18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Having regard to the present unsatisfactory control and operation of postal and telegraphic communications in Papua and New Guinea, has the Postmaster-General’s Department been requested to take over those functions? Can the Postmaster-General say whether his department is in a position to assume that responsibility? If so, can he indicate the date on which the department will take that action?
– At the moment I am not in a position to supply the information which the honorable senator has requested. If he places his question upon the notice-paper, I shall have the necessary inquiries made and supply the information to him later.
SenatorCRIT CHLE Y. - Will you, Mr. President, take action in conjunction with Mr. Speaker to hasten the completion of alterations and additions to Parliament House? Will you also ensure that sufficient air-conditioning equipment is installed to service, not only the two chambers, but also the dining rooms, party rooms and any rooms where Ministers or members of the Parliament normally perform their duties?
– I shall certainly comply with the request that the honorable senator has made. However, I point out that those engaged on the work of installing the air-conditioning equipment are labouring under great difficulties, one of which is that frequent sitting of the Parliament do not give them an opportunity to proceed without interruption. I understand that if the Parliament does not reassemble until the 18 th May after the recess which is about to begin, sufficient time will be given to the contractor to complete the work. The Joint House Committee at its meeting some nights ago resolved that airconditioning equipment be installed not only in both the chambers but also in the dining room, tea-rooms, lounge and bar. I trust, therefore, that before many moons have waxed and waned the installation of the equipment will be completed.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction read the statement made in the Legislative Assembly of the New South “Wales Parliament yesterday by Mr. W. F. Sheahan, Minister for Lands, in reply to a question, that the recent announcement made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction that the Australian Government had acquired properties in New South “Wales for soldier settlement was “ inaccurate and misleading” in view of the fact that the Australian Government has no power to acquire estates in New South “Wales for that purpose? “What is the actual position with respect to the acquisition of the properties concerned?
– I have no knowledge of either the statement which it is said was made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction or the reported reaction to it on the part of the Minister for Lands in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales yesterday. I know that in pursuance of the arrangement between the Australian Government and the State of New South “Wales, any acquisition that is to be effected is performed by the State of New South “Wales and not by this Government. In respect of land required for ex-servicemen the State consults the Commonwealth and obtains the Commonwealth’s approval before acquisition becomes effective. I am sure if the Minister has been reported as having said that the Australian Government has acquired properties in New South “Wales for this purpose an error has been made somewhere. The most that the Commonwealth Minister would do would be to approve the acquisition of such properties. I shall make inquiries and advise the honorable senator as to what exactly has taken place. However, I am rash enough to predict at the moment that it will be found that the Minister either said, or intended to say, that he had approved the acquisition by the New South “Wales Government of the properties in question if, in fact, they are to be acquired.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction say whether it is a fact that, by an arrangement between the governments of the Commonwealth and the States, funds for the purchase of land used for soldier settlement are supplied entirely by the Commonwealth?
– I am not completely familiar with the details of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States in this matter, and I do not know to what extent, if at all, the States participate in the financial contribution. I realize that the honorable senator is confident that the Commonwealth provides all of the money. That may very well be so, because repatriation and rehabilitation of our ex-servicemen are obviously matters that devolve upon the National Parliament. This Government has not been slow in accepting that responsibility and discharging it. It appeals to my sense of propriety that the Commonwealth should provide the whole of the funds and use the States as its agents. It seems reasonable to assume that the Commonwealth accepts the financial responsibility. The States, which . are in unfettered control of the land, and which are familiar with their own territories, should do the practical field work. However, I shall make precise inquiries and inform the honorable senator of the position at an early date.
– In view of the efforts being made by members of the Liberal party to show that Justice
Sir Owen Dixon was misreported when he said that all members of the Parliament, with the exception of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), were fools or blew their own trumpets, will you, Mr. President, communicate with His Honour to ascertain what he really did say? If His Honour pleads guilty, will you take action against him for breach of parliamentary privilege?
– As Senator O’Byrne waited upon me to-day and drew my attention to the report of a statement alleged to have been made by Justice Sir Owen Dixon, I suggest that, before I reply to Senator Hendrickson, Senator O’Byrne should ask the question which he has in mind, as it is along similar lines..
– Have you, Mr. President, seen the report in the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday last in which Justice Sir Owen Dixon, of the High Court, referred to the Parliament as the “ Canberra orchestra “ and, if the report be correct, implied that members of the Parliament are either fools or publicity seekers? As the custodian of the rights of honorable senators will you, sir, indicate your attitude with respect to the technique which is becoming prevalent in some quarters of decrying the parliamentary institution? Have you any opinion to express about the contumelious remarks made by His Honour regarding the Parliament and members of the Parliament ?
– As I have already indicated, the honorable senator waited upon me and mentioned this matter to me earlier to-day. Other honorable senators also have spoken to me about the matter. I have seen the statement to which he and Senator Hendrickson have referred. My secretary advised me on the telephone only a few minutes ago that a similar report had been published in the Courier-Mail, Brisbane, as well as in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Herald. The last-named newspaper thought so much of the statement that it printed its report within a border.
– In mourning!
– I daresay that the report has already travelled all around Australia, and I have not the slightest doubt that it will eventually appear in newspapers in other parts of the world. The story is a nice juicy bit of meat of the kind which our friends of the press readily seize upon. Perhaps, we cannot blame them ; they have to tickle the ears of the groundlings. The report published in the Melbourne Herald reads -
Sir Owen Dixon, a High Court Judge, said in Melbourne to-day that members of a “ Canberra orchestra “ had been divided into two categories - those who play the fool and those who blew their own trumpet.
Sir Owen who was speaking at the luncheon of the English Speaking Union, added : “ I think that is a clear and complete definition of what happens at Canberra. “ Mr. Menzies has never belonged to either category “.
Honorable senators who know me personally know that I have a highly developed sense of humour. It is a gift ; otherwise, being Scotch I would not, perhaps, have it. But having a sense of humour I should be inclined to treat the matter superficially and humorously. If the learned judge did make that statement, which I greatly doubt, I could easily reply to him about trumpetblowing. Perhaps he has not a trumpet to blow, and possibly, if he wanted to get one by becoming a member of this Parliament, he would fail. However, I do not want to be facetious about this matter because many honorable senators have spoken to me about it. I shall speak now as one who, with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is joint custodian of this Parliament in many respects. We all are jealous of its honour and we know that a constant attack against parliaments is maintained in every part of Australia and in other parts of the world. Therefore, I shall drop facetiousness and deal with the matter seriously. If the judge did make the statement, I think that he was guilty of a grave indiscretion. Personally, I consider that it would be very foolish for a judge of the High Court to make such a statement. It was entirely wrong and utterly stupid. But men do say extraordinary things after dinner. I have done so myself. In the roseate glow created by good Scotch whisky and red wine, we all are liable to say such things.
– The judge may be a teetotaller.
– Possibly that would make it worse. The fumes of wine at the dinner would affect him. In South Australia, teetotallers who inspect the wineries often come out of the cellars, if not drunk, at least very unsteady simply because they have inhaled the fumes of wine. I do not know whether Sir Owen Dixon is a teetotaller or not. As a private citizen he is perfectly at liberty to say what he likes about this Parliament. Evidently he attended the dinner of the English Speaking Union at which, allegedly, he made the remarks that have been reported. He also praised Mr. Menzies, and let me say that I, too, have praised Mr. Menzies, though not politically, of course. He is a man who can speak good English and he has a fine presence. Certainly we do not cavil at Sir Owen Dixon praising Mr. Menzies, if he did so. There are many other members of this Parliament who could be justly praised. The Parliament and parliamentarians are often traduced, and I may be forgiven if I speak with some heat now because I have in mind one of the greatest men that Australia has known, who died at his post. Honorable senators know to whom I refer. I should like to point out to Sir Owen Dixon, if he was guilty of making the remarks attributed to him, and to ‘the people of Australia, that members of parliament are just as decent as are any other members of the community. They represent a typical cross-section of the community. In any cross-section” of the community there are men of the kind that are to be found in this Parliament. They work conscientiously and well. In fairness to them, I point out that they cannot properly be judged by the speeches that are made in the Parliament. When men of strong ideas and strong principles oppose one another in debating certain measures that are before the Parliament, they necessarily become heated and sometimes things are said in this Parliament that would be better left unsaid. I point out to the people of Australia that the greater part of the work of members of Parliament is not done within the precincts of Parliament House. Their duties do not consist merely in speaking in the Par liament. Many a Minister works until the small hours of the morning. I can speak with enthusiasm of our own leader and Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and the work that he does. He is unfairly lampooned and cartooned in the press, but on every platform from which I speak I praise him. Only last Saturday night I did so in Melbourne at a Labour social. I say to the people that, in the Prime Minister, they have a man whose heart and soul are devoted to their interests, notwithstanding the attacks that are made upon him by the press. That is my true feeling. Having been a member of this Parliament for eighteen years, I repeat again what I have said from many a platform, namely, that the menu whom I have met in this Parliament havebeen of the highest character and integrity. They do their work well, and. they should not be judged merely by some-, attack made by a judge in an afterdinnerspeech. Here in Australia, as well as in: other parts of the world, there are two> groups of people - I shall not name them - that are bitterly opposed to democracy and the parliamentary system. They attack the parliamentary system on every possible occasion. They decry it and try to make it appear foolish in the eyes of the people. Unfortunately, remarks such as those that allegedly were made by Sir Owen Dixon are taken up by those people and used against us and our parliamentary system. We members of this Parliament believe wholeheartedly in the democratic system. We believe that we should uphold the dignity of the Parliament. We realize that occasionally we fall from grace and say things that are derogatory of our own institution, but, in the main, we stand solidly behind the Parliament and by the democratic system. I regret that a man who occupies such a high position at that held by Sir Owen Dixon should say the things that have been reported, if he did say them, because they are used against the very institution to which he belongs, the High Court Bench. When members of Parliament attack judges of the High Court, there is an outcry from one end of the country to the other. We have witnessed instances of that. Whenever any member of parliament has attacked the High Court, the press has immediately taken up the case and we have been attacked by those who support the institution of the High Court. Of course we, too, support it. I do not want to say anything in any way derogatory of judges of the High Court. However, if Sir Owen Dixon made those statements that have been attributed to him, I deplore the fact and regret that a man holding such a high position should descend to the standard of conduct of the Yarra Bank or the Sydney Domain.
– On the 3rd March, Senator Rankin asked the following question : -
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to inform the Senate when it will be possible for the Australian public to obtain supplies of rice without restriction?
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answer : -
The question asked involves a question of government policy, and as it is not usual to deal with matters of policy in reply to questions I regret that the information requested cannot be given at this stage. It is intended to make an announcement of government policy on this matter in due course.
– by leave - I desire to inform honorable senators that it has been decided to prepare a consolidation of Commonwealth acts as at the 81st December, 1950. The consolidation will be published as early as possible in the year 1951. The first consolidation of Commonwealth acts was prepared as at the end of 1911, and a second as at the end of 1935. It was then intended to issue a fresh consolidation at the end of each ten years, but that intention was, of course, frustrated by the war. It has also been decided to issue a consolidation of Commonwealth statutory rules as at the 31st December, 1950. The statutory rules have previously been reprinted twice, namely in 1914 and 1927. Besides being of great utility, those works will mark the completion of 50 years of federation, and will be issued to commemorate this important milestone in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– When 1 was in Bendigo last week-end I was approached by many citizens about the accommodation provided at the Commonwealth Bank building in that city. The Contracts Branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department occupies the offices on the third floor of the building. The lift is out of order and has been so for the past nine months. The Contracts Branch handles new telephone installations, and it is necessary for intending subscribers to approach officers of that branch. With the lift out of order, it is necessary for people to endure the unnecessary hardship of climbing three nights of stairs. Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel do his best to have the lift put in order immediately?
– I cannot promise to have the lift put in order immediately, but I shall make representations to the relevant department to have the honorable senator’s request met.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) put -
That Standing Order 68 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 18th March, to enable new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Government has decided to terminate its direct responsibility in relation to the production and processing of flax in Australia and to dispose of its assets in the flax industry, i.e., mills, plant, stocks, Ac. The first approach has been to the Governments of the States concerned to afford them the opportunity to carry on this industry as a Government enterprise if they so desire. In order not to disrupt the industry pending arrangements for the disposal of Commonwealth assets, the Commonwealth ‘ Government has agreed to contract with growers in respect of 1949 flax sowings. The Victorian Government has stated that it is not interested in taking over Commonwealth assets in that State. Negotiations with the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia are still proceeding. If the negotiations with the State governments fail it is proposed that the Commonwealth assets in this industry should be disposed of at a fair price to growers, spinners or other interests in Australia or overseas.
Debate resumed from the 15th March (vide page 1400), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Cooper had moved, by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ the bill be withdrawn and referred for report to an independent tribunal mutually acceptable to the parties concerned “.
– When the debate on this measure was adjourned last night, I was speaking to the amendment that had been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper). The honorable senator moved, in effect, that the bill be withdrawn and referred for report to an independent tribunal, mutually acceptable to the parties concerned. The parties concerned, of course, are the Government, acting on behalf of the people, and the British Medical Association. The honorable senator was particularly careful not to specify the composition of the independent tribunal. If he really intends that the tribunal should be independent, its members could not include either medical men or government representatives, lt should be obvious to every one that a tribunal selected in such a manner, lacking men skilled in medical matters and possessing specialist qualifications, would be a most improper body to adjudicate on the difficulties that have arisen in connexion with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act and the provision of full health services generally. If the honorable senator believes, after hearing what I said in my second-reading speech about the efforts that had been made to secure the cooperation of the British Medical Association, that that association is likely to accept his suggestion, I agree with Senator Sheehan that the Leader of the Opposition is an extraordinary optimist. I agree, too, with Senator Sheehan that, if the Leader of the Opposition in moving his amendment had been in a position to say that he was speaking on behalf of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association, some consideration would have to be given to his proposal. We have not had that assurance from the honorable senator. I come now to the third phase of the honorable senator’s amendment. It is proposed that the independent tribunal upon which there is to be mutual agreement, should make a report. Just what should happen when that report has been made is not specified in the amendment. All that we would add to the present controversy by accepting the amendment would be a report. In short, the entire proceedings of the proposed body would be a complete futility. Having heard the speech delivered by the honorable senator on the subject of pharmaceutical benefits, which occupied more than one hour, of which only about five minutes were devoted to pharmaceutical benefits and the remainder to a wide variety of subjects, I have come to the conclusion that he was not serious when he moved the amendment but was merely seeking an opportunity for a general discussion on subjects which may not be closely allied to the measure under consideration. In support of the contentions which he advanced in favour of acceptance of the amendment, he dealt at length with the Social Security Committee and read at length from the report of the Medical Planning Committee which was attached to the eighth interim report of the Social Security Committee. He ranged over the entire field of health and medical services in this country, including hospitalization and national fitness, dealt with the medical scheme, and gravitated finally to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Certainly he was justified in touching upon those matters because he was developing an argument that cooperation had already been forthcoming from the medical profession and that it was reasonable to assume that that cooperation would be extended still farther. That, of course, was his justification for discussing medical health services, medical benefits scheme, national fitness schemes, and the other extraneous matters to which I have referred. In the course of amy remarks I propose to deal specifically with the arguments advanced by the honorable senator, and when I have disposed of them I shall review the whole history of the relations between the Government and the British Medical Association in the matter of pharmaceutical benefits.
Dealing first of all with national health services, I am sure that the Senate realizes that vast building projects are involved in the establishment of a national health service, quite apart from the huge expenditure entailed. The implementation of the Government’s plan involves the provision of plant and equipment, the training of large numbers of skilled and specialist personnel, the construction of hospitals and institutions, the payment of subsidies to universities and the provision of scholarships. All those considerations are involved in any long-term plan to develop properly a national health service. However, in this country we are confronted by an acute shortage of housing accommodation and other urgent needs which compete for priority with medical and pharmaceutical services, and those of us who are realistic must realize that the development of a broad national health service must be a matter of longterm consideration. Presently I shall take the opportunity to return to discussion of that aspect of the matter and to inform the Senate exactly what has been done by the present Government to implement its broad project of providing for and maintaining’ the national health. However, I propose to deal first with certain statements made by the honorable senator. He said that following the submission of the report of the Medical Planning Committee, the medical profession agreed that a national health service should be established. He intimated that because of the co-operative spirit displayed by members of the medical profession in 1945, there must be some reason to account for the change of the attitude of the British Medical Association. As honorable senators are aware, a bill was passed by the Parliament late last’ year to establish a national health service, which provides for the development of all the facilities which I have mentioned. The reaction of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association to the passage of that legislation is contained in a letter dated the 13th December, which was addressed to me in my capacity of Minister for Health, in which that body expressed its objection to the proposal for a national health service on three grounds. It objected to the form of control proposed, that is, departmental control exercised by the Department of Health, and urged that a commission should be appointed on which medical practitioners should predominate. The council objected to the regulation-making powers which are, of course, inherent in every measure that is passed by the Parliament. It also objected to the establishment of experimental health centres, which I had already indicated would be established on a basis of one for each State, in order that the results of such a desirable experiment might be viewed objectively. One would have expected that the medical profession would readily agree with such a proposal. It was suggested that the experimental health centres might be established upon varying ‘bases, so that like the Lady Gowrie centres they could be used as testing grounds for the development of further medical centres either directly by the Government or by the Government in association with members of the British Medical Association. The council’s letter, to which I have referred, contains the following passage in reply to that point : -
The Federal Council considers that the institution of experimental health centres under the control of the: Government is unnecessary and also undesirable as replacing private doctors by government-employed doctors.
That portion of tha letter continues -
The Council earnestly requests you to consider amending the act in order to remove these objectionable features, thus ensuring one essential’ condition for harmonious cooperation of the- medical profession in the proposed national health, services^.
In- the- light of all that had gone before, the Senate will particularly appreciate one extract from my reply of the 22nd December, in which I stated -
You intimate that “one essential condition for -harmonious co-operation of the medical profession- in the proposed national health services.”* is. the- elimination of departmental control, abolition of the regulation-making power, and abandonment by the Government of its proposal’ to establish a limited number of experimental health centres. You do not state what- other essential1 conditions your association has in mind, and the. Government, having regard to the long course of conduct of your association, .is under no illusion that even if it were to meet these- objections other essential, conditions would- not be: stated.
