26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr BURY presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House take the necessary steps to repeal those amendments to the national service legislation which undermine the rights of individuals and of educational and other institutions.
Mr CLARK presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr Luchetti and Mr Connor.
Petitions severally received.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Swartz, left Australia recently to visit New Zealand. He will return on Friday, 7th June. During his absence the Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Scott, will act as Minister for Civil Aviation, and the Minister for National Development, Mr Fairbairn. will handle civil aviation matters in this House.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Early last month the right honourable gentleman told the honourable member for Lang that he was looking forward with great zest to making statements to the House on matters of national importance. As we would all regard his recent visit to the United States as falling in this category 1 ask him whether he will make a statement on the trip. I notice that the blue business sheet which has been circulated makes no mention of any such statement. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether in that statement, or failing any statement, now, he will elaborate on the reply which he gave at his Blair House Press conference to the question whether the ANZUS treaty would apply to Australian troops in Malaysia and Singapore. The right honourable gentleman said:I would not say anything definite - I don’t know I can give you any definite answer - ANZUS is a treaty. I think it applies in certain defined areas but I would want to check this with the External Affairs people before I was sure that was correct’. I ask: Has the right honourable gentleman checked with the Department of External Affairs about this matter and can he say now, as a result of that checking and his talks in Washington, whether ANZUS would apply in the case of an attack on Australian troops stationed in Singapore or West Malaysia?
– I propose at a later hour today to make a statement on the visit I made to the United States of America, which will be short and factual but which, I hope, will cover some of the questions which may be in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Has his attention been drawn to the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s recent ‘Four Corners’ programme which showed alarming results consequent to over-use of non-prescription drugs containing phenacetin? If so, can he say what the Commonwealth Government has done or is doing to deal with this problem?
– I did see this programme and thought it was a valuable exercise in warning the public of the danger of these drugs. This matter has been considered on a number of occasions by the National Health and Medical Research Council. It was last considered in November last year. Although the Council indicated that these preparations should not become prescription drugs, it did warn of the dangers of long and over-use of them, particularly those containing phenacetin. The Council did recommend that a warning label referring to the dangers of over-use should be put on packets containing the drugs. Any action relating to the adoption of that recommendation is, of course, a matter for the respective State governments.
– I ask the Treasurer: What was the reaction of Sir Richard Kirby to the right honourable gentleman’s warning on the dangers of wages outstripping production? Does the right honourable gentleman agree that this warning might have been described as an attempted direction or suggestion to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to refrain from increasing wages? Is it not true that rent, interest and profits inflate costs prior to the Court or wages tribunals giving wage or salary increases?
– As to the first part of the honourable member’s question, I did note Sir Richard’s reaction carefully and the only comment I could make is that he smiled benignly. As to the second part of the honourable’s member’s question, I can see nothing wrong with pointing out economic truisms. I pointed out an economic truism that if increases in wages and salaries, in real terms, exceeded rises in productivity then there could be only one consequence over a period of time and that was inflationary tendencies. I consequently pointed out that under today’s circumstances, we should be attempting to restrain inflationary pressures because of the danger to our primary industries and to our other export industries that are doing so much to help our balance of payments problem.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, relates to the wording of death certificates of exservicemen who die in repatriation hospitals. I preface it by referring to the death in a repatriation hospital of a man who fought in the Gallipoli campaign. His death certificate bore the words:
We are of the opinion that Mr . . . was affected with lunacy at the time of his death.
In the interests of common decency and in consideration of the feelings of the exserviceman’s family, will the Minister use his influence to see that in future in similar cases the Repatriation Department will use the words ‘of unsound mind due to war injuries’ in the place of the word ‘lunacy’ on death certificates?
– I will see that the honourable gentleman’s question is referred to the Minister in another place and that a suitable reply is prepared for him.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Interior. Has Professor Frederick Rose been denied permission to land on Groote Eylandt on a visit sponsored by the Institute of Aboriginal Studies? Is it not a fact that he is an internationally known social anthropologist and recognised as a world authority on the Aboriginals of the area? Is the Minister aware that the Professor had previously obtained permits to enter the Aboriginal reserve in 1938, 1939 and 1941, that he accompanied the AustralianAmerican Arnhem Land scientific expedition in 1948 and that he again visited the reserve in 1965? Is the Minister aware that a long-term resident of the area has said that the Aboriginals would welcome the Professor back? In view of these facts will the Minister explain why a permit has been refused to Professor Rose on the ground that it would be contrary to the interests of the Aboriginals?
– It is a fact that Professor Rose has been banned from visiting Groote Eylandt. The reason is that Professor Rose is a Communist.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has he or any representative of his Department been approached at any time by overseas manufacturers who use raw wool concerning improvements in the presentation of the Australian wool clip? Have any suggestions been made by these manufacturers that wool classing and general presentation are not being carried out in the best interests of those concerned? If an approach has been made, can the Minister say what improvements have been suggested that would in the opinion of the manufacturers be of benefit to the Australian woolgrower and the industry generally?
– I am not aware of any recent complaints that may have been lodged, but 1 would not be surprised if complaints had been made. Over the years someone has always complained about the classing of the Australian clip. Those making complaints are always buyers. It is not an unknown gambit for the buyer to depreciate the quality of the article that he is buying. However, that does not mean that there is not from time to time a legitimate ground for complaint. Complaints generally are lodged on the ground of classing, uneven length of staple, uneven diameter of staple and so on. My advice at present is that the Wool Marketing Committee of the Australian Wool Industry Conference is aware of the nature of complaints that have been made and has the matter currently under study. Generally it can be taken that we want the Australian clip, which is so important to the whole of the Australian economy, to be well classed and well presented. To say that offers no apology for the present classing and presentation, for I am sure that the Australian clip is classed and presented incomparably better than the wool clip of any other country is. We are world leaders in this field, but we can always improve. At the same time I am not prepared to be stampeded by the complaints of buyers.
– I ask the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs a question regarding the refusal of a permit to Professor Frederick Rose to visit the Aboriginals of Groote Eylandt. Is Professor Fredrick Rose visiting Australia on a grant from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, on which the honourable gentleman is the representative of this House? I ask the Minister whether he was consulted by the Institute about the grant to the Professor. Was he consulted on the refusal to grant a permit to the Professor to visit Groote Eylandt?
– I have the honour of being a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and of its Council. As it happened, 1 was not present when this particular matter was last under discussion, but I can point out certain matters to the Leader of the Opposition. First, no grant was made for Professor Rose to visit Australia. A grant was made in the sense that if he visited Australia and if he obtained a permit to visit Groote Eylandt, then he would get some money to cover his expenses while he was there. The grant was conditional upon his getting a permit. It was realised that there might be some political difficulties in this matter, and I think the Institute very properly took the view that these political matters were not its concern, particularly since it did not have available to it information on which it could evaluate those matters. For that reason, and after some hesitation, because the value of the project was not immediately apparent to the Institute, it did finally, at a meeting at which I was not present, make this grant. Let me make it clear to the Leader of the Opposition that I support, in its entirety, the decision of the Government not to allow Professor Rose to visit Groote Eylandt.
– What are the reasons?
– If the House would like it, I should be quite happy to elaborate on these reasons. It is not just because Professor Rose is a Communist. He has a particularly bad record of treachery and of prostituting his position as an anthropologist for the gains of the Communist Party. This would be dependent also on the words of the Right Honourable Dr Evatt, who also happened to make some remarks - not personally - about Professor Rose. At the time Dr Evatt might not have been aware of the part that Professor Rose had played in these events, but his remarks were related to the Communist causes with which Professor Rose was associated. The matters in relation to which Professor Rose has prostituted his position as an authority on the Aboriginals have been in the Communist interest.
– I address to the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question which relates to a meeting of the Australian Driver Education National Convention held in South Australia last week and which follows upon a question asked some time ago by the honourable member for Bowman. Did the Minister note that Police Commissioner
McKinna stated that, whereas 201 Australian soldiers have died during the whole Vietnam war, it is estimated that 3,200 persons will die on Australian roads during 1968? Does the Minister agree that many protesters against the war in Vietnam have their priorities badly mixed up?
– I am not in a position to say how many Australians have been killed or injured in the course of the war in Vietnam. It is true that, having regard to the number of fatalities on our roads last year, we can expect that more than 3,200 people will be killed on our roads this year. The conclusion drawn by the honourable member from the comparison of fatalities in Vietnam and fatalities on our roads speaks for itself. Naturally every member of the Australian community is very concerned at the high incidence of fatalities on our roads. A considerable measure of publicity is given to this problem. One sometimes wonders whether, in considering their order of priorities, members of the Opposition have as much concern about fatalities on Australian roads as they have about their explanations of their understanding of the war in Vietnam.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister as Leader of the Government. Will Cabinet, prior to the introduction of this year’s Budget, review the financial plight of superannuation pensioners in the light of increasing costs and their falling standard of living? Are superannuitants receiving net pensions of upwards of $60 a week much worse off financially than other pensioners receiving $40.50 a week plus fringe benefits of tax relief, free pensioner medical service, Postal Department concessions and concessions in respect of rates and travel? If in its financial proposals for 1968-69 the Government does not ease the means test, will the Prime Minister consider the feasibility of providing taxation relief and free hospital and medical services for recipients of superannuation, thus eliminating a longstanding anomaly?
– The honourable member has asked whether Cabinet will give consideration to a matter of policy at a particular time. Announcements as to policy and the consideration of policy by Cabinet are, I understand, matters not appropriate to be dealt with at question time.
– I ask the Minister for Air a question which relates to representations which I have made to him on behalf of the Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation, requesting a government grant to assist with research into unidentified flying objects. Has the Minister seen recent Press reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects in the Wonthaggi district of Victoria? fs he in a position to say whether some Commonwealth assistance in this matter may be expected?
– I have acknowledged receipt from the honourable member of representations seeking Commonwealth assistance in the investigation of reports of unidentified flying objects. This matter is being considered. I cannot undertake to give the honourable member very great encouragement, because as far as governments are concerned, no precise determination has ever been made as to where science fiction begins in relation to reports of unidentified flying objects or to what extent the reports are related to reality.
– The United States of America is making investigations.
– I know that far more intensified investigation of this matter is proceeding in the United States. I hope to be able to give the honourable gentleman a reply to his representations in the near future.
– I ask the Minister for the Army a question. Is it a fact that the Army has three or four different scales of burial costs for Australian servicemen killed in Vietnam and returned to Australia for burial according to whether the Army wholly arranges the burial, whether the parents arrange a non-military funeral or whether the parents or relatives hold a private funeral? Is a special rate allowed for the burial of officers?
– Mr Speaker, I will need to be precise about details relative to the matter posed before this House by the honourable gentleman. I will check them and let him know in due course.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry in his capacity as minister responsible directly for tourist activities in Australia. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he is aware that in the gallery at the present time there are the members of a team from our sister Dominion who are called, I think, the All Blacks and who, like some Australians, play a foreign game. Will the Minister use his influence to see whether it is possible for this team to spend a Saturday in Perth, Melbourne or Adelaide where it can witness a purely Australian game which it could introduce into its own country with great benefit to all its people?
– 1 am delighted to have my attention drawn to the fact that the members of the All Blacks Rugby Union team are in the Parliament. I am sure that they will carry back to New Zealand some memories of how we play the game in this House. 1 am sure that the whole House would wish me to say that all Australians are full of admiration for the All Blacks and their magnificent record. We have a pride in our own Australian Rules game and a visit by the All Blacks to the Melbourne Cricket Ground or some other appropriate place would add to their education and entertainment.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior: Have representations been made to him for the allocation of tribal land to Aboriginals, the Gurindji tribe? If so, can he inform the House by whom these representations have been made? If any decision has been reached concerning this matter, can the Minister inform the House what it is?
– The matter that the honourable member raises is presently before the Government, and therefore I am not in a position to make any comment on it
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. On 15th May of this year, I asked the then Acting Minister for Trade and Industry a question regarding the importation of New Zealand lamb. I now refer to more recent reports which state that the owner of thirteen Melbourne suburban butchers’ shops claims that 16,000 lb of lamb is coming in each week by air from New Zealand and that a further 90,000 lb of lamb is being shipped into Australia every 5 weeks. I ask: In view of the anxiety being caused to lamb producers in Victoria and particularly in southern New South Wales, do these quantities represent a threat to these producers? If so, what measures can be taken to correct the position?
– I have answered a question and replied to some correspondence on this matter. I fear that concern is being raised in the minds of many people to a quite unwarranted extent. Statistically, the facts are as follows: In the year 1967 the total importation of New Zealand lamb was 167 tons. Australia’s production was 220,000 tons. The estimate that is given to me of the imports of New Zealand lamb for the first 5 months of this year is 250 tons. This is a very small proportion of our production yearly of approximately 220,000 tons. Consultations regarding the operation of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement go forward another stage this week, I think it is, when Australian officials will visit New Zealand for further discussions. This would be an opportunity, if it were necessary, to raise the issue.
I see no threat to Australia’s interests in this matter. I see it quite inconsistent with the general attitude of the sheep industry that there should be an implacable attitude in favour of protection concerning any sheep product coming into Australia, when broadly the sheep industry wants Australia to be free to the maximum extent to have other local industries accept competition from products from other countries.
When the Agreement was contemplated, I said in New Zealand and said here publicly that Australia would not be able to accept New Zealand butter or New Zealand Iamb. A very careful study was made of the position regarding New Zealand lamb. We had very wide consultations and investigations in this country at that time to determine whether we could accept New Zealand lamb without it representing a threat to the Australian industry. The outcome was that the people consulted could not foresee the likelihood of a threat to the Australian industry and therefore New Zealand lamb was included in the Agreement. I would like to make it perfectly clear that no item included in the Agreement is exempt from an overriding provision that any importation that threatens an Australian Industry can be the subject of such protective action as is necessary properly to protect that Australian industry.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. On 28th May he said that he would like to see an Australian Army ‘along the lines of that in Israel, ready to go into action at short notice’. He said that his concept of an Israeli type Army for Australia was that for much of the year an individual would carry out bis normal occupation but would spend the rest of the year under training’. I ask: Is such an Army requiring universal call-up for all males under 40 being considered by the Government?
– I think the honourable member must have been misled. The question of an Israeli type army was certainly brought up on the day the honourable member mentioned. At the time I sought to define what, in the Australian context, might be considered to be an Israeli type army. My definition was that of a regular army, able to be used immediately as a spearhead, which would be backed up by citizen military forces consisting of people who were citizens most of their time but who were trained and available and easily able to be called up in time of emergency. This is precisely what has been one of the objectives of Australian defence policy; it will continue to be one of the objectives of Australian defence policy.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. With a view to lessening the cost of litigation and in the interests of a more efficient administration of justice, will he consider the advisability of calling a conference of State AttorneysGeneral and executives of the various law institutes with a view to ending the division of the legal profession into barristers and solicitors? Is the Attorney-General aware that litigants are prejudiced if they engage a solicitor to appear for them in certain New South Wales courts and that many solicitors advise their clients to engage counsel because of this prejudice?
– The question of division of the legal profession is a matter for each individual State. It is interesting to note that whereas in New South Wales and Queensland there is a division which has the authority of the law, in Victoria there is a division which is de facto and has grown into a quite distinct division, and which has been in force for very many years. The tendency in Australia is towards division. In South Australia and Western Australia, where there is what might be called an amalgamated profession, a separate bar has in fact broken away. These two States are reaching the position of having a de facto and separate bar, which applies in Victoria. The same phenomenon has occurred in the Australian Capital Territory. I do not think it is my function to interfere with the system which the States desire to have.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. I preface it by assuring him that I have evidence, which was witnessed by others in addition to myself, showing that on Wednesday, 22nd May, Denis O’Donnell, a national serviceman who claims to be a conscientious objector, was shadowed by a member of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and that a report was made by ASIO to the Government providing a record of a conversation that took place between O’Donnell and myself in my home. I ask the Minister: Will he say how the record of the conversation was obtained? If the Attorney-General at this stage chooses not to deny what I have said or declines, in accordance with policy, to comment on these matters, will he say whether he is agreeable to instituting a suitable inquiry so that evidence from myself and other witnesses can be submitted? Alternatively, will he now table the report of the conversation made by ASIO to the Government so that everyone who is interested may see the trivial nature of what is involved in it?
– Mr Speaker, I cannot suggest that this is a question without notice. It would be prising open the organisation of government to public debate to discuss any confidential report, whether real or invented, even if it happened to be flourished in front of us in this House. The House is well aware of the well established practice of refusing to discuss the activities of the Security Service and of refusing to deal with particular allegations either by affirming or denying them. This practice has been followed by Mr Chifley, when he was Prime Minister, by Sir Robert Menzies, by Mr Harold Holt, and by our present Prime Minister. The reasons for it are obvious, and it is clearly a sound practice. In spite of this I intend, in the present instance, to depart from that practice to a limited extent, mainly for two reasons. In the first place serious allegations of spying upon him have been made by a member of this House who is prominent in the Opposition and, who quite recently missed by a few votes - if one accepts reports in the newspapers - becoming the Leader of the Opposition. The degree of publicity which has been given over a period of time to the allegations of the honourable member for Yarra, both in the Press and on television, has created disquiet in the minds of very many Australians. On the other hand, I want to make it clear that in departing from the established practice I do so in the special circumstances of the present case and not to create a precedent. Indeed, having dealt with these allegations, I propose that in the future the ordinary rule should be strictly adhered to.
The first principal allegation made by the honourable member for Yarra is that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has spied upon him, first by tapping his telephones. As the House knows, telephone tapping can occur in this country only on the initiative of the Director-General of Security if he makes a request to the Attorney-General and if the AttorneyGeneral, acting within the scope of the Act, is prepared to accede to this request and to issue a warrant. Let me say quite categorically that the honourable member’s telephone has not been tapped by the Security Service. Indeed, I go further at this point and say that never while I have been the Attorney-General have I received a request to tap the telephone of a member of this House or of the Senate nor have I ever issued a warrant against the telephone of a member of this House or of the Senate. If I did receive such a request from the Director-General, having regard to the seriousness of it I would consult with the Prime Minister before I would deal with it.
The second allegation made by the honourable member for Yarra against the Security Service is that it has spied upon him at his home by following one, Private O’Donnell, to his home and there, by the use of some electronic device or otherwise, has listened in to some conversation between them. I have inquired from Security and have been assured quite categorically that it did not have Private O’Donnell under surveillance; that it did not follow him to the honourable member’s home; and that it did not eavesdrop upon any conversation between them.
– Mr Speaker, my question, which is directed to you as the Presiding Officer of this House, concerns portraits of Prime Ministers and Presiding Officers normally displayed in King’s Hall. Is any action being taken to ensure that portraits of the former Prime Minister, the late Mr Harold Holt, the present Deputy Prime Minister, Mr McEwen, who served as Prime Minister earlier this year and our present Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, are being painted and will be displayed suitably in King’s Hall?
– An artist was commissioned early last year to paint a portrait of the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, but, unfortunately, suitable sitting arrangements were not able to be made. Another commission has now been issued to paint a portrait of the late Harold Holt from photographs and other material that Mrs Holt herself has available. Commissions have also been issued to paint the Minister for Trade and Industry and the present Prime Minister. Such commissions are issued by the Historic Memorials Committee, and the portraits have to be passed and then handed to the Speaker or the President before they can be hung in King’s Hall or elsewhere in the Parliament. I assure the honourable member for Boothby that all three portraits are now in hand.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that America has biological warfare weapons stored in Vietnam and in neighbouring South East Asian countries? Is he aware that in 30 of the 44 South Vietnamese Provinces there are epidemics of bubonic plague? Does the Prime Minister know that charges are being made about the incompetent and indiscriminate handling of these weapons by American personnel and the consequent charge that this is causing the spread of bubonic plague? Does the Prime Minister condone this type of warfare? If not, will he enter a strong protest to the President of the United States of America and seek to have these weapons removed from all countries in South East Asia where they are stored? Is the Prime Minister aware that portside municipalities are gravely concerned about this matter and fear that the disease may spread to Australia? Finally, will the Prime Minister instruct the Commonwealth Department of Health to co-operate with portside municipalities and State Departments of Health to ensure that every precaution is taken to prevent this dreaded disease from entering Australia?
– I am not aware that any of the weapons of the type referred to are stored, as the honourable member claims they are stored, in any of the countries referred to by him, but I would be interested to know the sources of the information on which he asks this question. My mind goes back to similar kinds of allegations made in Korea during the Korean war, I think by the Chinese Communists, who have endeavoured over the years to create this kind of impression of germ warfare, and
I suspect - and that is all I can say - that on this occasion the honourable member may have been misled by somebody close to the same sources.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is the Minister aware that the three Ministers for the Army who immediately preceded him were adamant, in opinion and action, that the rifle range at Williamstown, Victoria, be the venue of Queen’s Prize shoots and other important Victorian and interstate rifle club competitions? I ask whether he will continue according to the precedent set and maintained by his predecessors.
– The honourable member can be well assured that the precedent set by ray predecessors will be maintained.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. The Minister will have noted that the South African Minister for Defence told his Parliament on 27th May that his country had participated in a secret international conference ‘at the Service level’ with ‘friendly nations of the southern hemisphere’. I ask whether Australia was invited to take part in these discussions and whether Australia did in fact take part. If so, will1 the Minister make a statement on the outcome?
– I can only tell the honourable gentleman that the meeting was so secret that we have not heard about it in Australia.
– by leave - I wish to inform the House that I have invited the following persons, who have accepted my invitation, to become members of the Australian Council for the Arts:
Professor K. C. Masterman, of the Australian Capital Territory.
I am confident that each will make an important and valuable contribution to the establishment and operation of the Australian Council for the Arts. The decision to establish a council to be the Government’s financial agent and adviser on the performing arts was announced by my predecessor in Parliament on 1st November 1967. Subsequently Dr H. C. Coombs was appointed to be its Chairman. The Council will be associated with the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I present the following paper:
Statement in relation to the conventions and recommendations adopted by the International Labour Office conference at its 47th session in 1963. and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
– by leave - Senator Laucke recently asked the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) in the Senate whether he would have tabled all documents that the River Murray Commission had on its files leading to the earlier decision to proceed with the Chowilla project. He also asked to have tabled all reports by overseas experts on the project, including those from the United States of America and from England, who investigated all aspects of the scheme.
As Minister for National Development and President of the River Murray Commission, I feel I should make some statement in the House referring to the honourable senator’s request. It is not possible to meet Senator Laucke’s request in full but I feel sure that the action I am about to take will provide the information required.
I must emphasise that the Commonwealth is only one of four partners on the River Murray Commission. The Commissioner representing the Commonwealth has access, of course, to reports made to the Commission but the tabling of these reports by the Commonwealth would not be appropriate without the consent of all four Commissioners. I would add that most of the reports to the Commission are of a highly technical character.
Next I must explain that the Commission itself does not construct the works approved by the governments who are signatory to the River Murray Waters Agreement. The construction is carried out by the work forces of the State concerned subject only to the Commission’s approval of designs and estimates. In the case of Chowilla, the constructing authority is of course South Australia and the Commission has not got copies of all the reports which the South Australian authorities obtained from the various consultants it engaged and which were indicated by Senator Laucke.
I now have pleasure in tabling the only report received by the governments signatory to the River Murray Waters Agreement prior to the original approval of those governments for the construction of Chowilla. The document summarises in a convenient form the technical reports which the Commission had received. May I in particular draw attention to the brief passage entitled ‘Additional Storage above Hume Reservoir as an Alternative to Chowilla’. It states that when operated as a River Murray Commission storage Chowilla ‘would provide much greater overall benefits for equal expenditure than the construction of storages above Hume Reservoir’.
It will be recalled that at that time the estimated cost of Chowilla was $28m. When tenders were called it was apparent that it would cost at least $68m. This, of course, placed an entirely different relationship between its costs and those of alternative storages. In addition it was ascertained that the high evaporation rate of Chowilla would probably increase the severity of the salinity problem in South Australia. It was for these reasons that the Commission deferred the Chowilla project pending further investigations of storage sites above the Hume Reservoir. Investigations have since been proceeding on feasibility and costs studies of a number of such sites, together with associated hydrological investigations, and attention is now being concentrated on the Dartmouth site on the Mitta Mitta River.
I present the following paper:
Chowilla Dam - Ministerial Statement, 4 June, 1968.
– by leave - This Parliament is entitled to the fullest possible information on matters relating to the proposed Chowilla Dam, or for that matter, on any works undertaken to which the Commonwealth Government makes a contribution. There are feelings of uneasiness that the Parliament has not received about the Chowilla project the information to which it is entitled. Considerable time has elapsed since the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) first announced to the Parliament that the Chowilla project was to be suspended. Now it appears that it is to be abandoned and alternative sites are being sought for water storages to provide water so urgently required in the River Murray to satisfy the needs of the States, particularly the needs of South Australia.
The information required by Senator Laucke should be made available to the Parliament. The documents should be tabled. Facts are required to guide honourable members in their consideration of matters of this kind. When one looks at the statement presented this afternoon by the Minister one notes that the estimated cost of the Chowilla work was $28m but when tenders were invited it was found that the cost would be some S68m. What an extraordinary increase. The estimate has risen by $40m. If the Parliament had been satisfied with the facts in the first instance, we would have had an entirely different picture. But the Minister, as President of the River Murray Commission, had extolled to the Parliament the virtues of the Chowilla, its magnitude and its value to the nation. This subject was not only discussed in the Parliament, but it also formed part of the Government’s programme of water conservation which it submitted to the electors at the last election. Now we are told that the cost is too great and that the other problem, that of salinity, would prove this to be a most unsuitable and undesirable project.
The possibility of salinity should have been investigated. Why did the River Murray Commission not thoroughly investigate this problem in the first instance? Surely it should have been one of the first considerations. We in the Parliament have discussed the problem over the years and honourable members from Victoria and New South Wales and others who have concerned themselves with this matter have been aware of it. Yet the River Murray Commission, with a full knowledge of all these facts, decided on this project. A sum of money has already been spent, and construction of the Chowilla Dam commenced, only to be stopped. The project should not have reached this stage. If those responsible for selecting this site at the outset can justify their stand, their views ought to be presented to the Parliament. This project has not been fully investigated. Parliament has not been given the information it is entitled to receive. In this instance, whilst I appreciate what the Minister has done in presenting to the Parliament a report by and resolutions of the River Murray Commission on the Chowilla Dam of September 1961, further up to date information relating to the project should have been presented to the Parliament today. What the Opposition has said in the past and says now is sound in every respect. We need a national water conservation authority and the skilled people of the Snowy Mountains Authority should be given more opportunity to look into projects of this kind.
– by leave- I will not take more than a minute or two. What the Opposition says about Chowilla is not all correct by any means. The statement of the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) about storage is completely off the beam. I would like to give some facts, if I may. I have not yet had time to absorb the statement of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). However, I notice that the flow of wafer to the Chowilla Dam is mentioned in section 2 at page 5 of the report of the River Murray Commission. I have not been able to understand the theory that the flow at the dam is in any way equal to the flow at the South Australian boundary- I do not know whether the Minister would care to incorporate in Hansard a table contained in the report of the Commission comparing the flows in the Mitta Mitta River below Dartmouth for the years from 1952 to 1967 with the flow to South Australia above the Chowilla Dam site, measured in acre feet.
– Why do you not read the figures?
– 1 could strike an average that would save time.
The annual flow in the River Murray passing to South Australia has averaged almost 9 million acre feet, whereas the average annual flow in the Mitta Mitta at Tallandoon, well below Dartmouth, has averaged a little over 1 million acre feet. On the basis of the figures contained in the report of the River Murray Commission, it looks to me as if the flow in the River Murray at the point of entry into South Australia is nine times as much as the flow below Dartmouth. Perhaps my reasoning is wrong. 1 have not had time to study the Minister’s report, but with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard the annual flow figures.
Although I have probably mentioned this in the House before, one of the problems that confronted the Commonwealth Government some years ago was a degree of salinity that had been completely unknown in the Murray irrigation system previously. This was due to many factors, including drought. Further, we ran into the problem of the rate of flow past the towns of Mildura and Wentworth. My information on this aspect is that the people of Mildura and Wentworth required a flow of 300 cusecs past these two towns.
– Nine hundred cusecs.
– Thank you. So far as 1 am aware the flow as it crossed the South Australian borderline has not fallen below approximately 280 cusecs this year. It seems to me that, in spite of the unusual conditions during the past 12 months, this flow can be easily catered for. In other words, the supply of water to towns such as Mildura and Wentworth can quite easily be found if the Chowilla Dam is built. I can understand what is exercising the minds of the people in these towns in relation to the Chowilla agreement that has been discussed in the past by the Parliament. Certain clauses of the agreement relating to the amount of water to be released over a certain period gave an advantage to Victoria and New South Wales. I believe the queries or objections were quite valid. The key to the whole problem - I am sure this counts for anyone who uses his commonsense on the matter - is that no-one wants to build a dam at Chowilla or anywhere else if it will not work.
What is the process or machinery that will determine this? The honourable member for Macquarie failed to accept the fact that although salinity could not be cured easily in the past, new conditions that have cropped up during the past 2 years have completely altered thinking on this subject. The Commonwealth Government has taken action to ensure an accurate assessment of the future problems of salinity in this basin. I refer to the request made to international consultants by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to produce interim reports and a final report on whether salinity is of significance or will not constitute a problem at all. My own feeling on the matter is that when the international consultants report to the Minister, they will find no particular reason why the Chowilla Dam should not be built.
I am impressed by the argument that, whereas hitherto we have regarded 500 parts per million of salt content as being a danger point, in places like the Colorado Valley, the Ganges area and Israel 500 parts per million must be accepted as pure water in the context of their agriculture and irrigation. The point I am making is that we should look very carefully and closely at the figures the Minister has produced. It has been very difficult over the past few months to find statistical information upon which one could do other than back up the original case for the establishment of the Chowilla Dam in South Australia. When I have these new figures I shall certainly examine them to find out whether there is any reason why I should alter my mind in relation to the establishment of the Chowilla Dam. I do not expect that this will be the case, for the simple reason that nothing can be proved until the international consultants present their report and until we have had the full information from the technical committee of the River Murray Commission. I thank the House for allowing me to make these few remarks.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Mr Turnbull) adjourned.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966 I present a report relating to the following proposed new works:
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 30th May (vide page 1871), on motion by Mr Wentworth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Daly had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill this House is of opinion that in order to avoid delayed and unequal payments the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility of paying uniform benefits as soon as a maintenance application has been lodged or imprisonment has commenced’.
– I support the Bill with pleasure, but in doing so I emphasise that I look upon the measure, which deals with the caring for deserted wives and their children on a CommonwealthStates basis, as only the beginning. I suppose 1 should look upon my present attack of influenza as the end. No-one, least of all the Government or the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), denies that there are gaps and pockets of need in our social services structure. For instance, some civilian widows are in desperate circumstances, and I make a strong and most urgent plea for further aid to the aged and infirm who have given so much of themselves to this country and are now unable to look after themselves. These are some of the gaps in our social services. However, it seems quite illogical to criticise a Minister who is trying to close the gaps, and in this instance is beginning with the problems of wives in the first 6 months of their desertion. I have no doubt that the Minister’s intention is to heed, as quickly as possible, the plea for others, such as the aged and infirm who cannot afford to go to a home - old people who are cold, hungry, lonely and ill.
