15th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and rend prayers.
– Is the Postmaster-General in a position to say whom the broken telephone cable between the mainland and Tasmania will be restored ?
-I regret to state that I am unable to say when the cable will be restored, but I assure the honorable senator that no effort is being spared to expedite the work.
– On the 24th June Senator Brand asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following questions, upon notice - in connexion with the King’s Birthday parade of troops in Melbourne recently -
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
– On Wednesday, the 22nd June, Senator E. B. Johnston asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice -
The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
*Cootamundra-Charleville (029 miles I . - “ Twice weekly in each direction, connecting at Charleville with tho Brisbane-Singapore service. Contractor - Butler Air Transport Co.
*Cloncurry-Normanton (216 miles). - Weekly in each direction, connecting at Cloncurry with the Brisbane-Singapore service. The contractor also enters for the needs of the local “ Flying Doctor “ scheme. Contractor - Qantas Empire Airways Ltd.
*Ord River-Wyndham (154 miles). - Weekly ‘in each direction from October to - March and twice weekly April to September, connecting at Ord River with the Perth-Daly Waters service. The contractor also caters for the air transport needs of the local “ Flying Doctor “ scheme. Contractor - MacRobertsonMiller Aviation Co. Ltd.
Perth-Adelaide (1,453 miles). - Three time* weekly in each direction but the contractor is. subsidized for only two trips weekly. Contractor.- - Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Melbourne-Launceston (314 miles) - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Contractor - -Australian National Airways Pty Ltd.
** Launceston-Hobart* (04 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Contractor - Australian National Airways Pty Ltd. “Melbourne-King Island-Launceston (3!>(i miles). - Thrice weekly in each direction. Contractor - Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
*Launceston-Flinders Island (100 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Contractor - Australian ‘National Airways PtY Ltd. “Brisbane-Cracow ‘ (200 miles). - Weekly in each direction. Contractor - Aircrafts Pty Ltd.
*Rockhampton-Mount Coolon (330 miles). - Weekly in each direction. Contractor - Airlines of Australia Ltd.
*Adelaide-Whyalla (150 miles).- Twice weekly in each direction, but the contractor is subsidized by only one return trip weekly. Contractor - Commercial Aviation Co. Ltd.
*Sydney-Beya (203 miles). - Six times weekly -in each direction, but the contractor is subsidized for only two return trips weekly. Contractor - Adastra Airways Ltd.
*Perth Wiluna-Kalgoorlie (813 miles). - Once Weekly in each direction. Contractor - Airlines (W.A.) Ltd.
*Normanton Burketown (100 miles). - Once weekly in each direction. Contractor - North’ Queensland Airways Pty. Ltd.
*Sydeny-Rabaul (2,522 miles). - Weekly in each direction. Contractor - W. R. Carpenter & Co. Ltd.
Adelaide-Melbourne (410 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Adelaide-Melbourne, via Mount Gambier (473 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Melbourne-Sydney (455 miles). - Twice daily each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Adelaide-Renmark-Broken Bill (287 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Adelaide-Broken Hill-Mildura Adelaide (03d miles). - Bound trip once weekly. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Adelaide-Cowell-Port Lincoln-Adelaide ( 372 miles). - Bound trip thrice weekly. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Adelaide-Kangaroo Island (05 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Adelaide-Darwin (1,730 miles). - Weekly in each direction. Operated by Guinea Airways Ltd.
Adelaide-Sydney (via Mildura and Cootamundra) (737 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Guinea Airways Ltd.
Melbourne-Wagga-Canberra-Sydney ( 47 S miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Melbourne-Mildura (290 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
Melbourne-Hay (233 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Victorian and Interstate Airways Pty. Ltd.
Melbourne-Sydney (via Narrandera) (500 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Sundays direct. Operated by Ansett Airways -Ltd.
Melbourne-Mildura-Broken Hill (460 miles). - Daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Ansett Airways Ltd.
Melbourne-Hamilton (100 miles). - Twice daily (except Sundays) in each direction. Operated by Ansett Airways Ltd.
Sydney -Brisbane (475 miles). - Twice daily in each direction. Operated by Airlines of Australia Ltd.
Brisbane-Townsville (725 miles). - Seven times weekly each direction. Operated by Airlines of Australia Ltd.
Townsville-Cairns (174 miles). - Twice daily in each direction, once Sundays. Operated by Airlines of Australia Ltd.
Brisbane-Cairns (899 miles). - Thrice weekly in each direction. Operated by North Queensland Airways Pty. Ltd.
Cairns-Cooktown (100 miles). - Four times weekly in each direction. Operated by North Queensland Airways Pty. Ltd.
Cairs-Normanton (350 miles). - Weekly in each direction. Operated by North Queensland Airways Pty. Ltd.
Cairns-Townsville (174 miles). - -Eight times weekly in each direction. Operated by North Queensland Airways Pty. Ltd.
Brisbane-Rockhampton-Monto-Brisbane ( 7 1 ‘J miles). - Round trip once weekly. Operated by Aircrafts Pty. Ltd.
Brisbane-Kingaroy (90 miles). - Daily each direction. Aircraft Pty. Ltd.
Longreach-Charleville (267 miles). - Twice weekly in each direction. Operated by Qantas Empire Airways Ltd.
Tovynseille-Mou.nl lsa (537 miles). - Weekly in each direction. Operated by Airlines of Australia Ltd.
Cairns-Portland Roads (3S0 miles). - Fortnightly in each direction. Operated by North Queensland Airways Pty. Ltd.
W Whyalla-Iron Knob (35 miles). - Weekly each direction. MacRobertson-Miller Aviation Co. Ltd.
Adelaide-Narrandera (460 miles). - Daily each direction. Ansett Airways Ltd.
Sydney-Moree (330 miles). - Thrice weekly each direction. North Western Airlines Ltd.
The services marked * are maintained under contract to the Defence Department, the operators receiving subsidy payments at the rates per mile prescribed in their respective contracts. The operators of the other services shown above receive no fixed payments in the form of subsidy but the majority of them are used by the Postmaster-General’s Department for the conveyance of air mails and arc paid poundage rates for such conveyance.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The answer is as follows: -
Post Office - Wireless Telephone
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Has the Postmaster-General considered the request of the Flinders Island Municipal Council for the erection of a post office on FlindersIsland and also for the installation of wireless telephonic communication; and if so with what result?
– Both the matters referred to by the honorable senator are receiving consideration, but a decision has not yet been reached.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Arising out of the answers given on the 23rd June,by the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, to questions submitted by Senator Collett on the subject of the Australian Staff Corps, will the Minister now amplify the answer to question No. 4. by enumerating the existing vacancies in the establishment and also supplying reasons for those vacancies not having Been filled.
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer : -
The existing vacancies in the Australian Staff Corps are: -
Promotions to lieutenant-colonel and higher ranks is by selection and there has been no undue delay in reaching finality. Promotions to the vacancies for colonel have been approved and early gazettal can be anticipated. A recommendation is expectedat an early date from the Military Board for the filling of the vacancies in the ranks of lieutenant-colonel. The vacancies for major are of recent date and action to fill them is now in course.
Home Consumption Price
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The Government has not received a communication from the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia embodying the terms of the resolution quoted. On the general question of assistance to the wheat industry, I would refer the honorable senator to the reply given to him by my colleague, Senator MacDonald, on the 21st June, and to the statement made by the Acting Minister for Commerce in the House of Representatives on the same date (vide Hansard No. 13, page 2385).
In committee : Consideration resumed from the 25th June (vide page 2681).
Clause 163 (Disposal of surplus disclosed at valuation).
– I have already stated my general view regarding the desirability of the whole of the surplus being retained by the approved society responsible for it. Both contentions advanced by the Treasurer, Mr. Casey, in favour of this proposal are selfcontradictory. If the second argument which he used is sound, namely that it is desirable to preserve the incentive to good administration and the careful supervision of claims, it follows that that principle could not be upset when it had reached a certain point. Therefore, I regret that the idea of dividing the fund into two portions has been introduced. All honorable senators probably know that one of the difficulties experienced in regard to friendly societies is that doctors, like lawyers, do not always see alike. Different temperaments in medical men produce different results. One doctor, who is of a benevolent disposition, may decide to place a contributor on the lodge, whilst another might determine that the same person was fit enough to resume his occupation. It seems to me that this clause would open the way for slack administration if half of the fund is to be transferred to the Central Distribution Account and become part of the Health Insurance Fund and be “ pooled.” I submit that the additional benefits set out in the Fourth Schedule are so desirable as to make it important that the fund should not be whittled away unnecessarily. I am aware that the granting of these additional benefits has been recommended by Sir Walter Kinnear, but this is not the practice under the British scheme. Perhaps the Minister (Senator A. J. McLachlan) will be able to inform the committee whether this arrangement is due to an adjustment to meet supposedly Australian conditions, or whether the British system has been found to be in need of alteration. I know that this proposal is recommended by our overseas adviser, and that is chiefly what causes me to doubt my own opinion in the matter. Some of the additional benefits which will be available, and increasingly available if there are suitable surpluses, are set out in Appendix “ E “ of the report of SirWalter Kinnear, which is incorporated, I think verbatim, in the Fourth Schedule of this bill. Some of these benefits are of the highest importance. The second, the payment of sickness benefit from the first day of incapacity, seems to be desirable. The fifth provides for payments to members not allowed to attend work on account of infection. Then there is payment of the cost of medical or surgical advice or treatment, not being advice or treatment within the scope of ordinary benefits. There is also provision for dental and opthalmic treatment, and nursing. Provision is made for payments to approved hospitals in respect of the maintenance and treatment of insured persons in them, and similarly payments are to be made to convalescent homes, and later, to charitable institutions. Obviously, these desirable benefits will be available to the greatest extent when the surpluses are greatest. Therefore, it is most undesirable that, through lax administration on the part of an approved society, they should be whittled away.
– But a deficit might not be due to lax administration.
– HUGHES. - Laxity, of course, is a relative quality. It will be impossible to obtain complete uniformity, and it is very desirable that there should be a certain degree of rigidity in order to increase the additional benefits set out in the schedule. I shall not submit any amendment in this matter because that would merely waste time and produce no good result; hut I shall not refrain from clearly expressing my view that it is very unfortunate that the scheme provides for the pooling of half of the surpluses of approved societies. These bodies are mainly confined to two groups, and they will start off with equal rights. It is for them to prove whether they are efficient, and, the more efficient they show themselves to be, the more should their members benefit. Referring to hospitals, I noticed in the press this morning a suggestion that the Government intends to remove the exemption of nurses, which was provided for in the House of Representatives. I hope that effect will not be given to this intention. It appears to me quite unfair that hospitals which provide superior medical benefits for their nurses should also have to contribute to the fund for inferior benefits. Surely that is a detail which could be adjusted departmentally.
. - As the Treasurer, Mr. Casey, pointed out in the House of Representatives, this clause, which provides for a departure from the British scheme, is open to some of the criticism which the honorable senator has directed to it: but we have profited by the British experience. The Treasurer and those advising him saw that unless provision of this kind was made in the bill, what happened in Great Britain might occur in Australia. No doubt, classes of people who are less prone than others to the ills of the flesh will form themselves into societies for the purposes of this bill. In Great Britain they have done so, and the amazing surpluses which some of these societies have accumulated are causing a considerable amount of discontent between them and those less happily situated. To some extent, that may be due to more efficient administration, but we are advised that it is due to the fact that some classes are forming societies - I have one in mind, but shall not mention its name - in comparatively sheltered industries which are able to accumulate much larger surpluses than are possible to societies formed in respect of industries which show a greater ratio of sickness. In Great Britain, the approved societies keep the whole of this money, but the disparity between the benefits paid by the different societies is causing tremendous unrest and adverse criticism of the scheme.
-Will the British act be amended?
– I do not know what they propose to do in Great Britain, but our advisers, who are familiar with the working of the British scheme, are of opinion that successive valuations have shown that the richer societies are becoming richer whilst the poorer societies are becoming poorer. These disparities cause a great deal of unrest. As the underlying principle of this scheme is its national character, the object of this provision is to bring about the maximum attainable measure of equality, as if all classes of contributors were members of one society. I point out to the honorable senator, as I previously pointed out to Senator Abbott in connexion with his proposal on behalf of the Christian Science Church, that all societies will not only retain 50 per cent. of their surpluses as disclosed at valuation, but will eventually be repaid their proportion of the money pooled when those funds are distributed. Approaches have already been made by various classes of contributors with the intention of forming societies of the kind which promise to show tremendous surpluses, and it was to meet the danger in that respect that the Government inserted this provision. I know that it lends itself to criticism of the kind expressed by Senator Duncan-Hughes, but, having regard to the underlying national principle of the scheme, I suggest that the committee would be well advised to agree to this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 164 to 166 agreed to.
Clause 167 (Appointment and powers of referees).
.- I should likemore information concerning this provision, particularly as to how many referees will be appointed, . their remuneration, and whether their job will be a full-time one. What is the primary object of this provision ? Are we to infer from the words “barristers or solicitors of not less than five years’ standing “ that their remuneration will be fairly high? As to the number of referees to be appointed, is it the intention to appoint one or several in each State?
– I understand that the Attorney-General will select a panel of persons qualified, and of whom he approves, to act as referees. As they constitutea tribunal of the last resort, as it were, honorable senators will see that their services will not be called upon very frequently. They will not receive a salary,but will be paid a retainer, and will be remunerated ad hoc in respect of each reference to them. I have just been informed that under the British scheme, which is much more colossal in its incidence than this scheme will be for some considerable time, a panel of only fourteen referees has proved sufficient to cope with this work.
.- The Attorney-General, Mr. Menzies, is to nominate these referees. How will he approach them? Furthermore, are they all to be selected from one State,’ or will the practice be to select a referee in each State who is acquainted with local conditions?
– The idea in the mind of our advisers is that these referees will be distributed over the various States with possibly a larger number in the more populous States, like New South Wales and Victoria, and a lesser number in those States whore their services are likely to be least required.
– When the Government is considering the appointment of the commission, will it give consideration to the representation of women on that body?
– This clause does not deal with the appointment of the commission, but in respect of referees. I point out that as there are women barristers in Australia, the AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Menzies,will, no doubt, lake their claims into consideration in this respect.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 168 to 179 agreed to.