Reverting for a moment to the proposal to establish health centres, the plans submitted to the Government in 1947 by the Federal Council of the British Medical1 Association for the establishment of a national health service provided for the institution of health centres at the instigation of medical’ practitioners themselves. The .Senate will remember that in the National Health Service Bill power was taken for the Government to sponsor and encourage that development by members of the medical profession- themselves. The proposal to establish experimental health centres is therefore obviously sound. The Medical Planning Committee, which was composed principally of medical practitioners, submitted a report in 1945 that was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, in which it urged that maternity health centres of experimental type should be established throughout Australia. That letter, written by the British Medical Association, constitutes therefore a complete retreat from the general principles previously proposed ‘by that body, and completely rejected the recommendation made by the Medical Planning Committee. That recommendation, I remind honorable senators, was approved and sponsored by the: -Social Security Committee.
In view of that revelation honorable senators will be prepared for my next comment, which is that the conduct of the British Medical Association in this country is typical of the conduct of medical organizations in other countries. It is certainly true of developments in the United Kingdom, and is equally true of the course of events in the United States of America to-day. A report which appeared in the New York Times of. the 21st February, 1949, under the heading, “ Deceit laid to Australian Medical Association on insuring health “, deals with the activities of the committee appointed to- consider the proposal for the introduction of a scheme of national health, insurance. That body contains representatives of various organizations, including the American Medical Association,, and is presided over by Dr. Channing Rotheringham, of Boston. The purpose of its appointment was to support the- implementation- of President Truman’s scheme foi a national health insurance plan. The following portions of that article ring true of what is happening in Australia to-day: -
The Committee foi the. Nation’s- Health declared to-day that the American. Medical Association-, was trying to hide its opposition to- national’ health insurance behind “ a fancy press-relations job “. In a broadside- attack eai the association’s, widely publicized twelvepoint health programme, announced a week ago, the committee- asserted that it was “‘designed to obscure the American Medical Association’s stubborn opposition to- a-ny programme which would taring medical care within the means of the. average man.. .. . .
The American Medical Association’s own statistics,” he said, “-show that 80 per cent, of the population - all those with- incomes under- 5,000 dollars - are- not able to, meet the expenses of serious illness out of their own resources. . . . They might disclose that organized medicine is more- concerned’ over who- controls the- finances of medical care than how much it costs the. people.
One finds the pattern of organized medical opposition to the intervention of governments in the field of health running the same throughout the world. It runs completely true from England to America to Australia, and was encountered also by the Government of !New Zealand. With relation to the medical benefits scheme the Leader of the Opposition said that here was the type of scheme in which the medical profession was prepared to co-operate. I point out that as far back as February, 1948, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association submitted to me proposals for national health services. It asked that the form of existing practice be left as it was, and represented to me that there should be a fee-for-service, and, consequently, that there should be a schedule of fees. Being realistic, they realized that unless there was a schedule of fees, any contribution by the Government would merely be a benefit to the doctors and not to the patients. Their third point was that abuse by the doctor could be stopped by making the patient pay part of the fee and they referred, with specific approval, to one of the systems operating in New Zealand whereby the doctor charges “a patient a certain portion of the fee and collects the balance from the government. Those
Ere the points that were put in writing to the Government by the British Medical Association in February, 1948: Part payment by the patient; part collection by the doctor from the Government; and a schedule of fees. It is the very proposal that this Government incorporated in the recent legislation, and the very proposal which is to-day rejected by the Federal Council of the British Medical Association. Upon what ground does the Federal Council of the British Medical Association reject this medical proposal? It has changed its ground completely, and its claim that the patient should, in the first instance, pay the whole fee directly to the doctor, and then collect his moiety from the Government, is such that one does not have to be very realistic to understand that there is a complete change of face on the part of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association. Immediately its own proposal was adopted completely by this Government, and the existing form of medical practice was left as it was, the scheme was rejected by the Federal Council of the British Medical Association.^ One does not have to be an administrator but merely needs common sense to realize that it will cut right across a fundamental principle if the patient is obliged to find all of the money in the first instance. It is a basic principle with this Government that medical attention shall be made easy, financially, for the patient. The proposal of the doctors that the patient must pay the lot cuts directly across that fundamental principle. One has only to think for a moment to realize that millions of people each year would be inconvenienced, and the Government would have to set up a colossal staff all around Australia to deal with individuals who would come along under that scheme, if each person had to obtain his own refund. On the contrary, 5,000 doctors can write a line or so upon a document, and collect their accounts monthly from the Government, involving the patient only in paying onehalf of the fee to the doctor. Although the Leader of the Opposition said that he voiced the opposition of the medical profession, I demonstrate to him now that he will find that the ground shifts under his feet, as indeed this Government has found. I must confess that I am unable to appreciate the attitude of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association. It presented a scheme that was accepted, and immediately afterwards backed away from it. It has paid no regard to the immediate financial concern of the patient, or to the convenience of millions of persons each year. It is small wonder that in those circumstances the Government informed the British Medical Association in December that it could not await its further pleasure, and would proceed with its scheme within the limits of its constitutional power. How can one deal with a body that changes its ground as I have indicated? In its letter of the 13th December, addressed to me, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association made it perfectly plain that it would not co-operate on the basis suggested by the Government. I invited it to appoint representatives to sit with representatives of the Government to elaborate all details of the scheme. I undertook that discussion on no point at all would be barred. The Federal Council agreed to do so, on condition that the Government should give away one fundamental point; in other words, that the Government should give way the whole lot before we met. The relevant portion of the Federal Council’s letter to me reads -
The Federal Council agrees to the principle of a joint committee of representatives of the Government and the Council to consider certain details of the proposed scheme, but only when major matters of policy have been agreed to by both parties.
The Federal Council said, in effect, “ We are perfectly agreeable to confer with you if you give way on all the points at issue”. That is not a very reasonable proposal. It reminds me of those popular lines from the song The Mountains of Mourne -
When we get all that we want,
We are as quiet as can be - .
Where the Mountains of Mourne
Sweep down to the sea.
The Leader of the Opposition also led into the subject of industrial conditions in this country. He claimed that although a measure of coercion was being applied to doctors, that was not done to people who broke the industrial law. I point out that this Parliament has very limited power in the sphere of industrial relations. It may not fix terms and conditions of employment and is confined to legislation for conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of disputes that are interstate in character. So far as is constitutionally possible, this Parliament and this Government have set up in the federal arbitration legislation provisions for the enforcement of awards and for the disciplining of parties to the awards. Those procedures do not in many instances rest upon the activity of the Government. They may be enforced by any organization, by any employer, by the court itself, and by the Registrar. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to peruse all of the machinery that exists in the federal arbitration legislation for enforcement of the decrees of the court. I invite him also to peruse the records of the court in respect of applications for deregistration. He will find also that the court may in any matter before it order a secret ballot of members of the union concerned. On any matter the court is armed with that power. Therefore, in developing an argument upon those lines, the Leader of the Opposition was not developing one that is analogous to the case under consideration.
When speaking of national health a little while ago, I undertook to say something about the activities upon which the Government had embarked. I preface my remarks by saying that in July, 1947, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association presented to me, as the representative of the Government, a list of the things which it considered ought to be done in the interests of national health. I reviewed all those matters in the Senate on the 4th December last, and any honorable senator who wishes to refresh his mind with respect to them can do so readily. I shall not now traverse the whole of the field; but I make this observation:There is not a single item in the list of things which the Federal Council of the British Medical Association considered should be done for the national health that either has not been done by the Government during the limited period it has been in office, or which is not in process of being done. I shall refresh the minds of honorable senators concerning all the things that have happened during the last few years. First the Government has passed legislation which will enable an all-out attack to be made upon tuberculosis in conjunction with the States. The Australian Government will bear every penny of additional expenditure involved in making that attack. It has agreed to provide the whole of the capital expenditure involved as from the 1st July of last year, and to find, as from that date, all the additional expenditure that will be required for maintenance. It is expected that that undertaking will cost the country £2,000,000 annually and, perhaps £40,000,000 in all. The Government has put no limit upon the amount. It will provide whatever sum may be required to eradicate tuberculosis in this country. Those who say that the Government has put the cart before the horse, as the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, overlook the facts. I have just given an example of one of the best possible preventive measures. That campaign for the eradication of tuberculosis means that everywhere people congregate, in trams, trains, theatres, offices or factories, the air will be rendered purer and the possibility of infection eliminated. That is a service to every member of the community, and will be of vast importance to the young in their reproductive years. That is prevention on its highest level, and is in addition to measures being taken to cure the people who are unfortunate enough to be afflicted with this wretched disease. I was glad to hear Senator Sheehan refer to the sterling work that was done by Sir Sidney Sewell for the eradication of tuberculosis. Sir Sidney Sewell realized the danger and kept on emphasizing it in speeches and broadcasts. He continually urged governments to take preventive action. I am happy to be able to say that before he died he saw at last a real move being undertaken at governmental level to stamp out tuberculosis in this country. Such action could not be effective unless it was undertaken at governmental level.
In the field of maternal care and child health, the Government has approved the establishment of a chair in child health at the University of Sydney. The university authorities have agreed to that proposal, and other interested bodies have added their help. As Dr. Wunderley has done with respect to tuberculosis, I am having made a survey of ante-natal and maternal facilities and child health facilities in this country. The object of that survey, as it was the object of the tuberculosis survey, is to find out the deficiencies in the country, to determine the gaps that need to be filled; and there are many gaps in those two important fields. Until that survey is completed I cannot commit the Government, but it seems to me that the Commonwealth with its new responsibilities and great interests in these particular fields will probably develop a type of approach without disturbing existing institutions and State control, that is, a type of control somewhat similar to that set up in respect of tuberculosis. At all events, I am hopeful of being able to make a recommendation to the Government in that matter. “We have set up sixteen diagnostic laboratories in this country. We are training pathologists at our own School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at the Sydney University. We have also set up at that university a unit of industrial hygiene which will provide post-graduate training for doctors and men who will embark upon health problems associated with industry. They will examine the incidence of work that is deleterious to health, including such factors as noise, dust, ventilation and light. All these things affect a worker while he is engaged in his daily occupation and, although they are not generally spoken about, they play a very important part in the condition of his health. The establishment of acoustic laboratories in the States shows that the Government is concerned about dealing with noise in industry from the point of view of national health. I also refer those people who say that the Government is not concerned with prevention to arrangements made for the free distribution through the States of prophylactics and also the free distribution of iodized salt tablets for the control of goitre in goitrous areas. They are further examples of prevention at its highest level. Only yesterday I wrote a letter to Dr. Turnbull, the Minister for Health in Tasmania, forwarding to him the comprehensive report made by Dr. Clements, of the Institute of Anatomy, with respect to goitre in that State and the steps which should be taken for the prevention of that disease and the after-care of patients. That report will reach Dr. Turnbull within a few days.
I also remind honorable senators of the dental health scheme which the Government has in hand, the details of which I announced on a previous occasion in this chamber. The three main principles of that scheme which have been evolved in consultation with the Australian Dental Association are education in diet and hygiene, provision of dental services to people living in outback areas, and continuous dental care for every child up to the age of sixteen years. All of those schemes are examples of preventive medicine at its best. I refer also to the Government’s scheme for the rehabilitation of the physically disabled. At the moment that scheme is confined to certain classes of patients, but I hope that it will be extended considerably before very long. On previous occasions I have referred to the work that is being done at the Institute of Anatomy in respect of nutritional surveys in the field of medical research. That is another example of preventive medicine. The Government through the National Health and Medical. Research Council makes available, the sum of £60,000 a year for medical research. It is also making available the sum of £32.5,000 for research at the Australian National University, of which the greater part will be expended on medical research. Housing, which is one of the most important aspects, in relation to the health of the community, has had the complete attention of the Government, -which has already paid £40,000,000 to the States to help them with their schemes.
The British Medical Association suggested that we should concentrate upon improvements of sociological standards. I shall not review the whole of the social services which have been established under the stimulus of this Government except to point out that expenditure on social services has risen from £17,000,000 in 1939, just prior to Labour taking office, to nearly £100,000,000 for the current financial year. If we could have got our medical scheme completely in operation. I am quite certain that that expenditure would actually have reached £100,000,000 this year. The Government has also established X-ray and radium laboratories at the University of Melbourne and is bearing the expense of the servicing of plant and the supervision of standards as well as the control of the distribution of radon which is an important by-product of radium. The Government has also appropriated the sum of £7,500 for the Flying Doctor service in the States, whilst it has established its own flying doctor service in the Northern Territory, and, quite recently, it expanded that service. Recently, I also authorized the provision of medicine chests through the Flying Doctor service to people living in outback areas.
I mention these facts to show that the Government has been concerned to follow out the broad plan laid down by the medical profession. It has followed lines of prevention and cure, but, simultaneously, it has also supplied media whereby some financial relief can be given to people. The pharmaceutical bene fits scheme, along with the Governments medical benefits scheme will mean a contribution of something like £8,000,000 annually to family budgets and, having regard to rising prices in this country, that, is a very great contribution to the budget of ordinary people in the community. In fact, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in the proposals which it submitted to me suggested that some means should be found to bridge the financial gap between the patient’s resources and the cost of medical services. Here are two clear opportunities presented to the medical profession to demonstrate its sincerity in that matter. But the profession so far has not seen fit to take either of those opportunities. I come now to the last phase to which I referred a little while ago, which demonstrates that in the matter of pharmaceutical benefits to patients every effort has been made by the Government to secure the co-operation of the medical profession. Concession after concession has been made to the profession’s viewpoint, but the story throughout has been the same. No matter how much co-operation the Government sought, or how many concessions it made, there was an unyielding and unbending attitude on the part of the medical profession as represented by the controlling body of the British Medical Association.
Briefly, I shall review the history of events. Some honorable senators have traversed portion of the story, but it may be as well if I place the whole story before honorable senators, who can find the full details of it in my second-reading speech. I go back to 1943, when Senator Fraser, who was then Minister for Health, invited the. Federal Council of the British Medical Association to nominate persons to fashion and perfect the formulary. The British Medical Association refused that offer. When the Government attempted to go on with the scheme, relying on the power to expend its own money, its legislation was attacked in the High Court, which declared that legislation to be invalid. Later, when I became Minister for Health in May, 1947, I met the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Melbourne. They pressed various objections. They objected to the formulary, to the composition of the committee to be set up to review the formulary and to section 22 of the law which provided a penalty if a doctor prescribed without first personally examining a patient. Subsequently, I met members of the council and received various proposals from them. One was that all doctors should be free to write anything they liked at all and that the Government should pay. The other proposal, which was far morn restrictive, was that the formulary should be confined to a limited list of lifesaving and disease-preventing drugs. When those two proposals were put to me, I suggested to the council that we might have a small committee composed of its own and the Government’s experts. Three months after I made that suggestion for the examination of not only the Government’s proposal but also the British Medical Association’s own proposal, I received in writing the association’s objections to the formation of such a committee. We proceeded with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act of 1947, in which concessions were made to the viewpoint of the medical profession. . In the first place, it was agreed that the formulary committee should be predominantly medical so that there would be only two pharmacists in a committee of seven members, the remainder consisting of a pharmacologist and four doctors. It was certain, of course, that the pharmacologist would be a medical practitioner. I invited the association at that time to submit to me a small panel of names from which a selection could be made for appointment to the formulary committee. In the act of 1947, all penalties upon a doctor for prescribing without personal examination of a patient were removed, and a mere code in the regulations was substituted. That code had been laid down on behalf of the association as a guide to the profession as to what should constitute proper prescribing. However, when the Government announced the launching of the scheme in May, 1948, the Federal Council of the association wrote to all doctors and advised them not to co-operate. Soon after that, I wrote to the Federal Council again offering to discuss any aspects of the scheme that disturbed it or any of the regulations to which it took exception. That offer was not accepted either.
The council agreed subsequently to a conference limited to the discussion of three matters only. That conference was held in Melbourne in July, 1948, and it was then that the Government offered to approve all kinds of concessions, including extensions of the formulary to provide greater elasticity, to allow a choice of flavourings in compounds, and to allow two drugs to be added to a mixture, instead of one drug, from the list of allowable additions. The Government also agreed to introduce a larger and plainer prescription form, upon which a doctor could record in his own way his own personal particulars, and offered to permit two prescriptions to be written on one form instead of one as previously. There was a complete discussion of penalties, and many concessions were made on behalf of the Government in the matter of penalties prescribed by regulations. But all of that negotiation led to only one result. In a letter written to me in October, 1948, the president of the council stated, very briefly and to the point -
The alterations you are willing to make have failed to induce the members of the British Medical Association to offer co-operation in the working of the Pharmaceutical Benefit* Act 1947.
That is the history of offer after offer of co-operation and conferences with experts in order to. iron out, not only the Government’s proposals, but also every detail of the proposals made by the association. After the Government had made concession after concession, it was met with a complete and summary rejection of every offer of co-operation that it had made. I think that honorable senators will begin to appreciate that, in the light of that history, acceptance of the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition would be a complete futility at this stage.
I point to the contrast between the attitude of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Australia and that of the Australian Dental Association. The Government cannot be such a difficult body as the British Medical
Association claims if it can reach complete agreement very quickly with the dentists upon the proper approach to national dental care. The Government and the Australian Dental Association see eye to eye upon the three main principles of the dental scheme - education in diet and dental hygiene, provision for outback areas, and care for children’s teeth up to the age of sixteen years. There was no hesitation on the part of the association in conferring with Government representatives. In fact, within the next week or two, a group of the association’s representatives will visit New Zealand in order to examine the dental schemes in force there in complete co-operation with officers of the Department of Health. They are propared to examine, discuss and reason. One or two matters are outstanding, but T am confident that, after the association’s representatives have studied the problems on the spot in New Zealand, where everybody is better informed and where there are opportunities for full discussion, we shall reach unanimity in the approach to dental care in Australia.