I congratulate the Minister on not only his appointment but also the zeal and typical tenacity with which he is tackling these problems. I have faith in his capabilities and sincerity, and I believe that sincerity is often just as important as capabilities. Therefore, I look upon the. Bill as a good start. Indeed, it is a most significant measure. In his second reading speech the Minister for Social Services described the Bill’s purpose in these words: to assist the States in helping mo the re of children who are not eligible for benefits under the Social Services Act. Broadly, they are deserted wives during the first 6 months of desertion, wives during the first 6 months of the husband’s imprisonment, deserted de facto wives and de facto wives of prisoners, and other unmarried mothers. One of the curious aspects of the present position in respect of deserted wives is that during the first 6 months of their desertion they must rely solely on the States for assistance. The reason given for this is, among other things, that it is the duty of the authorities concerned to make sure that the woman has been deserted. It is claimed that a possibility exists that the husband will return in, say, 2 months or 5 months. It has been explained on occasion that if the wife cannot find her husband - how can she since she does not know where he is? - she is not able to say that he is not about to return to her, and if he does return she is not in fact a deserted wife. I cannot follow the line of thought which holds that this is a valid reason for not helping a frantic mother who is trying to support her children. I might add that the departmental officers who have to enforce this ruling do not find it very logical. It is strange logic to argue that a deserted wife should be plagued with the problem of trying to find her husband at a time when, clearly, the most important thing is that she knows where he is not - and that is at home supporting her and her children. Women in this situation face an extremely difficult problem. Even more extraordinary is the fact that as matters now stand there can be a doubt about a wife’s being deserted when her husband is in prison. I should have thought that if the husband had been sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months or longer, with no hope of earlier release, the authorities would have no doubt as to where he was. In those circumstances surely the wife could claim to be alone and deserted.
This Bill seeks, through Commonwealth and State co-operation on a 50-50 basis, to recognise the needs of deserted wives and their children during the first 6 months of desertion. It is during the first 6 months that the deserted wife often faces the most terrifying financial difficulties. These are the most upsetting months emotionally. These are the most difficult months because it is in the first months of desertion that the wife is forced to make tremendous adjustments in her life. It is in these months that she becomes aware of financial commitments which she had been led to believe would be faced by her husband or de facto husband. This is the time when the deserted wife must face up to the fact that she and her children will no longer be supported but that instead she must somehow become the family breadwinner, as well as try to save the children from the emotional strain that is part and parcel of such a situation. She must somehow explain to her children the reason for the disappearance of their father. 1 have seen many cases of dire and distressing need in the early days of desertion when a woman has been unable sensibly to plan her life or to fend for herself, and I cannot understand why it has taken us as a nation so long to face up to this problem. I acknowledge the responsibilities of any government in spheres of need, but no government anywhere in the world has satisfactorily solved all of these problems. We all must face facts: It is the responsibility of all Australians - the people, commerce and industry - to help and not to sit back comfortably and say: Let us leave it all to the government. Why do we pay taxes anyway?’ Each of us must face up to the fact that in this country we have problems that are peculiar to Australia. We have a population of 12 million people, spread very thinly over 3 million square miles. That is a lot of country. We have a work force of about 5 million people. So in this country any government is handicapped before it even starts to tackle this problem. In any case, T do not believe that all problems can be solved by legislation, no matter how many Bills we pass.
While on the subject of providing help for deserted wives and other people in thi community in need of assistance, I must commend the Adelaide ‘Sunday Mail’ for its blanket appeal. We hear in this House a great deal of criticism of newspapers and other mass media communication, but I can tell honourable members from first hand experience that newspapers spend a great deal of time, money and thought in community service. I can also tell the House that it is the blanket appeal conducted by the Adelaide ‘Sunday Mail’ which is providing many blankets for the very people who will benefit by this Bill. I say with justifiable pride in my State of South Australia that other newspapers and mass media and the world of commerce do their share of community service. Having said that, I hope that nobody will claim that I have said that newspapers should be responsible for social services, because I have not said anything of the kind. Neither did I make the remark as an aside: T made it in the hope that every one of us would see the blanket appeal as an indication that all of us could help.
Another improvement which this Bill seeks to make is in the definition of ‘child’. To most of us with uncomplicated minds, child’ means a child, but in Parliament, as in law, we of necessity seek a definition. Let me quote the definition of ‘child’ as it appears in a leaflet entitled ‘Information about Widows’ Pensions’, dated April 1967, and issued as a guide to widows and deserted wives claiming pensions and allowances. The pamphlet reads:
The term ‘child’ means a child under the age of 16 years. It also includes a child over that age but under 21 years if dependent on you and receiving full-time education.
That seems very clear, but the trap is that, as matters now stand, in certain circumstances no provision is made for the payment of benefits by the Commonwealth in respect of an illegitimate child. Ideas about child welfare vary from State to State. Some States are generous; others are not. I do not know whether the exclusion, under current Commonwealth law, of illegitimate children is a relic of the mid-Victorian era. I do not know whether it is an assumption that if we ignore an illegitimate child it will somehow cease to exist. Whatever the reason, nobody can deny two very important things. The first is that if a child is illegitimate it is not the fault of the child; and it therefore shoul’d not be penalised. The second important thing is that, illegitimate or not, the child is the same as any other kind of child in that it has to be fed, clothed and sheltered. In fact, on the first point, I recall a line from one of Greer Garson’s old films. I think it was called ‘Blossoms in the Dust’. It was not a remarkable film as films go, but it did have, I think, at least one worthwhile line. The one worthwhile line was:
There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.
So, it is about time that we stopped punishing the illegitimate children in the strange holier than thou’ attitude - erroneous often - and that we managed somehow to show the parents the error of their ways.
The statement from the Minister is reassuring. He said:
I should also remind the House that, under this Bill, the Commonwealth will be undertaking to pay half the cost of benefits to certain unmarried mothers who at present are permanently ineligible for Commonwealth widow’s pension.
Let us see what the definition of a ‘child’ is this time. Clause 4 (2.) of the Bill states:
When one is studying Bills, it is sometimes much the same as looking up a word in a dictionary. One becomes so fascinated by all the words that one sees in passing that one forgets the word that one wanted to look up in the first place. I studied clause 4 of the Bill, which I have just read, for some time. It refers to paragraph (c). If honourable members turn to paragraph (c) they will see that it refers to ‘a prescribed class of women’. Then one must try to find a definition of what ‘a prescribed class of women’ might be. In studying the Bill, 1 thought that it might save a lot of time if I went along to see the Minister for Social Services. This I did.
The Minister received me very kindly and was most anxious to get his thoughts over about the Bill and was most tenacious, as I said earlier, in the matter of looking after the problems. He explained the words fully. He said that my interpretation was quite right. I wanted to make sure that ‘any child’ really meant any child. As I said, my interpretation was right. In discussing this matter with the Minister, I found that he was able to assure me that notwithstanding paragraph (c) which uses the term ‘a prescribed class of women’, the phrase ‘any child’ actually means what it says. It applies to any child. Therefore it applies to the children of any unmarried mothers ‘. . . provided they are undertaking the upbringing of their children in a one-parent situation … a situation of hardship, that is’. There it is. That provision applies to any child and specifically to the children of any unmarried mothers provided those mothers are undertaking the upbringing of their children in a one-parent situation, a situation of hardship. So, illegitimate children are to be cared for under this Bill that is now before the House. I think that all honourable members will agree that this is a very definite step in the right direction.
So, Mr Deputy Speaker, in supporting this Bill, I repeat what I said at the beginning of my speech, not as a sort of sting in the tail of my address at all but simply as a matter of fact: I support this Bill not only because I look upon it as the beginning but also because I truly believe that it’ is intended only to be the beginning.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I was surprised to hear the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) give such unqualified support to a Bill that does not even ensure that any assistance at all will be given to deserted wives and children, let alone sufficient for their needs. Because no such assurance is given is one of the reasons why 1 rise to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Grayndler which states to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted wilh a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill this House is of opinion that in order to avoid delayed and unequal payments the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility of paying uniform benefits as soon as a maintenance application has been lodged or imprisonment has commenced’.
When the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) introduced the States Grants (Deserted Wives) Bill, he pointed out that it was the first legislation affecting the administration of social services since he became Minister for Social Services. I can say only that such a Bill as this dealing as it does with subjects of desertion and social welfare is surely the most appropriate measure that could have been presented to this Parliament as the Minister’s maiden performance. I say this because, over the past few weeks, it has become crystal clear that the Minister himself has been guilty of desertion, not in the matrimonial field, but certainly in the field of social services and Aboriginal welfare. He has deserted all those things that he once claimed to stand for and all those views that he expressed when adorning the back benches of this Parliament.
The terms and conditions set out in the Bil’l before the House are most disappointing when we recall how the Minister previously so often chided the Government for its failure to accept its proper responsibilities in the field of social services and how he criticised the Government for failing to pursue the abolition of the means test. Knowing so well the previous views and attitude of the Minister, we naturally expected to find in this Bill - his initial effort - provisions indicating strength and the will to fight for or defend the underprivileged. Instead, we find in this legislation - the States Grants (Deserted Wives) Bill - an outlook which could be more likened to that of the terrified and trembling titmouse or the demented robin red breast jumping from bush to bush to evade detection and death.
The only difference is that with this Bill the Minister is jumping from State to State to avoid responsibility.
Because of this changed attitude, one is obliged to pause and wonder in what position was the honourable gentleman most comfortable. In what position was he actually out of character? Was it as a backbencher? Were his attacks and demands for social justice, for the abolition of the means test and for uniformity his real views or were they only a pretence? Is he in fact more comfortable in his present position? Does this Bill, for instance, reflect his real thoughts and his real attitude towards the deserving sections of our community? After all, this Bill imposes a means test upon a means test. This Bill shelves responsibility. lt does not ensure uniform benefits and, in fact, permits and, indeed, encourages a completely opposite effect to what the Minister always has claimed to stand for. Yet, despite this obvious possibility of different amounts in different States and different treatment in identical circumstances, we find the Minister conceding his speech with the words that, in his view, this Bill is a progressive step forward.
Mr Deputy Speaker, if this is the view that is taken now by the Minister and indeed by the Government, 1 find it extremely interesting. Over the years I have appealed to the several Ministers for Social Services to pay some additional assistance to pensioners living in high cost areas such as the north of Western Australia and Queensland, and in the Northern Territory. As recently as 12th January last, I received a reply from the then Minister for Social Services, the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), in which he said:
You also advocated the payment of a special allowance to pensioners living in remote areas. On this subject it has been long-standing policy that the rates and conditions of grants of pensions should be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. It is important for my Department to maintain that policy.
I find it rather difficult now to accept that reply when 1 compare it with the contents and the claimed intentions of the Bill now before the House. I find it impossible to determine the line of demarcation or where the line of difference is in the overall situation. I include the requirements of the administration of the Department. After all, the payments to deserted wives and their children under this Act, like the payments to pensioners under the Social Services Act, will all be made out of the National Welfare Fund and also, as I said earlier, the very first thing the Minister drew attention to was the fact that this Act will come under the administration of the Department of Social Services. lt seems more than strange to find that, whereas just a short time ago rates and conditions of age, invalid and widow’s pensions under the Social Services Act must remain uniform throughout the Commonwealth, and further still that it was so very important to retain that uniformity, now in the case of deserted wives and children uniformity does not mean a thing and it poses no problem whatsoever.
The Minister is in no way concerned about what the rates of benefit happen to bc. They can range from nothing up to a particular maximum. The Minister is quite happy to leave the entire decision on both rates and conditions of eligibility to the several States. What is the fine line of distinction which demands uniformity in one Act but completely ignores it in another?
The only difference I can see is that under the Social Services Act payments are referred to as pensions whereas in this measure they are referred to as benefits. So I am bound to ask the Minister for Social Services: Has there been a change of policy? Can we accept this Bill as being a precedent or forerunner? Can we now confidently expect to see introduced in the near future legislation to ensure some additional pension - or perhaps 1 could call it benefit to pensioners living in high cost ureas? Or can we at least expect legislation in which the Commonwealth will offer, as in this Bill, to pay half of any amount which a State government may decide is required to bring the people of whom we speak now up to a reasonable standard of living and to give them reasonable conditions? Would the Minister see a move in that direction as also a progressive step forward? Also, will he eli 1 us whether the provisions of this Bill extend to Aboriginal wives and children whose husbands may have deserted them or may be in prison? If it does not, will he tell i us what the Commonwealth intends to do with those wives and children? Will he tell us whether Aboriginal wives and children were taken into consideration when the estimated cost of Sim was arrived at? If the Minister has not considered these questions, he had better do so. As far as I can gather, a lot of these people do not receive any assistance from State governments in the manner envisaged in this measure.
The women to whom this Bill will apply are those deserted wives or dependent females who have one or more children and who receive under the terms of the Social Services Act no benefit other than the maternity allowance or child endowment. As the Social Services Act stands, as has been said previously, a deserted wife or a wife whose husband has been imprisoned, even though she has children, has no right to a widow’s pension until at least 6 months after the date of desert on or imprisonment. During the first 6 months women and children in these circumstances are obliged to seek assistance from the government of the State in which they live. The granting of assistance depends upon factors such as the hardship being suffered and so on. In other words, a means test has to be satisfied, and in most instances it is a pretty severe means test. Notwithstanding the fact that the Minister, as a back bencher, always professed to support the abolition of the means le*!, we find in his second reading speech on this Bill these words:
The Commonwealth expects thai the exiting practice of the States in making individual hardship the test of eligibility for insistance will continue.
In fact, nol only docs the Minister expect that the existing hardship test will apply, but he has made absolutely sure that it will by setting out in the Act that the approved benefits will be only those to alleviate hardship and approved by himself or his successor. Not only has the Minister ceased to support the abolition of the means test, but he apparently opposes any easing of it.
At present the families 1 have referred to may receive help from their State government by way of food, clothing or cash or by some other form of assistance towards the purchase of school books or by concessions such as free transport. Each State bears the total cost and makes the decisions regarding eligibility and what the amount of assistance will be. So, I suppose, quite naturally under these circumstances we could expect to see some differences between the States. The Minister professes to deplore that situation. But this proposal by the Government will not necessarily alter that situation in any way; it will still leave entirely to the States the decision about what the rate of payment will be and which families will be eligible. If this Government really seeks uniformity and wants it at the highest level - this is extremely doubtful - there is no good reason why the full responsibility for bringing about such a situation should not be accepted by this Government. If the Government did this, it could ensure uniformity in regard to both payment and eligibility. All that would be required is a simple amendment to the Social Services Act. The Minister has admitted in his second reading speech that the choice was available but that the Government decided that it was preferable to adopt this method.
The Minister for Social Services has also informed the Parliament that originally the States asked that the Commonwealth should bear the whole cost. The Minister’s only answer was that such a proposal was out of the question if the administrative machinery was to remain in the hands of the States. He went on to say that where a high level of individual discretion is necessarily involved, to free the administering authority of any responsibility for expenditure would be to invite carelessness and laxity. This may be so and we do not deny it. But why should the administrative machinery have to remain with the States? Why should they need to be the administering authority? Why is this so very important? No-one on the Government side of the House has told us yet. Why should not the Commonwealth bear the whole cost and also take over the whole responsibility? The Minister, in his opposition to such a proposal, appears to rely on this high level of individual discretion which he refers to. But surely the situation in that regard is very little, if any. different to that of the class C widow under the Social Services Act. She is granted a pension only when the DirectorGeneral of Social Services considers there are necessitous circumstances at the time of the death of the husband or within 6 months of death. Surely there could not be a much higher level of individual discretion than we have in that regard. Surely no-one would suggest that the States should take over the responsibility in regard to class C widows.
The Minister went on to say that the Commonwealth had the choice of assuming the whole function of setting up duplicate machinery to supersede the State machinery or alternatively leaving some part of the responsibility for expenditure in the hands of the States. The Commonwealth chose the latter. In other words, the Government took the easy way out. The attitude of the Minister makes it quite obvious that in no circumstances is this Government prepared to meet the full cost of paying pensions and allowances to deserted wives and children. It is also quite obvious that had the States flatly rejected the proposals in the Bill, this Government would have simply left the matter where it is at present. The Government would have been satisfied to let the present situation continue. It is prepared to let these people continue to suffer as they have done in the past. Deserted wives and children who obtain some benefit from this Bill can thank their lucky stars if the States do come to the party and do not stick to their original demands that the Commonwealth take over the whole responsibility.
The Minister for Social Services calls this Bill a progressive step forward. If this is his attitude, God help the pensioners in the future. If a proposition which will cost only a tittle more than $lm per year, and which does not ensure any improvement whatsoever, is a great step forward there is not much hope in the future for people who become dependent upon social services. The Government for far too long has shelved its responsibility to this section of the community - a section which should and so easily could come within the scope of the Social Services Act and which would ensure regular and uniform payments not at rates dependent just on the finances of the States but at rates determined by the Commonwealth, which after all is the tax gatherer for purposes such as this. The present 6 months delay, or qualifying period - whatever term honourable members like to use - is a very harsh, and unnecessarily harsh, provision of the Social Services Act. It is one which the Australian Labor Party would remove immediately it formed a government. The way things are going at the moment this is not very far off, either. However, if this Government is bent upon retaining or applying the hardship provisions - this means test within a means test - it could do so simply by handling the situation in the same way as it does in relation to pensions for class C widows. After all, it is not an everyday occurrence to hear that a wife and mother has been deserted. Where this happens we usually find that the family is in very poor circumstances, with little or no money but a great heap of bills and arrears of rent to meet. Surely the Director-General1 of Social Services could determine whether there are necessitous circumstances in those cases just as he does in relation to pensions for class C widows. Having determined that point, all that is necessary then is to pay them in accordance with the provisions that apply to a class A widow under the Social Services Act. It is as simple as that, and yet the Government is not prepared to accept the responsibility. The Minister has argued that it is not simply a case of determining whether there are necessitous circumstances, but more particularly - and more importantly, apparently, in the Government’s view - whether the desertion is of a permanent or lasting nature. The Minister has said that it may be difficult to establish the fact of desertion during the first 6 months, because the husband might return. But he has not told us why it should be 6 months rather than 3 months, 9 months or some other period of time. Even if there is some information that supports such an argument, surely it should not be used just to deny these poor deserted wives and children the right to eat, the right to live and the right to be properly clothed. Surely such information should not be used against them.
Indeed, it would seem that this Bill was brought down somewhat against the wishes of the Minister, because he went on to say that government action should not be calculated to impede reconciliation. We can conclude only that he was suggesting that Government assistance for deserted wives and children by way of a widow’s pension, mother’s allowance and children’s allowance as paid to the class A widow, would impede the chances of reconciliation between the husband and wife if it were paid before the 6 months expired. In fact, the Minister’s remarks could be taken to mean that he favours a policy of no assistance whatsoever in the first 6 months. His attitude seems to be that the greater the hardship the greater the chance of reconciliation. One must pause for a moment to consider what effect these remarks may have upon the State Ministers who have to determine these matters. Will they feel obliged to agree with what the Minister has said? Will they feel that they should perhaps adopt a tougher line, if this is possible? Is this, in fact, what the Minister wants to bring about? Is this his desire, in his attitude to reconciliation? Surely it is a most disturbing feature that this could possibly happen just because the attitude of the Minister is that any help to these people could impede reconciliation and could prevent a husband returning to his family within 6 months of his desertion.
We must bear in mind also that while the Government refuses to accept any responsibility for determing eligibility and the extent of assistance, it has, at the same time, placed a very restrictive limit upon the amount that it is prepared to pay. lt will not pay the States any more than half of what the amount would be if the woman qualified for a class A widow’s pension. The Government has applied an upper limit, but it has not applied a lower limit. To make things more difficult for the States it will not subsidise any payments made by the States towards the purchase of school books or for free or concessional transport which, after all, is the method of assistance that has been used by the States for several years. The Minister has said that the Government expects that the States will, in general, raise benefit payments to approximately the level of those payable to a class A widow. Surely the least the Government could have done was to ensure that these unfortunate people would receive not less than a class A widow’s pension. Surely approximately’ is not good enough in cases like this. The best that can be said is that the Government now realises that it can no longer continue to ignore these people. It can no longer deny them the right to an amount equal to a class A widow’s pension. But the Government is not prepared to measure up to its proper responsibility by paying the full amount or even by ensuring that the full amount will actually be paid.
No-one wants to jump to the conclusion that this Bill, or the proposed Act, will definitely or necessarily rectify, or even alter, the existing situation. The fact is that the measure before us is not designed to amend the Social Services Act. There is no proposal to ensure that benefits or assistance will be granted to deserted wives and children, nor is there even any proposal that will definitely ensure any additional assistance over what they receive at present. There is a lot of expectation and wishful thinking but there is nothing definite. We hope, of course, that the Bill will be the means of bringing about an improvement in the situation; but it leaves too much undone, too much to chance. No provision has been made in relation to deserted children or illegitimate children who are living with someone other than the mother. The Minister referred to unmarried mothers and said that as a result of this Bill they would be taken care of. But this is not necessarily so. If the Government really wants to help solve the problems associated with deserted children and children born out of wedlock, it will need to amend this Bill. Where the deserted wife or the mother of an illegitimate child does not have the care, custody and control of the child nothing will be paid under this proposed legislation to the mother or to the person who is looking after the child. In some cases this may be all right, but where the custodian - perhaps a grandmother or someone else - is in poor circumstances, possibly on a pension, and where the mother for some reason cannot provide for the child surely for the sake of both the child and the guardian we should ensure some payment to enable the child to be looked after properly.
The Bill makes no provision for a deserted wife who is pregnant. The honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) referred to this particular matter. If there are no other children the deserted pregnant wife will receive nothing under the proposed legislation until such time as the child is born, whereas under the Social Services Act a woman in that condition who has lost her husband by death could become eligible for a class C widow’s pension. It the Government’s intention is to endeavour to bring about a situation where deserted wives and children should receive an amount equivalent to what is received by a class
A widow, it should ensure also that pregnant women receive at least the equivalent of the class C widow’s pension.
The Bill makes no provision for either the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory; nor did the Minister provide any information concerning what the situation is or will be in the future in the territories. Surely in both territories the maximum amount will be. paid by the Commonwealth, and not half the amount as is to be paid in respect of persons living within the States. If a maximum is to “be paid in the territories, why has not a similar provision been assured for the States? Surely the Government will not allow further discrimination by assuring a maximum payment in one part of the Commonwealth but not in other parts. Surely it will not provide a maximum amount for females in one part and far less, or even a little less, for females in some other parts of the Commonwealth.
Who will determine eligibility in relation to the territories? Apparently it is not to be done by the Social Services Department because according to the Minister it is not capable of measuring this high level of individual discretion. On the other hand the Department apparently is capable of measuring it for the territories. Why cannot it do so in the States, because it is no more a problem there? I am surprised that the Minister is prepared to accept - in fact, approves - the situation where women and children in one State can be treated very differently to those in other States who are in identical circumstances, particularly when all that is required to rectify the situation is for the Commonwealth to take over control. The Bill shifts to the States a responsibility which should be shouldered by the Commonwealth. We should not aim simply for uniformity at the highest level; we should ensure that it actually happens. By the same token the women and children concerned should know that they will receive a uniform benefit where the same circumstances apply. Even where the States do decide to participate they may find, and in fact most States will find, that some benefits that they are presently extending will not attract the Commonwealth subsidy.
As I said previously, the first decision as to whether a benefit should or should not be granted, and what the amount will be or what the form of assistance will be, rests with the State. If the State decides that no benefit is warranted, the Commonwealth is quite happy to accept that decision. Apparently it will not make any inquiries to determine whether the State’s attitude is correct or not. But where the State decides that a benefit should be paid and bow it shall be paid the Commonwealth, through the Minister, will decide whether it is acceptable or not. It must be a benefit approved by the Minister and it must be one to alleviate hardship. Apparently the Minister will not be one bit concerned about whether or not the amount granted is sufficient to meet the requirements of the case, lt is a case of one-way traffic right through. If a State is of the opinion that a family does not deserve assistance, it will not get it. But where the State considers that help is required, that does not necessarily mean that it will be given.
So here we could have the situation where women who are in exactly the same circumstances and who are suffering the same hardship receive different amounts of benefit or assistance, and in some cases, depending upon the policy or attitude of their own Government, they will receive no assistance at all. The Minister informed us that he hoped - he was not sure - that negotiations now in progress will result in Victoria joining the scheme. Apparently at the present time Victoria is one out. There is nothing surprising in the Minister expressing a hope that Victoria will come to the party, because if it does the Minister’s Department will show a profit. There will be a reduction - and in some cases a substantial reduction - in what is now paid to Victoria by way of a special benefit to build up the miserable amounts which Victoria, under a Liberal Government, has been paying for so long. The special benefit was not granted by this Government. It was granted by a Federal Labor Government back in 1947 or 1948.
If Victoria agrees to become a party to the scheme, in the case of a deserted wife with two children it will be obliged to pay a maximum of $11 per week instead of $8 per week as at present. The Commonwealth, instead of paying SI 1.25 per week as at present, will pay $11. per week, which will be a saving of 25c. In the case of a deserted wife with three children, at present Victoria may pay only $5.30 per week.
Under the proposed scheme it would have to increase the benefit to $11.75 per week. The Commonwealth would reduce its existing payment from $12.75 to $11.75 per week, thus saving $1. In the case of a deserted wife with four children, at present Victoria may be paying only $6.20 per week. This would have to be increased to $12.50 per week, an increase of $6.30 per week. The Commonwealth, instead of paying $14.25 per week, would pay only $12.50 per week, the same as the State, and so it would save $1.75. lt is no wonder that Victoria is somewhat doubtful about becoming a party to this scheme. I think that Sir Henry Bolte, judging from the way in which he has acted previously, would see deserted wives suffer rather than his Treasury. Certainly this indicates the reason why the Minister should express hope that Victoria will come to the party. Of course, if Victoria decides against joining this scheme, then women and children in that State will continue to receive smaller amounts and, apparently, this Government will do nothing about it. However, the Minister is apparently satisfied that all States except Victoria will join the scheme. As I said earlier, I am surprised to find that the Minister is so unconcerned that women in one State may be treated so differently from women in other States, when all that is required is a simple amendment to the Social Services Act so that the Commonwealth can take over full responsibility and ensure that benefits are uniform. The Commonwealth could ensure that the conditions under which payments will be made are uniform. It could also ensure that there is no discrimination. Of course, if the Commonwealth is not prepared to accept that responsibility, we could have the situation where some States might even reduce the amount that they pay.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I find myself in almost total disagreement with the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard). It seems to me that for 30 minutes we have been listening to complete waffle. In fact, I would describe his speech as scraping the bottom of the political barrel. I believe that this legislation should be approached non-politically. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie advocates - and I think he speaks for the rest of his partythat the Commonwealth should take over the whole question of social services. He also advocated that the Commonwealth should take over State matters such as the provision of free books and free transport. We have to give some consideration to the States’ attitude on such matters. It is humbug to speak as the honourable member did, when we know perfectly well that the States are not prepared to surrender their constitutional powers.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie said that we - and I think he was referring particularly to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) - take the easy way out in this legislation. It seems to me that the easy way out would be to do nothing about the matter at all. Later in his speech the honourable member said: ‘God help the pensioners in the future.’ My recollection of Labor administration in the past is that it adopted quite a deplorable attitude to social services. Many honourable members opposite tend to be quite garrulous when they are in opposition and negative when they are in government. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie also referred to the case of illegitimate children living with someone other than their mother. I ask the honourable gentleman: Does he wish to encourage what one could call the farming of illegitimate children for profit?
– It is being done every day.
– I hope that the honourable member for Shortland does not condone that. I wish to take quite the opposite view to that adopted by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and congratulate the Minister for introducing what I consider to be a most enlightened and desirable piece of legislation. I do not regard the need for this legislation as a recognition of the evils of our so-called permissive society so much as a recognition of imbalances and injustices which have existed for many generations - in fact, since man has inhabited the earth. In the main, these injustices seem to have been inflicted upon the female of the species.
I should like to see the Opposition support the measure wholeheartedly without attempting to make political capital out of a situation in which the Government - in this case the Minister - has taken the initiative. I should like to refer to a former Labor parliamentarian from my own State of South Australia, the late Mr Frank Walsh. He was Premier of South Australia for a short time. At another time he was in charge of the portfolio of Social Welfare. I believe that he was quite non partisan in his political handling of this portfolio. South Australia’s record in the field of social welfare has been a relatively good one. As early as 1842 the South Australian Parliament passed legislation designed to assist destitute persons. I am attempting to be unbiased in my approach to this question. Less than 6 months ago the late Mr Walsh produced the first official publication which explained South Australia’s public relief benefits. I should like to place on record how much I appreciate Mr Walsh’s efforts and how we all regret his passing.
One. important aspect of this Bill is the provision which makes it possible for the States to continue to control its administration. This provision is opposite to the Labor Party’s policy. The Commonwealth is continually expanding its activities in the field of social welfare. Because of its actions in this field it can hardly be accused of seeking political advantage or of making money available to the States in return for the surrender of their constitutional rights. The Commonwealth is concerned only with the welfare of the person who will qualify to receive a benefit, and any satisfaction which can be felt by the people concerned with granting the benefit must rub off on the authority administering the benefit - in this case the States. But I suppose that in future the States will continue to clout the Commonwealth as vigorously as ever.
I would like to stress that the Minister has taken the initiative in this matter. This is the first opportunity he has had to introduce this legislation, and it is significant that he has done so at the end of this sessional period and that it is quite unrelated to the Budget. As Ministers and Government supporters have pointed out frequently, this is in keeping with our attitude to all legislation, whether it be on defence, foreign affairs, social services or any other subject. We regard improvement in these matters as a continuing process, not something to be trotted out during an election year.
I would like to deal briefly with the position in South Australia. There has been a great need for improvement there and, I would think, in all States in the assistance available to widows, deserted wives, unmarried mothers and the other categories dealt with in the Bill. More than 6,500 widows last year received Commonwealth benefits, but I have been unable to find any figures for those who will not qualify. In South Australia there are two categories of beneficiaries laid down by the Department of Social Welfare. A booklet issued by that Department and titled ‘A Guide to Social Welfare in South Australia’ gives the following information:
This includes persons so classified who are regarded as likely to remain upon State relief continuously or are widows (including de facto), aged or invalid persons expected ultimately to be accepted by the Commonwealth for pensions. For one-parent families the base rate of relief is $17.00 a week and for a two-parent family $19.00 a week. In addition $1.50 a week is payable for each dependant child. In special cases women without dependent children may be classified in this group, e.g., widows who are pregnant to their late husbands or who are aged 50 or more and awaiting acceptance for a Commonwealth pension, when a rate of $11.75 a week is payable. Group B:
This includes persons not accepted for Group A, and comprises those sick, temporarily unemployed, deserted wives, wives of prisoners, etc. The rates are:
I have not been able to understand why there should be any age distinction in these matters. Pregnant women in approved institutions may receive the above rates for a period of up to 12 weeks before confinement, and, of the State payment, 60% is ordinarily payable to the institution. One wonders about the situation of a young unmarried woman who is pregnant and is about to be married when her prospective husband is killed. Such a person, if she is 17 years of age and desires to keep her child, has to exist on $5 a week plus whatever help she can secure from her family and whatever money she can earn herself. This seems almost barbaric in our generally affluent society. There are numerous cases of hardship in these institutions, which are to be found in all part of Australia.
