21st Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with deep regret that I announce to the Senate the death, on Sunday last, of the Honorable William Gerrand Gibson, a former member of the Senate, who died at his home in Lismore, Victoria, at the age of 86.
I had the honour of serving in the Senate with the late honorable gentleman, and I can say, very sincerely, that he was a remarkable man. Mr. Gibson entered Parliament in 1918, when he was elected to the House of Representatives for the division of Corangamite, which seat he held until 1929. He won the seat again in 19311 In 1934, he was elected to the Senate for the State of Victoria, and retained his seat until he retired from parliamentary life in 1947.
During his long parliamentary career, which extended over a period of 26 years, Senator Gibson showed himself to be a very able man. He was PostmasterGeneral from the 9th February, 1923, to the 22nd October, 1929, and also Minister for Works and Railways from the 10th December, 1928, to the 22nd October, 1929. He represented Australia at the International Postal Convention at Stockholm in 1924. Both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives he was an active member of various committees. He served on the Wireless Agreements Committee in 3921 and 1922, was chairman of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting in 1941 and 1942, and a member of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings in 1946. He was a man of great ability and extreme devotion to duty, loved and respected by all who knew him. t move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable William Gerrand Gibson, former Commonwealth Minister, member of the Senate, and member of the House of. Representatives for the division of Coranga mite, Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to the members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion which has been moved by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper). Like the Minister, I had the privilege of knowing and serving with Senator Gibson in this chamber for some years after I entered it in 1944. I have the most pleasant recollections of his good humour, his tolerance, and his objectivity in debate. I agree with Senator Cooper that Senator Gibson was respected by all who knew him. It is certain that he comported himself in the Parliament in accordance with the best parliamentary traditions. I, personally, feel a sense of loss arising out of his passing. He was in this chamber when the Senate was smaller in numbers than it is to-day. The total membership then was 30 instead of 60, and in those days personal relationships among honorable senators were perhaps a little more intimate than they can possibly be to-day.
Senator Gibson had a very full and distinguished record of fine public service, and he was given the reward of a very long life, which, I am sure, he enjoyed right to the end. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend to his many friends and admirers, both inside and outside the Parliament, and in particular to those members of his family who survive him, our very deepest condolences and sympathy. We trust that they will all be given strength to bear the burden of sorrow that they feel at the passing of this distinguished ex-parliamentarian.
– I wish to be associated with the motion of condolence in relation to the late Senator Gibson. He not only had a long record of meritorious service in both Houses of the Australian Parliament, but he was also a nian who was liberally endowed with a deep sense of justice - now, unfortunately, a diminishing factor with most public men. He brought to both Houses of Parliament an Australia-wide and world-wide knowledge of the primary industries, and Australian primary producers are deeply indebted to him for his representations on their behalf, and also the practical application, in his departmental administration, of his knowledge of problems encountered in rural areas. I question whether any man, particularly during my period in Parliament, applied more practical knowledge to. these matters than did Senator Gibson.
He will be long remembered, as he deserves to be, for his contribution to the development of Australia under much more difficult conditions than people on the land face to-day. I repeat that “ Bill “ Gibson had a deep sense of justice, and I am indebted to him for that. On one occasion when I was Postmaster-General, I was attacked in this chamber in connexion with the allocation of some broadcasting licences. Senator Gibson rose in his place and, irrespective of his party affiliation, said that he would have done exactly what I had done in the circumstances. He was a man of character and one of nature’s gentlemen. May his soul rest in peace.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject : -
Proposed removal of dual purpose jetty at Townsville, Queensland.
– I desire to inform the Senate that, during the recent recess, at the invitation of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) a delegation representative of the Senate and the House of Representatives and of all parties of the Parliament, and led by Mr. Speaker and myself, travelled to Darwin to attend the ceremonies connected with the opening of the new chamber to be used by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. It was decided that, to mark the occasion, the Common wealth Parliament would present a chair to the Council for the use of its President. On the 25th March, the delegation was received by the Council at its first sitting in the new chamber, and the* gift of the Parliament was formally presented. The thanks of the Council were voiced by the senior official member and an elected member, and were expressed in a resolution which was then passed. I have now received from the President of the Council a bound copy of that resolution, together with extracts from the minutes and the debates recording the proceedings. The resolution reads as follows: -
We, the Members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, in Council assembled, express our thanks to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia for the Chair which they have presented to this Council for the use of its President in the new Chamber. Their interest in the development of the Territory and the welfare of its people was evidenced when, by enactment of the Commonwealth Parliament, this Council was established, and we accept this generous gift as a further earnest of their continuing concern. It will stand as a connecting link between the two assemblies and will long be treasured by the Council as an historic possession. We were proud to receive the members of the Delegation by whose hand the presentation was made and were glad to welcome them in Darwin. We ask them to convey our greetings to their colleagues in the Commonwealth Parliament.
I shall direct that the resolution be entered in the Journals of the Senate, and that the bound copy be placed in the records.
– In order that the question which I am about to address to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation will be understood, I wish to refer to the repeated requests that have been made to the Government by all South Australian members of this Parliament regarding the condition of the West Beach airport, which has been under consideration for many years. The South Australian press has reflected, in no uncertain manner, the views of the travelling public who use this airport. The position does credit neither to this Government nor to the State of South Australia. Is the
Minister aware that the statement of his colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, in the House ofRepresentatives last Tuesday, that it would take two or three years to build the Department of Civil Aviation air terminal at Adelaide, has received almost universal condemnation in that city? What has happened to the assurance, given me in the Senate on the 20th October last, that the permanent passenger and operations building would not be completed until probably 1956? Is the Government aware that because of serious congestion in the temporary passenger lounge, many interstate and overseas air travellers get the wrong impression of Adelaide? Because of the importance of this modern airport, will the Minister cause an immediate revision of the position to be made and treat this vital matter as one of urgency, in order to end this scandal in connexion with a necessary project which has taken years longer than it was expected to take to reach its present stage, and with a view to having a modern lounge and operations building completed on a strict priority basis and in full use by, at least, the time by which the Minister assured me it would be done in his answer on the 20th October last?
– In view of the special interest of all South Australians in this matter, and the inconvenience that has been caused by fogs and other things at the airport, I shall be pleased to study the honorable senator’s speech in detail and bring the matter before my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, stressing the importance of the matter. I shall give a considered reply to all honorable senators who are interested, particularly those from South Australia and Western Australia.
– Has the Minister for National Development read a newspaper article, which was published in Melbourne and Sydney recently, to the effect that British exporters had formed a ring and were exploiting the Australian market, especially in connexion with Australian Government contracts? Is it a fact, as alleged in the news paper article, that British exporters are obtaining government contracts carrying a profit in excess of normal to the extent of 15 per cent.? Is it a fact, also, that one of the principal victims of this exploitation is the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority?
– I have read the newspaper article to which the honorable senator has referred. I have no knowledge of British exporters generally adopting the practice he has mentioned, but I know that it applies so far as electrical trade suppliers are concerned, at least in relation to large contracts that have come under my notice. I cannot speak in general terms but only of circumstances as I know them. Recently, the Government invited tenders for the supply of a very substantial quantity of electrical equipment for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. We received a substantial number of tenders totalling fifteen or twenty. About eight of them were from British manufacturers, and all eight of those tenderers quoted exactly the same price and the same terms and conditions.
– Evidence of a cartel.
– It had no ill effect on the Snowy Mountains Authority because one of the remaining tenders was for an amount lower than that quoted by the British manufacturers and, much as we should like to buy British goods and much as we regretted passing over the British manufacturers, in these circumstances we had no hesitation at all in accepting the lower tender.
– In connexion with a question that I addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture shortly after his return from abroad, can the Minister now give the Senate any information on steps that have been taken by the Government for the expansion of Australia’s export trade, particularly in manufactured goods, to Asian countries ?
– I am sure that all honorable senators will be interested in the honorable senator’s question, particularly in view of the falling off in the volume and value of Australia’s exports. With the assistance of trade commissioners whom I have interviewed, 1 have been able to prepare a brief summary of the action that has been taken to promote the export of manufactured goods. Australia’s trade position makes it vital that our manufacturers should make every effort to increase the export trade. Notwithstanding the successful results achieved by some Australian manufacturers, the value of products exported, other than primary produce, is only about 6 per cent, of Australia’s total export trade. The Australian Manufacturers Export Council, which is a recently formed division of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, has organized a meeting for early June to discuss ways and means by which exports of manufactured goods may be maintained and increased, notwithstanding all the difficulties that confront us. The council comprises fourteen or fifteen men who occupy key positions in the export trade that is undertaken by manufacturers. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and I have been invited to attend. This is a most encouraging move made by a high-level representative group and the Government welcomes such evidence of co-operation between industry and government.
Primary industries have been able to increase the volume of their trade substantially, and it is of the utmost importance that manufacturing industries should do likewise. Australia can compete on world markets. One example is the Holden car, for which there is a strong demand, particularly in New Zealand. It is expected that 1.700 Holdens will have been shipped to New Zealand by the end of this year. This month an. Australian firm secured a £13.000 contract for the supply of electrical equipment to India. In the last financial year Australia shipped £600,000 worth of agricultural machinery to Africa; £100,000 worth of louvre windows to the United States of America; electric razors worth £40,000 to the United Kingdom; and hand tools valued at more than £100,000 to New Zealand. To New Zealand alone, Australian exports of manufactured goods total £18,000,000 annually and there our main competitor in the manufactures field is the United Kingdom. Washing machine manufacturers, as well as some other industries in the consumer goods field, are also to be commended for their enterprise in seeking overseas outlets for their surplus products.
Manufacturers who decide to enter the export trade or who wish to increase their exports will find the Government very ready to help them. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture has a vast amount of information on overseas markets available for the use of exporters. Australian Trade Commissioners at 24 posts abroad stand ready to help Australian exporters, and the Government is continually sponsoring such promotional features as trade missions, exhibitions and programmes for hard-hitting trade publicity.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether his attention has been directed to a recent statement in the press reporting that employees of a major overseas airline maintained that immigrants coming by charter flights at the rate of 60 or 70 each week were sub-standard educationally and hygienically and were “the dregs of humanity”? Particular reference was made to one recent flight on which the aeroplane on arrival was said to be “ indescribably filthy “. This flight had been sponsored by the InterGovernmental Committee on European Migration. The article further stated that the Minister for Immigration proposed to have inquiries made into these statements. In view of the fact that Australia is a member of the Inter-Governmental Committee on European Migration, and more particularly as the maintenance of the standard of immigrants is of immense importance to Australia, will the Minister arrange for the Minister for Immigration to present a statement to the Senate following the conclusion of his inquiries?
– I saw that report and I know from personal contacts that the Minister for Immigration has done a first-class job in his portfolio. I shall be only too pleased to have inquiries made as to the points raised by the honorable senator and to report to the Senate as soon as possible.
– On the 11th May Senator Robertson asked a question in connexion with dried fruits and the Philippines. I have now received from the Department of Commerce and Agriculture a report which, reads -
I refer to the question addressed to you in the Senate by Senator Robertson on the 11th May regarding the possibility of marketing dried fruit in the Philippines and your undertaking to ascertain the prospects in that territory and elsewhere. [ am attaching hereto a copy of a market survey recently compiled by the department from reports submitted by trade commissioners in all overseas countries (other than the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand) which import dried fruits.
survey of the Philippines market appears on page Ofl of the report. This survey indicates that the Philippines is a very small consumer of dried fruit, to the extent of about 800 tons a year, and that there is no possibility of Australian fruit competing with the United States product there under present conditions.
There is a very comprehensive report on the dried vine fruits industry, and I shall be pleased to lend a copy to any senator who may require it from time to time.