Although there has been a great deal of talk about pharmaceutical benefits, the national health service and the medical benefits scheme, the Government recognizes frankly that the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is of relatively minor importance. In saying that, I am not to he taken as saying that it is not important. However, compared with the major projects that I have outlined and the vision that the Government has of the health of this country, pharmaceutical benefits represents a relatively minor benefit, the Government is concerned with prevention and cure, as well as with relieving patients of financial burdens. In a letter to me dated the 20th August, 1948, the British Medical Association used these very words -
There is no dispute on the general principle that the people of Australia should receive free medicine. lt is as specific as that. Those are the exact words. I point out to the Senate that, in that letter, the association approved in principle of pharmaceutical benefits. But the fact is that, after six years of approval in principle by the association, the scheme is still not in operation in Australia. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition asks me to withdraw a bill that will ensure that some measure of the benefits for which the scheme provides shall reach the people. For those reasons, and with that survey of the arguments used by the Leader of the Opposition, I oppose the amendment and invite the Senate to reject it.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cooper’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown.)1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– in reply - Having disposed of the amendment, I should like to deal with some of the points raised by honorable senators in the course of the general debate on the motion for the second reading of the bill. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) said that there had been no substantial demand by the public for pharmaceutical benefits. I say at once that there cannot be a demand from individual patients of individual doctors. A patient who is ill and approaching his doctor is in no position to tell the doctor that he should prescribe at all, much less to dictate to him what he should prescribe.
– That has been tried, but the doctors have refused to do it.
– I have no knowledge of that, but even if pressure from individual patients could be brought to bear, taking a long-term view of the situation, as the Government does, it would not be desirable. “We have the example of what has happened in another country, where there has been overprescribing and where 20 per cent, of the doctors are doing 50 per cent, of the prescribing. We do not want to make our people medicine-minded. The Government was particularly concerned not to stimulate a patient-demand for medicine. In seeking to provide a social benefit it did not want to create a social evil, which would arise if the people became too medicineconscious. Another factor that influenced the Government in not seeking to exert pressure was its confident hope that, when the medical profession saw the form of the medical benefits scheme, under which practice as they have always known it would be left exactly as it was, their really mythical objections to the scheme would wither away. However, that hope was not realized. I merely say to the honorable senator who raised that point that, if he were to see my mail and the objections from individuals and organizations throughout Australia, indicating a mounting tide of indignation against the controllers of the medical profession at their failure to provide this benefit, he would be really astonished and would realize that there is a very strong and insistent public demand for pharmaceutical benefits, and a great sense of resentment at the attitude of the medical profession. The honorable senator said that the Government’s patience and my own were exhausted. I assure him that that is not so. However, after approximately two and a half years of patience, the Government has come to the conclusion that further forbearance would be futile. It has decided to act. Both the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Rankin raised a very interesting point. They claimed that, under this measure, a doctor would be compelled in certain circumstances to provide a pharmaceutical benefit, and that a patient would be compelled to accept it. Both honorable senators pointed out that that would amount to some form of conscription of the patient, and expressed concern that that should be so. Senator Rankin stated that she could find no provision in the bill or in the principal act whereby a patient who did not wish to receive a free medical benefit in any circumstances, could secure exemption. I refer the honorable senator to clause 5 of the measure now before the Senate. The very first three words of proposed new section 7a are : “ Except as prescribed “. That leaves an avenue for the prescribing by regulations of a provision whereby a person of the kind mentioned by Opposition senators, can be exempted from the operations of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act. In case that does not satisfy Senator Rankin, I refer her also to section 7 of the 1947 legislation, subsection 4 of which states - (4.) An approved pharmaceutical chemist, approved, medical practitioner or approved hospital authority shall be entitled to make such special charges (if any) in respect of the supply of pharmaceutical benefits as are prescribed.
So, under both those provisions, there is power to exempt persons of the kind referred to by the two Opposition members.
– That would have to be done by regulation?
– Yes. This aspect of the matter was put to me by the British Medical Association in Melbourne in October, 1948, when we were discussing the medical benefits scheme. I confess that I was surprised when representatives of the British Medical Association pointed out that there would be many people who, for reasons that seemed good enough to them, would not want to participate in any scheme sponsored by the Government. I realized, however, that doctors met all kinds of people in their surgeries, and knew more about the idiosyncracies of people than I did, so I accepted the British Medical Association’s statement. I conceded that if there were such people, we should have regard for their feelings, treating those feelings just as much as facts as their maladies and for the noses on their faces. I intimated that full consideration would be given to exempting those persons from any compulsion to participate in any scheme such as this. However, I am expressing my personal opinion when I say to the Leader of the Opposition and his supporter in this chamber that I believe that the body of persons with whom they are concerned, if it exists at all will be found to be surprisingly small, and will diminish rapidly. However, I do assure the Opposition that there is no need for great concern on that point.
It has been suggested that the pharmaceutical benefits scheme means, in effect, the conscription of doctors. I do not propose to embark on a dissertation on what constitutes conscription, but I do draw attention to a cold legal point. By their vote at the 1946 referendum, the people of Australia gave to the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate for the provision of pharmaceutical benefits; power to legislate for the provision of sickness benefits; and thirdly - and here is a tag that was not attached to the first two powers - power to- make provision for medical and dental services “ but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription All I can say to Opposition senators if they will listen and use their reason, is that this measure proposes only to- do to doctors what is already being done to practically every other section of the community. If there is any validity in the argument that requiring a doctor, when prescribing a medicine contained in the Government’s formulary, to do so on a. Commonwealth form and thus make the> medicine free, to the. patient, is conscription, then the 2,000,000 income tax payers in this country who- are required to submit forms declaring their income to the Commissioner of Taxation, all employers who submit forms relating to payroll tax, and all business people who submit sales tax returns,, are also conscripts and have ceased to be free individuals. There is no element, of conscription in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme either from the- legal or the commonsense point of view. The doctors are only being asked to make some contribution, in the general social interests of this country, to a scheme that is designed to help their patients financially.
I shall refer now to the change that has been effected in- the Government’s approach to this matter. The Senate may remember that in a national broadcast made in May or last year I announced the launching of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Here is something that I said on that occasion-*
After - and I repeat the word - after b doctor hae studied the contents of the formulary and its flexibility I am sure that his decision regarding co-operation in the scheme will be determined by his medical judgment, his humanity and his good citizenship, and by no other considerations.
I said that I was sure. I have been proved wrong for the simple reason that doctors have been placed by their controlling body, the Federal Council of the British Medical Association, in a position of great difficulty. The council, by asking medical men to return the forms sent to them by the Government without looking at them, has presented the doctor with a problem of divided loyalty. First, there is his loyalty to his patient dictated by considerations of humanity and citizenship, and secondly, there is his loyalty to his organization which is an impelling factor in the opposite direction. Yet, we must face the fact that that order, request, or ukase - whatever it may be called - of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association has carried more weight with the doctors than has the other consideration upon which I relied in May, 1948.
The action taken by the Government under the pharmaceutical benefits legislation is clear and simple. The doctor is not being told what to prescribe. He may prescribe exactly what he wishes, whether his prescription is within the formulary or not. The bill simply says to him, “If you do prescribe something that is within the formulary, write it on the. government form and make the medicine free to your patient”. That approach, in my view, will do two important things. First, the 3,200 doctors who, relying not on their own medical judgment hut on the judgment, medical or otherwise, of the Federal Council of the British Medical’ Association, returned their copies of the formulary and the forms associated with this scheme, without even looking at them, will be obliged under the new legislation at least to know the contents of the formulary. Secondly, there, will be an easing of the embarrassment of many hundreds, if not thousands, of doctors who would be willing to give the benefits of this scheme to their patients but for the attitude of their controlling authority. The Government’s new approach will clear the way for them, and resolve their divided loyalty in no uncertain manner. I emphasize that the power to provide pharmaceutical benefits contained in this legislation is not a power to regulate medical practice, and therefore it is not a power to regulate prescribing. Nothing in the principal act or in this amending legislation seeks to tell a doctor what he must prescribe. At the most, whatever element of obligation is cast upon doctors, there will be no restrictions on the quantities of any medicament that a doctor may wish to order. The present restrictions on quantities that appear in the formulary will remain, but only as a guide to the medical profession as to what is regarded as an adequate quantity. The new regulations will not impose any restrictions whatever on quantities. The. whole issue then comes down to one simple proposition. It is merely a question of what form a doctor should write his prescription on - the Commonwealth form or a form of his own. It may be fairly asked why the Government insists so strongly upon the use of Government forms. I dealt with that matter at considerable length in this chamber before stating my views in a letter to the Federal Council of the British Medical Association, dated the 6th September, 1948. Probably it will save time if I read some brief extracts from that letter. I stated -
I note that, following my explanation of the necessity for Government forms from the viewpoint of efficient administration, your council has agreed that prescription forms should be of uniform size, be prepared in duplicate, and bear the name and address of both the patient and the doctor.
That was agreed to by the Federal Council when the magnitude of the administrative problem involved had been explained to it. The letter continued -
Documents upon which prescriptions for pharmaceutical benefits are written are, when passed to chemists, documents of entitlement to the receipt of money from the Commonwealth for the provision of pharmaceutical benefits to the estimated total of at least £2,000,000 per annum. I am sure you will concede the need for safeguarding, as far as possible, the expenditure of a sum of this order.
In my letter, I summarized the Government’s objections to the use of private prescription forms as follows: -
I pointed out, too, in that letter that the prescribing by doctors on the same type of form, of items contained in the formulary, and others excluded from it, would lead to endless argument in chemists’ shops as to whether a particular prescription should be free or not, and that that decision really ought to be made in the privacy of the doctor’s surgery, where the prescription originated. I pointed out, too, that use by doctors of their own private prescription forms would entail the most detailed examination of every prescription by a qualified chemist. With approximately 20,000,000 prescriptions per annum, the task would be enormous. I further pointed out that if prescribing on private forms were permitted, instead of requiring a staff of only 134, including seventeen chemists, to implement the entire scheme, six or seven times that number would be necessary. Those are administration, considerations which, I am perfectly sure, will appeal to the Senate.
I come now to the following statement which, according to yesterday’s press, was made by Dr. J. G. Hunter, general secretary of the Federal Council of the British Medical Association: -
The doctor will have to choose one of three alternatives, namely, pass under Government direction, break the law, or jeopardize his patient’s life.
Let us examine those alternatives for a moment. The first is that a doctor would have to pass under governmental direction. The measure of direction that a doctor will receive under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is no greater than that to which every member of the -community is subjected. I have mentioned the obligations of taxpayers. There is not a class in this community which, if examined microscopically, could not be said to be directed by governments in some way. Citizens of this country are even directed on which side of the footpath they are to walk. In any democracy there must necessarily be some control of individuals and of groups. Because a doctor is required to write particular items on a certain form it is absurd to suggest that he is subjected to government interference and control. The second contention advanced in the statement to the effect that doctors will ‘be forced to break the law, is not, I am convinced, put forward in any spirit of seriousness. If there is one class in the community that is law-abiding it is the medical profession. Therefore, 1 feel sure that neither honorable senators nor even the members of the British Medical Association will accept that contention seriously. Now we come to the next, and the most remarkable, of the statements made by the secretary of the British Medical Association, namely; that the third alternative “would
Jeopardize his patient’s life”. What )r. Hunter meant by that statement I do not know. If he meant that he considers that a patient might die because a doctor would rather not prescribe a life-saving drug that is contained in the formulary on an official form, then all I say is that Dr. Hunter was .being merely rhetorical and fantastic. Such a suggestion would be laughed to scorn by every member of his own association.
A good deal has been said about the inclusion of penalty provisions in the bill. Let me remind the Senate that the legislation of every State in Australia and of the Commonwealth concerning the prescription of dangerous drugs provides penalties up to £500 for every offence, and, in some instances, imprisonment for two years is also provided. There has never been any complaint from the profession about the stringency of those penalties. I say in all seriousness that the argument that severe penalties are likely to be inflicted upon medical prac titioners without real cause is absolutely unwarranted, particularly when, as I have pointed out, no complaint has ever been made of the severity of the penalty provisions for irregular prescription of dangerous drugs.
Dr. Hunter’s statement indicates that his association is contemplating an appeal to the High Court when the legislation is passed. With such a course of action I have no quarrel. Any individual ot body in this country which doubts the validity of any particular legislation has the right to have it tested before thiHigh Court. All I say is that the attitude of the British Medical Association reveals one more instance of an utter lack of compromise, of complete rigidity of attitude and of complete hostility to the plan proposed for removing the burden of providing for the sick from the shoulders of those who are least able to bear it. I go so far as to say that the hostility of the British Medical Association is not directed particularly at the present Government. I believe that that body would adopt an identical attitude towards any administration which proposed to reform our medical services. The attitude of the association is not political in the sense that it is directed against a particular administration, but I believe that it is political in the sense that the controlling body of that association resents - quite unjustifiably - the intrusion of the Government into the field of medicine. I remind the members of that body that without the intervention of governments into the field of medicine, not only in this country, but throughout the world, there can be no development.
Finally I say that the doctors of Australia can thank their own controlling bodies, and no one else, for the fact that some measure of obligation will be cast upon them by this measure. The controlling body of the British Medical Association, the Federal Council, has forced them into the position in which they find themselves to-day. If in the future some doctor is fined for not using the prescribed form in order to prescribe a drug that is included in the formulary, then he can thank the controlling body of his association for the difficulty in which he finds himself. I join with Senator Rankin in saying that it is a matter for regret that even such a small obligation as that provided by the present measure should be imposed in a dealing between the National Government and such a body as the British Medical Association. The National Government and the British Medical Association have common objectives, but when those objectives are sought to be attained all the difficulties that arise emanate from the British Medical Association. I join with Senator Rankin in regretting the necessity for the powers of compulsion that are contained in clause 5 of the bill. Nevertheless, I commend the bill to the Senate and trust that its passage will enable the people to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. They are entitled to those benefits, not only because they approved of the proposal at a referendum held in 1946 and reaffirmed their approval by their votes at the general election held in the same year, but also because they have already paid for those benefits by their social services contributions, and have, in fact, been paying for those benefits for some years. Those benefits have been withheld from them because of the protracted contest waged by the controlling body of the British Medical Association in this country.
If I might add one more statement to my conclusion, I again deprecate the use of the term. “ free medicine “. Although it is commonly used by the press and the antagonists of the scheme, it is a. complete misnomer. Power was conferred to provide “ pharmaceutical benefits “ under legislation which is, entitled the “Pharmaceutical Benefits Act “. Those who persist in using the term “free medicine” - and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so - display either their ignorance or their prejudice. They are simply seeking to decry a scheme which the people have indicated conclusively that they desire to be implemented, and which the Government has declared they shall have.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time;
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
New clause 4a -
SenatorMcKENNA (Tasmania- Minister for Health and Minister forSocial Services) [4.45]. - I move -
That, after clause 4, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 4a. Section seven of the Principal Act is amended by inserting in sub-section (1.), after the word ‘ Act,’, the words ‘ and except as prescribed,’.”.
The object of inserting the proposed new clause is to ensure that certain classes of people who are excluded from hospital benefits shall also be excluded from the benefits of this measure. I refer to cases of injury and illness in which the obligation to pay rests upon some one other than the patient. The proposed new clause will bring the hospital benefits scheme and the pharmaceutical benefits scheme into alinement.
New clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Medical practitioners to write prescriptions on official forms) -
– Before dealing with the clause, which is one of the main provisions of the measure, I desire to express my appreciation of the clear, logical and courteous manner in which the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) explained the case for the Government. Some of his colleagues opposite might well take example from his manner and realize that in debate abuse does not take the place of logic. Some statements made by honorable senators opposite yesterday concerning members of the medical profession were both unfair and unjustifiable. Although the, Minister expressed the Government’s case clearly and most forcibly, in the course of which he read extracts from a number of letters from the British Medical Association, I point out to those people who may have heard his speech in reply during the broadcast of the proceedings of this chamber, that they havenot yet heard the case for the British Medical Association.
– Order! The committee is discussing clause: 5, and the honorable senator must confine himself to that clause.
– I relate my remarks to the clause, which proposes to insert in the present act new sub-section 7a, the object of which is to introduce an element of compulsion which was not included in the 1947 legislation. As that proposal is of the utmost importance to the medical profession, I was about to suggest that the doctors should be afforded an opportunity to express their opinion as to the desirability or otherwise of introducing such a provision. Clause7 of the present legislation deals with the writing of prescriptions by medical practitioners and refers to pharmaceutical chemists. Section 8 (1) of the principal act reads -
A person shall not be entitled to receive a pharmaceutical benefit from an approved pharmaceutical chemist except -
ator from premises in respect of which that pharmaceutical chemist is for the time being approved; and
on presentation of a written and signed prescription (which shall be in accordance with the prescribed form and, except as prescribed, written on a form supplied by the Commonwealth) of a medical practitioner.
That allows the medical practitioner to use his private forms or Commonwealth forms. The amendment will make it compulsory for him to use the form supplied by the Commonwealth, if the prescription is included in the Commonwealth formulary, under penalty of £50 if he does not do so.
In his second-reading speech in connexion with the 1947 act, the Minister distinctly said that no compulsion would be exercised to force medical practitioners or pharmaceutical chemists to take part in the scheme. This is the most important difference between the two measures Under proposed new section 7a, a medical practitioner will be compelled, should he use a prescription that is included in the Commonwealth formulary, to write that prescription on a Commonwealth form. Although the Minister has pointed out that this is just a matter of writing on a Commonwealth form instead of on another form, it goes beyond that because it involves a principle. That principle is that under the 1947 act a medical practitioner was at liberty to use another form if he so desired. Under this measure he is to be compelled to use a government form if the prescription is included in the Commonwealth formulary. “We have to look at this matter from a wider angle. I have little doubt that the medical profession feels that this clause is but another step towards the nationalization of that profession. Indeed its members have very good cause to fear that that is so, because this Government has introduced nationalization of banking, and a bill recently passed by this chamber and forwarded to the House of Representatives makes possible the nationalization of the shipping industry. Although I am not against assistance being provided for a better and cheaper medical service, I am still looking for a better service to the people. That is why I moved the amendment to the motion for the second-reading of the bill. The amendment was defeated only because of the Government’s overwhelming majority. I can understand the view of the medical practitioners. Naturally they are very wary about accepting these proposals. There is every reason for the members of that profession to fear that nationalization will take place. Another aspect of the matter to which the Minister did not refer, or if he did, I did not hear his remarks, is in relation to the sanctity of doctor-patient relationships. I raised that aspect during the second-reading debate, and asked whether the Minister would explain how the records were to be kept, whether a card-indexing system would be maintained whereby cards would have to go to a third party, whether the doctor would still retain custody of the patient’s sheet or card, or whether it would go into a filing system, whereby there would be a chance of the details being given, as occurred when the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), in dealing with a member of the defence forces, disclosed a medical history.