As a survey which I took in my own electorate last year revealed, most Australians, when they think of pensioners and the under-privileged, think only of the aged. Even pensioners themselves tend not to understand that there are many classes of pensioners, some very much better cared for than others. This legislation treats first things first. In my opinion there is no doubt that the deserted wife with dependent children is the worst placed person in the community. I would like to quote briefly from the survey I have just referred to. I have sent a copy of this survey to the Minister and I hope to receive a reply from him shortly. A circular was sent around to more than 300 pensioners and others in November last year, and the replies that were received have been analysed. I will deal only with the questions asked in the circular which are relevant to the Bill. The 12th question asked was: ‘Which groups in the community do you think have most difficulty in making ends meet?’ The people who answered these questions were pensioners of all varieties. There was a wide range of answers to this question, and an analysis indicated that most persons felt that their own category experienced the most difficulty. Forty-three per cent considered that pensioners who own their own homes and are responsible for rates, taxes and maintenance are the worst off. Of course the proportion of pensioners in this category who answered was greater than that in any other category. Twenty-three per cent confirmed that opinion but added the qualification that persons living alone were in the worst situation. Fifteen per cent had no idea at all or did not answer the question, and only . 2% thought that deserted wives with dependent children were the most seriously underprivileged section of the community. This information tends to confirm the impression that there is little communication between the different groups of pensioners and there is a lack of understanding that some groups endure much more severe hardships than some others. It seems to me that the community appears to think only of age pensioners when it thinks of pensions, the means test and so on. Of course the number of persons drawing age pensions is very much greater than those in all other categories put together.
The last question that was asked in this survey is also significant. It was: ‘Do you know of any such person in need of immediate assistance?’ Only four persons out of the 330 odd who replied to questionnaires indicated a knowledge of some other person in necessitous circumstances, and the answers were generally vague. Only one answer gave the name and address of another person. These answers tend, in my opinion, to confirm the lack of communication within the groups, and many of the complaints were made just on hearsay. This was confirmed when 1 subsequently interviewed the four people who claimed knowledge of cases of hardship. The concluding paragraphs of this report indicate that on the statistical evidence of the survey it would appear that slightly more than 6% of the people are living in what I consider to be poverty. The electorate of Boothby is a fairly typical metropolitan area. I understand that similar surveys conducted in Melbourne by the University of Melbourne have produced similar results.
My particular piece of research could not give reliable results in the areas of mental disabilities, physical handicaps, frail elderly people, institutions and migrant communities, and in the area which I would describe as genteel poverty. The degree of hardship in those areas could well be much higher. When I started this research I considered that deserted wives and civilian widows with dependent children were those in the worst situation. I came across some examples which indicated that there is another class of person just as badly off and which 1 would like to mention to the Minister. That is when I refer to the deserted wife who bears a child which does not belong to the deserting partner or deceased partner. I found some cases of this. The research also indicated that the liberalisation of the means test does nothing to help those living at or near this particular poverty level. Widows, deserted wives with dependent children and elderly pensioners, whether married or single, are not able to go out and work.
I would like to read a brief extract from a letter I received recently on this subject because there is still a great deal more to be done to recognise and to eliminate these pockets of underprivilege and poverty which exist in Australia. I know that no person has studied them more closely than the Minister himself. The letter from which I want to read was written by a woman whose husband had deserted her and who then had a third child of whom another man was the father. The writer said:
I was granted a pension but only for myself and my first two children. The only thing I receive for my daughter is endowment. She is not allowed for in the pension nor do 1 receive relief for her. Also the boys were placed on my doctor’s entitlement card in type - my daughter was written in in pen.
This would be a very embarrassing situation for any person and I bring it to the Minister’s notice. The writer concluded:
I receive $44 a fortnight which is not as much as others with the same amount of children. It just doesn’t seem fair as my children have to be fed, clothed and educated the same as everyone else.
I think this is a classic case. Finally, and briefly, there are three particular matters I want to put to the Minister. I realise that one of them possibly is a matter of such profound policy that it may take some time to arrange. However, as other Government supporters have mentioned, I would like to see established some system of educational allowance for the children of widows, deserted wives and other persons in this category. 1 know that we do this for the dependants of war widows. I think our prime concern should be for the children irrespective of the method of the loss of the breadwinner in the family. I urge the Government to consider this matter as one deserving of very high priority. Secondly, has the Minister given any consideration to extending the pensioner medical service to include these new categories? This legislation will do something to help mothers but they still will be liable for doctors’ fees and so on. Thirdly - and I do not think this is a vindictive suggestion to make-
– I hope not. The honourable member is speaking non-politically.
– I have tried to be nonpolitical about what I consider is a nonpolitical subject. I urge the Minister to suggest to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) that discussions take place with the States to try to gain some power for the Commonwealth or the States, or both, to recover at least part of the money which the various governments are paying to these unfortunate women. I would like to see legislation empowering the recovery of this money from the deserting husbands. I thank honourable members for their patience in listening to what I believe has been a nonpolitical speech. I congratulate the Minister on bringing this legislation forward and I have a great deal of pleasure in supporting it.
– I join with members of the Opposition in supporting the amendment moved by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. I do not think I can be as bitter in my criticism of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) as some of my colleagues have been because I have always believed that a fraction of the cake is better than no cake at all. By introducing this legislation the Minister is seeking to give to underprivileged people who have been so wrongly treated for so long a fraction of the cake that they have deserved so richly for so long. I have pleasure in supporting the amendment moved to the motion ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’. The amendment is:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill this House is of opinion that in order to avoid delayed and unequal payments the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility of paying uniform benefits as soon as a maintenance application has been lodged or imprisonment has commenced’.
I do not think any honourable member has not met some unfortunate person whose breadwinner or husband has been incarcerated for some crime, leaving the woman concerned in the plight of having to wait for 6 months before being entitled to a deserted wife’s pension. 1 think that when a man in our society is degraded it is bad enough but when one of our womenfolk is degraded it is ten times worse. Degradation drives many of our womenfolk to a life of promiscuity. In many cases it drives them to prostitution. If the background could be traced of the womenfolk of Chapel Street, Sydney, who are getting so much publicity in the newspapers, it would be found, I am sure, that a substantial number of them, if not the majority, were forced into this evil way of getting a livelihood because they were deserted by their husbands. In my former profession, I had the experience of meeting some of these unfortunate women. They told me that they had been deserted and that desertion was the reason why they had drifted towards a life of prostitution.
I want to pay some tribute to the Minister for giving a fraction of the cake to these unfortunate people. I hope that this Bill will be the forerunner of legislation to widen the benefits payable to deserted wives, to the wives of prisoners and to the civilian widows in our community. We know that a deserted wife who has lost trace of her husband has to wait 6 months before being eligible for a deserted wife’s pension. Tn New South Wales she has to subsist on a meagre handout from the revenue of the State Government. I say that this is the responsibility of the Commonwealth and the position should have been corrected long ago.
We also know that deserted wives have to initiate maintenance proceedings before they can qualify for the deserted wife’s pension. I have no real objection to this because it prevents the evil woman who might have an agreement with her husband to separate and who could be receiving support from her husband, also illegally obtaining the deserted wife’s pension. I think it fair enough that a deserted wife should have to institute legal proceedings. But what I object to is that when she does institute such proceedings as causing a summons to issue or a warrant to be issued for the arrest of the deserting husband wherever he may be, she invariably has to pay to her local clerk of petty sessions a fee of $2. At times I and my former colleagues in another calling have helped these women by giving them the $2. They have been in such financial straits that they have not been able to obtain the amount they need to institute proceedings. They must take proceedings or they will not qualify for a pension as a deserted wife. They should be able to sign a form at the office of the Clerk of Petty Sessions and this should provide for the cost to be met by either the State or the Federal Government. The cost of initiating legal proceedings should not fall on the deserted wife.
When a man who has deserted his wife is found and brought before a court, an order is made against him. Frequently the husband will pay maintenance for 2 or 3 weeks and will then stop making payments. He may not be able to continue them for financial reasons. He may have a de facto wife who is dependent upon him and he may have garnishee orders against his small wage. Such a man makes intermittent payments to the wife he deserted and she is subjected to serious worries. She must go to the police station and ask: : ‘Is there any money through for me this week?’ She will be told: ‘No, nothing this week; call back on Monday’. Some of these women travel to the police station from distant places in adverse weather. They must first get their children ready for school, if they can afford to provide them with sufficient clothing to go to school. When the husband commences to make payments, the deserted wife must ask the Department of Social Services to stop paying the deserted wife’s pension because the husband is paying maintenance. But after 2 or 3 weeks the husband may stop making payments.
Australia is supposed to be an advanced country. I believe that the maintenance that a husband is supposed to pay to his deserted wife should be paid to the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility for collecting the maintenance. This would ease the mental burden of the deserted wife who must go to the police station week after week and ask whether any money has been sent for her. This creates further difficulties in small townships. People, especially children, can be cruel at times. They say: ‘I saw Mrs Daly’ - or Mrs Jones or Mrs Wentworth, whoever it may be - ‘go into the police station today. She must be in trouble with the police’. My suggestion would save deserted wives from this humiliation. If the Commonwealth accepted responsibility for collecting the maintenance, the deserted wife would have continuity in the payment of the pension. This is a practical approach that may not have been considered. Why should we not do this? Why should we delay a day or a week longer? Have not these women suffered long enough. We should save them from further humiliation. 1 was humiliated enough when I was motoring through Goulburn this morning. I showed my gold pass at various places and sought to have a cheque cashed. Three garages refused to do so. I was humiliated. None of us like to be humiliated. If we do not like humiliation we should show more sympathy to the deserted wife and respond to her needs more quickly.
Honourable members on the other side of the House have expressed their disappointment because the provision of medical aid has not been extended to deserted wives. The burden of medical expenses on a deserted wife can create substantial problems and even lead to hunger in the home. I applaud the people who produced the book ‘The Hidden People’, which was written by John Stubbs. I believe it was this book that first brought the Government to a realisation of the plight of deserted wives, lt has been mentioned in other debates. I first heard it mentioned by the honourable member for Grayndler soon after it was published some months ago. One passage in the book reads:
Miss Jean AitkenSwan who conducted a thorough survey into the social and economic condition of widows in New South Wales, which was published in 1962, wrote: ‘As if to underline the arbitrary nature of the payment, a widow receives the same sum whether she has to outfit the children for high school or whether they are babies’.
Another passage, at page 70, reads:
Only 8% of the civilian widow pensioners interviewed in the New South Wales survey were members of medical benefits schemes, and ill-health among the sample increased sharply with age. There are no real grounds for hoping that any considerable proportion of those who could not afford to join a medical benefits scheme when the survey was carried out can do so today.
This is a shocking state of affairs. The Government is being penny wise and pound foolish. It will not make provision for a civilian widow to obtain medical attention for herself and her children. Lack of medical attention for a child may mean that when he reached adulthood he may qualify for an invalid pension. The Government should ensure that the children are well cared for and obtain necessary medical attention so that they will become healthy and useful adults. This would lessen the demand for social services, because if the children are neglected they may be unable to work later in their life and will qualify for an invalid pension.
War widows receive a larger pension than civilian widows do and are entitled to generous concessional allowances. A war widow is not subjected to a means test and this adds dignity to the status she has won for herself. We do not deprive her. We on this side of the House are pleased that war widows enjoy these benefits, but we believe also that civilian widows should not be subjected to a means test. Only last Saturday a civilian widow saw me at Cessnock. She has four children, whose ages range from 10 or 11 years to 5 years. She has been given an opportunity to work on a poultry farm, but she is worried about the means test. She is a healthy, strong woman and she wants to make better provision for her children. At present she receives a class A pension. She wanted to know how much she could earn before her pension was reduced and I advised her.
But why should she have to travel some 7 miles from her home to ask her Federal member of Parliament how much she could earn if she took a job on a poultry farm? She should not have to worry about a means test. She should be able to say to herself: What I earn here will not affect my pension but will enable me to raise the standard of living of my children and give them better clothing and a better education’. It will be a happy day for all Australians when the Government abolishes the means test. When it does unfortunate women like the woman I interviewed at Cessnock will not face so many problems. I am sure that honourable members have many of these cases in their electorates. Indeed, our social services legislation does not reach many tragic cases of hardship in our society. Members of Parliament certainly know of the large group of men and women, especially women, who devote their lives to caring for parents and relatives. While doing this they sacrifice work and friends and, as a result, later on in life when their care is no longer needed they have neither savings nor comfort.
Provision should be made for providing some deserted wives with food, blankets and similar assistance. At present the Department of Social Services issues cheques when assistance is given to these people, but I believe that in a few instances it is inadvisable to give cash assistance. In those instances, I would prefer to see the assistance given by way of food parcels, blankets and so on, because some of the recipients would spend cash on alcohol and taxis.
Children are deprived on the necessities of life because their mothers are unable to handle their financial affairs properly. I. suppose that one could classify these people as home-made casualties, whose misfortunes are inflicted from within. The same thing applies to families in which there are alcoholics, prisoners, broken marriages, broken shifting or shiftless homes. In all these instances one finds the inability of people to manage money and financial Social’ help. The distressing aspect is the large number of children who are affected - children whose mothers are unsupported by a wage earner and cannot work part time or full time. I do not know what the statistics are here in Australia but in the United Kingdom 1964 there were almost 110,000 women and about 181,000 children in fatherless families.
I am thinking of the unmarried mothers for whom this legislation is making provision. They are unworldly and do not have the financial ability to overcome their problems. They are unlike the rich and privileged who look down upon them. The rich and privileged avail themselves of skilled abortionists, and then hold their heads high and look down on the unmarried mother who cannot afford surgery. I appreciate that the people in this country are now starting to talk up on these subjects; they were not game to do so before. If given a lead, politicians will sometimes follow, but very seldom do politicians give a lead in legislation like this. They are fearful of losing their seats. These proposals should come from the politicians and not from the public.
As I said earlier, I congratulate the Minister, who is showing a bit of humanism and some feeling towards unmarried mothers - the unfortunate women who, as a result of unworldliness or lack of finance, have children out of wedlock. Our society looks down on them, and then 4 or 6 weeks after the birth of their children they are expected to get a job. A young widowed mother with one or two children might lose her husband when she is 22 years of age. This happens often these days when young husbands are killed on the roads. Such a wife receives a widow’s pension until the youngest child is 16 years of age or until she remarries. However, this Government’s outlook towards the unfortunate unmarried mothers has been different. Therefore, I am glad that this legislation is showing some kindness and respect.
When society looks down on an unmarried mother after she has had one child, she often says: ‘I cannot be looked down on any lower’, and throws caution to the wind. Some such persons have two or three children out of wedlock. 1 have spoken to some social service investigators who have regarded these women as being very immoral and prostitutes. I have had long talks with them and have advised them not to adopt this attitude. I have warned them that if they continued in this way 1 would “ take the matter up with the Minister at Canberra and inform him that they looked down on these unfortunate girls.
I know why some provision for unmarried mothers has not been made before. It has been suggested that this kind of assistance would encourage prostitution. That is all piffle, because the majority of girls who have a child out of wedlock feel the disgrace, without the necessity for any additional hurt that a government might impose on them. The majority of these girls could not be hurt any more.
I have great pleasure in supporting the Opposition’s amendment to this slightly progressive legislation, for which I have already commended the Minister. I hope this is the forerunner to more progressive legislation of this type - legislation for which the Labor Party has been agitating for many years.
– I congratulate the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) on his quiet approach to this non-political subject which is of great importance to the future of the nation. I wish to express appreciation to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) on behalf of more than 100 families residing in the nineteen suburbs that constitute the electorate of Griffith, on the southern side of the Brisbane River. I also thank the Government on behalf of more than 15,500 families throughout Australia. These people constitute the deserted families in our Australian society. Since my election to the Parliament 18 months ago, I have on several occasions mentioned the hardship suffered by deserted wives. I must confess that it was through my parliamentary duties that I really came to understand the problems and the plight of these people. The poverty, the hardship and the loss of purpose in life is something that must be witnessed to be understood.
I recollect that on earlier occasions 1 have condemned, out of hand, men who have walked out on their families. Recently I visited a prison farm, 90 miles from Brisbane, and talked to a number of male prisoners who chose a life of imprisonment rather than pay maintenance to their wives. I believe this visit was worthwhile from the viewpoint of gathering an understanding of life and attitudes. Some of the men there would rather die in prison than pay a cent to their families. Even though I am a bachelor, I believe I can understand such bitterness existing between man and wife. But what I do not understand is how any man - and for that matter any woman - can walk out, leaving his forgotten children to starve. I shall never forgive this treachery to a child. To my mind there is only one thing worse - the parent who is aware of the hardship so created. As this does happen, we have a duty to ensure that these people are given every opportunity to live as normal a life as possible.
I have carried out research into the payments made by the States during the first 6 months. This information will be of interest to honourable members. I have also ascertained the number of deserted wives receiving Commonwealth aid in each Slate andI hope to explode, in a matter of minutes, a theory that has been clung to by some State governments as good reason for keeping to a minimum payments to deserted wives. Firstly, I wish to make it clear that the figures 1 give in relation to the payments made by the States during the first 6 months of desertion are offered on the basis that to the best of my knowledge these are the payments made.I did everything possible, in the time available, to check their authenticity but was advised by the Secretary to the Minister that the Department could neither confirm nor deny the figures I submitted for verification, because it felt that to do so would have been a breach of faith, as the figures were provided by the States on a confidential basis. I am aware that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has suffered the same experience. I am sure he appreciates my point. 1 state here and now that I resent the attitude adopted by three of the six States. If we, as members of the Australian Parliament, are to be subjected to this type of treatment, we may as well all pack up and go home. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the possibility of inaccuracy due to the prevailing circumstances, I offer the following figures of payment per fortnight based on the case of a deserted wife and three children:
These figures do not include child endowment.
– Where did those figures come from?
– From a Queensland Government source. 1 tried to confirm the figures in Canberra, and experienced great difficulty.
Honourable members on both sides of the House are aware that some States have claimed that if they kept payments low, husbands and fathers would feel a greater sense of responsibility and therefore would tend to refrain from deserting. If this were true, one would rightly expect the rate of desertions to be lowest in Queensland, where the smallest State payment is made, and highest in Victoria, where the highest payment is made. The percentage of desertions in each State compared with the number of married females makes an interesting study. Tasmania, with second highest payment, has the lowest rate of desertion, at 1.32%. Queensland, with the lowest payment, has a desertion rate of 1.5%. Victoria, with the highest payment which is well above twice that of Queensland, has a desertion rate of 1.63%. New South Wales, with the third highest payment, has the third highest desertion rate at 1.64%. South Australia, with the second lowest payment, has the second highest desertion rate, at 1.71%. Finally, Western Australia, with the third lowest payment, has, comparatively, an astronomical desertion rate, at 1.94%.
I would not suggest for a moment that those States which live by the low payment psychological approach would propound it with the knowledge of these facts, but I do maintain that ignorance is no consolation to those who, year in and year out, have struggled on an income generous enough barely to allow the smell of food on a dirty kitchen cloth. Examination of Hansard has shown that the only suggestion members of the Australian Labor Party have made in the past is that the Commonwealth should take over from the moment of desertion. That proposal is appealing but hardly practical.
This Bill is indicative of positive thinking by the Government, as the responsibility for assisting deserted wives in the first 6 months of desertion still remains with the States. Even under the system as proposed by this Bill, the States will have a vested interest in tracing the absconded ‘husband.
I sincerely believe, Mr Speaker, that this country too readily accepts the burden placed upon it by irresponsible individuals. The Commonwealth pays out about $15m a year in caring for the families of men who, to use the Australian vernacular, have blown through. Yet we never hear a voice of protest or concern at this expenditure. All honourable members will recall the convulsions which came upon this House when the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) increased postal and telephone charges last year. This was done to obtain another $30m a year in revenue. Yet we spend $15m a year looking after the families of men who shirk and dodge. Much more must be done to find the deserting husband. I believe the uniform maintenance Bill, which was approved by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General in January 1964, goes a long way in assisting to do this. It is pleasing to record that the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia have already passed legislation to this effect and that Tasmania, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory will shortly do so. Simply, this legislation provides that where in one State a wife has a maintenance order made against her husband and he moves to another State, the order is sent to his new State of residence for enforcement.
I would like to mention now a special group of deserted wives who, I believe, are not being given a fair go. I refer to the group which I shall describe as non-British migrant wives. British migrant wives are basically in the same position as their Australian counterparts when it comes to eligibility immediately following desertion but the non-British migrant wife is at a distinct disadvantage because, although from the point of view of the States she may be in the same position as wives in the other groups during the first 6 months, when she becomes a Commonwealth responsibility she is given only a special benefit and not a widow’s pension unless she has already lived in Australia for 5 years. This means that some of these women are in a precarious position for several years and are subjected to a greater degree of emotional strain from the beginning. When we examine this position closely, and realise that usually the male migrant learns the English language more quickly than the female, we understand that she has the added disadvantage and difficulty of the language barrier when she seeks employment. There are various factors which can accumulate to the stage of a crushing burden. I use this occasion to make a plea to employers to give consideration to migrants with special problems. 1 would most definitely like to see nonBritish migrant wives become eligible for widows pensions on the same basis as those whose husbands die. As the House is aware, this eligibility applies after one year’s residence in Australia. Let us see greater interest being taken by employers and the Commonwealth Employment Service in trying to assist these people who, as all honourable members will agree, have very special problems. We have invited them to live in this country. Let us ensure that everything possible is done to make their stay here as free from worry as is possible.
This country needs immigrants if it is to continue to expand. This point of view was expounded by the former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), long before I entered the Parliament. Opposition members may recall that in my maiden speech I paid a tribute to him for having introduced Australia’s immigration programme just after the last war at a time when there was a definite difference of opinion on the subject.
A special case has been made for the wives of persons serving gaol sentences.
I believe that a woman whose husband has been sentenced to a prison term of 6 months or longer should be the responsibility of the Commonwealth. I know that my argument runs counter to the terms of the amendment moved by the Opposition. At present a deserted wife does not receive benefit immediately, because of the possibility of reconciliation with her husband or of locating her husband. Bui a wife whose husband has been sent to prison knows full well his whereabouts, and there is nothing that she can do to correct the situation. There is no suggestion that a wife in those circumstances has been a partner to an act of desertion. It would be very rare for a wife to act in concert with her husband to ensure that he is sentenced to imprisonment. It is important also that benefits paid to a wife should not cease on the day of her husband’s release from prison. Often it will be difficult for a man just released from prison to find a new job. If a man in those circumstances is expected to support his family immediately, there is a danger of his becoming demoralised, and resorting again to crime as a stopgap measure. I believe that we must continue to view the situation sympathetically and do everything possible to assist a man to restart his life and set himself up again so that he can take over the responsibility of caring for his family. I believe that a number of things remain to be explored and corrected concerning the wives of prisoners.
Just as the business world in the month of June takes stock of what has been achieved and what has not been achieved during the past year, it is most appropriate that we, in this month of June, should examine closely the achievements of the biggest business of this country. I refer to the running of the affairs of the Commonwealth in the best interests of the people. From my own observations, I know that the wives of prisoners are disadvantaged in the present situation which, I regret to say, will not be corrected satisfactorily wilh the passage of the legislation presently under discussion. I am pleased to see the Minister for Social Services nodding his head in acknowledgment of this point. I hope this acknowledgment gives us reason for hope for the future. I know that he is a good man in spite of what the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who opened the debate for the Opposition, had to say last Thursday night. The Minister has feeling in his heart. I know that he will continue to do his best.
I have had many cases in my electorate where the husband has been sent to gaol. In one case, the woman concerned was having her twelfth child and was desperately in need of assistance. Fortunately, I was able to arrange this assistance. But the ridiculous situation which exists - and I remind members of the Opposition that this is not a political speech - results from legislation that was introduced by the Australian Labor Party in 1947 as a result of which the wife of a prisoner has to live on a pittance for the first 6 months during which her husband is in gaol. Surely if a prisoner is convicted and sent to gaol for 6 months or longer his wife is entitled to receive the full benefit of a widow’s pension right from the date he enters gaol. This is outdated legislation which should be repealed without delay.
Another point of interest, which is really outside the province of this House, is the case where a husband in gaol has a large amount of money in his bank account. Because his is the only signature on which a withdrawal can be made from his account and because he is determined to retain his money, his wife has to exist on the small amount that she is receiving from the Department of Social Services. This all adds up to one answer: It is always the wife and the children who suffer. I believe that here is an instance where, as I mentioned earlier in my speech, we should be doing more to chase up husbands in order to save society many millions of dollars. Something should be done in this regard. Why should a man who has been sent to gaol be able to sit on his money while the State looks after his family? I am not proud to announce that this actually happened to a family in my electorate of Griffith, in Brisbane. This is exactly what has happened and I believe that something should be done to correct the position. I know that it is more a matter for the State, but I draw this example to the attention of the Minister. Perhaps he will discuss it when next he meets the various State Ministers responsible in this field. lt is appropriate at this time to refer to Principle 6 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Children, which is as follows:
The child, for the full, harmonious development of his personality needs love and understanding. He shall where possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and in any case an atmosphere of affection and of moral and materia] security. A child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the Public Authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and those without adequate means of support.
Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.
This puts in a nutshell the target that we must keep in our sights to ensure that the situation is minimised - unfortunately today it does exist - where a child has to be taken from its mother and placed in a home because of economic hardship.
A point which has not been mentioned in this debate by honourable members on each side of the House is the case of deserted husbands. This is simply the case where the wife packs up, walks out and leaves her husband to care for their children. There are isolated instances of this occurrence; nevertheless, they are real. The deserted husband is in receipt of an invalid pension or some other social benefit and cannot possibly afford help in the home or the luxury of a housekeeper. This would apply also to many a working man. Many mcn with large families would not be able to afford the extravagance of the assistance of a housekeeper. Of course, it will be said that it is very easy for a man to acquire the services of a woman on a de facto wife basis whereas, in the instance of a female, society frowns upon the woman who forms a de facto association. But this is no reason to overlook completely the problem of the deserted husband. Even though the incidence of this problem may be small or even minute, I believe that it is one factor that we cannot overlook because in my own electorate one or two instances of this are to be found.
Another field which this legislation seeks to cover is that of unmarried mothers. Up to this time unmarried mothers have not been covered by the provisions of this legislation. But what is contained in this legislation represents a new and far reaching step on the part of the Minister and the Government. I do not consider that the lass who has made one mistake is a social problem. But we do not need to delve deeply to find some instances of women continuing to have children while still in an unmarried state. I believe that this can be nailed down in many instances to the problems of a broken home and where a lass has grown up in an environment in which there has never been social security or the love and devotion of both parents. I believe that, by cutting out the problems associated with desertion and the economic hardships suffered by deserted wives including the wives of prisoners we can make it easier regarding, and in the long term eliminate, many of the problems which follow as a result of those matters that I have already enunciated.
In conclusion, I wish to pay a tribute to the many organisations in our society which work tirelessly to assist deserted wives, the wives of prisoners, unmarried mothers, etc. This work is carried out on an unpaid basis by many organisations. Much money is drained from their already limited resources by their work, yet they continue to do a good job. I believe that, with the introduction of this Bill, the Government is acknowledging an even greater responsibility in this field and is doing everything in its power to remedy the present situation. We may be moving slowly and not as fast as many of us would like, but I commend this Bill to the House as a most worthwhile move in our society.
- Mr Speaker, I join with other honourable members on this side of the House in supporting the amendment moved by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) to the motion that this Bill be now read a second time. The amendment reads:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill this House is of opinion that in order to avoid delayed and unequal payments the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility of paying uniform benefits as soon as a maintenance application has been lodged or imprisonment has commenced’.
Like the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) I feel that speeches on this matter generally have taken a non political line. 1 do not believe that any good purpose is served by talking about what the Government did 20 years ago any more than it does any good to talk about what another government does. This Government should set its sights on the present and on the future. I am pleased to note that the honourable member for Griffith, after his visit to Palen Creek, has not changed his views regarding marriage. There may be a chance for him yet.
I think that all honourable members will agree that, in the case of all broken families, the children are the most important. They are the ones who are likely to suffer most. It is the children who suffer when desertion occurs or the breadwinner is imprisoned. The Minister, as is indicated in his second reading speech, leaves to the States the responsibility for determining eligibility and the rates of assistance. He said: but the Commonwealth expects that the existing practice of the States in making individual hardship the test of eligibility for assistance will continue, and that the Stales will in general raise benefit payments approximately to the level of those payable to a class A widow under Commonwealth legislation.
The Minister estimates that $lm will be paid in the current year for this assistance. Victoria is the exception. In this State no assistance as yet applies to a widow although assistance is granted in respect of her children.
The practice of leaving the States to make the decision applies a means test to deserted wives. It is a means test within a means test. The Commonwealth is making the money available but the States are to administer the scheme and decide to whom the money is to be paid. It has been pointed out by a previous speaker that great disparity exists between States. I recall that in Queensland a car owned by a deserted wife with children is deemed to be a luxury and the official view is that the family concerned has no need for State assistance. Even though a car might not raise $100 at the best of times, it is still a necessity for a deserted wife who lives in the country. It is her only means of getting to and from town and finding a job. The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) cited the case of a woman who travelled many miles and had to leave her children behind in order to seek his advice. I am sure he was able to give her expert advice as to what she could earn and what she could do. because he has wide knowledge on this subject. 1 am pleased that the Minister for Social Services has said that the type of assistance under consideration will provide aid in the form of cash, food and clothing. At this point, I pay a tribute to those organisations that assist needy deserted wives and children by the provision of clothing and food to meet immediate needs. But, like some other members, including supporters of the Government, I regret that hospitalisation is not included in the provisions of this Bill. People are perhaps much better off in Queensland than in any other State because it has a free hospital system. Expert and specialised attention can be given free of cost to an extent that does not apply in any other State. We know of the high cost of hospitalisation and of medical treatment generally. We know that very often the people who really need assistance and attention are those who are deterred by the high cost from seeking it. Many of these people do not like even to ask for time to pay for hospitalisation. While I am pleased about the assistance that is to be given - and I trust that provision of school books and other assistance given by the States will be continued - 1 hope that the States do not regard this legislation as an opportunity to reduce their own payments.
I would now like to refer to unmarried mothers. This subject has been mentioned by other honourable members. I know that the previous Minister for Social Services took a great deal of interest in it. I know he was also concerned about that fact that deserted wives are not eligible for Commonwealth assistance during the first 6 months of desertion. Whatever good reasons there were originally for this exclusion, 1 believe all honourable members would agree that the waiting period is no longer necessary. Perhaps it is right that the official agencies of the State governments in the smaller towns and cities should treat each application individually because of their greater opportunities to familiarise themselves with the particular circumstances. They know the exact position in regard to any local case of desertion and can properly administer the scheme of assistance. I use the term ‘unmarried mothers’ guardedly because in some cases there are deserted wives who have qualified for the Commonwealth widow’s pension payable to a deserted wife and who have sought assistance and have later been deceived - if that is the appropriate word - by another man. For example, a woman could live with another man in the belief that he would act as a father and help rear her family. She could then find that she was having a child by this man and he could desert her possibly because of the added responsibility that would result. I know of a case in which a widow lived with a man for ‘about 7 years, during which time she had three children by him. His only contribution to the upkeep of the family was the payment of the rent. Eventually, because of his drunkenness and abuse of the children, the woman left him. She reapplied for the widow’s pension because she had a young baby less than 6 months old. She was paid a widow’s pension allowance in respect of her children by. marriage. However, the three children born outside of marriage were not covered by allowances attaching to her widow’s pension. Such children are still not covered by the legislation now before the House except to the extent that if the State agrees to give some assistance to them, the Commonwealth will come to the party. This means that until the youngest child reaches 16 years of aye. the widow will have to endure the efforts necessary to obtain this sort of assistance. As the honourable member for Hunter said, they entail regular visits to a police station in order to see whether money is available or regular calls at the office of the Clerk of Petty Sessions to collect money. A woman who has been deserted could take out a maintenance order against the man who deserted her. However, the Minister and other honourable members know what happens in such a case. He leaves his job and cannot be found.