Clause 180- (1.) In the event of the bankruptcy of an employer or the winding up of the affairs of a company, all contributions payable by the employer or company in respect of employed contributors during the twelve months before the making of the sequestration order or the commencement of the winding up shall receive priority over other liabilities of the bankrupt or of the company except the costs of and incidental to the administration of the estate or the winding up, the proper funeral and testamentary expenses of a deceased bankrupt and the wages or salary due to any employee of the bankrupt or company.
. - This clause provides only for those bankruptcy proceedings under the Bankruptcy Act in which a sequestration order is made. In that act the word “ bankruptcy” includes any proceedings under t he act, such as deeds of arrangement, in puses in which no sequestration order is made. The word “ bankruptcy “ appearing in the clause has not the full meaning given to it in the Bankruptcy Act. In order to ensure that the clause shall not fail to achieve its purpose in regard to those bankruptcy proceedings provided in the Bankruptcy Act in respect of which no sequestration order is made, I move -
That after the word “ bankruptcy “ subclause (1 ) the words “ within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Act 1 924-1933 “’ be inserted.
That the words “ before the making of the sequestration order “ sub-clause ( 1 ) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “preceding the’ date of the bankruptcy “.
That the word “ bankrupt “, wherever occurring, sub-clause ( 1 ) , be left out with a view to insert in lien thereof the word “ employer “.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 181 agreed to.
Clause 182 (Power to take evidence on oath at statutory inquiries).
– Is there any need to provide for an affirmation as well as an oath?
– That is covered by the Acts Interpretation Act-
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 183 to 186 agreed to.
Clause 187 (Reciprocal arrangements).
– The pension and the benefits provided by national insurance vary in different parts of the Empire. Is it intended that exchange shall be taken into account, or will a man who is entitled to a pension or benefit under, say, the British act, receive the more generous pension and benefit payable under this legislation ?
– Doubtless, administrative difficulties will arise in giving effect to this clause. I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the following words in sub-clause 1, “ be treated as if they had been employment, insurance, contributions paid, benefit provided, and residence, in the other country, and whereby the benefit provided in one country shall, as nearly as practicable, be provided to persons whilst resident in the other country “. An effort will be made to get as close as possible to equality of benefits. I do not think that exchange will be taken into consideration. Under this legislation, a man who comes here from Great Britain will be entitled to greater benefits than he would receive in England. Although the cost of living is higher here, he will get greater benefits than under the scheme in operation in the Old Country. Every effort will be made to deal justly with all those persons who come under the reciprocal arrangement, but those who go from Australia to Great Britain will not be advantageously placed.
– I am afraid that the Minister has not made the position clear, in least to me, particularly that portion of sub-clause 1, which reads - . . residence in one country shall, for the purpose of all the provisions of the legislation in force in the other countries relating to that benefit, be treated as if they had been employment, insurance, contributions paid, benefit provided, and residence in tlie other country, and whereby the benefit provided in one country shall, as nearly as practicable, be provided to persons whilst in any other country.
What will be the position of a British pensioner who is entitled to 10s. weekly in England and who migrates; when in Australia, will he ‘ receive £1 ? It is not clear to me, under this clause, or under the Minister’s explanation, whether such a person will get 10s. or £1 a week. The Minister said he thought that under this clause a person entitled to benefit under the British, scheme would get, not the Australian equivalent of the British pension, which would be 12s. 6d., but £1 ; but I do not think that that is so. I should like to know definitely whether a Britisher coming to Australia would get the British rate of 10s. or the Australian rate of £1.
– A person who goes to England from Australia will be paid the English benefit, and a person coming from England to Australia will be paid the amount provided under this scheme.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 188 (Rates of wages not to be affected by contributions and benefits).
.- When speaking on the second reading of the bill the Minister promised to supply certain information on the subject-matter of this clause. Is that information now available?
– The Government desires that neither contributions nor benefits shall be taken into consideration. Originally the clause was framed in a form different from that in which it now appears. Some discussion arose during the second-reading debate concerning the constitutionality of the original clause owing to the Commonwealth’s limited power in the matter of conciliation and arbitration, but this clause embodies a power which I think the Commonwealth can exercise under its insurance and probably under its taxation powers. I could, if necessary, refer honorable senators to provisions embodying a similar principle in various legislative enactments, particularly in respect of taxation. I have no hesitation in saying that this is a power which this Parliament has the power to exercise. If a tribunal sees fit to take into consideration the contribution of ls. 6d. weekly, or whatever the employee has to pay, it is only fair that it should also take into consideration the benefits which he is to receive. The Government does not desire that either should be -taken into consideration; but it must be quite obvious to honorable senators that if only the benefits are to be taken into consideration, it is rather likely to result detrimentally to the employees. Some suggestions were made by Senator Leckie and others regarding the possible unconstitutionality of this clause, but at this stage I do not propose to say more than that the legal basis of the clause is incidental to the Commonwealth’s power to legislate with respect to taxation and insurance. Under State acts provision is made for employees and employers to make voluntary contributions, and .my opinion, which is shared by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), ia that Parliament has the power to enact even the original clause. I could cite a series of instances in which this has been done under various taxation acts passed by this Parliament. This provision has bee the subject of a long examination by the Crown law officers, and also by the Attorney-General before he left for England, and they are satisfied that this provision is within the constitutional power of the Commonwealth. One phase which calls for more than passing comment was mentioned by Senator Leckie during his second-reading speech. I refer to the direction given to State arbitration tribunals. Honorable senators are aware that it has been held by the High Court that the Commonwealth can, within its competency, enact legislation binding State tribunals in regard to industrial matters. Certain provisions of the Arbitration Act relate to State tribunals, and I could, if necessary, cite a long list, of similar instances, but the whole subject is more or less technical. The principal objective of this clause is to leave insurance in a watertight compartment, and to provide that neither contributions nor benefits shall be taken into consideration ; but that if contributions are taken into account, the benefits also shall be taken into account.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland)
– The clause introduces into our social structure an entirely new principle.
It violates a principle which has hitherto been regarded as sacred, namely, noninterference with independent tribunals. It seeks to establish a precedent which this committee should riot allow. In no other piece of Commonwealth legislation have I been able to discover a provision that dictates to such tribunals in the manner contemplated by the Government in this clause. Had it been submitted by the Opposition I would not have been surprised, because many members of the Labour party have, from time to time, openly encouraged the flouting of awards of the Arbitration Court. Hitherto this Government and its supporters have always regarded the findings of judicial tribunals as absolutely sacred. Noninterference with the findings of such bodies, has, on more than one occasion, been an issue at federal elections, and in every instance the people have, in no unmistakeable voice, declared “hands off the court “. The acceptance of this clause will be the death knell of independent wage-fixing bodies and the Arbitration Court. I have always believed in upholding the findings of such -tribunals, and I know of no reason why this clause should be accepted. It would appear that the Government lacks confidence in wagefixing authorities. If so, why does it not bring forward legislation to abolish them? The clause states clearly that if the wagefixing tribunal takes into account contributions paid under this bill, it shall take into account also the benefits derived by such contributors. I should be very glad if the Leader of the Senate could give us some information as to the cash value of benefits to a contributor who never becomes ill, and therefore makes no demand on the fund. Perhaps, also, the honorable gentleman could indicate the cash value of a week’s bout of influenza, a fortnight’s attack of lumbago, or say, a month of gout. I might even go further and suggest for inclusion in one or other of the schedules particulars of the cash value of the different ailments to which mankind is heir, and from which so many suffer.
At the present time wage - fixing tribunals base their findings on the amount necessary to maintain a worker with his wife and family in reasonable comfort. In New
South Wales the Industrial Commission, of whose activities I have an intimate knowledge, allows about 18s. a week for housing, 33s. for food, 19s. for clothing, ls. 6d. for footwear and 7s. 6d. for extras. If this clause is accepted by the committee and wage fixing tribunals give heed to its provisions in future awards, we may find 18s. allowed for housing, with an accompanying statement that as the comfort and shelter afforded to the family of a worker is worth at least 18s. a week or more, there need not be any allowance at all for housing. Then, as regards food, the allowance may be 33s. a week, but as the improved health and the comfort enjoyed will equal, if not exceed in value, the 33s. fixed, there need not be any provision for food. As for clothing, there may be an allowance of 19s. a week, but it might be argued by the tribunal that as the benefit derived from the provision of adequate clothing for purposes of protection and adornment is worth at least 19s. a week, there need be no provision for that item. Further, it might be urged that as ls. 6d. a week allowed for footwear would prevent the discomfort of corns, bunions or other foot ailments, the benefit was worth at least ls. 6d. a week, so there need be no provision for footwear. Thus there would be no guiding principle for the fixing of the basic wage for male employees. If we turn to the position of women contributors’ under this scheme and keep in mind also the principle observed by the- New South Wales Industrial Commission, which makes an allowance for lipstick and face powder, it might be held by some future wage-fixing tribunal that as the amount allowed for cosmetics would be more than offset in the majority of cases, by the enhancement of a woman’s personal appearance, no allowance for such necessities need be made.
The fundamental principle upon which wage-fixing authorities operate will he completely upset by this clause which directs them to do certain things. I could not support it because it will be impossible of application, and because also, this Parliament has no right to dictate to an independent judicial body what it shall or shall not do. I may add that the New South Wales Industrial Commission takes into account lodge dues of ls. 6d. a week and hospital contributions of 6d. a week; these are voluntary and are paid by only about 25 per cent, of the employees, yet every wage-earner gets the benefit. It is entirely wrong for the Government to say to the commission that it must not do certain things and it must do other things, and it should not be tolerated. The clause seems to be a subtle reminder that wage-fixing tribunals have been too generous. We are proud of the independent status of our arbitration and wage-fixing authorities, and there should be no interference with this wise principle in our scheme of national insurance. The Leader of the- Senate has told us that the commission will have power to do certain things. I am not :i legal man so I am unable to say; but .1. cannot see it compelling a State wagefixing tribunal to take into account the benefits derived from this scheme. .1 believe in upholding the findings of all independent judicial authorities. I believe also that as an overwhelming majority of Government supporters has always regarded the findings of these bodies as sacred and has opposed every attempt at political interference, the clause will not be’ agreed to.
– I am afraid that Senator Dein misunderstands the purpose of the clause. What it says, in effect, is that as national insurance is essential for the national welfare, the employer and the employees must pay their contributions to the fund, the balance being drawn from the Consolidated Revenue. The purpose of tlie clause is to maintain this balance.
– In one part, the clause gives wage-fixing authorities an option to take into account the contributions, but, in another part, it declares that they shall take into account the benefits derived by contributors.
– The clause leaves it open to the tribunal; it is an invitation to leave things alone.
– If so, why is it in the bill?
– As a reminder to the wage-fixing authorities that if they take into account the payment of contributions they must consider also the benefits. If the general balance is to be maintained that is as it should be. We cannot say to these judicial authorities, as Senator Collings apparently suggests, that they may take into account, in fixing the rates of salary, wages or allowances, the amount paid to this fund by contributors, but if they do so, they must ignore entirely what the contributor is getting by way of benefits. The balance struck, in the clause as it stands is just. The object is to prevent the tribunal from interfering with the scheme and preventing the carrying out of what the Government has decided shall be done, namely, that the burden shall be distributed in the manner which I have indicated, and that it shall not be shifted to the shoulders of somebody else.
– The latest statement by the Minister is a clever piece of special pleading. He now says that this clause is not an instruction to the court to take the contributions into consideration, but that,if it does, the benefits shall also be considered. I desire to know whether the converse applies; if the court considers iiic benefits derived by a contributor, is it imperative that it shall take the contributions also into consideration? The clause does not say so. Therefore, 1 assert that there is a purpose in this provision that does not appear on the surface. I have previously said that this bill is a deliberate attempt to relieve the wealthy section of the taxpayers of at least a portion of the cost of social services; and I now assert that this clause is a deliberate attempt to relieve the employing class of the payment of a portion of the basic wage which they are now bound by law to pay. Seeing that the basic wage is the minimum sum necessary to enable a wage-earner to maintain a wife and three children so that they may enjoy a standard of living commensurate with the needs of civilized society, the effect of the clause will be to reduce tens 6f thousands of wageearners to a standard of living not commensurate with those requirements. The Labour party has never been accused of interfering with the tribunals appointed to regulate wages and conditions of employment. It has merely been said, semijocularly, as by Senator Dein, that sometimes that party has flouted the arbitration laws, because occasionally industrial workers have gone on strike. The Labour party believes in arbitration, and, if this Parliament issues a semi-mandatory instruction to the court, as is provided in this clause, a dangerous weapon will be placed in the hands of those workers who might say, “ No arbitration for us ! We shall rely on our own strength, and we shall show you what we can do to improve our industrial conditions”. The Government would be wise to withdraw the clause.
– The clause contains a considerable number of words, but its effect could be expressed very shortly. “Any arbitral authority, which takes into account the payment of contributions by those persons under this act, shall also take into account the provision of benefits to those persons by this act.” I can carry the matter no further. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. Taking the ground that Senator Dein took, I think that I could argue effectively before the court that, if this clause were deleted, the insured persons would suffer rauch more than through its retention, because the accruing benefits are considerable.
– The Minister is giving his case away now.
– Does the honorable senator wish to do me an injustice? The clause contains no direction to the court compelling it to take these matters into account, but, if it does consider the contributions, it must consider also the benefits. It will always be open to the tribunal to treat the payments and benefits as a separate consideration entirely - as a scheme of social welfare that does not enter into the determination of. wages.
– I hope that the committee will accept the clause as printed, as it conforms to the basic principle of the bill. The object of the amendment is to make the scheme a non-contributory one. The
Leader of the Opposition knows quite well that this bill, which provides for cooperation on the part of the employer, the employee and the Government, is unlike any other measure on the statutebook. The benefits to be derived are set out .in the schedules, and the contributions of the persons who are to benefit are to be substantially augmented by those of the employers and the Government. The clause goes as far as ‘practicable in preserving a proper balance between the various contributors, and merely provides that if the court takes into consideration the contributions made to the fund it shall also consider the benefits derived.