– I wish to ask a question without notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs. Has the Minister any knowledge of the blackmarketing operations associated with import quotas as reported publicly on the 22nd of this month? If the Minister is without knowledge of the subject, will he have inquiries made to ascertain whether the report is correct ?
– I am amazed to hear that question coming from a Queenslander. I made a very powerful statement on this precise matter, and the statement was published in the CourierMail. That is a very important Brisbane paper. The article was headed, “ Customs Eye on Import Dodges “. The honorable senator should read that statement ; it is very enlightening.
In regard to import licences I can tell the honorable senator that if A gets an import licence the goods in respect of that licence must be cleared in the name of A. B cannot take them. Licences are not transferable. It is possible for B to impersonate A, but it is most unlikely. There is a quite legitimate type of work which is carried on in regard to importing by persons known as indent agents. They import goods in their own names, and they sell those goods, which have been indented . and cleared in their names, to merchants. It is not for us to interfere with that; it is a quite legitimate type-of business.
– Is it on the same level as the racket in import licences which was carried on in Sydney last year ?
– No. What “ the honorable senator refers to were cases of fraud. The persons concerned were prosecuted and some were sent to gaol - so crime does not pay. I have asked people who complained about this socalled trafficking in licences to give me details of it. The department is most anxious to find out about it, but I do not believe that there is trafficking in licences to any great extent. If a licence happens to be in the name of Senator Benn, then Senator Benn must clear the goods. It is of no use transferring them to Senator O’sullivan or somebody else. Certain people conduct, quite legitimately, indent businesses. Those people may have licences, and they may go to a merchant and say, “ I have £x worth of licences. I am not conducting a business of my own as a merchant or trader. “What do .you want me to buy for you ? “ The retailer may say, “ I want that, and that, and that”. The person with the licence will indent those goods in his own name. Having cleared them through the Customs, he then sells them to the merchant at a certain price, plus a commission. There is nothing wrong with that.
– Yon tell the merchants that.
– I Lave told them that, and I suggest that the honorable senator should read my statement on the subject.
– I direct a question, without notice, to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask the Minister whether it has come to his knowledge that yesterday, arising from a sense of injustice felt by the seamen and waterside workers in the port of Hobart, a threat has been made to dislocate the shipping industry in that port. Of course, the dislocation of shipping in that port is of great importance to several of our exporting industries. Will the Minister take immediate steps to contact the Tasmanian Government so that such a sense of justice may be restored to the unions concerned that a complete port stoppage will be prevented?
– I have noted the report that appeared in the press, and the officers of the Department of Shipping and Transport are carefully watching the position.’ I am indebted to Senator Wright for the suggestion that contact might be made in order to ensure that justice will be done and the threatened strikes averted.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the honorable senator aware that an extreme shortage of trained nursing staff and hospital personnel exists throughout Australia, and that the hospital authorities, particularly in rural and other remote areas find difficulty in adequately staffing the hospitals under their ‘ control ? Does the Minister agree that as a result of the shortages that I have mentioned, there is a heavier demand for existing hospital facilities, and that many persons are being deprived of hospital accommodation and treatment which should be available to them under the National Health Act 1953? As a result of this regrettable position, many people have to accept, as an alternative to hospital treatment, home treatment under the direction of qualified doctors, with the assistance of district nurses who are made available by the Silver Chain District and Bush Nursing Association (Incorporated), thereby relieving the National Welfare Fund of the considerable costs which would be charged against that fund if hospital services were available wherever needed. As the type of medical and health service that I have just mentioned is providing an essential service for thousands of taxpayers and citizens who live in areas in which normal, adequate hospital facilities do not exist, and as there is no provision in -the National Health Act to permit the allowance of benefits in regard to this type of treatment, will the Minister take action to have the National Health Act 1953 amended in order to allow the cost of these services to be borne, at least in part, by the Commonwealth health authorities ?
– I am aware that at the present time, and for some years past, there has been a shortage of nursing staff throughout Australia. Because of the increase of our own population, and because of the number of persons immigrating to this country, more people than ever before are requiring hospital accommodation. It is hoped that the shortage of hospital accommodation will be overcome in the near future. I shall bring the latter part of the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health, and ask him to furnish me with a considered reply. I shall then convey that reply to the honorable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that there is a time lag of up to four days in the transmission of parcels by air between the eastern States of Australia and Perth? Will he ascertain whether there is any reason for this delay other than the heavy and increasing volume of freight? If the time lag cannot be avoided, will the Minister take steps to ensure that the general public is made fully aware of the time lag, as “the delay is a matter of concern and embarrassment to consignees who are under the impression that the service is a daily one?
– I shall be pleased to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister for Civil Aviation, and obtain a reply for the honorable senator.
– On the 10th May, 1955, Senator Courtice asked the following question: -
I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whetherhe will request the Minister for Health to give early consideration to the placing of the drug, serpasil, on the free drug list? This is an expensive drug and is being generally prescribed by medical practitioners, particularly for blood pressure cases. The cost, in many instances, involves people in great hardship.
I have received the following reply to the honorable senator’s question from the Minister for Health : -
The question of whether serpasil should be included in the list of benefits under the National Health Act was recently submitted by the Commonwealth Department of Health to the Pharmaceutical Advisory Committee established under the National Health Act. This committee, whose recommendation is necessary before any drug can be added to the list, was not prepared to recommend its inclusion.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport in a position to state when the new vessel Noongah, will arrive in Tasmania, and can he say whether it is the intention of the department to keep the vessel in the.Tasmanian service ?
– The two 1,650- tons dead-weight vessels, Nilpena and Noongah, were ordered especially for the Tasmanian trade. According to the latest reports, Noongah is expected in a fortnight, and we hope to keep the vessel engaged regularly on the run between Tasmania and the mainland. Honorable senators from Tasmania will appreciate that the arrival of Noongah will enable us to release a smaller ship, Enfield, which will be regularly employed in the trade between Ulverstone and Sydney, particularly during the season when potatoes from Tasmania are so much in demand.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that while thousands of Sydney families are awaiting emergency shelter, the housebuilding programme has been practically at a standstill for months because of lack of finance? Is he aware that there are 3,000 applicants for emergency housing, and 30,000 people awaiting Housing Commission homes? Can the Minister say whether the Treasurer has been informed that lack of finance is also preventing those who wish to purchase homes already built? Will the Government consider allocating a more liberal allowance for home building to the State of New South Wales, as the £12,000,000 allocated for 1954-55 was expended by the end of February last?
– I can assure the honorable senator that it is not a fact that housing is at a standstill in New South Wales. I believe it to be true, although I am not certain of the statement, that the80,000 houses completed in Australia this year, is nearly an alltime record for house construction in Australia. The main trouble in New South Wales is the incompetence of the New South Wales Government. That Government knows the amount of money that it will receive for housing each year. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent the New South Wales Government from adding to that amount from its own resources, if it so desires. As the New South Wales Government has a substantial accumulation of unspent funds, it could devote some of the money to housing if it wanted to do so. I repeat that the main trouble in New South Wales is the incompetence of the State Government. Last year, for instance, knowing that it had £12,000,000 to expend on housing, it foolishly embarked on a programme which contemplated the spending of £19,000,000. The result was that it was unable to finish its programme last year, and had to cut down its programme this year. That is what we get with these housing commission arrangements. The sooner we divert money away from housing commissions to co-operative building societies, the closer we shall get to a more efficient homebuilding programme in Australia.
– The reply of the Minister to Senator Paltridge so alarms me that I should like further information. If I understood his answer correctly, it was that eight British contractors had submitted tenders of the same amount in respect of one project. I now ask the Minister whether he is convinced that a ring exists in regard to tenders by British contractors. If so, can he say whether any inquiry was made through trade commissioner channels to establish whether or not that was so? I also ask him whether he has any knowledge of surcharges made by American contractors, in respect of Australian contracts, by reason of the unpredictable circumstances in which Australian contracts have to be performed, particularly in respect of shipping conditions.
– I believe that the statement I made earlier is correct, namely, that a number of British electrical firms tendered exactly the same price. As events turned out, it was a matter of only theoretical interest, because another tender was accepted. All we can do is to wait and see what happens should, on some future occasion, these tenderers, whom I shall refer to as group tenderers, submit the lowest tender. I remind the honorable senator that only recently the Prime Minister of New Zealand made some criticism in relation to similar happenings in that country. I am sorry that I have no knowledge of the matter referred to by the honorable senator respecting contracts with tenderers in the United States of America. As to the rest of his question, I do not think there is any point in making inquiries through our trade commissioners. These are commercial contracts. In my experience, the Snowy Mountains Authority is well equipped to look after itself, and to fight any fight that has to be fought to keep costs down to the lowest level possible.
– On the 5th May, Senator Aylett asked a question concern ing the relaxation of heating regulations of postal staff rooms in southern States. I have now received the. following reply from the Postmaster-General: -
It is the practice for my department to regard the beginning of winter as the first day of May each year, and arrangements are made well in advance to test central heating units in order that no delay will be encountered in providing adequate heating. However, should a cold spell be experienced prior to that date, the units are brought into operation immediately. It is mentioned that central heating units in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania were brought into operation (luring the last week in April of this year. As far as other postal buildings where central heating units are not provided are concerned, local arrangements are made for heating to be provided as required.
I assure the honorable senator that heating of postal buildings is provided with due regard to the climatic conditions obtaining in each State.
– In view of the dock strike now existing in the United Kingdom, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture watch the position from day to day so that perishable cargoes over which the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has some control, and which are destined for the United Kingdom, may be diverted to continental or other ports, and thus avert loss which this unfortunate strike might otherwise cause?
– I ‘appreciate the importance of the question raised by Senator Laught. According to reports that I have read from the representatives of the various boards in London, during the last dock strike there, many cargoes were diverted to continental ports, where a ready market was found for them. The problem of shortages in most Australian exports has now been overcome, and the problem is really one of surpluses, which makes the position more difficult. Honorable senators may rest assured that representatives of the various boards on the spot will be wide awake to see that no opportunity is missed to dispose of perish- able cargoes.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– I now furnish the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply :-
It is not considered necessary to introduce regulations along the lines suggested by the senator. When the Government’s medical benefits scheme was introduced just under two years ago, most organizations participating in the scheme for actuarial reasons had rules which excluded benefits in certain circumstances. Organizations now adopt sympathetic policy in the application of these rules. In the case of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia, the particular rule had not been enforced during the first nine months of the current financial year. As organizations are following a policy in keeping with the spirit of the senator’s proposal, such regulations arc unnecessary.
asked the Minister representing .the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
In regard to question 1, the Director of Recruiting has advised me that since the recruiting campaign was launched by the Government in October, 1950, and up to April, 1955, a total of 43,735 enlistments in the Permanent Forces has been made. The total annual requirement of the services in 1953-54 was of the order of 5,200, and during that period approximately 5,000 personnel were recruited. The services’ personnel requirements for the current financial year for the. Regular Forces are, in round figures - Navy, 1,800; Army, 4,220; Air Force, 2,080; total, 8,700. From July, 1954, to mid-April, 1955, entries into the three services have approximated - Navy, 770; Army, 1,610; Air Force, 1,370; total 3,750. The present deficiency for the Regular Forces is thus 4,950. The increasing national shortage of man-power in all branches of commerce, industry and government activities has added to the difficulties of the recruiting organization in providing for current services requirements, especially in the skilled trades and professional categories. Recruiting for the Forces is being vigorously pursued and additional financial provision has been made for advertising to further the effort to achieve the services planned strengths for 1954-55.
The overall position is shown by the following table: -
;. - I lay on the table the following paper : -
Commonwealth Electoral Act - Report, with Map, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose’ of redistributing into Electoral Divisions the State of Queensland - and move -
That the’ paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
REPORT of PUBLIC Accounts Committee.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee : -
Twentieth Report - Supplementary Estimates and variations under section 37 of the
Audit Act 1901-1954. Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue Fund for the year 1953-54- and ask for leave to make a short statement in relation to it.
