18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - As honorable senators doubtless are aware, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has made the following announcement: -
His Excellency the Governor-General has requested me to inform the people of Australia that as a result of advice, based on a very thorough examination, which has been tendered to the King by his medical advisers, and which has been endorsed by his Prime Ministers in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, His Majesty has agreed to cancel all his public engagements over a period of some months. This decision involves the indefinite postponement of the visit to Australia and New Zealand which the King and the Queen had undertaken to pay, with the Princess Margaret, during the first half of next year.
Their Majesties wish to express to the people of Australia the profound regret and bitter disappointment which they themselves feel at the abandonment of their tour, and which they know will be shared by all those who were preparing to welcome them.
The following bulletin has been issued from Buckingham Palace: -
The King is suffering from an obstruction to circulation through arteries of the legs, which has only recently become acute; the defective blood supply to right foot causes anxiety. Complete rest has been advised and although improvement in the circulation has been initiated it must be maintained for an immediate prolonged period. Though His Majesty’s general health, including the condition of his heart, gives no reason for concern, there is no doubt that the strain of the past twelve years has appreciably affected his resistance to physical fatigue. We have come to the conclusion it would be hazardous for His Majesty to embark upon a long journey which might delay his recovery andwhich might well involve serious risk to a limb. With deep regret, therefore, we have advised that the King’s visit to Australia and New Zealand should not be undertaken next year. (Sgd.) Maurice Cassidy;
Honorable senators will share in the universal sympathy which has been evoked by the news of the King’s illhealth and will have the keenest regret that Their Majesties and HerRoyal Highness the Princess Margaret will not be able to visit Australia next year. I move -
That the following address be transmitted through His Excellency the Governor-General to His Majesty the King: -
To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty : Most Gracious Sovereign:
We, the members of the Senate in Parliament assembled, desire to express sincere sympathy to His Majesty King George VI. and Her Majesty the Queen in His Majesty’s state of health and earnestly hope that the King will be speedily restored to good health.
Members of the Senate record also their great disappointment at the indefinite postponement of the projected visit to Australia of Their Majesties the King and the Queen and Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret.
. behalf of His Majesty’s Opposition in the Senate I endorse the sentiments and share the keen regret expressed by the Leader of the Senate at the postponement of theRoyal visit to Australia. That regret will be shared universally throughout the Commonwealth asalso will be our earnest wish and prayer that His Majesty will enjoy a speedy recovery from the ailment that now affects him. I second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Following upon the unfortunate cancellation of theRoyal visit to Australia, reports have appeared in the press of the possibility of a comparatively . early visit to Australia by HerRoyal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel state whether the Government has received any information that would give the people of Australia any hope that they might anticipate such a visit ?
– I have no advice of -any alternative visit by any Royal personage from Great Britain. Such suggestions have been made in the press and elsewhere, but the Government has not, as far as I know, received any advice of any such projected visit.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Fuel say whether the unprecedented activity at the oil berths at Birkenhead, South Australia, because of record arrivals of petroleum products “for that .State is reflected in other ports in Australia? If so, can he hold out any prospect of the Government increasing the present meagre issue of petrol to motorists for the forthcoming festive season?
– I am not aware of the unusual activity at the port to which the honorable senator has referred. 1. shall inquire into that subject. However., in answer to the latter part of his question, I do not hold out any prospect of the present petrol allowance to motorists being increased for the forthcoming festive season.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel been drawn to the following statement- by Sir Henry Tizard, chairman of the British Government’s Research Policy Committee, in which lie was obviously referring to attacks made by members of the Opposition parties and the press Upon prominent Australian scientists and engineers: - )fo Australian scientist or engineer in .Australia or the United Kingdom has ever disclosed either carelessly or deliberately any information which could harm, Australia or the British Commonwealth.
I have been somewhat distressed in Australia to find that little of the gossip which has readied :me in England has been confirmed by what I have read and heard here. There seems to be an impression at least in parts of Australia that the United Kingdom has doubts of the integrity ‘of Australian scientists and engineers and is not seeking their cooperation in matters of a particularly confidential nature.
– Order ! I have allowed the honorable senator a good deal of latitude. He should curtail his quotation, and ask his question.
– I shall do so, Mr. President. Sir Henry Tizard continued -
One never knows what gossip is trying to do, but I am in a very good position to report to you the highest official opinion in the United Kingdom and there is not the slightest bit of truth in it.
In view of that statement by so distinguished ‘a scientist and similar statements by other eminent persons revealing concern at the manner in which the integrity of our scientists and engineers in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been attacked, will the Minister confer “with the Prime Minister with a view to introducing legislation or talcing other necessary action to protect our scientists from slanderous attacks being made upon them sometimes Trader parliamentary privilege ?
– I have read the statement to which the honorable senator has referred. Lt should remove at least some of the doubts which have been raised by various persons in their criticism of scientists “within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I shall discuss the matter with the Prime Minister to see what remedial action can be taken.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs the serious position that faces the lavender oil industry at Bridestowe, Lilydale, Tasmania. This industry is the only one of its kind in the British Commonwealth, and it deserves special consideration in view of the recent devaluation of the French franc. Howewer, it will be forced to discontinue operations, even though reputable authorities say that its quality is lar .superior to that of the French lavender oils, unless it receives some encouragement from the Government. I, therefore, ask the Minister: 1. Will he take immediate steps to review the serious position of the industry with a “view to itaking positive measures to ensure that it shallbe retained for Tasmania and Australia? 2. Will he inquire into the possibilityof payingasubsidy on exports, or imposing a protective duty on imports of lavender oils from France, so that our own grown product, which is considered tobe of such high quality,can meet competition and be made available to the publicboth here and overseas?
– The industry hasbeen investigated bythe Department of Trade andCustoms, and the action to be taken is at present under consideration.Itwould appear from the information obtained by thedepartment thatthe protection against overseas competition whichwould be required bythe industry in present circumstances would heexcessive. An unusual feature in this case is that most of thesupplies obtained from overseas are of French origin, and that producers inthat country have obtained a (Substantial cost. advantage for thetime being from the depreciation ofthe French franc. The matter isstill being investigated,and anything that canbe doneto protect the industrywill be done, and I shallcommunicate ray decision tothe honorable senator as soon as possible.
Money Orders from theUnited States of America - Post Offices. Senator SANDFORD.-I have been informed that when money orders are despatched from the United States of America to Australia the document of advice is usually senttothe recipient by airmailbutthe document of identity, which must be received in Australia before payment can hemade, is sentby ordinary mail.Numbers of people in this countryreceivemoneyOrders fromthe United States, andthey have been subjected to delays of fromthree to fivemonths incashingthem. Will the Postmaster-General inquire intothe matter, with a view torectifying the causeof complaint, eitherbyhaving all therelevant documentssent by airmail orby filtering the present systemof transmission ; after consultation with the American authorities?
SenatorCAMERON. - I shall have inquiries made, and if difficulties of the kind mentionedby the honorable senator are occurring I shall communicate with the United States postal authorities.
– On the 18th November, Senator Critchley asked me the following question: -
Can the Postmaster-General indicatewhen acommencement will be made with the construction of modern post offices in metropolitan suburbs, where the department has already acquiredsites for such purposes ? Is the Post- master-General aware that, in many metropolitan suburbs the population has increased to such a degree that unofficial post offices are unable to cope with the increased demand forpostal services?
I now inform the honorable senator as follows: -
Thedepartment appreciates thenecessity to provide additional post office buildings in the metropolitan area of Adelaide andmany siteshavebeen acquired where development necessitates such action. Plans arebeing developedfor new post office buildings, but, in viewofthepositionin South Australia regarding the releaseof the necessary materials, my department is finding it very difficult to proceed evenwithworks of anurgent nature. Post officebuildings forAlberton, Parkside andd Tttsmare arc fully planned . but cannot jir.occed. The position , i*> . being closely watched, however, And represent:1 tions on the matter are continually being made to the appropriate State aiiUhoTitacs. Uegavtting the second poritian . of the . question, . it ilins not come under the no.trice.of my department that many non-official post offices are unable to cope with postal business offering. T can assure the honorable senator that, -ut offices where the amount -ei jjostril business is tEsinsaitted is beyond tQie capacity of the postmaster . and an increase of staff is warranted, the department arranges and -pays ‘for the addiifnonal assistance. The position !at ‘oil offices is continua/lly beinfr watched and further non-official offices are established in localities where postal requirements are such as Ito justify such a course.
– .Can the Minister I’Bjpreseriting .the Minister in charge of the .Council lor Scientific and .Industrial Research present ,to .the .Senate any .report .on the progness made .by “the .council in its investigation .of soil, r.ainfall and fodder .cultivation .in the Biirdekin River axfca in .north Queensland, and .the &ui.taMity .or otherwise of that -ar,ea for irrigation’?
– I am -not aware whether iany report ;of the kind .mentioned iby the (honorable senator has been made, but J. shall inquire of the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and inform the honorable senator of the result.
Sena tor ARNOLD. - In common with other members of the Senate, I am constantly receiving inquiries from constituents concerning the range of social service benefits available to the community. Will the Minister for Social Services consider instituting a widespread campaign to acquaint the people with the vast range of social services provided for them by the present Government ?
– Following the consolidation of social services legislation last year, I directed that a pamphlet be prepared giving details of the social service benefits available. However, because of contemplated changes of the scope and rates of social service benefits, the pamphlet was not completed. As honorable senators are aware, pension rates have since been increased and many liberal improvements have been made in social services. A measure to rehabilitate physically incapacitated persons is at present under consideration by the Parliament, and until that measure is disposed of I shall not be in a position to complete the pamphlet. However, I hope that the preparation of the pamphlet can be completed in the next few weeks. It will be presented attractively, with illustrations, and I can assure the honorable senator that it will be given wide circulation.
– Has the Minister for Supply and Development seen a statement which was published recently that during last July the production of tin concentrates throughout the world amounted to 14,700 tons, which is a record for the post-war period? The statement also estimated that the production of tin concentrates for. the first seven months of this year amounted to 87,000 tons, compared with C7,000 tons in the corresponding period of last year. In view of the great shortage of tinplate in Australia, can the Minister indicate whether the increased production of tin concentrates throughout the world will result in increased supplies of tinplate being made available to Australian users in the near future?
– I can assure the honorable senator that there will be an increased quantity of tinplate available in Australia in the next twelve months, but whether the increased rate of supplies expected can be maintained or improved I do not know. During my recent visit to the United Kingdom I spent a good deal of time in efforts to increase the allocation of tinplate to Australia. The world shortage of this important product has been accentuated by the necessity to can huge quantities of food for export. Honorable senators will obtain some idea of the demand for tinplate for use in canning food when I mention that the quantity of food canned in this country is now nearly three times as much as it was before the war. Although the United Kingdom hasbeen helpful in endeavouring to increase the allocation of tinplate to Australia, ir has not been sufficiently helpful. The United States of America has also been sympathetic, but the government of thai country is not prepared to increase the allocation of tinplate to Australia. It considers that Australia is a natural market for the United Kingdom, and that that country should supply sufficient tinplate for Australia. However, there artprospects of Australia increasing its own production of tinplate. Arrangements have been made by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to establish a tinplate mill. Its establishment will involve an expenditure of from £10,000,000 to £14,000,000, and, unfortunately, it cannot be completed for some years. In the meantime, we shall have to do the best we can with the quantity of tinplate supplied to us by the United Kingdom. For the information of honorable senators I may say that Mr. Lever, who represents one of the largest suppliers of tinplate in the United Kingdom is visiting Australia, and we hope that as the result of his visit Australia will receive more sympathetic consideration. Richard Thomas Baldwin and Gollan, the firm which he represents supplies nearly 80 per cent, of the tinplate exported from the United Kingdom to this country. As evidence of the desperate situation caused by the shortage of tinplate, I have had to refuse a number of food orders sponsored by the British Food Council because we have not sufficient tinplate to can the food required.
– I have been informed that sugar which is carried in ships’ holds often escapes from the bags, is swept up, and returned to the sugar refinery concerned for cleansing. Can the Minister for Health say whether sugar which has been treated in that way is permitted to be sold for human consumption ?
– I know nothing of the practice to which the honorable senator has referred, but I shall make an inquiry as to whether it does in fact occur. It is possible that further refining and processing of the sugar would ensure its delivery to the consumers in a hygienic condition.
– Further refining and processing would ensure its cleanliness.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs, who knows intimately the processes connected with the refining of sugar, informs me that further processing would render such sugar perfectly fit for human consumption.
– In view of the fact that a great drain on available dollars is caused by the importation of American films can the Minister for Shipping and Fuel state whether the Government will adopt the same attitude as that adopted by the British Government, and give all possible assistance to the Australian film industry?
– The Government is prepared at all times to give sympathetic consideration, and in many instances practical assistance, in the establishment or fostering of industries in Australia, and I am sure that it will give the same sympathetic consideration to the film industry.
– On the ISth November, Senator Rankin asked me a question concerning a stoppage of work by waterside workers at Townsville. I have had inquiries made into this matter and am advised that there was recently a partial stoppage of work at Townsville, but the dispute has now been settled. The vessel concerned is now working and a normal out-turn of work is being obtained. With regard to the provision of two extra men in each gang the position is that a trial was made with the two extra men and there was an improvement in the loading rate. The improvement, however, was not satisfactory to employers who reverted to the original number of men employed.
Alleged Leakages from Official
– As As almost seven weeks have elapsed since the Prime Minister and the Acting Attorney-General directed the Commonwealth Security Service to investigate the source of confidential documents relating to atomic and other defence matters, is the Acting Attorney-General in a position to inform the Senate of the result of such investigations? Does the Government intend to take any action in the matter or does its inaction indicate that it is satisfied about the authenticity of the documents?
– I am in a position to make a report on the results of the investigations to date, but I do not propose to do so, nor do I intend to convey to the Senate at this stage any information of what action may be taken, or to express an opinion on the matter.
– On the 18th November, Senator Cooke asked me a question without notice concerning an increased shipping service to Esperanice Bay. I have had inquiries made into the question of shipping to the port of Esperance in Western Australia. The importance of the area served by this port is appreciated, but as I advised the honorable senator when he raised this matter the relatively small amount at cargo offering for the- port? has. limited the possibility of providing; additional’- services. If was largely at the- instance- of the Commonwealth that the existing three-monthly servicefor the port was established, and’ I am advised that the question- of- shipping to Esperance has recently Been given further consideration by the AustralianShipping Board in consultation withMr. Henchman, who recently visited MelL bourne and; Sydney as a representativeof various interests in Esperance1. Owingto the continued pressure1 on our coastaltonnage resources it was not possible for the combined traffic committees to1 agree to a definite fixture every two months. It was agreed, however, that the existing position would be maintained and vessels from eastern States will continue to. discharge at Esperance at intervals of approximately three months,., and in. addition, where sufficient’, cargo - approximately, 8.00 tons - can be- assured,, an. endeavour will be- made.- to> place an extra ship on- the rum to. Esperance.
ask asked the Minister for Shipping and. Fuel,, upon notxeef -
L, Has, he- read a. statement in. the. curiem-. issue.- of Eegiannaine,. official, organ of the Australian Legion of. Ex.-service Men and Women, that the Australian Government has-, knowingly paid hundred’s- of thousands of pounds i:n war damage, to Japanese: collaborators in New Britain?.
Is it a fact, as stated in the article, that, a former Japanese kentpetai (provost) officer lias’ Been given a new home* and receives extensive, payment for- war damages, and, that the names: of five people claimed’ to be Japanese collaborators were submitted to the District Officer at Port Moresby by the Eaibaul branch of the Ex-servicemen’s Association,, together with evidences against (mem ?- 3; In.view of the; legion’s request for- a,- royail. commission to inquire into the administration, of the Territory of Papua, the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, New Britain’, New tneland, and: the.- adjacent islands1, and thedemand that war criminals should be rounded: up and punished, will he indicate what action tile Government proposes to1 take im respect of.’ fcliese’ allegations?.’
– Inquiries are being” made regarding- the allegations contained in the article, and as- soon as- information is available’ it will be supplied’ to the honorable senator:
Senatou CQURTICE’.- On, the 13th. Qetobery Senator Arnold, asked, me- the following, question:: -
understand”, that the Department; of Commerce: and Agriculture has- carried, out experiments, with the growing, and treating of ramiv and’ that the experiments have reached” a stage at which they are1 of some- practical use to the textile, industry.., Can the Minister supply the Senate with any information about those experiments ?
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has- now supplied the following, information : -
The Department o£ Commerce and Agriculture has carried out certain1 experiments with ramie in New South Wales: Testing for textile suitability is now possible,, as. ramie fibre lias1 been produced. These test’s are being arranged, but have not yet; reached a stage at which it is possible to indicate whether or not they may prove of practical use: t!o’ the textile? industry:
-YEW BUSINESS AFTJ2R 10.30 P.M.
Motion (byiSenffitor-AsHTDBTj) put -
That .’Standing Order 168 be suspended up (to a’ud including Friday,, .the .3rd December aiext, to enable new business to be commenced .alter l’0.’30 j).u.
– There heing .an absolute .inajori1;y of the whole .number of senators present, .and no .dissentient voice, [ declare the question resol.ved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator MoBjsnna) agreed to -
That leave bo given to ‘bring in .a ‘bill for
Htii act to provide for -the .establishment ‘of national hoiilth services, andtfor-other purposes.
Motion (by ‘Senator McKtswka) agreed to -
That leave be given ‘to bring in a %il;l for an act to amend the .Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1.047, as amended .by the Judges’ Pensious Act 19.4.8.
1 MMIGUATTON (GUARDIANSHIP OP CHILDREN.) BILL .1948.
Bill received from the House of .Representatives.
Standing and ‘Sessional ‘Orders suspended.
BiTl ,(on motion by ‘Senator Vrmstro.vg) >‘ea’d a ni’St .time.
– I move -
That .the bill .be now tread a .-second .time. “Xhs Immigration .(Guardianship of Children) Act 1946, ‘-which came into operation on the 30th December, 1946, vested in ‘the Minister ‘for Immigration an overriding legal guardianship in respect ‘o.f .all immigrant .children who come “to .Australia other “than with, or for the purpose .of living under the care of, their parents or relatives. The object <of .that act was to ensure that any .immigrant children brought to Australia ..should be properly accommodated .and cared for until they reached 21 years of fage. The Australian G overnment, in .encouraging and assisting child migration by way of .contributions towards passage money, financially assisting .with .expenditure for their accommodation, and .paying child .endowment to organizations caring for the children, accepts .a responsibility which does not end .with the .children’s arrival in Australia.
The most important consideration is ihow lie interests of immigrant children can best ‘be served, and, at the a’equest .of ‘the Minister for Immigration (Ma-,. Caiwiell), officers .expert an child welfare administration .recently me.viewed the act :and recommended certain (amendments ,to it based on experience gained in the past twelve months .with arriving immigrant ch.il- drea. It is now proposed to embody these recommendations, which provide the Minister .with .certain increased powers, in the .act. Briefly, the amendments provide for - (a) the Minister to act .as the legal .guardian of the estate as well as of the person of any immigrant child.; (&) an immigrant child, prior to leaving Australia, being required first to obtain the consent in writing of the Minister; and (c) the Minister to have power to approve of a private individual as a custodian of am immigrant child.