– He shoots through.
– That is right. He usually has no money; he has no bank account. If the man is found and gaoled, the widow is still no better off. So. for at least 16 years a woman in such a position has to endure hardship and her children are deprived of many of the benefits that should be available to them. It should be remembered that the feeding and care of children in their early years plays a big part in determining the age to which they will live, the type of life they will lead and their usefulness as future citizens.
I recall a good old Labor stalwart named Man-o-War’ Jack O’Brien who died last year in the Mount Olivet Hospital, in Brisbane. His birthday was 13th June and he was 109 years of age when he died. People asked him to what he attributed his long life. We hear all sorts of answers to such a question. Some people say they do not smoke or do not drink; others say they do drink or always have a cigar. However, this gentleman said he attributed his long life to the fact that his parents were able to give him good meals and look after him well in his early years. In later years, being a sailor, he probably abused his health in many ways. He lived a particularly hard life and raised a big family. The point I make is that he paid a tribute to what was done for him in his early years by his parents. He had a good start in life. Some women unfortunately accept affection outside wedlock and bear children who are subjected to a life of hardship until they reach an age when they can look after themselves. I take my hat off to those women who work hard and deprive themselves in order to rear their children. They endure many hardships and face scorn from some members of the public, including people of the type referred to by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) who have sufficient money to enable them to seek medical attention to ensure that they do not bear children. Those women who bear children out of wedlock are adding more citizens to Australia. Perhaps we do not endorse the way in which they do this but they are rearing future Australians. We must have regard for these children when we are discussing legislation of this kind.
I remember that when the Fisher Government introduced legislation providing for the payment of a baby bonus the then Opposition made all manner of predictions. It was suggested that there would be added promiscuity and loose living but I do not think the baby bonus was responsible for promiscuity nor do I think that providing assistance for children born out of wedlock will encourage loose living. These women have made a mistake, and if they are enabled to rear their children in some sort of comfort I do not think they will be led astray again. 1 welcome this Bill, but I believe it could go further in respect of the benefits that are to be paid. The Commonwealth will be the greatest contributor to the assistance that is provided and it should ensure that the money is paid to the intended recipients as soon as possible. There should be no waiting period while the State authorities make up their minds whether or not desertion has been proved.
The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) spoke of desertion and mentioned how husbands and wives sometimes come to distrust one another. There are many reasons why husbands desert their wives, and it is not always the husband who is the guilty party. This must be taken into account, but the welfare of the children is of paramount importance. If there are reasons that justify a husband leaving his wife and children, the question as to whether or not he should pay maintenance is a matter for the courts to determine. 1 do not think his leaving the family absolves him of responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of the children, even if his wife contributed to the desertion. In such cases the courts have always decided in favour of the children. Furthermore, I do not think it wise to separate children from their mothers. 1 welcome the legislation and congratulate the Minister for introducing it. 1 know that much of the preparation of this measure was in the hands of his predecessor and I think the present Minister will acknowledge this. I hope that the few anomalies that have been mentioned by myself and by other speakers will be given attention in the near future.
– in reply - Non-political speeches have been made on this Bill and 1 thank the honourable members from both sides of the chamber who have made them. I include in that the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) and his colleagues the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths). On our side there have been some most constructive speeches. I do not think any of us can fail to have been impressed by the sincerity and knowledge of the honourable member for Kingston (Miss Brownbill) and of the work that has been done by the honourable member for -Boothby (Mr McLeay) and the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). If I had the time I should like to traverse in greater detail what they said.
May I make one or two points? First, I believe that the amendment which the Opposition has moved is based upon a radical misconception of the whole position. It is not proposed that in any way relief should be cut down. Rather it is necessary, because this is a matter of detailed administration, to use the very considerable administrative machines which the States have built up. We do not want to by-pass and discard these machines or to duplicate them. In New South Wales, for example, there is an extensive system of child welfare. Honourable members will concur with me in regretting the recent death of the responsible Minister in New South Wales. The other States have similar systems. Much to my surprise I heard the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) become almost a State hater, which is not the kind of thing one expects from a West Australian. The honourable member for Hunter, who spoke of the difficulties of administering maintenance, provided, unwittingly perhaps, the best argument for leaving this matter in the hands of the States for administration during the first 6 months, because the States do have a closer approach to the problem. The honourable member for Griffith spoke of prisons. This is a most important matter, but it is true that when a sentence is passed it is of a known period. On the other hand the prisons generally are administered by the States and there are systems of remissions of sentence and matters of this character with which the States are familiar. In one State at least there is now a proposal to let husbands out during the week to work and to incarcerate them again at the weekends so that from their earnings there can be maintenance for their families. For this and similar reasons there is a good case for leaving the administration in the hands of the States. I do not think the States will abuse their opportunities.
I should like to touch on one or two factual points in the limited time available to me. First, I refer to the position in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth Government performs a dual function in the territories because in the territories it is in a sense the State government. At present it is the practice in the Australian Capital Territory to grant assistance to deserted wives during the first 6 months of desertion and to other women in relation to whom the Act will apply on the same basis as is given in New South Wales by the State Government. In the Northern Territory there is no fixed rate of assistance but the Director of Welfare has funds at his disposal to meet the needs of people in necessitous circumstances. Women to whom this Act will apply will be included in this class of person. As from 1st July the rates of assistance payable will be not less favourable than the maximum rate of the class A widow’s pension. This will apply in both the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory.
Another factual question was raised in relation to Aboriginals. I can assure the House that Aboriginal -women will be treated on exactly the same basis as other women in Australia for the purposes of the administration of this legislation. This, of course, will be of particular consequence in view of the fact that so much of the Aboriginal population in the north of Australia is included in a Commonwealth Territory. I think there was a basic misconception in the opening remarks of the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) regarding Victoria. The position in Victoria at present, and as it has obtained since 1947, is that in that State the Commonwealth pays special benefits to supplement, the very meagre payments which the State makes. It is not proposed to disturb this arrangement, and the special benefits will continue to be paid in Victoria unless and until the Victorian Government accedes to this Act.
It will not make much difference to the total payments made. It is nearly lineball as to whether the amount of special benefits which we pay at present will be greater or less than the amounts which we would pay to Victoria if it acceded to this Act. I think that probably it would be to the advantage of that State, and it would certainly simplify the Commonwealth’s administration, ifin this regard Victoria came into line with the other States.
There are a number of other matters on which I would like to touch if I had time. One particular point of importance was raised by the honourable member for Griffith when he referred to deserting wives as against deserted wives. This question of the husband who is left with a young family to support is a particularly difficult one. At the present rime I do not see how the Commonwealth with its very limited apparatus of social workers in the States could meet this case as well as the States can do. It seems to me that it is a State responsibility. Of course, we want a certain degree of uniformity, but there is no need to impose uniformity for its own sake. After all, as I have said, we should not be State haters. The State governments arc Australian governments. They have responsibilities. Surely they have the same sense of responsibility in administering their affairs as the Commonwealth has in administering its affairs. This Bill helps the States. It gives to them funds which they have not previously had, and as such it will enable them to raise the level of payments which they administer in the first 6 months, and only in the first 6 months, of desertion. So that in this difficult period, when facts are not always easy to ascertain, the States can tailor the available resources as best suited to the requirements of those people who are really in need. I thank honourable members who have spoken in this debate for taking this human attitude towards a problem which all of us regret which all of us would like to see alleviated and about which most of us are puzzled as to how bast to approach the detailed circumstances.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Daly’s amendment) stand part ofthe question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original 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 Wentworth) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, the House will be aware of the circumstances which preceded my recent visit to the United States of America. Briefly restated, they were that the visit had been envisaged before President Johnson made his speech of 31st March. In that speech he announced that he would cease bombing over a significant area of North Vietnam - the most populous area - in the hope that this restraint might lead to similar restraints by North Vietnam, and to the opening of talks with North Vietnam which might lead to the achievement of an honourable peace. At that time the President also announced that as an earnest of his sincere desire to achieve a just and honourable peace he had decided to devote his energies to that end and would relinquish his chances of re-election by withdrawing his name from nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate at the next elections.
I was in doubt, in these circumstances, as to whether that projected visit by me should take place. But President Johnson urged me to come and because the visit would give me a chance to get to know the man who will be President until 20th January 1969, and to get to know some of the men who may succeed him in that office after that date, I thought that it would be of value to myself and to the Government and to Australia to make the visit. I believe that the visit justified that judgment. I have had the opportunity to speak to, and to get to know, the President and members of the present administration - the Secretary of Defence, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury and many others. Indeed I had, in all, six separate meeting periods with the President, either alone or with members of his Cabinet. These, I think, covered an amount of time which had not previously been set aside by any President for a visit of an Australian Prime Minister.
I did not believe that- the visit would result in any new, dramatic, developments but I did think that it would give me an opportunity to assess the fears, sometimes experienced and expressed in this and other countries, that the United States might lose interest in the area of South East Asia, might return to a form of isolationism. I have had the opportunity to assess the validity of those fears and, Mr Speaker, 1 believe they are groundless. In developing my reasons for that judgment, I should like to quote first from the remarks which I made on arrival at the White House, and secondly from the speech in reply which the President, later that day, gave. On behalf of the Australian Government I said:
As Australians see it, the problems of the future, although worldwide, are likely to be most acute in Asia. We sec there an area which needs an economic and technical base such as Europe already has. We see there an area where development and progress are essential if the peoples of these divergent nations are to support and defend something dynamic and developing - nol something stagnant. We see there an area crying for technical skills, a more experienced administration, a more equitable sharing of an increasing income - and we see there an area subject, above all, to the threat of subversion, terrorism and aggression.
Perhaps, Mr President, though I don’t think so, we Australians see this out of perspective - because it is here that we, contiguous to Asia - part of the South East Asia region - live and breathe and have our present and our future, lt is here that we feel that we can best contribute to stability and progress and to preserving political freedom which has economic freedom as its goal. It is here that we can play our part - but we cannot effectively play it alone.
I hope the House would agree that this is Australia’s approach to the region of Asia in which we live; it is certainly the Government’s approach, and I believe it to be the proper approach - that we should want to see stability in the region to our north, that we should want to see economic progress in the north, that we should do what we can to achieve these objectives, but that we cannot alone see them effectively achieved in the time in which they ought to be achieved. That was an expression of the Australian Government’s interest in the area and of what we believe should be done there, and indeed an indication that we feel the United States has a duty to help in that approach and that attitude in that area.
That night the President replied to these remarks and I quote two passages from his speech:
I know [here are some in Asia and elsewhere who are wondering tonight whether the United States will maintain its commitments in Asia; who are wondering tonight whether the strain of the struggle in Vietnam will lead the United States to withdraw and leave two thirds of humanity to its fate without American assistance or American support. … I cannot speak for my successor but I can speak for myself and the answer is no.
America will not withdraw. The second passage I quote from the President’s speech is this:
In the years ahead we in the United States hope that the new Asia that is being born will be increasingly organised to shape its own destiny. lt should be able to do more for itself and rely less on the U.S. But I have no doubts that there will be no return here to isolationism.
The President went on to point out how in ‘Administration after Administration since 1941, whether the Administration had been Democratic or Republican, the same thread had run through the approach of all the United States Presidents, that there was a duty and an obligation to maintain an interest in this part of the world, to give, where it was required, military assistance against attack, but above all to seek to raise the economic living standards of the peoples in the area so that they would be the more able themselves to resist any threatened attack, so that they would be the more able themselves to help themselves to provide a better standard of living for their people.
Mr Speaker, these public statements, and the private conversations with the President and his Cabinet which occurred, have left me in no doubt - and this is a judgment which is only to be taken as a judgment - that the present Administration will continue the struggle in Vietnam until a peace which assures the South Vietnamese a chance to choose to elect their own Government, free from threat, is secured. And they have left me in no doubt that the present Administration will continue its interest in, and its help for, the South East Asian region. But this is an Administration which is in office only until January next year - although this is some 7 months away - and it is a reasonable and proper question to ask: What will the attitude of the United States be after that date? I can only say that I have had the opportunity to hold face to face discussions with Vice President
Humphrey, who is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, with Governor Rockefeller, who is a Republican candidate for nomination for President, and to hold a conversation - unfortunately by telephone, not face to face - with Mr Nixon who is the other Republican candidate for President.
After these contacts, my own assessment - and that is all it can be - is that I do not believe, should any of these candidates be successful, that there would be any basic change in the interest of the United States in this region. I do not believe that there would be any retreat to isolationism, and if this assessment is true it is an important factor on which Australia’s future decisions should be based.
The visit helped us in getting background to assist in the formulation of our own decisions as to what we can .and should do in this area in the future, for our security in the future is bound up with, and cannot be disentangled from, the security and stability of the whole of the region in which we live. It is necessary for us in those circumstances to make our own decisions as to what we can do to bring about security and stability in the region; but in making those decisions we cannot but be affected by judgment as to what others will do for the same purposes in the same area.
The assessments which I have made have helped us, I think, towards formulating those future decisions so important for the area and so important for ourselves. There are other matters still to be judged and still to be assessed; other discussions still to be held - such as the five power talks in which we will participate - but at least 1 feel that some of the imponderables, some of the unknown factors of which the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) recently spoke, have, as a result of this visit, been able to be better assessed by the Government.
The talks held in Washington ranged over a wide compass. They covered the present situation in Vietnam, they covered the progress or lack of progress at the preliminary talks at present proceeding in Paris, they covered the broader aspects of regional security - not only military but economic security - and they covered the problems caused by the announced British withdrawal from South East Asia. They were essentially private talks in many aspects. But I would say to the House that I formed a judgment firstly, that the United States, as I have said, would continue to have a presence and an interest in the area of South East Asia; secondly, that the Paris talks were making little or no progress but at least were continuing and that the United States was not prepared to accede to what President Johnson has called a fake peace in Vietnam: thirdly, that the United States was as interested as wc are not only in providing military assistance to threatened countries but. also in helping them to help themselves economically; fourthly, that the British withdrawal from the MalaysiaSingapore area caused them some considerable disquiet in that they felt that the stability in that area might by that withdrawal be impaired; and fifthly, that the ANZUS pact has a real and genuine meaning and is the greatest guarantee that Australia itself has against aggression. Its application to areas outside the Pacific area is not so definite as is its application to ourselves; but neither should its application to areas outside the Pacific area be discounted.
Mr Speaker, these may be modest conclusions from a visit of not long duration but the purposes of the visit were them. selves modest. Those purposes were to seek assessments of the matters of which I have” spoken which were amongst, but were not all of, the imponderables and unknown factors of which the Minister for Defence spoke in his speech on defence. But the conclusions reached, together with those which we shall draw in the future from the progress of the five power talks shortly to be held, will be. those conclusions on which our future defence and economic assistance plans will be predicated. Those plans cannot be projected into the future yet for the future is as yet too unknown.
But I think - and on this note I conclude the report of the visit, Mr Speaker - that some progress has been made in helping us to assess and to judge data on which we shall in the future make our decisions. Those decisions, based on this and the other conclusions which we draw from other discussions, will lead us at the appropriate time, when we have what we regard as sufficient on which to make judgments, to come to the Parliament and to present to the Parliament what the future plans of the
Australian Government will be for the protection and the advancement of the region in which we live. And this is of the essence of the protection and the progress of the country which we represent.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has made his first statement on a matter of national importance since he assumed office 5 months ago. He made his trip to the United States of America to help him and his colleagues draw up defence plans and foreign affairs policies for the future. He has stated the modest conclusions that he has drawn from his visit. I think honourable members must conclude also that these conclusions have been exceptionally vague ones as well. We have come to expect from the Prime Minister statements which . leave almost everything to the imagination, particularly the imagination of journalists who have to interpret what he says or does not say. We still read very much, more about what the Prime Minister indicates,, or hints, or foreshadows than what he actually states or declares. The right honourable gentleman’s statement tonight bis followed this pattern. i 1 think the Australian people and honourable members of this Parliament know no more about the right honourable gentleman’s views on foreign affairs and defence than they did when he took office 5 months” ago. It is true that the Prime Minister mentioned defence; he mentioned peace talks; he mentioned ANZUS; and he mentioned economic aid. He mentioned all these subjects al numerous Press conferences while he was away. I am indebted to his staff for the copious and faithful transcripts of those Press conferences. The transcripts have been distributed in Canberra. With one exception 1 shall base my comments on these points on those transcripts. In some respects I must confess that 1 find it impossible to .understand the transcripts. This question will suffice:
There is a section in the communique-
That is, by the Prime Minister and the President - thai deals with the support- of the dollar. ‘The Prime Minister reiterated his full support of the President’s programme to reduce the United Slates balance of payment deficit,’ which” is three to one in the United States’ favour. What is the point of that?
The Prime Minister replied:
Well, to tell you the truth, we did not go into that. But in the communique, it sort of slipped past.
I mention the matter of defence. It has been said that the triennial defence review which ordinarily would come from the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) or the Prime Minister himself before we adjourn this week or next week has been postponed until the Prime Minister is able to ascertain the views of the American Government and of neighbouring governments in the light of the two dramatic changes that have occurred - the abdication of the President and Britain’s withdrawal from Singapore and Malaysia. We were told that the defence review had to be put off until this assessment was made. The Prime Minister was asked about a defence review. The transcript of the Blair House Press conference of 28th May states:
Prime Minister: Not a defence review, I do not think. We will be looking at defence in context of the Budget. But sort of, you know - I am not quite sure what you mean by defence review.
Prime Minister: Oh, well - I dare say that that will be a subject of Cabinet discussion, yes. But that is not a strategic paper or anything, a three year plan or anything of that kind.
One thought that that was the prime purpose of his visit.
I pass to the question of peace talks. The most striking example of the Prime Minister’s reticence has been his references while away to the peace talks in Paris. In all his statements there is a thread not so much of pessimism about the success of the talks as of indifference to their success. Here I quote from the transcript of his response in the East Room of the White House on 27th May. It states:
You, Mr President, by your recent gesture, brought the North Vietnamese to talk. You, Mr President, relinquished chance of further office to give those talks such chance of success as they may have.
What a begrudging acknowledgement of the most important, most hopeful, development in this war and in this region since 1954. What a compliment to the President who made the gesture.
The Prime Minister does not acknowledge that Australia bas any responsibility to try to ensure that the peace talks do succeed or do lead to more fruitful negotiations. On his arrival at San Francisco on 25th May he expressed all the concern, enthusiasm, responsibility and earnestness contained in this passage from the transcript:
Prime Minister: Yes. We’ve got a man from External Affairs there who is liaising with Governor Harriman. Well, it used to be a Governor . . . once a Governor always a Governor, eh?
Interjection: And once a senator always a senator.
The next matter is the cessation of bombing. At no time did the Prime Minister refer to the desirability of total cessation of the bombing of the North as a means of making the talks more likely to succeed. Nor did he make any statement on this subject while he was in the United States. He must, however, have expressed some views, and for these I rely on the Canberra correspondent of the ‘Sydney Daily Telegraph’ who has always been close to the Prime Minister and who travelled with him. On 1st June he reported in these terms:
Australia is prepared to back a United States resumption of bombing of North Vietnam if the Paris peace talks fail. The Prime Minister has from the outset been dubious about the value of suspending the bombing without some corresponding action from North Vietnam. He is believed to have indicated his attitude yesterday by his line of questioning at a meeting with the United States President and General Westmoreland.
The fact is that it was the partial cessation of bombing that led to the peace talks - that very cessation which less than a week before the President’s announcements of 31st March was said by the Minister for Defence and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) to be totally unacceptable to the United States. In the debate on international affairs the week before the President’s announcements, those Ministers said not only that cessation of the bombing was unacceptable but also that it would not bring Hanoi to the conference table. Presumably we must now believe that it would be totally unacceptable to cease the 10% of the bombing that is being maintained and that it is just as essential to maintain that 10% as it was supposed to be to maintain the full 100% of bombing 2 months ago.
Before the President’s announcement of 31st March, we on this side of the House never asserted that cessation of the bombing would automatically bring about negotiations. We merely insisted that there would never be any negotiations while the bombing continued. In fact a partial cessation did, quite dramatically, bring about talks. We do not now assert that total cessation of the bombing will mean automatically that the talks now going on will be converted into more fruitful and meaningful negotiation. But it is certainly worth trying to stop the whole of the bombing. Our experience of April should make us more optimistic than we would otherwise have been, lt is certainly worth trying. In this conflict, the continuation of which has become utterly destructive, meaningless and futile for both sides, anything worth trying must imperatively be tried. But nowhere in the whole of his days in Washington or New York or Texas or on his arrival home last Sunday or in his speech tonight has the Prime Minister given the slightest indication that this is a matter of concern to Australia, a matter on which his Government should be exercising its mind and its conscience, a matter on which his Government should be taking initiatives and using the influence that this country has with the United States.
The Prime Minister referred to ANZUS. He has been asked questions in this House about ANZUS. He has been asked questions since he returned. He was asked this question at a Press conference in the United States:
From what Mr Bundy told us ..i the White House Conference, he defined the ANZUS Treaty as applying to forces of ali the signatories in the Pacific area. But he left ambiguous, whether this would apply to Australian forces in Malaysia, Singapore under a new setup such as would emerge ultimately from the June conference. Have th:y in fact expressed any opinion on whether ANZUS docs apply in that?
The Prime Minister replied: 1 wouldn’t say any definite - I don’t know I can give you any definite answer to that either. ANZUS is a treaty- I think it does apply in the three defined areas-
He was asked: lt does or does not?
I think it applies in certain defined areas. But I would want to check this with the External Affairs people before I was sure that that was correct. But by and large, I think it has been, what shall I say - I cannot think of the exact words - a matter - never spelled out whether it applied in Malaysia and Singapore or not.
The next question was:
But that is exactly the point. It has never been spelled out. The point is have you made a judgment in your mind now as to whether it would apply to these two countries?
The Prime Minister answered:
Well, you are asking really the sort of questions which one can pursue it to the point where it is the whole sort of subject of discussions. And I do not think I am free to do that.
The ANZUS Treaty has been reduced to writing. It has been recorded with the United Nations, lt is on our statute book. We are entitled to know whether it covers an attack on Australian forces in Singapore and west Malaysia. The Prime Minister did not have- an External Affairs officer accompanying him on his visit, but since his return he has had the opportunity to check with officers of the Department. He has been alerted to this matter by questions during question time today, but he has still not answered this question. Once again he has’ merely indicated, hinted or spoken by innuendo. This is precisely what must not be permitted. It is quite futile to suggest that, in relation to a treaty of such importance, policy could be based on some private understanding between the two leaders of the respective administrations - one a President nearing the end of his term, and the other a Prime Minister at loggerheads with his own Cabinet and most of his own party on the whole subject of defence.
In the passage I have quoted we have this extraordinary admission that the Prime Minister of Australia, on a visit to the chief partner of the ANZUS pact, had to consult with the Department of External Affairs before he could be sure what regions and responsibilities were in fact defined by the treaty. It is not so long since Sir Garfield Barwick, when he was the Minister for External Affairs, made it very plain that an attack on Australian troops in east Malaysia at the time of confrontation with Indonesia would entail obligations by the United States under this treaty. He made it quite plain; he embarrassed the Americans by repeating it again and again. But why is it that we cannot be told in the same terms tonight? Are west Malaysia and Singapore in the Pacific area covered by the ANZUS pact? We should know one way or the other. The Prime Minister has had the opportunity to discuss this matter with his External Affairs officers in Australia; one would think that he should have taken the opportunity to ask the United States officials and Administration men whether the ANZUS treaty did cover this area. This was the prime object of the exercise; this is what he was to ascertain before going to Malaysia and Singapore this week. However, we had the extraordinary admission that the Prime Minister of Australia just cannot tell his Parliament or bis people what Australia’s rights and obligations are under ANZUS in that part of the world.
The Prime Minister’s attitude to ANZUS betrays the narrowness of his thinking and the Government’s thinking about our role and responsibilities in Asia. He lays great stress on the fact that he is sure that the Americans will adhere to the ANZUS treaty. This is remarkable. How profound a tribute it is to our greatest ally to suggest that she is unlikely to repudiate this basic treaty! Did the Prime Minister really entertain the belief that America might not carry out her obligations under ANZUS? Did he really think there was a possibility that he would be told by the American President or any of the candidates for the presidency, be they Republican or Democrat, that America might do otherwise?
To define our role in Asia merely in terms of the maintenance of ANZUS - whatever regions it covers - and to limit our responsibilities to our obligations under ANZUS is the narrowest view taken of our role in Asia since World War II, and the narrowest view taken of our role in the world since World War I. The Liberal view has been that our role in Asia and the role of our allies, particularly the United States, should and always will be primarily a military role, that China should be contained principally by military means, and that Communist subversion should be met principally by military means.
This false and narrow view has led to the present chaos in our Government’s foreign policy. The concept had its major test in Vietnam. The methods of applying it in Vietnam have failed. The setbacks in the Tet offensive, the reaction of public opinion in the United States and the abdication of the President have demoralised the Government and its followers in Parliament. They have been thrown into disarray by the sudden and spectacular collapse of policies and slogans which have been their stock-in-trade for a decade.
The Government’s real aim in Vietnam since 1965 has been to use an Australian commitment to ensure the presence of American forces on the Asian mainland. It conceived the American presence in Asia almost exclusively in these terms. Far from enhancing the American role in Asia, this policy has had exactly the contrary result. The United States has been weakened economically, diplomatically, militarily and morally by the war in Vietnam. She has reduced her international aid programme to the lowest level since World War II. For the first time since Pearl Harbour, isolationism has become an important factor in American political debate, and all the candidates for the presidency have, to some degree, been obliged to make gestures towards an isolationist stance. This has never happened in any other presidential election throughout the 1950s or any part of this decade.
From this it becomes cleaT why the Government was so reluctant to take any initiatives that might have led to peace talks on Vietnam and why now it will not take any initiatives to help the negotiations to succeed. It knows that, so far as the United States is concerned, there will never be another Vietnam. Whatever the President told the Prime Minister at the LBJ ranch, whatever Governor Rockefeller told him over the dinner table, and whatever Mr Nixon told him over the telephone, no American administration will again apply in Asia the policies America applied in Vietnam.
The Government, knowing that there will never be another Vietnam, wants to string out as long as possible the Vietnam it has got. This is a futile and disastrous policy. The Government seems incapable of learning from its own mistakes. Just as ils policy in Vietnam demonstrated the folly of tying our foreign policy to the fate of a particular United States administration and a particular President, it is folly to believe that or foreign and defence policies for the future must remain in a state of suspense until we know who is the next American President.
Our role in Asia cannot be determined solely by the role the next American President may choose for his country. We cannot be content to leave everything to American initiatives. What is even worse, the Prime Minister seems to predicate that, if a future administration takes no initiatives, then we must retire into Fortress Australia. Our task is, by the initiatives we take in terms of aid and training, to encourage other rich countries by our example to build up the defences, societies and economies of our neighbours. We cannot expect countries 12,000 miles away in western Europe to show much interest in helping the countries in this region if we show ourselves to be relatively indifferent to our actual and permanent neightbours.
Not since 1940 have the defence and foreign policies of an Australian government been in total confusion. When the present Government is confused about defence, it automatically is confused about foreign policy. Under Sir Robert Menzies. Mr Holt and now the present Prime Minister, it has always conceived foreign policy and defence policy as synonymous. The statement by the Prime Minister tonight has only confirmed and increased that confusion.
Debate resumed from 16 May (vide page 1S37), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill be> now read a second time.
-Order! As there is no objection, I shall allow this course to be followed.
– The Opposition has three approaches to this Bill - firstly the new, purely legal concepts that it has created, secondly the new economic relations and proprietary interests it has introduced, and thirdly its social and educational implications. The provisions relating to the pure law of copyright and those dealing with economic relations should have been presented in separate measures. As for the social and educational implications of electronic communications media, the Government, like the Pharisee of old, has completely ignored them by walking along the other side of the legislative road. To quote the words of Pope Pius:
It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of modern society, and the stability of its inner life depend in large part on the maintenance of an equilibrium between the strength and the techniques of communication and the capacity of the individual’s own reaction.
Professor Marshall McLuhan, Canadian professor and a world authority on communications - after all, in copyright we are essentially dealing with communications - said:
After more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the worldly extension of man - the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media.
Those remarks have particular application to copyright. In essence, copyright law is intended not to afford protection to the ideas of authors and other creative artists but rather to afford protection to the form by which those ideas are communicated to the world. This legislation will bring Australian copyright law into the second half of the twentieth century. It belatedly provides solutions to longstanding problems. It fails utterly to solve or to foresee those of the immediate future.
The law of copyright has been a very gradual accretion, resulting from the invention by Gutenberg of movable type. Copyright naturally was first applied to protect authors from plagiarism and unauthorised reproduction of books and to provide them, on a basis of royalty, with remuneration for their talent. Britain enacted copyright legislation in respect of engravings in 1734; in respect of sculpture in 1814; and in respect of dramatic works in 1833. Photographs, paintings and drawings were similarly protected in 1862. The primitive gramophone recordings, perforated pianola rolls and cinematograph films first came under British copyright protection in 1911. At the present time Australian copyright law is based on the English legislation of 1911, whose provisions covering these matters were almost wholly re-enacted for Australia as part of the then British Empire in 1912. We have merely lagged 56 years behind modern inventions in communications and the new electronic media in an age of technology. Since 1912 man’s technical genius has created radio, television, the modern phonograph recording industry, magnetic tape recorders, videotape, computers, new methods of printing, photocopying, satellites for communication and the transmission of entertainment programmes, microfilming of books, and electric diffusion services. All these have created new concepts of mass communication and new challenges even for nations which have progressively modified their law of copyright.
In the concluding stages of his second reading speech the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) referred to significant changes in technology which were continuing and in particular to the effect of copyright law on the widespread introduction of computers for data processing and information storage and retrieval. The matters to which the Attorney-General made passing and concluding reference are those to which the Opposition gives priority. Already even the Stockholm Convention on Copyright of last year is being updated by an innovation called the electronic video recording device, which may be connected to a television receiver. Into this device the viewer inserts a cartridge containing a film, an educational lecture or other presentation and the picture is reproduced on his television screen. The functioning of the device may be frozen so that a viewer can study, or copy from a diagram, a mathematical equation or a single page of a book, making it a most valuable teaching aid. A small cartridge is inserted into the unit as easily as a record is placed on a record player. The entire contents of a twenty-four volume encyclopaedia may be recorded on film in a single cartridge. The Australian Government is faced with the need to legislate for copyright to deal with electronic innovations as sophisticated as this. What are the present realities?