– I thank the Senate for granting me leave to refer to this report. In making this statement I am merely carrying out the wishes of the committee to direct the attention of honorable senators particularly to one feature of the report which has been dealt with in a manner different from that of previous occasions. The committee examines the Supplementary Estimates brought down each year to ensure, first of all, that departmental estimating is kept as accurately as possible, and also that the Parliament will have a clear picture of the financial position of the country at any time. Usually, it distorts the picture if departments have underestimated their proposed expenditure and have to apply, by means of Supplementary Estimates, for approval of expenditure which has been already made. Distortion can take place in a different way if departments overestimate their expenditure and,, as a result, have a surplus in their votes at the end of the year. We have considered the question of overestimating, so that there is a balance of funds which remains unexpended in accounts at the end of the year. The committee particularly asked me to direct the attention of honorable senators to that aspect of the report.
The following bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment : -
Commonwealth and State Bousing Agreement Bill 1955.
Crimes Bill 1955.
Public Service Arbitration Bill 1955. Wine Research. Bill 1955.
Bill returned from House, of Representatives with amendments’.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Clause 135- (1.) Subject to section 138 of this act, a person shall not, for gain -
apply for or obtain the registration of a trade mark ; unless he is -
a legal practitioner;
House of Representatives Amendment
– After paragraph (h) of sub-clause (1.), insert - “ ; or
within one year after the commencement of this Act, has satisfied the Registrar that, for a continuous period of two years immediately before the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and fifty -five, he was employed by a registered patent attorney in Australia and his duties related solely or principally to the lodging, prosecuting and opposing of applications for the registration of trade marks; and
unless the Registrar otherwise directs, has, within one year after the commencement of this Act or within such further time as the Registrar allows, passed the prescribed examination.”.
House of Representatives Amendment No.
House of Representatives Amendment No. 3. - Clause 137, lines 28 and 29, omit “who has so satisfied the Registrar “, insert “ referred to in paragraph (h) or (i) of sub-section (1.) of section one hundred and thirty-five of this Act”.
– The purpose of amendment No. 1 is to give effect to an expanding, not a restrictive, idea. Clause 135 specifies the persons who will, in future, have authority to act in trade marks matters. The present law does not prescribe any qualifications. However, trade marks work has become specialized and, with changes made in the law from time to time, this work now requires a skilled knowledge of much the same order as that required for patents work. The list of eligible persons was fixed in clause 135 to avoid working hardship in the case of persons who have, under the existing law, carried on business on their own account as trade marks agents for a reasonable period. Paragraph (h) of sub-clause (1.) was designed to meet these cases. However, after the bill had been passed by the Senate, representations were received that there were some persons with an extensive knowledge of trade marks practice and procedure who had not yet engaged in business on their own account but who might wish to do so at some future time. These persons were employed by patent attorneys and, although having a wide experience, would be precluded from entering into business on their own account if clause 135 remained unaltered.
The representations have merit, and it has been decided, therefore, to add a new class of eligible persons to those already listed in clause 135. The new class embraces persons who, for a continuous period of two years immediately before the 1st January, 1955, have been employed by a registered patent attorney on work which is related solely or principally to trade marks matters. A person will have one year from the commencement of the legislation to satisfy the Registrar that he comes within this description. The conditions attaching to the new class are, to this extent, the same as those specified in paragraph (h) in relation to persons carrying on business on their own account as trade marks agents. However, in the case of the employees referred to in the amendment it may not, in all cases, be clear that the employee has had a sufficiently general experience. Provision is made, therefore, for the employee to establish, through the medium of an examination, that he is suitably equipped. However, the Registrar will have power to direct that this requirement be dispensed with, and it is only in a doubtful case that it is likely to be used.
The second and third amendments are consequential upon the first proposed amendment. I commend the amendments to the Senate and move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
– I have had ari opportunity of considering the proposed amendments, and I have found that they are in accord with the explanation that has been given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan). As the Minister has said, the proposal is one to make the measure more liberal. The Opposition has no objection to that proposal. In connexion with the conduct of an examination, I notice that the registrar may extend beyond one year the ‘ period in which a man has to qualify by examination, if he fails to do so within the provisions of the clause dealt with by the amendment. I notice also that the registrar may dispense with such an. examination if hi sees fit. The Opposition has no objection to the principal amendment or to the consequential amendments that the Minister has mentioned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time
– I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
This bill, as its title conveys, is concerned with the question of appeals from courtsmartial. Its purpose is to make new and better provision for the just enforcement of discipline in the armed services. It proposes to achieve this purpose by the establishment of a new body, the Courtsmartial Appeal Tribunal, to which a person convicted by court-martial will be able, with the leave of the tribunal, to appeal against his conviction. Appeals coming before the tribunal will be heard orally and, save in exceptional circumstances, in public.
A court-martial, as is well known, is an important part of the apparatus of military discipline. I use the term “military” in the broad sense, since the bill is concerned with appeals from Navy and Air Force, as well as Army, courtsmartial. A court-martial hears charges and imposes penalties for offences against military discipline. Its findings and sentences are subject to review under the existing law, but there is not at present any procedure for an appeal in the sense in which civilian law provides for an appeal to a superior court.
What happens in the military system at present is this. In the first place, the court-martial makes a finding, and, where the finding is one of guilty, imposes a sentence. Except under the system in force in the Navy, the finding and sentence become valid and effective only when they have been confirmed by one of the authorities empowered under the appropriate service legislation to confirm findings of courts-martial. Confirmation of a conviction, however, does not necessarily conclude the matter. In all cases, the Judge Advocate-General undertakes a review of the proceedings with a view to detecting any illegality or miscarriage of justice. If it appears that the finding, although confirmed, was illegal or involved injustice to the accused, the conviction will be quashed. Finally, it is open to the convicted person himself to submit a petition seeking the quashing of the conviction. He may do this either before or after the finding and sentence have been confirmed.
The various stops I have described ensure, to a very large degree, that injustice will not occur, but a person convicted by court-martial is nevertheless at some disadvantage compared with a person who has been convicted of an offence by a civilian court. The ideal which this bill seeks to achieve for members of the services is neatly expressed in the wellknown maxim - “ Justice must not only be done ; justice must be seen to be done “. The real defect of the present system has been particularly well stated by the Lord Chancellor in the United Kingdom. Speaking before the enactment of the Courts-Martial Appeals Act 1951, the Lord Chancellor pointed out that the military system differed from the ordinary civil system in that, although there was always a review - and a review conducted by competent and careful people - yet it was not a review of the type which brought the convicted person into touch with his judges. There was not “ the open airing in court “ ; nor was there what had once been happily described as the “ bound and rebound of argument “ between the judge and counsel. The review took place behind the man’s back. However right the decision might be, said the Lord Chancellor, if the convicted man had not the right to come and argue his case, he was likely not to be satisfied, whereas he might easily be satisfied if he were given the chance to come and talk about it.
The defect of the present system was removed in the United Kingdom by the Courts-Martial Appeals Act 1951, which was passed after committees presided over by Mr. Justice Lewis and Mr. Justice Pilcher had conducted very thorough investigations into the workings of the disciplinary systems of all three services. In Australia, the question of providing for an appeal from courts-martial has been examined by an inter-departmental committee under the chairmanship of the Solicitor-General and including representatives of the Department of Defence and the service departments. The committee recommended legislation broadly on the lines of the United Kingdom act, and this bill gives effect to the recommendation. We know that the United Kingdom act has operated satisfactorily since it came into force in 1952 and, in view of the close parallel between the disciplinary systems of the two countries, it was decided to take the British legislation as our model except in one basic respect. As to that, constitutional considerations made a departure essential.
The appeal body in the United Kingdom is a superior court of record. It is a civilian court, and it is constituted, in practice, primarily by the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeal. Provision is made for the court to sit in more than one division and for other judges to be appointed ad hoc, as might become necessary in time of war. Creation of a civilian court did not present the British authorities with a constitutional problem, but in Australia, the Constitution requires that judges exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth must be appointed for life. Clearly, it would not be appropriate to make life appointments to a body the volume of whose work would probably fluctuate considerably according to whether there was a state of war or a state of peace. Under active service conditions a fairly large complement of members might be required, whereas in normal conditions a relatively few members would suffice.
The bill proposes, therefore, the establishment of a tribunal which is to form part of the same disciplinary system as courts-martial. The constitutional validity of courts-martial has been twice upheld by the High- Court and, in the opinion of the Government’s legal advisers, a further step in the military disciplinary system can lawfully be created. While we cannot, for the constitutional and practical reasons to which I have referred, set up a court in the strict sense of the word, as has been done in the United Kingdom, it is not envisaged that our new appeals system will on that account be any less satisfactory or beneficial. The bill provides for the tribunal to be constituted by experienced lawyers drawn from the ranks of present and former justices and judges of federal courts and the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories, barristers and solicitors of not less than five years’ standing and other person? who have had legal experience making them specially suitable for appointment. The president, as well as the deputy president of the tribunal, must be a present or former justice or judge or a Queen’s counsel. When these high qualifications for office are considered in conjunction with the express provision which clause 18 makes for an oral and public hearing, it is not, I suggest, unreasonable to predict that the tribunal will command in the military sphere a status equivalent to that of a Supreme Court of a State or Territory exercising appellate jurisdiction in criminal matters.
I have referred to the new appeals procedure as being a further step in the military system and honorable senators will have gathered, therefore, that the new procedure is superimposed on, and does not replace, the remedies already available. The confirming and reviewing procedure will continue to function and, similarly, a member of the forces will, up to the moment when he has recourse to the tribunal, be able, just as he is now, to lodge a petition seeking the quashing of his conviction. The existing system has worked well within its limits and its retention will ensure that only matters of real difficulty will come before the tribunal. Clause 20 contains provisions which are designed to assist in this regard. The effect of these provisions is that, except in the case of a conviction involving sentence of death -which, it is thought, should be allowed to come before the tribunal as quickly as possible - the convicted person must first lodge with the appropriate authority a petition seeking the quashing of the conviction. The object is to ensure that the convicted person will first exhaust the kinds of remedy available to him under the existing system. This is a reasonable requirement since the petition may well be granted. If the petition is not granted or is not dealt with in a reasonable period the convicted person will be entitled to apply to the tribunal for leave to appeal against his conviction.
On the hearing of an appeal the tribunal may, under clause 23, allow the appeal if it considers that’ the finding of the court-martial is unreasonable, or cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence, or if it considers that the decision involves a wrong decision of a question of law, or that on any ground there was a miscarriage of justice. This will serve to indicate the wide nature of the appeal which the bill provides. However, it is not proposed that there should be an appeal against sentence, which will remain a matter for the service authorities. Cases may arise in which it is desirable that the opinion of the High Court should be obtained on difficult and important questions of law. Provision is, therefore, made for a case to be stated to the High Court on a question of law. Either the appellant or the appropriate service authority may request- that a case bo stated. The case will be referred to the High Court if the Attorney-General certi- fies that the question of law is of exceptional public importance and that it is desirable in the public interest that the question should be so referred.
