as a deduction for income tax. Since most of this endeavour is in the form of company activity and the companies are of the kind that pay tax at the rate of 8s 6d in the pound or 42.5c in the dollar, nearly half the capital expenditure is really being paid for by the Government by reason of the tax that is foregone in allowing these capital items as annual deductions. I believe this is a matter of some social significance.
The Government uses the rather curious device of loading an interest component, for instance, on to the Post Office on the theory that it will make this body competitive, so far as capital is concerned, with what is called private industry. We have another rather absurd situation that at whatever rates capital is raised by this sort of organisation - either from the public or by ploughed back profits or from debentures - in essence the real cost of the financing is underwritten to a great extent by the fact that when the capital that has been raised is actually expended, the Government, in essence, subsidises the expenditure by 42.5c in every dollar that is expended.
This is one aspect. I would now like to deal with the other aspect. I do not think the significance of the field of mining expenditure is always realised in Australia. A recent article in a journal called ‘Australian Mining’ dated 15th September 1967 titled The Australian Economy in the 1960s’ points to the amount of new capital expenditure in Australia in the 5 years from 1961 to 1966. It indicates that during this period there was a capital expenditure in mining of S5 10.5m and a further expenditure on mineral processing, extracting, refining and founding of $618.6m. In the 5-year period there was a total expenditure of $1,129.1 m on mining or mineral industries. Again, I point out that this is in accord with the forecast in the review of Edward Ward and Co. that in the next few years the expenditure would amount to $2.500m. A large part of this would be allowably deducted for taxation purposes.
The other fact that needs to be considered is the number of mining companies owned by interests outside Australia. The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics has recently commenced issuing a new publication titled ‘Overseas ‘ Participation in Australian Mining Industry’ and gives figures up to June 1965. The Bureau draws a distinction between the value of production apportioned to overseas ownership on the one hand and Australian ownership on the other. It indicates that in the field of metal mining a production total of $2 13m was earned in 1965 and of this figure $93m was apportioned to overseas ownership and $120m to Austraiian ownership. The statistics also reveal that in the field of fuel mining, overseas ownership accounted for $26m and Australian ownership for $l08m makin;! a total for 1965 of Si 34m. In the smaller field of non-metal (excluding fuel) mining’, overseas ownership accounted for $2m and $10m was received by Australian ownership. The three categories together added up to a value of production in 1965 of $359m of which $121m or about onethird was apportioned to overseas ownership and $238m was apportioned to Australian ownership. In the field of metal mining something over 40% of the total activity is not Australian but is foreign. We all know the kinds of booms that are going on in that field at the moment, lt can be seen that the beneficiaries in the field of tax relief are not only Australian interests.
The Minister at the table has no doubt heard about the Western Mining Corporation Ltd. I have before me a publication from F. R. Morgan and Co. which is another stock exchange company in Melbourne. The publication is titled ‘A Reappraisal in April 1968 of the Prospects of Western Mining Corporation Ltd’. This is quite a recent publication. It states:
Minerals and metals are the growth sector par excellence within the Australian economy for the next decade. . . . The feature of important mineral discoveries is the significant capital gains that accrue to the discoverers.
I would suggest that these capital gains in Australia at the moment are not subject to tax and in part the capital gain that is generated is conditioned by the lax concessions that are given. This seems to me to be a rather peculiar kind of debit or credit arrangement. By reason of tax concessions which must cost the Australian community hundreds of millions of dollars a year, hundreds of millions of dollars are added to the capital. The publication to which I have referred goes on to note:
In March 1967 WMC was capitalised on the market at about $70m, and assessment of future growth was largely focussed about the likely potential of the nickel field.
In April 1968, 12 months later, the company was valued at approximately S50()m to S600m. In a period of 12 months this is a steep increase. My answer to the interjection of the honourable member for Evans is that what is capitalised are things that have been provided by nature in the first place. After all, what exists under the soil ought not to be exploited by predatory private capitalists For their own advantage and to the detriment of the rest of the community. When there is a capital increment in a period of 12 months from $70m to somewhere between S500m and $600m, why give taxation encouragement? When tax advantages to the mining industry are costed out they are sure to establish that hundreds of millions of dollars per annum are being forgone in tax revenue. So when a government says it cannot increase a social benefit or defence spending, I cannot help thinking of the revenue that is being lost in this way. Occasionally we ought to ask about some of these tax measures: ‘What amount of taxation is forgone by permitting concessions that look quite good on the face of them but for which there is not much social justification when they are examined?’
In the past few weeks much has been heard about spectacular gains involved in finds of natural gas. Again I quote from another publication of Mr F. R. Morgan’s firm, entitled ‘Black Coal in AustraliaMarket Forecast and Investment Outlook’, published either this month or last month. It contains this statement: lt is too early to state categorically that coal will be a raw material for petrol or high calorie gas production within the next 10-15 years. However, there are prospects in this direction which may be realised in the long term if the search for oil and gas does not produce adequate low cost supplies.
Such thinking is particularly important to companies holding coal reserves in the SydneyNewcastlePort Kembla area. Not only is this the industrial heart of Australia, but it is also a source of cheap coal, and on present knowledge somewhat remote from potential oil discovery areas.
I suggest that this highlights the fact that sometimes, if you are not careful, your left hand will not know what your right hand is doing. After all, supplies of natural gas and oil, which now seem to have been found in relative abundance, are only one source of energy for the future. But to some extent they are, or can be made to be, unfairly competitive with other forms of energy that already are available. In any event they ought not to be permitted to be exploited by the people who happen to find them. A general policy should be laid down for overall conservation of total energy supplies in Australia.
In the past, when oil was being imported into Australia, waste products from the oil refinery industry were being converted into gas and other fuels to the detriment of the coal industry. The report from which I have quoted highlights the fact that in the long run it may be as cheap to produce petrol from coal as to obtain it by exploiting another form of supply. These are the sort of things that should be taken into account when re-writing the mining code. With all respect, I doubt whether they are taken into consideration. I do not think that any attempt is made to do more than give a little extra bunce to people who really do not deserve it or need it. After all, there is not a shortage of money coming into mining ventures in Australia. I doubt whether al) exploration costs are conditioned by tax concessions. Nevertheless there is an awful hotch-potch in tax concessions, which in the long run are borne by the community. Capital gains accrue to mining companies and become the property of their shareholders, many of whom are not Australians.