Until the introduction of this measure the Government has failed even to revise its statute law in accordance with the 1956 English Copyright Act. In our adherence to the successive international conventions on copyright, which are necessary in the broad family of nations, we still remain 82 years behind, as we have yet to alter, pursuant to clauses 185 to 189 of the Bill, the application of the operative terms of the Berne Convention of 1886 - a mere matter of 82 years ago. Even the general revision at Brussels of the Berne Convention of 1948 has been too recent for this Government to stir itself from its lethargy and to consider becoming a signatory to it. The Universal Convention on Copyright of 1952 has likewise been largely ignored, to the detriment of Australian authors, who, until, the passing of this measure, arc still being denied full access to the United States market - the largest in the English speaking world, with 200 million readers and viewers. This Bill is further complicated because it will give effect in part to the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms. Broadcasters and Performers, commonly known ;as the Neighbouring Rights Convention. The Bill will give effect to that Convention’s provisions relating to records and broadcasts. It is of the utmost importance to note that no provision is made for the performers themselves - for the actors and .musicians whose rights arc dealt with in the United Kingdom by separate and different . legislation. What provision, if any, will this. Government make for these people? Hence .my opening criticism to the effect that two measures should have been introduced, one dealing with the pure law of copyright and the other dealing with the economic and social consequence of its application.
It would be a horrifying thought for this Government even to consider adopting fully the Stockholm Convention on Copyright of last year. This Government has developed a belated interest in the effect on Australian copyright holders of compulsory licensing in developing countries. Australia was the last of the continents to be discovered by the Western world. It is the last to discover the legal, economic and social consequences of western electronic technology in the communicating of creative talent. The creative talent of Australia, possessed by its authors, composers, dramatists and artists, has also suffered by languishing in a limited market with inadequate remuneration, whilst, as in the case of the technological invasion of industry and uncontrolled foreign investment associated with it,- Australian expenditure in all such fields has been overwhelmingly on the imported product. The monumental work of the Spicer committee in 1959 slowly percolated through to the consciousness of the Government. By 1967 it had girded its loins, taken its courage in its hands, and actually arrived at the sensational decision that new legislation should be introduced. This was. tabled early in in 1967, and comment invited from interested and affected parties. The Government had not bargained for the avalanche of complaints and criticism which fell on it. There has been a series of quarrels between local and overseas recording interests, and between recording firms and broadcasting organisations. Broadly, the disputes have been about cutting up commercial cake with very little consideration for the authors, playwrights and composers who have done the constructive work. The benefits of their talents have been, and still are being, denied to the Australian general public for its entertainment and instruction.
Before the end of. last year, the 1967 Bill was withdrawn, and the bickering and pressuring continued. The Government has performed a Gordian solution in its decisions on the record royalty for the respective conflicting interests; otherwise it would never have been able to launch this legislation. The guerilla warfare will continue - guerilla warfare it is - and the Government will bring further trouble on its own head by virtue of clause 58 which denies access for two years to the newly created Copyright Tribunal which it has set up to deal with precisely these problems. This section will be the subject of an amendment, which will be moved on behalf of the Opposition at an appropriate stage.
As the Attorney-General has stated, this Bill has not made any fundamental changes in the body of the existing law. lt has rather attempted to deal with the problems of technological innovation since 1911, and various sections of this complex, involved legislation creating new proprietary interests in copyright for sound recordings, cinematograph films, broadcasts and published editions of existing literary works out of copyright period. The Copyright Tribunal itself is welcomed, and is long overdue. The Government can only blame its own procrastination and inertia for the rival interests clamouring on its doorstep today. A minimum settling down period is necessary but the 2 years prohibition on applications for review for record royalties is far too long to wait. For the same reason, because of the lightning rapidity in the advances of modern technology the operation of the Tribunal’s findings for a period of 5 years is far too long.
The Opposition is primarily interested in the plight of Australian authors, dramatists, composers and artists. The concepts of copyright remuneration from an earlier age are being applied to the problems caused by the explosion in communications media. The Australian market has always been appallingly limited by population, and it may be fairly said that with very few exceptions, no composer, author, dramatist, or artist can be assured, from within the limited Australian market, of an adequate reward for the products of his creative talent and genius. In most cases his creative activities must be supplemented by more prosaic forms of employment to secure even a minimum standard of subsistence. The Opposition is aware that, in the case of phonograph records and other forms of sound reproduction, there has been a flood of imported music which has resulted in 80% to 85% of all copyright revenue for these media passing out of Australia to the United States of America in particular, and also to the United Kingdom. Conversely Australian musical composers hitherto have had no copyright protection in the United States, and to secure such protection must have their sheet music published or performances of their compositions recorded initially in the United Kingdom.
In the same way Australian authors have been confronted by the United States with a barrier even more impenetrable than that created in respect of the entry of a large number of Australian exports of primary produce and minerals. If this slovenly Government had acceded as a party with fifty other nations to the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, Australian authors would have had for the first time full access to and copyright protection in the United States market of 200 million people which. 1 repeat, is the largest English language market in the world. Instead, their work has been published in Australia, they have been permitted a limited 5 years copyright in the United States of America. During that period, only 1,500 printed copies of their work could be admitted to that country. For the same reason we have created a quasi expatriate breed of authors, composers and dramatists, who, residing in Australia, have been forced to register their works in the United Kingdom to secure copyright protection under the Universal Copyright Convention in the United States of America. Is it to be wondered at then that there are critics of the impediments to Australia’s cultural development and maturity? Is it to be wondered that there are critics of the absence of a major Australian film industry? Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 would appreciate it if the AttorneyGeneral would pay the Opposition the courtesy of listening to the presentation of its comments instead of conducting a conversation with a gentleman who is rather overcome by his potations. I thank the Attorney-General for giving me his attention. The conversation has been going on for the last 10 minutes, and it is a piece of impertinence and in bad taste.
I repeat: Is it to be wondered at that there are critics of the absence of a major Australian film industry? Small wonder that Dr Coombs is the president of the phantom Australian Council of the Arts, the yet unnamed champions and custodians of Australia’s artistic development and ethos. To this problem the Government has not addressed itself, and the new features of the Bill are primarily designed to impose arbitrary decisions on the warring commercial interests which interpose themselves between creative talent and the broad audience of the Australia npeople who are entitled to hear and enjoy the works of our national creative artists. For this reason we feel that the various categories of Australian talent should have the earliest access to the Copyright Tribunal, so that they can present their case for special consideration based on the limitations of the Australian market, and for determinations to be made by the Copyright Tribunal which will give to Australian artists a greater percentage of the remuneration which would otherwise be flowing overseas, much of it for syndicated rubbish or worse. lt is easy to understand that we are on the brink of further revolutions in communications media. The age of the university of the electronic viewing screen is upon us. This Government, obsessed with proprietary rights, could never understand it. This new university will fully utilise the means that I have already referred to for computer storage of data for reproduction of books and even encyclopaedias by television, creating the certainty of universal educational use of the electronic viewing screen. The old concepts of calculating copyright remuneration which developed in the age of the flatbed printing press, the town concert hall and the antique cylindrical gramophone record have no application to the modern marvels of electronic communication media. In this new and developing age the fruits of individual talent can be transmitted on the television screen to countless millions of viewers whose numbers in fact deny calculation, for the extraction of copyright royalty. The days of harassing the organiser of a village concert and social for a paltry copyright royalty are rapidly ending.
By clause 152 the Government has introduced the rudimentary principle of relating the royally payable by commercial broadcasters, both radio and television, to a percentage of the gross income of the broadcaster for a defined period. In the case of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the royalty is related to the national population. It requires only a further extension of the latter principle to arrive at national responsibility for the remuneration of our creative artists. If correctly we assemble and pay for academic talent in our universities, and with special attention to its advanced activities, why should not the cream of Australian creative culture be similarly fostered and developed?
During the course of the lobbying and representations which were directed prior to this debate to myself and other honourable members. 1 was amazed at the inadequate copyright earnings of leading Australian composers. Initially the broad concept of the Commonwealth Literary Fund needs to be greatly expanded, and the same principles applied to composers, artists and dramatists, lt is in the public interest that creative artists in any field at present covered by copyright should be given an adequate income or there will continue to be a progressive artistic talent drain from Australia overseas to countries where, because of sophistication of cultural tastes in their creative fields, and larger population, the prospects of an adequate living are still available. To remain in Australia today, a creative artist faces not only the probability of an inadequate income, caused by limitations of population on the conventional methods of copyright collection but also the certainly of that income being further minimised because of the inability and unwillingness of this Government to make continuous and progressive alterations in the law of copyright to provide for the problems of universal electronic reproduction. Most record manufacturers in Australia are controlled from abroad. Only a small minority of countries allow record manufacturers to obtain performance fees. E.M.I. (Australia) Ltd, the biggest record enterprise in Australia, in 1966-67 earned 45% on capital. In the same period the turnover of Australian commercial broadcasting stations was $26m, with a S6.7m profit.
The broadcasting interests have won a significant victory in the battle over copyright legislation, and evenhanded justice under this legislation can be obtained only by facilities for the earliest possible application to the Copyright Tribunal. To increase by legislative amendment the copyright royally for records in particular would result in an 80% to 85% outflow from Australia of royalties which ought normally to remain within this country. A fair proportion of these ought to bc going to Australian creative artists, based on the special needs and special problems of the limited
Australian market. The principle of State assistance should be further developed beyond the limited framework of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. With the accelerating development of electronic communication in the replacement of older media, it is obvious that a new economic status should be provided for creative artists now covered by the field of copyright. The various States of Australia, and the Commonwealth itself, employ persons of talent in the various branches of their respective public services, and members of the various professions practise their callings within the public services. Surely there can be raised no obstacle to similar provision being made for creative artists to have similar and even more highly respected status. Here would be people speaking to the nation, moulding the national ethos, and providing the main stream of a truly Australian cultural sentiment and national spirit. The products of their talent, and in some cases genius, would then be available to the whole of the Australian people through modern electronic communication media, without the interposition of commercial interests whose exclusive objective is the extraction of maximum profit for themselves, with minimum return to those responsible for the creation of works of artistic, cultural and literary merit.
Commercial exploitation of copyright will ultimately be confined to those works described by the Attorney-General as ‘having a slight degree of originality no matter how prosaic’. Works of this type would be the classified newspaper advertisements, the road maps, the sporting guides and the like. One of the most shocking fields of exploitation of the Australian people is that of bookselling. The Wyndham report in New South Wales some years ago stated that some form of secondary education was the birthright of every child. We Australians repeatedly raise the catch cry: ‘No taxes on knowledge’. We all profess to subscribe to it. We speak glibly of the explosion in education and boast of our advances in this field. Perusal of a copy of the ‘Statement of Terms’ in the book trade for booksellers, publishers and publishers agents, in respect of books published in the United Kingdom and Australia, would amaze and horrify every fair minded Australian. Ignorant of the intricate structure through which books reach him. the common reader yet suspects that something is wrong. He may buy a Penguin book attached to which is a round paper sticker which states that the price is 65c. If the sticker comes off, he finds that the book sells at 3s 6d sterling in the United Kingdom. Instead he may pick up a price list for the Fontana series published by William Collins, and learn [hat volumes which are on sale for 3s 6d sterling in the United Kingdom are priced at 60c in Australia. There are two separate agreements which together account for these price disparities. The Australian prices of British books are kept uniform from bookseller to bookseller under an agreement to which the booksellers and British publishers are parties. This is the ‘Statement of Terms’ to which 1 have-referred. It is supervised by a body known as the Australian Book Trade Advisory Committee to which Australian publishers also belong.
The second agreement is the ‘Schedule of Prices’ which relates to the invoice cost in sterling of British books relative to the Australian retail price. This is issued by the Australian Booksellers Association. However, the inability of the Australian bookseller to supply his buyer with the cheapest edition of any given book does not stem from an agreement in which he has any part. Britain and the United States of America publish regular types of copyright in such a way that the British keep the total copyright fee from traditional markets, among which Australia is included. The Australian bookseller is thus prevented from handling an American edition whose copyright in Australia is held in Britain. This applies even if the British edition is out of print, or has not been published yet.
Australian publishers make a large part of their money not from books which the common reader picks off the shelves for entertainment or instruction, but from texts which are set down for pupils of primary or secondary schools. Some publishers who do not specialise in text books lean heavily on the favours of the State Education Departments which prescribe books that they publish. Approximately 70% of the publishing turnover consists of school sales. In 1963-64 - these are the latest figures I have - Australia imported books worth about $26m at their port of shipment. At a rough estimate these books retailed at up to $40m in Australia. The local sales of Australian books published at about the same time were approximately $6m. About half of these were educational. To put it in another way, for every Si spent in a bookshop by a voluntary reader on Australian books there will be another $12 spent on imported books.
Actual discounts also vary from one publisher to the next in relation to the ‘Schedule of Prices’. If a book sells in a British shop for 20s sterling and the publisher gives the Australian bookseller 161% discount he will invoice the book at 16s 8d sterling and will force the Australian retailer to sell it under the price scale at $4.25 Australian. If on the other hand he invoices the book at 10s sterling, the Australian buyer will ultimately purchase it at $2.55 Australian in the shop. In short, whether a book is cheaper or dearer in Australia than in England after conversion from sterling to Australian currency, and the addition of postage, is a matter of the discount allowed, and this is decided by the publisher.
To summarise, the Bill is overdue, lt brings Australia very little further than the British Act of 1956, plus innovations peculiar to Australian needs - a form of improvisation which is the prerogative of this Government. As a result of this measure Australian readers will not receive cheaper books. Australian parents will still be paying top price for compulsory text books. Australian authors, dramatists, composers and artists will receive no increase on, in most cases, their wholly inadequate incomes. Australian authors, will, by virtue of the Universal Copyright Convention, for the first time be able to market their products in the United States. The Bill utterly fails to meet even the problems associated with the minor innovations of the technological age. It will fail dismally to meet the more complex problems associated with man’s march forward in the vanguard of electronic invention. There is a case also for consideration of the activities of the Commonwealth and State printers being directed to the printing of text books. There is an unanswerable case for the free provision of text books in at least primary and secondary schools. In the case of tertiary education there may be a less limited application of this principle because of the prescribing of standard authors, or works of reference, from overseas protected by overseas legislation, and by the Internationa) Copyright Convention.
The continuation of copyright for 50 years beyond the death of a proprietor, or the first publication of the work, imposes the dead hand of sordid commercial calculation on the access of the human mind thirsting for knowledge of works of creative talent and genius. The electronic and technological revolution which is already with us will deal a death blow to this archaic concept just as it will to the outdated principle of individual copyright collection. So much for the Copyright Bill-
On the question of the Designs Bill the Opposition finds that it has little to cavil at other than that it is long overdue, lt removes the most obvious anomaly in the case of the registration of an industrial design and we commend the Government for introducing this measure. We feel, to put it in another fashion, that copyright is a broad form of design or design is a limited form of copyright. The two in certain respects are interchangeable. The Government has done well to differentiate between them in the manner that is proposed in this measure.
– Firstly, I apologise to the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) for having conducted a conversation with the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) on a point that 1 was trying to clear up. I did not know whether the Minister understood what the honourable member for Cunningham was saying; I did not understand it. As the honourable member interrupted our conversation, 1 am still in the position of not being able to follow what he was frying to say at that time. I will read his speech carefully tomorrow. I will pay him that compliment because I realise that he put much thought and work into it.
We are considering a serious matter. We are debating legislation which is entirely new and which will establish an entirely new footing for copyright. 1 had hoped for a little more in the honourable member’s contribution indicating that Australia had a definite claim for establishing its own copyright system rather than following in the steps of others. I congratulate the
Attorney-General on this legislation, hecause the preparation of it has been a monumental task. The Copyright Bill covers 106 pages and 249 clauses and it tries to bring into orderly form the complicated process of protecting the interests of authors, composers and creative artists of original works who have a right to protection. They have the sole right to make, and they should also have the sole right to authorise the making of, written or printed copies of reproductions of their works. I find myself at variance with the AttorneyGeneral’s decisions concerning the rights to which record manufacturers should be entitled, but there are one or two other matters concerning the protection of authors and composers that 1 shall deal with first. n
I should like honourable members to look at the full perspective of this problem. The only monetary reward that the author of a song or piece of music has for creating an original work is derived from the sale of reproductions of that work and the right perhaps to demand a fee from somebody who is giving a public performance of that work. Before the advent of the gramophone the composer relied mainly on royalties paid on the sales of sheet music and perhaps also on a fee paid by a person performing his work in a concert hall. The making of records, and the reproduction of his music, introduced a new means of presentation which considerably extended his market. This has now been augmented by other mechanical contrivances, tape recordings and piped music - that rather sinister attack on the senses which assails our ears as we travel by aeroplane in the early morning and which is described in this legislation as a diffusion service. But the sale of records became the main source of income for song writers and composers, their royalties being affixed by a stamp denoting that 5% in royalties had been paid. The right of the copyright owner to control the making of records became known as a mechanical right, and approval to affix the stamp of popular approval on the recording was fairly expensive.
I point out that in 1959 the Copyright Law Review Committee undertook some extensive work on this subject, and we rely very largely on the basis of that Committee’s thinking to appreciate what is being done now. The Committee came out solidly for the retention of the compulsory licensing system in relation to the duplicating of records. This must be a unique arrangement in business - that is. where the owner of something, the man who invented the tune originally, has no right whatsover to refuse permission to someone who wants to exploit his invention. Provided the person pays a 5% royalty as laid down by law, he can do untold damage to the author by making a copy of his work. The rate of 5% seems to be very little if we look at it in the light of the changes that have been made in marketing. If we look at it in the knowledge that record clubs make available special editions, as docs the Readers Digest’, we see that authors have suffered a reduction of income from their inventions - the thoughts that they have been able to put on paper in the form of songs, lyrics and music which anyone who cares to do so has the right to copy.
One of the things to which I object in this legislation is the fact that provided somebody pays a royalty - which, after all, is a remuneration for the author - he does not have to ask for permission to make a copy of something which somebody has recorded previously. It seems to me to be an outrageous proposition that if somebody has been able to produce a lyric or a piece of music and has made an arrangement with somebody to make a recording of it so that people may be able to enjoy it, somebody else, who has no responsibility, can make a cheap copy of it without having to ask the permission of the author. This is something that 1 simply am not able to understand. The Spicer Committee found itself in the same position as I do. It could not see any reason for this provision other than the fact that it had been the practice for a very long time. I do not think that is a sufficient reason. We are making a new law to cover copyright for Australia, and 1 believe that we should be doing all we can to see that whatever this law is, it is fair to all the people who are covered by it.
Until now Australian copyright has been based on the British legislation of 1911. Our own Act of 1912 adopted the British Act as its basis. The British Act conferred on the composer the right to prevent his music from being recorded for the gramophone without his consent. It also gave the manufacturer of the record copyright in the record - and I quote from the original Act - ‘in like manner as if such contrivances were musical works’. It is apparent from this wording that this right was intended only to give manufacturers protection against copying of the recordings by rival manufacturers, lt was not a right to control public performances of their records, as was given to composers, But in the case of the Gramophone Co. Ltd v Carwardine & Co. in 1934 it was held that the right conferred on the manufacturer also included a performing right in the record itself. Following this case it was necessary for anyone giving a public performance of music by means of gramophone records not only to get a licence - or in other words to pay a fee - from the owner of the copyright in the music, but also to pay a fee to the manufacturer of the record. The musicians’ trade union naturally jumped on the bandwagon, because the judgment gave its members some protection from entrepreneurs who might substitute mechanical appliances for live musicians.
Round about this time a copyright committee of the House of Commons recommended that this performing right in records should be maintained, and the following three classes of rights were established: Firstly, the protection to the owner of copyright in a musical work, that is, the composer who is obviously entitled to protection; secondly, a special provision to entitle manufacturers of records to make records of musical works that had already been recorded by someone, provided they paid the necessary fee to the owner - and I have already said that I believe this provision to be an infringement of the rights of the owner; and, thirdly, a right to the manufacturer of records in respect of the records produced by him - the disc or piece of plastic or piece of shellac that he had some right to protect. I do not accept this proposition. However, because it was part of the British law it became part of the Australian law.
Following this was the rapid expansion of broadcasting which brought the whole question under review. Perhaps 1 should indicate here that the sole record manufacturer in Australia at that time was the His Master’s Voice company. It sought to obtain royalty from the broadcasting stations in respect of all records played, but the broadcasting stations contested the company’s right to royalty and said that they would not play any records which were subject to royalty. The history of this matter is set out quite clearly in the Spicer report, and I summarise it to the House in the following terms: The only records on which performing right existed at that time were those first published in England. So the broadcasters said they would play only American records. Subsequently an agreement was made with the HMV company - which is better known now as EMI (Australia) Ltd - under which no performing right fee was to be payable on its records, in return for which the broadcasting stations agreed to give it free time; later it was settled as 15 minutes per week for each record manufacturer. So far as I can gather, no record manufacturer takes advantage of this free time, as it is too much trouble to make up a special programme. After all, the records are being played all the time and it suits them better to plug the ones they want to plug. Unfortunately for listeners these records always seem to be the worst of them - the tops of the pops or the top forty and so on. The value to the maker of exposure by broadcast and penetration by transistor to the mind of the teenager and other areas of vacuity is so great that broadcasting stations are inundated with free copies of new records in the same extravagant way as doctors are importuned with free samples of new drugs by medical detailers. Some stations do not play anything else than these jungle tunes, and far from getting any royalty on them the makers should be fined for inflicting them on a defenceless public.
The Attorney-General has relied heavily on the Spicer report in this respect, although he disregarded its findings on the previous two points that I made, particularly the one relating to the protection of the author. The Spicer Committee found in favour of a performing right in respect of all records that are copyrighted in Australia, except that one of the five members of the Committee did not agree that this should apply to records first published in a country which does not itself grant a performing right to its own record manufacturers - in the main, the United State of America. But I can find no evidence in the Spicer report which specifically supports the finding. The story as the report gives it is that in 1909 record manufacturers sought the right of protection for their records but they did not suggest that they should have a right to prevent anyone from playing them in public. In fact, they wanted people to play them in public. When the 1911 British Act was passed record manufacturers did not assert that any such right existed. Then in 1933 Mr Justice Maughan held that it was a right. On the other hand, Mr Justice Owen, also in 1933 when sitting as a royal commission in Australia, held that such a performing right was unreasonable, and he said: ‘If in law it exists this right should be abolished’. I agree with him. This performing right is a monstrous distortion of the very basis of creative production and original authorship which copyright involves. The Canadian Royal Commission reported against the allowance of this right to the maker of a record. A New Zealand committee put very clear restrictions on it. based on the actual payment of a fee by the listener for a particular performance. Broadcasting interests pointed out to the Spicer Committee - and I doubt that they pointed it out to the three AttorneysGeneral who have considered this legislation in the years it has been in preparation - that the right was not intentionally conferred and had not been sought by the makers of recordings. They argued - as I -do - that the maker of a record makes no artistic contribution to the original; still less does a person who merely presses a record from a matrix which he had no part in producing. The whole process is just a normal industrial one, no different from the printing of a book.
To ask the broadcasting companies to pay for the privilege of playing records so freely supplied without any charge - and they press them on the broadcasting companies in large quantities - is like biting the hand that feeds you. The record manufacturers claim that considerable technical skill is required in manufacturing a record. A considerable amount of money must be outlayed to secure the right performers, to select and train musicians. I suppose they mean to conduct rehearsals, which is surely a rather routine part of the entertainment world. The placing of microphones and the control of sound play a part in making the recording, so that there may well be a great difference between recordings. 1 agree with all of this wholeheartedly. Without the aid of electrical devices some of the voices plugged as stars would be even more painful to listen to. I often think, when 1 hear someone playing his own interpretation of Gershwin or Coward, how much he must wish he were good enough to be able to play the piece in the way it was meant to be played. If the composers had written their music in the way some of these virtuosos play it, it would never have been published in the first place.
However, to come back to the story, none of this so-called technical skill adds one note to the score or one word to the lyric, lt does not create a single thing; it merely collects the thoughts or inventions of the composer. If it does cost money, the ordinary processes of business require that the maker should seek his reward by the sales he is able to make of his records. Record makers even go so far as to claim that the widespread dissemination of a recording lowers its value and can cause great damage by reducing sales. But when one thinks about it, one finds the opposite is the case. The eagerness with which new recordings arc pushed on to disc jockeys is complete evidence of this. lt is claimed by the record manufacturers that it is unjust that the sources from which revenue can be derived should be limited, and that this could lead to an increase in retail prices. I have not heard record manufacturers mention yet that they will reduce retail prices if there is no royalty. Everybody knows that in the present position no royalty is collected from commercial stations, but the Australian Broadcasting Commission is mulcted of about $45,000 a year. Because it has no right of advertising it is in the unfortunate position of having no bargaining power. Despite careful perusal of the Spicer Committee’s report, I- am unable to follow the finding that it should not recommend any change in the law as it stands. The only contention in favour of this finding seems to be that the making of a record does involve a considerable amount of artistic and technical skill. As far back as 1933 Mr Justice Maughan emphasised this skill, even to the extent of including in it the selection of the building in which the performance took place. He said that the timing to fit the performance into the actual space allowed for it on the surface of the disc adds up to the making of an artistic record, which is very far from the mere production of a piece of music. 1 have never heard such arrant nonsense in all my life. I cannot say what recordings were like in those days. I was not familiar with them. But they certainly were not as they are now.
The acceptance of this right to charge for performance of records by broadcast must lead to continued disputation. As is well known, the existing legislation, by slavishly following the ancient English law, does give record manufacturers a right to charge. That is the law as it is today. The manufacturers have chosen in all these years not to press for payment of royalty except from the hapless ABC, which is at their mercy because it has no power to bargain. Now when it has very properly been decided to establish a new copyright law for Australia I believe we should establish the rules of our new law on the Australian way of doing things and not follow blindly the pattern that may suit another country with entirely different circumstances. Let me point out that there are no commercial stations in the United Kingdom. Their conditions are quite different from ours. In the United States there are hundreds of commercial stations and the world’s greatest concentration of record manufacturers, but they do not have the right to make this unwarrantable raid on the revenue of broadcasting stations. Neither the Berne Convention nor the Universal Copyright Convention requires countries acceding to them to provide any copyright on records. The great majority of countries which do adhere to the international convention do not grant this right. There is a move to establish another convention called the Neighbouring Rights Convention. This amazing proposal is for the protection of performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organisations. The granting of a royalty proposed on the actual playing of records comes under this Neighbouring Rights Convention. If the Attorney-General were sincere in his belief that some reward should bc given to a manufacturer who converts a composition - a brain-child if you like - into something we can listen to with. out having to play it or sing it ourselves, surely he would have extended the same right to the conductor or the jazz drummer or the folk singer who makes just as much artistic contribution to the production of a sound recording as does the man who puts the microphones in the right place.
There are forty-two signatories to the Berne Convention and fifty-four to the Universal Copyright Convention, but there are only ten to this Neighbouring Rights Convention. The United Kingdom is the only signatory of any consequence, and it is in fact a party to the whole three. Australia as yet is party to none. I suggest that we would be very well advised to avoid the last named convention. The AttorneyGeneral himself has said that there is no substantial move for the protection of performers but 1 suggest that it would be just as illegitimate to have a right for them as the claim of the record manufacturers for protection. In the course of his second reading speech the Attorney-General said:
He went on to say: . . it has not been possible to satisfy completely all parties.
But he piously hopes ‘that this Bill will be widely accepted as a reasonable compromise*. Having thus assumed the mantle of Solomon he proceeded to draw up rights for manufacturers to claim royalty if their records are played. No formula has been laid down to determine how much is to be claimed - only a maximum which cannot be exceeded - a loophole by which broadcasters could pay no royalty by playing imported records which, after all, comprise 60% of their usage anyhow.
This absurd compromise does only one thing: It perpetuates the fact that the ABC must pay because it has nothing with which to argue. But the commercial broadcasters will be able to avoid payment as they do now because they have something to bargain with, as they did before. 1 think it worth while to quote the words of the president of an American record company when in Australia. He said:
Radio promotion of records virtually provides the lifeblood of the recording industry, creating and sustaining interest in all various shades of music and providing buying incentive.
In other words, the makers will have to go crawling to the broadcasters in order to continue the existing practices. In conclusion I draw attention also to the words of a former Attorney-General who said: 1 do not think that record manufacturers should be given a right which would clearly entitle them to collect royalties they do not now receive from commercial broadcasting stations.
This opinion exactly coincides with my own. The pity of it is that the ABC seems to be the. ham in the sandwich. Presumably it is obliged to pay up.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am very disappointed that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) is not present in the chamber. I know my speech would not thrill him but at least he would have heard some critical comments from a Government supporter. I hope that he reads the speech just made by the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). I feel that the Attorney-General has been discourteous although he is a very gracious person, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect. However I feel that he should honour this House with his presence when it is dealing with this massive, even mammoth, piece of legislation. What is more, it has been 56 years since there was any major reform or alteration to the copyright laws of Australia. Perhaps a few honourable members who speak tonight may have an idea or two worth thinking about, even if no amendments are to be moved, before this Bill goes to another place. The Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) is holding the fort, or the stockade, at the table. He does not look a bit like the Attorney-General and I am sure he does not want to wear the mantle of the Attorney-General. The Minister for the Army has enough mantles to wear at the moment without that one.
I hope honourable members will appreciate that in dealing with this tremendous Bill we principally need lawyers to Work it out. We laymen find this legislation very difficult. What I intend to say in the short time I will be speaking will he from the layman’s point of view. It will be the view of a humble layman who is not a composer, a music writer or an author. I am a humble backbencher who has looked at this legislation and interviewed a few people who know all about it. My short speech tonight will be on that basis.
I have been a member of this House for over 21 years and I think the only other Bill of this size to pass through this place in that time was the Trade Practices Bill. This Bill is either the largest or the second largest measure to come before the Parliament in 21 years. It is amazing that we have had to wait 56 years for any major alterations to the copyright law. Is there any other law of the Commonwealth about which there has been such a long period of silence and neglect? I know of no other. Yet there are thousands of people whose livelihoods, whose future, and whose encouragement and enthusiasm are wrapped up in the clauses of this Bill. For 56 long drawn out years, mostly under Liberal domination and rule, we have not had one decent change in this law. Therefore injustice has been perpetuated and heaped on the composers and writers of Australia for 56 years. This is what worries rae. I suppose another 56 years will pass before there are any more changes of note to this copyright law which has so many ramifications. We have had wireless in Australia for a long time. We have had the cinema here for a long time. Yet this is what the Attorney-General said in his second reading speech:
I need hardly remind honourable members of the substantial changes which have occurred since 1911-
That was before I was born - when our present copyright law was enacted. Radio, television, the cinema, the modern record industry, the tape recorder, new methods of printing, photographic methods of copying cheaply and in large quantities, and satellite transmission of radio and television programmes have all made significant changes in the exploitation of copyright material. In revising the copyright law, all of these changes have had to be taken into account.
But we have had radio in Australia for decades. Many people who composed songs and the like must have suffered many injustices in the years since radio was introduced because this legislation was not reviewed by the Parliament. In this Bill, we are trying to remedy the injustices. Therefore I must congratulate the present
Attorney-General on his energy in getting this Bill before the House. I must congratulate also his staff and the draftsmen who burnt the midnight oil to bring these clauses together in this mammoth document of 249 clauses - a sizeable, readable and understandable document. Those people achieved a miracle, in my opinion, in producing this most difficult and complex measure. I thank them tonight for what they did in order to bring it before the Parliament.