Since the tribunal will be well equipped to make an authoritative determination, we think that it is not unreasonable to provide, as does the British legislation, that a person who has recourse to the new appeal body should not thereafter be able to petition for the quashing of his conviction. As in the civilian sphere, quashing becomes a matter for the appellate tribunal. However, clause 58 expressly preserves the prerogative of mercy, so that a convicted member of the Forces will still be entitled, as is a civilian, to petition for the grant of a pardon or the exercise of clemency in other respects. The bill contains quite a number of ancillary provisions, some of them made necessary by reason of the fact that the tribunal is not, as is the court created in England, a superior civilian court. I think I have outlined the main features and scheme of the bill, but I shall be glad to explain in committee any of the clauses which honorable senators may wish to bring up for discussion. The introduction of the new appeals system will mark an important step forward in regard to the administration of military justice in Australia. The bill will provide facilities which, in substance, are just as advantageous as those which are available to civilians. It is important that this should be so, particularly in these days, when the majority of young. men enter one of the services at some time or other. I have, therefore, much pleasure in commending the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay)read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act 1948-1952 in certain directions. These amendments, which are largely of a machinery nature, have been made necessary mainly by the fact that, because of the Poulton case situation, it will not be possible to make a final distribution of profits under the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act by the 30th June, 1955, as was originally envisaged by Parliament. A brief outline of the history of what are referred to generally as Joint Organization wool profits would probably assist consideration of the present bill. Honorable senators will be aware of the war-time arrangement by which the Australian Government acquired and sold to the United Kingdom all wool produced in Australia, except such quantities as were required for local use. The period of this arrangement was to be the duration of the war and one full year thereafter. Under the arrangement, which was terminated by mutual consent of the two governments on the 31st July, 1945, any profits arising from the sale by the United Kingdom Government of Australianproduced wool to third countries were to be shared equally between the two governments. This war-time arrangement was followed by the wool disposals plan, to which the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were parties. An authority known as the Joint Organization was established to implement the plan and the Australian Wool Realization Commission was created as its Australian subsidiary. The policy of the joint organization was to conduct disposals in an orderly manner so as not to depress the market. In all, that body sold over 15,000,000 bales of wool of which nearly 10,000,000 bales were Australian. This disposal was completed at the end of 1951.
The United Kingdom retained half of the profits from sales of wool during the disposal period, and paid the other half to the governments of the countries which had supplied the wool. Australia’s share of the Joint Organization profits amounted in all to £90,200,000. These moneys, plus a profit of £900,000 arising from the war-time acquisition and disposal of Australian sheepskins, were invested as opportunity offered. Interest earned on these investments has resulted in the total moneys available for distribution being increased to £93,000,000. When it became clear that a profit, and not a loss, would result from the disposal plan, Parliament passed the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act in 194S, and a first interim distribution was made in 1949. Subsequent interim distributions were made in 1952, 1953 and 1954, and the latest of such distributions took place at the end of April last.
At this stage I should refer to what is known as the Poulton case. This litigation has forced the Government to review its earlier plans to complete the distribution of Joint Organization profits by the end of June next. The Poulton case, as honorable senators probably know, is the litigation under which wool dealers are claiming a share of the profits which the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act has authorized to those growers whose wool was submitted for appraisement through dealers. Rulings on this case have been given by a single High Court judge and by the full High Court. Both of these judgments have been unfavorable to the dealers. It is my understanding, however, that Poulton has indicated that he proposes to make application at an early date to the High Court for leave to appeal to the Privy Council.
The effects of the Poulton case issue have been twofold. First, the Government has had to delay payment of some £2,900,000 of Joint Organization profits to growers who submitted their wool for appraisement through dealers. The second result of the litigation has been that, according to the Government’s legal advisers, it would not be possible to make a final distribution in accordance with the provisions of the act before the 30th June, 1955. The reason is that the existing act requires that the “ expenses and charges “ of the Australian Wool Realization Commission in administering ih-i act have to be known precisely before a final distribution is declared. These expenses and charges, however, cannot be ascertained until the Poulton litigation is settled.
Although an interim distribution in name, the distribution which took place at the end of April last i.s, in effect, the final distribution in respect of wool submitted for appraisement through brokers as distinct from dealers, because all available moneys due to be paid out by the Commonwealth in this connexion have, with the exception of a very small sum, now been disbursed. Growers who participated in the April, 1955, distribution are aware that, as far as they are concerned, it is the final distribution. 1 have outlined the general background to this bill in the foregoing comments. I now pass to its main provisions. The bill states that the distribution gazetted on the 17th March, 1955, is to be regarded as the final distribution for the main purposes of the principal act. The bill also removes the legal obligation to pay out sums which are too small to warrant distribution. These sums, amounting to approximately £14,050, were the moneys received from the Joint Organization after the announcement of the special distribution which took place in June, 1953, and were restricted to those growers who had left the industry prior to the 1st September, 1949. For all practical purposes ex-growers were paid their full entitlement at that distribution.
The principal act envisaged that moneys received after the special distribution would be paid out at the time of the final distribution. Had this _ taken place, the. persons who shared in ^ the special distribution would have received only £780 of the £14,050 and other growers the remaining £13,270. However, because the principal act required that the “ expenses and charges of the commission in administering the act” should be known at the time of the final distribution, and because it has not been possible to ascertain them as the Poulton litigation is still unsettled, the April, 1955, distribution had to be an interim distribution. The bill provides that the above-mentioned sum of £14,050, and any other amounts left in the Wool Disposals Profit Fund when all distributions have been made, shall be paid into the Wool Industry Fund. The latter fund was set up in 1946 from moneys accumulated by the war-time Central Wool Committee from its activities in non-participating wool, wooltops and sheepskins under the war-time acquisition scheme. The fund is used for various purposes related to the wool industry, but mainly for wool research activities from which the benefits to the wool-growing industry are very real.
I do not expect that any amounts of consequence, apart from the unclaimed moneys, will be left for payment into the Wool Industry Fund. I say this because, in declaring the amount available for the fifth and final distribution, care was taken to ensure that the amount retained for the working expenses of the commission had been kept to a minimum, in order that growers should receive the maximum amount of profit. Only about £60,000 has in fact been retained for administrative and winding-up expenses up to the 30th June, 1956.
Each interim distribution that has been declared has included an amount of dealer wool profits. These profits have been paid to the commission along with the other moneys to which the distribution has related. As it has not been possible to distribute the dealer wool moneys, they have been held by the commission. Most of these dealer wool moneys have been placed on fixed deposit, and £80,000 in interest has been earned in this way. The principal act requires that any interest earned on moneys invested by the commission shall be paid to the Wool Disposals Profit Fund. The present bill contains the provision that, as and when the dealer wool profits are paid out, each person benefiting will receive, in addition to the principal, his just share of the £80,000 interest.
The bil] will enable the commission to deduct from the dealer wool moneys the legal expenses incurred by the commission in contesting the Poulton case, an appropriate share of the commission’s working expenses up to the 30th June, 1956, and half of the indemnity fund.
These deductions are not expected to amount to more than £15,000 in all, thus leaving about £2,900,000 of dealer wool moneys to be distributed to people who submitted wool for appraisement through dealers.
The bill also provides for the vesting in the Australian Wool Realization Commission of discretion to determine, with appropriate safeguards, the just share of individual growers in the £2,900,000. This discretion is expected to be necessary because of the inadequacy of the records relating to much of the wool that was submitted for appraisement by dealers, and the consequent difficulty of ascertaining the “ appraised value “ of the wool concerned, which is actually the basis of payment.
The remaining provisions of the bill are of a technical character, being designed mainly to remedy minor deficiencies in the existing act. As the proposed amendments are not of a policy character I do not intend to refer to them at this stage.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to repeal the legislation relating to the hide and leather control scheme that operated for a number of years under Commonwealth defence powers and later under complementary Commonwealth and State legislation. Honorable senators will recall that in October of last year a bill was introduced - the Hide and Leather Industries Act Suspension Bill - the purpose of which was to suspend the operative provisions of the principal act, the Hide and Leather Industries Act 1948, as from the 16th August, 1954.
The reason for not repealing the act in its entirety at that time, was to leave the Australian Hide and Leather Industries Board in existence to conduct its winding up activities in an orderly manner. The board’s affairs have now been finalized, and no further reason exists for maintaining the board or the legislation. The board’s current assets, after the winding up operations, amount to approximately £5,000. The bill provides that the Commonwealth will accept liability for any further proved claims against the board up to this amount, but I am assured it is most unlikely there will be any such claims.
It would be quite impracticable to return such a small amount to the people from whom the board acquired hides over the years, and it is the Government’s intention that any residual funds should be used for research or other activities designed to improve hide production in Australia and to benefit the cattle industry. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to widen the activities of the rehabilitation service provided by the Commonwealth for physically handicapped persons. The word “ rehabilitation “, in its application to this legislation, may be defined as the restoration of the physically handicapped, through treatment and vocational training, to the fullest physical, mental and. economic usefulness of which they are capable. It seeks to develop the latent ability and special aptitude of the handicapped individual, to restore his confidence in his ability to return to work, and so enable him to live a life independent of financial assistance from the community.
The first step leading to the introduction of the rehabilitation scheme was taken in July,. 1941, when the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Social Security was established by the Menzies Government under the. then Minister for Social Services.. The first interim report, issued in September, 1941, emphasized the need for physical rehabilitation and vocational training of invalid pensioners. In. the same year the Department of Social Services commenced the training of selected invalid pensioners at the Commonwealth’s expense. After the war, the Department of Social Services was givenresponsibility for the rehabilitation of physically handicapped ex-servicemen ineligible- for repatriation benefits. The success of the scheme led to the introduction of legislation, in 1948, to provide for the civilian rehabilitation service for invalid pensioners and recipients of sick.ness benefits.
This bill makes a big step forward in the provision of a complete service of rehabilitation in co-operation with State authorities and private organizations. Rehabilitation in Australia has now progressed beyond the purely experimental and the conjectural. Its social and economic worth is recognized by all sections of the community. To the .end of March, this year, more than 7,000 invalid pensioners and recipients of sickness benefits have been restored to the work force of this country. These were people who had been granted an invalid pension, or were found to be drifting towards permanent incapacity of a pensionable degree. As a result of the employment of 2,700 invalid pensioners, a saving of more than £500,000 a year in the payment of invalid pensions and dependants’ allowances is now being made. By reducing the recovery time of those on long-term sickness benefit, a further yearly saving of £50,000 can be added. These aggregate savings more than offset the annual running costs of the scheme, which this year will be in the vicinity of £460,000.
As the scheme progresses, the annual savings in pension payments will increase progressively, and make an even more favorable comparison with current running costs. If we take into consideration the contribution to the national income by the rehabilitated worker we can add well over £1,250,000 per annum to the credit side of the account. However, it is the social effect of the rehabilitation service- on the individual and his family,, rather than its economic worth, which, appeals so strongly to the Government and to all right-minded citizens. Possibly the greatest advertisement for this scheme, and the most cogent reason why such strong representations have been made from so many organizations in Australia to broaden the scope of the service, are the thousands of men and women happily restored to gainful occupation and a normal life-
It is with pleasure, therefore, that the Government has decided to extend the scope of the service for the physically handicapped. The most important amendment relates to young persons between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years. These young people are not eligible under the Social Services Act for an invalid pension. For this reason, they have been excluded in the past from consideration for treatment or training. Under this bill, services such as. medical and ancillary treatment, artificial appliances and vocational assessment and training, will be available to these young people. This earlier treatment will increase the prospects of ultimate cure.
Voluntary bodies such as the crippled children’s societies, spastic centres, hospitals and others, have done magnificent work for many years. There- is no intention on the part of the Commonwealth to intrude into their field. Rather is it proposed to complement, their activities, and work in close co-operation with them to ensure that young people have available the best facilities which voluntary bodies and the Commonwealth and State governments can offer..
Co-operation with voluntary organizations and education departments is vital. The keynote of this development, as in all rehabilitation, work, must be teamwork at all levels.
Mr. President, it is many years since the Government has received representations from such diverse sources as it has received for the extension of the service to younger persons in the community. Employers, unions, doctors, social workers and political organizations, all have made representations to the Government. Another clause in this bill will allow the Director-General of Social Services, to arrange for the admittance to rehabilitation centres o£ persons not eligible for free treatment, who are able to pay the cost of treatment or for whom relatives, friends, insurance companies and the like are prepared to pay.