It is high time that a systematic investigation was made of this situation. When it is realised that capital expenditure on mining over the next 5 or 10 years may be as high at S2,500m and because it is woven into the texture of the tax structure, something like &1,000m of that S2,500m will represent subsidies in the form of tax forgone, it is time for some clarification of the issue. I have suggested previously in this House that it is high time for a systematic review to be made of the tax structure in Australia. Recently when the double tax agreement was being considered by the Parliament I pointed to the thorough investigation by the United Kingdom royal commission on the taxation of profits on income, which was held as far back as 1955. Because of the nature of our economic development and the likelihood of technological and other improvements in this country over the next 5 to 10 years, it is high time our rather haphazard tax laws, which have grown up higgledy-piggledy, were completely restructured. If it is not done, a government which claims to be an apostle of private enterprise will, in a sense, establish a kind of State capitalist system in which at least 421% of capital expenditure will be met by the Government in the form of tax relief. This procedure must have some impact upon the doctrines of people who very carefully assess what they call cost-benefit propositions but do not seem to take this kind of hidden subsidy info account when making concessions. If a person borrows money from the public and pays 7% or 8% interest on it, and nearly half of what he pays is rebated to him the real interest rate is much lower than the nominal one. Large numbers of people who much borrow money lo finance mortgages on their homes do not have this sort of device available to them. The ruling rate of interest, which appears to be 7% or 8%, really comes down to something like 4% or 5% when allowance is made for tax deductions.
In the long run the poor man in the street who is financing his mortgage at 7% or 8% over a period of 30 to 50 years is the victim of this higgledy-piggledy arrangement. This is the sort of thing that we should take into consideration when we are examining measures of this kind.
I regret that a measure as important as this - and I believe it to be important - is brought on at this stage of the evening. 1 have no doubt that if it were to be debated tomorrow afternoon perhaps a few other honourable members would have something to say about it. I do not know whether anyone else will wish to debate it tonight. 1 do not think that this is the way to conduct the Parliament. Legislation of this kind can cost the community hundreds of millions of dollars per annum and yet we shell it off in the last half hour of a busy day in the Parliament as though it did not matter. I have protested about this before. For the most part these deductions will not apply until returns are lodged after June 1968.
If the Government had indicated what the pattern of taxation was to be it would not have really mattered if this Bill had been held over. It could have lain on the table of the House for a month or two and then been considered much more adequately early in the Budget sittings. It would have been something worth debating when we came back for the Budget period. Often in the first week of a Budget sessional period there is nothing of significance on the notice paper and we idly debate statements that are not nearly as important as this Bill. 1 criticise the Government for the way in which this legislation has been brought on. . .Nevertheless, I hope that honourable members will realise just how important the Bill is.
In many respects some of the amendments we are contemplating arise from a recent High Court decision that is generally known as the BHP tax case. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited challenged the ruling of the Commissioner of Taxation that certain activities were not mining activities. Mr Justice Kitto ruled that the company was right. I understand that an appeal is to be made to the Privy Council. The Taxpayers’ Bulletin’ of 7th May 1968 stated:
Perhaps the most important aspect which concerns the mining industry was Mr Justice Kitto’s ruling that items of a mining company expenditure, such as railway lines, jetties, dredging and port surveys were tax deductible as mining expenditure if they were necessary for the development of the mining property.
The amount involved in these items in the BHP case was some $2.4m, but Mount Newman has between $70m and $8Om in expenditure which would be deductible, and Hamersley Iron probably has around $60m.
If the Mount Newman and Hamersley Iron companies have a total of about SI 40m in mining expenditure that is tax deductible, this may mean a difference to those companies of S50m to S60m in the amount of tax payable. Again, I would suggest that this is of no mean significance. The ‘Taxpayers’ Bulletin’ continues:
There are many other mining projects being planned which would more than double the amount of deductions which could be claimed as mining expenditure.
As a result, the decision on the appeal is likely to play an important part in corporate financing calculations, and is therefore awaited with great interest by the industry.
It is probable that the appeal will be heard by the High Court at its Sydney sitting in October.
One can well understand that the appeal is likely to be awaited with great interest by the industry. It ought to be awaited with great interest by the rest of the community also.
I suppose we take the view - and 1 know that one of the great judges of the English courts said this - that everybody is entitled so to order his taxation affairs that he pays the minimum amount for which he legally is liable. This is a fair enough proposition. But, equally, the Government as the custodian of the revenue is entitled to use what devices it can to close the loopholes that exist and to make it hard for the proverbial coach and horses to be driven through the spirit of the law. I would suggest that perhaps this kind of thing ought to be done in the future regarding a number of these concessions that are being given a little too freely without realisation of what their overall impact is. This is fair enough if the Government wants to encourage mining development. I would not suggest that this ought not to be done. But, on the other hand, with the capital gains that are involved, I doubt whether the impetus necessarily is the taxation concession. The effect of the taxation concession that is given, and the amount of revenue that is forgone in consequence of that taxation concession that is given, ought to be weighed against the other possibilities of what could be done if the revenue that was not collected through that taxation concession was raised.
Surely the essence of government is not that development should not be encouraged but that occasionally a scale of priorities should be adopted and some form of forward planning ought to be undertaken. Sometimes it must be said that schools and hospitals are just as significant as mining ventures - although it is easy enough to say that, unless the economy expands, the ability to do so many of these things is limited. I think it is fair enough to say that these things ought to be argued on their merits and that some attempt ought to be made to strike a balance between them. With due regard to all the circumstances, I doubt whether this is really being done in Australia at the moment. I think that we are simply continuing patterns that have existed for a long period and which perhaps came into existence when the company rate of taxation was 10c in the $1 rather than 424c in the $J, as it is now. The very rate at which taxation is levied often makes a quite significant difference on how taxation can be imposed. I urge upon the Government the need to review the taxation structure in Australia.