– I see no reason for the inclusion of this clause. When plaints are brought before the Arbitration Court, the advocate on each side states his case, and, if the workers’ ‘representative took into consideration contributions under this scheme the employers’ representative would have an equal opportunity to draw attention to the benefits derived by contributors. Therefore, what necessity is there for directing the tribunal in this matter? It seems to me that there is an underlying motive for the introduction of this clause. Employers throughout Australia are quite able to safeguard their own interests in this matter. They engage specially trained men to represent them in court. The Government must realize that this is a taxation measure. We must also remember that it is the taxpayers’ money which the Government will pay as its share, amounting to one-third of the contributions to this fund. If that were not the case, the Government would be only too pleased to delete this clause, because so far as the work of the Arbitration Court is concerned, it is useless. My main point is that Parliament should not attempt in any .way to interfere with the work of an arbitration court. Such a tribunal is established to do certain work on behalf of the community, and should be given only those powers which are needed to enable it to carry out its responsibilities. Procedure similar to this has not been taken except in respect of the financial emergency legislation and certain legislation passed by the State parliament1: during the depression. The Government would be well advised to delete this clause, because it is bad in principle. If we agree to this clause we shall interfere with the functions of the Arbitration Courts, and I submit that on no account should we do that. If we do so, our actions will have repercussions right throughout the Commonwealth. I ask “the Minister, therefore, to delete this clause.
.- When I questioned the legality of this clause I hoped that the Minister (Senator A. J. McLachlan) would be able to reassure me that it would carry out what it purported to carry out, because after all, the underlying principle of this bill is its contributory basis, and if the legality of this clause is not guaranteed, then the contributory principle, will go by the board. As I indicated in my secondreading speech, I believe that that principle has gone by the board already. There can be no doubt that the contributions under this scheme will virtually be paid by the employers, with this qualification, however, that employees will still consider, because of the weekly deductions made from their increased basic wage, that they are paying these contributions; that thought will give to them a certain amount of satisfaction and self-respect, because they will believe that they are paying towards their own pensions. But there i3 another way of looking at this matter. The Minister seems’ to be satisfied with the legality of this clause and as a layman, I am not prepared to argue that point. However, I have it on pretty good authority, that so far as State arbitration tribunals are concerned, this provision is not worth the paper on which it is written, while so far as Federal tribunals are concerned, very grave doubt exists as to whether it can be carried out. On the point raised by honorable senators 0Dp081 te, however, it may be well to visualize proceedings in the Arbitration Court. When the employees’ advocate asks what benefits accrue to employees in respect of the payment of these contributions, the employers’ advocate will answer that the employees are -receiving certain medical and sickness benefits. The employees’ advocate, however, will immediately reply that 50 per cent, or 60 per cent. of such benefits are already made available to employees under workmen’s compensation legislation, and point out that benefits in respect of serious injuries which keep a man from his work, are already provided under arbitration awards, and are of greater value than corresponding benefits under this scheme, lt is in this direction, I suggest, that the controversy with the doctors and pharmacists and friendly societies’ dispensaries has been rather overlooked. In every State under workers’ compensation legislation, a certain amount is paid in respect of medical assistance to a worker who is injured. So far as I remember, the amount set aside for this purpose i3 £100 in Western Australia, £50 in NewSouth Wales, and £10 in Victoria and South Australia. In the two last-named States, I believe that the amount is to be increased to £25. Thus, the medical doctor would have first call on these sums, to their full extent, in respect of any injured worker included on his panel under the scheme. In Western Australia, for instance, such a medical officer would have first call on an amount of £100, and the employees’ advocate on the Arbitration Court in that State might easily argue that the employees would get no benefit at all as a result of paying contributions under this scheme. He might contend, for instance, that apart from this scheme altogether, the benefits in respect of medical assistance, sickness or serious injury such as the loss of- a limb, were already provided by the employer under workers’ compensation legislation. In these circumstances, I am a little dubious about the effectiveness of this particular clause, because there must be a certain amount of duplication. Furthermore, under workmen’s compensation legislation, the widow of a nian killed at his work is entitled, in most States, to receive a payment of £S50. Under this scheme she will be entitled also to receive the widow’s pension. I am not complaining of that. I am anxious that this clause should be retained, although I doubt very much its worth, and whether the legal advice to which the Minister has referred will stand the test in a court of law.
– This provision is neither helpful nor harmful.
– As I said in my second-reading speech, it is more of a pious hope than anything else. Nevertheless, I should like to see the clause retained, because I wish to retain the contributory principle, which, I believe, will add to the sentimental value of the scheme in the opinion of the workers. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) in his second-reading speech, said that the employee would pay considerably under this scheme, whereas the general taxpayer would pay nothing.
– I said that the employee, as the general taxpayer, would pay the lot. ‘
– The proposition I put up is that ultimately, after the first year or so at any rate, as a result of these contributions being added to the basic wage, the employers will pay the lot. Consequently, the employers will endeavour - and in most cases will succeed in doing so - to pass on this added cost in the form of increased prices of commodities, with the result that, in the last resort, the general public will pay. But the workers themselves will not be paying these contributions because wages are based on the cost of living, and as the cost of living goes up any increase of the price of commodities will be immediately reflected in the basic wage. Consequently, the employee will not suffer any disadvantage under this scheme whatever. Instead of being called upon to pay everything, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, employees will be paying nothing, whereas the employers and the general taxpayers will be paying the lot.
– If the fears entertained by those who desire an amendment of this particular clause are well founded we should pause before we accept the clause in its present form. But are such fears well founded? The first objection raised was that this provision represented something new in the legislation of this country. If that is a. valid argument, we must remember that this measure as a whole is equally new and if the clause is to be rejected on such grounds, then by parity of reasoning, the whole measure must be rejected. I am sure that honorable senators who advanced that argument would not go so far as that. As to the danger of dictating to our tribunals, I point out that all of us are proud to think that, despite all the imaginary blots on the British constitutional system of government, there is no brighter feature than the impartiality of the judiciary; we know that our courts are absolutely beyond extraneous influences and will, without exception, found their verdicts on the evidence before them, regardless of any other considerations. Of course some people hold this notion and that notion about the British system, but one needs only to study it for a moment to appreciate how well-founded is the belief that a greater measure of justice is dispensed under it than under any other system. On this point I recall a Western Australian case in which an unfavourable opinion of the judicial system was reversed very quickly. It was a case in -which the mine-owners claimed certain ore that was said to be due to the tribu tors, that is, the miners, and the case was carried, on appeal, to the High Court, whence it went to the Privy Council. The tributors concerned held the opinion that approach to the Privy Council was useless. They said, “No, we will get no justice from the Privy Council; it is only a rich man’s tribunal. If we proceed to the Privy Council we shall be wasting our money.” However, the verdict of the Privy Council was in favour of the tributors. who, in their joy on hearing it, rolled out barrels of beer and toasted high and loudly that the Privy Council was the best and fairest court in the world.
From the remarks of certain honorable senators, one would be led to believe that our tribunals in the future will work only in one direction, like a circular saw, but I assure them that, as has been invariably demonstrated in the past, they will continue to work both ways like a weaver’s shuttle. They may be depended upon to dispense evenhanded justice. As to the effect of this particular clause, I ask honorable senators to conjecture what would happen if such a provision were not inserted in this measure? In case of dispute the evergreen problem, like a ghost that can. never be laid, would arise before the court. What was the intention of Parliament? Even in this legislature we are repeatedly obliged to refer to the Constitution in an endeavour to find out what was in the minds of the framers of the Constitution. Such instances have arisen time and again in the past, and, unfortunately will be repeated in the future. In days to come, when the present Leader of the Opposition will no longer be remembered as Senator Collings, but. as Sir Joseph Collings, or, better still, perhaps, Lord Collings, inquiry may be made to ascertain what he said when this bill was before the Senate. In that event, it may be found that the honorable gentleman said that the contributions in the first place were so outrageous that they should not be charged at all, or if they were charged, that they should be added to the wages. We should make the intention of Parliament clear and unmistakable. What is that intention?
– To rob the workers.
– I again remind the honorable senator of the experience of the miners at Kalgoorlie, and of the Privy Council decision in their favour. The intention of Parliament is that the system of national insurance shall rest on three legs - one, contributions by th;? wage-earners; two, contributions by the industries; and three, contributions by the general taxpayers of this country. If poise between those sections of the community is to be maintained, we cannot do better than legislate that the wageearners, as such, must accept the responsibility of supporting one leg, and thai industry must do the same in respect of another leg. Unless we do that, we shall act in a slip-shod and faulty manner. Senator Collings would say that industry should maintain two legs, but I maintain that industry is already heavily burdened and should not be called upon to bear the responsibility of supporting a second leg. Industry, like a ship, will sink if overburdened. We must strive for poise. If one element is taken into consideration, other elements also must be considered. Let us first have equality; liberty and fraternity can follow later.
– There can be no equality as between the lion and the lamb.
– Notwithstanding Senator Lynch’s fervent advocacy of equality, I maintain that this measure does not embody that principle, because those persons of the community who live on interest are not being called upon to contribute towards a scheme of national health and pensions insurance. The honorable senator spoke of the intention of Parliament in regard to this bill, but if, in the future, an attempt were made to ascertain that intention, those who made it would be confronted with something worse than a Chinese puzzle. Under this clause, we throw upon the court the onus of saying what benefits are given by this legislation for certain payments made. Is it right that this Parliament should throw the responsibility on the court? In this chamber there are three political parties. There is a difference of opinion between the United Australia party - a party which is neither united nor Australian - and the Labour party in respect of the benefits of this legislation. The United Australia party with its “ trailer “, the Country party, claims that the benefits far outweigh the payments. Some honorable senators opposite go so far as to say that the benefits will be three or four times as great as the payments. If that be so, for a payment of ls. 6d. a week, benefits amounting to 5s. or 6s. a week will accrue. Should the court accept that figure as the intention of Parliament, wages will be reduced by an equivalent amount. That is a logical argument.
– It certainly is the intention of the Government.
– Should the benefits be deemed to outweigh the payments, it will be mandatory on the court to reduce wages; but should the payments and the benefits balance each other, no adjustment would be necessary, in which event there would be no need for this provision. I cannot see in this clause that equality and poise referred to by Senator Lynch. If, as that honorable senator claimed, the benefits will far outweigh the payments, . this clause directs the court to reduce the wages of the workers in this country. If that be not the intention, there is no need for the clause. The statute-book is already overloaded with unnecessary provisions; there is no need to pass additional useless legislation. Hitherto, the Arbitration Court has not been instructed to take this and that benefit into consideration when fixing wages. It has not, for instance, been instructed to have regard to the benefits of friendly society membership. So far as I am aware, there is no legislative direction to the court to take into consideration the benefits accruing to members of trade unions from their payments. I can imagine the arguments that would arise in the court if a provision of this nature were contained in legislation. Union advocates would indulge in long dissertations on the value of union membership, whilst their opponents, particularly if supporters of the Country party, would stress the troubles arising from union action.
– With this clause in the bill the benefits given with one hand will be taken away with the other.
– The clause loses sight of the time lag. If an additional burden is placed on the shoulders of the workers by reason of the imposition of a further tax, in due course an application will be made to the court for increased wages, in order to maintain the existing standards of living. But, whilst prices go up by the lift, wages climb by the stairs. The workers suffer because of the time lag between the raising of prices and the increasing of wages. In this case, the workers will suffer greatly because many millions of pounds, which otherwise would be expended in obtaining the necessaries of life, will be taken from them and used to buy drugs or to pay doctors.
– Is there not sometimes a time lag in the opposite direction ?
– Wages go up by the stairs when prices rise by the lift, but, especially in times of depression, wages fall by the lift while prices come clown the stairs.
– The honorable senator contends that the elevator goes down ?
– The community is divided into sections with clashing interests. On the other side of the chamber are men who desire to place the whole burden on the backs of the toilers. That is their intention in this measure. Honorable senators opposite believe that it will be possible to convince the judges that the benefits of this legislation far outweigh the contributions, and they look for a reduction of wages as the result. The clause is unnecessary, and should be omitted from the bill.
– I am not satisfied with the explanation given by the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan). In my opinion the proposed instruction to the court is unjust. I ask honorable senators to visualize the outcry that would take place if a Labour government instructed the Arbitration Court to take certain contributions into account when fixing the basic wage. I am not sure of the actuarial position, but I should probably not be far wrong in assuming that, whereas 10 per cent. of the people will derive some benefit from this legislation, 90 per cent. of them will suffer a reduction of their wages if this clause be agreed to. No government has any right to dictate to the court. It is wrong to legislate that the court must, when fixing the basic wage, take into consideration the benefits accruing from this legislation.
– I am not satisfied with the explanation of the Minister and of those who have supported him in this discussion. So far as I can judge, it will be impossible for any tribunal to assess a sickness benefit. A man might be in receipt of a wage of £4 a week. Should he become sick and lose his pay it would not be right to regard as a benefit the 30s. a week paid to him. In my opinion, it is impossible to assess the benefit under this act. What benefit will a worker get if he contributes1s. 6d. a week for 40 years, and derives not a farthing from the fund? That will happen in many thousands of cases.
– The court may say that there are no benefits, in which event the wage will not be affected.
– If that can happen, the clause means nothing; it is merely an interference with what should be an impartial tribunal.
– Another court might regard it as a benefit.
– Arbitration courts, which have been constituted to determine rates of wages of employees and the conditions under which they shall work, do not need directions from this Parliament. If Parliament had not intended to leave their judgment unfettered, it would not have delegated authority to them. Senator Lynch has asked what Parliament intends. Parliament intends, as it did when arbitration tribunals were first established, that they shall give decisions in accordance with their assessment of the evidence. I have always advocated the independence of the courts, and I shall resist every attempt made to interfere with that principle, particularly under a bill providing a scheme of national insurance. Senator Leckic said that the employers will pay, but that they will eventually pass on the cost to the consumer.
– How can the cost be passed on by primary producers who have to accept world’s parity?
– I am speaking generally. The cost will be passed on where that is possible. I do not propose to support this provision which embodies an attempt to rob the courts of their independence, by dictating to them as to what they shall and shall not do.
– When this bill becomes an act Parliament will have imposed upon certain classes of the community a measure of taxation for a specific purpose, and I have yet to learn that we should not do all we can to prevent the incidence of such taxes from being avoided. When a burden is imposed on a person it is intended that it shall be borne by him and not by someone else. Parliament has the power to say who shall pay this tax, and also the power to say that it shall be borne by the person on whom it is imposed. The contributions provided for in this bill are taxes. The Parliament has the power to say that the person liable to pay the contribution or tax shall not be relieved of that contribution or tax, and that if the contribution or tax be taken into account in fixing the rate of wages the benefits shall also be taken into account.
– The Government provides benefits under this bill and proposes that they be taken away under arbitration legislation.