As most honorable senators know, treatment has, up to the present, been confined mainly to invalid pensioners and persons receiving sickness benefits. Numerous, private cases have been referred to the department where the person’s medical adviser has recommended treatment in a. rehabilitation centre.. Because they were excluded by their means from receiving an invalid pension or a sickness benefit, they could not be accepted for rehabilitation under- the existing act. Under this bill, treatment will now be permitted in rehabilitation centres on payment of an approved fee.
It is also proposed to include recipients of tuberculosis allowances in the- classes of persons eligible for rehabilitation. In most cases, men and women in receipt of tuberculosis allowances would otherwise qualify for invalid pension, and as such would be eligible for treatment or training under the scheme. There have- been isolated instances where the means test applying to the grant of an invalid pension is more restrictive than that for the tuberculosis allowance. Where this occurs, a deserving case, for whom the Commonwealth, is already paying a special allowance, could be prevented from receiving the benefit of rehabilitation. In practice, recipients of tuberculosis allowances are accepted for rehabilitation primarily for vocational training or re-training. Early medical treatment and much of the after-care is done by the State Departments of Health as a part of the national campaign against tuberculosis.
This bill introduces an entirely new and important development in rehabilitation. It is the provision of a loan of up to £200 for disabled persons who, after treatment and/or training provided by the service, are unable to enter employment under normal industrial conditions, but could be satisfactorily established in self -employment at home, if finance for necessary plant, equipment, and other requirements is available. Employment in industry remains the firm objective of the scheme, but there are cases where complete mobility cannot be restored, and self-employment at home is the best solution of the employment problem. Not all persons will be suitable for such ventures, but where it is fully justified the Government thinks- that this final step should be taken. ‘
The bill also provides for an increase in certain allowances- paid when the vocational stage of rehabilitation has been reached. They are the training allowance, living-away-from-home allowances, and the allowance for books and other equipment required for training. The present training allowance will be increased from 25s.. to 30s. a week. During the earlier remedial stages of rehabilitation the man or woman receives the benefit - either a pension or a sickness benefit - to which he or she was previously entitled. This carries on until the vocational training stage of the rehabilitation process is reached. At this point, the invalid pension or sickness benefit is replaced by a rehabilitation allowance, based on the rate of invalid pension to which the trainee would be entitled, plus the special training allowance, which will now be 30s.. a week. The training allowance is a fixed additional allowance, designed primarily to provide an incentive to undertake, and continue in, vocational training.
The rates of living-away-from-home allowances, and the periods during which they may be paid, have also been substantially increased. In future, a single trainee will be paid a livingawayfromhome allowance at the rate of £1 15s-. a week for the first eight weeks of training.. Previously, tins’ was £1 5s. a week for the first four weeks of his training. For a married trainee with no dependent children, the allowance will be £3 a week for the first eight weeks, and £l 10s. a week during the remaining period of training. This compares with the earlier provision of £2 10s. a week for the first four weeks, and £1 5s. a week thereafter. For a married trainee with a dependent wife and one or more dependent children, the rate has been raised from £2 10s. a week to £3 a week for the full period of training. These increases will help to reduce the tendency on the part of men with family responsibilities to avoid undergoing training which may involve fairly long periods away from their normal place of living. These livingawayfromhome allowances are additional to the rehabilitation and training allowances I mentioned earlier.
As a measure of further assistance during vocational training, the limit of £30 on the value of books, equipment, appliances and tools required during training has been raised to £40. This is necessary, amongst other reasons, to enable certain of the equipment for more technical training to be procured.
Another item of some importance is a change of name for the service. It has been customary to refer to the rehabilitation services provided by the Commonwealth as the “ Community Rehabilitation Scheme”. These services are now fully recognized as an integral part of the social services structure of Australia. A change of title has been included in the bill. The service will now be known as the “ Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service “.
Mr. President, in introducing this bill, the Government stresses the importance, from all viewpoints, of assisting persons with physical handicaps to achieve useful and productive lives. Most of these people have latent ability which, if developed, can help them to replace much of what they have lost through affliction. It is the responsibility of the Government to lead the community in helping them to use the abilities they have. The Government can arrange necessary medical and ancillary treatments; it can provide facilities which will assist individuals to learn new ways of performing the tasks of daily living; it can provide artificial substitutes for missing limbs; it can teach new vocational skill. But is only by the continued co-operation of employers, trade unions, and the professions, that rehabilitation can be successfully completed through placement in satisfactory employment. The bill now before the senate is further proof of the Government’s interest in the social welfare of the people. I commend it to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 12th May (vide page 355), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the following paper be printed: -
Foreign Affairs and Defence - Statement made by the Right Honorable the Prime Minister, in the House of Representatives on the 20th April, 1055.
Upon which Senator Armstrong had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ this House rejects the Government’s proposals to despatch Australian armed forces to Malaya as set out in the paper read by thePrime Minister.”.
– When this matter was last before the Senate I was dealing particularly with the amendment which had been moved by Senator Armstrong, and which indicated that the Opposition disapproved of the Government’s decision to send certain detachments of our armed forces to Malaya. Honorable senators will remember that Senator Wordsworth, who is well qualified to speak on this subject, had pointed out that, apparently, the Opposition saw no harm in sending Air Force personnel to Malaya, or in allowing certain naval units to be engaged in activities in Malayan waters, but that its sole objection was to the sending of ground troops - Army personnel - to. Malaya. Honorable senators were reminded by Senator Henty that Malayan opinion was not altogether hostile to the intention of the Government to send such troops to Malaya. This afternoon I could have supported Senator Henty’s suggestion with the names of other persons who have expressed a similar opinion, but, unfortunately, some note3 which I prepared during the week-end are still somewhere between Adelaide and Canberra. My satchel did not follow mc to the capital city this morning. One of the opinions I could have quoted was that of a person who, with certain other members of this Parliament, attended the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference held at Nairobi last year. The delegate from Malaya himself indicated as his opinion, on behalf of those for whom he spoke, that his country was not hostile to any proposal of this kind. “When I last spoke on this matter, I expressed the belief that, to ensure peace in the South-East Asian area, there must be accomplished in that area what was achieved in the Western European sphere by the fifteen powers of Nato. That achievement, more than anything else, has given promise of a period of peace in Europe, and that, in turn, more than anything else, has given some prospect of real disarmament in that area. That achievement also, more than anything else, may prove to be responsible for a more conciliatory attitude on the part of leaders in the Kremlin. I sincerely believe that, if there is to be revealed to thu world a new approach by Russia towards world peace, and if anything is to come of the “ ray of hope “ which was recently referred to, it will be because of the strength which has steadily been built up - at some sacrifice - and which is being further consolidated. The Russians will realize that they must go quietly in that area.
I am confident that what has happened in Western Europe must be achieved in South-East Asia also, and that that must be done before time runs out. Any contribution that the people of Australia are called upon to make towards this end must not be shirked. Certainly, it will mean sacrifice and doing things which all of us hate. It will mean putting men into uniform and sending them abroad in time of peace - something that this country has never before been called upon to do. No senator on this side of the chamber likes to support a proposal such as this, and we are apt to be chided by some people - not inside this chamber but certainly by some outside it - that anybody who supports such action in peace-time is a war-monger. That is not true of any person who supports the proposal now before the Senate. Honorable senators on this side, and I think, on the other side also, have more than sufficient reason to hate war and everything associated with it. Some honorable senators have seen active service and others know, to their own sorrow, the cost in lives, suffering, and harm. None of us advocates war or wants it, but we firmly believe that the best way to avoid it in the South-East Asian area is the way in which events may prove that it has been avoided in the Western European sphere.
My support for the Prime Minister’s statement is based on my firm belief in the Government’s proposals. I said just now that it is more than probable that the possibility of an era of peace in Europe is due to the efforts of the Nato powers, and’ I wish to quote a statement recently made by John Poster Dulles in respect of the Austrian peace treaty which has just been signed, and the consequences to the Kremlin. He said -
The Soviets are accepting those consequences. Why they are doing it I am not sure, except we can be quite certain that the policies of strength and firmness that we have adopted in partnership with the other free countries of Europe are beginning to pay off, and the people in Austria are the first to say, and all of them did say to me: “This is a first dividend from the creation of western European unity and the bringing of Germany into Nato “.
Now at the time when that was under debate, the Soviet Union were threatening terrible things would happen if we went through with this, but we and the other free countries of Europe did go through with it, and we find that the pay-off is - not a terrible disaster, but for the first time an apparent softening of Soviet policy and a willingness to give greater freedom and liberty to the captive satellite peoples.
So I think we can say that those policies are actually beginning to pay off, the policy of strength and of firmness and the standards of moral principles.
If we earnestly desire peace in the world, including South-East Asia, Australia, along with its allies, New Zealand and the United States of America, and those other peoples who now stand with us in the Manila agreement, must put its house in order and be able to convince a would be aggressor that it would not be worth his while to menace our shores. I could say a great deal about this matter on which I feel keenly. It is my firm belief that the call which has been made to send our troops abroad is an obligation which Australia cannot shirk. As a signatory to certain treaties, Australia cannot avoid its obvious responsibilities. When a call is made it must be answered.
I wish to refer to some remarks by Senator Aylett in this chamber recently regarding his impressions of certain countries which he and I were fortunate enough to visit last year when we attended the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference at Nairobi. He and other honorable senators have had a great deal to say during this debate about what chey assert are the evils of British colonialism. Senator Aylett and I had the opportunity to visit Ceylon and to spend some days there. The Senate does not need to be reminded that Ceylon is one of the countries which have emerged recently from what is known as “ colonialism “. It has become, only recently, a fully fledged self-governing dominion, and the Ceylonese people, quite naturally, are rejoicing in their newly won freedom. As one moves about Ceylon, the feeling is inescapable that, perhaps, self-government has been conferred, I shall not say prematurely, but before the country has really proved itself worthy of that great privilege.
From conversations which I had with members of the Parliament of Ceylon, it was apparent that the people of their country are now beginning to appreciate the tremendous responsibilities which devolve on a self-governing part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Those responsibilities are considerable. For instance, they include responsibility to establish an adequate civil service, which is a considerable difficulty for a country which has to face that responsibility for the first time. Ceylon is confronted by a great black market, about which I had something to say in this chamber last week. There is a degree of unemployment, which I was somewhat astounded to find. One Saturday afternoon, while I was in Ceylon, certain of us visited the National Park in Colombo, which was once a place of great beauty. To-day, it is apparent that the park is being neglected. As we went through it, we were met by an old gentleman, obviously a member of the poorer classes, who volunteered to take us through and assist us. He did so, and proved himself to be a botanist and a gardener of no mean worth. Indeed, he told us later on that he had been the head gardener employed there before self-government came to Ceylon, and that he had a staff working under him. To-day he is unemployed and so, too, is the staff which he had before. The gardens are falling into a state of neglect, which is a great tragedy. As we left, the old man made a remark which I shall never forget. He said, “Poorer classes of Ceylon wish the British were back”. I asked him to repeat his statement, because I wanted to be sure that I had heard it correctly, and he repeated the same words. Did that indicate that the poorer classes of Ceylon felt that they were downtrodden and exploited by the British, as honorable senators opposite have suggested? I am not an authority on Ceylon and perhaps am not really qualified to express an opinion after a visit of only a few days, but I believe that it was due to the foreign capital which was poured into Ceylon from outside that the secondary industries, of the country were promoted, that agriculture was assisted, and that the great cities were built. Does any one seriously contend that that amounted to exploitation of the people ?