– The Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) before the House at the present moment is, in my judgment, an extremely important measure relating to a basis of the Australian economy which is expanding rapidly and becoming the most significant income earning sector of the economy. I would join with the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who has just spoken, in saying that I am disappointed that a debate on a measure of this significance should take place at this very late hour because undoubtedly it will attract very little attention in terms of the number of speakers or otherwise. It is undoubtedly true that the introduction of the measure has been overdue. The Government is to be congratulated on the thorough and painstaking way in which it has gone about the preparation of the amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Act (No. 2). The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in his second reading speech, pointed out that the income tax legislation with regard to petroleum exploration and development was reviewed only recently. This gave rise to quite a number of anomalies. Happily these have been obviated largely by the very painstaking, thorough and, I believe, altogether desirable extension, amplification and clarification of the Act which we now have before us.
Having said that much, this does not mean that I do not have some criticisms of detail. It was astonishing to me to listen to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports who is a shadow Treasurer take the time of the House that he did, at this time of night, speaking without any reference apparently to any particular aspect of this legislation, speaking mainly in generalities and continuing the grave grumblings about the fact that the Government has been eminently successful over recent years particularly, because of the inducements and incentives that it has brought to bear in relation to the exploration for petroleum and other minerals and by bringing before the nation a tremendous prospect of growth and opportunity for the future. Although the shadow Treasurer spoke grudgingly about the mining industry, he said that he would not actually discourage the industry on which great gains have been made. He indicated that simply because success had come on the heels of Government incentives the Opposition would, if it were in government, remove these incentives simply because in some instances - and I stress that it is only in some - success has been gained.
A great deal was made of apparent paper profit as real capital gain. Western Mining Corp. Ltd was quoted as having made a capital gain from $70m to $500m; this on paper, was a volatile capital gain if anything was but one that could virtually disappear or at least diminish significantly overnight. Little was said about those who have lost their investment. Millions have been sunk. I believe British Petroleum Ltd has spent up to $100m vainly searching for oil. How many other companies have done the same? This taxation, as the Treasurer pointed out, wisely takes cognisance of these facts and it is in the context of exciting new mineral discoveries that pressure finally has been brought to bear on the Government to recognise the necessity for amendment of the Act.
At this point it would be wise, 1 am sure, to draw attention to the statement of the Treasurer, in his second reading speech, where he points out the special circumstances of the mining industry. The shadow Treasurer clearly pointed out that mining deals with a wasting asset. It is a different kind of business from any other business in the community. It is different from the manufacturing industry because when one starts manufacturing one usually has a small beginning, a small capital outlay and a small return. If the business is successful it begins to grow and eventually builds up its asset.
Millions upon millions of dollars - the figure of $2, 500m has been mentioned tonight - will be expended by companies not all of whom will be successful in terms of their search for reward. In the early stages of exploration, as I have just mentioned, very large sums indeed can be spent abortively seeking an ore body or an oil reservoir without any return from the operation. Another reason why mining is different from any other industry is that when it is successful it usually requires massive investment of a developmental nature. This is one ground on which I would be critical of the Act, because I believe that in discussing the question of ports and harbours not enough significance is placed upon the fact that, whereas a manufacturing industry takes cognisance of the proximity of its projected site to a port - it goes looking for an area where a port is favourably situated for its operation - a miner has not this opportunity. He must take his ore body where he finds it, and at the nearest practicable point he must construct his wharf and build his port facilities. Therefore, I think there is one fallacy in what the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said when he pointed out that, with regard to port facilities, he felt it was unwise to discriminate between the mining industry and other industries of the Commonwealth. Mining is different in this regard.
Then, frequently when the operation begins, it is found that the whole of the finance cannot be obtained within Australia for these vast undertakings. Only a week ago I was speaking to the Minister in charge of the development of the north west of Western Australia and he told me of $ 1,000m of private enterprise money which must go into one area of that vast State in the next few years for development. This kind of money, of course, in the search for capital in expanding Australia, cannot possibly be obtained from within our own resources. What is the alternative that the Opposition proposes to the very arithmetic that was quoted to the House tonight? Is it that we should slow down our rate of development? Is it that a halt should be called to the kind of growth which is taking place in Australia at the present moment? Though it may be true that, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has pointed out, because of this legislation certain tax is forgone, at the same time the ultimate quantum of taxation received - the return to the Treasury, the growth of the economy, the expansion of our ability to develop this nation financially - is significantly increased by the discoveries that are made.
Undoubtedly the most striking difference between mining and other types of industrial activity is, as has been mentioned, that the ore, when it is discovered, is a wasting asset’, and the Government has clearly recognised this in its income tax provisions for the mining industry. In a little booklet that the Commissioner of Taxation has published, he sums up the position as follows:
While capital expenditure is not an allowable deduction under the general provisions of the income tax law, the position of the mining industry is distinguishable from that of other industries since its reserves of raw material cannot be replaced. As a mine is worked, the ore body comes nearer to exhaustion and there is generally a corresponding diminution of the value of assetsassociated with the venture.
The mining industry is one of the few industries that can make and has made a positive contribution to decentralisation and to the development of remote areas. One glance at the map of Australia illustrates this fact very significantly. It is evident that the tax provisions at present applicable to exploration and mining in Australia, most of which have applied only in the past 25 years - in other words, most of it during the lifetime of this Government - have been a major factor in stimulating Australia’s post-war growth. Experience has shown that in Australia and in oversea countries the underground development of even marginal mining properties not uncommonly leads to the discovery of major ore bodies. Therefore, one very strong plea that 1 make to all those associated with the taxation aspect as well as the development aspect of our mineral search industry is that they do not overlook the significance of what are today apparently marginal deposits.
I would recall some of the great ore bodies which have been discovered in the world, exploitation of which began with the mounting of an apparently marginal, if at all profitable, operation. Mount Isa itself is a case in point. For many years this mine struggled for existence on a silver lead zinc deposit of rather indifferent grade and certainly difficult metallurgy, lt was only later when a copper ore body was discovered some 200 feet from the surface that the whole prognosis for that mining operation changed. This is true of others. I could cite examples from Western Australia and elsewhere. What is today a marginal property, needing all of the assistance that governments can give and all of the incentives of the taxation legislation, can tomorrow lead to more profitable, indeed at times excitingly profitable, operations.