That the Minister, as legal guardian of the person of ;an immigrant child, should also be the legal guardian of the estate of that .child is an amendment which provides for not only the safeguarding, but also the receipt, disposition, management and control of property of an immigrant child until such time as Tie attains his own legal status, and, as such, is an amendment which should commend itself to -all Oionorable senators. The second amendment is intended to .safeguard similarly the best interests of the immigrant, child. The consent of the Minister cannot be refused under the proposed amendment .unless he .is satisfied that the grant of -the .consent would be prejudicial to the best .interests of the immigrant child. This amendment will ensure that children shall not be taken from or induced to leave Australia without the permission o.f the .Minister .as their legal guardian. The final amendment has been proposed as the result of careful consideration given to methods by which the flow of immigrant children into Australia might be increased. With the movement of immigrant children confined, for very desirable reasons, to those who are channelled through “ approved organizations “, such as the Fairbridge Farm Schools, Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, Northcote Children’s Farm School, and church ‘bodies, the opportunity will arise for these children being placed out with private individuals, either on a permanent basis or with legal adoption in view. It is therefore felt that the Minister should have the power to approve of a private individual as a custodian of an immigrant child, in addition to an authority or organization to which custodianship is at present limited.
The purpose of the bill is to ensure that immigrant children shall receive the care and supervision which they would normally expect from their parents or next-of-kin, and the provisions contained in the bill will enable this to be done to a greater degree than has been possible under the existing act.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Courtice) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Egg Export Control Act 1947 includes a provision which protects the rights of any member of the permanent staff of the Commonwealth Public Service who may be employed by the Australian Egg Board. Such a provision also exists in similar acts relating to other industries. This provision does not relate to any of those officers who may be appointed as members of the board, and it is now found desirable that, in respect of the Australian Egg Board, it should do so. A member of the public service has been appointed as chairman of the board in view of his association with the organization of this industry under war-time conditions, and it is desired that his acceptance of this position should not prejudice the rights accruing from many years of service with the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator 0’ Sullivan) adjourned.
Second Reading. Debate resumed from the 18th November (vide page 3178), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I shall not delay the passage of this measure through the Senate. It appears to be only a machinery bill, bringing our trade marks legislation more up to date, and into conformity with the. corresponding law of Great Britain. While on this subject, however, I believe that the Government might well consider giving attention to other of our mercantile laws in order that, they may be brought up to date and into conformity with the laws of Great Britain on which they were originally based. During the war, of course, the Government directed all its endeavours to the winning of the war, and since then, it has been busy with industrial and social legislation ; but I consider that it would be a good plan for the Commonwealth, in collaboration with the States, to bring up to date our laws on companies, bills of sale, bills of exchange, and other routine mercantile practices, so that we should have uniformity not only throughout the Commonwealth, but also with the parent legislation of the British Parliament. I commend that suggestion to the Government.
– I support the bill. It is a desirable measure, as far as it goes. The aim of our trade marks legislation is to protect the public by ensuring that goods offered for sale are in accordance with the registered trade mark that they carry. . suggest, however, that consideration be given to the establishment of standards of manufacture. Even before the war, a gradual deterioration of standards of cloth and other commodities became noticeable. I believe that a trade mark, in addition to guaranteeing that a particular commodity is the product of a certain manufacturer, should also be a. warranty of prescribed standards, failure ro maintain which should result in the cancellation of the registration of that trade mark. As I have said, the quality of many goods to-day, including trademarked commodities, is considerably inferior to what it was not many years ago.
– in reply - I am gratified at the support that ha3 been afforded to the bill by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan). This measure has been sought by the commercial community, and it will facilitate trade practices considerably. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has suggested that the mercantile laws of the Commonwealth should be overhauled. Those laws are continually under review. I believe that our legislation covering bills of exchange is on a par with the very latest British law on that subject. With regard to company law, the honorable senator will realize that the Commonwealth only has power to legislate in respect of certain types of companies and then only if they have been formed in Australia, or in other words, pursuant to State law. Therefore, the scope of Commonwealth company legislation is very restricted. I am indebted to the honorable senator,, however, for his suggestion. In my capacity as Acting Attorney-General, I shall have due regard to whatever need there may he to overhaul our merchantile law, but I point out that the business community is very active in watching its own interests. I believe that, apart from the fact that officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department are kept completely informed of developments in British law, we can rely upon our business community to remind us, if in their view, any action is necessary to assist their trade practices and facilitate their dealings. We have not found any diffidence on the part of commercial organizations about coming forward with suggestions. Therefore, I believe that the honorable senator need have no ground for misgivings.
Senator Cooke referred to the need for manufacturing standards. The Commonwealth assisted the promotion of the San.dards Association of Australia which renders a very real public service in this country. Its mark is protected under federal law. I believe that this is one more instance in which the national interest is not served by the fact that there are six State governments dealing with standards. The National Government, where overseas trade is involved, is not in a position to determine firmly the standards that are to be adhered to. I am gratified that the bill has the full support of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section fifty-eight of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “58. - (1.) Subject to this section, a trade mark when registered may be assigned . . . “ (3.) An assignment of the trade mark shall not be held to be invalid if the defendant makes it appear . . .
– I move -
That, in proposed new section 58, sub-section (3.) the word “defendant” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ assignee “.
The amendment is purely formal. It is necessary because there may be cases in which the person concerned is not a defendant but a plaintiff against whom a counter claim is made. The person concerned will always be the assignee of the trade mark, whether he is plaintiff or defendant in the action. The position, therefore, will be met by substituting the word “ assignee “ for the word “ defendant “.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Glauses 8 to. 11 agreed’ to. Title agreed to4
Bill, reported with an amendment. Standing, and Sessional. Orders, susr pended; report adopted. Bill read a third, time.
Debate, resumed, from the. I7.th November (vide page. 3.020.) )i on motion. by Senator Courtice -
That. the. bill be now, read a second time.
[3.53]. - I shall not offer any objection to the measure. The. importance of Canberra as the national capital of the Commonwealth is. continuing, to grow,, and; we may expect to see here; in. our. time. a. city of no mean proportions. It is. true that many residents of Canberra, exercise a great deal of influence- by virtue of their exalted positions in the Public Service and the- part they play in- governmental administration. It- is a British tradition that, there should be no. taxation, without representation- In. these: days, residents of the Territory, like residents in the States; pay taxes towards, the upkeep of the National’ Government Therefore; it is fit and proper that they should have direct representation in the Parliament. T: trust that the time- will soon- come when- the limitations which will’ be imposed upon that representative under1 this measure’ can be removed. It is unf ortunate that the population of the Territory is below the electoral quota, and that for that reason complete representation cannot be extended to residents of the Territory.
– As. the AustralianCapital Territory is not, a State;, could-, complete representation he given in-, the Parliament to its residents kt any event ?.1
– Secti - Section- 122’ of” the Constitution- provides- that a territory may be given representation in. the Parliament on such terms as the Parliament determines.. Therei is not limitation at n>ll< upon, the Parliament in. determining’ suGh- terms. At present. Canberra’ cannot be- regarded’ aa a State ; it is a> territory. But when’ its1 population eqraals the quota, which: would entitle it to’ complete,’ representationj T trust that such- representation will1 be provided’. As1 1 have said, residenlssp. in and about Canberra1 devote- their- lives- to the Public Service, and, as- 1 have: painted out on previous occasions, Australia is remarkably well served1 by its- public ser* vant?. Our Public Service is- second to none in any civilized country. In passing. I express the hope that when- further department’s are transferred to.- Canberra, as1 office and residential accommodation becomes- available, the- Government will give serious consideration to rectifying the anomaly of haying; more temporary than, permanent, employees in. the Publir Service. Such a degree of. temporary employment cannot be satisfactory from the viewpoint of either the public servants concerned or. the. government and the people, whom: they serve.. I trust that, as adequate housing and. office accommodation becomes available, to permit of the transfer of. all. government departments to, Canberra, complete and full, representation, willi be given to;, residents, of the territory, in the. Parliament.
-EINi (Queensland) [3.57.]. - This-, measure represents’ a milestone in: the1 life and history of ourNational! Capital. It marks a< decided step forward im the progress of Canberra. I congratulate the- residents of- the Australian Capital Territory upon- achiev- “ ing’ the measure1 of represenfiatfom in tho National Parliament which is’ to be provided under- this bill but regret that their representative– will- not- be given a vote upon- all matters- coming before- the Parliament, r also’ urge- the Government to create a municipal1 council in Canberra. The residents- of the National Capital1 are- as- much entitled’ to- local selfgovernment, as- are residents of” other cities. Bysuch means they would be better enabled to- deal’ with problems arising from local’ conditions partieularlV as they affect the residents-. & focal’ government’ body could do- much1 to- assist the citizens, of Canberra-.
,.. - - I congratulate the- Government upon: introducing this measure, which, as Senator Rankin has said, represents a milestone in. the development of the National Capital. The bill gives expression to the democratic precept that there shall be no taxation, without representation. I also hope that this legislation will be the forerunner of further progressive measures extending, the representation of residents of the Australian Capital Territory in the Parliament. Indeed, I hope that the population of the Territory will increase to such a degree that its residents will become entitled to two representatives in the Parliament. This measure is evidence of the Government’s growing interest in the welfare of the people of its territories. The representative of the Australian Capital Territory will join the representative of another territory, naajiely, the honorable member for the Northern Territory.
I should welcome the formation’ of another region in the far north of Queens*Iand, where- existing electorates are so vast that it is almost an impossibility to. give adequate attention to their special problems’- under present conditions. Those: problems cam be better1 dealt with by the establishment of closer contact between residents; of those areas and the National Government. I view this measure as am indication of. the development of the. Commonwealtb, and I am- proud to- be a supporter of the government which has beera responsible for taking this- historic *tep’.
– I support the bill. I am one of those who thought that when federation was effected. Australia would have only one parliament, and that, the government of the country would cease to- be shared by six other parliaments; With six: State legislatures’ enacting separate sets: of laws; Australians can. be said to be: living on. six. different islands. If we wishto achieve; uniformity, which, is. essential to national progress, we: should have only one: Parliament and- be governed, by only one- set, of laws.. I do not see any necesr sity for the- continuance of State parliaments. Indeed,, they tend, to some, degree, to, frustrate the progress-, which the nation; would make if it were governed only by the National Parliament. I agree thatno oitiaen who is> not represented^ in. the
National Parliament should be obliged; to pay tax. However,, I do not believe that this legislation will prove to be so advantageous to- the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory as some people appear to think. To-day, the Territory is completely the responsibility of the Government as a whole and its residents have access to all Ministers and members of the Parliament. When the Territory has a. representative of its own in- the Parliament, 1 am afraid that that representative will be left to carry that responsibility alone. Under present conditions, residents of the Territory receive a better hearing than, they will probably be able to obtain through only one spokesman. In passing, I urge Australians to pause and think whether they are. not overgoverned so long, as the State parliaments remain, in existence.
. - - m reply - I am pleased at the cordial reception, given by the Senate to this: important measure^ which I have no doubt will be welcomed by residents of the Australian Capital Territory. Those people hja-ve oxg various occasions; indicated: their desire- to- be given a voice in the National Parliament.. That request will be met ufflder this bill.. The effectiveness of the representation;, now being: provided will be extended in due course when the popu^ laition of the territory equals the average number of voters in electorates throughout Australia.. At present,, however,, the population of the territory is much below the prescribed quota. I have no: doubt that the population, of the territory will grow rapidly and that the day will soon come whem it will be given a vote as well a3’ a. voice im the National Parliament
Question resolved in the affirmative’.
Bill read1’ a second time; and’ passed through its remaining stages’ without’ amendment- or debate.
Second- Reading’; Debate resumed from the 17th November (vide page 30-23 ) on motion by Senator Ashley - That the hill bp. now read a second time.
I am pleased to support the measure, and if I have any complaint at all about the bill it is that the amount proposed to be given to the United Kingdom, £10,000,000, is not sufficient. In fact, that sum does not compare with - the generous gestures to Great Britain made by Canada and South Africa. When we bear in mind the tremendous sacrifices made by Great Britain for civilization and the preservation of our way of life, and the degree to which it has attenuated its resources by sacrifices of blood, tears and material resources, the amount of the proposed gift appears most inadequate. Great Britain, which stood alone for so long against the. might of Germany, depleted its material resources and completely exhausted its people during the war. Nevertheless, when the war ended it contributed most magnanimously to the rehabilitation of the nations of Europe. Indeed, I believe that its contributions approximate £393,000,000, which is a tremendous sum. By comparison, OU] proposed gift to Great Britain of £10,000,000 seems small indeed. Although the people of Great Britain have undoubtedly expressed their gratitude and appreciation of the proposed gift, because of the buoyancy of our national revenues one would imagine that we could have 7ii ade a far more generous contribution. However, we could perhaps render assistance of a much more practical kind to Great Britain in its hour of need. A grant of money will be, I suppose, merely a book entry, whereas a substantial contribution of food would be of infinitely more value to the British people. We should also explore the possibility of increasing British trade by purchasing more goods from Great Britain than we do at present. Of course, I realize that it is inevitable that we should be a customer of the United States of America, and we have feelings of sincere gratitude to that country. However, our first and most abiding obligation is to the Mother Country, and if we can do anything to alleviate the present distress in that country by such means as the export of a greater quantity of food then we should certainly do so. As I have said, Great Britain is overstraining its present meagre resources to continue the magnificent task which it has undertaken of rehabilitating western Europe, and for that reason it is particularly deserving of assistance at present. We all realize that the peace of the world and the future of western civilization is substantially dependent upon the continued economic existence of Great Britain and the development of the British Empire. No nation realizes that more than does Great Britain, and that is one reason why that country is at present depriving its impoverished people of so much in order to assist the war-torn countries of Europe to regain their economic strength. I commend the bill, and I appeal to the Government to consider the suggestion.* which I have made.
– I warmly support the bill, which provides for a grant of £10,000,000 to the United Kingdom. I do not know whether the proposed grant will be simply a book entry, as suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan), but I should not think so. Whilst there may be some merit in the contention of the honorable senator that we should increase the amount of the proposed grant, I do not, agree with his suggestion that we could provide more food for Great Britain than we are at present providing. I do not want to be uncharitable to any section of the community, but it seems obvious that amongst those who are clamouring for more generous assistance for Great. Britain there are sections, including some primary producers’ organizations, which are insisting that we should endeavour to obtain even higher prices from Great Britain and other countries for the food which we export to them. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that the complaint of some critics of the Government that we are not treating the United Kingdom with sufficient generosity in the matter of financial grants is a hollow one. I agree that we. should make every effort to increase our production, particularly of food, not only in the interests of other countries, but also in our own interests. Nevertheless, I remind honorable senators that the proposed gift of £10,000,000 is to be made without any “ strings “ whatever attached to it. Furthermore, it will supplement a previous gift of £25,000,000, which we made to Great Britain not very long ago. I cannot help contrasting our generosity in this matter with the failure of any country in the world to assist Australia when this country was suffering so severely in the depression. No gifts of any kind were made to Australia at that time.
– The depression was world-wide.
– Admittedly, and because of the world-wide repercussions of economic disturbances it is essential that the governments should control the credit of their nations. I trust that as time goes on the people of Australia will realize the wisdom of permitting their elected representatives to determine the amount of credit which should be provided to meet any unusual circumstances which may arise.
The difficulties which confront the United Kingdom at present have been occasioned largely by a shortage of dollars outside the dollar areas, and that shortage is probably the biggest obstacle to the economic recovery of Europe. Vast supplies of goods of all kinds are needed by the nations of Europe to promote their economic reconstruction, and a very large proportion of those supplies must come from the United States and other countries in the dollar area. To promote the rehabilitation of worn-torn Europe and to make possible in the future a decent standard of living for its people, the Government of the United Kingdom has imposed tremendous sacrifices on its people. As we are all aware Great Britain has provided most generous assistance to European nations. The United States of America has also made available vast quantities of goods and large sums of money through Unrra to rehabilitate European countries. In addition, that country has made substantial grants of money, but those grants must ultimately be repaid ‘by the recipients. Of course, Australia has played no mean part in promoting the recovery of Europe. Our country was the fourth largest contributor to Unrra. We made available £A.24,000,000 worth of goods, composed mainly of raw wool, which was shipped free to Europe. Since
Unrra ceased to operate Australia has contributed approximately £A.6,000,000 for relief, and, in addition, it has been the second largest contributor to the United Nations Children’s International Emergency Belief Fund, and the third largest contributor to the International Refugee Organization. Furthermore, the people of Australia have responded magnificently to the call for food parcels for Great Britain and Europe. In addition to a gift of £25,000,000 to Great Britain and the present proposed gift of £10,000,000, we have materially supported a number of international relief organizations other than those I have already mentioned. I do not agree, therefore, with the criticism o.f the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that Australia could do more than it has done to assist the people of Great Britain.
The European recovery programme of the United States of America is designed to provide assistance to European countries for a. period of four years, after which time it is expected that the economy of those coun tries will be restored and that they will not require any further international assistance. Despite the suggestions now being made all over the world of the possibility of another international clash, a spirit of co-operation has developed throughout the world since the end of the last war. I consider that, as a result of a continuance of international co-operation, world affairs will advance to a much higher and’ better plane. The dollar shortage, whilst it is one of the factors responsible for the difficulties of rehabilitating war-ravaged Europe, is not the only trouble that faces the United Kingdom and Europe. There is a sterling shortage, which is a difficulty with which Australia is closely associated. As a result of the sterling shortage, trade between European countries has been obstructed because of the inability of certain countries in Europe to meet their sterling trade payments. To overcome that difficulty an intraEuropean trade and payments agreement was negotiated in Paris on the 16th October last following discussions among the United States, the United Kingdom and participating European countries, to determine the allocation of dollar aid and intra-European payment?-. The -.purpose of -the agreement was to -keep the -trade level between countries as high ‘as possible, which is something that I (regard as very essential and worth ‘while. The agreement indicates nhat the spirit of co-operation ‘to which ! have referred is not mere :talk but is practical. T<he Minister, in his speech, made the following reference to ‘the intraEuropean payments and compensations conference in Paris: -
Agreed estimates were drawn -up as to the likely not creditor and debtor positions of the participating countries .vis-a-vis each other, resulting from their current transactions during 1948-40. Grants at local currency are to be made available to the debtor countries by the creditors ‘to cover the likely deficits nf the former, provided certain conditions are fulfilled. Certain -trade rules were also agreed by O.K.E.C., which are designed to bring about a gradual correction of the debtorcreditor gap by an expansion of the exports nf debtors to creditors and by promoting their recovery through the supply ot essential goods.