From Ceylon, we moved on to Kenya, a country which hopes, some day, to achieve the inestimable blessing of self-government. Apart from the internal disorder, which looks like petering out in the near future, we saw evidence that millions and millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money had been poured into the country. Is that the way people are exploited? I am of the opinion that that is the way people are helped. When one looks further and sees the great humanitarian work that is being done in Kenya for the sole benefit of the African people, one must take off one’s hat to the Europeans, in admiration of what they have done in the last 50 years, since they have been in Kenya
All that Senator Aylett could do was to say that he saw there certain people, such as retired British Army colonels and others, who kicked the natives about and- exploited them. I could tell him of people in Kenya - indeed, some of them retired British colonels - who have employed natives for twenty years continuously. Those natives have enjoyed a higher standard of living whilst working for their so-called exploiters than ever they enjoyed in their natural state. I regret that Senator Aylett should have come into this chamber and, for the second time since his return from abroad, tried to disparage the work that has been achieved in darkest Africa.
I remind Senator Aylett again of the great railway that was built from Mombasa some 300 miles inland, over very difficult country, over the hills of Kenya, to Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria. Was its purpose to exploit the people, as Senator Aylett and Senator Grant suggested in the Senate recently? Is that the way people are exploited? The sole purpose of building the railway was to arrest the slave traffic, which was rife before the Europeans went there. There was no prospect of one penny of revenue being returned from that railway for many years after it had been built. If honorable senators opposite would take the trouble to look up the debates of the British House of Commons, they will see that the project was ridiculed by certain honorable members of the House of Commons because they contended that no financial return from it would be possible.
I wish to refer also to the assistance which is given to the natives by building up the agriculture of the country. The native knows nothing of modern agricultural methods. All he knows is how to exploit the soil. He is a nomad. He takes up a little plot of ground, crops it barren, and then moves on to some other place. The British Colonial Office has sent out hundreds of dedicated, devoted young men, with their wives and families, and these people live, not in the towns of Kenya, but in isolation in the outback. They see nobody but natives for weeks on end. Their job is to try to show the Africans how to grow better crops and to rotate their crops, and how to grow some thing which they can sell for cash with which to buy a few chairs, or perhaps a bed to put in their homes. Is that exploiting the people of Africa? I think it is something that we should commend, not ridicule. It is part and parcel of British colonialism.. This is not fiction, but a reference to things that both Senator Aylett and I saw when we were in Kenya. We also saw schools being erected, certainly for the education of European children, but also for the education of Indian and African children. They were big, elaborate schools. What is their purpose? Is it to exploit the people, or to bring these African and Indian children to such an educational standard that, some day, they will be able to take their place as responsible citizens of the country in which they live? One is astounded to see the benefits that accrue to the natives of Africa, the Kikuyu tribe and the other tribes, as a result of the provision of health and medical services. The way to test European occupancy of Kenya is to consider whether the natives are decadent or prosperous as a result of 50 years of assistance by the Europeans. The rate of natural increase of the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya is almost 5 per cent, per annum. That is higher than the natural increase in many other nations, and indicates that the Kikuyus are not suffering as a result of contact with the Europeans In contrast, we should remember what has happened to the aborigines of Australia. The Kikuyu tribe is prosperous. Previously, members of that tribe died in millions because of pestilence and disease. Thousands of their children died before they reached the age of six months. Now that heavy rate of mortality has been reduced to a marked extent. All those results have been achieved as a result of the new era that Europeans began in that dark land within the past 50 years. Those who suggest that the British people seek only to exploit the native races of Kenya do not know what they are talking about.
– Only a small percentage need exploit the people. One per cent, can do more harm than 99 per cent.
– I believe I grasp the implication of Senator
Armstrong’s interjection. Human nature being what it is, I hope I have not created the impression in the minds of honorable senators that there is no exploitation in Kenya. I do not deny that there are always some persons who will exploit their fellows if they are in a position to do so, but I believe that we can judge colonialism only by what happens in a country as a whole. Honorable senators know what has transpired in Ceylon, Pakistan and India and what is happening to-day in Kenya as a result of the expenditure of millions of pounds of the British taxpayers’ money. I admit, however, that there are exceptions to the rule, as Senator Armstrong has reminded me.
– Those responsible are not government officers.
– I agree that the persons who are guilty of exploitation are private citizens who exploit the natives in spite of British colonialism. In conclusion, I remind the Senate that it would be a mistake to confer selfgovernment on people like the native races of Kenya before they are ready for it. Some of the delegates who visited Africa with me, including some members of the Labour party in the British House of Commons - one of them a former Colonial Secretary - stated more than once that a date for conferring selfgovernment upon the people of Kenya should be fixed, and that it should not be far distant. It would be farcical to confer self-government upon those people prematurely. Who would suffer as a result? Those who are exploiting the people, and who are engaged in business, would not suffer. The real sufferers would be the natives themselves. Throughout colonial history, the British policy has been to develop the colonies and to confer the right of self-government upon peoples when they have proved worthy of it. When I visited Parliament House in Adelaide last week, I noticed two stones on the steps. The inscription on one was headed “ The Promise “ and, on the other, “ The Fulfilment “. I cannot remember the words under those headings, because my copy of them is in my baggage which has been delayed, but the promise was that the people of South Australia would be given the right of selfgovernment when they had proved worthy of it. “The Fulfilment” indicated that South Australia had earned the right of self-government. Other countries overseas have had a similar experience. Self-government has been conferred upon Ceylon, India and Pakistan. Eventually Kenya, Uganda and Malaya will also attain that right. I regret that a wrong impression has been conveyed to the Senate by an honorable senator who was privileged, as I was, to visit Africa. I regret that he spoke in disparaging terms of the work that the British Colonial Office has done on behalf of the native people of Kenya who are only 50 years removed from savagery.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Armstrong’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 388).
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.28 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 391).
– The measure before the Senate at the moment is a particularly interesting one, and the Opposition has no objection to it. The bill is, however, too interesting, and deals with a matter of too great moment, for it to be allowed to pass without some detailed comment, in the course of which I propose to make a suggestion to the Government.
I shall briefly review the history of this matter. During the war, all Australian wool was acquired by the Australian Government, and all wool that was surplus to our own domestic requirements was sold under contract at fixed prices to the United Kingdom. The scheme provided that any profits made by the United Kingdom Government out of sales to other countries should be shared equally between the United Kingdom and the participating governments of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was, of course, necessary during the war period to have complete governmental control of a commodity so vital to a total war effort as wool. The scheme ended in July, 1945, and from then on a new organization known as the Joint Organization was set up to deal with the vast quantity of wool, amounting to about 10,400,000 bales, that had accumulated. The new organization bought the 1945-46 wool clip as well, and it had certain incidental matters to clear up. In all, it finally disposed of a total of some 15,000,000 bales of wool, which, unless very carefully marketed and handled, would have’ constituted a terrific hazard to the wool-growing industry in the years that then lay ahead. Of the 15,000,000 bales that were disposed of by 1951 through the Joint Organization, approximately 10,000,000 bales belonged to Australia. Out of that arrangement Australia won a magnificent share of the profits, which together with certain incidentals, amounted to £93,000,000.
In 1948, when it was quite clear that there would be profits from the arrangement made between the United Kingdom and Australia, the Labour Government of the day brought in legislation to provide for the distribution of those profits. That legislation has been since amended by this Government, and it is proposed now to amend it further by this measure. The original act was amended quite substantially in 1952. One of the main results of the 1952 legislation was to authorize a distribution in final settlement to those who had left the wool industry before’ the 1st September, 1949. Those people have been taken’ right out of the field so far as the distribution of profits from the Joint Organization scheme is concerned. The amendment introduced in 1952 set the 30th June of this year as the date by which the distribution of Joint Organization should be completed. The present bill repeals that provision, because it has been found that the 1952 amendment has really precipitated trouble for the Government. The distribution cannot be completed by that date for two reasons. First, the act required that the costs and expenses of the Wool Realization Commission must be known, and the fact is that they cannot be known because of pending litigation. Secondly, that pending litigation has temporarily prevented the distribution of approximately £3,000,000 of the profits to those growers of wool who marketed their product not through brokers but through dealers in the war years. Litigation is liable to be instituted in the Privy Council, and until the fate of that matter is determined, the commission cannot proceed with confidence to distribute a sum of approximately £3,000,000. I point out, however, that the difficulty as regards the date has been precipitated by the Government’s own action in 1952, when the limit date of the 30th June, 1955, was fixed by legislation.
Another aspect to which I refer is that, pursuant to this measure, final distribution is now deemed to have been made to all those growers who had their wool appraised through brokers. There is a small balance of less than £15,000 in the fund which would be available to those growers. I agree with the view of the Government that it would not be proper to go to the trouble of distributing that small amount over a very large number of growers, and the Opposition approves the proposal that that money should be paid into the Wool Research Fund, where it will be available to serve the broad purposes of wool-growers of Australia.
The main outstanding matter is, of course, that relating to the distribution of the £3,000,000. That matter involves those growers who sold their wool or had it appraised through wool dealers as opposed to wool brokers. That amount is invested, and., as the Minister has pointed out, it has accumulated £80,000 in interest. The bill provides that the interest shall be added to the principal sum which eventually is to be distributed to those who may be entitled to it. There is the difficulty that much of the wool that was handled by dealers and appraised at their instance is not identifiable in the final transaction because it was mixed with wool from various growers. In some cases, it may be very difficult even to locate the growers whose wool went into the pool in the hands of the dealers, and to segregate the separate appraisals of wool submitted by different growers. The bill makes an approach to that problem, and leaves authority in the commission to determine the matter, subject to the direction of the Minister. The Opposition approves that proposal, because it may be a matter of ordinary judgment and fair dealing, in the absence of accurate information, and it is right that the matter should not be left to the arbitrary decision of the commission, but that there should be overriding jurisdiction in the Minister. After all, the Minister will have the responsibility.
Now I would like to deal more particularly with the case called the Poulton case, which is holding up the distribution of the £3,000,000. With that out of the way one could write finis to this interesting and important transaction. The Australian Government was a party to a case, instituted by a wool-dealer named Poulton, against the Commonwealth, and certain wool-growers who had consigned wool through that particular dealer. Payments had teen made to the woolgrowers, and the wool-dealer, relying on a contract, or what purported to be a contract, between the growers and himself, claimed that he was entitled to participate in the profits of the Joint Organization, and that the grower was not so entitled.
– No profits were distributed.
– I believe that Senator Scott is quite right, and the case was an application for a declaration. No moneys have yet been paid out. The Poulton case was an application for a declaration that the dealer and not the growers was entitled to the money. Mr. Justice Fullagar, who heard the case, found against the dealer. In due course, the dealer appealed to the Full Court, and three justices upheld the judgment of Mr. Justice Fullagar and decided against the dealer. All kinds of issues were raised as to the validity of the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act, and particular sections in that act, but the justices were unanimous in their view that the dealer -was not entitled to share in the Joint Organization profits. Perhaps it is desirable that I should read the headnote in the Argus law report of that case, so that all those who wish to pursue the debate will have a record of the debate. The headnote reads -
During the currency of the scheme established by the National Security (Wool) Regulations a wool-grower delivered certain wool to a licensed wool-dealer in terms of an invoice signed by both parties describing the wool as being bought from the grower. The invoice contained a clause as follows: - The terms and conditions upon which I have received the above wool from you are that you are not to be liable for any losses that may accrue, and that the wool will be submitted for appraisement either alone or with such other wools as I think fit. The proceeds are to be retained by me in satisfaction of the amount paid to you and lor my services and expenses. .
After the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act 1948 came into force, the Wool Realization Commission paid to the wool-grower his proportionate share of the amount of profits distributable under that Act.