So the mining provisions of the taxation laws do no more than recognise the special situation of the industry. This is exactly as it should be because, I believe, here we have one of the principal planks in the exciting growth of Australia into the situation of tomorrow. The Treasurer, when he brought down this Bill and made his second reading speech, drew attention to these very facts and to the point I have mentioned that only in 1 963 was the petroleum legislation changed, broadened and made more suited to the modern situation. He went on to say that the provisions contained in this Bill are based on a broadly similar approach to that adopted in respect of petroleum operations.
One of the disappointments that I and many other people connected with the industry have is that no attempt has been made to reconcile sections 77a and 77aa of the Income Tax Act. Section 77a provides the means whereby the whole of the contributions made directly to companies exploring for oil can be counted as deductions for taxation purposes. Section 77aa makes the same provision in regard to minerals. At the present moment it is necessary for an Australian exploring company to state which of the two operations it is about. If a petroleum exploration company, which has raised its capital by bringing money from its shareholders under the provisions of section 77a, encounters during its preliminary exploration a geophysical anomaly which needs investigation because it could prove to be a mineral deposit, or if in the course of its drilling it were to come across an example of mineralisation which required further examination, it may not be able to continue to do that very thing, because its funds would be frozen under the existing laws. It may be that this particular anomaly or body of mineralisation is not yet significant enough to enable the company to go to the public and, by floating a new company, get the capital that is necessary to examine these deposits. In other words, it would not be justifiable to ask people to take the high risk that would be involved in those circumstances without further proving. Yet by definition money that has set it about its petroleum search cannot be diverted in any instance to its expansion into the mineral field. This I believe to be undesirable.
I realise that there are different policy considerations relating to each of these two sections, but 1 would make an appeal for consideration to be given to this matter by the Government, because I believe there is benefit to flow from bringing these two sections into one commonality, just as has been done under the new section 77c, which relates to one-third of the calls made by a mining company, whether it is concerned with petroleum or minerals, being a deduction for taxation purposes. It is claimed that this is not easy to do. Division X of the Act provides that later, when production is achieved, there may be a deduction of expenses incurred in exploration. It is claimed that if these things were mixed up, a company going about both oil and mineral exploration might attribute expenses incurred in one field to the other field for the purpose of improperly claiming a deduction. It is my contention that it would be relatively easy for such a company to form its own subsidiary and the entire book-keeping relating to one or the other activity - mineral exploration or petroleum exploration - could be kept completely separate. Indeed, the company could do the bookkeeping work of the Department for itself.
As the Treasurer continued with his explanation of this Bill he mentioned a number of significant ways in which changes were considered. There are just two others that I should like to point out at this early morning hour. I have already mentioned that the cost of the actual provision of a port is not deductible for capital purposes under this legislation. This leads to a rather strange situation. Let us consider some of the ports that may be required in future in Australia: I think of the Gulf of Carpentaria where a port might be required to ship phosphate or of a new port in Western Australia, for instance, at Cape Keraudren, north of Port Hedland, for the shipment of iron ore. Under this new legislation a company building a port in localities such as those could expect no relief from taxation for the original deepening of the water for the construction of the port or for the preliminary surveys and other works leading to the preparation of the deep water port. In a previous debate this evening attention was drawn to the ever increasing size of tankers, up to the construction now of tankers of 500,000 tons gross dead weight. When one considers ships of this size and the kind of ports they will require, it becomes apparent that any company thinking about the efficient and profitable carriage of its ore, particularly if it is able to deal in C and F negotiations and contracts, will be looking for the deepest available ports. In doing so it has to take into consideration the fact that the cost of dredging and other works for the provision of deep water close to a port is no longer deductible under this legislation. ‘ It would be possible for the company, apparently, to engage in a mammoth construction job for a great wharf jutting out from the coast until it reached deep water rather than going about dredging, because it would seem to me that under this legislation the amount spent on the construction of a wharf is an allowable taxation deduction. Therefore the legislation is encouraging what seems to me to be the ridiculous practice of building unnecessarily long wharves in order to obtain income tax relief.
Time is passing rapidly and I do not want to dwell on this aspect because there is another feature of the Bill that I trust will not lead to difficulties, although I am filled with forebodings. I refer to proposed section 77c, which replaces section 78 (1.) (b), and which makes it clear that, to be an allowable deduction, expenditure must be directed to exploration and the discovery of new ore bodies, and not to mining purposes as hitherto. The provision details activities that are acceptable under the definition of exploration or prospecting. It refers to geological mapping and other work that constitute the preliminaries of a search and then states that exploration or prospecting means the ‘search for ore within or in the vicinity of an ore body by drives, shafts, cross-cuts, winzes, rises and drilling, but does not include operations in the course of working a mining property’. I believe these latter words ‘but does not include operations in the course of working a mining property’, even when read in the light of the explanatory memoranda, are nevertheless open to a very ambiguous construction and meaning. In a mine such as the Mount lsa mine, where rich copper ore bodies occur in random distribution throughout the silica-dolomite section of the mine, without any kind of geological clue as to where they are to be found, the exploration of further ore bodies is carried out underground largely by drilling out drives from the main shaft at regular intervals. By luck or good management a new ore body altogether is encountered and it is then mined. Just where the prospecting side of the operation leads off and the actual mining begins is a nice point of distinction. 1 suggest that there is a necessity for a generous interpretation to be given by the department, particularly in the case of a very small Australian company which discovers a small ore body and starts to get a return for its money. Because its resources are limited its capital-raising facilities are limited. The company starts off on a mining operation which is marginal. It tries to get a return from the operation, but all the time it is hoping that by extending the operation, by carrying out underground drilling and other drilling, and perhaps by driving in various directions suggested by the geology terrain, it will encounter larger ore bodies and so be able to grow into a significant mining operation. I suggest that every encouragement must be given and a very generous interpretation of this provision should be made by the department in the interests of the development of smaller Australian mining operations in particular.