That is an indication of the efforts that are being made on an international level to-day to accomplish Europe’s rehabilitation. It is generally recognized that unless there is rehabilitation throughout Europe there is not much chance of economic recovery in the United Kingdom. In an endeavour to expedite European recovery, the United Kingdom, despite! its tremendous -economic difficulties, has made grants of £70^000,000 sterling to European countries and has agreed to withdraw £52,000,000 from existing sterling balances in those countries. While endeavouring to place the people of those countries on a decent economic standard, the United Kingdom lias also had to assume tremendous obligations to try to bring about a state of affairs in European countries, particularly in Germany, that -would enable them to become self-supporting. It is interesting to note that the United Kingdom has made available to Unrra JEtl.55,000,000 sterling, ,and that it has spent £130,00Q;000 sterling on assistance For refugees and displaced persons, and £240^000^000 sterling on non-military costs <of the occupation of ‘Germany and Austria. It has also given £393,000,000 sterling .in .other forms -of aid to Europe. When analysed, these .figures show how remarkable it is -.that -Great Britain, which had to stand the brunt of a world -war and, in addition to its own .tremendous direct - effort, ‘rendered .assistance to ‘Other countries on the successful .prosecution <of the war, has - obtained the net result thai its people now have to -fight the .’greatest economic battle >of ‘.their history. J believe that Britain is coming through that Cattle successfully. I .also believe that it was as a result of Great Britain’s stand during the war that -democracy has been preserved .for the world. It may be interesting to make a few remarks on the economic effort ‘of the people of the United Kingdom. In that country the Government publishes what is known as the Economic Survey, which is a valuable document. It indicates the policy of the British Government and also deals with the accomplishments of that country over a period. According to the survey the main -national objective in ‘Great Britain since -the war has been the .recovery of its basic industries, such as coal, power, steel and transport. We have heard a great deal about nationalization and socialization in .Britain. We have to remember that there is a .Labour government in the United .Kingdom which has done a tremendous job since it took control of Britain’s destiny. The people of England are not complaining .against the actions of their Labour Government. In fact, information I have received from people who have come from the United Kingdom to Australia recently shows that the British .Government is doing a tremendous .’job and is achieving encouraging results. For instance, following .the (nationalization of the .coal industry., increased man-power lias -been recruited to the industry and production has been increased. According to .the Economic Survey the target for 1947 <was almost achieved. In the United Kingdom the authorities have a system of setting a .target for each year and .attempting to reach it. Exports from Britain ‘have been ‘resumed on a substantial .scale ;since January, 1948. Fuel supplies and transport facilities haw.e improved, .and steel production has increased. The general rate of production and exports had risen (markedly :by the end .of 1947.. The survey points -out, -however, ‘.that ‘the increate of (British exports has -not bee 1-H.pid enough .to keep the deficit down to £850/000/000, which was forecast as necessary -in the 1947 survey so as to forestall the financial effects of ‘the world dollar .and food .shortages which intensified .throughout 19.47. The fact -that recovery of -1, …. .has not .been rapid enough is due to the worsening .terms of trade operating .against Great Britain. In addition to .these disabilities the United Kingdom has suffered heavy losses in respect to gold .and dollar reserves. The weekly drain on gold in the early weeks of 1948 was at a dangerous rate and the United Kingdom Government has had to give very serious consideration to .the maintenance of -a stable economy in Britain while, .at the same time, trying to do an effective job of assisting in the recovery of “European countries. So, whatever Ave may say or think, it ‘must be admitted that the joi) that the .people of the United Kingdom ave doing is a tremendous one. “Whatever assistance any of the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations can render .to the United Kingdom now, should be given. Although Australia is giving only £10,000,000 at the moment, T hope that the .gift will produce a similar inaction in other countries associated with the British Commonwealth, because i’f all .such countries will put ‘their shoulders to the wheel a’t this stage of the economic history of the United Kingdom., it .will mot be very long before we shall have the Mother Country back on an even keel. When ttc have restored Britain to the ‘condition of economic stability to which it is entitled, in view df its mighty war -effort in the interests of democracy, I ‘believe see shall have reached a time when ‘the solidarity of the “British Empire “will become more pronounced than even- before. There have been .-some suggestions that the Empire is disintegrating .before io.ur eyes. We kno w that there have been ( difficulties regarding certain nations in the Empire, but I believe tha* despite -all that has happened recently there is .Still a feeling of kinship and friendship amongst the people .of the Empire that will ‘ultimately bring back that (Cohesion, solidarity and unanimi ty ft at will be (for the good of .the world in the .years to -come. There are many other .reasons why Australia should .give .every possible .assistance to Britain in .its period ‘of economic travail.
It is ‘interesting ito mote that *he .Minister for ..Shipping and .’Fuel .(Senator Ashley) told us .during has .second-reading .speech that .the .Government .of the United Kingdom was .fully ‘consulted before .a decision was made in relation to this ..gift. After the Treasurer (.Mr,. ‘Chifley) announced the .Government’s intention tto make -the grant, .he received a telegram from ‘the British Prime Minister, Mr.. Attlee, in the following terms : -
I learn with deep gratitude of .the .renewed proof of Australia’s generosity and farsightedness given by your proposal to ma’ke a grant df £10;000,000 to this country. At the present time, ‘when the needs of ^Europe ale so ‘pressing, this .contribution towards .the means available .for .her reconstruction is n great symbol of the spirit of common endeavour and ‘an encouragement to us all to believe ‘that, by ‘the exercise of that spirit, we shall .succeed in ‘.our task.
This .gift will he an excellent gesture ‘by Australia, and ! nobody should endeavour to belittle it because the amount is £10,000,000. That is a fairly large sum, and the making of a gift is vastly different from saying ito the British people, “ You can have it now, but we want it back :ait a later -date “. I commend the bill to -the Senate.
. [4.37]. - I -am glad indeed that this grant is to be made to ‘Great Britain, but, like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator ‘O’Sullivan), I regret that the amount is not larger. When we look back over recent years and think of Great Britain as it stood during the war, facing an enemy just across that slight strip of water, the English Channel, overcoming great difficulties and standing -alone, as it were, the very saviour of civilization for us, I think that we should want to give it .every possible .assistance in its struggle for recovery. The proposed grant of £10,000,000 is not nearly enough. It will be merely a book entry, and I believe that we should give to ‘the people of the United Kingdom .an additional gift of a modi warmer and more personal character. Surely ail! honorable ;senators have received, as I nawe, numerous letters wait-ten by people in Great- Britain who need food, thanking us for the food parcels which -we have sent to them and telling us >of their extreme need for .supplementary foods. I know that’ the United
Kingdom Ministry of Food makes sure that they obtain their basic requirements, but they need much more than that. They need more fat, more jam, and more meat, as well as more soap and other necessities. Their needs are real and urgent, and I suggest to the Government now that, in addition to making a grant of £10,000,000, it should send £1,000,000 worth of supplementary foods to assist our kinsfolk across the seas. We can spare such a gift from our own surplus supplies. The British people have passed through many years of shortages and trials, and we could encourage and assist them in that very practical way. The gesture would be very much appreciated and very worth while. Christinas will be here soon, and we have all read about the very meagre rations that the British people will have during that festive season. We, who have never had to go without the foods which they are denied, could well send them extra supplies from our own surplus. I urge the Government to give earnest consideration to my suggestion. A gift of £1,000,000 worth of supplementary foods would have a wonderful effect upon the well-being of the British people, especially the women and the children. It would demonstrate our warm sympathy for them in their time of grave need. I do not wish to delay the passage of the bill, and therefore I conclude by repeating emphatically my request that the Government consider sending a large gift of supplementary food to Great Britain as soon as it can do so.
– I support the bill, because the gift of £10,000,000 for which it provides will assist a very deserving cause. The Government has done an excellent job to assist the United Kingdom. This will be the second contribution by Australia to aid that country in its time of need. We realize as well as the Opposition the difficulties that Great Britain is experiencing in helping other countries and trying to keep its own people clothed and fed. It is remarkable to hear honorable senators opposite say that the proposed gift of £10,000,000 will be only a small contribution and that we should think of the hardships of the women and children of Great Britain and send £1,000,000 worth of food to them. Only a few weeks ago, when we were discussing taxation in this chamber, they told us that the’ producers of Australia were not producing goods because they were taxed too severely. Yet now they have the audacity to urge the Government to send at least £1,000,000 worth of food to Great Britain, claiming that such a gift would be almost equal to the grant of £10,000,000, which they describe as a mere book entry. The gift will not be a hook entry. If that were so, I should suggest that we grant £50,000,000 or £100,000,000 to Great Britain. I remind the Opposition that this will be Australia’s second monetary gift to the United Kingdom, and that no tags will be attached to it. The first grant was £25,000,000. Australia was not given the opportunity to accept any such gifts during its sufferings in the years of the depression. I wish that some country had come to our aid in those years. A gift of £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 then could have prevented a great deal of misery and starvation in this country. Millions of bushels of wheat would not have had to be dumped into the sea because the people whom the Opposition represents refused to sell it, for is. or 2s. a bushel, to be made into flour.
It is rather amusing to watch honorable senators opposite shedding crocodile tears about the sufferings of the British people. Nobody in this country knows less than they do about the sufferings of the people, particularly the working class people. It is of no use for them to “ kid “ to us that they know anything about the conditions of the workers in Great Britain because we know that they do not. They never investigated the conditions of the workers in Australia during the depression. We know that the people of the United Kingdom are meeting adversity as Britons should, and I hope that before long they will be able to return to something like normal conditions. Australia has done a wonderful job for the British people by means of the monetary gifts which this Government has made and the individual gifts of food parcels sent by the people. I have not forgotten that, when we were considering a bill in this chamber recently, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition opposed the measure on the ground that it involved expenditure of the people’s money. He said that we must be careful about spending the people’s money. He also said that Australia’s economy was in a buoyant condition and that we should try to make it even more so. I agree that our economy is buoyant, but that is the result of the administration of this Government. Had we not benefited from such administration, we should not be able now to make gifts to other countries. 1 do not wish to delay the passage of the bill, but I had to reply to the criticism of the amount of the proposed gift. Members of the Opposition talk about sending food to the United Kingdom, but recently they declared that dairy-farmers in Queensland would not increase production because taxes were too high. Let them go back to Queensland and tell those farmers that we need greater production so that Great Britain may be I letter served in the near future. I commend the hill to the Senate.
– It is not my intention to delay the passage of this bill. However, I consider that the occasion calls for some comment on” the attitude of the Opposition, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, towards the relationship between the Australian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom. There is a tendency amongst supporters of the anti-Labour forces in Australia to declare that the Labour movement is not in sympathy with the people of the United Kingdom. Only a week ago, when a certain bill was before the House of Representatives, an honorable member suggested that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) was anxious to liquidate the British Empire. That charge ‘ should not he allowed to pass without challenge. Apparently there is only one thing wrong with this Government, in the opinion of the Opposition, and that is that it happens to be of the wrong political colour, I am sure that, if this bill provided for a gift of £50,000,000 to the United Kingdom, it would still be criticized by members of the Opposition, who give lip service to the people of
Great Britain. I had the fortune to visit the United Kingdom two years ago and was able to study the conditions under which the people there live. J was especially interested in the conditions of large numbers of workers who live in industrial areas. Those conditions are not the result of the two wars that have occurred during our lifetime. They are the result of - the system which has been in operation in the United Kingdom for many generations. This is not the first time that the common people of the United Kingdom have been hungry. History shows that on many occasions there has been starvation and misery in that country. In those days, did Australian governments composed of the parties of which honorable senators opposite are members come to the assistance of the United Kingdom? They did not. Australia was bursting with foodstuffs, but Labour’s political opponents who held office for so long in. this Parliament did not make any attempt to send any to the people of Great Britain. In fact they failed even to provide adequate food and shelter for thousands of Australians who were walking the streets looking for employment, and wondering where their next meal would come from. Yet now, when a Labour Government has not only provided for the people of this country, but also has been able to extend substantia] assistance to the people of the Mother Country, Opposition members in this chamber and in the House of Representatives claim that what is being done is not sufficient. The people of the United Kingdom appreciate what Australia is doing for them, and what it has done in the past. We are a nation of only 7,000,000 people, yet last year we sent £25,000,000 to Great Britain, and this year, we are sending £10,000,000. In addition, of course, substantial contributions are being made to Unrra and other relief organizations to assist the recovery of a strickened world. Will any one suggest that that is not a worthy achievement for a nation of so few people ? The actions of this Government should commend themselves to all wellwishers in a country which undoubtedly played a magnificent part in the struggle for the survival of democracy. Many of the people- of tha United Kingdom weise hungry when. World War II. started, hut, because- their’ homes: and other scantpossessions were threatened, they said, “ We- shall face this problem and make the- sacrifice “. They hoped that, there would be a better world- for them in the1 future. Immediately the war ended, they decided that a government of their own political colour should rule and the indications are- that that administration still retains the- love and affection of the great masses- in the1 United Kingdom; despite- the travail through which thai; country is passing: I am confident thatwhen the- time arrives’ for the- present Labour’ Government of Great Britain,, led by Mr.. Attlee, once more- to seek an expression of the confidence of the people, that confidence will be demonstrated unmistakably.. The people1 of Great Britain-, realize- that administrations) which controlled their destinies- in- the past,, in war and in. peace, were not in the- interests- of the masses, and they see. im the present Government an; administration! which, slowly but surely;, is m:ou ldin.gr the economy o£ the United Kingdom into1 a pattern, which, willi guarantee! to the British people better standards of- living’ in the; future. I berlieve that this contribution by Australia tot the: economic recovery/ of Great. Britain is magnificent: I agree with’ th® Prime? Minister’ who$_ as. Treasurer;, introduced- this bil! into- the House1 of’ Representatives, and with the Minister’ foc .Shipping1 and Fuel (Senator Ashley)’-, who has’- moved the- second reading- in thischamber, that Australia’s; actions on this! occasion; will bring- hope- to- the- people of Gr.ea.t Britain. They will, have1 a far greater appreciation of this; practical” demonstration of. the’ sympathy of theAustralian people than of grandiloquentspeeches’ about the crimson ties that: bind the- Empire, and’ so< om. Speeches; ifr not cost anything. Any one can make a< high-sounding speech about’ the- necessity te preserve Empire’ unity, but this gift’ is something- tangibles It’ will give to’ the people of Great Britain- hope and inspiration: They will: realize that in th is, dark hour;, membership of the British, Commonwealth of Nations- still’ means something When I heard people pitying, lip service fm a- groat cause, I
Gould not refrain from saying; something in commendation. o£ the; Government which1 has. sponsored this.’ measure;
– I believe that the people of the. State of Tasmania, which I represent in this chamber, are most patriotic, and that this step by the Government to assist the people, of Great Britain will give them great pleasure. Clause 3 of the bill states -
The:e. shall hu. payable out. of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly,, for the purpose of a grant to- Has- Majesty’s Government, in. the United: Kingdom^, the sum of Ten million, pounds.
Clearly, therefore* this- gift; is: not merely a book-, entry. One. hears a. lot to-day about the suffering of. the: people- of Great/ Britain, but I remind the. Senate, that, from & nutritional point of view, the people- of Great Britain have: never been, better- fed than they are to-day: Prior to the war, many British, children had never- eaten ani egg,, an. orange or an apple. Some; of them lived in cellars,. 40 feet below the footpaths,, and slept two or- three to each bed. People on relief work, received’ a subsistence allowance of 4s. a week to provide groceries. As Senator Sheehan has said’, there was no move by anti-Labour governments in this country at that time to go to the assistance of the British people, many of whom, were living,” in poverty and squalor yet now when this Government proposes to make a gift of £10,000;000; it: is criticized as> being insignificant. Obviously, any one who offers such criticism is merely paying lip service to the, people of Great Britain. Any one, who, wants t’o know how the British people have lived in years gone by need* only read the pamphlet written By the Bean of Canterbury, who inspected the. slums: just before the war. He. writes of a little child, who, upon being offered’ a glass- of milk,, asked, “‘How far down may I drink?1” He had been used t’o sharing a glass with five or six: other children.
– W - Why not, send, food to the people of the United. Kingdom ?
– They will beable to- buy food with th-isi money if they so; desire. I agree that food- is the; first necessity in. Great Britain. Why, is-
Great Britain1 in its present position? Tile reason is the greed, of the ruling, classes- which ha.ve controlled. indusr ti-iesi and the wealth of the- colonies. In an endeavour- to arrest the degradation of the Empire, the ruling classes first sought- tha> aid of tne United States1 of America, hut- it was not. long before Vmericai refused! assistance: Now, other p-asrts; of the- Empire arei deserting- the Mother Country. India-, Pakistan, and Brauna Bare- weakened their- ties:. South Africa- is on the verge of seceding; aad> Canada to-da-y is ruled by American finance. The solid core of the- Empire consists1 only of Great Britain-, Australia ;md New Zealand’. Why has- this come about ? Most of us- are- patriotic,, and we do- not favour the weakening- of Empire ties: We rely upon the solidarity of theEmpire for- our protection’. In the absence of unity; there is< no; protection;but how can- we expect protection1 when we- have permitted greedy people to- suck she- ISf c-blood from the colonies to such- a degree that they are now repudiating their associatioja. with, the Empire ? Before the war,, Britain, was. the financial centre of the world; yet in Great Britain’ there existed the greatest degree of poverty that was to be found amongst the English-speaking nations. To-day, the ruling classes- of Gfceat. Britain are feverishly trying to; save- their overseas investments:. Great Britain, expended £.150,000,000 in. Greece iiu an endeavour to suppress tlie. majority, of the people of that coiuitry. Subsequently, British forces had’ to- be withdrawn, But the. oppression of the Greeks Has been, continued by the Americans:
– R - Rot !’
– It is absolutely, true,, as any one who- reads Current iVotes on International’ Affairs’ will realize.” After the war;, the. Greek people elected’ a representative government, but Mr. ChnTchill dissolved that government and’, replaced’, it with a dictatorship which remains- to-day:
-‘Soxuvajj… - T - That is. a fairy tale.
– No:. General Sfiobie: w-ais. sent tio Greece: to> lieplace the elected government of that countay,.. He took, an- aimy- with, him. to keep the Greek. people down,. The Sydney Sun stated that that action was taken, because the Greek Government had announced that, one of its– first acts would be to reduce the- interest charged en money borrowed f-xoui Great Briitaim from 16 per cent, to 5. per cent. That, was; the first action they intended to> take- but the ruling classes- im England! brought about a dictatorship1 in Greece and prevented them from doing so.. The same classes; axe endearvouring to protect, their.’ interests in> other countries.. What is the cause: of the: present fighting’ in Palestine? Is it just- the intervention of philanthropists to- help- the people of that country?- No. That unrest is due to. the; endeavours of the greedy ruling classes’ in England to- protect, their oil interests in. that part of the world- They are the people who have brought England to- its knees. The people of the State, which I represent are patriotic, and sympathetic towards, the needs of the British working, people and. want to. assist them, but. when, money subscribed in Australia for that purpose is. ultimately used to. protect the interests of the. gEeedy English, ruling classes in. other countries, the subscribers eventually get, “fed-up”’– Possibly, if: such help, were given in1 the. form of foodstuffs they would, be sold by those classes in order to- serve, their o;wn. ends. T.o–day, the British people, are paying, a colossal cost for- the upkeep, of armiea in other coun.teies.. That is. a. great burden. What is happening- im Malaya*?. A few people in. that country are exploiting the natives,, squeezing all, they possibly cam. out of the Malayan workers. A native waterside worker in Malaya is paid at the rate of 2s. a day, yet the cost” of rice in that country has recently risen by 500’ per cent.
– D - Did not Mr. Sharkey fix up- all. their troubles?-‘
– Mamj- “ Sharkey’s.” would; be- required; to clean up- the- position in. Malaya-.. Those natives can-, scarcely obtain, sufficient, food on. which to, live-. Such-, conditions- breedrevolution., The Malayan people are. fighting: for. their existence-;, not because- of any action that has been taken by the worker? of Great Britain,, but because of the policy being pursued by the British; ruling classes in order to- puotect their- uwu interests in that country. But for the actions of those ruling classes in the past. Great Britain would not be in the position in which, it finds itself to-day. At present, it has to go cap in hand to the United States of America, which is now the financial centre of the world. If we are not careful, we shall be absorbed as another State of the United States of America; American interests will call the tune, but we shall pay the piper. Therefore, the British peoples should stick together. Should we come under the domination of the United States of America our kinsfolk in Great Britain will find themselves much worse off than they are to-day.