Apparently that part of the headnote led me to make the statement that I made earlier that some moneys had been paid. It would appear that the headnote is not accurate on that point, because it refers to a sum of money having been paid to the grower, but this Government has indicated that in cases where dealers were involved no amounts of money have been paid at all. ‘ Honorable senators will agree that it is rather interesting that we, in the Senate, should find a mistake in the head note to a case written up by a lawyer. The head note continues -
Upon a claim made by the licensed wooldealer for payment to him of that share -
Held (by Mr. Justice Williams, Mr. Justice Webb and Mr. Justice Kitto) that the invoice evidenced not a sale of the wool but a discounting of the proceeds including all moneys paid out in consequence of the submissions of the wool for appraisement and sec. 8 (.3) of the Act of 1948 precluded the plaintiff from recovering the money from the grower; and he could not recover it from the Realization Commission on the footing of an assignment, for alienations were prohibited by sec. 29, and the Commonwealth could not be treated as having been guilty of conversion of the wool and its proceeds. Secs. 8 (3) and 29 of the said Act of 1948 are a valid exercise of legislative power. The action was dismissed.
If one looks at section 8 (3.) of the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act 1948, which was introduced by the last Labour Government, one finds that it provides that where wool was submitted from a dealer for appraisement, the person entitled to participate in distribution of profits was the wool-grower and not the dealer. That fact is made particularly clear. Section 8 (3.) reads -
Notwithstanding the terms of any contract (whether made before or after the commencement of this Act), a dealer shall not be entitled to recover from another person the whole or any part of any moneys paid to that other person under this Act.
That provision seems to be perfectly clear, and seems completely to exclude the dealer. One wonders at an action being taken to query what seems to be the very plain words of that provision, or to attempt to controvert section 29 of the same act. Section 29 reads -
Subject to this Act and the regulations, the share in a distribution under this Act or the possibility of such a share, shall be, and be deemed at all times to have been, absolutely inalienable prior to the actual receipt of the share, whether by means of, ov in consequence of. sale, assignment, charge, execution or otherwise.
If one reads the second-reading speech of the Labour Minister who introduced that legislation in 1948, one will notice that it was the clear intention of the government of the day that the growers and not the dealers should reap the benefit of any distribution from the Joint Organization. The judgment of the full High Court to which I have already referred, was given in December, 1953. That is almost eighteen months ago, but it has been intimated by the Government that the parties who lost that case are contemplating an appeal to the Privy Council. There is no assurance that that appeal will be lodged, or that an application will be made to the High Court for leave to appeal, and yet the decision of the High Court was given nearly eighteen months ago.
– There is a reasonable time limit on appeals to the Privy Council.
– No time limit has been set in the bill, and all that one can hope is that the Government will not allow these matters to drift on indefinitely. Why should one dealer, whether acting for himself, or for all the dealers, hold up the distribution of £3,000,000 to the growers for a period of eighteen months? Indeed, why should he do that when it was clear the intention of the Labour Government of 1948, and is the intention of this Government, that the profits of the Joint Organization should go to the wool-growers and not to the dealers.
I make this suggestion to the Government. The law and the intention about this matter seem to be completely clear. Not only is it recorded in the parliamentary records, but the intention has been upheld by the High Court. Now, after eighteen months, why should not the Government, by some legislative act, resolve the matter and make the distribution to the growers? After all, a threat of an appeal cannot he allowed indefinitely to tie up the £3,000,000 in the hands of the Australian Wool Realization Commission. There must be an end to it. I desire to know how long the Government proposes that the matter should be stalemated.
– What was the date of the High Court’s decision?
– It was given in December, 1953, nearly eighteen months ago.
The Government says that it has received an intimation that the defendants in the case are contemplating an appeal. In the meantime, about £3,000,000 is awaiting distribution. In the majority of cases the recipients will be relatively small growers, because the bigger growers deal mainly through the brokers. We have an interest in seeing that the distribution is made with reasonable expedition. The Government got into difficulties when it fixed the date for distribution ; it found that the 30th June, 1955 - the date fixed in 1952 - was not a practicable date.
The measure contains a number of clauses affecting section 8 and purporting to give the growers who dealt with dealers the benefit of the distribution. There are a number of retrospective provisions in the bill. As that is somewhat unusual, I ask whether the Government believes that the insertion of those retrospective provisions will have the effect of by-passing the litigant who is holding up the distribution of money. Is it intended to get over the difficulty created by the threat of an appeal? I do not complain if that is the case, because, after eighteen months, any step the Government could take to resolve the matter ought to be taken.
With the general scope of the measure we on this side do not complain. The Opposition desires to facilitate the distribution of the money. We are, however, interested to know what is happening about the appeal, and what steps the Government proposes to take to end the matter and secure a speedy distribution of the £3,000,000.
Senator SCOTT ( Western Australia) to commend the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on his speech, which gave us the background of the setting up of the Wool Realization Commission, and also the latest data on the Poulton case. As I understand it, the various governments concerned in the acquisition of wool and its disposal since 1939 are to be commended on the action they took. In 1939, when war broke out, the price of wool was about lOd. per lb. The then Australian Government entered into an agreement with the British Government under which the whole of the Australian wool clip was to be sold for 10 1/2d. per lb. sterling. That was equivalent to a price about 25 per cent, over and above the amount previously received. As the war went on, further agreements were reached on two occasions by the governments concerned. In each case the agreement provided for an increased price for wool. The first increase was 1-Jd. per lb,, and the second, which was made in 1944, was for an increase of about 3d. per lb., thus bringing the total price received by the growers to about 18d. per lb. During the war very little wool was shipped from Australia, and consequently the Government had to build stores to hold the 10,000,000 bales it had acquired for disposal later. It was not until about the 30th June, 1945, that the two governments concerned decided that the agreement should cease and that the wool in hand should be sold. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, about 15,000,000 bales of wool had to be disposed of, in addition to the wool then being produced, which amounted to about 3,000,000 bales a year. Honorable senators will realize the tremendous job that the organization set up by the various governments concerned - Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa - had to dispose of such a large quantity of wool. However, the joint organization set up by them disposed of all the wool in hand, as well as that which was then being grown. The organization set up in Australia was known as the Wool Realization Commission. It had to decide how many bales could be sold from year to year without flooding the market, thus causing the price to fall to unpayable levels. The Wool Realization Commission and the
Joint Organization are to be commended on the way they placed the wool on the market. Once it became known that there were 15,000,000 bales to be disposed of, many growers thought that the price would fall. Instead, the price rose quickly, until in March, 1951, wool was being sold for £1 per lb. The whole of the 15,000,000 bales were disposed of by the end of 1951, as well as another approximately 15,000,000 bales that had been grown in the intervening period. In 1949 the then government introduced legislation, which later became the Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Act, because it could see that the wool being sold was bringing in more than was paid for it. It therefore decided that a distribution should be made. It was not until the following year that the first distribution of profits was made. By a strange coincidence there was to be an election within a few days of that distribution. Of course, there was no politics associated with the introduction of that measure ! That act was amended in 1952 by the present Government, to distribute by the 30th June, 1955, the balance of the wool profits made by the Wool Realization Commission. The idea be-, hind that legislation was that, as the country had reached such a prosperous state, the distribution of wool profits should be spread out so that the woolgrowers should not be committed to pay unduly high taxes in any one year. Some of the profits made by wool-growers were of considerable proportion, and many men were paying between 10s. and 12s. 6d. in the £1 tax on their incomes. The Government realized that, if they were to receive a further £15,000,000 in one year, the Taxation Branch would relieve them of between 60 per cent.’ and 70 per cent, of their income. Being a considerate government, it was decided to spread them over three or four payments. I believe that most of this money, if not all of it, would have been distributed, if it had not been for Poulton appealing to a single judge of the High Court, in the first instance, against the decision of the Government to distribute to the various growers concerned these profits from the sale of wool. The situation that has resulted is creating no end of headaches to the growers who have sold wool to dealers. The Government is holding a sum of about £3,000,000 which rightly and justly belongs to the growers, but because of the action taken by Poulton that money cannot be distributed.
I was interested to hear the Minister, in his second-reading speech, say specifically that whenever a distribution of profits from the sale of wool is made through dealers, it is paid to the Wool Realization Commission so that that organization can pass it on. But the Wool Realization Commission is at present restrained from doing so and, consequently, no money has been distributed to growers who have sold their wool to dealers. Many growers, particularly in Western Australia, and also in other States, sold their wool during the war years to private dealers and signed contracts to the effect that any profits made after the wool had been appraised should be the property of the grower.
– Or of the dealer?
– Those profits would be the property of the grower. So far, those growers have not yet received a penny. The first distribution took place in 1949 - now six years ago - and those who sold their wool to the dealers under contract in which it was specifically stated that the dealer would not participate in any profits after the wool was appraised have not received their money and they are becoming hot and bothered about it. I have received a letter from one of my constituents in Western Australia, dated the 29th April, which honorable senators might be interested to hear. I shall read the relevant parts. He writes -
I received your letter of the 22nd inst., and read same with some concern. I am finding it very hard to understand how Poulton and his solicitors are getting away with fraud, I shall call it, for want of a better term. The holding up of payment of a sum of money which ie the rightful earnings of a section of the community, the first payment of which took place on the 30th November, 194!). The Wool Realisation Commission must be blamed also for giving such an undertaking as they did. For six years now I have been writing letters and receiving them on this matter and now it would appear that we are no further ahead than we were when we started.
As I see it the farmer has lost and will lose even when the payment is made, (if ever), when you consider the purchasing power of the £ six years ago and today. I just hate to think what would happen if a few individuals withheld £2m. of Waterside Workers wages for a term of six or seven years while awaiting High Court cases, appeals and Privy Council appeals; which, after all is exactly the same thing.
Our position is as follows: - From 1941 to 1945 we sold 40,323 lb. of wool for £2,603 16s. Od.
The name of the firm is given and the approximate profit is £600. The letter continues -
Yesterday while I was ploughing for crops the engine of the tractor, which you know well, came apart in no uncertain manner and pushed a rod out through the side of the block, and we are now faced with the purchase of a new tractor the other having run to the end of its economic life. So you see the matter of what could be called hardship has presented itself since I received your letter.
I would be pleased if you would give me some idea as to the type of case I would have to put up to the Wool Realization Commission to get a sympathetic reception. The account sales we have are our only tangible grip we have of what is becoming a mythical sum of money, and if sent to the Wool Commission I hope they would not become mislaid in the hopeless High Court tangle . . .
I don’t greatly relish the idea of going cap-in-hand to the Commission and asking them, “ Please give us our money “, but I suppose in this case the end justifies the means. I will be pleased to hear from you; my kindest regards,
The writer of that letter is one of many growers who wants his money. As the Leader of the Opposition said, when the bill was first introduced in 1948 it was made specifically clear that any money derived from the sale of wool would belong to the grower. However, I blame Poulton for holding up the distribution. Evidently, he is not convinced ; but the case has been heard by a single justice of the High Court, Mr. Justice Fullagar, and when an appeal was made to the High Court, the three judges unanimously upheld his decision. The last hearing took place in December, 1953. As a reasonable time has now elapsed, the Wool Realization Commission should distribute the money among the growers. The Government or the Wool Realization Commission should ascertain the exact intention of Poulton in the near future so that this distribution can be made. I know that the position is complicated and
I do not want to deal with its legal aspects, but the money now being held by the commission belongs to the woolgrowers.
I know that the Government has done everything possible to encourage certain wool-dealers to distribute this money, but Poulton’s action prevents them from doing it. These wool-dealers signed contracts to the effect that any profits made on wool after appraisement should be distributed; but if that were done it would weaken Poulton’s case. There are many honest wool-dealers, and in Western Australia, they buy a considerable quantity of wool each year. They have said that they are prepared to distribute the money and, unfortunately, within the last twelve months they have been blaming the Government-
– The honorable senator is doing that, is he not ?
– No. In June, or July, 1954, the dealers published a statement in the press, which I later handed to the Minister, in which they said that they were anxious to distribute this money to the wool-growers provided that the Wool Realization Commission would do likewise. When the matter is taken up with them, either direct or through the department, it is found that there is a considerable degree of falsity in those statements. I do not like to see the Government being slandered from one end of the country to the other for something that is the fault of the dealers themselves. I took the matter up with the Minister, and the dealers were written to and requested to distribute the money. They said they could not give permission for the Wool Realization Commission to distribute this money because Poulton’s solicitors would restrain them from doing so until judgment had been given.
