20th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the inordinate delays which take place in Tasmania in determining federal estate duties in respect of deceased estates? Is he aware that delays extending in some cases over more than two years are causing great inconvenience and expense to those concerned? Willthe Minister consider the advisability of increasing the Commonwealth staff dealing with these matters in Tasmania, which I understand consists only of one man, or take some other action in order to obviate these excessive delays and have the duties determined within a reasonable time?
– Perhaps most honorable senators know that determinations of estate duties on deceased estates very frequently is a far more complicated matter than it would appear to be at first glance. I know that the Treasurer would desire to have these matters finalized as expeditiously as possible and I shall bring the honorable senator’s representations to his notice.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform me of the number of national health brochures which were issued by the Menzies Government immediately prior to the recent Senate election campaign, and also the cost of production of such brochures? Is it correct, as published, that 1,000,000 copies were printed and distributed at a cost of £50,000? Is the Menzies Government sponsoring the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia, which is competing with friendly societies, some of which have been established for a. century and have rendered magnificent service in the provision of medical amenities to the people of Australia? Can the Minister also state the reason why the imprimatur of this Government has been bestowed upon the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia, which is organized and controlled by the medical profession?
– I am aware of the brochure to which the honorable senator has referred. It was very well received by the people of Australia because it furnished them with information which they desired to know. Taken by and large, I think it is a publication of which the Department of Health should be very proud. I shall obtain particulars concerning the cost of production and the number printed and let the honorable senator have a reply as early as possible.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether it is true that to date no money has been paid to public hospitals in respect of pharmaceutical benefits? If this is so, and in view of the difficult financial position of the public hospitals, will the Minister take action to expedite those payments ?
– I shall be pleased to refer the matter to the Minister for Health and I hope to be able to supply a considered report to the honorable senator at an early date.
– In view of the fact that the existence of many industries in Tasmania is being seriously threatened by high shipping freights, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport examine the new methods used in both America and the United Kingdom for the carriage of cargo on fully loaded trailers which are run on and off ships by power units, thus considerably reducing handling costs and expediting the turn round of ships? If, after his examination, he considers that such methods would provide a practical solution of the problem of crippling shipping costs, will he consider placing an order for one of these ships to be available for charter in the Tasmanian trade?
– Certain information is in the possession of my department in connexion with the type of ship and methods used for transporting cargo in other parts of the world. I shall be pleased to make further inquiries about the matter. The other part of the honorable senator’s question concerns a matter of policy, but I shall have it examined also and, at a suitable time, advise him of the results of my inquiries.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that the new wonder drug gammaglobulin has achieved very satisfactory results in the prevention of poliomyelitis in the United States of America and that the injection of gammaglobulin in the case of school children is becoming a widespread practice in that country? Are the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories manufacturing this wonder drug? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the practicability of such injections being made available for Australian children?
– I do not know whether the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are manufacturing the drug mentioned by the honorable senator. I have heard of its use in the United States of America, and I shall ascertain from the Minister for Health what is being done in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories regarding the manufacture of the drug.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health to the recent outbreak of typhoid fever in the Australian Capital Territory and the Australian States where some deaths have occurred. Is he aware that scientific investigation has revealed that Papuan desiccated coco-nut is a source of infection? Is he aware also that in the interests of public health, the Health Department of Western Australia has placed a complete ban upon the sale and distribution of Papuan desiccated coco-nut? Will the Minister inform the Senate what steps have been taken to safeguard the health of the people of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory generally in the sale of desiccated coco-nut?
– The association of desiccated coco-nut with the outbreak of typhoid fever has been widely discussed, and investigations have been made along the lines mentioned by the honorable senator. I am not fully informed on the results of the investigations, but I shall obtain the information for the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs by stating that a report recently reached Australia from the New York correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald to this effect -
Without previous consultation with the United States of America, the Acting Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury, shortly after the Korean armistice, stated flatly that India must be a member of the political conference. This immediately hardened a situation which should have been carefully explored in advance. For one thing, it compelled Dominion support - in part reluctant, sis in- the case of Australia - of India’s inclusion as a matter of essential British Commonwealth solidarity.
Without canvassing the question of the representation of India on the political conference, will the Minister inform the Senate whether the report is substantially correct or whether the views of the Australian Government were sought at all stages? If that was not done, will he assure the Senate that such a position will not be permitted to occur in the future ?