– Under this bill benefits are provided for which contributors pay. The Government taxes the employees and also the employers, and it. is unjust to remove the incidence of that tax from the shoulders of either the employee or the employer. Each should pay his contribution, and all that has been provided is that if, in fixing wages, a tribunal takes into consideration the amount of the burden upon the employee, it shall also take into consideration the benefit which he receives.
– That would be all right if the benefits balanced the contributions, but the Minister said that they exceed them.
– I believe that they do.. Honorable senators opposite say that the bill does not provide any benefits at all, and that the measure is of no advantage to employees.
– I did not say that. I said that the Government proposes to make a profit out of the scheme.
– The members of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, and also in this chamber, referred to the lack of benefits which the scheme provides. A judicial tribunal should be the testing authority and if the contributions paid are assessed, the benefits received should also be assessed. If employees will not receive any benefit under this scheme they have nothing to fear from this clause, but in an endeavour to be fair, the Government has provided that if the courts are to place the burden of the tax upon the shoulders of some one else, they should, as an act of justice, also take into consideration the benefits. If the courts consider that there is no necessity for them to take these factors into consideration they need not do so.
– Then why not delete the clause?
– On previous occasions voluntary contributions have been considered, but the benefits provided have been disregarded. Some contributors may not derive any benefit at all. They may never become ill, but they will have the benefit of a pension. Throughout their contribution period they will be covered. I am informed that in each year approximately 40 per cent. of insured persons will benefit under the health scheme alone. Payments made in respect of workmen’s compensation vary according to the trade or calling of the claimant, but on the average the value of such payments is only about 20 per cent. of the value of the sickness and medical benefits under this scheme. In addition to the provision made under other Commonwealth and State laws, employees will get the benefit provided under this bill. The clause is designed to be fair to all parties.
Question put -
That the clause standas printed.
The committee divided. (Chairman. - Senator Sampson.)
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 189 to 191 agreed to.
The First Schedule.
Part II. (Excepted employment).
– I shall be obliged if the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) can inform me of the position of Commonwealth Public Servants. Their payments in respect of superannuation give them some, but not all, of the benefits provided by this scheme. For instance, they do not get medical benefits, but they do get sick leave. Oan the Minister state whether they will be eligible for some of the benefits under this scheme-, if they will, what procedure should they adopt?
– Commonwealth public servants .who make payments to the superannuation fund are in a better position than contributors will be under this scheme.. I have had occasion recently to look into this matter.
– If they wish to insure for certain only of the benefits given under this scheme, what should they do?
– My information is that if the bill allowed them to become insured for full benefits they would be required to contribute for the whole of the benefits.
– What is the position of bank employees?
– Only those schemes which are statutory .in character, that is to say, which carry some form of government guarantee, and in respect of which the commission is satisfied that the employees are covered and the . benefits are not less favorable than’ they would get under this scheme, will be exempted.
I move -
That paragraph (c) be left out.
This paragraph was inserted in the House of Representatives as the result, I believe, of a misunderstanding. It is. restricted to health benefits provided by the employer, and would exempt from the provisions of the bill, employees who have no guarantee of continuous employment and for whose benefits there is no government guarantee. If this paragraph were retained, a nurse leaving a hospital would have no acquired rights to health insurance benefits and would have to start afresh to acquire the qualifica tions necessary for those benefits under the bill. The employees therefore would be very seriously prejudiced. The insertion of the paragraph was probably prompted by the fact that hospital employees get medical treatment from the hospital medical staff. There is no reason why the hospital doctor should not become the insurance doctor for the staff and be paid the ordinary capitation fee for his services. The argument, as I understand it, used in the House of Representatives, was that as many hospitals are ‘maintained more or less by public subscriptions the honorary physicians and surgeons give free medical treatment to the nursing staff.
– That is the custom also in private hospitals which receive no assistance from the general public.
– That is so. The practice in all hospitals is for the medical officers to give free treatment to nurses, and the hospital makes no charge for drugs and medicines. This rule has general application. A doctor does not make a charge for attending a fellow-member of his profession and lawyers make no charge for services rendered to other lawyers. But these are merely reciprocal acts of courtesy or grace. In any case, employees do not remain in hospitals for all their working lives. Nurses, for instance, leave the hospitals and take private cases. If this paragraph be retained in the bill, nurses, when they leave the hospital, will be deprived of sickness benefit; they will, also be deprived of the right to a pension. The capitation fee in respect of nurses could be given by the doctors to the hospital, and the cost of medicines and drugs could be paid to the institution’s dispensary, which at present supplies them free of charge. At present hospitals get nothing. The paragraph may place the commission in the invidious position of exempting one institution and nol another. It should be struck out.
– Is it not mandatory for the commission to exempt hospitals if it is satisfied that the health insurance benefits given to nurses under the existing practice are, on the whole, not less favorable than they would be under the scheme?
-That is so the paragraph provides for a complete exemption.
SenatorCOLLINGS (Queensland) [4.54]. - I am unable to accept the suggestion that this exemption was made by the House of Representatives under a misapprehension. Some hospitals have asked tobe excluded from the scope of this measure, because they already provide a considerable proportion of the benefits to be given under the bill. The measure provides that, in such cases, the insured persons may receive other benefits under certain conditions. The Opposition asks that the hospitals be relieved of contributions in respect of medical benefits which they already provide for their employees. Sub-clause 2 of clause 24 provides - (2.) Where the commissionhas issued a certificate under paragraph (b) of PartII. of the first schedule certifying that, under the terms of any employment specified in that paragraph, persons engaged in that employment are entitled to benefits on the whole not less favorable than either of the following classes of benefits provided by this act: -
In many instances, hospitals have great difficulty in obtaining the funds they require, because, in most of the States, these institutions are not all virtually under government control, as they are mostly in Queensland.
. -Paragraph c was inserted by the House of Representatives by a majority of two votes, and the Government now desires to eliminate it for the purpose of giving nurses, as a class, the benefits of this legislation.
– They are receiving medical benefits at the present time.
– They do receive certain benefits, but, if hospitals generally were exempt from the provisions of the bill, nurses would be in a less favorable position than if they were brought within the ambit of the scheme. When a nurse leaves the service of a hospital and engages in private nursing, she may or may not be assured of medical or other benefits; but, if she becomes a contributor to this bill, she will enjoy continuity of insurance. The exemption of hospitals would result in a large number of nurses being without adequate insurance. I understand that paragraph c was agreed to in the House of Representatives at a late hour, shortly before an adjournment, when honorable members were practically exhausted.
– But it was debated at considerable length.
– That may be so, but I doubt whether the House of Representatives carefully considered the implications of the amendment. The Government merely desires to eliminate a provision which it considers was inserted under a misunderstanding.
Question put -
That the amendment (Senator A.J. McLachlan’s ) be agreed to.
The committee divided. ( Chairman - Senator Sampson. )
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That paragraph (c) (i) be amended by leaving out the words “Sixty-five” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ fifteen “.
When I spoke on this matter previously I indicated that it was my intention to move for an amendment in this direction. I have no expectation that it will be carried, but I take this opportunity to express some views which are of interest to people outside this chamber, even if they are not of interest to honorable senators. The amount of £315 is approximately the English figure; that is to say, the English income limit of £250, with exchange added, works out at £312 10s. As I said in my second-reading speech, I do not think that Australia is so much wealthier than the Old Country that it can afford to fix an income limit so much higher than that under the British scheme. Another reason for my proposal is that, since this measure has been under consideration by Parliament, a feeling has been brought into play which was not indicated, and which, in part at any rate, was probably not the intention of the Government, namely, a direct attack upon, and an attempt to coerce, not only the medical profession, but also the insurance companies, which have now been debarred from coming into the scheme at all. If the income limit is fixed at £3(55, not only will doctors lose increasing numbers of their present and prospective private patients, but also insurance companies will be affected similarly in their business, particularly in respect of industrial insurance policies. These are two good reasons, I submit, why the income limit of £365 should he reduced. Medical practitioners in South Australia, particularly in country districts, view this measure as an absolute menace to their interests. I have been told quite clearly, and not by irresponsible doctors either, that the more country doctors study this scheme the more they are convinced that for some of them, at least, it means absolute bankruptcy. The reasons for their fears are not hard to find. Medical men are obliged to go through years of training in order to qualify as practitioners, and their standard of living is not so cheap as that of some other sections of the community. In most cases they buy their practices, and, in some instances, I imagine, are obliged to borrow money in order to do so. If the income limit be fixed at £365 a year, many country doctors will not be able to find an adequate number of patients in their neighbourhood to enable them to make their practice pay. Assuming that even 750 people are available to be placed on a doctor’s panel what sort of an income will he be able to” earn1 out of that number? I am assured that the fears of doctors in this respect are deep-seated, and it is held by the chief officers of the British Medical Association in South Australia that if the income limit be fixed at £365 many doctors will be obliged to throw up their practices, or go bankrupt. Is it a fair thing to take from them their right of private practice and of charging an adequate fee to people who can afford to pay? That is the point involved in my amendment. A case put to me is that of a son of a well-to-do country man’, working for his father and receiving an allowance of £100 a year and keep. Because that young nian is employed he will automatically qualify for medical treatment under the capitation fee of Ils., although his parents may be perfectly well able ‘to pay for proper medical treatment for him. The question as to whether such a man may be prepared to go outside and pay for special medical treatment does not arise because ho is forced to contribute in respect of medical treatment under this scheme.
– Docs not the honorable senator think that the royal commission will take that aspect into consideration?”
– HUGHES.- Is that not- all the more reason for my saying now what I have got to say on this matter, although I have no doubt that the case of the doctors will be better presented to the commission by the doctors themselves. In view of the committee’!! decision on Saturday to exclude insurance companies from this scheme, I cannot hope that it will now decide, by adopting my amendment, to enable such companies to secure new business or, indeed, even to .retain their present business. To me, however, it seems unreasonable, to say the least, to make the income limit so. high, thus not only bringing this scheme into competition with the insurance companies but also taking away from them what might.be legitimately regarded a? their fair field. Our opinions may differ as to what is a fair field in this respect. As the figure I suggest is approximately the equivalent of the English income limit, it is, I submit, reasonable.
The other night a discussion arose bebetween the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and myself as to why the income limit was fixed at £365. When several honorable senators and I asked how that figure had been reached, the Minister replied, “ I am informed that that is the figure stipulated in the majority of the agreements between the friendly societies and the British Medical. Association “.I do not remember the Minister using the word “ majority” I thought he said “ in the agreements”.
– The word “ majority “ appears on my notes.
– HUGHES.- My information is that that figure is the maximum figure, and that the average figure is not nearly so high. That matter was again referred to subsequently, when I took the opportunity to refer to more than one source in order to check this figure. I find that under the law of New South Wales, the income is not to exceed £260 a year and continues up to £364. In Victoria, however, a different set of factors comes into play, a different maximum being fixed according to whether a. man is single or married, and whether or not he has dependants. Furthermore, in that State, the income can be calculated either for the previous twelve months, or averaged over the previous three years, the limit allowed in respect of a single man or widower without dependants being £260, and in respect of a single man or a widower with one dependant £312, an additional £26 a year being allowed in respect of each additional dependant. A married man with a wife and no dependant is allowed £312, an additional £26 again being allowed for each dependant. I point out that the income limit of £365 under this scheme applies only in respect of non-manual workers, whereas no limit whatever is provided in respect of manual workers. However, this figure applies to all non-manual workers, whether they be single or married, or have or have not dependants, whereas in Victoria different maxima are prescribed in respect of single and married persons, and persons with or without dependants. In South Australia the maximum limit is £364, but under that system only picked lives are accepted. That is, I submit, a very important qualification, particularly when we recall that one of the arguments advanced in support of the present scheme is that it makes no distinction in that respect. The authority for my statement of the position in South Australia is the president of the British Medical Association in that State. In view of these facts, I suggest that if the Minister gives this matter more careful consideration, he will find that £365 is not a fair limit, taking into account the relevant conditions as compared with those prescribed in existing agreements between the friendly societies and the British Medical Associationin the various States, and particularly in view of the fact that under this scheme an income limit is applied in respect of nonmanual workers only. I have here copies of lodge agreements which set out the position of persons joining lodges after a certain date. I should like to know what is the position of persons who joined lodges in New South Wales before the 1st January, 1914, or Victorian lodges before the 1st March, 1920. The Minister should have the information in his possession. I am glad to have had the chance to say a few words on behalf of the doctors. This is a subject which I do not think has been adequately discussed.
– In New South Wales, although the income at entry may not exceed £260 per annum, subsequent increases to £364 are permissible. The honorable senator took a point, quite fairly, in respect of Victoria, but he overlooked the fact - or perhaps, he was not aware of it - that negotiations are now proceeding to make the conditions in Victoria similar to those in New South Wales.
– I was not aware of that.
– In Queensland, the income limit at entry is £312, but it may be increased to £416 per annum. The honorable senator knows the position in South Australia. In Western Australia the income in respect of a single person, is £312, but a single person with dependants, or a married person may join if his income is under £400. Subsequent increases up to £500 per annum are permissible.
– In how many cases, apart from South Australia, are they picked lives? That makes a great difference.
– I am not in a position at the moment to give that information.We may take it that the members of friendly societies are picked lives, and it may bo that many of the 1,450,000 persons who are not members of friendly societies but will come within the scope of this measure, are picked lives also. On the basis of the 1933 census”, and after making the necessary adjustments for subsequent increases of wages, it is estimated that about 90 per cent. of maleswithin the wageearning group receive less than £260 per annum. Of the remaining 10 per cent. probably one-half receive between £260 and £364 per annum, the other 5 per cent. being in receipt of more than £364 per annum. Only about 1½ per cent. of the female wage-earners receive more than £260 per annum and very few receive more than £364 a year. Those 1,450,000 persons consist of approximately 1,000,000 males and 450,000 females. From the percentages stated it will be seen that only about 50,000 males and 7,000 females, making a total of 57,000 persons, or about 4 per cent. of the 1,450,000 insured persons, come within the income group of from £260 to £364 per annum. The income which the medical profession generally throughout Australia would receive, as private fees, from this small group, would be comparatively small. I think that the medical profession is unduly apprehensive in this matter. One does not generally discuss matters which come under one’s notice professionally but for many years, in the practice of my profession as a solicitor with a considerable country connexion, I had to prepare the income tax returns for many country clients, including doctors. On many occasions difficulties arose in regard to outstanding debts due to the doctors. The taxation authorities required them to show definitely the debts which had been written off. To the credit of the medical profession, I can say that in hundreds of instances debts were written off.I do not think that the doctors will suffer to the extent that they imagine, because under a scheme of national insurance the amount of their bad debts will not beso great.