The last point to which I want to draw attention relates to the non-deductibility of moneys which are spent in mining operations beyond the point of concentration of an ore. At first sight this provision appears fair enough, because in most cases processes such as smelting, sintering, calcining and so on, which follow concentration, are carried out as secondary processes, quite often in remote areas nearer a port or a town. Therefore they can properly be regarded almost as manufacturing processes consequent upon mining. But let me give one clear and stark illustration of the way in which this provision could be used to hamper the development of mining in Australia. I refer to the Petno mine at Tennant Creek where 26% of the expenses of the operating company are related to transportation costs. In that operation the ores are concentrated on the site and concentrates, usually between 25% and 27% of metal, are then carried a long distance to Port Augusta in South Australia. About 26% of the company’s income is spent carrying 25%, 26% or 27% concentrate. In other words, at least 73% of the material carried to the port as such great expense is mullock; it is profitless material. If it were possible in the future to have a smelter installed at Tennant Creek, perhaps using natural gas from Mereenie or elsewhere, and if the operations were to produce not just a concentrate as at present, but blister copper, which is virtually pure copper, all the transportation costs would be incurred in taking metal to the coast, not concentrate which is only 27% metal.
It is obvious to me that every encouragement must be given to a company in a remote locality such as that to which 1 have referred to go further than the concentration stage. It should be encouraged to use our natural resources, to build a smelter, to help increase the size of the outback town, to add its weight to decentralisation and. so improve the general picture of mining in Australia. In the time available to me these are just some of the observations that I would make on this legislation. While I have pointed to one or two loopholes - to one or two areas which may not even be loopholes but just areas needing a generous clarification in the future - I believe that this legislation is desirable. It is to be welcomed. The Government is to be congratulated on spelling out what will be looked upon by other countries and other legislatures as a very desirable, comprehensive and capable piece of work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Freeth) read a third time.
Thursday, 30 May 1968
Debate resumed from 15 May (vide page 1440), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill gives the Australian Canned Fruits Board power to borrow money under a Commonwealth guarantee of repayment. The Board already has limited borrowing powers, under Commonwealth guarantee, provided by section 18 of the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act, but the Board’s activities are restricted to the purchase and sale of canned fruits. These are activities which the Board has not found necessary to engage in as yet. The amendment to the Principal Act gives the Board power to borrow for the purpose of carrying on its other functions as prescribed in sections 16 to 22 of the Act.
The Opposition supports the Bill. The powers now to be conferred on the Board are already possessed by other marketing boards, such as the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian Dairy Produce Marketing Board. The Australian Canned Fruits Board has an important role to play in promoting the sale of Australian canned fruits overseas. It is important that it should not be restricted in any of these activities due to unavailability of funds at a particular time. Although the Board has an assured monthly income from canners, it may need an amount of money at the start of a year or at some time during the year when it is planning and needs to pay for promotional activities. lt would be idle to pretend that all is well in the canned fruits industry. I refer particularly to canned deciduous fruits - apricots, peaches, pears and mixed fruits. These represent by far the major proportion of fruits canned. This Bill springs from the fact that difficulties have been experienced in selling our canned fruits overseas. The industry has experienced a period of great expansion in production in the past few years. Between 1961 and 1966 production more than doubled from 4.8 million cartons a year to 9.8 million cartons. That increase continued in 1967, although I do not have details of the increase. The Board’s latest report is apparently not yet available. Production will continue to increase for at least another 2 or 3 years due to new plantings in new orchard areas, greater productivity and better and more scientific methods of growing. It is obvious that plantings in recent years have yet to come into full production. The quantity of fruit available for canning will continue to increase for at least 2 or 3 years to come. On the other hand, this increased production has forced the industry to face the challenge of the need to sell greatly increased quantities of its products overseas. It must sell overseas because the Australian home consumption market takes up only in the vicinity of 30% of Australia’s annual production. Indeed, on the home market itself the industry is facing quite severe competition from canned pineapples - remember I am talking about canned deciduous fruits - and other things such as canned ice cream which is readily available to housewives in the supermarkets these days. It is suffering competition also from special and readyprepared packed sweets which housewives are apt to use these days.
The Australian canners have experienced very strong competition from their overseas competitors, particularly from South Africa. The South African canners enjoy several very important advantages over Australian canners in that they have lower labour costs and certainly a much shorter distance to convey their goods to the European markets, particularly the United Kingdom. This shorter distance means much lower freight rates. South African canners have become formidable competitors, particularly on the United Kingdom market which is and has been our major market for many years. In fact, the industry was set up around the supply of canned fruit to the British market.
The Australian canners have been successful to a degree in meeting this challenge of the need to increase sales overseas. Although their sales have advanced remarkably, the plain fact is that there is a mounting carry-over of unsold stocks. There was a carry-over of 1.5 million cartons in 1.965 and a carry-over of 1.9 million cartons in 1966. I understand that the carry-over for 1967 was even greater.
Let me say here that the co-operative canners have done their best to take up all of the fruit produced by the growers in their respective districts. I know that in some cases this has placed a severe strain upon the financial capacity of some co-operatives. In some cases, it has meant a trading loss. I refer in particular to the Shepparton Preserving Co. in the Goulburn Valley where I understand that, because the company has stretched itself to capacity, it is holding large stocks that it has not been able to dispose of. It has done this in an effort to take all the fruit which the local growers have produced.
The Board and indeed the canners have been very wise in seeking to diversify their sales away from the United Kingdom market. There is an old saying that you can have too many eggs in one basket. This has certainly applied for a number of years to the canned fruit industry in relation to the United Kingdom. It is certainly a saying which can be applied when one thinks about the threat of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and the disabilities that the industry can suffer through severe losses on its principal market.
In 1964, which is only 3i years ago, we sold some 90% of our export canned fruit on the British market. In 1966, this quantity dropped to 65%. This was not so much because of a swing away from the United Kingdom as it was due to a vigorous expansion of other markets, which is a good thing. The canners have had success in developing markets in Canada and West Germany. They have increased their sales volume substantially in those two countries. It is interesting to note that the increased sales to Germany have come in the face of a very high tariff of over 25%, which is a quite substantial barrier. Of course, this barrier is the known policy of the European Economic Community.