– I should have thought that the honorable senator had had so much experience of the type of report to which he has referred that he would not place too much reliance upon it. If I remember correctly, Australia either moved or supported a motion that India should become a member of the conference. The honorable senator probably knows that-
– Was Australia committed in advance?
– Certainly not. I can assure the honorable senator that in all these matters the Australian Government is kept informed and, itself, determines its policy in relation to them.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether he will consider the possibility of removing an injustice which, at present, is suffered by persons who are in receipt of both superannuation and social services benefits? The injustice to which I refer is that when superannuation benefits are increased by a State government the increase is immediately offset by a reduction in the social services benefits payable to such persons.
– The matter raised by the honorable senator has been one of the long-standing problems that have risen under social services legislation. The problem existed during the regime of the previous Government and has continued since this Government assumed office. However, it can be fairly stated that whereas the previous Government did nothing about it, this Government has made a substantial contribution towards its solution. That fact is evidenced, first, by the easing of the means test, whereby a smaller proportion of the superannuation benefit is offset as a deduction against social services benefits ; and, secondly, by the exemption from tax of an increasing proportion of the income of persons who are of pensionable age but are not in receipt of a pension.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that on the 24th June, 1952, the national secretary of the Australian RedCross Society wrote to the Minister for Health advising that the blood transfusion section of the society was finding the financing of this very essential service a major problem and, further, that unless government financial assistance was forthcoming the society would reluctantly be forced to withdraw the service? Up to date, the society has been unable to obtain a satisfactory reply. Does the Minister appreciate that the demand for this service is so great that the cost in the State of Western Australia alone has increased from £5,634 in 1946 to £24,576 in 1952, whilst it is estimated to increase to £30,000 for 1953? Does he agree that the society’s blood transfusion service has met an essential requirement in national health and has been the means of saving many lives? Can he inform the Senate whether the Government is prepared to give practical and financial help to the AustralianRed Cross Society by continuing the processing of serum by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and by meeting, in half-yearly payments, not less than 90 per cent. of the annual operating cost of the society in respect of its blood transfusion service? Further, in the event of greater supplies of blood and serum being necessary as a result of expansion of the present methods, or for stockpiling for civil defence, particularly in respect of atomic attack, will the Government make a grant to the society to enable it to meet the capital expenditure on buildings and equipment which such requirements would necessitate ?
– As the honorable senator will appreciate, I, personally, would have no knowledge of the subject-matter that he has raised and which he has elaborated in his question. However, I can assure him that the Government fully appreciates the splendid and important work that is being done by the AustralianRed Cross Society in its blood transfusion service. I shall have inquiries made along the lines that the honorable senator has indicated and furnish him with such information as I may be able to obtain.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a press paragraph issued from Washington, United States of America, stating that although Australia is enjoying a degree of prosperity, few Australians will admit that it is real? The current issue of the Foreign Commerce Weekly states that growing costs of production have caused concern in Government and business circles despite bumper wool and wheat crops, high bank deposits, and lowered unemployment. What action does the Government propose to take to restore confidence and halt the vicious spiral of inflation that has caused this unfavorable comment abroad and is intensifying production problems in Australia to-day?
SenatorO’SULLIVAN.- I have recently returned from America and I know it is true, as the article to which the honorable senator has referred indicates, that the confidence of the American people in Australia has improved tremendously since the Menzies Government has been in power. A source of great encouragement to American investors is the knowledge that the fear of socialism in Australia has receded considerably. The utmost confidence has been expressed in the wisdom, soundness, and sanity of the Menzies Government. The honorable senator has asked what action the Menzies Government proposes to take. The answer is that the Government will continue on the sound lines that it has pursued since it has been in office. Something that the Labour Opposition in this Parliament could well do - it will have plenty of time to do it because Labour will remain in opposition for a long time - is to adopt the outlook of labour unions in the United States of America. Instead of perpetually fighting with employers, the unions in that country have a very happy association with employers. Employers and employees work with one another, not against one another; whereas, in Australia, the main aim of the political Labour party at elections is to persuade the unfortunate people of Australia, and particularly the decent trade unionists, that inevitably there must be conflict between employer and employee. That is not so. In the United States of America employers and employees work with each other, knowing that the bigger the cake the bigger the cut each will get. That is a spirit which I suggest the political Labour party in Australia might try to engender amongst its followers.