. reply - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) and his colleague (Senator Rankin) commenced their remarks by praising the measure, but proceeded to condemn it. Of course, it is usual for the Opposition to adopt such an attitude. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the amount of this grant was very poor in comparison with the assistance which Canada had rendered to ‘Great Britain. Canada is much wealthier than Australia and has a much larger population, The honorable senator also said that Great Britain made a very great contribution to victory in the recent war in blood and tears. He implied that Australia did not play its full part in that conflict. I challenge him to state his opinion clearly on that point.
– T - The Minister is drawing an incorrect inference from my remarks.
– That is the only inference that can be drawn from the honorable senator’s speech. I agree that Great Britain has played its full part in every conflict in which it has been involved. At the same time, Australia made its full contribution to victory in the recent war in blood and tears. We need only recall the exploits of our service personnel in the Middle East, Greece, Crete and other countries to realize that fact.
In my second-reading speech, I said -
On the ]6th October, an agreement for intra-European payments and compensation was signed in Paris. Its aim is to provideboth the necessary funds and a payments mechanism to keep trade moving at as high a level as possible among the Organization for European Economic Co-operation countries and the monetary areas of which they form the centre, during the year 1948-49.
That agreement has been reached, and thePrime Minister of Great Britain has said that this grant represents a magnificent contribution on the part of Australia. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said that this grant represented merely a book entry. That would be equally true if Great Britain were making a similar contribution to Australia. However, whilst it can be termed a book entry, the whole system of international commerceand finance, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is well aware, is based on book, entries. The fact remains that in making this contribution of £10,000,000 to the United Kingdom Government, Australia will deprive itself of imports from Great Britain up to a value of £8,000,000, because our London funds will be depleted to that degree.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 18th November (vide page 3154), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) indicated in his secondreading speech, the purpose of this bill is to reimburse the States the additional expenditure which they will incur in the administration of such controls as the Australian Government has relinquished and the States perpetuate. However, the provisions of clause 4 and the subsequent clauses constitute a serious attack upon the autonomy and sovereignty of the States. By .virtue of the arbitrary powers conferred upon the Treasurer under this measure, he can exercise complete dictation over the States. In effect, he can say to a State, “You carry out the policy which we, the Commonwealth, consider you should carry out, or you will get no money “. For the benefit of the Senate, I shall read clause 4 -
The Treasurer may, at such times as he thinks fit, make advances of such amounts as he thinks fit to a State on account of the total amount payable to that State under this Act.
That is a provision to which the Senate as a council of the States should give serious consideration. It should take appropriate action to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the States and by removing the possibility of the States, in their own internal affairs, being dictated to by the Australian Government. No rule, test or formula is provided to determine what shall entitle a State to receive this assistance from the Commonwealth. The measure is entirely wide open and unhandsome. The Treasurer can dictate to any State whose manner or method of control he may not like, and should he carry his dislike to extremes he may withhold from such a State reimbursement of expenditure legitimately incurred by it in administering its own policy. Generally, in recent years, particularly under uniform taxation, there has been a tendency to subjugate the States and make them completely subservient in their domestic policy to the dictatorship of the Commonwealth. It is our duty, as representatives of the States, to protest strongly against this further intrusion by the Commonwealth into the domain of the States. I have no objection to the general principle that the States should he re-imbursed the additional expenditure which they may incur in the administration of such controls as in their wisdom they desire to continue, but I object strongly to clause 4 and the subsequent clauses, which will enable the Treasurer to disregard completely the just and valid claims of the States. Those clauses should be deleted.
– - The bill is a necessary machinery measure, and its provisions do not justify the criticism of the Opposition that it will take away the sovereign rights of the States. The bill will not interfere in any way with the independence of State governments. In the first place, the Australian Government has been most generous to the States, and the purpose of the present measure is to enable State administrations for the control of rents and prices to function at the expense of the Commonwealth. The present Government has done more than any preceding one to assist the States financially, and many grants which have been made, particularly to the less populous States, could not be justified at all according to the flat line of reasoning adopted by the Opposition. For example, although Western Australia has received substantial grants of money from the present Government, it would have been utterly impossible for the Commonwealth to make grants based on similar principles to the more populous States. It is equitable, therefore, that grants and payments by way of reimbursement to States should be subject to such reasonable conditions as the Australian Government may determine after consultation with State Premiers. If a State does not expend wisely the money granted to it, or does not expend the money on the purpose for which it was granted, then the Commonwealth is obviously entitled to take that into consideration in considering any further applications from that State. No honorable senator, who is aware of the generous treatment given to State governments by the present administration, need experience any genuine anxiety that the Australian Government will not continue to treat the States fairly. At the same time, the Government, as the custodian of the public purse, is entitled to satisfy itself that substantial sums of money paid to the States for specific purposes are properly accounted for. I commend the measure.
– I consider that the introduction of the present measure is absolutely necessary, and I commend the Government for the sincerity of its desire to continue some form of control of rents and prices. When we review the circumstances which have given rise to the introduction of the present measure we realize the indefensible part played by the press, the commercial radio stations and other stooges crf the ‘ffuU-iabouT forces. The system -of nontroi -of rents :and prices by the ‘Commonwealth did mot need to he changed, asid no change would have ibeen made hut for the influence (exerted .by the publicity wrgans whicli I have mentioned -during the campaign .which preceded the referendum on control <of rents and prices. The enemies ,of Labour said to the people, in effect: “Do not carry .the referendum, because if you do, you will give more power to the .bureaucrats of Canberra. The States (can fix prices ‘and rents, and administer those controls quite adequately “.. At the time we .realized that those statements were lies, but the disastrous increase of the .cost living and .the lag of wages which have “occurred -since have proved just how mendacious those -claims were. To-day, because of the unjustifiable rise of the cost of living which .has occurred, dissatisfaction exists in every iaidus’try in Australia. .How did that come about1? ‘It was made possible .by the success of the vicious propaganda disseminated by opponents of the Government during the referendum ‘campaign, when they were ‘successful in persuading the people that “they should not permit the Commonwealth to continue to control rents and prices. Unfortunately, the people were -misled by that propaganda, and the States assumed tcontrol of rents and prices. .As we forecast before the referendum was taken, it is absolutely impossible for the States to exercise adequate control. Nevertheless, it is vitally important that they .should iexercise as much control las is possible. For that -reason the -Government has gone to considerable trouble to assist the States. Not ‘Only did it undertake to defray ;the expenditure involved in ithe administration of the control ‘of rents and prices, but it also -made available to the -States dhe services -and *advi’ce -of the -experts who had .been trained for years by the Commonwealth. To -return, for .a moment, to the referendum campaign, .1 addressed many meetings -in Tasmania in which J pointed out, particularly to the farmers of that State, .that, they were likely to Lose .seriously if .control of the prices .of primary -produce passed from the Commonwealth ..to the .States. .1 pointed out to .them .that if the farmers voted -in the negative they would vote against their own interests.
-Sullivan. - -Apparently the honor-able senator did .not .make .much impression on the .electors of .Tasmania.
– Unfortunately, I -did not. Of course, I had to compete with the welter of lying propaganda disseminated .by the Opposition parties,, the press and the .radio. “We urged the electors not to .regard the proposal ir om .a paTty political point of view but to treat it as a national consideration. The electors were stampeded by ithe fear engendered by the forces opposed to us, and they terminated the control ‘of .rents and prices by -the ‘Commonwealth. Because ‘oi the sincerity Df the present Government’s ‘determination to prevent undue increases of the cost of living, it ha3 done .everything possible to encourage the .State governments to exercise whatever control they can over the -cost :of living. The present measure has .been introduced in fulfilment of the ‘Government’s undertaking to .assist the States to regulate prices. As .an earnest of its intention, it has included the provision contained in (clause 4, which is as follows : -
The Treasurer ma.y, .at such .times as .he thinks fit, jnake advances of such amounts as he thinks fit to a State on account of the total amount payrible to that ‘State funder this Act.
Members -of ‘the Opposition have criticized the provisions of clause 4 o’f the bill, but it ‘should be quite obvious to honorable senators ‘that since the ‘Commonwealth is to provide the finance requisite foi- the .’States to administer prices control, the Commonwealth, as the guardian ‘of public expenditure, must exercise effective control over the States. Am example fof 4he necessity for introducing such a proviso is supplied by the increase of the price -of potatoes by 100 per cent. Indeed, some growers’ organizations are -already agitating to increase the price -of potatoes to £25 a ton. JEbrom ‘our experience we all know what happens “when the price of any article, particularly of a ‘commodity in great demand, increases. -In the following season every primary producer hopes to .share in the prevailing hagh price -of that commodity. .Because -of the general .trend against restriction of acreage of crops; if is obvious that* a. glut of certain crops is- inevitable in such, circumstances. Of course, the political parties to which honorable senators opposite belong,, which, control the administration, of certain States, suggest that the solution of that problem is the payment of subsidies.. The State governments contend that- they should, be able to. reimburse themselves, from the. Commonwealth for the amount paid, in subsidies. Any thinking person must realize that it would be wanton folly for the Commonwealth to1 pay money for subsidies for commodities, which, cannot be consumed,, and. that is an- important reason- for- the inclusion in. tie bill of the safeguarding- provisions contained in- clause 4:.
I commend’ the’ bill.
.- Clause. 4! of! the bill, reads: -
The Treasurer may, at such times- as he thinks fit, make advances of such amounts as he thinks fit to a State on account of the total amount payable to that State under this Act.
The- Deputy Leader- of the- Opposition; bay. objected to the inclusion of a provision to limit the payments to- States’ to sums, Which the .Treasurer considers State3. are justified & expending. I remind’ the honorable senator that when the Government’s proposal to continue the control of rents and. prices was defeated, at the referendum, the present. Government was under, no. obligation, to finance any attempts, by the States, to: continue prices control, because, many, State, political parties contended, that the. States were quite capable of administering prices control.. Of course; the present Government realized the hypocrisy of- their contention,, and it determined that anti-Labour governments-, in the-. States should, not be- able to: avail themselves of the excuse that, they could not afford, to introduce and administer some: measure, of prices control., For that reason^ it undertook voluntarily to provide advice,, assistance and. finance to* the- States to. administer. prices control”. In example of. the absolute necessity for some measure of prices- control is. sup,plied: by a recent article’ which appeared in the Sydney Sum of the 15th October-, the headline-‘ of which stated? -
Food prices this- weekend dearest* in cityhistory?
Of course, a similar state of affairs has occurred in Victoria, where the present prices of food are the highest in the history of that. State. As an example of the unjustifiable increase of prices and the exploitation which has taken place, I mention, tha sale, for £7,00.0 of a vacant allotment, in. a street off. St. Kilda-road, Melbourne), which, had a frontage, of barely more than. 100- feet. Similar transactions: in- real, estate are taking place throughout Australia, and. furnish, some idea of. the exploitation, which has occurred since the. Commonwealth relinquished control, of prices and rents.. Qf. course,, members of the. Australian Labour party foretold these., happenings. Indeed, we predicted them with, remarkable accuracy. In the course -of an address to a public meeting in Melbourne the Prime- Minister. (,Mr.. Chifley) said that this would happen. And, it has happened!. Only a few days ago ordinary french: beans, were sold in. the Sydney fruit and. vegetable markets for- 2s. 8d. per lb., whilst carrots fetched ls. 6d.. per lb;. I. think that those prices! amply vin.dicate the forecasts, made by- members of the Australian. Labour party, when, the referendum campaign was in, progress. Although. Labour, warned the- people against, the consequences which. would follow the rejection of ita proposal, at tha referendum, if has done, everything possible to minimize, the unfortunate consequences, of the peoples’’ votes. As I said previously,, it offered, to the. States the services: of its- trained officers,, and was. quite willing- to- give, to- the States the benefit of its experience of the administration; of control, of rents andprices., Now,, it goes farther and proposes to. compensate the States: for any moneys, which they, expend in. regulating the.- cost of living. Every f air-minded person must therefore realize, that the. States, have absolutely no excuse for failing; to implement an. effective control of rents, and prices. I. command the hill.
– T - The- remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan lead us to believe that he did not pay much attention to the second-reading speech made by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), and he took particular exception to clause 4. That clause reads -
The Treasurer may, at such times as lie thinks fit, make advances of such amounts as he thinks fit to a State on account of the total amount payable to that State under this Act. [f such a provision were not included in the bill the States would be obliged to wait until the end of each financial year before they could seek any financial assistance from the Commonwealth. Had the Deputy Leader of the Opposition paid attention to the second-reading speech of the Minister he would have realized that but for the inclusion of that provision, South Australia and “Western Australia, which exercised prices control concurrently with the Commonwealth control, would not have been entitled to any compensation for the additional expenditure which they incurred. After discussion with the representatives of State governments it was decided that the administration of control of rents find prices by the States during the financial year 1948-49 would cost £750,000. But, as the Minister pointed out, it is now realized that the expenditure on administering these controls up ro the 30th June, 1949, will total £807,000. Tho estimated expenditure of administering the individual controls is: Prices, £601,000; rents, £109,000; land sales, £”7,000. Clause 4 makes it possible for the Treasurer from time to time to advance to the States sufficient moneys to meet the costs of the administrative organizations that the States are establishing. As a member of the chamber that is elected to protect the rights of the States, I consider that the bill is a good one. The Commonwealth has been most generous in its attitude towards the transfer of the powers of control to the States because, when it is recalled that, as Senator Morrow and Senator Katz have pointed out, during the referendum campaign those who led the campaign in opposition to the Government at that time stated, in effect, that the Commonwealth Parliament was the last place in the world in which to repose the authority to control prices or rents. Members of both Houses of this Parliament were depicted as a collection of gangsters. Honorable senators will recall the articles that appeared in the daily press during the referendum campaign. The newspapers published such headings as “ Why trust Canberra ? “ and “Remote control from Canberra”. One would have thought that we were the most un-Australian collection of people that it was possible to find in Australia. That propaganda was indulged in by the representatives of the States. Various State Premiers gave utterance to statements that were a discredit to men occupying responsible positions. Members of this Parliament occupying responsible positions, and aspiring to even more responsible positions, also belittled the Parliament and the efforts of the Government to keep Australia’s economy on a stable basis. Notwithstanding these insults, the Government, in its desire to protect the people against exploitation
– And from themselves.
– It offered to place its control machinery at the disposal of the States. As a further gesture, the Government now offers to pay the administrative costs that the States incur in maintaining controls. The State governments, and those who spoke on behalf of the States during the referendum campaign, are falling down on their job, and the people are suffering as a consequence. Yet, despite the past, the Australian Government says to them, in effect, “You do this job, set up an administration that can effectively control prices, and we are prepared to pay the piper “. The passage of this measure will be another gesture by the Government to the people. The measure will provide the funds for the establishment of the necessary State machinery to try to keep inflation away from Australia, and I commend it.
– in reply - By this measure the Commonwealth proposes to reimburse the States for the costs that they will incur in the administration of prices, rents and land sales controls. Such financial assistance is necessary to assist the States to defeat inflation and to preserve the economic stability of the country as a whole. Che whole subject was considered by the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held last August. At that conference, the Premiers of the States, who represented different political viewpoints, both Liberal and Labour, were very concerned and jealous of the sovereign rights of their States. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) has virtually charged those Premiers with neglect of duty because they made no protest against the Government’s present proposal.
– A - Any protest would have been futile, anyhow.
– There is no obligation on the Australian Government to meet the expenditure of the States in administering these controls. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has objected to clause 4 of the bill, which reads -
The Treasurer may, at such times as he thinks fit, makes advances of such amounts as hf: thinks fit to a State on account of the total amount payable to that State under this Act.
The honorable senator also objects to the subsequent clause 5, which reads -
The Premier of each State shall, as soon as possible afer the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-nine, forward to the Treasurer a statement, duly certified by the Auditor-General of that State, setting out the amount actually expended by that State in administering prices, rents and land sales controls during the financial year which commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and forty-eight.
Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition seriously suggest that that is not a proper procedure to adopt? If it were not so, the Government would be attacked by the Auditor-General and would be subject to very severe criticism. I suggest that the very fact that the Premiers who attended the conference at which agreement was reached on this matter made no protest whatever shows that the objection raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not valid.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: The bill.
I refer to clauses 3 to 6 of the bill. “With all due respect to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), who has given a reply to my objections. I must say that he has not really answered them. I should like some further details, if they are available, as to what will guide the Treasurer in making the payments contemplated under clause 4. It will be seen that provisional payments may be made from time to time under clause 3, and that sub-section 2 of clause 3 provides that if the amounts so advanced are in excess of the amount determined by the Treasurer under clause 6, the States shall, upon demand, repay that amount to the Commonwealth. I should like some indication as to what test will be applied. To what extent will the Treasurer interfere with the administration of the States and the powei’3 which they, in their own domestic wisdom, consider that they should continue to hold. Turning to clause 6, I agree that it is proper that the Premier of each State should supply to the Commonwealth an audited account of what moneys have been expended, but there is no obligation on the Treasurer under this bill to pay one penny to the States. Naturally, the Commonwealth would be failing in its duty if it paid such amounts by way of reimbursemen i unless it was satisfied that the money had. in fact, been expended. It would bo wrong to reimburse any one for money? expended unless proof were forthcoming that the moneys actually had been expended. The point I wish to make, however, is that there is no obligation upon the Treasurer to reimburse the States for the money that they prove that they have expended in administering these controls. Furthermore, there is no basis to provide for equality between the amount that the Treasurer may give to a friendly or “ pet “ State, and what he may give to or withhold from a State for which he has no liking. By virtue of its exercise of the power of the purse, the Commonwealth can intrude itself into the domestic affairs of the States. For that reason, I consider that clauses 4 to 1 should be withdrawn and redrafted, with the object of -givang a .definite surety that -the States shall be a-eimhursed for moneys they .expend, provided that .they discharge the onus of proving the expenditure to the satisfaction >of the Commonwealth.
Benator ASHLEY .(New South Wales - rMinister for Shipping and .F.uel,) [5.4.7J. - 1 do not .know whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan,) is attempting .to confuse the Senate. I quoted very clearly in my .second-reading speech the various amounts of reimbursements to be made by the Commonwealth in respect of the administrative costs of the industrial controls.
– T - There is no formula set out in the bill.
– I further stated that it is proposed to limit the grant “to the reimbursement of the administrative costs only. That is the only limitation placed upon ‘the States. The whole positionwas set out clearly. That provision was .agreed to hy the Premiers at the conference last August. Any capital ‘expenditure that ‘the States incurred would be* on their own account. A -distinction must be drawn between capital expenditure and administrative costs. At .that conference the Government said .that it was prepared to pay the whole of .the administrative costs, and that is provided for in the bill.
– I - It is not provided for.,
– lt is Jiot .specifically provided for., but the Leader of the .Opposition has my assurance that it will .be carried out. as J stated in my second-reading speech .
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; v «poxt adopted. Bill read a third time.
Dehate resumed from the 18th November ‘(rifle page 3155), on motion ‘by Senator As.nT.Ey -
That the hill be now read a second time.
Question r.csol.v.ed in the affirmative.
Bill read a -.second time, and passed thmugh its remaining stages without amendment or dehate.
Bill presented by Senator McKenna,. and read a first time. “Motion [(bj ‘Senator -Ashley) put -
That ‘so much of the Standing and. Sessional ‘Orders .be .suspended as -would prevent the hill being passed through .its-
Kemaining .stages without delay.
The .PRESIDENT. - There being an absolute majority -of the whole number of senators present, and :no dissentient voice, J. declare .the .question resolved in the .affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill be now jead .a second time.