The Acting Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) spoke of overproduction in the industry, but, of course, over-production occurs only when, after making every effort to do so, we cannot sell the volume of a commodity which has been produced. Apparently the Acting Minister for Primary Industry and, I presume, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), who is absent overseas, feel that if a stage of over-production has not already been reached in this industry that stage is rapidly approaching. This means that we are at a stage where we are producing so much canned fruit that we cannot sell it overseas, making Government action to meet this impending crisis an urgent need for the next summer season. The Minister said in his second reading speech that the Government is awaiting an industry plan for rationalisation of the industry. I point out to honourable members that it is the Government’s responsibility to act without waiting for industry to do so. It should be remembered that Governments, both Commonwealth and State, have encouraged growers to become established and to increase production. They certainly should not be left now to shoulder the burden or the blow which will come with what the Minister chooses to call over-production.
I want to say something at this stage about the ridiculous position in which our Constitution leaves us in relation to sales and the planning for sales overseas. As an example I refer to a report which appeared recently in the Press in which it was stated that Sir Henry Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, had indicated that he had been approached by the Federal Government with a request not to increase the number of dairy farms in Victoria. It is quite obvious, although nothing has been said in this Parliament about it, why the Federal Government has approached the Victorian Government and perhaps the governments of other States; it is because of its announced plan to spend $25m on rationalisation of the dairying industry. As part of the plan there is to be an endeavour to get some dairy farmers to produce alternative primary products which can be sold more easily and more profitably overseas. I gathered the impression from the Press report that this approach to Sir Henry resulted in a complete rejection by him. Apparently he said that if land was available he would put people on to dairy farms. Apparently he does not care about and gives no consideration to our market prospects. I believe that the Premier of Victoria by adopting this attitude shows a complete absence of responsibility in respect of the future of the individual farmer and of the primary producing industry. I shall tie up my remarks with canned fruits in a moment. I am mentioning this point as an example. I believe that any thinking person will agree that it would be a mistake to continue to expand production of any commodity which cannot be sold at a profitable price. I think that this is a pretty fair basis for our thinking.
I have mentioned the dairying industry and the attitude taken by Sir Henry Bolte. I suppose that if Sir Henry had the opportunity, despite the dismal prospects before the canned fruits industry he would put farmers or orchardists on to new orchards. Quite plainly expansion of the canned fruits industry must stop. The Federal Parliament has a task under the Constitution to achieve and to manage the sale overseas of our surplus production. I am speaking specifically of primary production at the moment. State governments, which have no such responsibility, can encourage the expansion of any industry without thought for or regard to future sales prospects. Surely an essential in any business venture is to plan production after making a proper research of the market. We must pattern our production on our sales prospects. We have reached a quite ridiculous situation in Australia where this principle is no longer applied. In fact it has not applied for a long time. I presume that this is principally a constitutional problem because this Parliament has the responsibility for the export of primary and other products and the States have the opportunity to encourage any sort of production they like without having any responsibility for selling it profitably.
Earlier this year I visited the Goulburn Valley region in Victoria in company with Senator Poyser. My intention or desire was to make an on the spot assessment of the canned fruits industry. I undertook inspections of orchards and fruit processing factories, including those of the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd and the Ardmona Fruit Products Co. Ltd. I had discussions with representatives of the Northern Victoria Fruitgrowers Association, leaders of the industry, both growers and canners, and fruitgrowers themselves. I was impressed by the efficiency of the industry, both on the orchard side and on the cannery side. I was impressed by its modern methods and the way it has sought to meet the challenge of increased production and increased community costs. I was particularly impressed by the canners’ bulk handling methods, their mechanisation and their modern machinery which altogether have enabled them to achieve tremendous gains in productivity. 1 believe that the industry has played its part well in trying to conquer the cost problem - a problem which this Government is guilty of foisting upon all primary industries and a problem which, when there is no cost-plus market, becomes crippling unless increased productivity or government action can relieve it. Export prices generally received by the canned fruits industry are lower now than they were 15 or even 10 years ago. Taking the year ended 30th June 1950 as the base, production and marketing expenses for the farming community generally have risen more than two and one-half times. I must thank the legislative research service of the Parliamentary Library for the following information, lt relates to indexes of prices paid by farmers in Australia and is compiled from statistics published in the Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economies’.
Total production and marketing expenses, on a base of 100 in June 1950, rose to 263 in 1966-67. So, in reality the production and marketing expenses of farmers today are 2.7 times what they were in 1950. It is also interesting to note that farmers’ living expenses, on a base of 100 in June 1950, are now 246. So living costs on farms are now 2.5 times what they were in 1950. When we think back to that promise to put value back in the £1, which was made- in 1949. it sounds rather hollow now.
– Who made that promise?
– Of course, it was made by the present Liberal-Country Party Government. The Government certainly has no reason to be proud of the fact that production and marketing expenses have risen 2.7 times and living expenses have risen 2.5 times since that promise was made. Quite clearly, this industry, as has been the case in all other primary industries, has been under great cost pressure. Of course, it has added troubles, along with many other primary industries, in the problems arising from the devaluation of sterling. We must remember that, in 1966, 65% of our exports of canned fruits went to Great Britain. One of the questions about the Government’s promise to compensate people in respect of the devaluation of sterling is: For how long will it last? This is a point that I put to the Minister. There is great concern among primary producers as to just how long this compensation will last.
I know that the first of the compensation in respect of this year’s trading was announced the other day. lt was in relation to the apple and pear industry. The amount was 50c a case for apples and 53c a case for pears. I. only mention this in passing. The amount is rather astonishing; the industry considered that it would receive between 70c and 80c. The whole of the industry is wondering, when they do get something for this year, how long it will last. What will the situation be next year? The 14% reduction in the value of sterling wil’l still continue year after year. What is the position? This is the question all primary industry is asking today. A further blow, of course, is that the British Government is quite adamant about its intention at some time or other, probably as soon as possible, to join the European Common Market. This is a threat which does not promise anything good for the canned fruit industry in Australia. The future does not seem to bc rosy. Plainly the Government should not delay too long before taking action to resolve the industry’s difficulties.