– I rise to order.
– I point out that I allowed considerable liberty to Senator Ashley in asking his question and, having done so, I must in turn allow the Minister considerable liberty in making his reply.
– I hope I did not transgress in any way. I asked my question in accordance with the forms of the Senate. I had no liberty, and asked for none.
– I rise to order. With respect, Mr. President, I hope that in future I shall be permitted to state my point of order. You have given your ruling without hearing one word of what I had to say.
– I am sorry.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen a report that a trading bank is to open a special department for hire-purchase business? In view of the inflationary effects of this kind of business and the high rate of interest that is levied under hire-purchase agreements, can the Minister inform me whether supervision will be exercised over the expansion of hirepurchase credit facilities?.
– The purchase of goods by hire-purchase is a well established part of business transactions in this country. I think that it is an advantage that most people - particularly young married people - enjoy these days, and I for one would not be prepared to contemplate that we should cut down the system or restrict unnecessarily that form of activity without very good reason. Conditions operating to-day are very different from the conditions that existed a couple of years ago when it was necessary to restrict activities of that kind. I think that, within reason, those who want to purchase goods on hire-purchase should have the opportunity to do so, and it is a very good thing indeed to see some one else coming into the hire-purchase field. The more competition there is in that activity the better should be the service available to persons who use this method to obtain goods.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer . a question on the subject that was raised by Senator O’Byrne, who stated that a trading bank was setting up a time payment department. Is it not a fact that under the 1945 banking legislation the Government of which the honorable senator was a supporter set up a similar department in the Commonwealth Bank ?
– What the honorable senator said is correct. The industrial section of the Common wealthBank does a large business in hire-purchase arrangements and does it very well. Such business is also conducted by various finance companies which are engaged in hire-purchase finance. I think it is very good that another trading bank intends to enlarge the service available to the public.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer recommend to the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank that facilities be extended to customers and prospective customers of dic Commonwealth Bank similar to those which will be made available by the private bank that has been mentioned?
– I was not aware that the trading bank concerned proposed to make any facilities available to the public which are not already being made available by the Commonwealth Bank. But if it intends to do so that is not a matter on which the Government would intervene or give any advice or direction. The type of service given by the Commonwealth Bank is a matter for decision on the managerial level of the bank. In other words, the Commonwealth Bank would make up its own mind and do what it thought advisable in such a matter;
– Yesterday I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he was aware that it was proposed to hold the Australian Convention on Peace and War in Sydney towards the end of this month. In his reply the Minister stated that he was not aware of the nature of the proposed conference. I can understand that. However, I should like the Minister to inform me whether he has made any inquiries about the proposed convention, and whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about its bona fides. If the Minister is not able to make a statement at this juncture, will he cause inquiries to be made and make a statement to the Senate as soon as possible so that many well-meaning people who are being hoodwinked by the organizers of the proposed convention may clearly understand the position?
– As the honorable senator will well appreciate, between the time of his asking the ques tion yesterday and this moment I have not had an opportunity to make any inquiries. As to whether the Government will authorize a statement on the matter to be made I cannot give any assurance. I think the honorable senator, as a former Minister, will appreciate that it is not always wise to publish certain processes and activities of the security service. I assure him that the Government is not unmindful of certain matters that are going on. We have a very efficient and wide-awake security service, and I have no doubt that adequate measures will be taken.
– The public is entitled to. a statement by the Minister.
– I am not prepared to make a statement off-hand, but I will discuss the honorable senator’s suggestion with the proper authorities and if it is deemed proper, a statement will be made ; if a statement is not made it will be for very good reasons of security.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation by pointing out that work has been in progress on the West Beach aerodrome in South Australia for a considerable time. Can the Minister inform the Senate when it is expected that work on that aerodrome will be completed?
– I have been in touch with the Minister for Civil Aviation in connexion with this matter and he has informed me that good progress is being made but he is not yet able to announce the date of the opening of the aerodrome. The official opening will not take place for some time.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform the Senate whether it is a fact that the representatives of’ the Australian press have been debarred from visiting Woomera for the purpose of reporting on activities there, although arrangements have been made for the British Government to have the activities televised and to procure all the information that it desires? Is there any particular reason why representatives of the Australian press should not have been permitted to visit this project which will cost taxpayers approximately £29,000,000?