The bill -which it is my -privilege to introduce -stems from the ‘Government’s belief that, apart from -spiritual considerations, the health of the people is the foundation upon which ial’1 their happiness and all their -powers -as a nation are ‘.built. The hill, as honorable senators will observe, is an enabling measure, in which may he .seen only the broad outline of a proposed national health service, the details of the service and its .administration being left to progressive development, which will ‘be :implemented .by regulations. ZEt marks the beginning .’of a -period .in which the resources ‘of the Commonwealth can, and will be, directed to the prevention of disease, the promotion of positive health and the treatment and -‘cure of disease and disability. It is, in effect, .the source of a charter .of .national health for the future.
The Government -is mow entering a Tfield in which there “has been little .or no activity .by previous Commonwealth governments. .It introduces the national health service as a f urther step to improve the lot of the Australian people rand as a direct -attack on .disease .and -sicknesE and their ^aftermaths, misery and want. During the war years, the Government evolved plans for assuring to the people better conditions and a measure of real social security in the post-war period. With this in mind, the ‘Curtin Government in 1943 established the National
Welfare Fund to which all taxpayers were -obliged to ‘Contribute according to their means. The establishment of that fund enabled the cost of these plans to be spread over the whole community. The Government ‘began with a wide concept of the meaning of national health. In its view, health meant far more than the treatment and cure of illness and disease. Et recognized that, from the national viewpoint, health must mean the assurance to the people, as their right, of proper housing and working conditions, of better .balanced diet, of an improvement in economic and social conditions, as well as the prevention and treatment of disease.
With these thoughts in mind the Commonwealth Government, under .agreement with the States, has legislated .to provide adequate housing foi- families in .the lower ranges of income. It has interested itself actively in the .fields of preventive medicine and research, nutrition, child health and industrial hygiene. During its term of office, as ,a part of its approach to community welfare, the Government has doubled the amount of child endowment payments, trebled maternity benefits, and doubled the rate of invalid and age pensions. It has introduced widows’ pensions and unemployment and sickness benefits. In furtherance of its policy to overcome the economic hazards of illhealth, the Government has provided public hospital benefits, private hospital benefits, and pharmaceutical benefits and is about to introduce a measure to authorize an agreement with the States to relieve patients in mental hospitals and their relatives from the obligation of contributing to the maintenance of those patients. The Government has, in cooperation with the States, initiated a nation-wide attack on the scourge of tuberculosis. It has sponsored improved conditions of work and has vigorously pursued a policy of full employment: It has established rehabilitation services for certain disabled members of the com.munity
The steps proposed to be taken under the bill, which I shall presently outline, will form a vital part of the pattern of national health as ‘seen by the Government and will he directed to the promotion of happy and healthy living for our people. Enlightened thought throughout the world in recent years has stressed the need for governments to interest themselves directly in .national health services. Support for this view is found in medical circles .themselves. Sir Lionel Whitby., president of the British Medical Association in England, addressing the 116th annual meeting of the British Medical Association at Cambridge this year, said -
Changes in medicine itself have tended to increase the cost of .medical treatment .so that most people can no longer afford to be ill.
Sir Lionel added that there were none who could doubt that with the advance of science and the .high degree of specialization, .the cost of an illness was beyond the purse of the average person. This factor - the economic one - ‘had been potent in hastening the inevitability of a State medical service.
Referring to expensive modern treatments, Sir Lionel Whitby .said -
In the interests of humanity such treatment cannot .be withheld on economic grounds, it would be .a travesty of justice were such treatment to be available to only the few rich people
Lt may also be .appropriate here to quote an editorial in the British Medical Journal of the 3rd July, 1948. On the eve of the introduction of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, the British Medical Journal stated: -
The cost of ill health is a burden on the community, and a burden on the family, and the startling advances made by medicine in the past 25 years have steeply increased this cost. There is, therefore, a logical case for spreading it over the whole of the community so that those who are fortunate to remain in good health may help those who temporarily fall out of the ranks.
Before the amendment, late in 1946, of section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, this Parliament was very greatly restricted in its power to deal with problems .affecting the health of the people of Australia. Its one specific power was in relation to quarantine - prevention .’of the spread of disease to Australia from parts beyond its shores. The Commonwealth was unable itself to launch any direct .attack on the many grave problems of public health, of which I may cite tuberculosis ‘and maternal mortality as only two examples, and was largely confined to the making of financial grants to States find others for health purposes. At the referendum of 1946, initiated by the Government, this Parliament was for the first time authorized to make laws - and I now quote the relevant words of the new provision in the Constitution - with respect to the provision of . . . medical mid dental services (hut not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription). . . .
The power given under that amendment of the Constitution is not unlimited. For instance, there are serious doubts as to whether the Commonwealth can legislate to require compulsory examination or treatment of persons for particular diseases, and as to whether it can undertake the registration of medical and dental practitioners and auxiliary personnel, other than those in the direct employ of the Commonwealth, so that practice may take place on an Australiawide basis regardless of State boundaries. The power does, however, enable the Government to proceed with the services authorized by this bill, which I shall later describe. The Government does not contemplate, nor in fact does the constitutional amendment it recently sought and obtained permit, any nationalization of doctors, dentists or members of allied professions and occupations.
– That is different from what the newspapers stated a few days ugo.
– It is, indeed.
Discussions have taken place with representative bodies of the medical and dental professions in Australia. These bodies have given the Government, through me, the benefit of their advice on aspects of national health and they, in turn, have been informed of what the Government has in mind. Opportunities for further discussions with the federal councils of the British Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association and with other interested bodies will be afforded regarding the subject-matter of regulations under the proposed act. The Government has examined the development of national health schemes in other parts of the world. It has watched the introduction of a comprehensive plan in the United Kingdom. A careful study has been made of the New Zealand scheme and consideration has been given to the recent report of the Joint
Committee of the Government and the British Medical Association representatives in New Zealand.
The work of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Social Security, which continued its investigations from 1941 to 1945, was followed with close interest by the Government, and I may point out that, in the formulation of health proposals under this bill, particular regard has been paid to the reports and recommendations of that committee. In the light of these discussions and investigations, and faced with grave deficiencies in the numbers of trained personnel, and in technical equipment and buildings, the Government realizes that the establishment of a complete health service must be achieved .by a process of gradual development. The bill provides authority for such a course to be followed.
General administration of the act will be the responsibility of the DirectorGeneral of Health who, as provided in clause 3, must be a legally qualified medical practitioner of not less than ten years’ standing. In the Department of Health there will be such directorates as may be found necessary in the development of the scheme. To link the professions with the administration, it is proposed to establish advisory committees in association with each directorate. Members of those committees will be practising members of their professions, and the functions of those bodies will be to advise on technical, medical and dental aspects. This will enable the professions to exercise a very real influence on the development of the service, and the Minister and the department will have readily available a source of competent advice and guidance on trends and developments in all branches of medical and dental science and practice.
It is not proposed to alter State or other control of existing institutions. However, under the bill the Commonwealth may make payments to the States and to other bodies for new and improved hospital construction, equipment and maintenance, provided at the request of the Commonwealth in furtherance of the national health plan. These funds will be made available on approved conditions. The bill authorizes the making of agreements for the performance by a State of any service in connexion with the national health service, and authorizes the Commonwealth, but again by agreement only, to take over services, hospitals or other units of State and other instrumentalities. Broadly, and particularly in the physical field of buildings and institutions, equipment and supplies, the Commonwealth’s initial role will be largely to give financial aid. Conditions attaching to grants which may be made by the Commonwealth to States or other bodies will be included in appropriate agreements. It is hoped in this way to ensure the highest standard of efficiency in various fields, providing uniformity where that is desirable, and securing co-ordination of activities.
The bill will ena.ble the Commonwealth i,o provide or arrange for the provision of medical services and dental services. These may include, amongst other things, general .medical or dental practitioner’s service, consultant and specialist services, ophthalmic services, maternal and child health services, aerial medical and dental services, diagnostic and therapeutic services, convalescent and after-care services, nursing services, and medical services and dental services in universities, schools and colleges. Authority is conferred to establish and maintain hospitals, laboratories, health centres and clinics.
The Government realizes that the success of any expanded health service and the extent of its benefit to the people must depend in very large degree on enough professional men and women being available. This is true in both the curative and preventive aspects. There is general recognition that the numbers of doctors and dentists at present are inadequate to meet the full needs of the people if all are to ‘receive requisite care and treatment. The Minister is authorized, subject to the approval of the Treasurer, to make payments to universities or other appropriate bodies for the purpose of providing and assisting investigation and research, and providing courses of training in medical or dental science. The bill empowers the Commonwealth to provide, or assist in the provision of post-graduate training and post-graduate scholarships in medi cine and dentistry. It may establish and develop courses of training in nursing, including dental nursing, dental hygiene, radiography, radiation, therapy, physiotherapy, biochemistry, dietetics and other matters related to medicine or dentistry. The Commonwealth may also undertake, develop and encourage measures, including research and epidemiological investigations, for the improvement of health, including maternal and child health, and for the prevention of disease.
The Commonwealth is empowered under the bill to arrange for or undertake, for the purposes of the National Health Service, the manufacture of medical and dental supplies, appliances and equipment, including visual aids and hearing aids. The Commonwealth, however, will enter this field only if these essentials of adequate quality are not available from other assured sources in sufficient quantity and at reasonable prices. As already indicated, the bill enables the Commonwealth to provideboth general practitioner and specialist services. The bill also authorizes themaking of regulations to establish a medical benefit scheme. This will provide for payment by the Commonwealth, on behalf of persons who have received professional services from medical practitioners participating in the scheme, of b proportion of the fees prescribed in respect of those services. The Government’s proposals are to pay 50 per cent, of the fees charged by the doctor for services to the patient, and to pay this amount on behalf of the patient direct to the doctor in accordance with a prescribed schedule of fees chargeable by doctors who participate in the scheme.
It is proposed that this medical benefit scheme be begun as soon as possible and that it he extended as rapidly as circumstances permit, to include the various classes of specialists, on terms similar to those I have described for general practitioners. It is thought that full-time salary would be the appropriate payment for medical practitioners in outback, areas, for full-time specialists such as pathologists and radiologists in hospitals, with sessional fees for other specialists, and salaried service for medical superintendents and full-time staff at hospitals.
At a conference held in- Melbourne on* the1 26 th October- last, I’ invited’ the’ Federal1 Council of the> British Medical’ Association to nominate1 members to- acf on a joint committee- with Commonwealth1 officers5 to* consider details of the schedule of fees; and’ other problems- associated with tha implementation of the scheme ft’ was proposed that the findings of this committee would’ be the subject of furtherconsideration between the Federal Council of the British Medical Association and the Government.. The. Government’s medical benefits scheme involves, no inter.ference with the present practice of medicine. It does, not involve any disturbance of the doctor-patient relationship; The patient will- visit his own doctor in. the. usual way,,, and,, on his advice, will go,, il necessary,, to tha appropriate, specialist. As already indicated, the Commonwealth, under this proposal,, undertakes to. pay half the, cost of the schedule fee for- consultation or specialist advice, or treatment, provided pursuant, to. the. bill.
Modern medicine is- now so vast. in. its? ramifications, that, no single practitioner can hope to he- expert in them all - surgery, medicine, psychiatry,, ophthalmology and the like.. Nor can he. hope; to provide, all the necessary equipment or technical assistance: A complete medical service, requires, that the: practitioners of. general, and special’ skills and the. techniques essential, for the examination,, diagnosis and. treatment of individuals, shall he brought together, so that there, can be a. pooling of equipment and resources ku the. several fields. It, is through group practice, that the potentialities of modern medicine can best be fully realized, and the bill, expressly authorizes the Government to encourage all efforts by the medical and’ dental’ professions to organize on this basis. Recognizing the value of group practice, the Commonwealth proposes to establish a number of health centres in different areas. These will correspond in function to the surgeries of the larger medical partnerships of the present day, and will provide general practitioner service, specialist service, and diagnostic facilities. It is in contemplation that these health centres will be- established on varying- administrative and staffing- bases, so that there will be opportunities! for observation and comparison for future5 guidance1. The bill- authorizes- the- making’ of regulations providing for- payment of compensation to a- practitioner- who undertakes to make his professional5 services- available- exclusively for- the purposes of the national health service- where the- establishment of such a health centre results- in loss arising from the- diminution in value- of his private’ practice;
Clause 15’ of the bill authorizes the compilation and publication of a list of medical’ practitioners, or dentists, who will: be recognized’ as being specialists in any field of medical’ or dental’ science. B is provided in the bill that regard, may be had’ to- any similar list prepared by a State1 authority or an appropriate professional body, as welT as to the adVice of appropriate advisory committees- to he set up under- the’ bill and to which I’ have already referred. The- object of clause IK is to establish’ a- list of persons, who, for purposes- of the bill, may be regarded’ aa entitled to receive or- charge the fees prescribed for specialist ot consultant services.
No dental health scheme would be complete unless attention were directed’ to care and preservation of the natural teeth and’ to. the need for dental5 hygiene. It is. unfortunately true, that the standard of dental health in Australians is, deplorable, and it must be accounted’ as tragic that so large a proportion of our people have recourse) comparatively’ early in life, to the use1 of artificial dentures: The Government intends1 to improve the facilities, for- dental service available in Australia. In its approach to this problem, the’ Government unfortunately finds- itself severely handicapped by the shortage of dentists for- the- implementation of a> complete dental service. There are approximately 3,000 registered dentists in Australia at the present time, whereas fcT a full and satisfactory service to all classes and ages of society at least two or three times that number would be required. This- is. a severely limiting- factor in any approach to the problem. TheGovernment is authorized by the- bill to assist in the provision of courses of dental training. The Government’s activities will be developed, through a Directorate of Dentistry along three lines: First, attention will be paid to public education in the principles of dental hygiene. Much dental disease and loss is due to irrational diet and faulty oral hygiene. Secondly, the Government intends to attack the problem of providing regular treatment for all children. Existing facilities will be used and special dental clinics established for this purpose. In rural areas, mobile dental surgeries will be necessary. The shortage of registered dentists will severely limit the age range to which this scheme can be applied at its inception, but eventually a full service will be available to all children. It is for this reason that the Government is interested in the New Zealand scheme whereby dental nurses are specially trained for a limited sphere of activity in the treatment pf school children. Reports regarding this schemeemphasize its success and the Government will consider providing for the training of dental hygienists should it he necessary to introduce such a scheme in Australia. Representatives of the Australian Dental Association have been invited by the Government to examine the operation of the dental hygienists system in New Zealand. If dental hygienists are trained for public service, their activities will be confined to practice within that service, and they will be prohibited from engaging in private practice at any time. Thirdly, the Government will extend dental services to persons in isolated areas by the extension of travelling clinics. The personnel of these activities will be maintained on a salaried basis for which provision is made in the bill.
In addition to the above proposals, the Government intends to sponsor the appointment of dentists at large hospitals, and out-patient clinics. In the beginning, preventive dentistry, extractions, relief of pain, and fillings, will be undertaken. Later, when more dentists become available, it will be possible to expand the services at these centres to cover an increased range of modern dental practice. It will be seen that in its stress on the importance of overcoming dental disease and on ensuring the dental health of children, allied with education in dental hygiene, the Government’s plan places strong emphasis on preventive treatments. Some appreciation of the gigantic task confronting the nation in its attempt to ensure dental health for its children may be gained from a study of figures. According to the 1947 census, there were in Australia at the 30th June of that year, about 544,000 children between the ages of two and five years. In the group from six to twelve years, there were 776,000 and, in the age group from thirteen to sixteen years, there were 426,000. The total, from two to sixteen years of age was about 1,750,000. It has been reliably estimated that only about 15 per cent, of the children in the lower age groups receive adequate dental attention. Thus, in the lowest age group, children from two to five years, there would be approximately 463,000 requiring initial treatment. This would require the services of some hundreds of dentists, just to begin a scheme, with that age group alone. To implement the scheme for all children of school age, the Australian Dental Association estimates that at least another 1,700 dentists would be needed. An examination of the number of registered dentists, together with the number of dental students in the several universities, indicates that it will he very many years before enough dentists will be available.
Turning to the question of the cost of the Government’s plans for the national health service, I repeat that the development of the complete plan will necessarily be spread over a number of years ; and, while costs will increase as each new stage in that development is reached, the full cost will not arise until the complete service is in operation. We may be fairly confident that with full participation of practitioners in the medical benefits scheme the cost would reach about £6,000,000 a year. As to the programme of dental service outlined, the speed of introduction, and thus the cost, will be governed by the facilities and trained personnel available. Within a few years, the service may have developed to a stage at which the annual cost will be approximately £4,000,000 a year. The costs of other parts of the comprehensive plan or the time when they will be incurred cannot at this stage be forecast. Expenditure under the bill will be borne by the National Welfare Fund, with the exception that expenditure of a capital nature on buildings, plant, equipment and furnishings, will be made as a direct charge on moneys appropriated from time to time by the Parliament. 1 have outlined the major proposals of the Government in relation to both the medical and the dental aspects of the national health scheme. The development of the scheme will be shaped in the light of future discussions and needs. The Government invites the co-operation of the representative bodies and members of the various professions, to whom it has offered and will offer an opportunity to play a very full part in the development of plans designed to contribute something of real and lasting benefit to the people of Australia. It is my hope that the degree of co-operation with the Australian Government to be forthcoming from State governments, members of the professions, and other bodies will be such that the greatest efforts of the nation will he directed to the prevention of disease and the provision of the best medical and dental treatment for the people. With these comments, I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 18th November (vide page 3157), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
. happy to support this measure, which reflects a. tendency to liberalize the basis of compensation payable to employees. However, I shall deal with certain provisions in detail at the committee stage. For instance, with respect to the widening of the definition of “ dependant “ it is rather unfortunate that at a time when moral standards are inclined to be loosening the world over we should find the Government putting its imprimatur upon a provision of this kind.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that no provision should be made for that class of dependant?
– It It is a sad day when the Australian Government places its official seal of approval upon an illicit arrangement and gives to it the same blessing as it would give to a regular and proper marital union. 1 shall deal- with that provision more fully in committee.
The second point I raise is the limitation placed upon the time in which a claimant may make a claim for either compensation or common law damages. If a claim is not made within twelve ordinary common-law rights run, it is are to lapse. There are times when what would appear at first glance, and, indeed, for as long a period as twelve months, to be an insignificant injury could develop in such a way that the amount provided in the scale of compensation under this measure would be entirely inadequate. At common law . a claimant has six years in which to pursue his remedy. I can see no reason why that period could not be provided for in the measure. It is quite proper that a claimant should not be entitled to receive both compensation from the Commonwealth and damages from a third party at common law, but within a period of six years, during which his ordinary common-law rights run, it is proper that he should still be able to act accordingly; and any moneys he had received by way of compensation could then be taken into account and the amount could be deducted and returned to the Commonwealth. I shall deal also with that point in committee. I appreciate that the tendency generally of the bill is to give a greater measure of right to injured employees, and to that degree I support it.