A special problem was brought to my notice when I visited the Goulburn Valley. I spoke to a number of growers who had been supplying pears particularly but fruit generally to Smorgon and Sons Pty Ltd, a private canning firm, which discontinued canning last season, lt had been the practice of that firm to can something like 6,000 or 7,000 tons of fruit a year, all from the Goulburn Valley. Because it regarded the prospects overseas as being unfavourable and could not foresee profitable sales in that year, it decided not to can at all. A number of growers had varying dependence upon the firm. A few growers had contracts to supply their total production of fruit every year for a number of years. Others dwindled away to 70%, 50% and 40% and only a small part of their production. They were left out on a limb, as it were, when Smorgon and Sons Pty Ltd announced that it would not can. At this stage the co-operative canneries in the area had their own problem they received a good deal of fruit from their own regular suppliers and were not anxious to take any extra fruit from other growers. The problem reached the stage where some 500 or 600 tons of fruit was put aside in store around the district and, I understand, was used later by co-operative canneries. But the plain fact was that, when I inspected some of the orchards there was fruit lying on the ground rotting because this canning firm had stopped its canning operations.
This was a special problem, lt may happen again. It may be that because the prospects are not rosy for the canned fruit industry next year or the year after, other private canning interests will cease their operations. The Government ought to look at this problem. I know that representatives of those growers approached the Department of Trade and Industry and some sort of action was attempted, but it was not successful. Before we reach the summer season, when the growers will again have fruit on the trees and nowhere to send it, the Government ought to have a good look at the situation to see what it can do to relieve the plight of the growers, particularly those who have most or all of their fruit production involved. The Opposition supports the Bill.
– The hour is extremely late and, by and large, I would like to support everything that the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton), who led for the Opposition, said when speaking to the Bill. I reserve my right to differ from the opinions he expressed when his remarks were wide of the Bill although I go along with him in his references to the problems inherent in Commonwealth and State relationships because my experience in South Australia indicates that his observations have a certain amount of validity.
This Bill is narrow in its implications and all I can do is point out that this amending measure is essential to the canned fruit industry. I note that the Minister, in his second reading speech, said that the Board had an income from collections of excise tax on sales of canned fruit in the domestic market. That is so, but I would point out very briefly that the industry’s resources are strained. It has had a very tough 12 months and I reserve the right to comment, perhaps on a future occasion when a similar Bill with wider implications is introduced, on the tremendous disadvantages the industry has suffered as a result of the Kennedy Round negotiations which cut our advantage in the United Kingdom and Canadian markets for apricots by almost 50%. I should like to comment on that matter later at length and also on the increased cost of production as a result of increased labour charges at canneries. In addition, at a later date I should like to refer to the adverse effects of the devaluation of the United Kingdom currency and, to a lesser extent, of the New Zealand currency.
With those reservations I support the Bill wholeheartedly. I think it is timely and necessary. I advise the Government to keep a very close watch on the peculiar problems of this industry while it tries to rationalise itself again after being hit by the three rather severe difficulties that I have already mentioned.
– The main feature of this Bill is that it will enable canners to obtain loans to enable them to make early payments to those who deliver fruit to them. This sort of financial arrangement is fundamental in many marketing organisations. I need mention only the dried fruits and wheat industries. I support the Bill and therefore there is no need to speak about it, but I must say that I do not agree with the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who said that he agreed with everything the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) had said. I thought the honourable member for
Bendigo beat about the bush a lot and said that many things should be done, but he did not give the slightest hint of what should be done. He said that the Government should take action, but what kind of action?
I think the honourable member for Bendigo is acting in a dual role. First of all, he said that primary industry was suffering from its high cost structure. One would gather from him that the high cost structure was evident only in Australia. That is not so. It is a world wide condition. I know that primary industry is suffering from it. I know also that the honourable member for Bendigo represents some primary industry interests as well as some secondary industry interests in the city of Bendigo. Furthermore, the Australian Labor Party generally is a secondary industry party, not a primary industry party. In fact, not one Labor man would represent a rural area unless he received the majority of his votes from the metropolitan section of his electorate.
-Order! I think the honourable member had better return to the Bill.
– I am merely replying to the honourable member for Bendigo who referred to high costs. I believe that high costs result from the action of manufacturing industries which simply change their price tag when their costs increase as, for example, when the workers receive a wage increase. This is the high cost he was speaking about. Costs and wages are rising all the time and finally are passed on to primary industry. I just mention this in passing. That is why the Australian Country Party has always said that these industries should be stabilised. Reference has been made to what the Government has done for the industry in the Goulburn Valley. The honourable member for Bendigo said that he twice made a trip to the Goulburn Valley. He made a trip, of course, to Mildura to have a look at the dried fruits industry there and he became an expert overnight on the subject.
I want to say that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), who represents the Goulburn Valley, in conjunction with the Government has done more for the canned fruits industry than any man in the history of the organisation. I believe that the honourable member for Bendigo is trying to have a little each way. After all, he is not able to go out and support the primary industry because as a member of the Labor Party he has to support the secondary industry and Labor policy as far as wages and conditions are concerned.
– Mr Speaker, I will try to restrict my remarks to the Bill in a speech lasting only 3 minutes. I want to point out that the Australian Labor Party has made many suggestions regarding positive action that can be carried out.
– I said the honourable member for Bendigo.
– The honourable member said the Labor Party, too.
– 1 did not say the Labor Party.
– I am sorry. My ears have not been tested lately, but I am sure the Labor Party was accused of not having any positive suggestions to improve on this policy. The point is that this Bill, good as it is, is a very limited one, and the Commonwealth could take certain measures to improve the situation of this industry. For instance, the Commonwealth could increase export action, lt has spent a lot of money fostering export action with publicity on television and so on for secondary industries, but it has done nothing in this respect for primary industries in regard to publicity. The Government could also do much by helping the States in their surveys. Although this is not a Federal field of action, the Commonwealth could use its agricultural resources and officers to help these industries to move into better local markets.
The Commonwealth could help in a number of other ways. If the Government went to the States and offered help in this way it would give a little more encouragement to the industry. I believe that Ministers would find plenty of suggestions if they went looking for them, particularly in the pineapple canning industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15 May (vide page 1470), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is purely a technical measure to correct an anomoly or a doubt consequent upon the introduction of withholding tax and the Opposition offers no objection to the passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I will not delay the House for long, and I am doing so only because I believe that some matters pertaining to my electorate should be brought to the attention of the House. The unemployment figures for the Geelong district in April reveal that 971 people are receiving unemployment benefit, representing a 40% increase over the figure for the previous month. This grave situation is principally attributable to the effects of the recent drought. The Geelong Employment Committee, which was established in 1961 when unemployment in the area was extremely serious, met recently and decided to request that urgent action be taken to alleviate a situation that is again deteriorating and could result in a depressed state of affairs in the area throughout the winter months of this year.