The Medical Journal of Australia of the 6th November, 1937, some months before the British Medical Association was approached in regard to this legislation, contained a report of the annual meeting of delegates of the affiliated local associations of members with the council of the New SouthWales branch of the British Medical Association. The conference lasted for several days, during which the delegates discussed the effects of the introduction of a national health insurance scheme. It was suggested that the income limit of insured persons should bo fixed at £365 per annum. A general discussion followed, and eventually the meeting resolved that the income limit should be fixed at that amount.
– That was only one State.
– The general rules of the Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity provide for a similar income limit.
– Does the Minister realize that the maximum rate fixed by friendly societies is in this bill being applied to single men without dependants ?
– That fact may be open to criticism. I suggest that the amount be left at the sum of £365 per annum decided upon by the New South Wales branch of the British Medical Association and by other societies. Of the 1,850,000 persons who will be affected by this scheme of national insurance, only 700,000 arc married. That leaves over 1,100,000 other persons not affected by the point raised. I ask the committee to reject the amendment.
First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Rates of benefit payable under this act -
Sickness Benefit -
Disablement Benefit -
Adults and Married Minors -
Unmarried Minors -
Females - 10s. per week.
– I move -
That after the word “ Minors”, paragraph 1, subparagraph (c), the words “ (not being juvenile contributors) “ be inserted.
The purpose of the amendment is to avoid overlapping with juvenile contributors referred to in paragraph d.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add at the end of paragraph 2 the following paragraph: -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this and the following paragraphs an unmarried minor who is found by the commission to have one person or more persons dependent upon him shall be paid at the same rate as a married minor.
The object of the request is to ensure that an unmarried minor who has to support dependent relatives shall receive the same benefit as a married minor, who if a male, shall receive 15s. a week, and if a female, 12s.6d. a week, instead of 12s. and 10s. a week respectively. The benefit to be paid to an unmarried minor with dependants should be equal to that of a married minor.
– If the amendment were agreed to the approved societies would encounter numerous difficulties in respect of dependants, and disputes which we have endeavoured to avoid would arise. No provision has been made in the calculations for dependants of the type mentioned. A similar provision is not embodied in the British act, and as its adoption would cause tremendous administrative difficulties,I ask the honorable senator not to press the request.
– If the Minister would say straight out that the Government is not prepared to extend the benefits because that would mean increasing the contributions from Consolidated Revenue we would know where we stand; but when he says that the difficulties of administration would be tremendous if the fund had to pay an unmarried minor with dependants a slightly increased rate, I am not at all impressed. The bill provides that certain benefits shall be paid to married minors, whose dependants will benefit, but surely there is no difference betweena married minor who has children to support, and an unmarried minor who has an invalid father or a widowed mother.
– If the husband had been insured the widow would get a widow’s pension.
– Even if the mother is in receipt of a widow’s pension, the unmarried minor with dependants should be entitled to the benefit paid to a married minor. There is no justification for a difference of 3s. a week in the case of males and 2s. 6d. a week in the case of females. If an unmarried male minor is supporting his father or mother, he should not be penalized by 3s. a week.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with the request moved by Senator Ashley. I know a family, which will not receive any benefit under this bill, consisting of a mother, a lad of 17, a sister 13 and another boy aged 10. The lad of 17, who is the breadwinner, has three entirely dependent upon his earnings, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that the fund should provide him with an additional 3s. weekly to assist him to meet his responsibilities. The mother will not receive a widow’s pension, as the Minister suggests, because her husband could not have been a contributor. There would be a good deal of difficulty in administering such a provision, but the injustice should not be allowed to remain. The approved societies would be quite capable of handling such cases and the onus of proof would be uponthe minor. If an unmarried minor has responsibilities equal to those of a married minor he should be entitled to the same rate. In these circumstances I feel inclined to support the request.
– Provision is not made in any other part of the bill for brothers and sisters to be regarded as dependants, and an attempt is now being made in a subtle way to introduce a new principle. I sympathize with those who will be placed in an unfortunate position, but as the balance of the scheme has to be preserved it is impracticable to accept the honorable senator’s request. The point will not be overlooked, and should the necessity arise the matter will be further considered.
– As an unmarried minor has to pay the same contribution as a married minor and if he has responsibilities equal to those of a married male minor it is unreasonable to pay to him a weekly benefit 3s. less than that paid to the married male minor. The young man referred to by Senator Dein, who is the mainstay of the home, should get 3s. a week more than he will under the bill. It is grossly unjust to deny him that benefit, and I urge the Government to accept the request moved by Senator Ashley, particularly as we have been reminded from time to time that the Government is anxious to treat all contributors fairly. This is a glaring instance of differentiation and I trust the committee will support the request.
Question put -
That the request (Senator Ashley’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Sampson.)
Majority . . ..10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment: - Leave out paragraph 5 and insert the following new paragraph: -
Orphan’s pension - Only child, 10s. per week; other orphan, 7s. 6d. per week.”
The allowance proposed is 7s. 6d. a week for one orphan. There may be more than one orphan in a family, and my request discriminates between the amount to be paid for one and other orphans. It is also my intention to move a request to liberalize the proposed allowance of 3s. 6d. a week for dependent children. If a widow is left with more than one dependent child, she is in greater need of financial assistance. It is impossible to rear a child for 3s. 6d. a week; that amount is not sufficient for food alone, to say nothing of clothing and other necessaries.
– The request submitted by Senator Cunningham would appear, at first sight, to be harmless. In the initial stages of the scheme, the . cost in respect of dependent children will not be very heavy ; but the actuaries state that it will be a rapidly increasing liability. In a few years it will amount to £118,000 a year, rising to approximately £500,000 40 years hence.I regret that I cannot accept the request.
Question put -
That the request (Senator Cunningham’s amendment) be agreed to.
The committee divided.
Majority .. ..33
Question so resolved in the negative. Request (by Senator Cunningham) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment: - Leave out paragraph6 and insert the following paragraph: - “6. Dependentchild’s allowance - Dependent only child whose father is dead, 7s. 6d. per week; other dependent fatherless child, 5s. per week; any other dependent child, 3s.6d. per week.”
– I do not want the vote to be taken on this request without having the position made perfectly clear. What is it that we are asking shall be done? We are asking that a widow with three fatherless children shall be paid 16s. a week in respect of those children.’ The fact that she will get the widow’s pension is beside the point. In this bill the Government is making a contract to do something for fatherless children. The request moved by Senator Cunningham seeks to increase the amountof child allowance to 16s. a week, compared with the paltry amount of 3s. 6d. a week for each child in this schedule. It might be argued that the mother could go out to work. Her health might permit of that, but what chance would a woman have to obtain suitable employment, and earn sufficient to keep herself and her children? If she could obtain employment, who would care for the children? Honorable senators are now afforded an opportunity to show that they are not devoid of the milk of human kindness. They should not consider actuarial objections, or the burden on the Consolidated Revenue; the Opposition merely asks for an amendment which would commit the nation to the provision of 16s. a week for three dependent children.
Question put -
That the request (Senator Cunningham’s amendment) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator Sampson.)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Third schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Paragraph 7 verbally amended.
Fourth Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and requests.
Motion (by Senator A. j. McLachlan) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
.- I move-
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 24 and68.
In connexion with clause 24, which relates to exempt and partially exempt employees, honorable senators will recall the debate which occurred on an amendment proposed by Senator Abbott for the purposeof exempting members of the Christian Science Church from payments in respect of medical benefit under this scheme. The Postmaster-General (Senator A. j. McLachlan) then stated that he had been in communication with a representative of that religious organization, and. that a way out of their difficulty had been suggested, namely, that they should form an approved society under the scheme, and, by making some profit in that way reduce their liability as contributors, and at the same time overcome any objections to contributing for medical benefits of which they could not conscientiously avail themselves. This morning I received the following letter from ibo Christian .Science Committee of Publications for Queensland, signed by Constance Frost, a lady whom I know personally as_ an. officer of that committee : -
I was very sorry to read in to-day’s CourierMail that Senator Abbott -withdrew a proposed amendment to exempt Christian Scientists from having to pay contributions for medical benefits. I know this proposed amendment has mct with much opposition, not against us personally, but against it upsetting the scheme.
Allowing Christian Scientists to form their own approved society is not what we asked lor, or have ever thought of, and as far as I can sec at present, wish to think of. Exemption seemed the most simple, just and honest thing under the circumstances. 1 was very grateful to know of the support our proposed exemption received in the House of Representatives; although it was not carried., some day it will bc. Indeed, there is much work to do4 f or religious liberty. Tt was ever thus.
I agree entirely with the last remark of this letter, particularly as I contend that we have no right to assault the consciences of members of any religious sect. I do not belong to this sect, whose faith I but imperfectly understand, but because such a provision assaults their conscience, I believe that we should exempt them from payment in respect of medical benefit under this scheme.
Clause 6S provides that an injured person may lose the benefits for which he has contributed under this scheme, if, at the same time, he is qualified for workmen’s compensation under State legislation. Workers’ compensation legislation in all of the States represents a definite contract with the worker under which his employer pays a very small insurance premium, computed on an actuarial basis, against accident or illness befalling the employee in the course of his employment. Under this measure wc contract to give certain benefits to the employee, who, in the case of accident or illness, is also a probable beneficiary under workers’ compensation legislation, and we then say that he cannot receive benefits simultaneously under both measures. It is quite obvious under which measure the worker will be paid. This Government intends to profit by denying such an employee the benefits to which he will become entitled as a contributor under this measure, by stipulating that all liability in case of accident shall be borne solely under workers’ compensation legislation. It will be remembered that when the Bruce-Page Government decided to jettison Commonwealth industrial arbitration, because of the alleged difficulties arising in that respect, and went to the country on that issue, it was defeated, the then Prime Minister himself losing his seat. In the light of that experience, I submit that this hill should be re-committed for the purpose of reconsidering this “vital clause.
Another point to be considered is that the effect of this clause as drawn i3 to make payments under this scheme the equivalent of sickness or disability allowance to which the worker is entitled under workmen’s compensation legislation, which means that should his illness bc “prolonged there will be no residue of benefit under this scheme to compensate the worker for, the permanent loss or reduction of his earning capacity. The benefits payable under workmen’s compensation legislation should be supplementary to, and should not nullify, those receivable under this scheme. It is worthy of note that friendly society benefits have never yet been allowed to prejudice benefits receivable under workmen’s compensation legislation. This means that under that legislation in the various States it is not provided that the benefits receivable by an injured person under workmen’s compensation laws shall be reduced because he happens to be a member of a friendly society, and in enjoyment of certain benefits from that society. In such a case, the injured person is not told that because he is probably receiving £1 a week and free medical attention from his society, the State will not honour fully its contract under workmen’s compensation legislation. If friendly society benefits have not been taken into consideration in that respect, on what ground can this Government justify the proposal to offset benefits accruing to an injured person under workmen’s compensation legislation, in order to deprive him of benefits for which he has contributed under this scheme? I should like the bill to be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering these two clauses.
– I have listened with great interest to the proposal advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) for exempting Christian Scientists from payment in respect of medical benefit under this scheme, but I do not think that he quite understands the actual position. I believe that his informant misunderstands the position. I heartily approve of the honorable senator’s contention that no assault should be made on the consciences of members of any religious sect, and I was rather interested in the statement of his correspondent that approved societies had not been thought of by the Christian Scientists. That, I suggest, in the light of what has happened, represents the real position. I crave the indulgence of honorable senators for a few moments whileI explain my position with regard to the action I took last week in proposing an amendment along these lines.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the question of re-committing the bill for the further consideration of clauses 24 and 68.
– I shall do so, Mr. President. I oppose the amendment for the re-committal of the bill, and I wish to explain my reasons for so doing. Apropos of the instructions which the honorable senator has just read, I wish to show that in withdrawing my amendment in respect of clause 24, I did not act lightly or thoughtlessly, or without full knowledge of what I was doing. A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Captain Campbell Carmichael, who was Minister for Education in the Holman Government in New South Wales. He is a man of brilliant attainments, who, in his political career earned the respect of friends and opponents alike. I believe that he is the official representative appointed to watch the interests of the Christian Science Church, insofar as they may be affected by this scheme. In order to show how far I was justified in considering his instructions binding, I mention that he told me that the Christian Scientists wanted to retain my professional services. I refused to act in that capacity, but said that I should be glad to do what I could to resist any encroachment on their conscience. Captain Carmichael came to Canberra, where he consulted with the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and Sir Walter Kinnear. He was told that members of the Christian Science Church could form an approved society under this legislation, in which event the matter of medical benefits would rest entirely with themselves. In that way they would be able to avoid any encroachment on their conscience, against which the honorable senator has rightly protested. As I have said, I believe that Captain Carmichael spoke with authority on behalf of the Christian Scientists when he told me by telephone that I was free to say, from my place in the Senate, that the organization in question would accept the offer made to it. In the circumstances, the lady who has written to the Leader of the Opposition—–
– She is the responsible officer of the organization in Queensland.
– Her letter suggests that she still thinks that the Christian Scientists will be bound to apply medical benefits, whereas that is a matter which will rest with themselves. Before withdrawing the amendment I had a conversation by telephone with Captain Carmichael. I had what I regarded as official instructions that the organization would accept the suggestion made to him.
– I support the amendment, although I do not think that it goes far enough. Since the Senate assembled on the 21st June it has devoted a little over a week to the discussion of a measure which occupied six or seven weeks in the other branch of the Legislature. After two adjournments of a fortnight each, the Senate has sat for about twelve hours each day during the last week. It has met in the morning, and continued until nearly midnight. It even took the unusual course of sitting on Saturday.
– What has this got to do with the motion before the committee?
– It has everything to do with it; it shows the reasons why certain clauses should be re-committed. I do not accept the right of any gentleman in Sydney, however influential he may be, to speak for the Christian Scientists in the other States. Like other senators, I have received numerous requests that these people should be exempted. I do not say that Senator Abbott was out of order in withdrawing his proposed amendment, because its withdrawal was approved by the Senate, but I do say, that during protracted sittings it is not possible to avail oneself of every opportunity to speak. The amendment was suddenly withdrawn and I missed my chance to support it. as I had promised.
– D oes the honororable senator complain that the time allowed for discussion has been inadequate ?
– No. I merely say that the amendment was withdrawn when my attention was temporarily diverted.