, - Several provisions of the bill are neither generous nor just. They fall short of what I hold to be the responsibility which the Government should show towards its employees. As I have said on previous occasions, the Government should set the example in employeremployee relationships and responsibilities. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), in his secondreading speech, stated quite calmly and without any concern whatever, that five of the States had already amended their legislation dealing with workers’ compensation and, accordingly, the Commonwealth Government was now coming into’ line. Instead of making any assessment of what is fair and equitable compensation, the Government under this measure is merely falling into line with the States. The bill fails in two important particulars. I refer first to the maximum compensation in respect of death which is set down at the beggarly amount of £1,000, whilst compensation is payable at the rate of only £50 for each dependent child. Does the Government regard the sum of £1,000 as the value of a man’s life? The Minister referred to the corresponding Victorian legislation. [ remind him when that legislation was before the Victorian Parliament the trade unions in that State vigorously protested to the Labour Government which was then in office and pointed out that in most civil cases the amount awarded was more than £2,000. Recently in Brisbane, the court .awarded a woman £4,000 in respect of injuries she received in a road accident. The proposed maximum compensation of £1,000 must be read in conjunction with the means test applicable in respect of the widow’s pension. Honorable senators will fully realize that a widow may own her own home, furniture and personal effects, and may have other property including an annuity. There is no need to be concerned about the effect upon the widow’s pension of any worker’s compensation that may be granted. After all, compensation is compensation; it is not made available as a grant. This amount should be increased substantially. Indeed, I should not be going too far to suggest that the Government should investigate the scales of compensation provided in all corresponding legislation in all of the States, and the amounts of damages awarded in all civil cases, with the object of ascertaining the value which the courts have placed upon the life of a husband, or father, who is fatally injured. Simultaneously the Government should pay regard to the reduction of the purchasing power of money. Surely the Government does not contend that an increase of the maximum compensation from £S00 to £1,000 in the event of death is equitable having regard to the present purchasing power of money. Viewed in that light the proposed amount of £1,000 is totally inadequate.
The second point to which I draw attention is the provision whereby compensation in the event of death is payable only in respect of a worker who has dependants. This matter is rather glossed over in the hill. By clause 13 the following new paragraph will be inserted in the first schedule to the principal act : - (1.) The amount of compensation shall be - (<») where the death of the employee results from the injury,
In view of that provision, can the Government claim that this is enlightened legislation? “Would the Minister describe it as an ample scheme to safeguard those who might be injured at their daily work in the service of the Commonwealth ? The bill does not provide adequate compensation in cases of that kind. When the Treasury is overflowing, with taxation at an all-time high level «nd with £70,000,000 standing to the credit of the National Welfare Pund, the provision of compensation amounting to £25 towards the burial expenses of an employee who may be fatally injured at his work is beggarly, even should the employee have no dependants. I shall always examine legislation of this kind from the woman’s viewpoint. The compensation proposed in respect of the death of a worker is not only inadequate, but also unjust.
and and his colleague, Senator Rankin, on not only this measure but also other measures with which the Senate dealt this afternoon. I do not object to Senator Rankin’s criticism that the amount of compensation proposed in the event of the death, of a worker is inadequate. In principle I agree with her remarks. However, when one realizes that with the exception of the period from 1929-1931 anti-Labour governments were in office in this Parliament since World War I. until the present Government assumed office, and did so little during that long period to liberalize worker’s compensation legislation, it is quite refreshing to hear members of the Opposition parties speak in the strain in which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and his colleague have just spoken. At long last they are seeing the light. Apparently, they now realize that the human element is of paramount importance to a Government which seeks to legislate in the interests of every section of the community. It is a hopeful sign when we see members of the Opposition parties taking up the cudgels on behalf of the workers and expressing their regret that compensation proposed under legislation of this kind is inadequate.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition objected to the inclusion of de facto wives in the definition of “ dependant “. I, too, hate the term, and I neither uphold nor condone this morally wrong way of life. In legislation of this kind provision must be made for all sections of the community, and I cannot see how that class of dependant can be excluded from the benefits to be provided. At all events t invite the Deputy Leader of the Opposition whom we know to be an upholder of at least the basic principles of morality to indicate how the Government can provide for such dependants in any other way. However much we may disapprove of that class of dependants we must recognize that they have certain rights. I agree with the honorable senator that there is a tendency to-day towards the loosening of moral standards.
– This Government observes Christian principles.
– Yes ; it applies Christian principles as far as possible, sometimes in spite of the most vigorous opposition. In spite of what State governments have done in this sphere particularly in the years im mediately preceding the recent war this legislation will compare favorably with corresponding measures in operation in the States. The provisions of the bill are a big improvement on the present legislation, and will be of material benefit to those who are unfortunate enough to be injured in industry, and their dependants. Many honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been actively engaged in industry, and they know from personal experience that the present legislation, like the legislation of some of the States, provides only the most grudging financial recompense to the victims of industry. From my own experience 1 know that the members of a family which did not belong to some benefit lodge suffered cruelly when their bread-winner was injured. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the trade unions of the country which, despite the opposition of the anti-Labour parties which occupied the Treasury bench for so many years, never wavered in their attempts to educate the community to the necessity for providing compensation on a human scale for the victims of industrial accidents. My experience as a member of a State Parliament taught me that if there was one thing- more than another to which the anti-Labour parties are opposed it is the recognition of the right of the victims of industry to payment of proper compensation.
– T - The Liberal party first introduced legislation to provide for workers’ compensation.
– Of course it did - on the eve of an election !
– I - I am referring to the introduction of a workers’ compensation measure in England in 1905.
– No honorable senator has a higher regard for the Old Country than I have, but if the captains of industry of the 1905 era believed that they had discharged their duty as Christians to their employees by introducing the workers’ compensation which the honorable senator has mentioned then I do not think that it says very much for their principles. Of course, we know that that measure was introduced after one of the biggest industrial upheavals in England. Under its provisions the dependants of the unfortunate victims of industry did not receive even sufficient to bury those who lost their lives at work. For years after the introduction of that measure the poorhouses, or “workers’ graves “, continued to exist. The honorable senator was rather daring in pointing to a measure which bears the stamp of liberalism, and I respectfully suggest to him that he will be well advised to avoid reference to any measure that was introduced in the British Parliament of 1905 regarding workers’ compensation.
Rankin I can only hope in the interests of humanity that Labour will not have to contend with any Opposition members whatever in the next Parliament.
.- Although many honorable senators on this side of the chamber would have preferred the hill to contain even more liberal provisions for those injured in accidents, it is undoubtedly a big improvement on the present legislation. Although we are all rightly sympathetic to those. who are so unfortunate as to be injured in industry, I think that we should be chary of entertaining the protest made by Senator Rankin. The honorable senator contended that members of the Australian Labour party should have protested vigorously to the former Labour Government of Victoria against the injustice of the workers’ compensation legislation of that State. However, I remind the honorable senator that although the workers’ compensation of Victoria was for many years undoubtedly the most backward in Australia, that situation was remedied by the Cain Government in 1946, and the present legislation is probably the best of its kind in Australia. So that honorable senators may appreciate the merits of the present measure, I propose to relate briefly some of the provisions of the legislation enacted by anti-Labour governments in Victoria many years ago. For the lose of a’ joint that legislation provided a payment of £32 10s., but even that miserable payment had a string attached to it. If the unfortunate victim of the accident was prevented from resuming his employment for a period of from eight to fifteen weeks an amount of £2 10s. a week, which was paid to him during his incapacity, was deducted from the compensation of £32 10s. In many instances the victims received absolutely no compensation, apart from the small sum paid to them during their incapacity.
Although the bill contains many good features I should prefer, as one who has had some experience of workers’ compensation, that the provisions of the measure were more liberal. Senator Rankin said that if an employee with no dependants was killed at work, the only amount payable was £25. Who will receive that money? ‘
– The undertaker.
– Apparently. Another criticism made of the hill is that the amount proposed to be paid on the death of a bread-winner is only £1,250, but 1 point out that the present legislation provides for payment of only £800. In Victoria special provision was made for payment of compensation to children of a worker who was killed in the course of his employment. That generous provision provided for payment of 8s. 6d. a week for each child, which means that a family of three children received only £1 5s. 6d. a week, in addition to the miserable allowance of £2 10s. a week for the widow. Whilst it’ is obvious that some improvements could be made to the legislation now before us, the appropriate time at which to consider the improvements is the committee stage. Take for instance the provision relating to medical, surgical or hospital treatment. The Government has, to a very large extent, taken the best features of the various State acts and has included then in this measure. Another item, the replacement of artificial aids, is not provided for in certain of the State acts. It is not provided for in the Victorian act. When the Victorian Government was composed of members of the Liberal and Country parties there was no provision for compensation for a man injured on his way to or from his place of employment, or for the relatives of a man who was killed in such circumstances. A Victorian Labour government introduced a provision that the dependants of a man killed while proceeding to or from his place of work would receive £1,250 compensation. The Commonwealth had such a provision in its legislation for many years prior to that. I contend that the bill is one that any one who understands the position will readily endorse. As time goes on there is no doubt that we shall be able to secure some improvements of the present provisions. At present we are making provision for hospital and ambulance treatment which in the past were a charge against the recipient of any compensation under the compensation acts of the various States.. We are gradually, building up in Australia uniform workers’ compensation legislation. The laws of the States will become better as they follow the Commonwealth’s lead in this type of legislation. There are many other things that are not specifically classified under the bill, such as industrial diseases contracted by workers in certain industries. An example of an industrial disease is dermatitis. We have advanced so far in Australia with social legislation that we can now make provision for a sufferer from dermatitis to have his disease treated as an industrial disease. The bill provides for hospital treatment up to a cost of £100, but reserves discretion to the commissioner in special circumstances to enable him to increase the permitted amount. I mention that provision because a Liberal-Country party government in Victoria used to allow the princely sum of £25 for hospital treatment. I am attempting to show that this Government is trying to pave the way’ for a uniform basis of legislation throughout the Commonwealth. It has drawn this legislation, in the main, from the principal acts of the different States. Senator Rankin said something about a. civil claim for an accident where a widow was able to obtain the sum of £4,000. Under all the compensation acts in the Commonwealth a person has the right to determine whether he shall have his claim dealt with by a civil court or under compensation legislation. This legislation provides the first opportunity we have had in this Parliament for many years to go into the whole matter. When the bill is in committee we shall be able to speak in relation to the various clauses and thereby make suggestions to the Government although I do not consider that we shall be able to add to the excellence of the legislation. I believe that th, debate in committee, however, will result in much good in the future and perhaps in the better working of workers’ compensation insofar as Commonwealth employees are concerned.
– I support the bill because I consider that during the past few years the Australian Government has shown that it is active in keeping workers’ compensation provisions up to date. This is the second time that a Labour government has amended the act and only Labour governments have so amended it. In 1930. Labour repealed the 1912 act and in 1944 Labour amended the 1930 act. The bill before u9 amends the 1944 act, which provides for increased lump sum payments and improvements of other conditions. During the past four or five years all State governments have amended their respective compensation acts, and as a result the Australian Government has discovered that its compensations provisions have recently been on a lower level than those contained in the State acts. The intention of this measure is to bring those provisions to the State levels. I recall that in Western Australia many years ago only £1 in medical fees was paid under that State’s compensation act. When the late Mr. Alec McCallum, who was Minister for Works in the Collier Government, introduced a bill which was considered the finest compensation act in the southern hemisphere, all the employers raised a hue and cry to the effect that the workers would take unfair advantage of the legislation because it provided for payment of £4 a week to workers absent from duty because of injury, and also, for the payment of lump sums for specified injuries up to £750. When that bill came before the Legislative Council of that .State its provisions were cut right to the bone. During the past few years, as E have stated, all States have made great improvements in compensation provisions, and the Australian Government intends to do the same. This measure will bring the Commonwealth compensation provisions up to the level of the Victorian act. The death benefit is to be increased from £800 to £1,000. Senator Rankin said that that was not enough. We all know that it is not enough. I hope that that honorable senator will always advocate a payment, of £2,000 or £3,000, as she has done to-night, when she is speaking on such matters in her own party rooms. The maximum payment for specified injuries has been increased by more than 50 per cent., that is, from £800 to £1250, and the children’s allowance has been increased from £25 to 50. Those are big increases. I know very well that £1,250 is not too much, because anyone who will collect that amount for a specified injury will have been most seriously injured indeed. The provision of payment of up to £100 for medical expenses does assist a man whose injury warrants a payment of £1,250, but an injured worker may have to spend as much as £200 or £300 on medical and hospital expenses after the £100 payment is exhausted. I know that the increase of £450 might not be enough, but it is a step in the right direction, and we hope to be able to go further at a later date. I know that employees will have to rely for such further increases on a Labour government because they will receive no satisfaction or consideration from any government composed of the parties now in opposition. The whole of the second schedule to the’ act relating to industrial disease is to be repealed by the bill. That will mean that if a disease is contracted by a worker due to the nature of his employment, and he proves that that is so, he will receive full compensation. Employees are losing thousands of pounds simply because certain diseases that they have contracted in the workshop have not been specified under the act and they have not had sufficient money to take the necessary legal proceedings. As a result, insurance companies have saved many thousands of pounds that should have been paid out as compensation to workers. Under this proposal, compensation will be granted for incapacity due to disease, provided that the disease has been caused by the nature of the employment, and insurance companies will now have to pay full insurance, as they have never had to do before. I have had several cases brought to my notices of industrial diseases such as Brill’s disease and dermatitis, which have had to be argued in the courts, and very often the worker has been left high and dry without compensation. The bill will overcome that difficulty. Regarding the amendment which provides that weekly payments will not reduce lump-sum settlements, payable to a worker in certain circumstances, I have always fought for that provision in Western Australia. Eventually it was enacted in that State and an injured worker who was entitled to a lump sum could receive the full amount without any deduction of weekly payments that had been made. This provision of the bill will be of great benefit to injured workers. Payments made to workers in lump sums in the past have always been reduced by the amounts of any weekly payments that have been made to them whilst on compensation. This bill provides that, in future, an injured worker will receive the full sum that is prescribed in the third schedule to the act. Another very important amendment for which thi3 bill provides will entitle an injured employee in receipt of compensation to claim compensation for injury sustained while travelling by train, bus, motor car or tram to receive medical or hospital attention. An amendment of this nature is long overdue. I well remember arguing the case for a man who fell from a tram and fractured an ankle while travelling to obtain treatment from a doctor for a condition in respect of which he was drawing compensation. He was not able to obtain compensation for the injury. I am glad that the Government ‘has realized the injustice involved in such cases and has included in this bill a provision which no doubt will guide State governments when they frame amendments of their own compensation laws in the future.
The provision relating to injury sustained by a worker while travelling to or from his place of employment will be liberalized by the bill. The existing law provides that a worker may claim compensation if he sustains an accident when travelling between his home and his place of employment. However, there have been many instances in which a worker has been injured when not following the normal route between his home and place of employment and has been refused compensation on that account. The bill will enable a man to draw benefits in such circumstances if he can produce proof that he deviated from his normal route for a satisfactory reason. Another important alteration of the law deals with retirement on account of injury. Many workers have received injuries which have prevented them from continuing their ordinary employment or have prevented them from working altogether. They have been invalided and. have had to draw the invalid pension eventually. In assessing pensions or superannuation payments due to such men, compensation payments authorized in respect of injury have been taken into account as earnings. The Government has now decided that a worker may receive superannuation benefits and full compensation as well. That is a very important improvement. The bill will also extend the provisions of the compensation law to members of the peacetime defence forces. I heartily support that proposal. In future members of the forces will be entitled to draw compensation as ordinary workers. They may receive benefits under any of the acts relating to the services, including the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, and compensation up to a limit of £1,000 in addition. The bill is good. Undoubtedly there is still room for improvement, but the Labour Government will eliminate any anomalies which it. contains in the lig’ht of later experience to the satisfaction of everybody. In view of its enlightened provisions, I hope that the bill will be passed without amendment.
– It always gives me pleasure to support any legislation that has for its objective the improvement of the lot of the worker, and there is no doubt that this bill will improve the existing law relating to workers’ compensation. Of course, once again we find that, when a Labour Government introduces a measure that provides for such improvements, members of the Opposition complain that it is not moving fast enough and that the payments provided in the bill should be much greater. Senator Katz has already drawn attention to the struggle that has taken place over the years to gain recognition of the right of the workers to receive compensation for injury, sickness or disease that arises out of or in the course of their employment. It has been a protracted fight and, if we judge this bill by early ideas on the subject, we must welcome it as a magnificent measure. Time marches on, and the workers are demanding improved conditions. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act was amended only four years ago. This Government is now bringing it up to date and widening its scope, and I am sure that, as the result of the wishes that are expressed by organized labour from time to time, further liberal amendments will be made within the next four years, especially if the Labour, party remains in power. The practical-application of a measure of this kind enables one to discover its deficiencies and anomalies.
The interpretations placed upon its various provisions by those to whom the administration of the law is entrusted have a very important effect upon it. Therefore, in all States of the Commonwealth the Labour movement has insistently demanded the appointment of impartial tribunals to administer legislation of this kind. In Victoria, after a great deal of trouble, we succeeded in having a workmen’s compensation board established. That board is presided over by a County Court judge. One member represents employees and is elected by the industrial movement of Victoria. The second member represents the various insurance societies or employers’ organizations, and his interest is to ensure that the law shall be fairly administered on behalf of the employers. This bill will not advance Commonwealth legislation to that stage. We shall still retain the system under which a commissioner or delegate of the Treasurer will administer the act. During the eight years that I have been a member of this Parliament, f have frequently had occasion to discuss various matters affecting workers’ compensation with delegates of the Treasurer, and I have found those officers to be most generous in their interpretation of the act. Nevertheless, I should have liked the Government to provide for the establishment of a board. We may have sympathetic officers in charge of the act at present, but in the future we may not have a Labour Treasurer. Our coffers may not be overflowing, as Senator Rankin said this afternoon. We may have a Liberal government and a parsimonious Treasurer, and then there may be a tendency on the part of the persons entrusted with the administration of the act to be less generous than are the present officers. I hope that the act will be brought up to date in that respect in the very near future, because 1 believe that a board would be the ideal administrative authority.
It may be argued in opposition to my suggestion that, in the Commonwealth sphere, we are not affected by the greed of the private insurance companies which undertake workers’ compensation in the States. Such companies have undoubtedly been a great source of trouble to workers and organizations representing the workers. Had Senator Rankin known of the tricks to which accident insurance companies have resorted, I am sure that she would not have quarrelled with the Government’s proposals. The bill can perhaps be debated more effectively in the committee stages than now because it contains numerous clauses which require detailed explanations. I notice that it includes a definition of “ dependant “ in relation to a deceased employee. As the bill is framed, it appears as though the widow of an employee who has some independent income may be deprived of compensation. However, I know that the instructions which are issued to the officers who interpret the act give them very wide powers, and I should be pleased to be informed by the Minister later of the precise situation. The fact that a widow has an income should not entirely preclude her from receiving compensation. The bill also contains a definition of “ member of the family “ in relation to an employee. When examining the definition of “ dependant “ I wondered what provision was made for the housekeeper of a single person or widower in the event of that person’s death. Would she be entitled to draw compensation? The definition of “ dependant “ does not cover that contingency. I notice, however, that the definition of “ member of the family “ is very full, and covers almost every blood relation that one could imagine, including even a grandfather. I ask ;that those two matters be cleared up by the Minister in his reply.
There is a very important phase of workmen’s compensation which depend* largely on interpretation. I refer to the partial loss of sight. There has been a tendency in some quarters to adopt the attitude that if an eye disability can be corrected by the use of lenses, a workman’s sight should be regarded as having been restored to something like normal, and that therefore he should not be entitled to the full compensation payment. I should like an assurance from the Minister that that is not the practice, in the Commonwealth sphere at any rate, and that workers whose eyesight is impaired receive adequate compensation despite the degree of correction achieved by the use of glasses. If that is so, one objection that might be taken to this measure will be overcome.