People engaged in secondary industry in the district are almost entirely dependent for their employment opportunities upon the results of local primary production. If the April unemployment figure is followed by the normal employment pattern for the winter months it is more than likely that by September 2,000 people will be receiving unemployment benefit. It is clear that this situation requires urgent action and 1 have taken the opportunity to write to the Prime Minister and bring it to his attention. I have raised this matter tonight in the hope that the Government will view this problem as an urgent one. It requires more urgent action than would normally be required at a similar time of the year. Councils and other bodies which make up the Geelong Employment Committee have requested that a special grant of $500,000 be made for allocation to municipal and other public works in the district so that the employment slack may be taken up.
Primary production in the Geelong area has been hard hit by the drought. Traders in the area have found that their incomes have dropped by about 20%. As people in receipt of unemployment benefit are a charge on the Commonwealth, the allocation of a slightly larger sum than is being spent in this way could give people gainful employment and a chance to perform useful service for the community. For this reason I ask the Government to treat the employment committee’s request urgently and to do everything it possibly can to ensure that finance is injected into this area. It is much better to have people working than have them sitting around and spending their savings, which is the worst thing possible for a worker. Also I ask the Government to consider reviewing its policy of dismissing people from its own services in areas where the employment problem assumes serious proportions. The Department of Supply and the Government Aircraft Factory, in Geelong are standing workers down. Moreover the Country Roads Board a State Government instrumentality, is dismissing employees. Residents of a shire are able to obtain drought relief employment. However, people who live in the three cities which make up about half the Geelong urban area are not able to obtain such relief. It is a shocking anomaly that a man who lives on one side of a street in a shire area can be eligible for drought relief employment whereas a man living on the other side of the street which is in a municipal area and has previously been employed in the same industry, is not entitled to such relief.
I do not wish to delay the House any further but I do ask that the Government treat this matter seriously and give it urgent consideration. If, as is quite often the case, consideration of this request is delayed for a couple of months we will find that it will be September and things will be starting to pick up again, although many people will have spent a lot of time idling away the hours and their productive capacity will have been lost to the country and to the community generally.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.56 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
ns asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 3. In July 1965 Mr Albert Date commenced proceedings in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in London against the Commonwealth, the State of Victoria and the Herald and Weekly Times Limited. Mr Date claimed damages of £100,000 for alleged alienation by the Commonwealth of the affections of his wife and daughters and for financial losses and anxieties and ill health claimed to be suffered directly and indirectly in consequence of such alienation.
An application was made on behalf of the Commonwealth to set aside the writ on the ground that the Commonwealth was entitled to sovereign immunity in the Courts of the United Kingdom. A similar application was made on behalf of the State of Victoria.
These applications were heard by the Master of the Queen’s Bench Division on 7th October 1965 when the applications were allowed wilh costs. The Commonwealth’s costs were subsequently taxed and allowed in the sum of £E 109 8s lOd.
– On 9th May the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) asked the Prime Minister a question about an annual event in Tasmania referred to as the Avoca kangaroo shoot. The Prime Minister undertook to provide further information about the matter.
The Commonwealth does not have power under the Constitution to make laws with respect to the protection of wild life in the States and there is, therefore, no Commonwealth legislation that is relevant.
The honourable member may have observed an article that appeared in the Hobart ‘Mercury’ on 23rd May 1968, reporting the Chairman of the Tasmanian Animals and Birds Protection Board as saying that the Board’s policy was to have its officers attend the Avoca shoot to observe that no breach of the Board’s regulations is committed and that the shoot involved wallabies and not kangaroos.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. No statistics are available showing separate figures of investment by Australian financial institutions in projects of ‘national development importance’. However, it is known that Australian financial institutions are subscribing large amounts to issues by companies engaged in developmental projects such as iron ore, aluminium, oil, natural gas, fertilisers, etc.
Many developmental projects of national importance are also included in the capital expenditure programmes of the public authority sector, which a’re in part financed from Commonwealth and semi-governmental loan raisings. Australian financial institutions, including savings banks, life companies and superannuation funds, contribute very substantially to these loans. lt is expected that Australian financial institutions will in addition invest in securities issued by the Australian Resources Development Bank, which aims to increase Australian participation in the development of our natural resources.
Nevertheless, during the current financial year, Commonwealth loans totalling $54 million have been raised on the London and West German markets. Agreements have also been signed in the United States, Canada and Germany for loans totalling $80 million on behalf of Qantas and TAA and, apart from the defence credits with the Export-Import Bank, a special loan for $22 million has been arranged with that institution to assist in financing the import of capital equipment from the United States.
West German and other European financial and commercial interests are showing increased interest in investing in development projects in Australia on a debenture capital basis and I understand that several Australian companies have recently been investigating the possibility of issuing debentures on these and other oversea public capital markets. However, it seems that in most cases Australian companies have been deterred by the high borrowing costs which would be involved and have preferred to obtain their requirements partly on the Australian market, where interest rates are lower, and partly by other privately negotiated arrangements overseas, including loans from associated overseas companies.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Representations concerning the effects of the devaluation of sterling and other currencies have been received in respect of the major rural export commodities affected by the devaluations, and these representations are being examined by the Devaluation Reporting Committee. Decisions have been taken by the Government to compensate statutory marketing authorities for losses arising from their inability to obtain forward exchange cover, and to pay compensation of 50c per bushel on apples and 53c per bushel on pears exported in 1968 to countries which devalued in November 1967. Examination of representations in respect of other commodities is proceeding.
The Manufactured Exports Devaluation Committee, which was set up to investigate the effects of the devaluations on exporters of manufactured products, has received and is examining representations from firms engaged in the production of a variety of manufactured products exported from Australia.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What amount of taxation will be returned to each of the States under the uniform taxation agreement during 1967-68?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Presumably, the honourable member is referring to the financial assistance grants payable to the States under the States Grants Act 1965-67. These grants are not related to the amount of taxation collected by the Commonwealth.
The present estimates of the financial assistance grants payable to each State in the current financial year are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680529_reps_26_hor59/>.