– The arguments with respect to this clause are very similar to those that were used in connexion with earlier legislation relating to health. On one occasion Sir William Mackenzie pointed out that when the notification of infectious diseases was made law, many prominent doctors objected to filling in forms, because they considered that they would be responsible if they neglected to do something which the act of 1907 imposed on them. As far back as 1907 only 3 per cent, of the doctors were prepared to fill in forms and send them to the local health authorities. Under the State law a chemist has to keep a poisons register. Certain potent drugs [ must be recorded by him and he is subject to a penalty if he does not do so. Under this clause a doctor will have to use a Commonwealth form if the prescription that he writes is within the government formulary. If conscience and good medical knowledge lead him to prescribe something that is not included in that formulary, ho may use his private form. I should like the Minister to say whether, if a patient asks a doctor to prescribe for him within the formulary, if possible, it will he, as I believe, for the doctor to prescribe what he considers to be a correct mixture. If a patient goes to a doctor and receives a prescription which he considers to be within the formulary, and is subsequently charged for the medicine, what authority can that patient approach to find out whether his prescription is within the formulary or not?
.- The only complaint that I have heard against the free medicine scheme is that the doctors are not permitted to write more than one prescription on a form. I understood from the Minister’s remarks that that defect has been corrected, and that a doctor will now be permitted to write two or more prescriptions on the one form. I should like to know from the Minister whether that is so.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) referred to the fact that to-day I have had an opportunity to address a wider audience than is before me in the chamber. Apparently he considers that the spokesman for the British Medical Association should have the same privilege. I think that the honorable senator may safely leave it to the Federal Council of the British Medical Association to ensure that its publicity will have adequate cover.
I am perfectly sure that the honorablesenator does not contend that an invitation should be extended to all interestedparties to come into this chamber and. have the same opportunities as the elected, representatives of the people enjoy. It istrue that there will be an element of compulsion where there was none before. As I have already pointed out, this is the same type of compulsion as obtains with, relation to taxpayers in this country. It applies also to chemists and toothers who pay sales tax or payroll tax. It is not more or less than that. On the subject of nationalization, I draw the attention of the honorable senator to something that I said in May, 1948, in relation to this matter. I thenassured the Federal Council of the British Medical Association that the pharmaceutical benefits legislation had nothing whatever to do with national health organization. I pointed out that the Parliament and this Government had no power or desire to nationalize the doctors of Australia. I again give that assurance to the committee. The honorable senator raised the subject of the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. I point out that that has no application to the matter of pharmaceutical benefits. It is outside of the scope of this measure, and concerns the medical benefits scheme. However, I am glad to inform the honorable senator that I shall be as concerned as he is to ensure that details of people’s ailments and treatment shall not be broadcast. Broadly speaking,, every conceivable safeguard will be taken to ensure that information about patients shall not be given or exposed-. There are details connected with that aspect with which I do not want to deal at this inappropriate stage. I am sure that the honorable senator will agree that that aspect has nothing whatever to do with the subject-matter of this bill.
asked a question relating to a doctor’s freedom to prescribe. Doctors will have the most complete freedom to prescribe either within or outside the formulary. If he selects an item within the formulary, it will be incumbent upon him, under this legislation, to use a Commonwealth form. I have already indicated at considerable length the reasons why Commonwealth forms are indispensable. The honorable senator also asked what authority a patient may approach to ascertain whether a prescription is within the formulary or not. He will be interested to learn that I have received hundreds of such applications. They all seem to gravitate to me, and I send them to my department. If such inquiries are sent to the chief health officer in any of the capital cities, the information will be forthcoming very quickly from the pharmacist in charge.
asked whether a doctor may include more than one prescription under the formulary on the one form. As the regulation stands at the moment, unaltered, only one such prescription may be written on one form. I have already announced that, following my undertaking to the British Medical Association, the regulations will be altered to permit two prescriptions to be written on the one form. As a matter of cold law that is not possible at the moment, but it will be possible so soon as the regulations are amended accord- ingly.
– I appreciate the assurance given by the Minister for Health ( Senator McKenna) that the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship shall be preserved. However, I point out that it will be possible for a person to discover from a prescription the particular malady or disease from which a person suffered. For that reason I should like to know exactly what will become of the originalprescription and its duplicate. Will both forms go to the chemist? Will either of them be accessible to anybody who desires to have a look at them ? Will the prescription form bear the name of the patient?
– ‘The procedure in relation to forms is that the doctor is asked to write his prescription in duplicate and hand the original and the duplicate to the patient who will present both to the chemist. The chemist will retain one and forward the other, with his account, to the Department of Health. One copy will be retained by the chemist until such time as he cares to destroy it, whilst the other will be filed in the Department of Health along with over 20,000,000 other prescriptions a year. The name of the patient must appear on the prescription form. That is obligatory. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has said it may be possible for a person to ascertain the nature of the malady of the person in respect of whom a prescription has been issued. That may be the kind of case which Senator Rankin, as well as the Leader of the Opposition, had in mind when they pointed out that many people would not care to face even the possibility of their business being made known to anybody. I have already intimated that should situations of that kind arise the regulations will be amended to enable a person to put through a prescription without coming into the scheme, but, of course, he will have to meet the cost of the prescription. Every precaution will be taken to ensure that the name of a person on a particular prescription shall not be made available to anybody but officers of the department where the prescriptions will be kept for a period of two years when they will be destroyed. We must realize that any single prescription will be buried among over 20,000,000 forms which will be handled annually, and I assure the honorable senator that no officer of the department will be concerned to learn anything from a prescription other than the cost charged by the chemist.
– Am I to understand that under this measure a person suffering from acute diabetes will be able to obtain insulin and that sufferers from tuberculosis or acute fever will be able to obtain the oils and medicaments usually prescribed for such complaints? Could sufferers from such diseases go to a doctor and be entitled to receive similar treatment to that which they are at present receiving? Would a doctor break the law if he refused to prescribe the medicaments which are considered to he essential in such instances, and, therefore, become liable to the penalty prescribed in the measure?
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Minister for Health and Minister for Social
Services) £5.9]. - The honorable senator has put the position correctly. Insulin, vaccines, sera, sulpha drugs and many narcotics which are very expensive and are specifics will be made available to the patients under this scheme. Some of the dosages included in the formulary are very expensive. For instance, the cost of one particular dosage is £7. The formulary provides a vast range of medicaments and mixtures. It is possible that a doctor will go to the trouble that would be involved in taking out a particular formula from the formulary, but when this measure becomes law a diabetic, for instance, can be assured of receiving insulin unless his, or her, doctor wants to break the law ; and I do not think that (hat will happen.
– Taking an extreme case, the Minister for Health at some time in the future might, through his departmental officers, desire to find out by a search of prescriptions, what malady a particular person suffered from. I should like to hear the Minister’s comment on that possibility.
– If at any time in the future the Minister for Health wanted to find out what complaint a particular person had he would have to know exactly where the prescription had ‘been presented. It might have been presented in Queensland, or any other State. Then, a search would have to be made for the prescription among 20,000,000 other prescriptions. No index is kept of the names of patients but merely a record of names of chemists with respect to the accounts rendered by them. I doubt whether my officers could tell me within many months if a particular person had had a prescription made up. Even at present, when the scheme is limited in its application, and involves the handling of only 1S0,000 prescriptions, one would not know where to ‘begin to look for a particular prescription. Therefore, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), whilst he has put up a theoretical case, will realize, first, that it is beyond the .bounds of reason to search for a particular prescription, and, secondly, that it would he practically impossible to find it among prescriptions which will he accumulating at the rate of 20,000,000 annually. I repeat that no alphabetical reference is kept in respect of the names of patients but only in respect of chemists for the purpose of checking the accounts which the chemists render.
– The Minister will appreciate the need for people to be assured that the nature of their ailments shall be kept strictly secret. Otherwise, their treatment would be retarded. I make that point because it cannot be emphasized too strongly.
With respect to repeat prescriptions 1 understand that many prescriptions will be repeated only once or twice. However, many people may now be receiving medicine which they find it beneficial to take over long periods. There are many kinds of prescriptions which can be repeated many times. The point I make is that if the number of repeats is reduced the patient will be obliged to make additional visits to his, or her, doctor and thus be obliged to incur additional cost in respect of such consultations.
– I agree entirely with what Senator Rankin has said about the need to assure the patient that his affairs will not be disclosed. That is very important, and I give the assurance that that need will be constantly borne in mind. I cannot imagine circumstance* in which the matter would arise except as between the chemist, who would already know the details of the prescription, and the officers of the Department of Health in respect of the charge madeby the chemist. That is the only way any disclosure could arise. The prescription would certainly not be available toany one else.
I am glad that the honorable senator raised the subject of repeat prescriptions. Honorable senators will recall that in my second-reading speech 1 intimated that now that the element of compulsion has been introduced we have left the limitation of repeats entirely to the option of the doctors. There will be no limitation. to the quantity which a doctor may prescribe at the one time. The alteration which -will be made to the regulations will dispense with repeats. The honorable senator was keen to pick up that point because normally, when advancing arguments for the need for government prescription forms, I have always pointed out the need for such forms being made out in duplicate in order to facilitate repeats. The regulations will be altered to do away with restrictions in respect of repeats except as a guide to the medical profession.
, - I was glad to hear the assurance given by the Minister for Health (Senator Mckenna) with respect to maintaining secrecy regarding prescriptions. I believe that the measure is being attacked mainly from that aspect in an attempt to break down the confidence of the people in the scheme. The Government would be well advised to fortify that confidence. For that reason, I ask whether the possibility of particulars of a person’s complaint being disclosed will be greater under this scheme than under the system now in operation whereby patients receive treatment at public hospitals where records of their maladies are kept? The possibility, of course, is subject to the assumption that some persons, other than the patient’s medical adviser and the chemist, may have sufficient knowledge of prescriptions to deduce from them the nature of a person’s complaint. In passing, it would appear that whilst the system under which persons are treated at public hospitals to-day is deemed to be good enough for the poorer sections of the community, some people are afraid that under this system the richer sections of the community may be obliged to undergo a similar ordeal.
– Reverting to the question which I asked previously concerning repeat prescriptions I suggest that it would not be advisable to permit some prescriptions such as drugs for sleeping, the improper use of which could be fatal, to be repeated continuously. I gather from the remarks of the Minister that that could be done. Am I correct in that assumption?
– In reply to Senator Rankin I point out that in the first instance the doctor exercises his own medical judgment as to what quantity of medicine he will prescribe for a particular patient, and he prescribes only so much as he deems to be advisable. In that way doctors will regulate the quantity of medicine that will be made available to patients. Once the original prescription has been written a repeat can be conveniently arranged. However, as I said earlier, no limitation is placed upon the doctor in respect of the number of repeats he may prescribe.
In reply to Senator Sheehan, every possible safeguard will be taken to preserve the confidential nature of prescriptions in relation to the identity of patients. Let us take for example, the case of a patient who is suffering from venereal disease. That disease is notifiable under State legislation, and all cases of it must be reported to the State Health Department. Contraction of such a disease is a matter which must be kept strictly confidential in the interests of the patient. I have never heard of any information of that nature being disclosed. Some honorable senators may fear that particulars of a disease of that kind could be deduced from the form of a prescription. That is quite possible, but the prescription would ultimately go, with about 20,000,000 others, into the hands of responsible persons who. unfortunately, would see scores of that type of prescription and would have no particular interest in it. As soon as an account is filed away, it will lose its identity with the individual patient. It would be like searching for a needle in a haystack for anybody to try to find a prescription form for a particular individual.
– I have been informed that the formulary will limit the issue of penicillin to 500,000 units a day and that, if a doctor prescribes two injections amounting to 1,000,000 units, the second dose will not be paid for by the department. “Will the Minister state whether that information is correct?
– There is one dosage of penicillin that permits of the use of 300,000 units, and ten vials may be supplied at one time. Therefore, there will be no limitation. Under the new procedure that will follow the proclamation of this legislation, there will be no limit to the quantity of penicillin that a doctor may prescribe. Three million units could be supplied in some injections. Therefore, the information that has been given to the honorable senator is not correct.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 12 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a first time.
Senator ASHLEY (New South Wales - Minister for Shipping and Fuel [5.27].- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill has two main purposes. First, it provides for the enfranchisement of certain aborigines, and, secondly, it will improve the postal voting provisions of the Commonwealth law. For many years, representations by responsible bodies have been made urging the extension of the franchise to those aboriginal natives of Australia who, through association and education, have sufficiently developed the attributes of civilization to be deemed capable of exercising the right to vote, and, as the Government is entirely in sympathy with these views, it has provided in this bill that an aboriginal native of Australia shall be entitled to enrolment on the Commonwealth electoral roll and to vote at elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives if (a) he is entitled under the law of the State in which he resides to be enrolled as an elector of that State and to vote at elections for the more numerous house of the parliament of the State; or (6) he v a member of the defence force or ha. been such a member. In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, aboriginal natives of Australia are entitled, under State law, to be enrolled on the State rolls and to. vote at elections for the more numerous house of the parliament of each of those States. Therefore, if the proposal embodied in ‘ the bill is agreed to, aboriginal natives resident in those States will also be entitled to enrolment for Commonwealth purposes and to vote at Commonwealth elections. As a joint Commonwealth and State roll is in operation in those four States - New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania - the provision conceding Commonwealth franchise to the natives concerned will have the added advantage of making for uniformity and the avoidance of confusion.
In Western Australia, aboriginal natives are, in the main, disqualified from enrolment and from voting at State elections, but the Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act of that State permits any adult native to make application for a certificate of citizenship to a resident ot stipendiary magistrate, and if the magistrate is satisfied as to the suitability of the applicant, a certificate of citizenship is issued, whereupon, for State purposes, the holder is deemed to be no longer an aboriginal, but to have all the rights, privileges and immunities and to be subject to the duties and liabilities of any other British subject, including, amongst other things, entitlement to enrolment and to vote. It follows that, if the relative provision contained in this bill is agreed to, any aboriginal native resident in Western Australia who has secured or does secure a certificate of citizenship under the State Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act will be entitled to Commonwealth enrolment and to vote at Commonwealth elections, in addition to those natives who are serving or have served with the defence forces. In Queensland, aboriginal natives are at present disqualified from enrolment on the State roll and from voting at State elections. Consequently, so far as natives resident in Queensland are concerned, only those who are or have been members of the defence forces would, as the result of the adoption of this bill, immediately acquire the right to enrol on the Commonwealth roll and to vote at Commonwealth elections. However, the Premier of Queensland has announced that it is the intention of his Government to introduce this year a bill providing for the enfranchisement of natives deemed to be qualified therefor, and, assuming that that bill will become law, those natives will automatically become qualified to enrol and to vote for Commonwealth pur-poses. Subject to the provision in this bill being adopted, it is proposed to provide in the relative regulations that aboriginal natives resident in the Australian Capital Territory shall, as in the surrounding State of New South Wales, be entitled to enrol for and to vote at elections within that territory, but that, in respect of the Northern Territory, apart from members and ex-members of the forces, only those aboriginal natives who, under an appropriate ordinance, are declared fit to assume and perform the functions of citizenship shall be entitled to enrol and to vote.
The provisions of the bill which relate to postal voting have been designed with the object of relieving electors from many of the disabilities hitherto associated with this means of voting, at the same time providing such additional safeguards against irregularities as are practicable. Tt is proposed in the bill that any elector whose name appears upon a roll shall be competent to witness the recording of a postal vote, or, where the vote is recorded outside Australia, any naval, military, or air force officer or any person employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a territory of the Commonwealth will suffice. Hitherto, any elector could witness an application for a postal vote, but the actual recording of the vote had to be witnessed by one of the authorized witnesses specified in’ the restricted list prescribed. This has imposed a hardship upon postal voters - particularly those in outlying areas or those ill or aged and infirm - many of whom have experienced extreme difficulty in securing qualified witnesses. At every election, considerable numbers of postal votes have been rejected from admission to the scrutiny because they have not been, or have not appeared to have been, witnessed by an authorized witness. In some instances, envelopes containing votes have been returned either not witnessed or witnessed by unqualified persons with an endorsement to the effect that no qualified person had been available. In other instances, votes have been disallowed because the witnesses have failed to insert the titles under which they acted as authorized witnesses. Frequently, .through delay caused by the difficulty of arranging for a vote to be recorded before an authorized witness, the vote has been returned too late for acceptance. The requirement that a postal vote must be recorded before an authorized witness of the prescribed list has, it is believed, contributed largely to the objectionable features and grave doubts which at times have been associated with this means of voting. To a considerable degree it has resulted in postal voters developing an undesirable dependence on “ authorized witnesses “ who are active agents of one or other of the political parties. By permitting any elector to witness a postal vote, this dependence on political agents will be greatly lessened and the scope for possible malpractice considerably reduced. For this reason, it is considered that the granting of such permission will strengthen, rather than impair, the safeguards of the system.
To assist electors from the States temporarily in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, the bill provides that such electors may make their applications to and obtain the required postal vote certificates and postal ballot-papers from the returning officer at Canberra, or Darwin, as the case may be. Whilst it is not intended to vary the existing provision that a returning officer shall not post a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper to an applicant unless his or her application is received before 6 p.m. on the day preceding the polling day, the bill contains an amending clause under which postal vote certificates and postal ballot-papers shall be obtainable by electors entitled to vote by post, upon personal application at the office of a returning officer up to the hour of the close of the poll. No useful propose would be served by posting a certificate and ballot-paper to an applicant in response to an application received on the day of polling, since it would be virtually impossible for the applicant to receive the documents in time to enable him to record his vote before the close of the poll, but the proposal to extend the postal voting facilities to applicants applying in person at a divisional returning officer’s office, or at the office of the returning officer for the Australian Capital Territory or. for the Northern Territory on polling day, is regarded as both reasonable and desirable in that it will give to the majority of the electors outside their home States at every Commonwealth election who attend the polling booths under the impression that they can record their votes thereat, a lastminute opportunity to exercise the franchise.