There is one important section of the principal act which, I regret, has not been amended. Since the inception of workmen’s compensation, the Commonwealth has expanded its activities into many industries and Commonwealth employees to-day follow a large variety of trades and callings. At times, the number of supernumeraries or temporary employees in the Commonwealth service is considerable. During the war, for instance, men from all walks of life came into the service of the Commonwealth, some by direction and others voluntarily. In some instances, there was no work for them in the trades or callings in which they had served their apprenticeship, and they accepted more essential defence jobs with the Commonwealth. One case in particular has been brought to my notice and I have had lengthy discussions with various Commonwealth authorities about it. The man concerned was a woodworker in civil life, and his occupation required a very keen sense of touch. He needed the use of all of his fingers. During the war, he was employed as a peace officer at a few shillings a day more than the basic wage. He had the misfortune to meet with an injury which impaired the use of one hand. In the principal act there is a section - I regret that it is not amended by this legislation - providing that compensation to an injured workman shall be paid at the rate applicable to the position that he was occupying at the time of his injury. Tho man to whom I refer was, at the time of his injury, occupying a position which carried a remuneration much less than that of a wookworker. To-day he is unable to follow his trade because of his injury. The Commonwealth is finished with him. It does not want any more peace officers. He has to go out into the world and compete against efficient men. Not being a returned soldier - he was too old to go to the war - many of the light duties that are available to war-disabled ex-servicemen are not open to him because preference is given to ex-servicemen. Therefore, the field in which this man may sell his labour is limited. He is receiving compensation in accordance with the act, at a rate applicable to the job that he was occupying at the time of his injury. 1 should like to see the act amended to provide that, in these circumstances, a man should be compensated in accordance with the loss that he suffers when he returns to his ordinary occupation.
This is a most interesting and technical measure. As I said earlier it is interpretation that counts in the long run. The bill contains many improvements on the old legislation, but I trust that, as the result of the interpretation of its provisions in the future, and, in the light of the opinions of experts who are associated closely with workmen’s compensation claims, the Government will be able to introduce legislation which will guarantee to workers who have had the misfortune to suffer injury in their occupations the substantia] measure of relief to which they are entitled. I hope that, at the committee stage, the points that I have raised will be explained satisfactorily by the Minister.
– I had not intended to speak on this, measure until it reached the committee stage, but I was so impressed by the statements of both members o’f the Opposition in this chamber that I felt constrained to make some general remarks on the motion for the second reading. Both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) and his colleague Senator Rankin claimed that the compensation scale was inadequate. We all agree with that most heartily. As one who suffered injury in industry I consider that it is deplorable that the loss of eyesight and limbs can be made the subject of a set scale of charges. Noi regard is paid to the moral shock suffered by the injured person, or the mental as well as the physical anguish caused by an injury. I consider that the present scale of compensation is totally inadequate because no amount of money can possibly compensate for serious injuries. Many years ago, I suffered several accidents in industry. Being an engineer, I suppose that that was to be expected. I cannot remember ever having met ah engineer with 30 years’ experience in the trade who did not lack some fingers at least. At the time of .]nY injuries, of course, no workmen’s compensation was payable. I had the misfortune to sustain my injuries while Liberal governments were in office 1 was working in England at the time and, contrary to the opinion expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the United Kingdom did not give us a lead in this legislation. We gave a lead to that country. I had the misfortune to lose one and a half phalanges of the little finger of my left hand. According to this scale I would have been entitled to approximately £135 but, as I have said, a Liberal government was in office and I received no payment whatever. Later, I lost portion of the index finger of my right hand. Again, unfortunately, a Liberal government was in office and I did not receive any compensation. Therefore, the protests by the Opposition members in this chamber, particularly by Senator Rankin - I regret having to cane a lady - at the inadequacy of this scale can only be regarded as pious platitudes. . say definitely and decisively that if those are the true sentiments of honorable senators opposite, they are both members of the wrong party. Senator Rankin has said that she will always fight for the rights of women. Nobody in this chamber is a keener supporter of those rights than I am, and again I say that the honorable senator is in the wrong political camp. In fact both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Senator Rankin are in the wrong political camp if they intend to continue to express the views that they have expressed to-night on this measure. Fancy saying’ that £1,000 is not adequate compensation for the loss of a life ! But even that sum would be worth much more to-day had the Opposition parties in this Parliament not succeeded in securing the defeat of the rents and prices referendum. Therefore, the Opposition must accept some degree of responsibility for the inadequacy of this scale of compensation payments, and had Senator Rankin not been a lady, I should have been inclined to describe her remarks as hypocritical. I have had some experience of wages boards, and on many occasions I have seen evidence of the fact that inanimate matter is far more important to some employers than is animate man. Speaking on this matter, I do not need copious notes because I have a reasonably good memory, and a background of experience upon which I can draw. Employers generally do not regard animate matter as being of much importance. The importance of a worker is often measured by the number of other workers who are waiting outside the factory gates for jobs. Of course, when labour is scarce, the working man is important, hut if there are plenty of workers and few jobs, he is relatively unimportant and even machinery is a much more important consideration. I could relate many incidents. For instance, on one occasion I appeared before a wages board to give evidence in sup* port of a claim for higher wages for a man who wa3 employed operating an intricate precision machine. One would almost require to stand on one’s head in order to see the machine in operation. However, we have advanced since those days. I was asked whether I would class the man’s work as high precision work, and I replied in the affirmative. I was then asked whether I would consider the work worthy of payment at the highest award rate, and I again replied in the affirmative. However, the cross-examining counsel asked me, “ If .a man works only two hours daily at that particular work and spends the remainder of the day on relatively simple work, would you consider that he should be paid for the whole day at the rate applying to high precision work ? “ With the permission of the chairman of the board, I answered that question by asking the cross-examiner this question: “If you had a factory which usually required a 30 horse-power motor, but on occasions you found you required to use a motor of 40 or 45 horse-power, what sort of a motor would you introduce into your factory?”. When he replied a “ 45 horse-power “, I said, “ That is right; that is the answer to your question. If you consider that, in respect of inanimate matter, it is necessary to have that power in reserve and you would introduce a 45 horse-power motor, then it is necessary, if you have a man capable of doing precision work, to hold his skill in reserve “. However, the employing class still considers that animate man is of less importance than inanimate matter.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we should take a lead from the Old Country when dealing with legislation of this kind. I inform him that Australia has given many leads to the Old Country in this sphere. For instance, the Old Country copied from us the idea of old-age pensions. That fact should wipe the smile off the honorable senator’s face. The principle of old-age pensions was first implemented in Australia, and the British Government copied the Australian legislation. Later the idea spread to continental countries. Indeed, Australia, as long as I have known it, has been regarded as the political laboratory of the world ; we are regarded as the spearhead of the democratic advance. I know what I am talking about. Fortunately, nature endowed me with a fairly retentive memory and my experience in industry and my study of world economics enable me to give these facts without having to consult huge tomes on various economic subjects. I did not intend to participate in this debate, but I was impelled to do so by the platitudinous remarks of honorable senators opposite. I do not relish the idea of so large a majority as the Government enjoys in this chamber attacking an Opposition consisting of only two honorable senators. I wish as keenly as they do, that their numbers were ten times greater. In that event they would hear .me speak much more frequently in this chamber, because I would then, possibly, be given something to chew.
– Surely the honorable senator does not mean that?
– At all events, the numerical strength of the Opposition in this chamber is a fairly accurate reflection of the opinion of the people. However, for purposes of debate and opportunities to exchange opinions and thus form the composite mind which is capable of solving many problems which are be yond the capacity of any individual to solve, the numerical inequality between the Government and Opposition parties in this chamber has .a stultifying effect upon, government supporters. It certainly has that effect upon me. I hope that I shall not weary honorable senators if at the committee stage I should be impelled to correct more false impressions held by honorable senators opposite;
– - I support the bill, which I regard as an evolutionary measure introduced by the Government in its resolve to protect the workers in industry. The members of the Opposition parties have not criticized the generosity of the bill on general grounds, but Senator Rankin qualified that attitude by contending that the maximum amount of compensation proposed in respect of death was not sufficiently generous. Whilst it is impossible to assess accurately the compensation really due in respect of the death of a worker as an individual, this Government, not only under this legislation but also under its social services legislation has made provision for the worker which was never dreamed of previously and which the Opposition parties have endeavoured for generations to deny to him. If honorable senators opposite are sincere in what they have said tonight, I suggest that they urge the Liberal party to persuade Liberal party governments in the States to bring their respective workers’ compensation legislation up to the standard of this measure. If 1 have one regret it is that only Commonwealth employees and those privileged to work under Commonwealth industrial legislation will enjoy the great improvements effected under this bill. Thousands of employees of State governments and private employers cannot qualify for benefits equal to those provided in this legislation particularly in States where Liberal party governments are in office. Senator Harris referred to the history of workers’ compensation in Western. Australia and paid a tribute to the late Mr. Alec McCallum who, twenty years ago, when he was Minister for Labour in that State, introduced what was, perhaps, the first workers’ compen_sation measure really worthy of the name. lt provided for the payment of compensation in respect of injuries received by a worker travelling to or from his place of employment. It provided reasonable compensation in respect of death having regard to economic standards at that time, and it provided compensation in respect of the progressive deterioration of health of a worker in industry and also medical expenses at a fixed amount. Having regard to the economic standards at that time that measure was comparable with this legislation. However, after the Collier Government got it through the Legislative Assembly it was emasculated by anti-Labour members who were in a majority in the Legislative Council. On that occasion the anti-Labour parties disclosed their real attitude towards legislation of this kind. That chamber deleted from the measure the provision for the payment of compensation in respect of injuries received by a worker while travelling to or from his place of employment. It reduced the amounts of compensation generally by half, and fixed the amount of compensation in respect of death regardless of whether or not the worker who was fatally injured had any dependants. That chamber accepted only one provision as set out in the original measure, and that was that medical practitioners be paid fees on a generous scale for the treatment of injuries received by workers. At that time, the Opposition parties in that chamber included a number of medical men who apparently realized that under that provision they would receive payment in respect of services which in normal circumstances they would render in an honorary capacity. The measure was passed by the Legislative Council in such a form that it has taken Western Australia twenty years to enact legislation which in any respect is equal to the original measure introduced by the late Mr. Alec McCallum in the Legislative Assembly in that State.
This measure represents an advance upon any existing workers’ compensation legislation in the States. The Cain Labour Government of Victoria made some progress in this sphere. It introduced a measure which was applauded by the people of that State, but was nullified by the anti-Labour majority in the Legislative Council. It was the intention of the Cain Labour Government to enact such progressive legislation that led to the Legislative Council in that State taking the extraordinary action which resulted in the dismissal of that Government from office. The anti-Labour parties in Victoria were prepared to pay any price to destroy that progressive Labour Government. Under this measure, the amount of compensation payable in respect of death is being increased from £800 to £1,000, whilst the payment at the rate of two-thirds of the weekly wage of an employee at the time of injury is being increased to a rate of £4 a week, and payments in respect of minors are being raised from £1 to £3 a week. Over all, workers on the lowest wages will qualify for approximately 200 per cent, increased benefits under this measure. Compensation payable in respect of female dependants is being increased from £1 to 25s. a week, that increase being in keeping with the increase of the cost of living for which, as Senator Large has pointed out, the Opposition parties are responsible, having brought about the defeat of the Government’s proposal at the recent referendum. Had those proposals in respect of prices control been carried,, the worker would still be enabled to enjoy a. balanced economy. Compensation in respect of specified injuries is being increased from £S00 to £1,250. The Government realizes that it is impossible to compensate a man for the loss of his life. The Labour Government proposes to provide £1,000 for dependants who are wholly dependent upon the earnings of the deceased worker, and £50 will be paid in respect of each dependent child of a worker. The provision for children represents an increase of over 100 per cent, of the scale of payment provided in the present legislation. Furthermore, an incapacitated worker may demand payment of compensation in a lump sum, and if he does not own a home he can apply for assistance to acquire one. I am pleased that the measure provides that compensation paid to an injured worker will not be “ married “ into his eligibility to participate in social service benefits, to which every man is entitled as a citizen. That is a provision which the anti-Labour parties have always opposed and one which Labour lias always championed. Despite the criticism of members of the Opposition that the present measure does not go far enough, I feel confident that the workers of this country will appreciate what the present Government is doing for them, and I suggest to members of the Opposition that they write to the antiLabour governments in certain States and ask them to bring their legislation concerning workers’ compensation into alinement with this measure.
The bill is designed to afford protection not only to an employee who is injured in the course of his employment, but .also to one who is injured while travelling to or from his place of employment. The inclusion of such an explicit provision should minimize the necessity for workers to embark upon costly litigation to establish their rights. I consider that some aspects of the bill require further consideration, and I trust that at the committee stage honorable senators on this side of the chamber who have had practical experience of industry will give the chamber the benefit of their experience in order that the measure, as finally enacted, will conform to the most modern requirements of social justice.
A feature of the bill which must commend itself to people in Western Australia is the provision contained in subclause 2 of clause 16, which reads -
Where, before the date of commencement of this Act an employee sustained an injury i>r contracted u disease in respect of which weekly payments in accordance with the First Schedule to the Principal Act would have been payable at that date if he had been incapacitated for work at that date, and he is not, a.t that date, so incapacitated, but after that date he becomes incapacitated for work as a result of the injury or disease, weekly payments in respect of that incapacity shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Principal Act, as amended by this Act.
When the Australian Labour party was in power in Western Australia it thought that it had provided the utmost in compensation for employees, but expensive litigation before the Supreme Court of Western Australia and the High Court of Australia proved that that was not so.
Workers in Western Australia who were incapacitated by a recurrence of an old injury prior to the passage of this measure which may later result in his The inclusion of the provision which I have just related should adequately safeguard the rights of workers in respect of recurrence of old injuries.
Provision is also made in the measure now before the Senate for payment of compensation to the dependants of an employee who received an injury prior to the passage of this measure which may later result in his death. The inclusion of that provision should also commend itself to industrial workers in Western Australia. Industrial organizations in that State spent some thousands of pounds in an endeavour to establish the legal rights to compensation of the dependants of an employee who died as the result of an injury which he received at some antecedent period of his employment. Of course, no legislation requires more constant revision than legislation dealing with workers’ compensation, and in that respect alone the bill represents a progressive advance. The new Third Schedule to the bill is also a decided improvement, and it is significant that members of the Opposition did not mention it. Apart from, the other commendable features of the bill, the generous increases provided by that schedule entitle the bill to the support of honorable senators.
– Whilst honorable senators realize that the measure is not the acme of perfection in workers’ compensation legislation, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and its provisions can be improved in the light of experience. I was amazed to hear members of the Opposition contend, as members of the Opposition in the House of Representatives also contended that the Government has not gone far enough. Of course, while the parties which they represent are in opposition the Government can never go- far enough. Senator Rankin criticized the measure on the ground that it does not provide adequate compensation for injured workers and their dependants. We all realize that, but we also realize that the conservative political parties of this country, which masquerade under the titles of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, had the opportunity during the many years when they were in power to remedy the situation. Of course, they did nothing. I remind Senator Rankin that when the Cain Government of Victoria, which was a Labour administration, introduced its workers’ compensation measure that legislation was regarded as the best of its kind in Australia. Although anti-Labour governments had been in office in that State for many years previously nothing had been done to improve the backward legislation regulating payment of workers’ compensation in Victoria. Furthermore, the legislation introduced by the Cain Government had to encounter the opposition of the Victorian Legislative Council in which the Government did not possess a majority of supporters.
Senator Rankin also contended that the payments to be made to recipients of workers’ compensation should be brought into alinement with the present cost of living. Of course, that contention is sheer hypocrisy. No one knows better than do members of the Opposition that their political parties are responsible for the present soaring costs of living because of their successful opposition to the present Government’s proposal to continue the control of rents and prices.
– They were assisted by a vile press.
– As Senator Large has said, the Opposition parties were assisted by the press, and the commercial broadcasting stations, and they had the advantage of almost unlimited funds. At that time they knew very well that the States could not effectively control prices, yet, in order to obtain a political advantage, they were prepared to expose the people of the country to all the horrors and hardships of uncontrolled inflation. Now, they piously contend that the payments of workers’ compensation should be increased to cope with current prices.
I am particularly pleased with the provision of the bill which will provide for payment of compensation to members of the peace-time defence organizations, and for Commonwealth employees outside Australia, who may be injured in the course of their employment. The bill also provides that the present scale of payment of £3 a week to incapacitated workers shall be increased to £4 a week, and that compensation payable to minors is to be increased from £1 to £3 a week. Another pleasing feature of the measure is that the maximum amount of compensation payable is to be increased from £1,000 to £1,250, but no maximum is imposed for those who suffer total and permanent incapacity. Considerable merit also attaches to the provision to provide compensation for any disease which, although it does not. incapacitate a worker, renders him unable to work, and that provision should amply cover instances of occupational disease, such as dermatitis.
As the Minister for Social Services (Senator McKenna) stated that minor amendments to the bill will be proposed during the committee stage, I do not desire to say very much more at present. However, I was impelled by the criticism of the measure voiced by members of the Opposition to point out certain facts in relation to the bill. Their attitude is dictated by purely political considerations. Earlier to-day we had an example of that attitude, when members of the Opposition criticized the United Kingdom Grant Bill, and contended that the proposed gift of £10,000,000 was not sufficient. As they continually advocate that taxes should be reduced, their inconsistency is delightfully consistent. T conclude by saying that this measure is an indication of the sincerity of the present Government’ to ensure to the people of Australia a measure of economic and social security. I commend the bill, and I shall have something further to say in committee.
– Although the present measure is defective in some respects, as pointed out by Senator Katz and .Senator Sheehan, who covered most of the matters which I proposed to mention, I consider that it is a vast improvement on the existing legislation. Since the workers in industry produce all commercial wealth their welfare should be safeguarded to the utmost, and we rightly look to a Labour government to assist the labouring people. We realize that governments formed from other political parties represent, not the working people, but those interests which seek to exploit the workers. It is necessary, therefore, that when Labour is in power it should seize every opportunity to safeguard the workers. Of course, the use of the word “compensation “ in the term “ workers5 compensation” is a misnomer, because no real compensation can be made to any one who sustains severe physical injury in his employment. Any effective scheme of compensation should include payment for the suffering endured by the worker, and that should be added to the actual loss of wages and other expenses incurred. There should not be any such thing as partial compensation. Furthermore, a measure which is intended to provide for workers’ compensation should contain only the barest minimum of legal jargon. Every provision should be clear ‘ and concise and should state the rights of an injured worker without ambiguity. Unfortunately, we all know that much of the Australian legislation which deals with the subject is unnecessarily cumbered with legal jargon. Whether the purpose of its inclusion is to provide employment for lawyers in unnecessary litigation I do not know. A great deal of litigation has been concerned with injuries to workers sustained while they have been travelling to and from work. They receive compensation under certain conditions. I think there should, be added to that clause a provision to cover a worker during the lunch-hour period while he is on the job or is going to or from lunch.
– Such a provision is already contained in the bill.
– I consider also that free ambulance service should be provided.
– That is covered by the bill.
– I also suggest that the Government should consider providing the first artificial limb, where a worker has lost either arm or a leg.
S°nator ASHLEY (New South Wales -Minister for Shipping and Fuel) ~10.17”. - in reply - It i.« astonishing to witness the solicitude displayed by the Opposition for the workers. Senator Rankin has complained of the inadequacy of the increases provided under the bill. Briefly, the compensation in the event of death is to be increased from £800 to £1,000; for incapacity, from £3 a week or two-thirds of the wage, whichever is the less, to a fixed sum of £4 a week; for minors, from £1 to £3 a week; for a wife or female dependant, from £1 to £1 os. a week and for each dependent child under the age of 16, from 8s. 6d. to 10s. a week. The maximum compensation of £S00 for an injury coming under the heading of specified injuries is to be raised to £1,250. The maximum compensation to which weekly payments may accrue will be increased from £1,000 to £1,250. Other clauses of the bill provide for additional benefits. The increases provided for in the measure are comparable with provisions in the legislation of the States. The compensation in respect of death has been recently fixed in Western Australia at £1,000 and in South Australia at £900. Senator Rankin also referred to the fact that in a civil court a widow was awarded £4,000 as compensation for the death of her husband.