As to clause 68, I have received letters from influential bodies in Western Australia regarding benefits under the Workmens Compensation Act of that State which the late Honorable Alex McCallum, Labour Minister for Works, said was the most advanced workers compensation legislation in the world at the time that it was passed. In the letters which I have received from organizations of employers and others the benefits of the legislation of Western Australia are stressed.
– The honorable senator is departing from the subject before the Chair.
– The effect of clause 68 will be to draw upon Commonwealth funds less in Western Australia than in the other States. As under the Constitution, Commonwealth legislation overrides the legislation of the States in certain cases; benefits payable under this legislation should take priority over the benefits payable under the State laws, but in this instance that procedure is to be reversed. If there were
– The question before the Chair is whether the bill shall be recommitted.
– I desire to have clause 4 recommitted also.
– SenatorAbbott has stated the position correctly.
– What about the letter I have read from the organization in Queensland ?
– If honorable senators will look again at the many thousands of letters that they have received from Christian Scientists on this subject, they will find that every one of them was written before Captain Carmichael’s visit to Canberra, when he interviewed the gentleman in charge of the details of this measure and myself. We put it to Captain Carmichael that the Christian Scientists could form an approved society of their own, and I understood him to say that that idea had never occurred to him.
– That is so.
– How does that get over their conscientious objection?
– Unfortunately, much of our legislation does violence to the conscience of certain sections of the community. For instance, Quakers do not believe in striking a blow, even in self-defence, yet they are called upon to contribute towards the provision of defence equipment. I have a high regard for Christian Scientists, and I put it to Captain Carmichael that, by making a. contribution of under 2d. per week, members of his church would assist to establish a scheme of national health insurance. As I have said, the idea of forming an approved society among members of that organization had not previously occurred to him.
Senator Leckie effectively answered the other contention of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) regarding workmen’s compensation when he said that the workers could not have it both ways. This bill deals with health and pensions insurance, not with workers’ compensation. Clause 68 is inserted in order that no injustice may be done to men whose illness may continue over so long a period as to exhaust their right to benefit under the Workers’ Compensation Act. I ask the Senate to oppose the amendment to re-commit the bill.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is the first of the measures providing for the payment of the contributions by which the national health and pensions insurance scheme is to be financed in part. This bill relates to employees’ contributions. There will be another measure covering contributions by employers. It is possible that the contributions payable in respect of the insurance contemplated by the scheme may> by rea’son of their compulsory nature, be regarded as taxation within the meaning of the Constitution. Should it be decided judicially that the contributions are “ taxation,” the law by which they arc imposed would fall within the scope of section 55 of the Constitution which provides that “ Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect.” It has, therefore, been thought desirable, in order to obviate the possibility of all the machinery provisions necessary to implement the scheme being declared to be of no effect, to separate from the main bill the provisions imposing the obligation to pay contributions, and to provide for their enactm’ent in separate measures. The rates df employee’s contributions are set out in the schedule to the bill.
Clause 7 provides for increased payments five years after the commencement of the scheme by men and women employees. It is possible to commence with lower payments than will be actually necessary later, because the charges on the pensions fund will be lower in the early years. This is a normal principle of superannuation schemes. It also deals with the increased payments due by men and women employees who are partially exempted. A3 the principle has already been agreed to I ask the Senate to give the measure a speedy passage in order that we may implement in part the measure which has just been disposed of.
.- Although the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) has said that the principle of this legislation lias already been agreed to, I cannot allow this measure to pass without saying something regarding its validity. I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that it will probably be found when the bill we have just disposed of becomes an act that the validity of the powers under which the Government is operating will be seriously challenged. Certain persons have been excluded from benefits under tha scheme, and I cannot imagine them submitting quietly, particularly when we remember how Commonwealth legislation was Suecessfully challenged in the James case. This is one of two bills to provide the necessary finance to carry into effect the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill which has already been passed by both Houses of Parliament. During the second-reading debate on that bill, I raised several points which I considered cast some doubt on the validity of the legislation. The Minister did not trouble to reply at length, and dismissed them by saying that in addition to those powers, on which I suggested the Government was relying for the validity of the legislation, this Parliament possessed an appropriation power. The nearest that he came to answering my attack upon the validity of the bill was to say, “ It is most remarkable that the Leader of the Opposition, who admitted that ha has no legal knowledge, spent 45 minutes on the legal aspect of the bill “. Some-
I 1Ill es we can get nearer to the truth by exercising our common sense than some exalted lawyers have been able to get with all their legal erudition. When I asked the Minister to give serious attention to the subject, he said -
There is the appropriation power under which we can appropriate those moneys from iiic exchequer necessary to implement this measure. We are bringing down two other measures enabling us to levy a tax on the employer and the employee which are necessary to fill the terms of these schemes.
We are now discussing one of those mea- ? tires, and what I have to say is perhaps more relevant to the two taxation bills than to the principal bill. The Minister knows that the appropriation power is nothing more than the power to appropriate money for the purposes of the -Commonwealth in the manner presented, and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed, by the Constitution. If the Minister will study section
SI of the Constitution he will find that 1” am right.
– As PostmasterGeneral I suffer under that section every day of the week.
– Probably because I come up against it only occasionally I can realize its effect more clearly than the Minister. Section 81 is, in effect, merely the usual constitutional provision to safeguard public moneys. It is a limitation upon the power of the Executive rather than an all-embracing power of Parliament to appropriate for all purposes. We all recall the struggle that occurred to limit the power of the King to levy taxation, and even when Parliament became the recognized custodian of the public purse it became necessary to prevent governments from spending money in other than the proper manner. I again quote Dr. Anstey Wynes - a gentleman of whom the Commonwealth Government has such a high opinion that he is now in its employ. In dealing with legislative and executive powers in Australia, he said -
With regard to the question of appropriation the writer suggests that “purposes of the Commonwealth “ cannot be rend as conferring an unlimited power of appropriation; nor does the matter appear to be one of political concern only. The expressed provision of section 83 that no money shall be drawn unless in accordance with an appropriation .by law indicates, in accordance with the constitutional doctrine now firmly established throughout the Empire that moneys can be appropriated by only a law - that is an act - of the Commonwealth Parliament. There is no expressed power of appropriation conferred by the Constitution on the Commonwealth - Parliament, and any law of appropriation must, in this view, rest for its validity upon some one or other of the enumerated powers including, of course, placitum^ (xxxix) of section 51 as to incidental matters. This view obtains support from the Commmuicen.lt h Shipping Board case (192G) 9 C-L.E. 1.
What the Minister intended to refer to, and what he should have referred to, but preferred not to, was a taxation power conferred upon the Commonwealth by placitum ii. of section 51. I did not previously deal with this possible source of power because it is more relevant to this bill, which is a taxation measure. I propose to argue that the taxation power does not extend to this case, and that, as the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill is open to constitutional doubt, this measure also is open to the same degree of doubt. It is admitted that in placitum ii. there is no limitation placed on the taxing power except that which prohibits discrimination between States or parts of States. There is another limitation expressed in section SS as to the uniformity of duties of customs. There is a further implied limitation that taxation means taxation for federal purposes, and that was decided in the case of the Municipal Council of Sydney v. the Commonwealth, 1904 [1 C.L.R., 232.] A reading of all available authorities as to the scope of the federal taxation power seems to lead to these conclusions. The grant of legislative power carries with it the necessary implication of the grant of the power of taxation. This is necessary in order to make the carrying out of legislative functions a possibility. Such an implied grant of the power of taxation i3 necessarily confined to the power to tax only in respect of matters on which legislative power is expressly given. This would be the position in respect of the federal power of taxation, if it were not for the fact that in section 51 there is an expressed grant of the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to “ taxation “. Thus, in addition to the power to tax implied in the grant of legislative power the Commonwealth has power to make laws in respect of taxation. All authorities agree as to the wide nature of the taxation power, and that the Commonwealth may select the persons and things in respect of which the power is to operate. It seems, however, that the Commonwealth cannot, by purporting to exercise the unlimited power of taxation, enter fields of legislation which are not open to it. Taxation in respect of any matter ‘ must be distinguished carefully from the attempt to regulate that matter, and if regulation of any particular matter is outside the enumerated powers of the Constitution, the wide nature of the taxation power will not supply a convenient device for achieving the desired end, namely, the interference by the Commonwealth in a sphere of legislation not permitted -to it. The following quotation from the case, Rex v. Barger, 190S [6 O.L.R., p. 71] puts the matter clearly : -
It is contended for tlie Commonwealth that tlie .power of selection (i.e.. of the persons or things in respect of which the power of taxation is to operate) is only limited by the “express words of placitum (ii) ‘and section S3, and that the discrimination or selection may lie made to depend on any other condition whatever, including conditions relating to personal conduct, or” the regulation of domestic industrial conditions. The defendants contend, on the other hand, that the limitation of power of selection is to be found, not only in the express words of section 61, placitum (ii) and section 88, but also in other parts of the Constitution so that the grant of the power of taxation which, as has already been said, is an independent power, must be so construed as not to bc inconsistent with the other provisions of that instrument. If this latter contention be rejected it would follow that the power of taxation is an over-riding power which would enable the Parliament to invade any region of legislation, although it is impliedly forbidden to enter it, and this by the simple process of making liability to taxation depend upon matters within those regions.
This, I remind the Senate, is a declaration by the late Sir Samuel ‘Griffith, when he was Chief Justice of the Commonwealth. More could be said along these lines, but it is not my intention, at this stage, to do more than say that the validity of the whole of the legislation in connexion with national insurance cannot be made to depend either upon the appropriation power or upon the taxation power, for both these powers depend on whether the legislation in question is within the legislative power of the Commonwealth. In my second-reading speech 1 stated this view and, I think, showed that this proposal was not within the legislative competence of the Commonwealth. Even if the bill is not open to question, as it does not itself attempt to regulate but merely attempts to tax, it cannot bc argued that any appropriation for the purposes of the principal act is in order. Nor can the provisions of the principal bill attempting to regulate a matter which is not within the power of this Parliament be upheld on the validity of this purely subsidiary measure. I raise this issue again because I wish to protest once more against the contributory principle contained in this bill in respect of pensions. I feel confident that this Parliament could have done this thing in the right way, combining justice with legality; but I repeat in connexion with this bill what I said when speaking on the second reading of the’ principal measure, that the ‘Government, in its anxiety to ease the burden of invalid and old-age pensions from the Treasury and from the shoulders of the wealthy - this point I emphasized in the debate on the principal measure - has ridden roughshod over the moral and legal rights of the people.
I make these remarks in order that the Government may take another opportunity, if it thinks this course worth while, to look into the issues raised, and determine whether this bill overcomes the legal difficulty which I raised in connexion with the principal measure. I do not think it is possible to get power simply by taking it. Such a course is more likely to lead the Government into serious trouble, because the legislation will be exposed to the risk of being successfully challenged, with disastrous results to those who may hope to benefit from it. In that event the Government would be in a most unenviable position. I hope that the Leader of the Senate will give further consideration to the points which I have raised.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN (South
Australia - Postmaster-General) [8.53] . - in reply - I trust the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) did not think that I was lacking in courtesy in not dealing fully with all the points which he raised on the second reading of the principal measure; if my recollection is right, I did so in the later discussion of the hill in committee. I would again remind him that the Government did not lightly embark upon the framing of this legislation. It is about fifteen years since national insurance was under consideration. The subject was then inquired into by a royal commission which considered the constitutionality of a scheme similar to that which we have just passed. It was dealt with again in 1928, and the opinion of many eminent legal authorities, some of whom I think should be nameless, was sought. More recently, when the scheme was taking concrete shape, and the bill was being drafted, the constitutional aspect was submitted for the opinion not only of the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, who is no mean authority, but also of several eminent barristers in private practice. It will be seen, therefore, that every precaution was taken.
– The Government had the opinion of leading counsel in another matter, but James secured an adverse judgment from the Privy Council.
-General made a gallant fight on behalf of the Commonwealth in connexion with the case mentioned by the honorable gentleman, a number of eminent lawyers in this country never expected any other result from the appeal to the Privy Council.
– The present Attorney-General gave a different opinion to the Victorian Government.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN.And that advice was sound. But was it not his duty, as Attorney-General of the Commonwealth on that occasion, to fight for the constitutional view of the Commonwealth Government? My own view was always that which was upheld by the Privy Council in the James case.
– “Was it on the strength of that advice that the Government, asked me to go out and advocate the acceptance of its marketing proposals at the referendum?
– I do not know how the Leader of the Opposition fared; I was not very successful in my Sta’te. However, I do not wish to digress further from the subject’ before the Senate. Because of the limited time now available to me, it will not be possible to do full justice to the criticism offered by the Leader of the Opposition. What I wish to make clear is that the Commonwealth exercises the appropriation power in respect of other legislation, as for example, old-age pensions. I invite the honorable gentleman to put that fact in his pipe and smoke it, as it were, in company with the legal friend with whom he has been in consultation over the week-end.
– The Commonwealth has special power under the Constitution to legislate in respect of old-age pensions.
– And for what purpose are we taking the power of appropriation under this measure? Apparently, the Leader of the Opposition would limit our power of taxation because of the fact that legal authorities have advised him that these matters should be dealt with in separate measures under section 55. The position of the Commonwealth with regard to the taxing power, the insurance power for what it is Worth, and the appropriation power, has been carefully examined. Not one of the eminent legal authorities whom we consulted cast any doubt on the constitutionality of the insurance proposals. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that it would be disastrous if, for any reason whatever, this legislation were declared unconstitutional. Those who are opposed to the scheme for national insurance, would no doubt, be gratified if it were declared unconstitutional; but such a decision would be a. tremendous disappointment to those people who hope to benefit under the scheme. If I thought that any- legal authority could throw more light than we have had on the constitutionality of these-proposals, I would urge the Treasurer to do something about the matter before the act is proclaimed; but I assure honorable senators that every possible precaution has been taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without requests or debate; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is complementary to that with which the Senate has just dealt.- It fixes the contributions to be paid by employers to assist in financing the scheme of national insurance. The rates of employers’ contributions are set out in the first schedule, and in clause 7 provision is made for increased payments by employers five years after the commencement of the scheme in respect of both men and women employees. A further increase in respect of men employees only is provided for after the lapse of a further period of five years, that is to say, ten years after the commencement of the scheme.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without requests or debate; report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives ‘with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by th« Senate in this bill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator A. J. McLachlan), read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Allan MACDONALD). read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a small measure in relation to the administration of one of ‘the latest territories to come under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. I refer to the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. These are four small islands between Timor and Western Australia, about 200 miles from the north-west coast of that State, and approximately 450 miles westsouthwest of Darwin. They are uninhabited, but beche-de-mer, low-grade guano and trochus shell exist in quantities. The islands were formerly under the authority of the United Kingdom, but, in July, 1924, the Government of Western Australia informed the Commonwealth Government that, for the purpose of dealing with illicit fishing, it considered that the islands should be brought under the jurisdiction of the State. As a result of representations made to the Government of the United Kingdom, the Dominions Office informed the Commonwealth that the Government of the United Kingdom would be prepared to transfer these islands to the Commonwealth Government. In 1925, the Government of Western Australia stated that it was willing to undertake full responsibility for the control and administration of the islands, and in 1931, His Majesty the King, by Order-in-:Council, placed the islands under the authority of the Commonwealth. They were .accepted as a territory of the Commonwealth by the Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Act 1933, and, by section 8 of that act, the Governor of Western Australia was empowered to make ordinances having the force of law in the islands.