Section 96 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act at present provides that a divisional returning officer shall accept a postal vote for scrutiny if satisfied, among other things, that the envelope containing the vote was posted prior to the close of the poll. The bill proposes that this requirement be amended to read that the divisional returning officer shall accept the vote for scrutiny if satisfied, inter alia, that the vote contained in the envelope was recorded prior to the close of the poll. Many thousands of postal votes are usually obtained immediately prior to polling day, and in the great majority of those cases the vote is duly recorded and the envelope containing the ballot-paper posted before the hour of the close of the poll. However, as postal services are now, to a degree, suspended over Saturday and Sunday, a very substantial proportion of such votes are not collected from the posting boxes or postmarked until the morning of the Monday after the poll. In such circumstances, the divisional returning officer is unable to satisfy himself the envelope was posted prior to the close of the poll and is compelled to reject the vote. If the provisions of the law are amended as proposed by this bill, returning officers will, with reason, be able to accept all postal votes which bear, in the certificate of the -witness, a date not later .than that of the polling day.
I indicated earlier that the bill provides for additional safeguards against the commission of irregularities in connexion with postal voting. First, it is proposed that applications for postal votes received by a divisional returning officer shall not be open for public inspection until the third day after the polling day. This will prevent political agents from indulging in the undesirable practice of checking up on the applications from day to day and organizing follow-up action which in the past frequently has resulted in annoyance or embarrassment to the voter. .Secondly, whereas section 92 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act now provides that a. postal voter shall, upon marking his vote, fold the ballot-paper and hand it to th( witness to place in the postal vote certificate envelope, the bill proposes that the section be amended to provide that after marking his vote and folding the ballot-paper, the voter himself shall place, the folded ballot-paper in the postal vote certificate envelope and fasten the envelope. It is considered that the proposed procedure is more desirable and more likely to secure the preservation of the secrecy of the ballot. Thirdly, to ensure a wider coverage, it is proposed that in lieu of the existing sub-section which provides that a witness shall not persuade or induce a person to apply for a postal vote, a new section be inserted setting out that, under pain of penalty, a person shall not persuade or induce or associate himself with a person in persuading or inducing an elector to make application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper. Lastly, the bill includes a new section which provides that it shall be an offence for a person to persuade or induce an elector to hand over to him a postal ballot-paper upon which a vote has been recorded. The abject of this proposed addition to the law is to avoid, as far as practicable, the danger of postal votes - particularly those recorded by hospital patients or institution inmates - being picked up by unscrupulous persons and tampered with.
In addition to the provisions mentioned, the bill contains three clauses which are mainly consequential on the recently passed nationality legislation. In order that the expression used in the electoral law to denote British nationality shall conform to that contained in the Nationality and Citizenship Act, the bill provides that the words “ British subject “ shall be substituted for the words “ subject of the King “ in sections 39, 69 and 115 of the Commonwealtli Electoral Act and that the now redundant qualifying words “ natural-born or naturalized “ shall be dropped. It is also provided that the restrictive condition hitherto contained in section 69 in relation to naturalized persons shall be omitted. In the view of the Government this restrictive condition does not accord with the modern concept of the democratic principle and for that reason it should be discontinued.
The bill contains two further clauses of an entirely machinery nature - one provides for a textual alteration of section 43 of the principal act to permit of effective action in respect of transfers of enrolment between subdivisions of States, districts of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, whilst the other, by varying the wording of section 142, is designed to remove interpretive uncertainty and to bring the terms of the section into conformity with those of section 141. I commend the bill to the Senate believing that its provisions generally will appeal to honorable senators opposite as well as to those on this side of the chamber.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is purely formal. It is entirely consequential on the passing of the Nationality and Citizenship Act last year, and of the provision of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1949, which is designed to remove the restrictive condition hitherto contained in the Commonwealth electoral law in respect of the eligibility of naturalized persons for nomination and election to this Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is similar to the Northern Territory Representation Bill. It is purely a formal measure, consequential on the passing of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, and of the provision in the Commonwealth Electoral Bill relating to the removal of the restrictive condition hitherto embodied in the law regarding the qualifications of naturalized persons for nomination and election to Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment) :
Clause 29- (1.) The Minister may, in his discretion, grant licences for the construction of ships to which this Part applies. (2.) A licence under the last preceding subsection may be granted subject to such conditions relating to the tonnage, design, fittings, gear and time, place, standards and methods of construction, of the ship as the Minister determines.
House of Representatives’ amendment. -
After sub-clause (2.) insert the following subclause: - “ (2a.) The powers conferred on the Minister by the last two preceding sub-sections are conferred for the purpose of ensuring, in the interests of defence, that the shipbuilding industry is established in the Commonwealth on an adequate scale and is maintained in continuous operation, and, in particular, for the purpose of ensuring -
Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– The amendment proposes to confer upon the Minister for Shipping and Fuel under the heading of defence certain powers that were already included in the bill. When the proposed amendment is considered in conjunction with certain clauses of the bill, especially those which give to the Minister the power to issue permits for the operation of vessels and the sole power to authorize the construction of vessels, it is apparent that any administration will be able to nationalize shipping at its pleasure by the simple expedient of withholding permits for the construction of new vessels for private shipping companies. Of course, when the measure was drafted originally it was thought that the right to issue permits would confer sufficient power upon the Government to achieve the Government’s ends. Since then it has apparently been discovered that if the proposed power were brought under the defence requirements of the Commonwealth it would be immune from any challenge in the High Court that it was ultra vires the Constitution. Although the present Government may have no intention to avail itself of that immunity in order to nationalize the shipping industry without fear of legal interference, we have no guarantee that a subsequent administration may not do so. For that reason the Opposition will not consent to the amendment.
– I support the amendment. When we passed the measure it was obvious that the Government would require power to implement its intentions. Since . the measure was passed by this chamber it has been discovered that the power proposed to be conferred upon the Government by the original measure is not sufficient. It will be realized that, but for the inclusion in the measure of certain defence powers, the Government might not be able in a time of emergency to prevent labour from drifting to some luxury trade. It is essential that the Government should have power to divert man-power to essential industries in a time of emergency, and that it should have power to enforce the use of standard designs in the construction of vessels. If the Government did not possess that power our merchant fleet might be hopelessly disorganized in a time of emergency. It is evident that very careful consideration had been given to the matter by the Government before it submitted the amendment, and, since the real purpose of the amendment is to provide for the adequate defence of the country, the proposed new clause should command the wholehearted support of all honorable senators. It is evident, from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), that the Opposition is obsessed by the fear of compulsion being applied by the Government, butI point out that if the Parliament enacts a measure it must confer on the Government sufficient power to enforce that measure.
– It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has said, that clause 29 of the bill as originally drafted conferred certain powers upon the Minister in order to provide continuity of employment in the shipbuilding industry, so that the development of that industry may proceed according to plan. That development will involve spreading the construction of vessels over a number of years. It is important that we should not unbalance the industry -by developing any particular section of it or any particular firm at the expense of other sections or firms. If all the work were allocated immediately there might be a repetition of the situation that occurred during the last two world wars. During World War II., when ships were so badly required, we could not obtain sufficient skilled employees because the industry had been allowed to lag. The purpose of the amendment is to empower the Government to spread the work over a period of years, and to ensure that all the firms engaged in private enterprise shall obtain an equitable share of the constructional work. Only last week representations were made to me by certain private interests concerning the allocation of constructional work. Careful consideration was given to those representations, and all shipbuilding firms will receive their share of the work.
It is also necessary to ensure that proper standardization of design shall be observed in the construction of vessels for the Australian trade, because only in that way can sufficient mass production be achieved to enable us to compete with the established shipbuilding industries in other parts of the world. The bill, as originally drafted, conferred complete discretion on the Minister to grant or withhold licences for the construction of ships. and the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that the amendment proposes to confer even more power on the Minister. The Leader of the Opposition has coupled his understanding of the purpose of the amendment with the notion that the Government intends to nationalize the shipping industry. There is no ground whatever for any such apprehension. I point out to the honorable senator that licences will be issued for the construction of vessels to be used by private shipping lines in competition with government vessels, and that the Govern ment has even constructed and sold to private shipping lines vessels that will be used for that purpose. Therefore, the honorable senator need not be alarmed that the Government intends to take advantage of the amendment in order to nationalize the shipping industry. In fact, in the course of my second-reading speech I emphasized that the Government does not propose to nationalize the industry. The amendment makes it clear that the additional powers are to bf used only for the purposes of defence. It provides that the Minister may exercise the proposed powers only for the attainment of one of the objectives of the proposed new sub-clause. So far from extending the powers of the Minister, the amendment will limit those powers, and I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition has anything to fear from it.
– I appreciate very much the remarks made by the Minister, but I thought that I had made it clear that my apprehensions of the nationalization of the shipping industry are concerned not so much with the present Government as with some future administration. Once a measure is enacted it can be implemented at any time, and we may get an administration which is even more extreme than is the present Government. Despite what the Minister may say to the contrary, the amendment will confer more power on the Minister than was conferred upon him by the original bill. Under the bill as originally drafted the Minister was the only person who could issue licences for any company to operate shipping on the Australian coast. The effect of th* amendment will undoubtedly be to remove any possibility of challenging the validity of the measure in the High Court because immunity will be claimed for the measure on the ground that it is concerned with the defence of the Commonwealth. All that the Minister in any administration which may desire to nationalize the industry will need to say is : “ It is in the interests of defence to withhold licences for the operation of vessels that are privately owned”, and the shipping companies will be deprived of their right to legal recourse. I maintain that the measure as originally passed by the Senate adequately achieves the Government’s avowed purpose and that the amendment is quite unnecessary because under the bill as originally drafted the Minister enjoys sufficient power over Australian shipping. The Opposition believes that the shipbuilding industry should be fostered and encouraged and it has no objection to the bill insofar as it proposes to achieve that purpose. However, we strongly object to the inclusion in the measure of anything that will assist the nationalization of the shipping industry.
.- I support the amendment. Proposed new sub-clause 2a (a) reads -
The powers conferred on the Minister . . . are conferred . . . for the purpose of ensuring -
the use of the labour of persons engaged in the building of ships, and of the facilities of shipbuilding yards, to the best advantage;
Every one agrees that an adequate mercantile marine is necessary for the defence of any country. If any honorable senator has any doubt about the necessity for this provision he should read a book that was published by the late Ellen Wilkinson, M.P., The Town that was Murdered - The Story of J arrow, which refers to the rationalization of the shipbuilding industry in that small English town. When Great Britain’s hour of trial came it had neither shipbuilding yards nor other facilities available to carry on its war effort. If honorable senators would read that book they would be convinced of the necessity for this clause.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) persists in his contention that the amendment will assist the Government to nationalize the shipping industry in this country. I cannot accept that contention. I point out to the honorable senator that when the Government’s shipping policy was determined, some considerable time ago, it was decided to establish a Commonwealth shipping line and to help the shipbuilding industry of Australia to develop a mercantile fleet. It was then decided that any ship over 24 years old would not be permitted to operate on the coast of Australia. The object of that policy was to stabilize the shipbuilding industry. During the period between the two world wars, that industry had depreciated to such a degree that when war broke out we had almost no shipbuilding industry in Australia. That industry, which was established by a prior government, has since been fostered by the present Government. To-day, it is a very effective industry, employing many thousands of people. Because of the policy of the Government, it would not have been right to prevent the ship-owners competing with the government line operating on the coast, or anywhere else, from buying ships, whether built by the Australian Government or anybody else. That is proved by the fact that less than two months ago, the Government sold two ships to private enterprise. That will be the policy in the future, and I assure the honorable senator that the amendment does not contemplate what he alleges. Proposed new sub-clause 2a (a) reads -
The powers conferred on the Minister . . . are conferred . . . for the purpose of ensuring -
the use of the labour of persons engaged in the building of ships, and of the facilities of shipbuilding yards, to the best advantage;
No objection can be taken to that. Paragraph b reads -
I referred to this aspect a few moments ago. It has not been determined that we shall standardize the shipbuilding industry any more than is necessary. There may he certain sections of ships which can be standardized in order to reduce their cost. Paragraph c reads -
I suggest that nothing in that provision indicates intended nationalization. Paragraphs d and e read -
The Leader of the Opposition cannot show where there is any indication of nationalization in the amendment. I know that it is a very serious matter with him and the interests with -which he is connected. Every time that members of the Opposition rise they speak of nationalization, or abuse the miners or waterside workers. The suggestion of nationalization in the amendment is absolutely absurd; the amendment contains absolutely no indication of nationalization. I hope to allay the fears of the Leader of the Opposition by giving him an assurance additional to that contained in my second-reading speech on this measure, that there is no possibility of nationalization under the amendment.
– The Minister lias referred to the building of ships, the standardization of shipping, the selling of ships to the shipping companies on the coast, and the confining of those companies to the purchase of ships built in Australia. All of those matters were dealt with when the clauses of the bill were considered in this chamber last week. It was then admitted !>y the Opposition that it was quite a sound policy to carry on with the shipbuilding industry that was established during the war period. We have nothing to say against that. But under this amendment the aspect of defence will in future in peace-time regulate even the purchase as well as the building of ships. We know very well that the Government has the numbers with which to carry this amendment. However we lodge our protest against this amendment being introduced on the ground that it is in the interests of defence. When the bill was introduced the Minister said that he had sufficient authority under its provisions to cover everything with relation to the building of ships and the carrying on of the shipping industry. But now he introduces this clause to link the building of ships with the defence of the country. He still has the idea that the Constitution allows the Government to take over much greater powers if a proposal is linked with defence than if it merely provides for peace-time activities. Although, as I have said, the Government, because of its weight of numbers, will carry this amendment, we in opposition - even if only a small Opposition - register our protest against the amendment.
– The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) stated the case very clearly and well. I have some knowledge of this subject. The provision contained in proposed new sub-clause 2a (b) with relation to the adoption of standard designs of ships and of the fittings and gear of ships under the defence clause is most essential.
– It is already provided for in the bill.
– During the war period it was found that the types of ships that we had available included some that were diesel-powered, some that were fitted with internal combustion motors, and others that had auxiliary motors. It was not until the Government decided on a policy of standardization that we really got the tools with which to do such jobs as standardizing the excellent 300- ton small ships that were being built in Tasmania and Western Australia. They had standard engines and every part was interchangeable as with a standardized motor car. It was not until standardization was adopted that we were able to develop an efficient spare parts system, and organize the shipbuilding industry in Australia. The British Overseas Airways Corporation incurred a terrific loss because it did not realize the value of standardization. It had Tudors, Vikings and other types of aircraft operating in all parts of the world. When breakdowns occurred that corporation had great difficulty obtaining spare parts for the various engines in use in its aircraft. For that reason the operation of those aircraft was uneconomical. The standardization of ships, as envisaged by the amendment, is very important. The bogy that has been raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) is in keeping with the attitude of the Opposition towards other measures that have been introduced by this Government. I congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this amendment. because the subject of it was lost sight of when the bill was before this chamber, and it is essential that it should be incorporated in the legislation.
. -Although I do not desire to delay the committee, I shall make some comment in support of this amendment. I want to see this amendment become part and parcel of the original measure, not because the Government has an overwhelming majority in this chamber, but because I believe that the provisions contained in the amendment are essential for the safety of Australia. The Opposition has seized upon this clause, and the bill in general, to suggest to the people of Australia that this Government is about to nationalize the shipping industry by a back-door method. That suggestion has been advanced by Opposition speakers, both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. It appears that the Opposition is so bereft of a policy for the benefit of Australia that it hopes to win the next general elections on a catch-cry of communism or nationalization. The attitude of the Opposition parties on this matter reminds me of the opposition of the government of the day to Labour’s proposal that Australia should build up a strong air force as the first line of its defence. That suggestion, which was made by the Labour party when it was in opposition, was ridiculed. Therefore I am not surprised that the anti-Labour parties should attempt to ridicule the proposal now before the Senate to give to the Government under its defence powers authority to determine the classes of vessels that shall be constructed in this country having regard to the possible defence requirements of the nation in the future. The wisdom of such a provision is demonstrated by our experience at the outbreak of the recent war due to the inadequacy and inefficiency of our mercantile marine. The Government is now laying its plans in order to ensure that such conditions shall not be repeated should this country again be plunged into war.
The Leader of the Opposition is much concerned because the Government proposes to exercise this authority under its defence powers. During my. secondreading speech I drew attention to the fact that at the conclusion of World War I., the government of the day endeavoured to utilize Cockatoo Island dockyard and other dockyards for the purpose of building ships, but its legislation was declared to be invalid by the High Court, which held that the Australian Government could not embark upon the construction of ships for ordinary purposes. For the same reason, the Government cannot constitutionally maintain in peace-time, works which it was obliged to establish during the recent war. Under the Constitution the Government cannot engage in trade and industry. It can embark on undertakings of this kind only when they are related to defence. I do not pose as a legal authority on this matter; but 1 have followed the history of attempts made by governments in the past to build up effective defences in this country and I know the difficulties that they experienced in that respect. The Government would be most foolish if it did not take this opportunity to effect this amendment which has emerged as the result of the debate which has taken place on this measure in both this chamber and the House of Representatives. The Government has been advised that the bill as drafted may be subject to challenge in the High Court. The amendment is designed to meet that possibility. The Government would be recreant to the trust which the people have reposed in it if it did not press the amendment in order to ensure the full development of the shipbuilding industry and, at the same time, meet the requirements of defence. The Minister in his second-reading speech emphasized the necessity for the Government to have power to determine the classes of vessels that should be constructed in this country. The Government, in the light of the information which it receives as a partner in the British Commonwealth of Nations, is in the best position to know and to provide for our defence requirements in relation to the shipbuilding industry. It is also in the best position to know what is likely to happen within the next few years in the international sphere. Some people say that there is every likelihood that peace will be maintained for the next 25 years; but no individual can make any worthwhile forecast in that respect. It is the Government’s responsibility to develop Australia’s mercantile marine, and in view of the importance of the shipbuilding industry from a defence point of view it has every justification for invoking its defence powers in order to determine the classes of ships that shall be constructed in Australia. Such a policy will ensure that so far as the supply of ships and the efficiency of our mercantile marine are concerned our experiences at the commencement of the recent war shall not be repeated in the event of this country becoming embroiled in a future conflict. I support the amendment. It does not involve nationalization in any shape or form. But it will enable Australians to preserve this country which is the last bastion of the white race in the Pacific. As I said earlier, the catch cry of nationalization which has been raised by the Opposition parties will not mislead the people in this instance.