– Considering the experience of the honorable senator his credulity is amazing. The press of Australia will enjoy the same privileges as the press of the United Kingdom at Woomera. The remarkable rumour of which the honorable senator is apparently the victim is entirely groundless. I understand that senior representatives of the Australian press have conferred or will confer with the Prime Minister on this matter and I am sure that the outcome of the conference will be satisfactory to them.
SenatorAshley. - Is there not a prohibition ?
– There has always been a prohibition. A few snapshots have been taken of the village of Woomera, but not of places anywhere near the site of the proposed tests. There has been no discrimination against the Australian press and whatever privileges are extended to the world press will be enjoyed by the Australian press to the full.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer inform the Senate of the extraordinary circumstances connected with the consent given by the Capital Issues Control Board to the issue of approximately £650,000 £1 unissued shares in Associated Newspapers Limited to the proprietors of the Sydney Morning Herald ? It seems that consent was given to this transaction over the week-end in very short time in complete contra-distinction to the usual procedure of the Capital Issues Control Board, which generally takes a long time to give any such consent. Were there any circumstances which motivated the board to makea quick decision in this matter?
– I do not think that the honorable senator has the facts in regard to this matter.
– I have not the facts. I have asked a question in order to elicit facts.
– Then the honorable senator has asked his question in a strange way. I suggest that his question constituted a direct attack on the manner in which capital issues control is administered. I think that the honorable senator would find it very difficult to substantiate the view that there is any delay in obtaining approval to capital issues. I think that most people are aware that capital issues control is being maintained only nominally and that an application for consent to an issue of capital is approved almost automatically. It is very rarely that such consent is delayed or refused. Under those circumstances, I have not the slightest- doubt that this application was received and dealt with in the normal way, efficiently and expeditiously. If the honorable senator has taken sides in the dispute and is on the losing side I am sorry. But it is hardly fair to blame the officials who are charged with administering the relevant legislation.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board in respect of the following items : -
Ladies’ Full-fashioned Nylon Hosiery.
Articles used in the Practice of Religion.
Apart from the four last mentioned reports, particulars are available for circulation to honorable senators.
Ordered to be printed.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received from Senator Reid a letter resigning his place as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Motion (by . Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That, i in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1951, Senator Maher be appointed to fill the vacancy now existing on the ParliamentaryStanding Committee on Public Works.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Senate (Senator O’Sullivan) nominating Senator Vincent, in accordance with Standing Order 36a, to fill the vacancy now existing on the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave- agreed to-
J iiiit Senator Vincent, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order : )Cj. be appointed to fill the vacancy now existing on the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator MoLeay) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an “act relating to the establishment of a Trust Fund for the purposes of - the Commonwealth Observatory in the Australian Capital Territory.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
Senator McLEAT (South Australia - Minister for Shipping and Transport [11.45]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Commonwealth Observatory Trust Fund. Act 1930-1944 establishes the Commonwealth Observatory Foundation and Endowment Fund vested in the Commonwealth Astronomer, the Secretary to the Treasury, the Secretary, Department of the Interior, and such other person as the Minister appoints, as trustees. At the ond of each quarter the trustees are re quired to deposit to the Commonwealth Astronomer’s account in the Commonwealth Savings Bank the income from investments constituting the fund. The Astronomer is authorized to spend money in the Astronomer’s account for the purposes of the observatory.
It has-been found in practice that the rigid definition of “ trustees ‘’ and the financial provisions make working difficult. The fund is a comparatively small one, at present amounting to approximately £3,000.
Instead of having a fund outside the normal accounting transactions of the department, it is considered preferable that the fund should form a part of the main Trust Fund of the Treasury to which the provisions of the Audit Act apply. There would then be no need for the appointment of trustees. All moneys donated for the purposes of the observatory would be kept in a distinct account in the main Treasury Trust Fund and would be available for the purposes of the observatory. A separate Commonwealth Astronomer’s Account would not be necessary.
As the amendments required to give effect to the foregoing would have involved substantial changes to practically all existing sections of the Commonwealth Observatory Trust Fund Act 1930-1944, the bill as drafted will repeal the act and replace it with a shorter measure which will cover all proposed requirements.