Subsequently, the Solicitor-General of Western Australia expressed doubt about the constitutionality of the proposal that the State Governor should make ordinances for the islands. Apart altogether from the legal aspect, it appeared to the State government that the expense involved in policing the islands would be material and out of proportion to the practical benefits to be secured. In the circumstances, the State government advised that it was reluctantly compelled to abandon the proposal to obtain control over the islands. In the light of the decision of the Government of Western Australia, consideration was recently given to the question whether any administration is necessary at this stage, and, if so, in whom the administration should be vested. In its consideration of the matter, the Commonwealth Government had in mind the possibility that the work of administration would be confined mainly to policing any fishing activities in the vicinity of the islands. The Government eventually decided that action be taken to bring the islands under the Northern Territory administration. To give effect to this decision, it is proposed to repeal sections 6, 7 and S of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Act 1933, which relate to the laws in force in the territory, and in their place it is proposed to insert a new section 8, which will ha.ve the effect of placing the islands under the Northern Territory Administration. That, shortly, is the object of the measure, which I now commend to the Senate.
– Unoccupied islands in the Pacific, which, -before air travel became general, were looked upon as being of no value, have now come to be regarded as valuable for aerodromes or air bases. The Ashmore and Cartier Islands are one of the few parts of Western Australia which I have not visited, and which I know little about; but it seems to me that the value of these islands for the purposes of air bases, or as fishing stations, in view of the pearl-shell and other fishing industries which we have established in the north-western portion of Western Australia, must increase as time goes on. I hope that the Government will carefully investigate the value of these islands which it has now acquired, and which are the smallest Commonwealth territory. In view of what has taken place recently in the Pacific, where islands which, for a great many years, have been shown on the map as British, were claimed by other nations merely because they were unoccupied, it seems to me that the Commonwealth authorities would find it worth while to pay small subsidies or salaries to a few Australians to occupy the Ashmore and Cartier Islands. Possibly, these islands would provide a useful site for a meteorological station, but, certainly, they should be considered as a possible air base, having regard to the way in which powerful nations are extending their activities southwards towards Australia. Even if a slight cost would be incurred by the occupation of these islands, steps should be taken to persuade a few Australians to secure them for the Commonwealth by virtue of possession as well as by virtue of acts of Parliament. It seems to me that, looking to the future, and to the development of air travel, it is important to Australia, and, particularly, to the western State of the Commonwealth, that our ownership of these islands should be made secure, so that it could not be effectively challenged by any foreign power.
– in reply - These islands are small sandy reefs, and are not suitable for the establishment of an air base. In the first place, they are not large enough for that purpose, and secondly, even if the islands were extensive enough, the terrain is not suitable. Perhaps the patrol boat in northern waters or the lighthouse vessel could call there occasionally on its periodical trips round the coast of Western Australia to see that the islands had not been occupied by foreigners; but I can assure honorable senators that they are not suitable for the purpose suggested by Senator Johnston.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators are aware that the Territory for the Seat of Government is generally referred to as the “ Federal Capital Territory”, but it may be of interest to know that no legal name has been given to the Territory by statute. As the Government considers the term “ Territory for the Seat of Government “ to be somewhat lengthy, it has decided that a name should be given to the Territory which, whilst having the merit of being short, would at the same time, express more accurately the nature of the Territory. It has, therefore, chosen the name “ Australian Capital Territory”, the use of which, henceforth, in legal documents in connexion with the Territory will be in line with the name given to the Supreme. Court at Canberra, which is denominated “ The Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory”. Briefly, that is the object of this measure. It seems unnecessary to emphasize the desirability of giving a statutory name to the Territory in place of the present names by which the Territory is usually designated. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or. debate; report adopted.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD ( Western
Australia - Assistant Minister) [9.21]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The basic principle underlying the existing law with respect to passports is that a person leaving Australia must be in possession of a passport. This principle is embodied in the Passports Act 1920. The Government has decided, for reasons which I shall mention later, to vary this principle by making it optional for a person to be in possession of a passport before leaving the Commonwealth. As the basis of the original act will thus be fundamentally changed, it is desirable that the original act should be repealed and the provisions necessary to implement the voluntary principle embodied in a new measure altogether. The Passports Act 1920 is, in substance, a reenactment’ of the War Precautions (Pass ports) Regulations 1916, which made it an offence for any person to leave the Commonwealth without being in possession of a passport, or other document, authorizing his departure. That provision was, no doubt, necessary during the war, and, possibly, for some time afterwards. The law in force in other British countries does not now contain any similar provision, and the Government considers that such a provision is no longer necessary in Australia. This hill, therefore, provides that the Minister, or. an authorized officer, may issue passports, but it will not be an offence for any person to leave Australia without a passport.
I might mention that some difficulty has arisen in interpreting the present provision. The Crown Law authorities have advised that, although there is a discretion to refuse a passport, the proper authority would ordinarily be required to issue a permit, or other document, authorizing departure from the Commonwealth except when refusal could bejustified on legal grounds, as for instance, in the case of a person for whose arrest a warrant had been issued. On reviewing the matter the Government found, as I have already indicated, that the existing Commonwealth act differs in this respect from the law in force in other British countries, in none of which is a person compelled to obtain a passport before leaving the country. As a matter of fact, persons going abroad from those countries do obtain passports, because without them they would be subjected to a great deal of trouble and inconvenience in foreign countries. It is anticipated that if the present bill becomes law, persons leaving the Commonwealth will also obtain passports for the same reason, but the point I stress is that it will be no longer obligatory for them to obtain passports.
It may interest honorable senators to know what is the ordinary conception of a passport. It has been described by a former chief justice of England as follows : -
It is a document issued in the name of the Sovereign, on the responsibility of a Minister of the Crown, to a named individual, intended to be presented to the governments of foreign nations, and to be used for that individual’s protection as a British subject in foreign countries.
The form of passport actually issued in Australia conforms to this definition, the material part of the passport reading as follows: -
I, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, request, in the name of His Britannic Majesty, all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford him every assistance and protection of which he may stand in need.
The voluntary principle embodied in this bill is in accordance with the conception of a passport as described above.
Other clauses in the bill to which reference should, I think, be made at this stage, include clause 4, which provides that the act shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth. Australian passports will be issued only to British subjects, but the definition of a “ British subject “ under this bill will include -
With regard to the former class, I point out that the Nationality Act 1920-1936 provides that a woman who was of British nationality at the time of marriage to an alien, may make a declaration which will enable her to retain the rights and privileges of a British subject while in Australia. A similar provision is contained in the New Zealand law relating to nationality, and it is the practice in that dominion to issue passports in cases of this kind. The British authorities have raised no objection to the issue of passports in such cases, and it is desirable that the Commonwealth should have power to issue a passport to a woman of this class who desires to travel on an Australian passport instead of a foreign passport. With regard to the second class, that is, British protected aboriginal natives, it is the practice of the British authorities to issue passports to British protected per sons, e.g., natives of Samoa, and it is desirable that the Commonwealth law should provide for the issue of Australian passports in such cases.
Clause 8 of the bill, which deals with power to cancel passports, vises, renewals or endorsements of passports, is identical with provisions in section 8 of the existing act, except for the addition of the word “ renewal “. The power to cancel a passport is exercised only on rare occasions, as, for example, where it is discovered that the passport was obtained by false statements. This also applies to vises, renewals and endorsements. A vise, or endorsement of a passport to make it good for travel to some particular country, may be cancelled if it is learnt that there is special objection to the grantee proceeding to that country. Clause 9 repeats a number of provisions contained in the existing act, but inserts a new provision giving power to require a person to hand over his passport in cases in which it is known, or in which there is reason to believe, that it was obtained by false or misleading statements. The necessity for such a provision has been felt in cases, for example, in which a passport has been obtained in a false name at Sydney and the fraud has not been discovered until the boat by which the holder is travelling is about to leave Fremantle.
Clause 11, which is entirely new, provides that proceedings for an offence under the act may be instituted either in the State or the territory where the offence was committed, or in the State or the territory in which the defendant is found. This clause has been inserted in order to overcome difficulties which have arisen under the existing act owing to the necessity for instituting summary proceedings in the State where the offence was committed, thus involving considerable expense in cases in which the offender is found in another State.
In commending the bill to the Senate, I stress the fact that it will bring Commonwealth legislation relating to passports more into line with that in force in other British countries, and will remove some difficulties which have arisen under the existing law.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
. I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure provides for the foundations of research into the problems of secondary industries of Australia. Its object is to appropriate £250,000 for that purpose, thus securing an assured provision for work that will have to be planned and carried out during the next few years. Hitherto the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been practically confined to research into the problems of primary industries. What the council has done for primary industries is well known to most of us. To recall only a few of its achievements, mention might be made of the 50,000 square miles of country which has been reclaimed from prickly pear; the development of a vaccine to combat black disease in sheep, which caused losses of £1,000,000 per annum to sheep-owners ; the discovery of a vaccine for pleuropneumonia in cattle; the benzol treatment for blue mould in tobacco seed beds ; research that made possible the production of paper pulp from Australian hardwoods; the provision of facilities for proper seasoning of our timbers; and the development of methods for transporting Australian chilled beef to the oversea markets, which, a reliable authority has recently stated, has resulted in an increased return of £2 or more to the Australian producer in respect of each carcass exported. The advantage of this work to the beef cattle industry is considerable.
The rapid development of our secondary industries renders it necessary that the most up-to-date research facilities should be provided in Australia without delay. If the council can achieve, in connexion with secondary industries, anything like what it has done for primary industries, it will confer a great boon upon this country. Research into the problems of secondary industries will urvolve the establishment of a National Standards Reference Laboratory and an
Aircraft and Engineering Research Establishment. The former will be located in Sydney and the latter in Melbourne. In addition, testing and information services will need to be organized to assist industry. Initially, the Standards Laboratory will comprise three main sections - metrology; electrotechnics; and physics, dealing with mass and length electrical .units, and heat and light respectively.
It is proposed to call applications immediately for appointment to the four key positions in connexion with the Standards Laboratory. These positions are chief of the standards division - at a salary of £1,250-£1,500 per annum, and three officers-in-charge of sections, i.e., metrology, electrotechnics and physics, at salaries ranging from £800 to £1,000 per annum each. The chief of the division will be expected to devote a part of his time to the establishment of the Standards Laboratory and the remainder to the organization of proving and testing services and the development of standard marks and certification schemes in connexion with such services. The main function of the Standards Laboratory will be to establish and maintain national standards and to calibrate sub-standards and master standards used for scientific and industrial purposes. There is a large and important field of work of the nature of proving and testing which will also need to be carried out if full advantage is to be taken of the facilities offered by the laboratory. This work involves a large amount of routine testing of a wide variety of materials and types of apparatus and appliances.
In other countries testing services are rendered mainly by non-governmental institutions; in some cases the work is conducted by consultants or commercial concerns for profit; in others it is performed by associations of such bodies as electricity undertakings or fire underwriters, or by municipal authorities, or by institutions of a special character. In Australia, no proving or testing houses have yet been established, although facilities for proving and testing work for certain types of materials and apparatus have been provided by Government departments, such as the railways and public works departments, by semigovernmental institutions, such as electricity commissions, and by university departments. Particulars of these facilities were collected by the Secondary Industries Testing and ‘Research Committee, and there is no doubt that the most appropriate and economical method of conducting proving and testing work in Australia will be by the utilization and development of these facilities. Already there is evidence that authorities in some of the States intend to extend their activities in this direction, and the National Standards Laboratory will be called upon to take a leading part in developing and co-ordinating this work.
Another important development in other countries in connexion with the work of national standards laboratories, and of authorities responsible for the preparation of standard specifications, is the use of national standard marks and of certification and labelling schemes. A considerable amount of information on this matter, as well as on the subject of proving and testing houses, was obtained by. the Secretary of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. when he was abroad last year. For some time past there has been a growing demand in Australia for services of this nature, and there can be no doubt that, with the establishment of a National Standards Laboratory in this country, the demand for the application of standard marks and the development of certification schemes will have to be mot. This will involve co-operative action between the National Standards Laboratory, the Standards Association of Australia, and proving and testing services. The capita] cost of establishing the laboratory has been estimated at £80,000, whilst the cost of the Aeronautical and Engineering Establishment has been put down at £143,000. In laying the foundations of this work the Commonwealth Government has been fortunate in being able to obtain the advice of a committee comprising outstanding scientists and industrialists, in addition to the assistance of Mr. H. EE. Wimperis, formerly Director of the British Air Ministry’s Research Establishment at Farnborough.
The Government proposes shortly to introduce a weights and measures bill to secure uniformity in this regard throughout Australia under the power conferred on the Commonwealth by section 51 of the Constitution. Thi3 subject was discussed at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Adelaide during 1936, when the following resolution was adopted : -
That if the Commonwealth Government enacts legislation covering the establishment and maintenance of Commonwealth standards of weights aud measures, tho States will fully co-operate in regard to the uniform adoption throughout Australia of such standards.
With the creation of Australian national standards, a responsibility will arise for co-ordination with the systems in other countries. This will be accomplished by periodical comparison of the Australian standards with the British standards at the National Physical Laboratory in London, which already has in operation a complete system of co-operation with other nations. The necessity for complete co-ordination with the standards of other countries is emphasized by the fact that Australia is already developing an export trade for manufactured products, and may be expected to increase the volume of this trade substantially in the future. Any such trade would be seriously prejudiced by lack of agreement between the gauges used in the production of the goods and the standards of measurement in importing countries.