– Judging by the remarks just made by ‘Senator Sheehan, it would appear that the Government has only awakened during the last few days to the fact that the shipbuilding industry is in desperate straits, and therefore the amendment is designed to put the industry on its feet again and enable it to be of value in the defence of this country. I emphatically reject such a view, because I know that our shipyards are operating just as efficiently, if not more so, as they were operating when hostilities ceased. Senator Murray implied that there is a lack of standardization of design, materials and methods in our shipyards. I remind him that the Minister, in his secondreading speech, assured the Senate that the shipbuilding industry had never been of greater assistance to our economy than it is to-day. Whom are we to believe? I know from first hand that the experience gained during the war is still being turned to good account in our shipyards at Whyalla, Sydney, Brisbane and Maryborough. Those shipyards are just as well equipped now as they were during the recent war. Therefore, the amendment cannot be justified. The Minister said that everything possible was being done in order to make the industry efficient. Paragraph d of the amendment provides that these powers are being conferred upon the Minister in the interests of defence for the purpose of ensuring -
The building of ships of the tonnage or design most urgently required, in priority to the building of other ships.
In a time of emergency such a proposal would be reasonable, but the bill as drafted empowers the Minister, through a system of licences, to determine the very conditions set out in the amendment. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that standardization of design, materials and methods is lacking in our shipyards. I am not convinced that the amendment will enable the Government to speed-up or improve the efficiency of construction in our shipyards.
– I should not like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) to be under any misapprehension whatever with respect to the amendment, but he takes a good deal of convincing, because, as I said earlier, it makes no provision regarding licences. However, the attitude of the Opposition on this occasion is typical of anti-Labour parties when they arc at a loss for a reasonable argument. In such circumstances they invariably raise the catch-cry of nationalization. In the Parliament or on the platform, the tories invariably raise that cry. The amendment is clear. It reads -
After sub-clause (2.) insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2a.) The powers conferred on the Minister by the last two preceding sub-sections are conferred for the purpose of ensuring, in the interests of defence, that the shipbuilding industry is established in the Commonwealth on an adequate scale and is maintained in continuous operation, and, in particular, for the purpose of ensuring; -
the use of the labour of persons engaged in the building of ships, and of the facilities of shipbuilding yards to the best advantage;
the adoption of standard designs of ships and of the fittings and gear of ships;
the adoption of appropriate standards, and efficient methods, of construction of ships;
the building of ships of the tonnage or design most urgently required, in priority to the building of other ships; and
economy in the cost of construction of ships and of the fittings and gear of ships,
That is very important. I wish that the Leader of the Opposition would read the amendment carefully. If he would do so, he might be able to convince himself of its merits. The amendment continues - and those powers shall not be exercised otherwise than for achieving one or other of the purposes specified in this sub-section.
There is not even a semblance of any suggestion of nationalization in that provision. The trouble with the Leader of the Opposition is that he must refer to nationalization whenever he rises in this chamber. Members of the tory Opposition appear to be obsessed by the fear of communism and nationalization. Almost every argument that they employ is related to one or other of those subjects. The sole object of the amendment is to stabilize the shipbuilding industry so that, in the event of emergency, we shall not be in the vulnerable position that we were in at the outbreak of World War II. The Leader of the Opposition was a supporter of the Government that was then in power, and had failed to discharge its responsibilities to the nation in relation to shipbuilding. The Labour party built up the industry during the war, and this Government has determined that it shall be stabilized and carried on for the welfare of the nation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the resolution be reported.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. Nicholls.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from the 10th March (vide page 1253), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the following papers be printed: -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement. 10th February, 1949
United Nations -
General Assembly - First Part of Third
Annual Session, Paris, SeptemberDecember, 1948 -
Report of Australian Delegation
Resolution on Berlin presented to the Security Council by Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia and Syria - 22nd October, 1948.
– I am very pleased that the Government has expressed its support for the United Nations and its determination not to depart from that policy. I hope that it will adhere strictly to its assurance because certain international pacts that are now being negotiated threaten to undo the good work of the United Nations. People all over the world to-day are worried by talk of war. Ordinary people, particularly working-class people, do not make wars. They do the fighting and the suffering, but they have no say in the making of wars. Wars are fomented mainly by the armament manufacturers, whom I describe as “merchants of death “. They care not for thelives of the people; all that they care about is the profit that they can make by selling their deadly goods. Most elderly people have witnessed three wars. What have we gained from them? We have gained nothing but suffering and hardship. Many strong men have been maimed, thousands are homeless, and many children have been orphaned. Therefore I hope that the United Nations will stick to its Charter and endeavour to keep peace in the world. Armament manufacturers build up huge stocks of weapons and munitions of war, and then it is their business to sell them. Therefore, they make use of their mediums of propaganda, the newspapers and radio, for the purpose of setting one nation at the throat of another. Their conduct is criminal, and every person should raise his voice against any talk of future wars. We hear it said often that two very strong nations may be aligned against each other in the next world conflict. If that prophecy be correct, why will they be at war? The reason is that they are being led into war by the merchants of death. Any person who has a capacity for serious thought should give very grave consideration to this matter. All that the workers will get out of a war will bo death and suffering.
World War II. cost Australia £2,709,000,000. What could have been done with that money if it had been put to good use? Wo could have provided hospitals, schools and other amenities of civilization for the people. We could have produced many of the things that are badly needed to-day. For the rest of our lives we shall have to pay interest on the money that was used to finance our war effort, and that inflicts hardship upon the people, because the payments must be financed from tax revenue. The Government had to enter into debt in order to meet certain wartime commitments, with the result that it now must raise funds at the rate of £150,000,000 a year in order to honour those commitments. That is a waste of money, and any waste of money represents a waste of man-power. We shall never be able to pay off the principal of our war debts, and the interest bill will impose a continuing drain upon 0U resources. Earlier in this discussion, Senator O’sullivan suggested that Senator Cooke should go to Russia and “tell Uncle Joe that we have had enough of his provocative conduct “. I am not in a position to say whether there is any justification for such talk about provocative conduct. However, I shall present to the Senate facts from authentic records, with a view to establishing whether there is any justification for the suggestion that Russia wants war. We all remember that representatives of the major allied nations met at conferences during and after the war and made certain agreements with the object of preserving peace in the future. Two of the most important conferences were those that took place at Yalta and Potsdam.
The agreements made there were ratified by the governments of the respective countries. Have those agreements been honoured? I shall examine the facts.
The leaders of the allied nations agreed at Potsdam that supreme authority in Germany should be exercised, on instructions from the respective governments, by the Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the French Republic, each within his country’s zone of occupation, and also jointly in matters affecting Germany as a whole. Has that undertaking been carried out? I shall later produce evidence to show that it has not been fulfilled. Clause 14 of the Potsdam Agreement provides that, during the period of occupation, Germany shall be treated as a single economic unit and that, to this end, common policy shall be established in regard to mining and industrial production and allocation, agriculture, forestry and fishing, wages, prices and rationing, the import and export programme for Germany, currency and banking, central taxation and customs. For that purpose, a board was set up, but, unfortunately, certain nations have departed from the Agreement. One provision of the Agreement was that there should be one currency throughout Germany. The signatories agreed also upon the denazification and demilitarization of Germany. Have those objectives been reached? Here, I shall not express my own opinions, but those of observers who are in a position to know these things. The general opinion in well-informed circles is that the Agreement has been carried out only in isolated instances. In the main, it has not been implemented to the degree that it should have been. For instance, munitions factories in western Germany have not yet been destroyed. On the contrary, they have been developed. In his book Russian Zone, Gordon Schaffer writes -
The first task of the Allies in Germany was set out in Potsdam as the destruction of the German military potential. As far as the Russians are concerned there is no dispute that this duty lias been fully carried out. In January, 1947, a Commission representing the four occupying powers carried out an inspection of the Soviet Zone on behalf of tha
Allied Control Commission. Their report, signed by the British, American, French, and Russian representatives, said that, they were satisfied that every plant producing war materials had been destroyed. War machinery, the report added, had either been dismantled or destroyed. Plant and buildings had been treated in the same way, except in cases where empty buildings had been handed to the provincial governments for peaceful purposes as a way of relieving the serious shortage of accommodation.
Schaffer is assistant editor of Reynolds News and is a special writer on political and industrial matters. He covered the Spanish and Civil War for his newspaper and reported Britain’s war effort for the Ministry of Information. Recently he visited the Soviet Union and wrote a series of articles on post-war conditions there which were reproduced all over the world. He is a member of the executive committee of the National Union of Journalists. He claims that Russia has fulfilled its undertaking to dismantle munitions establishments. Can that action by the Soviet be regarded as provocative? Obviously not. The Soviet has acted in accordance with the terms of the Potsdam Agreement.
In a book on World War II., Richard Sasuly shows how big business continued its international association during that conflict. Reviewing Sasuly’s book, the New Times states -
Sasuly cites a report presented in 1944 by a committee of scientists in the service of l.G. Farben to the board of the concern, which enumerates the advantages derived by the Nazis from co-operation with Standard Oil of New Jersey. The enumeration includes information of military importance, such as the many years’ experience of the Americans in producing tetraethyl lead, used as an antiknock ingredient in aviation and automobile gasoline, and much other valuable technical data.
That clearly shows that finance knows no geographical, racial, or patriotic boundaries. The article continues -
As a concluding item, the report states: “ The German Government asked l.G. _ if it. were not possible, on the basis of its friendly relations with Standard Oil, to buy ($ twenty million worth of aviation gasoline and oil) as l.G. - (i.e., under its own name) actually however, as trustee of the German Government. The fact that we actually succeeded . . . was made possible only through the aid of the Standard Oil Co.”
As I said in my opening remarks, these merchants of death are again en- deavouring to create a war psychology with the object of setting nation against nation in armed conflict and thus swelling the profits of armament manufacturers. As long as profits are made from war, international financiers will do their best to encourage wars. The article further states -
How closely the ties were preserved even during the war may be seen from the fact that even on patents returned by l.G. Farben to Standard Oil of New Jersey, 20 per cent, of the profits were entered to the account of l.G. Farben and could be claimed by the latter after the war. In other words, l.G. Farben was entitled to demand and Standard Oil was obliged to surrender one-fifth of its profits’ from the manufacture of products used by the Allied armies in the war against Hitler Germany. It is only natural that both the German and American concerns should be interested in having the war drag on as long as possible. . . .
Thus one of the biggest of the American trusts supplied the Nazis during the war, not only with technical information, but also with aviation gasoline, lubricants and other products needed by the Luftwaffe in its operation against the Allies.
There is no limit to the length to which some organizations will go to make profits. We must observe events closely and not permit ourselves to be misled again. During World War II., 47,000,000 people were killed or wounded, or taken prisoner. In World War I. the number was 20,000,000. The next world war, should there be one, would bring with it greater devastation and more appalling mass murder than the world has ever seen. I commend to honorable senators a book entitled The World Aflame, written by Engel and Piller. The book purports to have been written in 1956, and readers who contemplate the future with any complacency will experience a rude awakening. It says that when the third world war was declared everybody expected it to be over in six weeks. A similar forecast was made at the outbreak of World War II.. but that conflict lasted for six years. According to The World Aflame, after five years of the third world war hardly a house remained standing, and the population of the world was destitute. The book is well worth reading. It paints a grim picture of atomic warfare, biological warfare, and other means of killing and destroying.
One frequently reads the statement that Russia is preparing for war, but what is the other side of the picture? I am endeavouring, by quoting the opinions of informed people to present both sides of the case fairly. The newspapers of this country unfortunately appear to be bent on fostering war hysteria. The following report was published in the Sydney Sun on the 18th March, 1948 :-
New York, Wednesday, A.A.P. - “ To put it bluntly, the atmosphere in Washington is a pre-war atmosphere”, says the Herald Tribune columnists, Joseph and Stewart Alsop. “ That is not to say “, they add, “ that war with the Soviet is necessarily either inevitable or imminent, but it is now universally admitted that war within the next few months is certainly possible. “ It is believed that some sort of showdown is on the way, for better or for worse. “ The boil will soon be lanced. The showdown may come anywhere around the vast Soviet perimeter and at any time. “ Yet most observers believe it is most likely to come to Italy soon after the elections there on April 18.”
On the same day, the Sun also published this report -
Russia is the only great power to place its armed forces on a peace-time basis, according to Moscow Radio.
The commentator was referring to the decree ordering demobilization of all senior age groups from the Red Army this month. He said this meant the army would consist mainly of young mcn called up for the normal period of service, differing radically from the “arms race” in the United States. He added that this was “ more proof of the peaceful aspirations of the Soviet Government, which does not harbour any expansionist designs “.
The conflict in those two reports is obvious. One stated that war with Russia was likely to occur within a few months, and. the other that Russia was disarming. According to the press, the United States of America to-day is devoting 79 per cent, of its national budget, indirectly or directly, to war purposes. The following is a report of a speech made by President Truman : -
In the fiscal year 1949, 79 per cent, of our expenditures directly reflect the costs of the war, the effects of war, and our efforts to prevent a future war . . . Only 21 per cent. M our expenditures finance the government’s programmes in the broad areas of: social welfare, housing, education, research, agriculture, natural resources, transportation, finance, commerce, industry, labour and general administration.
Last year, Russia expended 8 per cent, of its national badget on armaments, but, according to the latest information, that figure has been increased to 19 per cent, for this year. Great Britain is expending 40 per cent, of its national income on military preparation, and has 1,000,000 men under arms. Something should be done to divert to peace-time pursuits all this effort that is being wasted on war preparations. We should reason those matters out for ourselves, and not permit other people to make up our minds for us. We are informed also by the press that America is building a ring of aerodromes within striking distance of Russia. .Why is that being done if an attack on Russia is not being contemplated? The great majority of the people of the world do not want war, and, to the best of my ability, I shall work for peace. I shall speak against war on every possible occasion. We all have fresh in our minds the horrors of the last war, and I am sure that we shall not be led into another conflict as easily as we were led into the last.
There has been much talk about the Berlin airlift. Amongst those who have spoken on this subject is the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies). Let us examine the origin of the airlift. Who was the aggressor in this instance? Once again I rely upon documents as my authority. The Potsdam Agreement included a provision that there should be only one currency in the occupied areas. That agreement had been operating for some time when General Clay advised the marshal of the Soviet forces in Berlin that the western Allies intended to circulate a special currency throughout western Germany. Thousands of men were passing through to the eastern zone for the purpose of distributing marks which had been printed in the western zone. Of course, the inevitable result of that action was that two currencies would operate in occupied Germany, with all kinds of consequential complications. The Russian marshal replied that the Potsdam Agreement provided for only one currency and that the proposed issue of western marks would be illegal. The Russians therefore requested the Americans. the British, and the French to withdraw the currency that had been circulated in the western zone and revert to the single currency that had been agreed upon. That request was refused, and in consequence the Russians placed an armed guard around Berlin to prevent western currency from entering the eastern portion of Germany. A general uproar ensued, which culminated in the establishment of the Berlin airlift. That operation, which was not justified, has caused the loss of many lives. The difficulty need not have arisen if the matter had been referred to the Allied Control Council in the first instance.
– The proposal was placed before the control council, but Russia objected to it.
– The proposal was not placed before the Allied Control Council. On the 20th June, 1948, a letter from General Clay was delivered to the Russian marshal advising him of the new marks.
– That occurred only after protracted negotiations had taken place.
– On the 30th August, when the representatives of the Allied countries concerned met to discuss the removal of the blockade imposed by Russia, it was decided to recommend to all the countries concerned that the blockade should be lifted simultaneously with the withdrawal of the western currency. The western currency was not withdrawn simultaneously although it was proposed that if the blockade were removed the western currency would be withdrawn three weeks later. Since the original cause of the dispute was the introduction of the new currency, it follows, as a matter of logic, that that currency should have been withdrawn at least simultaneously with the removal of the blockade imposed by the Russians. Although a great deal has been said of the harmful effects on the German people of the imposition of the blockade by the Russians, I suggest that the Russian action has not created anything like the hardship that we have been led to believe. How did 100,000 tons of wheat enter western Germany? How did 11,000 tons of fat enter the country from the eastern zone? How did 60,000 tons of coal from the eastern zone enter the western zone? In my opinion the fuss created by the Americans is simply part of a great, big racket to inflame the people to take up arms again. Two wrongs do not make a right, and we should use every possible means to remove the causes of war. Although we have been told that Stalin is still seeking war. I notice that the replies which he gave to certain questions asked by Mr. Kingsbury Smith, European general manager. International News Service of America, do not support that suggestion. The questions asked by Mr. Smith and the answers furnished by Stalin were as follows : -
First Question. - Would the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics be prepared to consider the issuance of a joint declaration with the Government of the United States of America asserting that the respective governments have no intention of resorting to war against one another? Answer. - The Soviet Government would be prepared to consider the issuance of such a declaration.
Second Question. - Would the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics be prepared to join with the Government of the United States of America in measures designed to implement this Pact of Peace, such as> gradual disarmament? Answer - Naturally, the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could co-operate with the Government of the United States of America in taking measures designed to implement this Pact of Peace and leading to gradual disarmament.
Third Question. - If the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France agreed to postpone the establishment of a separate western German state, pending a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to consider the German problem as a whole, would the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics be prepared to remove the restrictions which the Soviet authorities have imposed on communications between Berlin and the western zones of Germany? Answer. - Provided the United States of America, Great Britain and France observe the conditions set forth in the third question, the Soviet Government see no obstacles to lifting transport restrictions on the understanding, however, that transport and trade restrictions introduced by the three powers should be lifted simultaneously.