Debate (on motion by Senator MoKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend- the Forestry and Timber Bureau Act 1930-1946.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Shipping and Transport) [11.49]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Sections 5 to 12, inclusive, of the Forestry and Timber Bureau Act 1930-1946 establish the Forestry Fund vested in the
Director-General of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Secretary to the Department of the Interior, as trustees. The fund consists of donations and any other money or property received by the trustees for the furtherance of forestry. Moneys in the fund may be applied for a furtherance of forestry in such manner as the Minister, on the recommendation of the Director-General, approves. Provision is made for the audit of the accounts of the trustees by the Auditor-General.
It has been found in practice that these provisions and the rigid definition of “ trustees “ make for unwieldy working conditions. The Forestry Fund is only a small one, the present balance being under £200. All documents in relation to the fund require the signatures of three highly paid officers, and payments from the fund, irrespective of the smallness of the amount involved, necessitate the approval of the Minister on the recommendation of the Director-General. The intention of the bill is that the Forestry Fund should become a trust account within the main trust fund of the Treasury. Operations on the fund would then follow normal Treasury accounting procedure. The provisions of the Audit Act would apply. The appointment of trustees would not be necessary.
The bill proposes a number of amendments of the principal act. Clause 3 will abolish the definitions of “ the fund “ and “ the trustees “ ; clause 4 will amend the reference to the title of the Public Service Act.; clause 5 will repeal sections 5 to 12, inclusive, of the principal act, and the insertion of new sections 5 and 6 relating to the establishment of the Forestry Trust Fund and the receipt of donations and expenditure from the fund; clause 6 will cover the transfer of the moneys in the existing fund to the trust account created by this amending legislation.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’Sulivan) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Customs Act 1901-1952.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-
Minister for Trade and Customs) [11.52].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill will make certain amendments to the Customs Act 1901-1952. Section 4 of the act defines “ officer “ as “ all persons employed in the service of the Customs “. It has been the practice in terms of section 4 to appoint persons as acting officers of customs at certain outports to perform part-time duties on behalf of the Department of Trade and Customs, but doubt has been cast on the legality of the appointment of these persons because the wording in the definition of “ officer “ in the present section 4 does not specifically authorize the appointment of acting officers of customs. The proposed amendment will enable the Minister to make these appointments and at the same time will remove all doubt as to the status of the persons so appointed. The terms and conditions of the appointments will, of course, still be determined by the Public Service Board.
Section 12 provides that all persons acting in the service of the customs at the commencement of the Customs Act shall be deemed to have been duly appointed as officers of customs. There are now no persons in the service of the’ customs who were appointed in terms of section 12. The section does not therefore serve any purpose and it is desirable that it be repealed. Under the provision of section 130a (1), the master or owner of a ship or the pilot or owner of an aircraft may make application to the Collector of Customs for permission to take on board out of warehouse, under drawback or by transhipment from the stores of another ship or aircraft, stores for the use of the passengers and crew and for the service of the ship or aircraft. If these provisions are strictly enforced, it would not be possible for owners of ships or aircraft to take on board stores by transhipment from the cargo of another ship or aircraft thus causing unnecessary inconvenience. The proposed amendment will enable owners, with the permission of the Collector of Customs, to take on board under-bond stores from any source of supply and thus bring the provisions of the section into line with current practice.
Section 163 of the act makes provision for refunds of duty to be made in certain circum stances. It is the practice of the Department of Trade and Customs to grant refunds of duty where goods are imported in a faulty or defective condition caused by faults or damage in manufacture. In these circumstances the goods cannot be used in the manner in which they are intended and the manufacturer or supplier makes an allowance commensurate with the extent of the fault or defect. Section 163 does not specifically make provision for such refunds and, consequently, there is some doubt whether refunds can validly be paid. The proposed amendment will remove all doubt as to the legality of these payments.
Another amendment to section 163 is to make provision for the payment of refunds of duty in cases where the Minister has granted a tariff concession under a by-law tariff item in the form of a ministerial determination as provided for in clause 6 of this bill. Appropriate provision for the making of the consequential refund where applicable has been included in paragraph (d) of clause 5 of this bill. As section 163 is considered unsatisfactory from a drafting point of view, these amendments provide an opportunity to repeal and redraft the section. The terms of the proposed section 163 will not alter the policy or the practice in relation to refunds which are allowed at the present time.