Approximately £3,000,000 is involved in this matter, and interest amounting to £80,000 has been added. It is pleasing to hear that the Government intends to distribute the interest, with the accumulated profits, to the growers concerned. It will be of some help to them. The Government should do everything in its power to find out exactly what Poulton’s intentions are. If he decides to appeal to the Privy Council, the Government should take whatever steps are necessary to encourage the Privy Council to hear the case immediately.
– I support the bill. I was very interested in the points made by both Senator Scott and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). In South Australia, those who are being held away from their money are mainly small wool-growers who did not sell their small lots through the recognized woolbroking firms. The whole problem seems to lie in bringing the Poulton case to an end. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), in his second-reading speech, and also other honorable senators, have explained that a judgment adverse to Poulton was given as long ago as December, 1953. It appears to me that the Government is completely powerless, as the law stands at the moment, to have the Poulton case brought to a conclusion. Our Constitution provides that, in- certain instances, the highest court of this country is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, sitting in London. Until the rules of the Privy Council are altered in some way, it seems that there can be no conclusion of the Poulton case.
From what I can make out, Poulton has given notice of appeal in a vague sort of a way. There seems to be no rule of the Privy Council to force him to institute that appeal within a prescribed time. In this country, most of the appellate courts have rules which demand that appeals be instituted within a certain time of the giving of the judgment from which the appeal is lodged, but from what I can make out, as a result of the slight amount of reading I have done on the subject, the Privy Council rules, which were drawn up in the 1830’s, set no such limit. Apparently, Poulton is able to rely on that fact and to hold at bay the Commonwealth of Australia. In order to bring this matter to an end, an approach to Westminster to alter the Privy Council rules should be made. We in this country are in the position that we have a court outside Australia, the rules of which this Parliament does not control. A most unique problem presents itself in determining the Poulton case.
I suggest to the Minister that, while the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) is overseas, he be informed of this problem, although I have no doubt he has already given some thought to it, with a view to having the rules of the Privy Council, in relation to appeals from the High Court, brought right up to date. If that is done, there will be some finality, and Poulton can be told that unless he institutes his appeal by a certain date, judgment will be against him. As far as I know, there is no such rule in existence at the present time. I cannot see how the matter can be brought to an end until Poulton is informed, through a rule of the Privy Council, that his appeal is finished.
Of course, the Government could not make a final distribution of the money while there is the off-chance that Poulton may succeed and obtain judgment against the Government, with quite high costs, from the various courts to which he has gone. It should not be a very difficult matter to bring the Privy Council rules up to date because, as I understand it, the only members of the Commonwealth of Nations which now make appeals to the Privy Council are Australia, New Zealand and the Crown colonies. We, therefore, do not have to canvass the opinions of Canada, India, Pakistan and other British Commonwealth countries because they, by their own wish, no longer make appeals to the Privy Council.
– in reply - I have listened with interest to the speeches concerning what might be termed the closing chapter of a remarkable organization. One is conscious of the number of problems that those associated with the sale and disposal of the wool have had to face during a period of sixteen years. I take this opportunity to place on record my own personal appreciation of the work of the members of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, particularly the late Mr. Frank Murphy, who were associated with this tremendous deal in 1939, when Mr. McBride, as he then was, and I had the responsibility of conducting this sale to the United Kingdom. There are men in high places in this country who, during the war period, rendered a great service to the Government. I know they would prefer their names not to be mentioned. They are great Australians, and they were of great help to me and the late Mr. Murphy. Later on, when the Labour Government was in office, the departmental officers and the same outstanding advisers gave good advice, I presume, to that Government. Those people are still giving good advice, particularly to the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. It think it is fitting that we place on record our appreciation of the work of all who were associated with this deal which concerned Australia’s No. 1 asset, the great wool industry. If honorable senators look back at that period and consider the scheme, the method of feeding the wool on to the market, and so on, I think they will agree that it was an achievement of which we should all be proud. As a layman, I appreciate the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator MeKenna), in his speech on this intricate matter, was able to give a brief summary of the details of the measure. Senator Scott evidently sold his wool through a dealer, because he did not get as good a return as he would have done had he sold it through some other channel. As a layman, I would not venture into a discussion of the legal tangle involved as Senator Laught, the Leader of the Opposition, and others have done. However, I am sure that the Crown Solicitor, the AttorneyGeneral and all those who had the responsibility of bringing this matter to finality will appreciate the comments that have been made by honorable senators during this debate. I can only say that the points raised by Senator Laught have received the serious consideration of the Attorney-General himself.
I do not know whether anything can be done to speed up the hearing of the appeal by the Privy Council. As a layman, I believe that Poulton will not succeed, and that, by his action in not proceeding with the case, he is rendering a great disservice to the people who are entitled to the money concerned. T promise honorable senators that the matters that have been raised will receive the consideration of the Government, the responsible Minister, and all others concerned. They are as anxious to bring the matter to finality as is Senator Scott, who apparently has some interest in it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 391).
.- The Opposition supports this measure. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), in his second-reading speech, dealt adequately with the purpose of the bill, but it is worth while to express a few thoughts upon the interment of one more relic of the last war. When I say “the last war”, I hope that I am accurate, but perhaps it would be more correct to call it World War II. because, unfortunately, historians tell us that in the past 3,000 years there have been 3,000 wars and about 2,500 revolutions. Apparently man has not the wit to learn from his experiences. However, that is digressing. It is obvious that in total war an important article such as hides and leather had to be controlled and diverted from non-essential uses into those that were essential either to the economic life or the defence of the community. In November, 1939, the Menzies Government introduced National Security Regulations dealing with hides and leather. It is interesting to note at this stage that, from 1942 until 1945, the honorable member for Dalley of that time, Mr. J. S. Rosevear, was the Controller of Leather and Footwear in Australia. As such, he was a member of the Australian Hides and Leather Industries Board from 1942 onwards. I believe it is generally acknowledged that, in that capacity, Mr. Rosevear rendered very distinguished service in furthering the war organization in Australia. Later, he became chairman of the Post-war
Planning Committee of Leather and Footwear Industries from 1944 to 1945. In sponsoring the regulations dealing with hides and leather, the Commonwealth was relying entirely on its defence power. Normally, “ in peace-time, the Australian Government would have no power to control leather or footwear except within its own territories and, perhaps, in relation to the export of those commodities. However, as the defence power waned at the end of the war, the Commonwealth and the States, in 1948, passed complementary legislation to hold the position in the critical post-war period.
The Commonwealth legislation put through in 1948 was applied to set up a board, but the Australian Government was compelled to confine its control to the Australian Capital Territory and to the export of hides and leather. The States, on their side, had complementary legislation which set up allocation and appraisement committees and provided for the compulsory acquisition of hides and leather. As honorable senators know, last October a bill was introduced into this Parliament which had the effect of suspending the operation of the Commonwealth legislation. The Opposition concurred in that being done. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) might have put the finishing touch by telling honorable senators what has happened to the complementary State legislation. Since the Commonwealth legislation was abandoned in October last year - the Parliament proposes now to repeal that legislation - what has happened to the complementary State legislation which, in conjunction with the Commonwealth laws, has held the position up to now?
I notice that the bill vests the remaining assets of the Hides and Leather Industries Board in the Commonwealth, and that the Australian Government will accept the responsibility for any liabilities that may now appear. None is anticipated and any amount over is to be applied for the purpose of research into hides and leather and to further the interests of the industry. I direct attention to the fact that the amount involved is very small, totalling only £5,000. In this connexion I wish to proffer a suggestion to the Minister which is a personal one, because I have not discussed it with my colleagues. I suggest that the sum mentioned might be devoted to a scholarship or endowment fund for a particular purpose connected with the industry. If the Government accepted the suggestion, it would be a graceful gesture to name the trust the J. S. Rosevear Endowment or Scholarship Fund. The late Mr. Rosevear was a distinguished member of this Parliament. He rendered signal service in connexion with the control of hides and leather during the war, without remuneration, and was later a very notable Speaker of the House of Representatives. Altogether his was a very powerful personality, and he impressed all with whom he came in contact. He was a national figure in many ways. I recognize that the late Sol Rosevear was only one of the many parliamentarians and others who gave unremunerated and very distinguished service during the war, but I earnestly commend to the Government the thought that I have expressed, especially as the amount of the fund seems to be so little. The property of the board has to be passed over to the general revenues of the Commonwealth and from that point something i3 to be done about research. I hope that the Minister will not lightly dismiss the idea that I have proposed simply because it is new, and I should be glad if he will give me an assurance at this stage that it will be considered.
I notice that the property of the board is to pass to the Commonwealth, and that the value of that property is to be credited to this research fund. I do not know whether there are any assets, other than money, in the property of the board. If there are, I am just mildly interested to know what will be the basis of valuation of those assets. Who will make the valuation ? The Minister will notice that under clause 6 (2.) the Treasurer is to pay into the trust account from Consolidated Revenue an amount equal to the value of the property taken over from the board, and I merely ask what does that property consist of, and if it consists of things other than money, how will it be valued ? The only other point that I think is worthy of comment at this stage relates to clause 5 (4.). The property having been vested in the Commonwealth, there is a provision in that sub-clause that the Commonwealth is not bound to pay, in respect of any liabilities of the board that may later transpire, any more than that sum of £5,000. The Minister has assured us - and I accept his assurance - that there are no more liabilities so far as is known, but, of course, the unexpected sometimes happens.
I realize that the Commonwealth is not restricted by this provision. It may pay more. The sub-clause is put negatively. The Commonwealth is not bound to pay anything further than the sum of £5,000 if liabilities arise after the disbanding of the board, but I merely wish to comment that, the board having been a Commonwealth instrumentality, there is at least a strong moral obligation upon the Government to discharge whatever liabilities may arise, even if they run beyond the £5,000. There is nothing here to prevent the Government from doing so, but one is rather fearful when the sub-clause states that the Government is not bound to pay liabilities if they run beyond the £5,000 that it takes over from the board. I suggest that in those circumstances there is plainly a responsibility upon the Government to meet whatever liabilities may be incurred on behalf of the nation by a Commonwealth instrumentality. With the observations that I have made, I inform the Senate that the Opposition supports the measure.
– in reply - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has raised a number of matters. I shall deal, first, with what has happened to complementary State legislation in connexion with this board. My officers have advised me that the States of South Australia and Victoria have suspended the operative provisions of their acts to correspond with the Commonwealth Hide and Leather Industries Act Suspension Act 1954. The States of New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland have not amended their acts and Tasmania allowed its act to lapse at the end of June, 1952. The officers make this note also: In any event, State legislation is inoperative without the existence of appropriate legislation by the Commonwealth.
The Leader of the Opposition has made an appeal with reference to the J. S. Rosevear Scholarship Fund. Let me say that I have a deep appreciation of the work that the late Mr. Rosevear did on this board, and the Senate, of course, will appreciate that the matter comes under the control of my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen). I shall take the first opportunity of conveying to him the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition. The final decision on what is to happen to the sum of about £5,000 involved in the realization of the board’s assets, will rest with the Minister.
Another question asked by the Leader of the Opposition was how that £5,000 is made up. I inform him that all the property has been disposed of, and that the £5,000 is in cash. The last question raised by the Leader of the Opposition related to the Commonwealth’s not being bound to pay more than the money in hand in respect of liabilities of the board. The Government has accepted the advice of the crown law department that the matter is fairly open, and I judge from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition that he would have followed the same course. I appreciate his comments on this measure, and am glad to make these replies to his questions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 9.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 May 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1955/19550524_senate_21_s5/>.