Fourth Question. - Would Your Excellency be prepared to confer with President Truman at a mutually suitable place to discuss the possibility of concluding such a Pact of Peace? Answer. - I have already stated before that there is no objection to a meeting.
Every effort should be made to avoid another international conflict, and I believe that war can be avoided if the peoples of the world aline themselves solidly in opposition to the causes of war. Tt is said that an “ iron curtain “ has already been established in this country. I agree with that statement, but the “iron curtain” has been established not by the Russians but by our own newspaper proprietors, who deliberately prevent us from ascertaining the facts of the situation abroad. They are the “ iron curtain “ in this country. They print just what they like. Fortunately it is possible to obtain reliable information of the course of events abroad from certain periodicals that are circulated or published in this country. Sources from which those publications can be obtained are Rawson’s Bookshop, the International Bookshop Proprietary Limited, Exhibition-street, and McGill’s newsagency, all of which are located in Melbourne. I emphasize that in making this speech I have not endeavoured to thrust my own opinions upon the Senate, but I have confined my remarks as far as possible to making actual quotations from copies of documentary evidence. If another war occurred it might be the end of civilization, and even the “ merchants of death “, as I term them, do not wish to encompass the end of civilization, because they realize that it would also mean their end. Once another conflict begins we do not know where it will end. T sincerely believe, however, that if the ordinary men and women of the world will take the trouble to obtain from reliable sources the facts concerning current international developments, and use their intelligence to weigh those facts, we shall become sufficiently enlightened to avert the tragedy of another war.
It may interest members of the Opposition to know that the atom bomb does not belong to the American Government, but to private enterprise. In fact, private enterprise has built up a stock of atomic bombs, which has cost them a considerable amount of money to manufacture. Details of the American production of atomic bombs are clearly set out in the following passage : -
During the war the Federal Government expenditure, according to a Senate Committee Report, was about $2,000,000,000 on the atomic bomb project; of this $1,300,000,000 was spent on plant and similar facilities, $1,167,000,000 of this going to three major plants, each operated by a giant private concern, the diffusion plant ($500,000,000) operated by the Union Carbide and Carbon Company, the ElectroMagnetic plant ($317,000,000) operated by Eastman-Kodak, and the Handford plant ($350,000,000) operated by E. I. Du Pont de Nemours Company.
Thus, in effect, the atomic bomb and the most advanced knowledge of atomic energy are the monopoly not of the American Government, but of the American Trusts.
– From what source is the honorable senator quoting?
– From a pamphlet written by Mr. D. N. Pritt, K.C.. M.P., of Great Britain. It is obvious that big American industrialists do not spend hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of dollars without the prospect of obtaining an adequate return on their investment. When they have accumulated a great stockpile of armaments and offensive weapons they seek to get rid of them, and the only “ industry “ which can absorb their products is war. I am glad that Australia has decided to place its faith in the United Nations, and I trust that we shall not allow ourselves to be side-tracked from the pursuit of peace by any nation or propagandists. I support the motion that the papers be printed.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) 9.2S’. - In the course of our legislative duties in this chamber, we are called upon to consider legislation of many kinds. However, practically all the measures that are introduced may be classed as either domestic or external legislation. Whilst domestic measures are exceedingly important, I submit that, in the present state of the world, external legislation is even more important. I am of the opinion that no legislation that is intended merely to improve our domestic conditions can be really important if we are to be confronted with another war in the near future. I emphasize that the present trend of world events indicates the proximity of another war. For that reason, I address myself to-night to the subject of Australia’s foreign policy, because I believe that we must choose whether we desire one world or no world at all. Undoubtedly, that is the choice which now confronts us. During the discussions which took place in the chamber earlier to-day, exception was taken by several honorable senators to certain remarks that were made by a gentleman who occupies a high position in this country. Incidentally, I think that those remarks were handled in a par.ticularly able manner by the President of the Senate. The fact remains that people who occupy these important positions must be convinced that the choice to-day is between the British constitutional form of government and another form of government which I believe the people of Australia are not prepared to accept. They do a great disservice to Australia when they make remarks which are derogatory of this National Parliament. Whatever die part that we may play in the proceedings here, . anything that we do to decrease the faith of the people of Australia in the British constitutional form of parliamentary government is a disservice to the nation. We have been told by the Opposition both in this chamber and in another place that Labour has no foreign policy, and that the waterside workers, for example, frame Australia’s foreign policy. Those statements are either true or untrue. I well remember when the Labour Opposition was led by the late Mr. John Curtin. He continually exhorted all of the members of his own party to recognize that it was their responsibility and privilege to make democracy work. He never tired in his efforts in that direction. When in 194.1 he became Prime Minister he set about proving that democracy could work both in war and in peace. During his life-time he made it work, and when his successor, Mr. Chifley, took over the reins of government, he also took on the job of proving that democracy could work. That is the job that we have to do. I think that Australia is doing a very great job in that field, and is setting an example to the rest of the world. I have said that the statement that we have no foreign policy is either true or untrue. I propose to prove that it is untrue. Australia is a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It ha9 subscribed to the Bretton Woods, agreement. In his pamphlet, The International flank Begins Active Operations, John J. McCloy stated -
During 1947, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development launched its operations along two main lines: as a lender and as a borrower. In so doing, the Bank began to fulfil the principal function for which it was created at Bretton Woods - to act as a bridge between government and private lending, minimizing the risks of international financing to private investors and starting an invigorating flow of capital to member countries in acute need of productive equipment.
What is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development? According to an official publication by the executive of that bank -
It is an international co-operative institution, created through the efforts of its member countries, designed to help finance sound projects for reconstruction and development - reconstruction in war-torn countries, and development of world economic resources particularly in under-developed regions’. It may be described as a bridge from war to peace, and from government to private financing in this field . . . After an inaugural meeting of its Board of Governors held at Savannah, in March, 1946, at which its first board of Executive Directors was elected, the Bank officially began operations in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 1946 . . . There were 46 member countries as on March 1, 1948.
We can quite understand the reason why the Opposition parties both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives do not like this kind of thing. They believe that the Government should not take away from private finance any of its power to do the things to which Senator Morrow alluded. That is one phase of the work that the International Bank is doing.
Honorable senators will remember that in 1946 I was sent abroad by the Government to attend a conference of the International Labour Office at Montreal. That body is another organization of which the Australian Government is a member. The following paragraph in the Empire Parliamentary Report on Foreign Affairs for the months of July, August and September, 1948, shows the work that the International Labour Office is doing -
Mr. David A. Morse, wlm was elected Director-General of the Office in San Francisco, assumed his duties in Geneva on 6th September. 1948, and undertook his first official engagement by visiting the British Trades Union
Congress at Margate on ‘.Hh September. Hi! stated that the following was how lie stood personally : - “ The I.L.O. lias declared war against suffering and want. I think that having declared war we must wage war. Our watchword must be: Attack! We must go forward to moot our problems; we must be active and vigorous, realistic and practical. We have a basic philosophy and a long-term policy, but wo must never forget the need to deal with the immediate problems that spring up day by day. In carrying out its campaign I want the” I.L.O. to demonstrate that it has: the faith to pursue its mission in good times and in bad; the courage to face setbacks and disappointments; the determination to overcome obstacles and difficulties; the energy to perform its tasks, thoroughly, competently and effectively; the initiative to tackle new problems and to produce new ideas; the enthusiasm of those who believe that they have a worthwhile job to do and who want” to do it well. Over and above all that I want the activities of the I.L.O. to be pressed forward with a sense of urgency. ! want to feel that our work will be of benefit not only to posterity, but to the mcn and women who aru alive to-day.”
That is after declaring that the work of the International Labour Organization was to prevent want. Other organizations with which the Australian Government is actively associated are the International Children’s Emergency Fund and the International Emergency Food Council, to which we have already contributed £1,000,000 worth of food, with no political strings attached to the gift. The Australian Government has already paid £1,650,000 towards post-war relief, and has contributed £860,000 to the International Refugee Organization, in addition to £1,000,000 worth of raw wool ns the basis of the manufacture of clothing for the recipient countries. Australia is also a member of the World Health Organization. We have subscribed £!’)0,000 to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, together with £30,000 for various educational materials. No less than £60,000 has been provided for scholarships at Australian universities, agricultural colleges and high schools. It will be remembered that a conference in connexion with the Japanese peace treaty was held in Canberra and that the War Crimes Commission was presided over by Sir William Webb, of Queensland. In addition there were the Australia-New Zealand Fact, and the Australian Antarctic Expedition, whilst Australia has been closely associated with the Atomic Energy Commission, the Far Eastern Commission, and the guided weapons range or rocket range project. Surely that is a full and complete answer to the claim that Australia has no foreign policy. To further support my remarks I shall read to the Senate one of the Prime Minister’s “ talks to the nation that was delivered in March, 1949, just a few days ago. The right honorable gentleman said -
Recently I spoke of the importance of Australia’s economic relations with other countries. I mentioned the assistance Australia has given to other countries - £.’15,000,000 to Britain, £25,000,000 for Unrra, £30,000.000 for post-war relief in Europe and the Fa East. Australia has paid two annual contributions to the International Refugee Organization of which Australia is a member - a total of £ l_.7”>0.0C0. Wo are sharing in the cost of our ing lor thu hundreds of thousands of unfortunate people who lied or wore driven from their homes in Europe. Australia sent a gift of £1,000,000 worth of Australian wool to countries of Europe which a United An tion 1 committee found to be in special need of help. Australian supplies - mainly food - to the value of over £2,000,000 were given to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. This organization, in which many Australians arc employed in executive positions, is doing splendid work in twelve countries of Europe, in the Middle East, and in Asia. In addition, the people of Australia, at individuals, have given generously lo the United Nations Appeal for Children. This money - nearly £000,000 - is being spent on Australian supplies for the children’s fund. Suffering has been acute in the Middle East among refugees from the Palestine disorders: many deaths have occurred. The aged and the mothers and young children suffered most. Last year, Australia sent £00,000 worth of wheat, butter and cheese to this area. We arc about to send a further 1,000 tons of flour. We are especially anxious to make a contribu-lion, within our resources, to the great movement towards rehabilitation and bettor living standards which is starting among om neighbours in the South-West Pacific. We are sending £480,000 worth of medical supplies, clothing and X-ray equipment to Burma, Malay and Indonesia. We are also commencing to help, the countries of South-East Asia educationally. Scholarships arc being provided for students from nine Asian countries - India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya. Indonesia, Siam, the Philippines and China. The first student under this arrangement arrived n few weeks ago and it is hoped that about 2G scholarships or fellowships will be taken up this year. We are also sending some educational materials to these countries. This help in educational matters is a most valuable and important way of strengthening relation! with our nearest neighbours. It represents a direct contribution to mutual understanding from which nothing but good can emerge. President Truman recently announced the intention of the United States to make technical knowledge available to the under-developed regions of the world. Other countries are being asked to join in this enterprise, through United Nations organizations. Much planning work has yet to be done and it is too early to say what part Australia could take in any programme which is launched. Australia is already doing in South-East Asia what President Truman has suggested should be done throughout the world. Australia will watch these United States proposals with interest and sympathy. Through interchanging ideas, and through the concrete expression of our interest and goodwill towards the people nf other countries, we can provide a sound basis on which to establish peace. I remind th people of Australia that international Goodwill Week is being observed for a week commencing to-day.
I have read that statement in full because it is a complete answer to the arguments advanced by the Opposition parties in both this chamber and the House of Representatives when they assert that the Government has no foreign policy. We have often been told that we should follow Great Britain. In matters of foreign policy we are following Great Britain, and Great Britain’s foreign policy is quite well known. Since the Attlee Government assumed office, several byelections have been held in Great Britain, and that Government has not lost one of them. The slogan of the British people is, “ Labour believes in Britain; Britain believes in Labour”. Just as truthfully, it can be said of the Government in Australia that “ Labour believes in Australia, and Australia believes in Labour “. The choice of the people of Australia so far as our foreign policy is concerned is either. “ Forward with Chifley or backwards with Menzies and Fadden “. That is the people’s only choice.
Honorable senators will remember that, during the presidential election campaign in the United States of America last year, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) was visiting that country, and, with the usual cocksuredness of the ill-informed, he told the world that Dewey would have a run-away win. So much for the right honorable gentleman as a prophet. Dewey did not have a run-away win. Contrary to expecta- tions, Truman had a run-away victory. However, the right honorable gentleman was not the only man to make a wrong guess in respect of the American presidential election. The man who probably guessed “ wrongest “ was Starr Brown, of Connersville, Indiana, who bet his wooden leg on a Dewey victory. However, the winner of the bet, Mayor Glen Henderson, is letting Brown have the use of his leg on lease at 30 cents a year.
The right honorable member for Kooyong, had quite a lot to say with respect to foreign policy. In a debate cn this subject in the House of Representatives, he followed the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), and he was not particular in trouncing the Minister. He said that Australia has a one-man foreign policy and that the Minister decides it. He said, “ Dr. Evatt’s policy to-day is different from Dr. Evatt’s policy to-morrow “. Let us see what that statement is worth. The right honorable member for Kooyong said that the Minister’s policy was “ illusory, unduly complacent and dangerous “. He meant that the Minister was just deceiving himself and taking things altogether too easily, and that such sort of a policy was dangerous. Whatever danger there may be in the Minister’s foreign policy, it is a policy which has the full support of the Australian Government. Should any other honorable gentleman occupy his position the Government would have the same foreign policy, because it is not the Minister’s policy, but that of the Australian Government, and the Government, in framing it, takes into consideration all the happenings which occur in the world in which we live. On the other hand there was danger in the action of the right honorable member for Kooyong when he trailed his coat and talked about the Government’s lack of a foreign policy. According to press reports of his speech, he said -
If we were to take sides against European nations we could not expect to maintain our own territorial integrity.
What does that mean? It moans that tin’s great integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations in the Pacific must never declare itself to be. in agreement with that, which it believes to be right, in matters of -foreign policy, but should ever be guilty of spineless and cowardly silence. If I know the Australian people I can say with confidence that they do not want to be governed by a government of cowards. The right honorable member for Kooyong also made the following statement which lias been endorsed by the members of the Opposition parties in this eli amber : -
There were never so many charters, h assemblies, councils- committees, rules, resolutions and reports.
That may be very smart and adroit, and, possibly, it may be good anti-Labour propaganda. But what does it amount ir? Honorable senators will remember the different committees to which the right honorable gentleman referred, but 1 point out that all of them, separately and collectively, are evidence of a worldwide fear of war and of the frightful potentialities of the atomic bomb. They are also evidence of a world-wide determination to avoid the calamity of a third world war. They are indicative of this nation’s determination that there shall never again be a war if Australia can do anything to prevent it. The right honorable gentleman also clamoured for the. appointment of an all-party committee on foreign affairs. Recently the Loader of the Opposition in this chamber waxed very eloquent about the need to appoint another committee. I wonder whether the right honorable member for Kooyong forgets, or, merely in his clever way, is side-stepping the basic fact that there can never bc any agreement between ;i Labour government and his kind of government on fundamentals, that is, between the contending forces of conservative reactionaries and members of the progressive Labour party. It is so much nonsense to talk in that way. The Government might agree to appoint an fill-party committee to consider a matter relating to domestic affairs, but it certainly will not appoint such a committee in ileal with any subject relating to international affairs. When we get down to fundamentals we realize that the lion and the lamb can never lie down together without serious danger to the lamb; and tin: Australian Government does not intend to be the lamb in this instance. 1 ask the Leader of the Opposition to pass on to the right honorable member for Kooyong, who leads the Opposition in the House of Representatives, my statement that all the Opposition will succeed in doing if it has its way and continues along the lines it has so far followed in every discussion on international affairs will be to divide the world between the west and the east. That is all that the Opposition parties have accomplished so far, and it is a very bad record. They do not desire peace by conciliation and arbitration. Until quite recently they did not believe in arbitration and conciliation in respect of industrial matters. They say now that they believe in conciliation and arbitration in the industrial sphere because they know that the alternative to such a principle is something which would be very detrimental to their business interests. If they analyse this subject they will find that their attitude on foreign affairs will result in disaster to their own interests in that sphere also. They are not preared to favour the ideal of the brotherood of man based on the eternal principles of justice and righteousness and by that means to bring about the unity of all nations and peoples; they merely want the unity of some nations and some peoples. The Australian Government does not believe in that policy. With all respect to the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, I couple him with thu right honorable member for Kooyong in the remarks I have just made.
The right honorable gentleman declared in the House of Representatives, “Full employment is misleading “. He actually made that statement. When 1 was sent by the Government to represent Australia at the conference of the International Labour Organization at Montreal, when the former member for West Sydney, Mr. Beasley, who is now our High Commissioner in London, was sent to a previous conference of that organization, and when Senator Lamp represented Australia at a subsequent conference, each of us was definitely instructed that he was to insist upon full employment at every possible opportunity. Why does the Government believe in full employment? It does not do so merely out of sympathy with people who, under anti-Labour go- prnments, occasionally find themselves out of work, or merely because unemployment is an economic disaster to the nation. lt believes in that policy because it realizes that unless we can have full employment and bring about full employment in other countries we shall have to wage war constantly against want and the fear of want and economic insecurity. The right honorable member for Kooyong, however, said, “Full employment is midleading “, If we are not to have full employment, what are we to have? A statement such as that is very simple when it is examined in cold blood. Let us see what this statement means. If we are not to have full employment we must have partial employment, because I doubt that the anti-Labour parties are so savage that they would advocate complete unemployment. Such a policy is very simple when one unmasks the nefarious design at the back of it. Obviously, the Opposition parties want to maintain a pool of unemployed in this country at all times. They want it to be co-existent in every country. Their reasons are quite logical. If they have a pool of unemployed, they can hold the whip over those who do the work of the world. The workers will know that, if they do not satisfy their bosses, they can be replaced from the pool.
– Those who do that work are not all members of the Labour party.