We have had criticism of this legislation mainly, I would say, from the composers. I do not know of any authors of books writing to honourable members to complain about any injustices, as far as they are concerned, being perpetuated in this Bill. I have had representations from the Fellowship of Australian Composers. I think many honourable members on both sides of the Parliament received objections from this organisation. I feel that perhaps they are the people who will suffer most, even with the changes incorporated in this legislation, as I will point out in a moment or two. I do not care what is said about record manufacturers, the big shots of the music industry, because they are getting on very well. Honourable members should look at their profits. They will then know that the record manufacturers are doing very well. I have not heard of many record manufacturing companies going out of business. Nor have I heard of any sheet music company going out of business. What we have to understand and to think about is that it is the originators who are the people who deserve basic protection in any legislation like this. Without the inventor, the composer and the writer there would be no ballets, no publishers, no music houses and no record companies. This is fundamental. The originators make work for the big companies and they are the people we must protect. I do not care what legislation the Government wishes to introduce, provided it protects the creative artists. The big companies and the monopolies that have exploited the creative works of composers and writers have had massive returns. My colleague, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), who made an excellent speech for the Opposition tonight, showed this in the facts he put before the House.
I am battling tonight for the originators, for the people who have the ability to create music, books, artistic works and the like. These people are the life blood of progress in the music and writing worlds. Therefore, we should think principally of the authors, dramatists, composers and artists. The others will look after themselves and they have the power to do so. As soon as the Bill of 1967 was introduced, the companies used pressure to have it changed. They walked the fastest, longest and most often to the door of the Attorney-General. They had changes made in the 1967 Bill and those changes are reflected in the Bill that is now before us. My concern is for the little people, as I call them. They do not have the financial might, the stocks and shares and the status in the community to exert pressure, but they sweat and sacrifice to create works of art. We should think of them primarily in this legislation.
The Parliament hai helped writers and composers in various ways and I will refer to some of them. In the last Budget, the Commonwealth Literary Fund received $66,000 from the Government. It has received a grant for many years. Its purpose is to encourage authors in this country to write Australian books, and some magnificent Australian books have been written. The numbers of Australian authors are growing every year and the quality of their works is improving, although some critics suggest that this is not so. I have a tremendous admiration for our Australian writers: Very few of them are rich, but the Commonwealth Literary Fund is helping them. Two years ago, the Parliament established the Commonwealth Music Fund. I say quite humbly but truthfully that I was the first member of the Parliament to fight for Australian composers. I spoke on behalf of the Fellowship of Australian Composers, which sought to have a music fund established to help in much the same way as the Commonwealth Literary Fund helps. This was finally approved by the Government. The Parliament now grants a sum of money for the purpose of encouraging music composition in Australia. The Fund was started in 1966 with a grant of $10,000. A similar grant was made in the last Budget.
The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust receives assistance from the Parliament. I do not have the precise amount of the grant it receives with me, but 1 know that in the last Budget the grant was increased by $150,000. I spoke about the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust in this House on 4th October last. I then criticised what I regarded as the certain appointment of Dr Coombs to the position of chairman of the new Arts Council. Its name was given today by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) as the Australian Council for the Arts. I said that the Council had a very important task to perform in allocating subsidies to theatre trusts throughout the Commonwealth. Because of this, the members of the Council, some of whom should be amateurs and some professionals, should have critical minds and not simply say ‘Yes’ every time the Chairman told them to say ‘Yes’. Dr Coombs resigned from the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, as I prophesied in October, and became the’ chairman of the Australian Council for the. Arts. I hope he is more flexible now that he has been appointed to this important post and now that he knows who the members of the Council are.
They were announced- today by the Prime Minister. They are Mr Coleman, MLA and Miss Elizabeth Archdale, MBE, of New South Wales, and Mrs Dudley Erwin, of Ballarat, who is the wife of the Government Whip and who is a very capable woman in this field, and Mr Barry Jones, who is known to us all, both , from Victoria. Queensland is represented by Dr Karl Langer, who is a Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Vienna. South Australia has Mr Geoffrey Dutton and Western Australia has Mrs Jeana Bradley. Tasmania has not been left out. lt is represented by Mrs H. W. Houghton and I congratulate her on her appointment to the Council. Mrs Houghton is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. The Australian Capital Territory is represented by Professor K. C. Masterman. Will they be yes-men and yes-women to Dr Coombs? That is the $64 question. If they do everything as Dr Coombs wants it done, the Council will fail. Dr Coombs seems to be very keen on amateurs, but we need some professional people - people with critical minds - on the Council too. That is what we have been seeking. I wish the new Council success. This is another way in which we can help the originators of pro- ductions in Australia. I have mentioned other ways in which the Parliament is helping the originators, the composers and the writers. They are the people who should be considered when we have before us legislation dealing with copyright. No copyright laws would be needed if they did not go on composing and writing.
The Fellowship of Australian Composers was ably represented in Canberra last week by Mrs Dorothy Dodd, who is a composer and who is really the only composer in Australia earning a living from composing. Her works have been published overseas. She is President of the Fellowship and Miss Glenda Callaghan is the Secretary. These two folk are doing excellent work for the composers of Australia through this organisation. It has more than 100 members. I have a photostat copy of their names. They come from all over Australia. The Fellowship wrote to me and said that three or four provisions of the Bill were prejudicial to it. They were:
Members of the Fellowship know what they are talking about, and that is why I am quoting them. The letter continued:
If these provisions are incorporated in any new copyright law, the position of the Australian composer by comparison with all other composers in countries advanced enough to give satisfactory recognition to the very concept of copyright will be manifestly unfavourable, and one reflecting little credit on Australia’s status and consequent responsibility as a developed country. Without incentive to the local composer, Australia’s continued reliance on overseas music is inevitable - a situation which may be highly desirable to the private and sectional interests of the foreign-owned record companies operating here, but not, we suggest, in the long term interest of Australia, either culturally or economically.
The submission of the Fellowship is well written and well composed; further, it contains the truth. Mrs Dodd had a long interview with the Attorney-General; indeed, I had the honour of arranging that interview for her last week. The Attorney-General was most courteous and listened to and understood the viewpoint of the Fellowship. However, he stated that at this stage he was unable to make the changes that were requested but that he hoped the Tribunal would do this at a later stage. At any rate, at least he knows where they believe this copyright law is letting them down.
In Australia we have the lowest royalties in the world; indeed, the rate of royalty is now the same as it was in 1912. It is hard for the layman to comprehend that, with all the rising costs and changes that have taken place through the intervening years, this same rate is now being written into this new law. This is incomprehensible. Great Britain has a royalty rate of 6i%, which is calculated after the sale of the record, minus the purchase tax. The Australian 5% royalty is calculated after the sale of the record, plus the sales tax. Relatively the price received in Britain and the price received here are much the same, but in Britain an application has been made to the Government to have the royalty there increased to 10%. In Europe the rate is 8%, and after making all allowances, including tariffs and so on, the rate is still higher than the composers are getting here. Recently in the United States of America an application was made for a royalty at the rate of 7±%.
It is wrong in this isolated country, with its small population, to anchor the royalty at 5%. We should give our composers some encouragement. Why not give them a chance to offset the embarrassment created by a small population by increasing the royalty to 6i%1 This was recommended in the Spicer report; but the Government ruled that right out, although it accepted some other parts of the remarkable Spicer report. Many composers will leave Australia because they are being discouraged by this royalty of 5%. It was anchored at 5% in 1912, and will remain anchored for another 6 or 7 years, it seems, according to the terms of reference to the Tribunal. The minimum royalty has been fixed at lc; the. composers have suggested that it be increased to 2c.
Record makers are now manufacturing cheap, long-play records. Not many people realise the significance of this. A long-play record normally costs $5.50, and the composer of the music on the record would receive 5% of $5.50. Any lowering of the selling price of the records would cut further into the income of our composers. Festival Records are selling their Calendar Label at $2.50; RCA are selling their Camden Label at $2.50; HMV are selling their Encore series at $2.50; Decca are selling their Ace of Clubs records at $2.50. The companies are putting as many as 12 items on each side, which means that 24 songs are selling on the one record for $2.50. The composer gets 5% of $2.50 instead of 5% of $5.50. This is another subtle way in which the Australian composer is being cheated. The purchasers might be glad to get all these songs cheaply on the one record, but we should think occasionally of the people who composed the songs; we must think of the people who are getting less and less as a result of this cheap manufacture by record companies.
– Would they not sell more records?
– 1 asked exactly the same question, and they replied that it has not worked out that way. They said that lovers of music, who have a sense of priority when it comes to cost, say: ‘If I pay more, I will get better music*. The position is that the people who buy this type of music are just not buying more records because they are cheaper.
The Fellowship has more than 100 composer members; it is the only professional composers group in Australia. The members are classically trained and most have degrees. While it takes a long time to become a musician it takes much more time and effort to become a composer of music. We must remember that, although it was not mentioned in the Minister’s second reading speech, it costs a lot to become a creative artist. No doctor of medicine can become a top-class man in his profession without years of study, the expenditure of many dollars and much time and sacrifice. The same applies to composers of music. They do not grow on trees overnight, and their training involves a tremendous cost not only in money but also in time, study and effort. They usually start off with the piano, up to the 8th Grade; then they go on for 10 more years in order to get their higher degrees in music. The diploma course at a conservatorium or university takes 3 years. Good composers are highly trained musicians, and most of them in Australia are composing light music, orchestral ballads and classical works. I pay them a tribute tonight for what they are doing in competition with the more established people in the thickly populated countries of the world where there are many more people interested in music who are ready to buy compositions. Good luck to our Australian composers, who are battling in a country with a small population and receiving a royalty of only 5%. No Australian composer can live on his royalties because our population and rale of royalty are too small. We propose, at the Committee stage, to move an amendment. Clause 58 of the Bill provides: (1.) If at any lime after the expiration of two years after the commencement of this Act it appears to the Attorney-General that the royally, or the minimum royally, payable in respect of records generally or in respect of records included in a particular class of records is not equitable, he may request the Copyright Tribunal to hold an inquiry into the matter and report the result of its inquiry to the Attorney-General. (2.) At any lime after the Tribunal has made a report in relation to the royalty, or the minimum royalty, payable in respect of records generally or in respect of records included in a particular class of records, the regulations may provide that the relevant provision of this Act, in ils application in respect of records generally or in respect of records included in that class of records, as the case may be. shall have effect as if it were subject to such variations as are provided by the regulations, being such variations as the GovernorGeneral thinks equitable. (3.) Before making regulations for the purpose of the last preceding sub-section, the GovernorGeneral shall take into account the report of the Tribunal. (4.) Where the Tribunal has made a report in relation to the royalty, or the minimum royally, payable in respect of records included in a particular class of records (whether the report related only to records included in that class or also related to other records), the Attorney-General shall not, before the expiration of 5 years after the report was made, request the Tribunal to hold an inquiry under this section in relation to the royalty, or the minimum royalty, as the case may be, payable in respect of records included in that class.
Periods of 2 years and 5 years are outrageously long to wait before an appeal to the Tribunal may be heard. At the Committee stage we will move an amendment designed to reduce the 2-year period to 6 months and the 5-year period to 2 years. I hope that if the amendment is not carried in this House it will be carried in another place, because what we seek is only fair. Our amendment would remove the long waiting periods necessary before anything can be done and reduce the periods to reasonable proportions.
We welcome this legislation. It will do a lot to remove injustices. Where injustices remain the Copyright Tribunal will have to correct them. I asked an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department who would constitute the Tribunal and he replied that the Tribunal would be composed of some of Australia’s top judges. All 1 hope is that they are judges with musical souls. If they are not, God help the composers.
– J begin my remarks by congratulating the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), who is not in the House at this time and, through him, the responsible officers of his Department upon the formulation and introduction of this Bill. We are indeed fortunate in having as our Attorney-General one who is so well versed in this as in. so many other branches of the law.I have some understanding, through representations made to me personally - similar no doubt to representations made to other honourable members during the last year - of the nature of the difficulties and the competing interests involved. Thanks to the patience and industry of the Attorney-General and his staff, it appears that all of the major difficulties have now been resolved and almost all parties are reasonably well satisfied with the final result.
We have waited a long time for this Bill; many would say too long. The delay is at least partly due, one would not doubt, to the lack of the necessary trained staff in the Attorney-General’s Department. It appears that there has been a chronic shortage of suitable staff for some years, particularly in the legislative drafting section, which requires highly skilled men with a certain cast of mind and a long period of training. Although the salaries payable to such men are relatively high, being something like half as much again as the salary paid to a member of Parliament, it has apparently proved impossible up to the present, for one reason or another, to attract and to hold the number and type of men required. This has caused a bottleneck in the legislative process which surely must be broken at whatever cost, or by whatever means, for the cost would be minimal compared with the injurious effects upon the Australian community of inordinate delays in the enactment of very necessary and desirable legislation, of which the Copyright Bill is but one example. So much by the way.
In the time available to me I wish to speak of one subject matter which has not, 1 believe, received proper consideration in the drafting of the Bill. I speak of imported records of musical works. Of the total number of records of musical works sold in Australia some 90%, we are told, are manufactured in this country and the remainder are imported. The local manufacturing industry is flourishing. In its report of 29th September 1967 on sound recorders and reproducers, the Tariff Board staled emphatically that the local record industry neither sought nor needed protection. The importers of records have provided an element of healthy competition for the local manufacturing industry - a competition which extends to price, variety and quality, but particularly to price. Locally produced records of the long-playing variety have sold in Australia in recent times at a retail price of about$5.75. The importers of records, however, beginning in about the year 1965, provided an alternative supply of high class records at very much lower prices - 12-inch records which retailed at between $1.96 and $2.95. These were the so-called budget priced records, which proved such a success that local manufacturers were forced to make their own budget priced records to meet the competition. This situation has been likened to the paperback revolution in the field of book publishing.
Most imported records are of the nonpop variety. Moreover, importers arc able to bring into the country small numbers of records which the local manufacturer would find it uneconomical to produce in similar quantity. These records appeal to different sections of the community and to collectors of special classes of records. Imported records thus add greatly to the variety and quality of music available to the record listening public - a public which is ever increasing. To the local manufacturer the sole criterion is whether he can sell a sufficient number of records to justify the cost of manufacturing a particular record in Australia. The importer on the other hand can afford to bring into the country limited numbers of overseas records, on spec as it were, and to stand the loss if those records do not sell. But the importer of records has his Achilles’ heel: Under the present law and the new Bill he is and will continue to be at the mercy of the owner of the copyright in the musical work. As pointed out by the Attorney-General in his very lucid and very informative second reading speech, owners of copyright, especially in the musical field: . . have so organised, through licensing organisations, that they are in a strong bargaining position. For example, the Australasian Performing Right Association Ltd claims to control the performing right in virtually all copyright music in Australia. It is thus in a position to . dictate the terms on which music may be performed in public.
Honourable members will recall that manufacturers of records of copyright musical works, as distinct from importers of such records, are to be protected by the statutory licensing provisions under which the royalty is fixed at 5% of the retail selling price and is not to be increased except after a full investigation by the proposed Copyright Tribunal. This is a salutary provision but unfortunately it has not been extended to importers, who have been specifically excluded by clause 64 from the benefits of these provisions. No doubt it could be said in answer that the owners of musical copyrights are unlikely to want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs and would not be likely to raise the royalty to an exorbitant level. But the fact is that already the importer has been forced into a disadvantageous position as compared with the manufacturer. The prescribed royalty for the manufactured work is 5% of the ordinary retail selling price or lc, whichever is the less, and where there are two or more copyright works on the record or one or more non-copyright works on the record, this royalty must be apportioned. The importer, on the other hand, is paying royalties of 6i% of the ordinary retail selling price, with a minimum royalty of 15c per long playing record or lie per extended play record. No apportionment is allowed; so that the whole royalty must be paid whether or not there is only one copyright work on the record and whether or not the copyright in all works on the record is controlled by the copyright owners’ representative body. A further disadvantage lies in the fact that the importer must pay royalties on all records at the time they are first received in Australia whilst manufacturers are only required to pay royalties after the records have been sold.
Nothing but commercial considerations can prevent the copyright owners from raising the royalties even higher or from making the conditions even more disadvantageous to the importer. A very real source of apprehension for importers is the fear that at some time the copyright owners and the local manufacturers in some way may find common cause for putting the importers out of business, or taking other action which could very well have the effect of preventing the kind of price competition which has occurred in the past, thereby leading to higher prices for the manufacturers, from which the copyright owners will derive higher royalties. This is for the moment merely a possibility, but stranger things have happened.
The importers therefore have asked the Attorney-General that the compulsory licensing provisions should be extended to the importation of records. There is a precedent for this in section 22 of the New Zealand Copyright Act 1962. But the importers were informed, so I am told, that their request came too late to enable the Government to investigate this matter or to incorporate it in the legislation now before the House. This is a matter for great regret, and I fear that not only importers but also the Australian public may suffer by reason of this omission. I am heartened to some little extent, by a sentence in the second reading speech delivered by the AttorneyGeneral in which he said:
If and when the Bill becomes law, the Government will carefully watch the effect of the Bill on the operations of those who are affected by it. so that if it appears that further changes need to be made to the law, those changes may be made.
It is very necessary in the public interest that importers should not be held to ransom by the copyright owners, so that the Australian public may continue to enjoy the benefits of price competition and the much greater variety of high class musical works made available today by importers. The benefits of the compulsory licensing provisions could be extended to importers by a very simple amendment to the Bill, or to the Act. if the Bill becomes an Act. as the machinery provisions already exist for the benefit of the manufacturers.
I hope that even at this stage the Attorney-General will give favourable consideration to an amendment to the Bill along the lines that I propose. I have not studied the matter in detail as a drafting problem, but possibly all it requires is the omission of the present clause 64 and, as is the case in the New Zealand Act, the amendment of clause S3 to read:
Subject to this Division, the copyright in a musical work is not infringed by a person who makes in or import!, into Australia, a record of the work if-
The words that 1 have suggested be added are ‘or imports into’. If this request is not heeded, the importers and, more importantly, the many members of the Australian public who enjoy high class musical works but who do not enjoy paying very high prices for these records, will be looking to the Attorney-General and to the Government to take immediate and effective action to amend the law if and whenever dangers of the kind that I have alluded to should begin to eventuate for, otherwise, importers could rapidly be driven out of business. I trust that when the Attorney-General replies he will deal specifically with this matter and that if the Government is not prepared to amend the Bill at least it will give an assurance along the lines that I have indicated. I make this plea to the present Attorney-General, who is still not with us. with the greater confidence when I recall that he is, or was, in another of his many capacities, a committee member of the Musica Viva Society, and as such no doubt a lover of good music, whether recorded or otherwise, and whether imported or manufactured in Australia. With this one important reservation which 1 have expressed I give wholehearted support to this Bill.
That was all that I had intended to say on the Bill but T want to add something in the light of what has occurred here tonight. Whilst the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) was speaking on behalf of the Opposition in reply to what the Attorney-General had said in his second reading speech, the honourable member for Cunningham had occasion to complain that the Attorney-General was not listening to what he had to say. I believe that was correct. When the next speaker, the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) was speaking, the Attorney-General left the House and has not returned since. He did not hear what was said by the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and he has not heard a word of what f have said unless, perhaps, he may be listening in his office. I hope he is. But I still feel that this is conduct which, unless there is some very good excuse for it, would appear to indicate to this House and to the people of Australia that the proceedings of this Parliament are utterly meaningless.
The Attorney-General does not remain to hear what we say. I hope he will see fit to reply to the debate. But he can only do so effectively if he has been listening in hi.s office. If he can listen in his office. I think it would be eminently desirable that hi should listen here. To me this conduct shows an utter lack of respect for this House. Unfortunately, it is not an isolated instance. This is by no means personal to the Attorney-Genera) whom I h a e regarded always as a friend and for whom I have expressed my admiration tonight. This Bill is really a triumph for the AttorneyGeneral. He should be here to enjoy it. He has spent months and months of painstaking labour accommodating this Bill to the competing interests which have put their various pressures upon him. Now that he has produced the Bill, Parliament does not seem to matter. The Bill is produced. Parliament goes on its sweet way. The AttorneyGeneral does nol listen to the debate or, at any rate, he is not here to listen or to give an appearance of listening. 1 pay my compliments. I make my plea. The Opposition expresses its opposition. All of this goes unheard. So far as we can ascertain and so far as we can expect this is to be completely unanswered by the -Minister in charge of the Bill.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not .care how many bridges I have burnt behind me; I must protest at this conduct. The parliamentary institution is being brought into contempt - one might almost say deserved contempt - throughout the western world. Unless we make a very serious effort to rehabilitate it, I suppose we may expect to see happening, in Australia what has been happening in Prance, or what has been happening in Western Germany, or what has been happening elsewhere in the socalled parliamentary democracies of the western world. Mr Deputy Speaker, the Attorney-General should have been here and he should have been listening to this debate.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, in order to get the Attorney-General here, I direct your attention to the State of the House. [Quorum formed]
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it might be worth while that I mention, as it has been said that the Attorney-General was not present, that he was called into Cabinet briefly-
– I rise to order. Mr Deputy Speaker, you have called the honourable member for Wills.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills has been called.
– The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) may offer what apologies he likes for the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). I do not think they will be accepted by honourable members on this side of the House or by the House in general. The Attorney-General was elected to this House some 3 or 4 years ago. As a parliamentarian he is a novice. He has held the portfolio of Attorney-General for about 2 years. I suppose he has not yet learned that it is courteous to members of Parliament to be present when the legislation he is concerned with is discussed. It is important for him to be present when a piece of legislation of such singular importance as the Bill before us is discussed. The legislation we are debating is the first major change in copyright law for perhaps 50 or 60 years. It has been under consultation and discussion for 7 or 8 years. The legislation covers 106 pages and 249 clauses.
I believe it might be appropriate for the Attorney-General to come into the chamber and listen. Of course, he does not do that. Indeed, most of the Ministers feel it is not their duty to be here in this place. I say tonight, as I have said so often, that every Minister and even the Prime Minister himself get their charter from their membership of this Parliament. It is pretty cavalier and discourteous treatment for Ministers to absent themselves from this place at a time such as this. Of course, all honourable members may not be Queen’s Counsel. We may not fill that high and exalted role of advisers to Her Majesty at the legal level. But at least we are advisers to Her Majesty as representatives of the people of Australia. I think it is the duty of Ministers to come into this chamber and listen. Of course, during the course of a long debate, there is nothing wrong with a Minister withdrawing from this House for a time. But in this case, I think it is a piece of studied impertinence as the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) might well have said. How far does this get us? The honourable member for Warringah and a number of members on the other side of the House make quite a play about what we ought to do about the Parliament and about how the Parliament ought to be treated. They say that it ought not to meet after 10.30 or 11 o’clock at night. But if the Opposition wants to adjourn at a reasonable hour of the night, how often do the honourable member for Warringah and his colleagues who indulge in freedom fighting and fine spirited words come over and vote with us? Not once. Neither the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) nor any other member on the Government side of the House vote with the Opposition. There is little we can do about Parliament on this side of the House unless honourable members opposite rally to a commonsense approach.
The Copyright Bill has been on the stocks for some 6 or 7 years to my knowledge. I speak principally in the hope that members will pay close attention to the field of libraries and their particular duties in regard to this legislation. The measure is important in this field of human activity. It covers the lending rights of libraries and their rights of reproduction. It covers the protection of authors and authorships and their property rights in their creations. It attempts to cover the responsibilities, the rights, the duties and everything else that flow from the new forms of reproduction that have been developed in recent years.
The gramophone is not so old; the film is a comparatively recent development; television is really a baby, as is the videotape; and broadcasting has only 40 years of reasonable experience behind it. So, we are to protect all interests. The AttorneyGeneral, in his second reading speech, had this to say:
In many cases, it has not been possible to satisfy completely all parties. Nevertheless, 1 hope that this Bill will be widely accepted as a reasonable compromise in cases where there are conflicting interests.
What we have to do as a Parliament is to resolve these conflicting interests and see that everyone receives fair play.
What is copyright? I suppose it is an attempt to confer upon the creative minds in a community reasonable property rights in their product and a reasonable profit for producing it. But in many respects it is only in a property minded community with a materialistic concept that we have to worry about copyright. If we were able to provide creative minds in the community with consistent employment, so that a person was able to subsist simply because he was part of the creative intellect in a community, we would not have this problem. We would not have to consider what are fair royalties to one and fair dividends to the other. But we have not got round to that except in a few odd instances. A number of fellowships in the creative arts are granted at the Australian National University. This is a substantial intellectual development in the community. It is a pity we do not do a lot more for people engaged in the fields of writing, poetry, the production of films and so on. I suppose it is a bit unrealistic to hope that this is likely to happen in the near future. We ought to do more for our composers, writers, producers of films and so on. We ought not to throw them to the wolves as has been done so often.
Notwithstanding the good work the Attorney-General and his Department have done, and all the ideas submitted by many people, it will be difficult to resolve these questions and to give everyone fair play. It is pretty obvious that a lot of people who have no creative role to play in the reproduction of works will extract great dividends. I know of very few writers in Australia who are able to subsist, particularly if their writing has a more intellectual content, on the royalties from their books. I know of one lady who has written books on Australian history. The product of her endeavours was about £106 or £107 or, in modern terms, $215 to $220. This was just enough to ensure that she had to pay income tax and also just enough to ensure that her husband could not claim a concessional deduction for her as a dependant. I am quite convinced that the people who sold her books in the shops took their 30% and that the printer and publisher all obtained a great deal more than their endeavours warranted. I wish to place it on record at this stage that the Attorney-General has returned from on high’ or wherever he has been. This is one of the challenges that we face in a community such as ours in which a population of 12 million people is faced with competition in printing from the largest group anywhere in the world printing in one language. I have no doubt that more people speak Chinese than speak English. But there are not more people printing in Chinese than in English. The Australian producer has to compete with the rest of the world in relation to films, broadcasting, books and music.
We are at the end of the. line in a sense. A particular duty, I believe, devolves upon us to see that Australian productions are protected. I am not convinced that the Bill, and the machinery that it will establish, will produce any change. But I think it is important that in considering all these matters we consider also what are the important elements in society which flow from the development of means of reproducing the products of people’s ideas. I suppose all this comes from the invention of the printing press in the first instance. If there had not been some way of taking the products of people’s ideas, reproducing them and distributing them among the populace, we would not have to worry about copyright. It may be strange to think of copyright in this way, and it is only in the last 400 or 500 years of the 6,000 or so years of recorded history that an effective means of reproduction has been devised. Therefore, in the greater stretch of human history, ideas have had to flow without the benefit’ of methods of substantial reproduction. In the last 40 or 50 years there have been many substantial changes not only in the introduction of media such as television, radio and films but also in the introduction of mechanical methods of reproducing things that are already in existence. I think we are facing a new age. It is standard to say that we are undergoing a technological revolution. But I think it is also standard to regret that none of us is very well equipped to say how we are to handle these new techniques in a modern society.
So we come to the position in which libraries find themselves in this context. I hope honourable members will carefully read and study the possibilities of inhibitions flowing from this measure and affecting even the Parliamentary Library when a very strict interpretation is put on the terms of the Bill. On the whole, I think it is probably liberal enough at this stage to protect our interests. In recent times the technological revolution has reached even this building. It is 3 or 4 years, 1 suppose, since we installed a photocopying system in the Library. This Bill requires that’ there shall bc strict control over the way in which reproduction by this means is handled. Parliament has to remember that it is conferring the blessing of copyright protection upon the people who own the rights to photocopying. The rights flow from the Parliament and we must take good care that there is no inhibition of our use of any material that is about. This applies to other areas in the community. 1 do not know the solution to this problem. We live in a completely different community from the community that existed half a century ago. This year we have about 100,000 students in Australian universities. The intellectual content in the community - the type of books, including expensive books to which people have access - has changed remarkably in the last 20 or 30 years. There has been almost a change in the mind of the community.
I am not convinced that our attitudes to copyright and the protection of people’s rights arc adequate to the task. We ought to be seeking some other way of remunerating the people who have some interest in the copyright. 1 am not even convinced that property rights in copyright should flow on after the death of an author. This is a matter that is open to discussion, and this is the first time that this subject has come before the Parliament for reasonable discussion. However, I take it that there will not be much discussion on the clauses of the Bill as we will not be permitted to discuss the Bill clause by clause - and the Bill contains 249 clauses - but is there any reason why there should be an inherited copyright whereby royalties have to be paid after an author has passed on? The property concept is being carried into the reproduction and dissemination of ideas in an almost absolute sense. I understand that a great deal of money is still flowing into the coffers of the Shaw estate, to people who never had a creative idea at all. 1 am not sure what my proprietary rights are in respect of my speeches which appear in Hansard, but 1 am deeply grateful when somebody takes the opportunity to read what I have said, let alone reproduce it.
Another question with which we are faced concerns the shortage of books, lt would not be difficult to obtain a list of volumes of which there is perhaps only one copy in Australia. Universities have a particular knack of putting themselves down on. reading lists with the result, as 1 found in Western Australia, that they sometimes have books in foreign languages. In Western Australia I found a volume written in German. 1 think that the library in question ought to be entitled to reproduce the whole volume. Of course, this would mean that it would be entering into the field of reproduction. It would thus become a book publisher in its own right. However, there must be some simple solution to the question of supplying the people who had the initial right to publish the volume with the cash to which they are entitled. The ability to reproduce whole volumes occurs only as a result of recent methods of reproducing material. Photocopying is one of the most remarkable events in the history of reproduction. The photograph was remarkable in itself, but the photocopying machines that we have in the Parliament are amazing. Photocopying machines are being installed in the offices of honourable members. I inform those who have not been so advised by the Department of the Interior that I understand we are entitled to have a photocopying machine in our office. Obviously someone with a proper sense of the preservation of public funds has not told all honourable members about this, . so I am advising them now. I have such a machine in my office; it is a remarkable piece of machinery which greatly facilitiates the reproduction of material. In the days when one had to set type if it was desired to reproduce a book, one was faced with heavy expense. Now, the South Australian Public Library has performed a great public service by reproducing, with a photocopying process, some of the early journals of Australian explorers. Of course, the South Australian Public Library had to go back only to last century to be outside the copyright laws. The whole system is quite different from what it was originally when copyright related solely to the printing of words on paper by a mechanical process of some sort. We have to examine new innovations and new interests.
In copyright, where does the interest lie? Does it lie necessarily with the author? In a dramatic work does it lie with the performers? If it is reproduced in printed form, does it lie with the publishers? The odds seem to favour the publisher. He is likely to have the biggest interest. He is likely to have access to the corridors of power. He is likely to be more persuasive. So in the conflict of ideas, rights and so on that the Attorney-General mentioned, it is likely that the person who achieves the greatest success financially will be the publisher. With the reproduction of musical works it is likely to be the person who makes the record. Then again, it may well be the person who puts it across the air from the television station or the broadcasting station. We have not resolved this matter.
I do not know that we are being completely fair to sporting bodies. The people who own the television stations in Australia make a good thing out of broadcasting and telecasting sporting spectacles. Have we insisted that the people who have the right to telecast these spectacles are paying properly for that right? These problems still remain unresolved. Perhaps as we examine this system continuously over the next few years, as the Copyright Tribunal announces its findings and as the Attorney-General brings the problems constantly before the House we might make some progress. My regret about the Bill is that we are going to rush it through the Committee stage. I understand that the Government is anxious to get the House into recess as quickly as possible, and with the kind of gaffes it is committing in almost every field of public endeavour 1 do not blame it; but it is hardly the way to treat such a subject as copyright. I should like to sit here and consider most of the clauses or hear the consideration of them from people who have paid a great deal of attention to them. I thing that we are treating this matter lightheartedly.