– The compensation was for an injury.
– The Senator did not say whether the compensation was made in respect of an injury suffered by a worker.
– It was for an injury suffered in a road accident.
– The honorable senator still has not said whether the woman was a worker. Compensation is always fixed on the earning capacity of the person concerned or on his or her responsibility to dependants. Honorable senators should be fair when making such comparisons, because the person concerned may be a person earning a high salary.
– The person concerned in the case that I mentioned was a woman.
– She may have had an earning capacity of £2,000 or £3,000 a year, whereas the average person’s earning capacity is, on a generous estimate, about £500 a year. If the honorable senator can indicate to me that the earning capacity of the woman in the case to which she has referred was £500 a year that would be a fair comparison.
– The woman concerned was not employed.
– Giving an instance like that without providing full particulars makes it very difficult for any one to give a satisfactory answer and, in any event, awards made by courts of law are different from statutory awards. The amounts of compensation provided under the bill were arrived at on an actuarial basis, and therefore do not come into the same category as the amount awarded in the civil case mentioned by Senator Rankin. The honorable senator also referred to the paucity of the amount of £25 for funeral expenses. I remind the honorable senator that a. government of the political party to which she belongs provided £15 only under the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act for the funeral of a returned soldier. The same government provided £10 for the burial of an old-age pensioner. The provision under this act is generous compared with that made by that former government. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) complained about the limitation to twelve months of the period in which action, could be taken in the courts of the country in cases that arise under this bill.
– That provision apparently, in his opinion, would not give the legal profession enough time to collect cases.
– I should not like to suggest that.
– The provision threatens legal incomes.
– That limit was inserted at the request of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council, which should know something about such matters, and is also in conformity with similar limitations in the workers’ compensation acts of the States. The relevant sections of three State acts are section 63 of the New South Wales act, section 69 of the South Australian act and section 9 of the Western Australian act. The pro vision in this bill puts this matter on a uniform basis and was made, as I have stated, after discussion’ with organizations that have dealt with compensation cases.
Senator Sheehan referred to the rectification of an injured eye. It has been decided by the court that, because the aid of glasses will increase the visual acuity in, or efficient use of, an injured eye while corrective glasses are being worn, such correction should not be taken into consideration in assessing the degree of permanent loss of vision. Therefore, we consider the words “ measured without the aid of a correcting lens “ as unnecessary. The Commissioner, under advice from medical officers of the Department of Health, proposes to issue instructions which will facilitate generous interpretation of this sub-section and assessment of compensation according to actual loss of sight.
Senator O’Sullivan referred to the extension of certain provisions to include payment to de facto wives. The provision of which he complains was copied from a repatriation act introduced by a government of the honorable senator’s own party under its old name of th, Nationalist party.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
I speak in elaboration of my introductory remarks during the secondreading debate. I refer to the definition of “ member of the family “, which, after referring to certain relations, continues - or any woman who for not less than three years immediately prior to his death or incapacity was wholly or mainly maintained by the employee and who, although not legally married to him, lived with him as his wife on a permanent and bona fide domestic basis . . .
It is rather extraordinary to refer to such an illicit relationship as “ bona fide “. My objection to the clause is that it is utterly improper for a government to put its seal of official approval on an illicit association and give it the same sanctity as it would extend to a proper legal marital union.
– The Government is following Christ’s teaching. Does not the honorable senator recall the case of Mary Magdalen ?
– The The Government should exclude such people from the provisions of this legislation. With the world about us drifting, as it is, away from the standards which our forebears supported and the ideals and philosophy that sustained them, it ill behoves the Government to take a matter like this for granted. By all means, if a person is in a sorry condition, financial assistance should be given, but there is provision under the Social Services Consolidation Act whereby destitute people or those in circumstances of a - drastic nature have a claim upon the Minister administering the act. I consider that it is entirely wrong for the Government to extend to a partner in an illicit association the same consideration as it would give to a person who was regularly married. It shows a drift from morality for the Government to put its seal of approval on such an association.
– I no not think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) would suggest that the Government should set itself up as controller of the people’s morals. He has the opportuntyto suggest that the provision be omitted from the bill. He has not suggested that, nor has he raised any valid objection. He is simply criticizing the provision. Such de facto wives are dependent, and the Government is merely making provision for them.
– The point raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) regarding de facto wives is one which has given me some concern. It is certainly most unpleasant and I have tried to find an alternative but have been - unable to do so. Such women are human beings and, whilst I do not condone any lapse of morality, I am at a loss to know what other suit able provision could be made. Some provision must certainly be made. I feel sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows that, in inserting this provision in the bill, the Government does not intend to condone illicit associations. One other aspect in the definition “ member of the family “ to which I draw the Minister’s attention is that there is no mention of cousins, nephews or nieces who have been supported entirely by the deceased person who is the subject of compensation. Is any provision made for cases of that kind in the definition of “member of the family”?
– There is limited provision for relatives such as Senator Critchley has mentioned in the event of the death of an employee. However, provision is made for any dependent child in the event of injury.
.- The definition of “dependant.” in relation to a deceased employee is as follows : -
The clause also includes a definition of “member of the family”. What is the reason for including both of those definitions ?
– The definition of “member of the family” will supplement the definition of “ Dependants “ in section 4 of the act.
I think that the explanation offered by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) in reply to my inquiry is quite unsatisfactory. He rejects any suggestion that the Government should set itself up as the judge of other people’s actions. But that is precisely the duty of a government. That is why we have such a thing as a criminal code. That is why bigamy is punished by the State. Bigamy is punished by the State because it is an infringement of the sanctity of marriage, and not only do Christian people regard marriage as a divine institution but al90 the State recognizes it as the very basis of civilization. All civilized States have legislated very effectively and fully with a view to safeguarding and fortifying the institution of marriage. This is not a matter for the Government to say, “ We cannot pry into other people’s affairs “. People are married or they are not married. If they are not married, they are not entitled to the benefits that flow from marriage. It is not necessarily a case of throwing a dependent person such as I have mentioned on to the street. As I have indicated, any such person can apply to the Director-General of Social Services for relief, but she is not entitled to be regarded on the same basis as a lawful wedded wife.
– - Whilst I agree in some measure with what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) has sine], I should like him to know of some of the tragedies that one encounters in administering workers’ compensation laws in everyday life.
– I - I am not without experience of them.
– I have had experience with a case in which a woman mistakenly believed that she was legally married to a man, and had reared a family for him. He was killed in a railway accident, and when she applied for compensation she found that she had not been married to him in law. He was beyond the reach of the law, but she had to face the world with a family. Other instances of a somewhat similar nature have come to my notice. I have known adults who grew up in the false belief that they were the legitimate children of a man only to find that, according to the moral law, he was not their father. Are we to punish the innocent? Much as I sympathize with the sentiments expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the fact is that we are considering a measure to provide benefits for persons who are dependent upon workers. We should not punish the innocent, and the bill offers the only means of providing justice. The honorable senator has lived in an atmosphere alien to such things. He has not been in the hurly-burly of industrial life. He has not witnessed the hardships that are suffered by people who live in less fortunate conditions than those that we enjoy. It would be wrong to deny to the dependants of persons with whom this bill deals the protection to which they are entitled because of their dependent position. As Senator Critchley has said, although we may regret the circumstances, we must be fair to innocent people. I should like the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to inform me whether the definition of “dependant “ in relation to a deceased employee covers any member of the family of a widower or single man, who acts as housekeeper for him. A daughter who may be too old to be described as a dependant child could come within this category. She may even be a widow. 1 know of cases in which a woman has been widowed and has returned to her widower father to act. as his housekeeper and has become entirely dependent upon him. In the event of such a man being killed, would the daughter acting as his housekeeper be entitled to receive compensation? Would compensation be payable to a sister acting in a similar capacity ?
.- I wish that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) would try to consider this matter on the basis of the full provision covering de facto wives. The definition of “member of the family” includes - any woman who for not less than three years immediately prior to his death or incapacity was wholly or mainly maintained by the employee and who, although not legally married to him, lived with him as his wife on a permanent and bona fide domestic basis and who, at the date of his death or incapacity, is maintaining one or more children under sixteen years of age . . .
I do not know whether the honorable senator suggests that such children should be left to battle for themselves in the world. If his suggestion were carried out, the children would be penalized.
– N - Not at all.
– Yes, because they are involved in the provision relating .to de facto wives. The persons about whom Senator Sheehan inquired will be covered by the bill if tbey have been acting as housekeepers. However, the provision would not apply to remote relations, such as nephews, who might have been living with a deceased employee.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Compensation for personal injuries to employees.)
Proposed new section 9 (3.) provides - (3.) If it is proved that the injury to an employee it attributable to his serious and wilful misconduct, any compensation claimed in respect of that injury 6hall, unless the injury results in death or serious and permanent disablement, bc disallowed. [ can find no machinery in the bill to determine by what means and to whose satisfaction that is to he proven. Will the Minister indicate what test of proof will be required and to whom the proof must be produced? The provision is quite reasonable. I merely want to know how it is to he operated.
– That provision will come under the power of the commissioner. The relevant provision in the act is as follows : -
In particular, the power of the Coramisdoner shall extend to determining - («) the question whether an injury received by an employee entitles him to compensation under this Act; ((») the existence and degree of incapacity for work by reason of in’ jury;
the permanence of incapacity by reason of injury; id) the degree of diminution of earning capacity by reason of injury;
the amount of the weekly pay of an employee; (/) the existence, for the purpose of this Act, of the relationship of any number of the family of an employee as defined in this Act; and (ij) the existence and extent of depen dency.
– I seeb information in relation to proposed section 9a (2.), which states - (2.) In this section, “travelling” means travelling’ by the shortest convenient route for the journey and does not include travelling during or after any substantial interruption of the journey or any substantial deviation from the route made for a reason unconnected with the employee’s employment . . .
I have in mind the case of a worker who, when returning to his home from his place of employment, was forced to go a considerable distance from the road which he normally used because of a flood, and was injured. Great difficulty was experienced in convincing the State compensation authority and an insurance company that he was injured while following the only passable route to his home. I should like to see included in this clause provision to cover the case of a worker who, because of seasonal conditions, is forced to deviate from his normal route to a greater extent than is covered at present. In the case to which I have referred the route taken by the worker was almost a semi-circle.
– The case that has been mentioned by the honorable senator will be investigated. An employee is covered if he is travelling by the most convenient route to his place of employment.
– I cannot find provision in the principal act or in this measure to cover a certain contingency for which provision is sought by the Labour party in Western Australia. I refer to an employee who because his place of employment is too far from his home for him to return for his midday meal, has to take that meal either in a lunchroom on the job, or somewhere close to his job. I should like to know whether an employee would be eligible for compensation if he were injured whilst eating his lunch in the premises provided, or travelling to or from the place where he has his meal.
– The contingency referred to by Senator
Cooke is covered by the provision, in relation to “ travelling to and from his place of employment”.
– I should like the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) to advise me of the eifect of this clause. It provides for the repeal of sections 9 and 9a of the principal act, and for the insertion of new sections in their stead. The Victoiian Act provides - . . an injury by accident to a worker shall be deemed to arise out of or in the course of the employment if the accident occurs - (a) while the worker on any working day on which he has attended at his place of employment pursuant to his contract of employment -
I.f my recollection is right that provision was inserted in the Victorian act by way of amendment to cover the case of a man who, while at his place of employment, is accidently injured by some other person say, for instance, a man who has a grudge against the employer, and has to come to injure him. I understand that prior to the introduction of the amending legislation, compensation was not payable in respect of such injuries. Supposing, for instance, that some one had a grudge against a fellow worker, or against the foreman on a job, and he goes to that job to injure that person, but, instead, he injures a third party working on that job, would such an injury be the subject of compensation ? ‘
– The injured person would be covered because. his injury was sustained during the course of his employment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Compensation in respect of death or incapacity of employee through disease caused by employment).
– Provision is made in this clause for compensation in respect of death or incapacity resulting from disease caused by employment. The clause provides for the omission of sub-section 1 of section 10 of the principal act, and the insertion of the following new sub-section in its stead : - (1.) Where-
I should like to know whether there is a statutory authority to decide whether the death or incapacity has been caused through disease, and whether there is any appeal from the decisions of that authority.
– The statutory authority is the commissioner.
– Is there any right of appeal?
– This clause deals with the gradual onset of diseases arising from industry. According to the definitions clause “ diseases “ includes - any physical or mental ailment, disorder, defect or morbid condition, whether of sudden or gradual development, and also includes the aggravation, acceleration, or recurrence of a pre-existing disease.
I should like to know whether the term “ disease “ includes the gradual onset of loss of eyesight.
– Action in such cases would have to be guided by medical opinion, and if such opinion were favorable, the compensation would be payable.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Defence civil employees and members of the defence force who are employees).
– I take it that all members of defence forces will be covered by this trlniise unless they have enlisted for the duration of a war and for a specified period thereafter. In other words, if a member of the defence forces is not covered by this legislation, I take it he is covered by repatriation legislation or other measures covering members of our defence forces in time of war.
– That is correct, [f he were not covered by the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, he would be covered by the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act.
Clause agreed to. Clause 10 agreed to. Clause 11 (Remedy against a stranger).
Paragraph e of proposed new section 17 requires some explanation. The clause provides -
Section seventeen of the Principal Act is repealed and the following sections are inserted in its stead: - “ 17. If an injury in respect of which compensation is payable under this Act is caused under circumstances which appear to create a legal 1 iiib] itv in some person other than the. Commonwealth to pay damages. in respect of the injury -
where the employee has received compensation under this Act, but no damages or less than the full amount of the damages to which he is entitled, the person liable to pay the damages shall indemnify the Commonwealth against so much of the compensation paid to the employee as does not exceed the damages for which that person is liable; and
If no damages at all are recovered by the claimant, and yet a third person is liable, it is fit and proper that the Commonwealth should be able to indemnify itself by making a claim on the person so liable. That part is clear, but I am in some doubt about the position of a claimant who receives damages less than the full amount of damages to which he is entitled. I cannot visualize the circumstances in which that would arise, because the amount of damages would be arrived at either by mutual agreement between the party liable and the claimant, and the liability discharged, or the amount would be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction. Has theMinister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) any instance in mind which would illustrate the circumstances in which it is likely that some damages would be recovered, but not the full amount to which the claimant was entitled ?
– The simple purpose is that where an employee has not received thedamages awarded by the court, or only a part of those damages, the Commonwealth is enabled to take over the responsibility of recovering the unpaid damages from the third party. The paragraph does not cover the case in which an employee compromises with the third party to accept, in full settlement of his claim, a sum of money which would be regarded by the Commonwealth as smaller than that which the court would award. The Commonwealth’s interest in such cases would be where the Commonwealth has paid a larger sum under the provisions of the act. In such cases, the Commonwealth would be able to exercise its power under paragraph (2>).
– In the event of a third party being involved in a compensation case, I should like to know what is the position of the employee who seeks compensation from the Commonwealth. Pending proceedings, will he be able- to accept the compensation provided under this legislation without prejudice to any case that may he conducted on his behalf to recover damages from the third party? Can he decide, of his own volition, to bring a civil action against the third party, for any damages that he considers he may be able to get in excess of the cover provided for him under this measure? If he is directed by the Public Service Arbitrator on behalf of the Commonwealth to take action will he be free from all liability to costs for counsel and will he be compensated while awaiting the decision of his case?
– In every case he is protected.
– Incapacity, not being defined, is usually regarded as an impairment which prevents a worker from earning full wages in his ordinary occupation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) has pointed out that such impairments may not be apparent immediately following’ an accident, but may develop later. For instance, I once met with an injury to my hand, but it’ was not till years afterwards that the injury really affected me seriously. A worker may have a similar experience, and some time after the accident may be prevented from obtaining employment at his usual trade or occupation. Is provision made for the payment of compensation in such circumstances?
– Yes,, under section 9 of the principal act as amended by this bill.
Sub-section 3 of proposed new section 17a reads - (3.) Where personal injury is caused to an employee in circumstances which appear to create a legal liability in the Commonwealth to pay damages in respect thereof and the employee has received compensation under this Act, the employee shall not bc entitled to take proceedings against the Commonwealth to recover damages unless he commences those
Sroeeedings within twelve months after the ate upon which he received payment, or the first payment, of compensation under this Act.
Until quite recently in Queensland no provision at all was made for election. Once compensation was received, the claimant was put out of court entirely with regard to his common law action. My point is that a maximum figure is fixed in respect of damages, or compensation, under the act and that amount is being increased under this measure to £1,250 and to £1,000 in respect of death. However, that amount might be entirely inadequate, and, in the event of the damage being caused through the negligence of a third party, it might be well worthwhile for the injured person to waive his claim for compensation entirely and sue for damages by virtue of his common-law rights. Whilst the period in respect of the right to take common-law action is being extended to twelve months - and that is a considerable improvement - we should bear in mind that the right to take civil action in normal circumstances endures for six years. Action may be taken from the date of the cause of action arising until six years thereafter. It would not do any harm if this period were extended to the_ period of six years for which the claimant’s common-law rights extend, provided that in the event of his receiving an amount by virtue of his commonlaw action he will have to account for any compensation he has received in the meantime. Whilst the extension of the period for twelve months is an improvement, I still suggest that it should be extended to a period of six years.
– It appears to me that the words “ payment, or “ in sub-section 3 of proposed new section 17a which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) just read are redundant, because the period of twelve months will commence from the first payment whether it be a lump sum payment or a weekly compensation’ payment. On the other hand, if a person received an injury in respect of which’ compensation is payable, what would be the position if the injury later proved to be the cause of death? Would the rights of that worker be protected if it could be proved that the injury was the cause of death although at the time of the accident it did not appear that the injury would prove fatal ?
.- I to the. Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) I can only repeat what I said in my second-reading speech. A claim for damages within twelve months does not interfere with the payment of compensation under the act, but any compensation paid will be set off against any award of damages. I suggest that the period of twelve months would be sufficient in all circumstances. If it were extended to six years, as the honorable senator suggests, litigation might be held up and the payments actually made might exceed the compensation payable under the legislation. Furthermore, it is desirable to achieve some uniformity with the State legislation in this respect. The Victorian, Queensland and Tasini anian acts provide for a period of six months. Thus the period provided under this legislation is generous. The period of twelve months is being provided at the request of the Trades and Labour Council of 2Jew South Wales which deals with many cases of workers’ compensation. In reply to Senator Cooke the words “payment, or” are not redundant beoauso the period will commence from the date of the first payment.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 16 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c - 1943 - No. 81 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association. No. 82 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others. Commonwealth Public Serrice Act - Appointments - Department - Civil Aviation- G. P. Fullarton. Health - S. Fisher. Interior - E. A. Appleton. Navv - D. A. Bourne. Dairy Produce Export ChargcB Act - Kegrulations - Statutory Utiles 1948, No. 141.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 157-100. Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes - Stuart, Queensland. Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Eagle ‘Farm. Queensland. Department of the Interior purposes -
Mr Gambier, South Australia, total purposes
Northern ‘Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory . (Administration) Act- Regulations - 194?–No. 6 (Motor Vshiolcp
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 November 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1948/19481124_senate_18_200/>.