Section 271 of the present act authorizes the Minister to grant tariff concessions by means of by-laws in certain circumstances. The by-laws are of two main types, namely “continuing” by-laws, which operate on and after a specified date until cancelled, and “ one-day “ by-laws, which operate only on the day specified in the Commonwealth Gazette. It has been found that in connexion with “ one-day “ by-laws, the departmental procedures subsequent to the granting of approval for the tariff concession have tended, due to increase in volume of Australian manufacturing processes, to become cumbersome and wasteful of man-power and material.. In order to simplify the procedures, it is proposed to amend the act to enable the Minister to grant these concessions by means of ministerial determinations instead of by means of “ one-day “ by-laws. The effect of this amendment will be that the administrative work in relation to the entry of the goods at the concessional rates of duty will be reduced to a minimum.
It has been found in practice that compliance with certain of the provisions of section 271 - (a) requires importers to enter goods under a by-law tariff item whether or not a concession is conferred by the by-law; (6) prevents the Minister from making by-laws under Customs Tariff proposals; (c) prevents the Minister from making by-laws relating to matters and things, for example, to such matters as determination of horse-power. Therefore, to protect the interests of importers, provisions are being included in the act to remove these anomalies and to bring the requirements relating to by-laws into line with current practice. In order to facilitate the incorporation of these amendments the present section 271 has been redrafted as sections 271 to 273f as set out in clause 6 of this bill.’
The bill is commended to the favorable attention of senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spicer) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act 1901-1950.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
Senator SPICES (Victoria- Attorney-
General) [12.0]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act 1901-1950 in a number of respects. As honorable senators are aware, that act was one of the measures enacted by the first Federal Parliament. It was passed for the purpose of facilitating the service and execution of the civil and criminal process and the judgments of the courts of the States and territories in other States and territories. Whilst, basically, the act is still the same, it has been amended from time to time. to extend its operations to the requirements of State and territory law and additional court process. The purpose of this bill is to introduce further amendments to bring the act into conformity with present-day requirements. As a consequence, the periods of time for entering an appearance to a writ of summons have been amended, the application of the act has been extended to additional court process, and its provisions have been made to apply directly to certain of the external territories of the Commonwealth.
The periods of time for entering an appearance to a ‘writ of summons prescribed by section 8 of the existing act were laid down in 1901’ before the introduction of modern air services, the TransContinental Railway or adequate overland mail services to the Northern Territory. Clause 5 of the bill seeks to repeal section 8, and to insert a new section which will reduce the time limits generally, and at the same’ time remove present anomalies, by fixing a uniform period of twenty days for appearance to a writ of summons when the writ is issued and served within the mainland, and a uniform period of 45 days when the writ is issued or served outside the mainland. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that these times are, of course, minimum times for appearance and may be extended by the rules of the court out of which the writ of summons is issued.
Clause 6, and proposed new section 19c which is covered by clause 7 of the bill, seek to extend the facilities of the act to additional court process. Clause 6 seeks to repeal section 15 by inserting a more generalized section in its stead. In its present form, section 15 refers only to specific classes of criminal and quasicriminal process, and any process not specifically included in section 15 and not falling within the provisions of either section 4 or 14 of the act cannot be served under the act. For example, a husband living in State A, whose wife obtains a maintenance order against him in that State and then goes to State B, cannot effectively serve on his wife a summons for variation of the order. This is an unjust anomaly. The list of types of process which might be served under section 15 has increased with progressive amendments of the section and, instead of adding specific classes of process to an already somewhat lengthy list, proposed new section 15 is in general terms and will operate upon any criminal or quasicriminal process provided that the process has issued on information or complaint made on oath. Proposed new section 19c seeks to enable a writ of attachment issued by a court of record of a territory or a judge of the court for a contempt of the court or disobedience of an order made by it to be served in any State or other territory. Writs of attachment issued out of the courts of a territory cannot under the act, as it now stands, be executed outside the territory of issue.
The existing act applies to the service and execution of process of the courts pf the States and of the two mainland territories - the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. ‘ The provisions of the act suitably modified have, however, been extended by regulations made under the act to certain of the external territories, that is, the Territories of Papua-New Guinea and Norfolk Island. The regulations were promulgated before these territories had a properly established judicial system. In all these territories there are now both superior and inferior courts, and the time has come when the act should extend directly to the territories of the Commonwealth that I have mentioned. This bill, therefore, extends the act to the Territories of Papua-New Guinea and Norfolk Island, so that the act will now apply to the whole of the Commonwealth and its external territories with the exception of a few small islands. When necessary, the provisions of the act may be extended to other external territories by regulations.