I have a great deal of respect for the Attorney-General’s competence in many fields, but I do not think he has shown a proper respect for the Parliament in the way he has behaved during the debate so far, or in the way that we are being asked to spend such a short time on the Committee stage of the Bill. I hope that honourable members from both sides realise that (his is a very important matter. They should realise that as regards our Parliamentary Library and the general people in the community we might have people to protect apart from those who have conceived works of art. Are we to place the importers first or are we to place the local manufacturers first? Are we to allow the ordinary difficulties that we have in treating matters like this to transcend the intellectual difficulties that will probably have more effect in the community in the long term? What are we doing about controlling television stations and their rights and demands? Are the people who conduct magnificent sporting spectacles, like Melbourne league football, entitled to close their gates lo. television? fs there any transcending public right which ought to be asserted, particularly as most of the games are played on public grounds? Should the great profit from such sporting spectacles How to the television stations? I am inclined to say no. The same th:ng applies to publishers of news.. We, in this place, create news. How do we ensure that it is always disseminated? How do we ensure that enough material is placed in public libraries in Australia so that people will be able to have access to it?
We have insisted, and I think rightly so, that a copy of all original works must be placed in the National Library. We have had long discussions about what we ought to do about film. Film is a most dramatic method of preserving current history. We have not resolved this matter. What do we do about something as expensive as a film? lt would be grossly unfair to the person who produces a film to demand that he place a copy of it in the National Library or anywhere else. What are we to do about the preservation of much of this film? I presume that television stations take some steps to maintain archives, but what are we to do about it nationally? Ought we to have set aside a reasonable sum of money for the acquisition of things by legal right? In fact, as the Commonwealth can make acquisitions on just terms under its constitutional powers, ought we not to have set aside some funds so that we could acquire a lot of the things which are valuable current records? Of these, the most expensive would seem to me to be films. Much of this material is such variable history that you cannot get it in any other way.
What are we to do about authors? How arc we to encourage Australian authorship in the face of competition from overseas? Finally, what are we to do to protect the rights of customers who number more than twelve million? In instances we are all authors in some way or another. We write to the local newspaper or we make news in some way. .But the customer outside is interested in the whole field. He is interested in the works of dramatic art, in the right of access to sporting spectacles, in the right to read in public libraries when there is only one copy of a book available or perhaps when only a few copies of a book have been imported. Then there is the right of the student which, at the present time, is probably one of the most compelling needs.
The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) mentioned the necessity for some kind of text book publication on a wider scale. I for one would not be happy for a government to take over the whole field of text book publishing, particularly in what you might call the liberal- arts or the humanities, history and so on. Just imagine for a moment that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), had the right to supervise the complete publication of all the works on politics to be studied at Australian universities. While his thoughts would be of great value in some areas, I am inclined to think that unless he has changed since this morning, he would be inclined to be a little restrictive in that field. Therefore we somehow have to create an area in which there is an opportunity for greater publication of things such as text books.
I should think that the honourable member for Mackellar could possibly give good advice on the topic I am to raise now, that is, the field of science text books and mathematics text books, which are not in my field of broad experience. Many of these text books are complicated as regards reproduction. Many of them are very expensive. Many of them are necessary. Copyright, of course, will restrict the right of universities and educational institutions to reproduce them. While we have the Copyright Bill before us and while we have accepted what might be called the legal challenge, I do not think that we have accepted the social or the intellectual challenge. I hope, but 1 suppose it is a fond hope, that a similar thing will not occur again as has occurred in almost every session in the 12 years that I have been here. When a lengthy legal document, such as the Bill which we have before us, is introduced into this House I hope that we will have real opportunity to discuss it and to have a free interchange of ideas in this chamber. It is of no use to bring down. Bills for Acts of Parliament which are supposed to assist in the free interchange of ideas in the community if, at the same time, the Government inhibits or stultifies them in this Parliament.
There are many clauses in the Bill on which I should have liked to have heard the Attorney-General’s own exposition, and I should have liked to have heard honourable members on both sides of the House, who have a good deal of interest in this matter and who have made a continual study of it, say what they have to say about it, whether it concerns clause 28 which deals with literary, dramatic and musical works, or whether it concerns clause 30 which deals with the ownership of copyright. Many interesting sub-headings are to be found in the notations at the side of the clauses. For instance, the notation at clause 34 states: ‘Duration of copyright in anonymous and pseudonymous works’. If honourable members will only obtain a copy of the Bill and have a look at it they will see how complicated it is, how all-embracing it is and how important it is that we do not make any mistakes, because from my experience in this place it is very hard to change a provision once it gets in the statutes. Ministers seem to go into smoke or into hiding when it comes to changing something.
From my experience with the National Library. I know that this Bill has been on the stocks for a long while. It has been considered carefully in the community. I fail to see how it will be considered properly in this House. I only hope that the Senate is in full flight by the time it reaches that House and that it is dealt with clause by clause. The present state of the parties in the Senate at least means that these measures will receive a closer scrutiny. I hope that the Attorney-General will have a change of heart by the time he brings down another mammoth Bill like this one.
When I was interrupted I was saying why I deplored the criticism which had been levelled at the Attorney-General by honourable members on both sides of the House. That criticism has given an entirely false impression of the action of the AttorneyGeneral who was summoned urgently from the House although the debate was one which naturally he would want to listen to most closely. Presumably he was called for consultations in Cabinet.
– Why were wc not told?
– I am telling the honourable member now. Earlier in his speech the honourable member for Warringah referred to the new copyright law as a masterpiece and naturally the AttorneyGeneral would want to hear all the criticism and comment upon it. This is an extraordinarily complex, difficult and intricate piece of legislation.
– Is that why it is being rushed through this House at this hour?
– Obviously it was not read by the honourable member for Wills. However, it is the kind of document which properly falls within the field of our legal experts. One would have thought “hat the Opposition would have been able to produce speakers who had sufficient knowledge in this field to have made the debate something worth listening to. I confess that I do not have that particular qualification but 1 do have, I hope, a general level of common sense. As the Attorney-General knows, there is one item in the Bill which offends my common sense. 1 find it highly objectionable and I cannot see any rational explanation for it so 1 propose lo follow through this one thread in my remarks tonight. 1 will detail: to the House the history of this part of the legislation which forms only a tiny fraction of the whole Bill. I hope that in explaining the history the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and the House will come to appreciate my attitude and my reasons for objecting to the inclusion in the Bill of the performing right that is now granted to record manufacturers. This right has nothing to do with a copyright which is given to authors or composers. lt has nothing to do with a copyright which record manufacturers have to protect them from unauthorised copying of their records. lt is a performing right which crept into the English legislation and which found its way from the English legislation on to our statute book entirely by accident.
When gramophones were called phonographs in the very early days of the use of this contrivance, a committee was established in the United Kingdom to look at the subject of copyright. The record manufacturers of those days submitted that they should be given a right to perform their records in public. Such a request seems very strange to us now. In those days it was quite a significant matter for the record manufacturers. Counsel appearing before the English committee at that time explained the reasons for making this submission. He said that it would help record sales if the records could be played to guests in some of the principal hotels. The record manufacturers wanted to enshrine this right in the legislation which would follow the committee’s work. In describing these free performances in the hotels a witness said:
Well, those public performances in our view are a ureal advertisement to the music, and the author would be very sorry for us to discontinue them. The public performance then that we ask for is that when a person has bought a phonogram he should be entitled lo play il in public and not merely in his private room.
That was the start of the performing right given to record manufacturers. This was a situation which existed quite happily until 1933, when there was a court case in England and some very astute lawyer discovered that this right could be read the reverse way. Instead of giving the record manufacturers the freedom to perform their records in public, it gave them the right to control other people’s freedom to play records in public. This was a very clever legal ruse and it succeeded in changing the entire, pattern of record playing and the demand for record playing in England because the record manufacturers immediately hopped in and demanded a royalty fee for every playing of their records over the air. This interpretation of the court naturally was objected to by people who, thinking as I do that the law should be based on commonsense and logic, expressed their feelings in no uncertain manner. Lord Jowitt, a former Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords, in 1955 said: lt seems to me on principle that the thing is objectionable and wrong. No-one thought about it until the year 1933 when the extraordinary ingenuity of Sir Stafford Cripps induced a Judge to say, and no doubt rightly, that that was the true construction of the section in the Act. That was a complete surprise to everyone and 1 venture to think it was a great misfortune that the right ever was given.
But 1 say on balance the case for altering the law here is quite overwhelming.
So Lord Jowitt condemned the interpretation of the law that was made in 1933. But that did not stop the record manufacturers exacting their royalty payment in the United Kingdom from the British Broadcasting Corporation. Nor did the BBC see fit to challenge the decision in court. Virtually only the BBC could have done that because the United Kingdom does not have a system of commercial stations such as Australia has or such as exists in the United States of America and elsewhere. There is only one principal domestic outlet for the records made by English record manufacturers.
In Australia, when an attempt was made by record manufacturters to exact a royalty from the broadcasting stations here, the commercial stations were able to object quite satisfactorily because they knew that they could import American records and defy the exporters of records from the United Kingdom. So they were able to come to an agreement that enabled them to play both American and United Kingdom records without paying any royalty whatsoever. But that did not apply to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which by statute was not able to come to an agreement. So, for a great number of years now, the ABC has been paying money to record manufacturers overseas for the right to play their records. When we consider that we import 80% of the records used in Australia, it can be seen that it involves quite a substantial amount of money and is a drain on the economy.
Let me go further in giving the history ot this performing right for record manufacturers. In 1933 - the year of the court case in England that started the trouble - Mr Justice Owen was sitting in Australia as a Royal Commission on Performing Rights. He made the following comment on this matter:
The law should be made clear on this point, and, in the opinion of this Commission, the performing right now claimed by some record manufacturers is unreasonable, and, if in law it exists, this right should be abolished.
I go on to 1952. The situation remained stable, with people in the United Kingdom paying the royalty and in Australia, by virtue of the agreement, only the ABC making the royalty payment. In 1952 another committee to review copyright was established in the United Kingdom. It was known as the Gregory Committee. It did a very thorough and comprehensive job of work. In its discussion of this subject it was strongly influenced by the fact that there had been a lengthy and costly musicians strike in the United States of America a year or two before the Committee met. Throughout its report it refers to the pressure exerted by the Musicians Union in the United Kingdom. Quite understandably, that Union wanted the royalty payments being made to the record manufacturers to continue. I quote the following from page 56 of the report of the Gregory Committee:
The Musicians Union, not unnaturally, regards the imposition of fees for the public performance of records, and above all restrictions on their use, as a means of promoting and safeguarding the interests of its members. One of the objects of the Union is to safeguard employment by controlling the use of recorded music.
That gives the reason for (he strong influence that the Musicians Union had on the report of the Gregory Committee. I have no doubt that the Gregory Committee was influenced by the fact that the United Kingdom was a substantial exporter of records and could draw quite a large income from the sale of records overseas. In addition, the manufacturers did not have commercial broadcasting stations but they had a monopoly buyer in the British Broadcasting Corporation and that provided them with a special set of circumstances. So in the upshot the Gregory Committee decided to leave intact the right that had been read into the previous Act and recommended that when the new Act was introduced in the United Kingdom it should include this right, giving the manufacturers the ability to extract a royalty payment. But it did this only grudgingly and it condemned the practice in very definite and downright terms. I quote again from the report of the Gregory Committee. At page 51 it said: we should have found it difficult in any event to accept the contention that, after selling his wares for a price which he himself fixed, the record manufacturer was therefore justified in controlling the use to which they were subsequently put, or of preventing their use altogether. This principle, if applied generally in trade, would produce astonishing results. We have more sympathy with another witness who submitted that the proper way of looking at this question is ‘that records are made for sale to the public and they always have been made for sale to the public’.
Despite the Committee’s condemnation, as I say it grudgingly allowed the right to be incorporated in the new English Act.
In 1959 we set up a committee to do the same work in Australia as the Gregory Committee had done in the United Kingdom. This was the Spicer Committee. It also found in favour of the record manufacturers but strangely for entirely different reasons from those given by the United Kingdom Committee. The Spicer Committee gave three reasons for its decision. The first was that it accepted the claim of record manufacturers that their product embodied special skills that justified the payment of a royalty. This is a very odd claim, because on all scores the manufacturer of a record is in no better or worse category than is the manufacturer of any other appliance that requires a high level of skill to produce. Even the man who moulds a toothbrush perhaps has some special claim to creative ability. His artistic talents are called into use in designing the mould of a toothbrush. There is no real basis for the payment of a royalty for the skills used by the craftsman in making records. They are not creative in the same sense as are the talents employed by artists, authors, inventors or people of that kind. I quote again from the report of the Gregory Committee on this point. At page 51 it said: . . while in no way questioning the very high degree of skill (in part technical, in part musical) called into play in recording music for the manufacture of records and in the manufacture of the records themselves, on first principles we should not have considered a gramophone record an ‘original literary, dramatic, musica] or artistic work’ within the generality of the terms of the Copyright Act. lt is the material on which a performance, or the best of a series of performances, is fixed by mechanical and electrical means and from which the performance may subsequently be ‘mechanically reproduced’; or, in the words of the Act, records are ‘contrivances’.
That was the first of the reasons given by the Spicer Committee for writing into the Australian Act provision for a special royalty payment to manufacturers of records - that they had skills far beyond the skills employed by any other manufacturer, even reaching into the realm of artistic creative works. The second reason was that commercial stations make money out of playing records and therefore they do not require any special sympathy. This is also a very odd one, when one considers that the EMI company,, a very large corporation which produces records in the United Kingdom and also in Australia, pays a fee of $200,000 to Radio Luxembourg, a commercial station situated in Europe, to play and to popularise its records, because EMI knows that the way it can get its records sold to the public is by having them played by commercial stations. If the manufacturers are honest they will admit that this is the way in which they manage to increase their sales of pop records year by year, because they are broadcast by commercial broadcasting stations. The stations popularise the records and create a market for the manufacturers. The manufacturers cannot deny that this fee is paid for that particular purpose by EMI in the United Kingdom to Radio Luxembourg. It is obviously not paying that fee for any other reason than to promote the sale of its records. The Gregory Committee comments on this aspect of the matter in these words at page 55:
We find it somewhat difficult to comment on the contention that the unlimited broadcasting of a particular record would injure its sale. We can imagine conditions in which this might, happen but it seems to us to necessitate imagining a most improbable state of affairs in this country. We are disposed to regard it as a theoretical rather than a practical contention. 1 do not believe that that second reason given by the Spicer Committee for its judgment really can be regarded as holding water, nor does it strengthen that argument for the Spicer Committee to go to an inappropriate part of the report for the quotation which it uses from the Gregory Committee report? If one checks the reference to the Gregory Committee’s report upon which the Spicer Committee draws to support its argument, one finds that this particular reference is taken from an entirely irrelevant part of the Gregory Committee’s report, lt was a very weak effort indeed. The third reason given by the Spicer Committee for suggesting that the manufacturers in Australia should be given this right was that there would be some injustice in destroying rights in existence after money had been invested in making records on the basis of the existing law. When one considers that 80% of the records used in Australia are imported, I do not think that we should have so much sympathy for the manufacturers who are selling on a world wide market.
The three reasons given by the Spicer committee are really unsound. They do nothing to counter the arguments that I have advanced tonight - the arguments of Lord Jowitt and Mr Justice Owen - and they do not in any way make this peculiar right applicable to Australian conditions. When one considers the history of the matter, it was a right that came in by a side wind in special circumstances in the United Kingdom, and it was repeated in other countries simply because the United Kingdom legislation applied in Canada, Australia and elsewhere or was copied by other countries. One must agree, therefore, that there is no sound reason for having this right incorporated now in a new Act in Australia. However, that is what is being done.
The Attorney-General has arrived at what he calls a compromise, and the royalty payment made by the broadcasting stations is to be limited to a certain amount - 1% of turnover for commercial stations. However, this is no compromise; it is a concession. One cannot compromise about nothing, and no royalty payment is no royalty payment. One cannot compromise from nothing except by going up. Therefore, it is concession made by the broadcasting stations to the record manufacturers; it is not a compromise. I believe it is quite inappropriate in the Australian environment, and is an anachronism that has been preserved and repeated here in this new legislation. This is quite wrong because it runs contrary to commonsense. Words that have been in British legislation for a number of years should not be regarded as a kind of sacred text, enshrined forever. We must look at these things from the Australian viewpoint and weigh up the advantages to Australia, and the application of these rights, privileges and freedoms under Australian conditions.
In this instance all we are getting is a very heavy bill, which will put up costs in the commercial and national stations in Australia by something in the order of $360,000 a year. This will be needless payment, which will be made to record manufacturers overseas, and will not bring any compensating advantage to Australia. Why write this into our legislation? I cannot understand it. lt runs contrary to commonsense and to our own interests in Australia. It can bring us no benefit whatsoever, and cannot be justified. Yet we see this persisting in the legislation introduced by the AttorneyGeneral. In a sense it has been modified from the all-out proposal contained in the original Bill drawn up last year. Some limit has been put on the royalty payment that can be made, and we are not likely to be caught as heavily in the near future as were the commercial stations in New Zealand. If we were, we would be paying millions of dollars to record manufacturers overseas. Certainly our liability is limited to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but although this may be some consolation I do not see why we in Australia should embody the principle in a new piece of legislation especially when there is no need to do it and when it conflicts with common sense. Surely law should be based upon logic and rational thinking.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
[11.251- in reply - It has been conveyed to me that there was some criticism of my absence from the chamber for a period during this debate. [Quorum formed.) I wish to assure the House that I have put a great deal of time into this Bill and that I left the chamber with very great reluctance. I left because I received a call to attend a meeting of the Cabinet in connection with an urgent and important matter. 1 assure honourable members that no disrespect was intended to the House.
Amongst the points which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) made was the suggestion that the Copyright Bill was long overdue. Indeed, it is now 9 years since the report of the Spicer committee was submitted. Therefore, I think the honourable member’s observation was fair. 1 can only say that since I have been concerned with it the task has been a very onerous and complex one, so much so that I would like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to two officers of my Department who have been specially concerned with the measure. I refer first to Mr Curtis who has been concerned with the preparation of instructions for the Parliamentary Draftsman and with the various representations which have been received. The other officer is Mr Kolts, who has been responsible for the actual preparation of the draft of the Bill. Both these officers have given extremely devoted service in connection with the Bill and I pay tribute to them for it.
Another point made by the honourable member for Cunningham was that the Bill does not go far enough in helping creative artists. This is a matter that has concerned me to some extent, but it is not easy to see how much further we can go. For example, I have had representations from authors to the effect that they should receive a payment each time one of their books is lent from a library. They say that it should be in the form of a royalty similar to the royalties paid for musical work. The difficulty here is that if a small payment is imposed on the borrower, or even on the library, we will be charged with putting a tax on knowledge. If we make a government subvention, as they do in Sweden, we are faced with the problem of fitting provision for it into a copyright Bill. But the point raised by the honourable member for Cunningham is worthy of consideration. At the moment, I am inquiring about whether we can make some arrangement outside this Bill to assist the creative artist. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) thought that the compulsory licensing system should be abolished. I do not want to take up the time of the House with a long discussion about this matter but I would draw attention to the fact that if the composer of music does not want it recorded on a mechanical contrivance, he may refuse to have it recorded. It is only if he consents to have it recorded for the first time that the compulsory licensing system comes into operation. The reason for this was to prevent a monopoly from being held by one particular manufacturer once the composer had agreed to records being made. The price of the compulsory licence is a royalty to the composer, so he gets his reward. All he loses is the opportunity to prevent people making a record, but this occurs only once he has consented to that form. I think this is a reasonable right. It already exists and its continuation was recommended by the Spicer Committee.
The honourable member for McMillan suggested also that there should be no copyright for a sound recording. This is a point which has been put with considerable force by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan), and I think I should deal with it when I make some observations on the honourable member’s speech.
The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) expressed concern for the position of composers of music. He thought that the royalty, which in the Bill is expressed to be at the rate of 5%, should be increased to 6i% with a miniumum of 2c, the minimum in the Bill being lc. I did receive representations on both of these matters and I gave a considerable amount of thought to the proposals. I was not convinced that a case had been made, in the informal way that the facts are put to Ministers, to increase the 5% royalty to 6i%. But as a result of the representations I will move in the Committee stage that instead of having to wait for 2 years in order to go to the Copyright Tribunal for a review of those figures, the waiting period be reduced to I year. I think it is fair to say that there should be 1 year’s trial and 1 year’s experience at least. Indeed, it would take a considerable time to prepare a case to take before the Tribunal. I think the period of 1 year will, to some extent, meet the points made in this respect by the honourable member for Wilmot. Both of the figures could be reviewed by the Tribunal at an earlier period.
After the Tribunal has made a review and fixed the same or a different figure, a period of 5 years must elapse before there can be a second review. Nothing could be more upsetting for the industry than to have a constant review. Nothing could be more upsetting for the industry than to have its time taken up mainly by fighting cases before the Tribunal rather than by getting on with its business, lt is considered that the S-year period is a fair period of assurance once the time is fixed. It may be that changes will occur in the industry. There may be new methods of reproduction which will require a review, but a 5-year period is likely to be required before there would be proper experience of the fairness of the new rate, before there would be sufficient changes in technology to justify a further change and before there would be time to prepare a fresh case. I do not propose to reduce the 5-year period. [Quorum formed.]
During the course of bis address the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) suggested that the compulsory licensing provisions should be extended to cover the importation of records. At the present time the provisions cover the making of records in Australia. I have interviewed the importing interests in this country and thencase has been put to me. I have received representations from the honourable member. The arguments which have been put in support of compulsory licensing for importers have been considered fully. Without going into the full details of the arguments I call the attention of the House to a number of reasons against accepting that proposal. Firstly, the Spicer Committee recommended against extending the compulsory licensing system to imports. Secondly, compulsory licensing of imports would reduce the rights of the copyright owners as compared with their rights under the present law. I have been reluctant to move in any direction which would reduce the rights under this Bill of the creative artists. Thirdly, the copyright owners in fact so far have not made exorbitant demands on owners of records. If it should happen that some situation develops in which copyright owners appear to be making exorbitant demands on the importers, this matter could be examined again. Fourthly, to allow the importation of cheap imported records under compulsory licence would tend to reduce the overall return of the copyright owners. This could be met only by establishing a different royalty on imported records or a new royalty affecting records generally. That was not sufficient reason to depart from the existing taw on the subject and to introduce a new right in this regard.
The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) also stressed the need to help creative authors. I have indicated already that 1 am looking at the possibility of assisting them outside the Copyright Bill. Towards the end of his speech the honourable member suggested that there would not be sufficient time to discuss the Bill. For a considerable time the honourable member has had access, as have other honourable members, to the Bill and to the amendments. The honourable member has had time to consider the Bill in that sense. Had the honourable member had any matters of substantial criticism to offer 1 would have expected to hear them during the course of his half hour speech. To my ear, none emerged. Therefore the shortage of time which the honourable member has complained of - and I agree not a great deal of time has been allowed for the debate - has not been the cause of our failing to hear some particular wisdom which otherwise the honourable member would have been able to give us.
The honourable member for Gwydir criticised the conferring of a performing right in records. The honourable member covered this subject very thoroughly in the course of his speech. The honourable member referred to the historical aspect and gave the reasons for and against such a right. I do not think I should delay the
House by going through this matter again. I am familiar with the honourable member’s views. There are indeed powerful arguments to be advanced against such a right. However, there are also powerful arguments in favour of granting the right. It is a right which was recommended by the Spicer Committee and one that has existed in fact in the idustry for very many years. Indeed, it is a right on which the industry is based to some extent and I was not convinced that anything of sufficient importance to justify taking that right away by this Bill had been put before me. Therefore we have continued that right. I again commend the Bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 57, by leave, taken together.
– I would like to hear from the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) his comment on certain statements made by me in my address during the second reading debate. We in the Opposition are really concerned about the failure of the Government to anticipate in any way not just the future but what even the immediate present holds. I made a particular reference to a device which is being marketed in the United States and which will come to Australia. I refer to the electronic video recorder by means of which, with a cylinder or cassette inserted into the machine, a book, a play or even a 24-volume encyclopaedia can be reproduced on a television screen in a private home.
The whole mentality behind the collection copyright is on the individual levy or the individual collection. Organisers of petty functions have been badgered literally, as the Minister well knows, by the myrmidons of the Australian Performing Right Association Ltd, and we can understand its hunger, its difficulties and its problems of income. But are we in passing this measure to turn a completely blind eye to one of the most miraculous forms of presentation of books? With this device, which will be in Australia within a matter of months, it will be possible for a whole book to be reproduced on a television screen. By the pressing of a button it will be possible to turn over each page of that book. The problems that will arise through the use of that device in the form of the collection of royalties in respect of book publishers will be fantastic. Is the general public to be denied the benefits of a device such as this?
Let me remind the Minister of a comment that he made in his second reading speech. At least he was frank enough to anticipate the significant changes which were coming in technology. The Minister stated:
At the Stockholm Conference last year, Mr Kaminstein, the Registrar of Copyrights in the United States of America, forecast that there might need to be another meeting of the member countries of the Berne Convention within the next 10 years to take account of the effect of copyright law . . .
We believe that the need exists for an almost immediate meeting. We believe that even without waiting for that meeting to be called something ought to be done particularly in a country like Australia because of the special problems that exist here. Problems have arisen already in relation to television and the reproduction of artistic, musical and literary works in that medium. I do not hold a brief for these people, but I cite this case as perhaps the most outstanding example of what is happening in the electronic age and what will happen in the future.
In examining the first fifty-seven clauses of the Bill, and alighting particularly on clause 31 relating to the ‘Nature of copyright in an original work’, to be perfectly frank, 1 cannot see that operation of the device to which I have referred will be covered by that clause. Clause 31 states: (1.) For the purposes of this Act, unless the contrary intention appears, copyright, in relation to a work, is the exclusive right -
to reproduce the work in a material form;
There is no provision in the clause to deal with devices of the nature to which I have referred. I refer now to the computer storage of data and the retrieval of information for computers. What precisely are the Government’s proposals in this regard? The Government will literally be in a snake pit of litigation and a welter of arguments that it will not be able to resolve. In view of the known reluctance of the Government to commit itself to copyright legislation, what does the future hold? We are entitled to something better. It is not for the Opposition to supply the alternatives. It is the responsibility of the Government to provide for the immediate and urgent needs of the Australian viewing public in the new electronic age.
We are passing through an era of revolution in communications media but the Government does not seem to appreciate the fact. It does not seem to have a proper understanding or conception of the situation. Progressively as the months pass the means by which the proprietors of copyright can collect their trifling royalties will dwindle. So too will the occasions dwindle. In former generations when books were sold individually and the radio did not exist it was possible to enumerate the occasions on which transactions occurred in respect of which copyright ought to be paid, but in an age when books are televised and broadcast to millions of people - even encyclopedias can be broadcast - what are the Government’s proposals to solve the problems of copyright involved? The Government does not have an answer, because it has not considered the point. At least I give credit to the Minister for having referred to it. Unless provision is made for this situation the Government will be pursued by increasing and never-ending demands from the proprietors of copyright of books which are televised or broadcast.
When the Minister spoke in reply at the second reading stage of the debate he referred in passing to suggestions that had come from proprietors of certain books, lt was suggested that every time those books were lent by a public library a royalty should be sought. There would be a revolution in Australia and the Government would be tipped out neck and crop if such a scheme were attempted. The point I am making is that in future the public purse will need to accept the responsibility, in the cases of major works and literary works of a certain standard, to pay the authors and then to take over the copyright. We cannot continue in the present circumstances. The Government has not contemplated the problem and has not attempted to find an answer to it. It has simply up-dated the law to 1956 and added a few innovations of its own. The future is left to look after itself. The Government’s blood will be on its own head because of the consequences of its own neglect and incompetence.
– I will deal first with the last point raised by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). We are conscious of some of the difficulties involved because of advances in technology such as the one referred to by the honourable member. There is doubt as to how far such advances are covered by the Bill, although to some extent they are covered in relation to authors and composers. The particular difficulty in this respect is that the copyright law is largely convention law agreed between various countries. Our representatives attended the Stockholm Conference last July when the current copyright law of the world was as far as possible brought up to date.
In this Bill we have included as far as possible amendments which will enable us to adhere to the Stockholm amendment so as to bring our copyright law as much up to date as such law in any country. If we are to attempt to lead the field in this area we will strike difficulty with our convention obligations. 1 think that the task will be to co-operate at international level in arriving at agreed methods of dealing with the new technology to which the honourable member has referred. I think that more frequent meetings will be required if the pace of development increases.
– First of all I wish to make it clear to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) that when 1 spoke earlier I did not complain about the time which was made available to consider the Bill. I was complaining about the time taken to discuss the Bill in the Parliament which is, after all, where our public responsibilities lie. In regard to the remarks the Attorney-General made, I suppose one of the most important things about the Bill is that it is a demonstration of international co-operation in a very complicated and complex way. To that extent, I suppose the Bill is an indication that humanity is making some progress after all. I want to draw the attention of honourable members to clause 49 which makes provision for copying by libraries for students and members of Parliament. We are operating in a pretty closed circuit. There are 184 members of this Parliament and there are other members of Parliament in the States. This clause could be restrictive, although I am not saying that it would be so. Clause 49, paragraph (3.) states:
The last two preceding subsections do not apply in relation to a copy of an article . . . unless -
the copy is supplied only to a person who satisfied the librarian, or a person acting on behalf of the librarian, that he requires the copy for the purpose of research or private study and that he will not use it for any other purpose or, if the person is a member of a Parliament and the librarian is the librarian of a library the principal purpose of which is to provide library services for members of that Parliament, that he requires the copy for the purpose of the performance of his duties as such a member and that he will not use it for any other purpose.
One of the traditions, we have attempted to develop both in our capacity as members of the Library Committee and, I would hope, in our general attitudes as members of Parliament is that the only people who should be allowed to question our use of any facility are ourselves. Perhaps this could be done by resolution of the House but this has not occurred since I became a member of Parliament. It is our right to travel, to use the telephone, and to have access to all sorts of things in the community. 1 think we may well be stepping into a dangerous area in this case if we allow some other authority to tell us what to do. In this instance, the Parliamentary Librarian is the person to be satisfied. This gentleman has been in the past and is at present a person of great competence and understanding. But, under this legislation we would have to satisfy him that we were using the Library in the correct way. I do not think this provision should be included in the Bill. I am disappointed that we have not found some other formula.
I suppose that as a member of the Parliament and of the Library Committee 1 should have been searching for a better formula. This is something that we all should be discussing so that our minds might come together. We might be able to do something about the situation. Clause 49 (3.) also states:
The last two preceding sub-sections do not apply in relation to a copy of an article . . . unless -
the person to whom the copy is supplied has not previously been supplied by the librarian, or by a person acting on behalf of the librarian, with a copy of the same article or part of an article or of the same part of a work;
Thi.s means that people such as myself who might have an infinite capacity for leaving documents at an office in Melbourne and then wanting them here will in fact under this law not be entitled to a second copy. This Bill is all very well as a piece of administrative convenience; it is all very well as a tidy piece of legislation; but it is not very well as a piece of legislation covering this Parliament. I do not know how many other Acts of Parliament have carried this kind of provision whereby some inhibition, prohibition or restriction has been imposed on people on whom it ought not to have been imposed. I suggest that probably throughout this legislation there are other matters of a like nature. The charter of the Attorney-General comes from his membership of this Parliament. I would expect him to protect the Parliament to that extent. I hope that in the near future we will find better provisions so that there will not bc the possibility of each of us being supervised in his work, no matter how exalted or how competent his authority may be.