– I do not want to be unkind to the Leader of the Opposition, but I point out that he and his two colleagues in opposition are here only for the express purpose of continuing to support the capitalist system as it exists to-day. That is the only reason for the presence of an Opposition in the Senate when a Labour government is in office. That is a fundamental fact. Only while the capitalist system lasts have they any right to be here or any possibility of remaining here. When we have abolished the capitalist system - and we shall abolish it some day without a doubt - and introduced the Labour party’s policy of labour socialism, they will no longer be here. For one thing, the funds that are needed to put them here and keep them here will not be forthcoming from the capitalists when their favourite system has gone. The Opposition is perfectly logical. Capitalism and the capitalist interests that they represent in the Senate cannot live without a pool of unemployed. With such a pool in existence, they can trade in the future, as they have done in the past, upon the natural fear of present insecurity and future want to prevent the workers from enforcing their just demands. The Labour Government believes that the workers - meaning the manual and professional workers and the primary producers - are entitled to have not merely enough food to eat, not merely enough clothing to cover their nakedness, not merely enough shelter to protect them and their loved ones from summer’s heat and winter’s cold but also a life full of joy, full of health, and full of culture. In short, Labour’s foreign policy demands the complete fulfilment of the Atlantic Charter. This Government believes in the four freedoms - freedom from want, which does not suit the Opposition, freedom from fear, freedom to worship as one desires, and freedom of expression as one thinks. If we gain those freedoms, what use will we have for gentlemen of the calibre of the Leader of the Opposition?
I commenced by saying that the Opposition had declared that Labour had no foreign policy and I asserted that that declaration was either true or untrue. I submit now that I have proved that it was untrue and, without wishing to be unkind or disrespectful, I say that I believe it to have been deliberately untrue. It was not an accidental untruth. I have said before and I repeat now that, in this national capital of Canberra, we are carrying out the details of the Labour party’s foreign policy. When I was first elected to the Senate there were only two legations in Canberra - the Japanese and the Chinese. When war broke out, the Japanese legation staff was very quickly put under what is eloquently described as “ house custody “. One of my fondest dreams is coming true in Canberra. We have here to-day legations from many parts of the world. The children of the representatives of other countries are growing up here, attending our schools and learning our language. In a small way, we have established an international department of foreign affairs right here in this National Capital. When I came to Canberra, in 1932, nobody dreamed that anything like that would ever happen. Of course, nobody dreamed that the world would advance as rapidly as it has done in recent years. Nor did any one dream of the coming of the atomic bomb. If our foreign policy is to be effective, we must go forward continually, increasing our participation in all international discussions that have for their goal, not a disastrous balance of power such as has brought the world to its present situation, with one side against the other, west against east, Rome against Moscow, but a great community of nations, with all people of goodwill seeking international harmony, welfare and brotherhood. Peace is impossible of achievement, I submit, in any other way. Every one of us has a great personal responsibility in this matter, and we must face it individually. We cannot shirk our share of this tremendous task. As I said at the outset of my speech, our choice in the immediate future, unfortunately, lies between one world or none. The responsibility rests upon all of us, and we cannot afford to treat it lightly, or merely from a debating-class standpoint. We must be true to ourselves, and we must realize that Australia’s foreign policy is to support the United Nations. The Minister for External Affairs has advocated that policy. As a result he has brought distinction and fame upon himself, upon this National Parliament, and upon Australia aa a whole, as a result of his brave championing of that organization. Twenty-five years ago we believed that, the League of Nations would be our salvation. We know now why it failed. We know that it failed because nobody in the organization realized the tremendous responsibility that had been given to all of us. Not one of the member States was prepared to surrender any part of its sovereignty. The United Nations must not be allowed to fail. It is the only organization that espouses the foreign policy for which this Government and the rest of the British Commonwealth of Nations stand. That is the only worthwhile policy. Our only hope of salvation now. or in the future, lies in the United Nations.
Senator HENDRICKSON (Victoria^ [10.10]’. - Ait the outset, I take this opportunity to congratulate Senator Collings upon the eloquent manner in which he expounded the foreign policy of the Australian Government. The Opposition in this Parliament alleges that the Government has no foreign policy, but the fact is that our foreign policy to-day is immeasurably superior to any that was propounded by antiLabour governments. This policy is based upon principles vastly different from those of previous governments, if they had any principles at all. It is a policy of the people for the people. The policies of anti-Labour governments were designed solely for the benefit of big business. We realize how disastrous such policies were since we have experienced six years of war. The foreign policies of anti-Labour governments were framed entirely for the benefit of the big business interests engaged in the manufacture of those things that make wars possible. The Opposition is always cornplaining about the activities of the United Nations. Had it not been for the work of the United Nations, the world to-day would probably not enjoy even the state of precarious peace that now exists. The Lord knows that even now we are passing through a period of insecurity from which we hope to emerge soon into an era of peace. The Opposition is always complaining that this Government supports communism.
– With some justification.
Sena tor HENDRICKSON. - There may seem to be some justification in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), because his mind Iia.– never developed on a national scale and lie cannot realize that, but for the policy of the United Nations, which this Govern ment supports, the Communists might now be in charge in Italy. What is tincause of communism? Communism grew and spread because most capitalist countries had no foreign policy either before or after World War I. We were told during that struggle that it was a war io end wars. After peace had been concluded, an organization known as th’League of Nations was established. Th,. league was unsuccessful because it wa> sabotaged by representatives of big capitalist organizations in every country so that they could exploit their munitions and war equipment manufacturing businesses. After World War I., the heroes who fought that we might live in peace for ever came back to Australia and lived to see the day when they had to beg the manufacturers of munitions to give them jobs in which they had to make the things with which they could be killed in later years. That state of affairs resulted from the foreign policies of antiLabour governments not only in Australia but also in many other countries. As I have said, but for the development of the United Nations and the foreign policy adopted by this Government we might to-day have had the spectacle of communism ruling in Italy. Nothing breeds communism more quickly than do unemployment, misery and starvation. That explains its rapid growth. Let us recall the events of 1917. What brought about the revolution in Russia? It resulted from the sabotage of Russia’s foreign policy by Germany and the other capitalist countries. The working classes in Russia seized upon communism in the hope that it would provide for them a living standard at least a little better than they had had in the past. I sincerely hope that they got that improvement, and if so, that they have been able to retain it. This Government is not prepared to accept the Communist doctrine, and it is determined to resist to its utmost the activities of those who would instil the Communist philosophy in the minds of the people of this country. Russia waa sabotaged during World War I., and, in the post-war years in this country, the workers, including thousands of exservicemen were sabotaged by the very individuals who had used them to fight for their filthy personal gains in four years of war. The Leader of the Opposition has said that not all workers belong to the Labour party. We realize that, but I remind the honorable senator that Labour legislates for the whole community.
– All the capitalists belong to the Liberal party.
– That us quite true, but Labour is interested in the welfare of the people as a whole, and the Australian Labour Government is working to-day in conjunction with the
Labour Administration in Great Britain. The workers of the United Kingdom have fought two wars in the last 35 years, and have won both of them, yet they are still starving. The Attlee Government has done a magnificent job in preventing communism from overrunning Great Britain. Prior to World War I. communism was unknown in Australia. In the post-war years, and, of course, after the Russian revolution, anybody who dared to support the Labour party in this country was described as a bolshevik, and was caricatured in the newspapers with long whiskers in the Russian style. But those who accused others of bolshevism did not themselves know the meaning of the word. Had they realized what i» meant, they would have done something to resist communism which, when analysed, is only a form of fascism because it envisages a dictatorship. Had the menace of communism been appreciated years ago by the anti -Labour forces who held office in this Parliament for such a long period, they would have done something to alleviate working conditions which, until the advent of a Labour administration, provided n fertile bed for the seeds of communism. During the depression years, I spent my time endeavouring to do something for the unfortunate workers who were out of employment. I saw soldiers of th, 1914-1S war and their families walking the roads in the Mallee district of Victoria looking for rabbits in an endeavour to get a living by trapping.
– That is what tory governments want to-day.
– Of course it is, and for that reason I warn the electors of this country to exercise the greatest care.
– Labour governments are in power in some of the States as well as in the Commonwealth legislature.
– Yes, but the Commonwealth controls the purseUnfortunately, many State Labour governments have had to contend with hostile upper houses. During the depression, thousands of workers and their families were destitute, and some of them were led to accept the Communist philosophy. It was not until World War
– Why not tell us about conditions in 1930?
– I know that what I am saying hurts the Leader of the Opposition more than Albert Dunstan was hurt by the dagger that Tom Hollway stuck in his back in the Victorian Parliament; but guilty people must take their punishment. Labour would not have come into office in this Parliament during the war had it not been for a political accident in 1941. The government of the day played at politics, and, by its foreign policy, was prepared to sell this country to the enemy. Senator Collings has reminded us that when World War II. broke out there were only two foreign legations in this city, the Chinese legation and the Japanese legation. The Japanese legation was very quickly closed when hostilities broke out in the Pacific, but I understand that it was some time before the staff of that legation was sent from this country. The Leader of the Opposition probably knows more about that than I do. The young workers of this country fought gallantly throughout World War II. to save the Australian people from the horrors of war, and also, of course, to defend the assets of big business. I warn them not to be misled by the propaganda of the Opposition parties to-day.If the antiLabour forces in this Parliament had their way, they would take from many workers of this country the wages and working conditions that they now enjoy under a Labour administration. The people of this country should listen to broadcasts from this Parliament because very little that Labour supporters say in this legislature reaches the electorate through the press and unless the people of this country realize the dangers of press propaganda, they may find themselves once again in the condition of starvation and degradation which prevailed in the depression years.
Senator Cooper interjecting,
– AsI have said, I realize that what I am saying is very hard for the Leader of the Opposition to take, but when a man is guilty he must accept the sentence of the judge. I am afraid that members of the party to which Senator Cooper belongs, and of the Liberal party, will be forced in December of this year to accept the same sentence as was pronounced by the people of Australia at the last election, which resulted in the presence in this chamber of 33 Labour senators out of a total of 36.
If the peace of the world is to be maintained, the old methods must be abandoned. I have no doubt that the controllers of industry to-day would rather die than permit the workers of the world to govern them. We have been endeavouring for years to impress upon the people that their only hope of emancipation is through the Labour party. I remember when, as a lad, I first saw aeroplanes flying. People said that it was impossible; but to-day aeroplanes are flying up-side down, and aviation is an accomplished fact. Having assumed office in 1941, as the result of dissension in the present Opposition parties, Labour has governed this country during the past seven years, not in the interest of big business, but in the interests of the people who really count, the useful people - the workers. Labour has a foreign policy and is putting it into operation. We do not expect the Leader of the Opposition or his supporters to understand it. If there is to be peace in the world, there must be unity, and unity depends in turn upon full employment and contentment, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and all the other things for which our
Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has fought so hard in recent years. Through-out the world, the people are at last .beginning to realize that their emancipation can come only through rule by their own class. Their only opposition is communism and, as I have said, the Communist philosophy might have been all right for the poor Russians, but it is 150 years behind our social standards, and therefore we must not listen to it. Why were the Russians able to overrun so many countries? Simply because misery and starvation was rife in those countries. The Russians simply walked in and the people said, “ We shall accept this philosophy. Democracy has failed “. Opposition members who pay only lip service to democracy make me ill. They do not know the true meaning of the word. To-day, communism is rampant in socalled democratic countries. Why? Because it is supported by political parties of the kind now in Opposition in this Parliament. Labour, on the other hand, has fought communism right down the years. We shall continue to fight it through this Parliament, and, by implementing our full employment policy, we shall hasten the day when communism will be unknown in this land. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage. Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKenna) read a first time.
– I move - That the hill he now read a second time.
The bill before the Senate has a single purpose. It is to improve the structure and organization of the instrumentality that was set up by the Parliament in 1926 to undertake scientific research. Honorable senators may recall that when certain matters relating to the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research were debated in another place during the last session, the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) said that he had for some time been considering the desirability of making certain changes in the structure and administration of that organization. Under the progressive policy of this Government, the civil research activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have increased enormously during the past eight years. There have, indeed, been so many extensions of its work and consequential additions to its scientific and technical staffs as to change very materially the whole of the circumstances under which it works. The following figures illustrate the expansion that has taken place : -
The present scale of operations of the organization requires that many major decisions on policy and administration must be made almost daily if the excellence of its work, for which it has been noted over the years, is not to he diminished.
This expansion presents a problem which the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has discussed with members of the council, with myself and my ministerial colleagues, and with visiting scientists on several occasions during the past two and a half years. In July and August of last year, the honorable gentleman and the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) put before their colleagues the suggestion that we seek advice on an overall reconstruction of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, including the separation from it of any of its interests in the field of defence research. In August, the Government asked the Chairman of the Public Service Board and t,hi» Director-General . of Post-war Reconstruction to look into this matter, in consultation with the heads of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, And ito tender. advice to the Government. Ministers also spent a good deal of time in consultation with visiting scientists such as Sir Henry Tizard and Professor Marcus Oliphant, on the future of scientific research in Australia. During two visits overseas last year, the DirectorGeneral of Post-war Reconstruction was able to examine British governmental scientific arrangements and the administrative structure associated with them. Meanwhile, in Australia, this Government, in collaboration with the United Kingdom Government, was developing for the first time in our history an extensive defence research programme. A series of consultations between defence experts and Ministers, both here and in Britain, during the past three years brought us to the conclusion that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should not be given the task of undertaking scientific research related to defence. Consequently, a year ago the Department of Supply and Development was reconstituted, and its functions now include the co-ordination and administrative control of defence research and research having security significance. In conformity with this policy, .the work of the Aeronautics Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has been transferred to the control of the Department of Supply and Development. Having, in response to the needs of primary and secondary industry, expanded the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to the point where some 3,000 scientists, technicians and administrative staff now come within its charge, the Government has faced the problem of overhauling the organization. This bil! is the outcome of the Government’s work on the problem. Its principal provisions can be explained quite shortly.
At the outset, I point out that we have made a change of terminology. In future, the organization will be known as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or C.S.I.R.O., first, because it is considered to be desirable to stress the fact that this is a Commonwealth instrumentality, and, secondly, because, with the proposed change of the administrative structure of the research organization, the word “ Council “ in the descriptive title would be misleading. It is true that under the original act the institution was officially referred to as the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but in normal usage the word “ Commonwealth “ has disappeared and the body is simply known as the “ Council “, a term which begs entirely the question of its precise status.
I pass now to matters of substance. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be administered by an executive consisting of a chairman and four other members, who shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council on the recommendation of the Minister. At least three of the members of the executive will be persons with scientific qualifications. The chairman and two other members of the executive will hold full-time appointments. This will still leave flexibility as regards the remaining two members of the executive, who may be men with scientific, industrial, business, financial, administrative or other appropriate experience. In this executive, subject to the Minister, will in future lie all responsibility for policy decisions and administration. In addition to the executive, there will be an advisory council, the members of which will be appointed by the Minister in much the same manner as members of the existing council are appointed. The members of the executive will be ex officio members of the advisory council. State committees will continue to be associated with the organization in an advisory capacity. The Government pays tribute to those men who for years have devoted their time, thought and energy to the work of the council and the State committees. They have made great contributions to the advancement of Australian science and industry, and the people of Australia will always be grateful to them for the work that they have done in building up this great institution. We hope that they and their successors will continue to assist Australia in this way on the advisory council and State committees. But the fact remains that the scale of operations of the organization is now such that it is desirable that full administrative and policy powers should pass, as in practice they have been passing increasingly, to the smaller executive.
The bill also provides for changes in the control of staff establishments and appointments. The Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has for some time been dissatisfied with the present arangement whereby he has to shoulder the responsibility for all appointments to the staff of the Council. The bill accordingly places the responsibility on the executive, except in respect of certain senior positions which carry maximum salaries of over £1,500 a year, for which the Minister’s authority will be necessary. In order to ensure some measure of uniformity between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Public Service in relation to the remuneration of officers and employees, the executive, before creating salary ranges for particular classes of positions, must obtain the approval of the Public Service Board. Approval of the Public Service Board will also be necessary for conditions of employment of officers and employees of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and for levels of establishment for its clerical and administrative staff. The changes do not mean that the officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be brought under the Public Service Board in the sense in which that is true of departmental officers. The act expressly says that they are not to be so treated. Officers and employees of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be required lo make an oath or affirmation of allegiance and will be subject to the same security screening as that to which public servants may be subjected under the Public Service Act.
The initiative in carrying out research and investigations will come mainly from the executive and its divisional chiefs and, as always, the suggestions and requests of primary and secondary industry will be welcomed and will receive al! the attention of which the organization’s resources of trained scientists will permit.
Power is reserved to the Minister to direct the initiation of particular projects. It may be found that facilities in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are to some extent paralleled by those in government departments such as the research laboratories of the Department of Supply and Development, but we are taking steps to ensure that such duplication shall bc kept to a minimum by regular consultation and suitable working arrangement:between the authorities. There are other developments in the work and welfare of the Commonwealth Scientific and; Industrial Research Organization which we shall foster but to which no reference is made in this bill because they are essentially matters for administrative management.
We have in mind to encourage the mobility of scientific staffs between theCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the universities and other institutions and we believe that the provision of an alternative superannuation system similar to the federated superannuation scheme for universities would make this freedom of movement easier with stimulating benefit to all the officers and institutions concerned. Similarly, we feel stimulus to good work will come from a very positive exercise by the executive of its powers of encouraging and sponsoring publication of worthwhile work by its officers.
Again, whilst there is considerable devolution within the present council’s scientific organization and heads of divisions are given substantial freedom we consider that, since the scope of the council’s work has so increased recently, a further extension of this principle of devolution would produce corresponding benefits. We have in mind some possibilities in this direction which should encourage the individual insight, enterprise and initiative from which scientific research stands to gain. These will require further discussion before final decisions can be made on them.
We believe that the passing from the scene of the old legislation and its replacement by the measure before the Senate is a necessary and desirable step forward at this stage in the development of scientific research in this country. The care and thought and consultation with the heads of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and with scientists at home and abroad which have gone into the making of this ‘bill should be a further reassurance to all who have the development of this country at heart. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 11.0 a.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Disposals CommissionFourth Annual Report, for year ended 3 1st August, 1948.
Commonwealth Public Service ActAppointment - Department of the Interior -R. J. Pauley.
Lands Acquisition Act- land acquired for - Defence purposes - Albury, New South Wales, and Bonegilla, Victoria.
Postal purposes -
Hamley Bridge, South Australia.
Senate adjourned at 10.44 pan.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 March 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19490316_senate_18_201/>.