The opportunity is being taken under this bill to clarify the intention of the legislature in certain provisions contained in Part III. of the act. It has been found desirable to redraft the whole of this part but the redrafted part, except in a few minor respects, contains no substantive alteration. One slight alteration of substance affects section 18 of the act. That section deals with the backing of warrants for execution outside the State or territory in which the warrant is issued. In its present form, the circumstances in which a warrant may be issued and executed outside the State or territory of issue are specifically enumerated. No warrant issued in cases where the. circumstances are not specified may be executed under the act. It is considered desirable, therefore, that this section should he recast in more general terms to enable any warrant to be executed in another State or territory.
The other substantive alteration is contained in proposed new section 19 which seeks to enable a. person apprehended under section18, or the person seeking the execution of the warrant, to appeal to a judge of the Supreme Court of the State or territory of the Commonwealth in which an order under section18 was made, for a review of that order. This section is designed to provide an additional safeguard against any person being improperly removed from one State or territory of the Commonwealth to another under a. warrant. A similar provision has for some time been in operation under the act in its application to the external territories. There is nothing controversial in this measure. It not only contains some most desirable improvements to the existing law, but also re-enacts the substance of the present law in a much more desirable manner.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mckenna) adjourned.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Bar ley - War Graves - War Widows - Telephone Servicer.
Motion (by SenatorO’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I direct the attention of the Government to an injustice that is being done to the growers of barley in Tasmania. During the recent war, barley-growers in that State were compelled to sell their product for home consumption only and were unable to obtain export licences from the government of the day. At that time, the home-consumption price for barley was 6s. 6d. a bushel, whereas the export price was 30s. a bushel. The reason that that Government gave for refusing to grant export licences was that” Tasmania did not produce in excess of its requirements. In my view, that was a valid reason. Consequently, the Australian Barley Board decided not to export supplies to Tasmania until such time as production in that State was sufficient to meet its own requirements. Last season, owing to wet weather, sowing was delayed, but as a result of a dry autumn most of the crop that was sown was harvested. As a. result the crop amounted to 70,000 bushels which was 15,000 bushels in excess of the estimated crop of 55,000 bushels which had been sold by the growers to the local breweries. I wish to refer to that surplus production. The Tasmanian brewers would be quite prepared to take that 15,000 bushels, but having contracted to take the estimated production of 55,000 bushels, they then contracted for the balance of their supplies with the Australian Barley Board. They have said to the barley-growers in Tasmania, in effect, “We shall take the 15,000 bushels excess production if we can cancel our contract with the Australian Barley Board “. I point out that the board had also agreed not to send to Tasmania any further supplies until such time as Tasmania’s production had been fully absorbed. The position now is that the Australian Barley Board has refused to cancel the contract. It says it has kept 15,000 bushels in good faith for the Tasmanian brewers, and that it expects them to take that quantity. However, the board still has a surplus on hand in excess of that 15,000 bushels, so I submit that that quantity was not kept in good faith at all. The reason why the board now wishes to exploit the Tasmanian market is that the home-consumption price for barley is now higher than the export price.