Mr BUCHANAN (McMillan) [11.551- By discussing clauses 1 to 57 broadly, honourable members are engaged in one of those disjointed debates which occur quite often in Committee. I wish to speak firstly about clause 45, which is concerned with acts not constituting infringements of copyright. lt provides:
The reading or recitation in public, or the inclusion in a sound broadcast or television broadcast of a reading or recitation, of an extract of reasonable length from a published literary or dramatic work, or from an adaptation of such a work, does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the work if a sufficient acknowledgment of the work is made.
In the very long time that honourable members have had in which to study the Bill I have tried to find out the purpose of some of the restrictions that are contained in it. One of these is the limitation that is put on the playing of a gramophone record. If a royalty has to be paid to somebody who makes a piece of plastic or whatever it is that comprises a gramophone record, why should not a person have to pay to read the contents of a book? Both are protected by copyright. Both appear to me to be on exactly the same plane. If someone happens to write a song or a little piece of music which is expressed in notes on a treble clef and a base clef and divided into bars, to my mind it is no different from something that is set down in typography in a book. If someone has to pay for the privilege of placing a record on a turntable and putting a needle on it so that it produces a sound, why does he not have to pay when he reads from a book? There is no difference.
Royalties are paid to the composers of music when their works are performed or when records of their works are played. A system has been introduced under which the Australian Performing Right Association Ltd collects $lm a year from the broadcasting stations alone to pay to the authors of musical works. If some compensation is given for the fact that a brainchild which a person has been clever enough to dream up is a song or a piece of music, what is wrong with protecting the fellow who writes his work in prose, or in verse for that matter, and puts it within the covers of a book? What is the difference? What I am suggesting is that provision should be made for the payment of royalties to an author when somebody reads his book. Having, searched through the 249 clauses in the Bill, I cannot find any ground for a claim for payment of royalty to the author of-
– ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’.
– If the honourable member borrows it from a library he should have to pay to read it. If a person gets it in a shop he has to pay for it.
– Would you pay the gamekeeper?
– Let us not bring him into it. If a person buys a book, the author gets a royalty. If the book is borrowed from a library the author does not get anything, and the borrower can read it for nothing. What is the difference between a book and a gramophone record in this regard? Why should there not be some protection for these people who make a contribution, even if it is in the form of this dubious sort of literature which honourable members on the other side seem to prefer?
– What is wrong with ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’?
– I do not know; I have never read it. All we say is that in respect of a recitation in public sufficient acknowledgment must be made of the author. No payment is to be made to him. However, if by some curious chance someone is silly enough to pay to hear a recording played, a royalty must be paid. If someone reads from a book to an audience, provided he acknowledges the author he is exonerated from paying any money. If a person borrows a book and takes it home to read, for his own entertainment, he does not have to pay a royalty. I mention this matter more as an argument to be raised and then knocked down. It would be quite absurd to try to claim a royalty from everybody who went into a library to borrow a book. I do not see how it could be made to work. I cannot see how many provisions in the proposed copyright law can be made to work.
If someone has a copyright in a work which is put on a gramophone record and that record goes to a broadcasting studio where it is played, the law suggests that the person who wrote the work should get some royalty from that playing of his work, but already he will have had a royalty from the manufacturer of the record.
– So has the author of a book.
– I agree, but it is claimed that every time that record is played a royalty should be paid. How on earth could a provision like that be policed? What sort of arrangement could there be with every broadcasting station in Australia whereby the number of times a recording of the Beatles, for example, was played could be determined so that the Beatles could get 2ic or lie, whatever the royalty is? This Bill includes a provision to overcome this difficulty. It states that a maximum of 1% of the gross revenue of a station will be paid as royalties. I do not know what the gross revenue of a station would be but I % seems to be an exorbitant amount to be claimed by all record manufacturers for the privilege of playing their records. What happens when somebody sponsors a local football match? He is charged so much for it. But does he have to pay a Wo royalty?
– Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– Mr Chairman, may I take my second period now?
– There being no objection, the honourable member may continue.
Wednesday, 5 June 1968
– 1 am sorry that 1 could not develop that particular argument to the fullest. I could have gone a long way with it if I had had an opportunity to do so. 1 should like to take the opportunity to say a few more words concerning clause 55. 1 had a couple of words to say about it in my speech during the second reading debate. I draw attention to the fact that a statutory licence is granted to anybody who wants to make a gramophone record, provided that a similar record has been made previously. In case 1 did not make all the points that I might have made when I was speaking during the second reading debate. I should like to draw attention to clause 55 again in order to give emphasis.
If a person has the inspiration to produce a lyric or a piece of music which is worthy of publishing he goes along to a manufacturer of records, makes an arrangement with him that this particular piece of music will be recorded and a record is produced. Under the existing legislation, no record manufacturer can force a composer to allow the publication of his composition. The composer can say: ‘No’. He has the right of refusal. But there is a slight change in the legislation that we are now considering. The composer has the right to say ‘no’, but only for a certain time. If a particular piece of music has been produced overseas in a country with which we have some reciprocal rights, at the expiration of 6 or 8 weeks the author will be told that he has no rights whatsoever. In this Bill the prescribed time has not been made clear, and I do not think it is at all right that when a Bill is brought into the chamber we should be told that the regulations will be made later. I think we ought to know what the regulations are before we commence to debate the Bill. As I have said, after a certain period the composer will have no rights whatsoever, and because there has been some publication of his music, the manufacturer in this country will be able to make a record of it.
Under normal circumstances the manufacturer and the composer would get together and presumably they would produce a piece of music which was satisfactory to both of them. Of course, the author would get his 5% royalty. But after the record has been put on the market and after it has enjoyed considerable sales, some other manufacturer may say: ‘This is a snappy tune. We would like to make a record of that, too.’ So he might get some less accomplished orchestra together and produce a record of the tune. The author would have devoted his time and thinking to producing an artistic work. Surely the very thing we are trying to do in this Bill is to protect people who have made some effort to create an artistic work. But the composer will be denied the right to say that the second record manufacturer will not muck up his work.
Here we are in 1968 producing a new Copyright Bill to update legislation that was introduced in 1912. Surely in 1968 we should realise that we must bring ourselves up to date to cope with events in this modern world. We should not include something in the Bill simply because it has the sanction of antiquity. That is the only way in which I can describe it.
One of the disadvantages of argument in committee is that unless debate is generated from both sides of the chamber the argument becomes a little one-sided. Already I have had two periods of 10 minutes and would very much like to have a third. I object very much to the fact that we are dealing with clauses 1 to 57 together because I would have liked to say something about the rate of royalty. However, I see that I still have about 2 minutes remaining to me so I will try to compress my remarks in relation to royalty into that short period. The Spicer Committee, after having examined the evidence presented to it in 1959 both for and against alterations to copyright law, decided that the rate of royalty should be increased from 5% to 6i%. In this Bill we retain the old rate of 5% which has been in existence since 1912. It has been paid for so long now that it has been accepted.
I protest at this because the modern method of marketing records results in the retail price of records being reduced. Instead of the 5% royalty being paid on the retail price of $5.75 composers find the royalty being paid on records which are sold for $3.75 because various organisations - the Readers Digest company, for example - produce special editions and sell them for that price. They do not suffer much of a reduction in profit because they sell ten or twelve records at a time whereas retail outlets sell probably only one at a time. They make their profit but the poor old composer gets only 5% of $3.75. I believe the rate of royalty should be increased from 5% to 61-%.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr Cope) negatived:
That the honourable member for McMillan be granted an extension of time.
– I desire to make a suggestion to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) in connection with clause 45 of the Bill, which refers to performances at premises where persons reside or sleep. The clause reads:
Where a literary, dramatic or musical work, or an adaptation of such a work, is performed in public, by the operation of wireless telegraphy apparatus or by use of a record, at premises where persons reside or sleep, as part of the amenities provided exclusively for residents or inmates of the premises or for those residents or inmates and their guests, the performance does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the work.
My submission is in regard to fees charged on coin-operated phonographs - that is, juke boxes - by the Australian Performing Right Association Ltd. 1 understand that a fee is at present charged by the Australian Record Manufacturers Association on all juke boxes operating in Australia, and it is considered that if any fee is payable where performing rights are concerned it should be between the Australian Record Manufacturers Association and the Australian Performing Right Association and should be included in the price of the phonograph record. This is especially so since one record of every popular number produced must be purchased for each machine, whereas a radio station need purchase only one record of any number, and this can be heard by countless tens of thousands of people. It is not considered that a coin-operated phonograph - a juke box - when played gives a public performance because the person inserting the coin to make the machine operate is doing so for his own private pleasure, regardless of who may listen to that performance. For instance, when transistors, tape recorders, portable record players, car radios and other similar devices are played in parks, beaches, trains and cafes, no performing right fee is charged. This is in a way similar to a person putting a coin in a juke box for his own personal entertainment and not for that of others who may be there at the time, lt is worth mentioning that in the United States which has an estimated 500,000 juke boxes, performing right fees have never been allowed by Congress unless a charge of admission is applicable to the premises on which a machine is operating. 1 suggest that juke boxes should be excluded from a fee unless a charge is made for admission to the place in which they are being played. If you go to an ordinary restaurant and put your coin in the juke box, this is for your own personal entertainment. The submission 1 make is that unless a charge is made for entertainment, an exemption should be granted. The type of exemption I have in mind is one stating that there is no infringement of copyright if a record is played in a public place which has as its primary purpose something other than the entertainment or amusement of the public. I think the Attorney-General understands broadly my suggestion on the matter. My submission does not appear to be unreasonable and I hope he will consider it.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) claimed that in clause 49 (3.) the right of a member of Parliament to receive copies from the Parliamentary Library had been hedged about with restrictions. I just wish to put to the House that if copying by libraries in an unrestricted fashion were allowed this would cut down the author’s rights and his return. If one adopted what has been done in other countries one would restrict it to copying only for research and private study. What we have done in this Bill is to make the right to copy wider than is done in other parts of the world, by giving a special right to the member of Parliament in the circumstances set out in clause 49.
The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) drew a comparison between putting a record on the turntable and playing it and reading a book. He said that in the one case a royalty has to be paid and in the other a royalty does not have to be paid. He said that the two cases should be equated. T point out first of all that if a person puts a record on the turntable and plays it in his own home he does not have to pay any royalty. He has to pay a royalty only if he does that as a public performance, perhaps in a cinema, to attract customers.
– You would not sell a book in Scotland.
– As far as books are concerned, there is a right to broadcast reasonable extracts, under clause 45 of the Bill. But if the whole book were broadcast there would be a right in that regard. In other words, I think the matter is covered. Another matter that was raised by the honourable member for McMillan was the provision for a compulsory licence in clause 55. He said that the difficulty was that once the composer had allowed his work to be put into record form by one manufacturer a second record manufacturer might come along and ‘muck up his work’, to use the honourable member’s words. An attempt has been made to cover that possibility in sub-clause (2.) of clause 55. If the production is a debased form of the work it is not covered by the freedom from copyright. There would be a capacity to stop a debased form. That is covered in the Bill.
The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) advanced an argument that juke boxes should be free of the payment of royalty for the playing of records. This is a nicely balanced question. The question really is whether the playing is a public performance. On the one hand, perhaps there is no charge for admission into the milk bar or wherever the juke box is situated: but, on the other hand, the juke box is used to attract custom. In that kind of situation, as with records played at a dance hall, a cinema or a general performance, it has been customary to impose a royalty. This is a matter of judgment. I would not be prepared to accept an amendment in that regard lo the terms of the Bill.
– I feel that some reply should be made to the comment made by the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). I say advisedly that his comment was the most preposterous that I have ever heard in this chamber. I am speaking of his suggestion that a royalty should be paid every time a book is read in a library. It has been said by a cynic that the calculation of profitableness is an invention of the devil to bewitch and bemuse mankind. 1 believe that the honourable members comments tonight were a perfect example of that. If he really wants to concoct for his own party a devil’s brew that will poison its political prospects, let him pursue the idea that he advanced tonight.
Let us just imagine what would happen in a public library under his dispensation. A person would go in. He would fill in an application form to read a book. After checking the form, the librarian would unlock the books - they would have to be kept in a strong room because they would become really valuable property - bring them out and then attach the adhesive royalty stamp. Then the person would be permitted to go into a cubicle to read the book. The whole matter is being reduced to the point of absurdity. The comment of the honourable member harks back to centuries ago, to the time when books were really valuable properties, to the time when they were copied by batteries of amanuenses, to the time when bibles were secured in churches by chains, to the time when any person who could prove, if accused of a crime for which his neck might be stretched, that he could read and write might claim benefit of the clergy. This was a privilege because in those days the clergy were tried by their own courts and those courts did not stain their hands with blood. I do not want to pursue the matter, but I do want to register my protest at the most preposterous and absurd proposition I have heard in the whole of my career.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 58. (1.) If at any time after the expiration of two years after the commencement of this Act it appears to the Attorney-General that the royalty, or the minimum royalty, payable in respect of records generally or in respect of records included in a particular class of records is not equitable, he may request the Copyright Tribunal to hold an inquiry into the matter and report the result of its inquiry to the Attorney-General. (4.) Where the Tribunal has made a report in relation to the royalty, or the minimum royalty, payable in respect of records included in a particular class of records (whether the report related only to records included in that class or also related to other records), the AttorneyGeneral shall not, before the expiration of five years after the report was made, request the Tribunal to hold an inquiry under this section in relation to the royalty, or the minimum royalty, as the case may be, payable in respect of records included in that class.
– I move:
In sub-clause (1.), omit ‘two years’, insert ‘one year’.
The Committee will recall that, when we were discussing the question of going before the Tribunal to review the royalty of 5% and the minimum of lc, we provided that no approach could be made for 2 years. I am now reducing the period to 1 year. This really should be of assistance to composers of music. I commend the amendment to the Committee.
-The Opposition welcomes the repentance of the Government. When we saw this provision we immediately sensed the absurdity of waiting for as long as 2 years before access could be given to the Copyright Tribunal. We are prepared not to pursue the amendment that stands in my name and to withdraw it. After examining the matter in more detail, it would be obvious that a period of at least 2 years would be required for legislation as complex as this to settle down and for the Tribunal to be appointed. We accept the amendment and withdraw the one standing in my name.
– The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), during the course of his earlier remarks, said that we had had ample time to consider the Bill. It has been on the stocks for some time. It is significant that the ample time allowed for the rest of us to consider it was not enough for the Attorney-General to be able to introduce it without having to move some amendments.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move:
In sub-clause (4.), omit ‘five’, insert ‘two’.
The purpose of the amendment is to limit the period during which a further request cannot be made to the Tribunal. I do not want to repeat the comment that I made in my earlier observations. With the pace of modern technology, the period of 5 years is particularly long and determinations could be made which would need to be reconsidered within that time. It is for that reason and not merely to be vexatious that the Opposition has proposed the amendment. With the pace of modern life and modern technology, with the development of new techniques in record production and with the increasing reliance on the broadcasting or televising of musical works, there will be a constant and real minimising of the revenue available to Australian composers. Earlier in the night I made reference to the fact that 85% of the copyright royalties that are paid go out of Australia. We have not heard from the Government of any survey which has been made to determine the amount of money which is going to various composers in Australia. The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr
Duthie) referred to a list of some 110 or US composers. It would be a highly informative and illuminating exercise if the Government were actually to investigate the royalties being paid to these people. In the main they are not getting an adequate income. There may be one or two exceptions but in the main, from the intensity of their lobbying and representations, it is very obvious that they feel they are not getting a full return for their talents and the prospects are that with the means of mass communication they will get progressively less in the future. That being so, the need becomes more urgent than ever. Also, the need for revision becomes more pressing than ever. For these reasons we press the amendment.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. At one of these inquiries before the Tribunal the parties who will be represented will no doubt include the Copyright Owners Reproduction Society Ltd, the record manufacturers, broadcasters and perhaps the composers and the Professional Musicians Union of Australia. These inquiries tend to take a fairly long time. There was one in England in 1926. An inquiry could go for a year; it could go for a longer period. At the end of that inquiry when the Tribunal makes its determination, it is in the highest degree desirable that the determination should operate for some minimum period; I suggest not less than 5 years. Otherwise one of those interests I have mentioned might be able to drag, say, the composers unwillingly before the Tribunal every 18 months until they were financially exhausted. The people making arrangements would not know how long the Tribunal’s fixing of the royalty would be in force. It ought to be in force for at least S years. We should remember that the existing royalty has been in force for SO years. I would suggest that S years is a reasonable period in all the circumstances for the award of the Tribunal to be in force.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Connor’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 59 to 152 - by leave - taken together.
– When we were dealing with the first batch of clauses I would have liked the opportunity to say something about the making of ephemeral records. Clause 107 contains provision for the making of a record embodying sound recording for purposes of broadcasting. I think all honourable members realise that there are certain procedures necessary in broadcasting and television stations. One of them is the prerecording of shows so that when they are either broadcast or televised they are presented to the public without mistakes such as those that are sometimes made during speeches in this chamber. In prerecording these shows, broadcasting and television stations sometimes find it necessary to play a record. I appreciate the fact that the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has been very generous and accepted representations made to him by the record manufacturers. It will be noted that all the representations that he has accepted have been made by the record manufacturers, not by the broadcasting stations.
– That is not correct.
– Nevertheless, the honourable gentleman has accepted a representation made by the record manufacturers that these stations should not be entitled simply to make a copy of a record. They could easily take a copy of a record on tape, retain the tape and play it as often as they like and the replaying would not be taken into account when assessing royalties payable by the station. The new provision in the Bill allows the record to be played only if it is played in conjunction with other material. Presumably in the re-broadcasting of a record or in the television presentation of it, it must be played in conjunction with other material. This provision gives limited protection to the fellow who was getting the royalty from the playing of the record. But probably the Australian Performing Right Association will have made some arrangement with the station to overcome this difficulty.
The matter I refer to particularly is the right of stations to hold a recording for 12 months, once they have been given the right to make a pre-recording, for rebroadcasting and re-televising at their convenience and with. I am sure, much greater satisfaction to the public. We know that several stations have ties with stations in other Stales. A programme broadcast or televised in one State is sent to another State for re-broadcasting or re-televising. 1 realise that this is good business, but surely it is not necessary to hold a record for 12 months. There is no reason why a radio station or television station should keep a programme which incorporates a record the subject of royalty and every month, if the station wishes, repeat that programme. I am sick to death of all the repeat programmes we have on television now. I would like to see this practice of repeating programmes reduced. This is one reason for my speaking now. It is wrong to allow a station to keep a record for 12 months. It is contrary to all the principles of copyright. I have been led to believe that one of the principles behind this Bill is that every time somebody presents something which an author has produced, that author should reap some benefit. For a station to be able to hold for 12 months a recording which it made for its convenience and to be able to put that recording on the air once a month is an outrageous denial of the rights of the man who originated the recording. I suggest that stations should not bc able to hold these ephemeral records for 12 months.
I found the report of the Spicer Committee quite fascinating. At times 1 enjoyed reading it; at other times I became sick of it. The Committee has recommended that these records should be held by stations for only 6 months. Surely 6 months is ample time in which to send a tape recording all round Australia. I submit that the rights of the author should be protected to such an extent thai if a company wants to make a pre-recording for its own convenience, it should be allowed to retain a record for only a short time.
– I thought the complaint of the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) was that most of the amendments accepted would benefit the record companies. Yet he spent practically the whole of his speech dealing with something which was for the benefit of the broadcasting companies. The honourable member thought that the provision was too much in favour of the broadcasting companies. I do not understand the consistency of the honourable member’s argument.
Under clause 107 the position is that for the first time broadcasting and television stations will have the right to use what is called an ephemeral recording. It is convenient to pre-record on video tape parts of programmes which include records. The whole of that record can be played later on. If the clause were not inserted, this would necessitate the paying of a second royalty for the same performance. That is why the use of an ephemeral recording is permitted. At the end of the year it has to be destroyed or given to the National Librarian.
It is true that the Spicer Committee referred to a period of 6 months. In New Zealand the period allowed is 6 months. However, the industry convinced the Government that in Australia as the distances were very much greater and with the great diversity of stations spread across the continent, the stations needed 12 months to be able to obtain the maximum use out of an ephemeral recording. It is unlikely that such a recording would be played again and again on one station. It becomes part of a session. A station is permitted to play the recording on a related station which it owns. However, if the station passes the recording over to a station which it does not own, it has to make some commercial arrangement and royalty has to be paid again. I think that the provision, as it stands, is a fair one.
– i draw the attention of the Committee to clauses 138 to 143, which refer to the constitution of the Copyright Tribunal. Up to date we have not heard much about this very important Tribunal. The Tribunal will have to decide how much of 1% should be paid as a royalty by the broadcasting stations. The Bill provides that the maximum royalty payable to record manufacturers should be 1% of the gross revenue of the Broadcasting station. I have no idea of the gross revenue of any broadcasting station. I have been given to understand that the cost of running a broadcasting station is very high. I presume that the revenue from advertising must run into a considerable sum. Even 1% of a lot of money is still a lot of money. The Tribunal will have to say what portion of 1% the broadcasting stations will have to pay. Obviously the broadcasting stations will not pay the full 1%. This would be unthinkable. On one previous occasion when I was provoked into speaking on this Bill, I referred to a sponsor paying to have a local football match broadcast. He would not want to be paying 1% as an additional tax on the price that was put on that particular broadcast, because no records would be played in that time. [Quorum formed.]
I was speaking about the Copyright Tribunal before that break in my speech. This Tribunal will be required to decide what proportion of the 1% will be payable. This will require a considerable amount of research. Some radio stations broadcast for 24 hours. Some of them do nothing else but play pop records. There are a few stations which spend the whole of their broadcasting time - except for the odd bit of news or the occasion when those stations might link up with something that is of fairly general importance, such as a sporting event - in playing records. So if one station spends 25% of its time playing records presumably it will pay 25% of 1% of its revenue in royalty. Another station which provides a few live shows and does attempt to provide its audience with some real entertainment might pay only 10% of 1% of its gross revenue. I am reminded by some of my friends that many stations present what are called ‘talk back’ programmes. These are programmes where people ring up to discuss matters of interest or to seek answers to questions. Is the revenue of a broadcasting company to be regarded as involving this sort of work? What does 1% of the revenue mean?
– What does it mean?
– In the long run, this is for the Tribunal to decide. This has nothing to do with any of us here tonight. Why I rose at this stage was to ask: How does it come about that the number of members of the Tribunal as proposed in the 1967 Bill, to which we gave a lot of thought and concerning which we arrived at some conclusion, has been altered in this Bill? The Tribunal under this Bill will comprise 5 members as against 3 members in the 1967 Bill. Is it anticipated that so much new business will be generated by the provisions of this Bill that 5 members instead of 3 members will be required to cope with it? Clause 140 states:
A person shall not be appointed as a member unless he is or has been -
a justice or judge of a federal court or of the Supreme Court of a State; or
a barrister or solicitor of the High Court, or of the Supreme Court of a State or of a Territory of the Commonwealth, of not less than five years’ standing.
Are enough of those people available? Are not our courts now overworked? From where are we to get the people to appoint to the Tribunal? Five members are required. As far as I can gather from the situation, every judge and just about every barrister and solicitor in Australia is flat out coping with the work he has now. Through this legislation we are to impose extra work.
Clause 143 states: (1.) A member shall be paid remuneration at such rate (if any) as the Governor-General determines, but the rate shall not be diminished during a term of office.
Is the rate to be calculated on an hourly or yearly basis, or on the basis of each case? I appreciate that later regulations will be promulgated to deal with this situation but I suggest that the Parliament should at least be given some understanding of the source of the personnel to act as members of the Tribunal and of the method by which they will be paid. What is to be the cost? Will it really be worthwhile to set up the Tribunal to decide whether one radio station is to pay 25% of 1% and another station is to pay 10% of 1%.
– And the Australian Broadcasting Commission 99% of 1%.
– I am sorry that at this very late hour one of my colleagues has referred to the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– For once in the 12 or 13 years that I have been a member of this Parliament I agree with the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). It is not his fault or mine that we are speaking at this late hour. It is the fault of the rest of the honourable members opposite who put up with this situation. If they were prepared to stand up to the Ministry this situation would not be continued. I am prepared to call for quorums and to use every facility of the House to assert my right until kingdom come, or at least until the next elections.
– 1 wish to refer first to clause 146. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) suggested that the Tribunal must seat 5 members. That is not so. A full bench may be of 2 or 3 members. It was necessary to increase the number of available members to 5 as it is possible that two full benches may be required to sit at one time. As to the reference to clause 152, the provision for 1% of gross revenue represents a ceiling. [Quorum formed.] I would like to conclude what I was saying, namely, that clause 152 provides for a ceiling to be placed on the amount which the Tribunal can award when it is approached to vary the royalty. I believe this is a fair provision.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 153 (Revision of maximum royalty payable for broadcasting published sound recordings).
– I propose to vote against this clause. It was inserted after I had circulated proposed amendments to honourable members earlier this year. The clause provides for a reference to the Tribunal to vary the ceiling. For a number of reasons it has now been decided that it is inappropriate to carry out this function by way of inquiry before the Tribunal and that it is a matter that would not arise for a very considerable period and would be better left for the Parliament to determine, if the ceiling we are speaking of were to be varied. If the clause is deleted, as I hope it will be, I shall be asking for leave of the Committee to move together later a series of further amendments consequential on the omission of clause 153, which is referred to in a number of other clauses.
– The Attorney-General has just given the Committee notice that clause 153 will be removed completely from the Bill. That clause provides that after the expiration of 5 years;-
Motion (by Mr Bowen) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Clauses 154 to 208 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 208a.
– I move:
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill: 208a. A reference in this Act to the author of a photograph shall, in relation to a photograph taken before the commencement of this Act, be read as a reference to the person who, at the time when the photograph was taken, was the owner of the material on which the photograph was taken’.
The reason for the amendment is that we are changing the law. Formerly the copyright was vested in the owner of the material on which the photograph was taken. We are now vesting the copyright in the taker of the photograph. But there are existing photographs in which copyright exists. To protect that copyright we are providing that it shall be vested in the owner of the material.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 209 to 249 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
– I seek leave to move together eight amendments consequential to the deletion of clause 153.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The amendments refer to clauses 136, 146, 152, 162, 167 and 175 which read in part -
Clause 136. (1.) In this Part, unless the contrary intention appears - party’ includes a person making representations to the Tribunal at an inquiry under section 148, or sub-section (2.) of section 153, of this Act; proceeding’,in relation to the Tribunal, includes an inquiry by the Tribunal under section 148, or sub-section (2.) of section 153, of this Act;
Clause 146. (1.) Sittings of the Tribunal shall be held at such places and times as the President determines. (2.) Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, the Tribunal shall be constituted by a single member. (3.) Where-
Clause 152. (8.) Subject to section 153 of this Act, the Tribunal shall not make an order that would require a broadcaster being the holder of a licence for a broadcasting station to pay, in respect of the broadcasting of published sound recordings during the period in relation to which the order applies, an amount exceeding one per centum of the amount determined by the Tribunal to be the gross earnings of the broadcaster during the period equal to the period in relation to which the order applies that ended on the thirtieth day of June last preceding the date of commencement of the period in relation to which the order applies. (11.) Where an application is made to the Tribunal under sub-section (2.) of this section in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Tribunal -
in respect of each complete year included in that period - the amount ascertained by multiplying one-half of One cent by the number equal to to the number of persons comprised in the estimated population of Australia as last set out in statistics published by the Commonwealth Statistician before the making of the order; and
Clause 167. (1.) The regulations may make provision for or in relation to the procedure in connexion with the making of references and applications to the Tribunal and the regulation of proceedings before the Tribunal and may prescribe the fees payable in respect of those references and applications and the fees and expenses of witnesses in those proceedings. (2.) The regulations may include provision -
Clause 175. (1.) The Tribunal may order that the costs of any proceedings before it incurred by any party, or a part of those costs, shall be paid by any other party and may tax or settle the amount of the costs to be so paid, or specify the manner in which they are to be taxed. (2.) Costs directed by the Tribunal to be paid to a party may be recovered by that party in any court of competent jurisdiction. (3.) This section does not apply in relation to an inquiry by the Tribunal under section 148, or sub-section (2.) of section 153, of this Act.
These amendments are consequential to the omission of clause 153.
Amendments agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the remaining stages being passed without delay.
- Mr Speaker, I just make my protest in the only way in which I can. The other day we were discussing the business of the House-
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 41
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 16 May (vide page 1538), on motion by Mr Bowen: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
House adjourned at 1.21 a.m. (Wednesday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Papua and New Guinea (Question No. 259)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following information:
Electoral (Question No. 174)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
These questions raise matters of constitutional and international law. I understand that it is possible that some naturalised Australian citizens could, by reason of the provisions of the law of their former countries, continue to be subjects or citizens of those countries and might then be disqualified by section 44 (i.) of the Constitution. This position could be altered only by an amendment of the Constitution or a change in the law of the other countries concerned.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
What amount of subsidy was granted for the establishment of science laboratories at each of the following State schools; Bell Park High School, Belmont High School, Corio Technical School, Geelong High School, Geelong North High School and Queenscliff High School?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth leaves it to the States to decide which schools will be assisted with the grants available for government schools under the science facilities scheme in accordance with general programmes agreed between the Commonwealth and the particular State.
The Victorian Department of Education has advised that the estimated total direct expenditure from Commonwealth funds on the construction of science laboratories at the schools listed by the honourable member over the four years to June 1968, will be:
In addition, the Commonwealth will be meeting a design, supervision and administration charge on these projects of approximately 12% of their final cost.
In addition, the laboratories at the schools have shared in the distribution made by the Victorian Department of Education to every government school which teaches secondary science of additional science teaching apparatus purchased with Commonwealth funds. In the four year period to 30 June 1968, approximately $2 million of the total grants of $8,180,000 available to the State of Victoria will have been used for the purchase of this additional apparatus. Details of the distribution to individual schools are, however, not available.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
As a preface I would like to point out that Commonwealth scholarships for tertiary studies are offered under two schemes - the Commonwealth University Scholarship Scheme and the Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship Scheme. The benefits available under each scheme are comparable.
The specific answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Both Commonwealth university and advanced education scholarships are awarded on academic merit and eligibility is not dependent on parental income. All students who win scholarships are entitled to the payment of tuition fees and certain other compulsory fees for the duration of approved courses subject to satisfactory progress.
Living allowances are also payable but these are subject to a means test. The amount of living allowance for a scholar is not assessed on the gross earnings of the parents - but is based on the adjusted family income’ which is the gross income of the parents less (a) a deduction of $300 for each dependent child under 16 years of age and each student child (other than the scholar) under 21 years of age in full-time education, (b) deductions for losses and outgoings incurred in the financial year in gaining or producing the family income and (c) deduction, on application, for heavy medical expenses.
The maximum allowances payable are $904.80 per annum for scholars living away from home and $559 per annum for scholars living at home. These allowances are paid at the maximum rate when the adjusted family income does not exceed $2,300.
As has been indicated in answer to question 1 scholarship living allowances are not determined simply on the gross income of the parents, but deductions for living allowances purposes are on a different basis from concessional deductions for taxation purposes.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Acting Minister for Primary Industry upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 June 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680604_reps_26_hor59/>.