In commending this measure, I am confident that it will be accorded the unanimous support of the Senate which its national importance justifies. It is another milestone on the road to full and complete nationhood.
– I can speak for every member of the Opposition when I say that I am in entire agreement with the purpose underlying this bill. I hope that it will not be accounted against us that we are in accord with the Government on this occasion.
– It is to the honorable senator’s credit.
– On a previous occasion, support of a proposal of the Government was regarded as evidence of apostasy on the part of the Opposition. I pay a tribute to the splendid work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and I agree entirely with the concluding remark of the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) that this bill marks another milestone on the road to complete nationhood. It is to he regretted that we do not more often take such steps forward. ‘ As a Queenslander, f have reason to remember one important phase of the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which has been of great value to that State. In conjunction with authorities in other parts of the world, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was able to accomplish what the settlers had failed to do. It was found, possible not only to arrest the onward march of the prickly pear, but also to eradicate it entirely. As honorable senators know, the prickly pear pest was practically confined to Queensland. I recall also the valuable work of the council and the success which attended its experiments in connexion with the carriage of chilled beef. Its success t,her( lias been of immense value to cattle breeders. One could continue to extol the services rendered to primary production by this scientific body. Similar work undertaken on behalf of manufacturing interests and secondary industries will undoubtedly prove of equal value. Consequently, the Opposition is delighted that a further appropriation of £250,000 is now contemplated in order to enable the council to carry on its work. Whatever else may be starved as a result of financial stringency, it is to bc hoped that the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will not bc affected, but that it will be given full opportunity to continue its wonderful activities.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Westurn Australia) [9.43].- This will probably be the last time on which I shall speak in tlie Senate, and I am glad to take this opportunity to endorse what the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) have said regarding the splendid work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I desire particularly to pay a tribute to the chief executive officer of the council, Sir David Rivett. He is a remarkable man in many respects, for he possesses that rare combination, business acumen and scientific attainment. Much of the credit for the work which the council has accomplished is due to his wise guidance. Sir David is a remarkable asset to the Commonwealth. The assiduity with which he devotes himself to his work constitutes a danger ; I, am afraid that it may undermine his health. That is something against which the Government must guard, for the services of Sir David Rivett are too valuable to be lost through overstrain. I hope that for many years he will be spared to carry on the great work he has done for Australia.
Sir David Rivett has an able supporter in Sir George Julius, the chairman of the council - a man possessing similar attainments. Another important officer now permanently associated with the council, is Professor A. E. V. Richardson, who, as a State officer, rendered excellent service to Australia, and who for some time has been performing good -work for the council on the agricultural side, particularly in connexion with pasture development. Under a system of government, such as we have in Australia, there is likely to be a certain amount of overlapping, irritation and bad feeling between the Commonwealth and the States, but by tact and discretion Sir David Rivett has been able to win the confidence of the State departments. I do not think that there is a single State department which is not now working amicably with the council. For some time there had been a certain amount of overlapping. Very early Sir David realized the danger. By wise co-operation and counsel with the States, that has been overcome, and to-day I believe that there is perfect agreement between the Commonwealth and the State departments, as to the respective fields in which each shall operate, and to what extent they can co-operate in order to achieve the best results. A great deal of the credit of the success which has been achieved is due to the tact and judgment displayed by Sir David Rivett in dealing with the officers of State departments. In that regard, a tribute is also due to Sir George Julius, who, I am quite sure, has the confidence of the manufacturers of Australia. Because of his knowledge of the engineering side of industry, he has been a valuable link between the council and the manufacturers. The same can be said of Professor Richardson, who, by reason of his knowledge of the work of State departments in dealing with agriculture, and particularly pasture development, has their confidence. To-day there is complete co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in these matters, and I hope that it will continue. From my personal knowledge of the work of the council, I am glad to be able to pay a well-deserved tribute to these gentlemen for the services they have rendered to the Commonwealth.
– I endorse the words of appreciation that- have been uttered concerning the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. As a member of the Australian Country party, I strongly support the bill which provides for the appropriation of £250,000 to extend the valuable work of the council in conducting experiments for the assistance of both primary and secondary industries. The Leader of the Oppo*sition (Senator Collings) referred to the invaluable assistance that the council, which is supporting the work of the Queensland Government’s experts, has given in eradicating the prickly pear pest, and the work of’ Australian scientists in this direction has been recognized not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. I am also delighted with the experiments which are being conducted to eradicate the blow-fly pest, which has involved pastoralists and graziers in losses amounting to millions of pounds annually. The people of Australia are indebted to the council for the wonderful work it has already done, and I believe that the members of all parties in this Parliament are anxious that it shall not be stinted of funds. I am also glad to know that the money to be appropriated under this measure is to be applied .to the provision of laboratories and scientific equipment; the work of the scientists should be extended. If more money is required for scientific research it should be made available immediately.
I wish now to refer to the experiments that are being conducted on Wardang
Island in South Australia for the destruction of rabbits. Press reports include a statement made by the Minister in charge of Development (Mr. Casey), to the effect that such experiments have been partially successful, and that the virus cannot be communicated to human beings or to animals other than rabbits. We have been informed that it is difficult to transfer the virus from one colony of rabbits to another colony, but experiments have developed to such an extent that a strong demand is being made by the farmers and pastoralists in some States, and particularly in Western Australia, for an immediate distribution of the virus so that an earnest attempt may be made to eradicate the rabbit pest completely.
– Even before the tests have been completed?
– Yes. The press reports suggest that the experiments have been more than partially successful, and that the distribution of the virus will not be detrimental to human beings or animals other than rabbits. Unfortunately, another statement emanating from Canberra suggested that certain secondary industries using rabbit skins in manufacture are opposed to the distribution of the virus. That statement had no official backing as far as I can ascertain, and I hope that the Government will arrange for a proper distribution so soon as it is satisfied that the virus can be safely released and stocks are available. I commend the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) for the tremendous interest he displayed in the work of the council when he was Minister in charge of Development, and I trust that he will indicate when supplies of virus will be made available to agriculturists and graziers who are suffering so severely from the depredations of rabbits. To-day I asked the Leader of the Senate some questions on the subject, but the replies did not contain any definite information as to when the experiments will be completed. Many landowners a’re anxious to use the virus immediately to exterminate rabbits, and I should like the Minister to state definitely if it is safe for pastoralists to ti3e it on their properties, because many arc impatient of the delay. I heartily support the bill, and commend the Government for its introduction.
.- I join with other honorable senators in expressing approval of the valuable work which is being carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but I trust that the Council will not spoil its good name by distributing virus for the destruction of rabbits before it is satisfied that its distribution will not be detrimental to human beings or to animals other than rabbits. Extensive experiments must be conducted before a general distribution is seriously considered. I am glad to learn that the money to be appropriated under this bill is to be expended largely in conducting investigations into our secondary industries, and that a commencement is to be made by standardizing gauges and weights, because that is the basis of successful manufacture. Australian manufacturers are producing a variety of manufactured goods and raw materials for other industries, but they need assistance in the direction of handling non-ferrous metals. These metals and alloys will be very largely used in future manufacturing processes for aircraft and motor cars, because lightness is essential. Along these lines research offers the best prospects for our secondary industries and some hope of an export trade in manufactured goods. 1. commend the Government for not being niggardly in its treatment of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and I hope that the investigations which that body is about to make in the interests of secondary industries will bring much good to Australia. I am sure that the manufacturers will be glad to co-operate with the council in any experiments that may be undertaken, and I believe that the results will be beneficial not only for the manufacturers but also to the people of this country.
– As regards the destruction of prickly pear, for which so much credit is given to the Council forScientific and Industrial Research, I would point out that a great deal of work was done by the Queensland Government and its scientists long before the council was established. In 1898, Mr Henry Tryon, who was then chief entomologist in the service of the Queensland Government, investigated the possibility of eradicating the prickly pear by the breeding of parasites, and made considerable progress in his researches.
In a report submitted to the State government in 1910, he recommended the appointment of a commission to visit those countries where the prickly pear was known to be growing, with a view to discovering why it had not spread to the same extent as it had done in Australia. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Tryon and Professor Harvey Johnston were appointed a commission to make these inquiries, and left on their mission, which occupied them for about twelve months. Upon their return to Queensland, they were obliged to take up their positions in the State Civil Service, and, as a result, the preparation of their report took considerable time. I have a. copy of that document, which is one of the most comprehensive and informative of its kind that has ever been published. It makes extended reference to the value of cactoblaslus. A quantity of the eggs of the parasite had been secured, I think from Argentina, but, unfortunately, the scientists failed at that time to reproduce the parasite in Queensland. When the Commonwealth Government established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research many years ago, it set aside the sum of £20,000 a year to be utilized for research into methods for the eradication of the prickly pear in Queensland. Later, a Queensland official was sent to Argentina and secured there a supply of the cactoblastus parasite which was mentioned in Mr. Tryon’s report. I may add that this scientist is now nearly 85 years of age, and he feels as every one else in the same circumstances would feel, that he should have received some credit for the work which he and Professor Johnston had done to check the spread of the prickly pear. Any one who reads the reports of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will discover that that body has never directly claimed very much credit for what has been done in this direction.
– The work of the council has been most helpful.
– The £20,000 a year provided by the Commonwealth Government has been more helpful. 1 repeat that the State government had spent a great deal of money in establishing a research station at Dulacca. It was, I think, supervised by Dr. Jean White, a lady well known in Queensland, whom I met on my return from a trip abroad a couple of years ago, and with whom I had a most interesting conversation concerning the work done by the Queensland scientists mentioned.
– Their services have been recognized in Queensland.
– But the work done by them has been forgotten by the pastoralists who have benefited so much from it. As I said, the ‘Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has never claimed particular credit for what has been done to eradicate the prickly pear, but whenever credit has been given to that body it has never acknowledged the value of the pioneering work done by Mr. Henry Tryon, over 40 years ago. Late though it is, I hope some credit may yet be given to him for what he did to benefit the pastoral industry in Queensland and New South Wales.
. - in reply - It is appropriate that I should make one or two observations concerning the matter to which Senator. Crawford has so earnestly directed our attention, namely, the effective destruction of the prickly pear by the parasite known as cactoblastus. It is interesting to learn that other countries, where the prickly pear is growing, are more fortunate than Australia has been. I was amazed recently to discover that in Mexico this cochineal insect, which we encourage, is looked upon as a pest because it destroys the prickly pear which is regarded as a standby for stock fodder in time of drought. Many years ago, before I had ministerial control of the Council, for Scientific and Industrial Research, I was amazed to learn that a distinguished scientist from Mexico, accompanied by a retinue of officials, was visiting the Lake Mundy district, near the border of South Australia, with a view to securing for transfer to Mexico specimens of the ladybird which, it seems, destroys the cochineal insect. I was amazed because we find it necessary to stimulate the propagation of the cochineal insect in order to destroy the prickly pear. Its fecundity is so much lower than that of the ladybird that unless protective measures were taken it would not survive. Consequently large supplies of the cochineal insect have to be released from time to time by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from its entomological establishment at Canberra, to carry out it? mission in Queensland. I, too, pay a tribute to the valuable pioneering work done by Mr. Henry Tryon and Professor Harvey Johnston, whom I know ‘very well.
I turn now to say a few words about the scientific experiments being carried out at Wardang Island in South Australia, with the virus of myxomatosis for the destruction, of ‘ rabbits. Senator Johnston this morning received from me a reply to a question which he had asked some time ago. Myxomatosis has proved to be not injurious to animals other than rabbits, so it is hoped that ultimately its use as a destroyer of rabbits will be attended with good results. I understand that it is the discovery of a Brazilian professor, and that considerable research in connexion with it has been carried out at Cambridge under the close observation of no less a person than Sir Charles Martin, who was for some time chief of the division of animal nutrition of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. At that stage it was. important to know whether or not the virus was really a killer, and also whether the rabbit would breed immunity. If so, it would be worse than useless to continue with the experiments which have been carried out over a number of years. Sir Charles was always afraid that particulars of the investigations would leak out. Upon his return to England, in company with Dr. Bull, the senior officer on the animal health nutrition side of the council’s activities, an enterprising pressman did get a hint of what was being done and sent a cable to Australia. As the result of that communication my table each morning was littered with letters and telegrams from pastoralists from different parts of Australia inquiring if there was any truth in the report. The rabbits onWardang Island live in warrens. It has been found that, although the myxomatosis destroys the rabbits in the burrows in which it is released, those in warrens a short distance away are not affected. The council is now endeavouring to ascertain the reason for this, and honorable senators can rest assured that the experiments arc being carried out with the greatest possible care. This problem has been under investigation for many years. When the full results of the experiments can be made known they will bo submitted to the Agricultural Council, upon which each State is represented by its Minister for Agriculture. I join with Senator Sir George Pearce in paying a tribute to the excellent work being done by Sir George Julius, chairman of the council, Sir David Rivett, chief executive officer, and Professor A. E.V. Richardson,C.M.G. My successor in the administration of this department, the Treasurer, Mr. Casey, has placed the services of Professor Richardson at the disposal of Sir David Rivett in order that the latter may be relieved of a good deal of his heavy administrative work, because his duties are of a scientific as well as an administrative nature. The burden of his administrative duties had become too heavy for him to bear. I keenly appreciate the reception given to this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate: reportadopted.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of the Interior -T.R. Henderson.
Naval Defence Act -Regulations amended, &c.- StatutoryRules1938, No. (58- No. 59:
Customs Actand Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act -Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Roles1938, No. 56 - No.60.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations Statutory Rules 1938, No. 57.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Darwin, Northern Territory - For Administrative purposes.
Western Australia: Visit ivy Minister for the Interior.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Last week Senator Collett asked me a question regarding the forthcoming visit of the Minister for the Interior, Mr. McEwen, to the Northern Territory, and. subsequently, to the north-west of Western Australia. The Minister has decided to visit the northwestern portion of that State, and he will arrive at Broome on the 28th August next. He will subsequently go down the coast toFremantle, which he expects to reach on the 4th September. He proposes to discuss at Broome with representatives of the Pearlers Association the question of The expansion of the pearling industry, and he will also make an investigation regarding other industries carried on in the district. SenatorCollett can be assured that his representations have been noted, and that the Minister will inquire, on the spot, into the matters raised by him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 June 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19380628_senate_15_156/>.