The. Tasmanian growers have been denied an .opportunity to exploit the export markets until now when export prices are below the home-consumption price. The aspect of this matter in which I am particularly interested is this : Because no common-sense agreement can be made on this matter, 15,000 bushels of barley are to be shipped to Tasmania and 15,000 bushels of harley are to be shipped out of Tasmania, and the shipping costs will be borne by the growers. Only the transporting authorities will gain. On a total production of 70,000 bushels, the 15,000 bushels represents a lower return to the growers of 3s. 9d. a bushel, but on the 28,500,000 bushels held by the Australian Barley Board, it represents a lower return of only .2d. a bushel. I ask the Minister to use his influence with the board to ensure that such a position does not arise again. Surely common sense should be brought to bear with the object of eliminating the unnecessary cost of transporting barley to and from Tasmania at the expense of the growers.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) to two matters, one of which I raised yesterday at question time. The Minister informed me on that occasion that the type of headstone that is erected on the graves of deceased exservicemen is a matter for the Australian War Graves Commission. If that is so I should like to know whether there is a representative of the commission in Western Australia. I have two sisters who are war widows, but my interest in this matter is more than a personal one. I have been asked by several other war widows to inspect the graves of their husbands. I have done so and I have found them to present a poverty stricken appearance. Formerly, very fine headstones were erected over the graves of deceased ex-servicemen, but the headstones now being provided are a disgrace and an insult to the memory of the dead whom they commemorate. They are a dingy grey colour. Whether they will mellow in time I do not know, but they look like the work on an amateur. I am not much good as a cement worker but I think that. I could do a better job. The printing on
Min headstones is about 1 inch high and is hardly decipherable even at present when the stones are new. Pieces of road metal such as I now have in my hand are scat.tered on the graves as if a truck had emptied its contents upon them. This is a serious reflection on our respect for our war dead and the present state of affairs should not be allowed to continue. ‘ I understand from inquiries I have made in Western Australia .that the cost of these memorials is quite high. I suggest in all sincerity to the responsible authorities that if for any reason the high standard formerly observed in the care of ‘ war graves cannot again be reached, a cash allowance of the amount at present expended on war graves should be made to the next of kin of deceased exservicemen to enable them to erect fitting headstones in memory of their relatives. This is already being done in regard to the funerals of ex-servicemen. Here . again, I should like some guidance from the Minister. It is imperative that war widows who wish to claim for the funeral benefit shall apply for that benefit within a specified time; yet widows are not given any specific information by the Department of Repatriation about their entitlement to that benefit. The list of benefits that is circulated to war widows upon their acceptance as such by the department does not include the funeral benefit, and a war widow is not told of her entitlement to that benefit unless she specifically inquires about it. The result is that many widows do not know for a long time that they are entitled to claim reimbursement for a proportion of the funeral expenses incurred, and when they ultimately learn of their right, the time limit for making the claim has passed. I should like to know whether it would be possible, when notifying war widows of the benefits to which they are entitled, to mention also the funeral benefit so that they may at least receive a little pecuniary assistance at a very expensive and sad time. I know that the Minister is most sympathetic to these requests. I have found him so whenever I have approached him on repatriation matters. I realize that war graves do not come completely within his jurisdiction, but I ask him to take the matter up with those in authority. The present state of affairs is distressing to the people concerned and n disgrace to us all.
– As I promised yesterday, I shall look into the matter that has been raised by the honorable senator. The information that she has given about the condition of war graves is news to me because the many war graves that I have examined personally have done great credit to the Commonwealth and to the authorities responsible for them. I have not seen any war graves in Western Australia, but this is the first time I have ever heard any reflection cast upon the manner in which the Australian War Graves Commission has carried out its work over the years. I shall certainly make further investigations and see where the fault lies.
– - I take .this opportunity to bring before the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral the undue delay that is occurring throughout the whole of Tasmania in the installation of telephones. This Government’s stock reply to such complaints is that there is a shortage of cables. Shortly after the Government assumed office there was a substantial reduction of technical employees in the Postal Department, and my information is that the slackening of hands, including engineers and other key men engaged on telephone work, is continuing despite the . delay in meeting the requirements of applicants for telephones. The stock excuse for the lag, however, is still an alleged shortage of cables. The department appears to have adopted this stock reply even .in instances where applications are made for the transfer of talephones, under the same name, to adjoining premises, or perhaps to premises only a mile away, despite the fact that the instruments are already connected to the local telephone exchange, lt cannot bc denied that telephone services in metropolitan areas and in large country towns are, a very profitable source of revenue. Perhaps the true reason for the lag is that adequate staff is not available to carry out the work. I urge the Government to authorize the appointment of additional staff in order to speed up the installation and transfer of telephones, rather than reduce staff. I have been informed that there are now available ample supplies of telephone cables and . other necessary materials, and that the delay in effecting installations is due, principally, to the fact that technicians have been dismissed. Many of those men arc now looking for work and could, with advantage to the department, be re-employed. I should be glad if the Minister would direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the suggestion that I have made.
. - in reply - I assure Senator Henty that I will discuss with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) the matter that he has raised. However, I suggest that he also should personally take up the matter with the Minister in order to see what - can be done to remedy the position. I am sure that- be will receive a very sympathetic hearing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented .” -
Audit Act - Finance-Treasurer’s Statement nf Receipts and Expenditure for year 1952-53, Accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Defence Transition (Residual Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrie] Property ) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (4).
Nationality and Citizenship Act - Return for year 1952-53.
Senate adjourned at 12.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1953/19530910_senate_20_s1/>.