22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. Iff. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., andread prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Fishing Industry Bill 1950.
Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill 1956.
– For the purpose of making office accommodation available to honorable senators, who are elected to the Senate by the electors of Australia, will the Attorney-General undertake that the seven offices now occupied by members of his staff, whose attendance in such close proximity to this chamber is unnecessary, will be vacated forthwith, and that those officers will be accommodated in the recently opened new administrative building, which is very close to Parliament House?
– I cannot tell from the honorable senator’s question the particular offices to whichhe refers, but if he has in mind offices in this building, some of which are necessarily occupied by the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff, who have to be in attendance in Parliament House when measures that they have been responsible for drafting are going through, I am afraid that it would not be possible to vacate them without causing very great inconvenience to members and senators.
– In view of the burning enthusiasm of the Government to retain Australian troops in Malaya, in spite of the assurance given by Sir Geoffrey Bourne that the shouting and the tumult has died away, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate ask the Minister for the Army to speed up the supply of amenities to our troops there, so that the wants of all, including those whose tastes do not favourbever- ages produced any further south than Brisbane, will be satisfied? In this connexion, will he direct the Minister’s attention to the criticism that appeared in Australia’s national sporting newspaper at the week-end?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer : -
The Australian Wheat. Board has seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator. The statement was mentioned at the last meeting of the board and the chairman is inquiring the position from Carr’s Milling Industries Limited, and from the Australian Wheat Committee which is theboard’s selling agent in London. A report should be received within the next fortnight, and until this is available, it is not possible to say what is the reason for the statement.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied by the Minister for Labour and National Service: -
– On the 22nd May, Senator Tangney asked a question concerning the staff of the Australian Whaling Commission. The following further information is supplied : -
In my answer to Senator McKenna on 10th May. which was in brief form, it was implied that all those permanent employees of the Australian Whaling Commission who had established permanent homes at Carnarvon would be employed by theNor West Whaling Company. This was in line with the undertaking given by the company, and this undertaking is being carried out. It will ensure that the settlement at Carnarvon will not be affected by the change in ownership of the whaling station.
The company, for obvious reasons, wasnot able to give any undertaking concerning the employees of the Australian Whaling Commission who had been employed on a casual basis. These men are recruited each year from all over Australia, and many of them do not return to the whaling station after one season. The company, however, is recruiting its casual employees from those who previously worked for the Australian Whaling Commission or at their own station at Point Cloates, andwho have sought re-employment.
All those members of the commission’s office staff in Perth who are not required by the Nor’ West Whaling Company have been offered temporary positions in the Commonwealth Public Service. The commission has recommended that an ex gratia, payment should be made to them to compensate for the loss in salary this will entail. This is being examined but senators will recognize that it raises very important questions of precedent which require the most careful consideration.
– On the 8th May, Senator Cole asked me a question regarding the style of figures used by naturalized new Australians on the ballot-papers used at federal elections. My colleague, the Minister for the Interior, has advised me that this matter has already been considered by Commonwealth electoral authorities. Divisional returning officers do not reject a. ballot-paper as informal because the figures indicating the voter’s preferences arc written thereon in continental style.
– On the16th May, Senator Wright asked a question, relating to the fumigation of Tasmanian apples in New South Wales to combat the disease, red mite. The Minister for Primary Industry has now supplied the following answer: -
I have heard that some Tasmanianapples were fumigated by the New South Wales authorities last season because of the presence of European red mite. However, the Commonwealth has no powers over the movement of fruit in interstate trade and any fumigations which have taken place would be carried out under State laws. The matter raised by the honorable senator is, therefore, one for the Vew South Wales and Tasmanian State Governments.
– Oil the 17th May, Senator Anderson asked the following question, upon notice -
My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to the Australian National Travel Association. £ notice that the Commonwealth has increased its subsidy to that body from £20,000 to £50,000 a year, and that it is proposed to appoint a departmental committee to confer with the association regarding the future development of travel in Australia. In view of the importance of thi6 matter, and as the expenditure of Commonwealth funds is involved, will the Minister give the Senate full detail’s oT the status, constitution and functions of the Australian National Travel- Association ? t have obtained the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Australian National Travel Association lias, for many years, been acknowledged by the Commonwealth Government as the national body responsible for the promotion of travel to this country, lt hae originated a large amount of favorable publicity for Australia since it was launched in 1929 with the support of the Bruce-Page Government. The association has been subsidized by the Government and has also raised considerable sums of money for its activities from non-Commonwealth sources.
The association is a non-profit-making organization, controlled by an honorary board of prominent business men under the chairmanship of Sir Charles Lloyd Jones. It includes representatives of the major transportation interests such as Sir Hudson Fysh, chairman of directors of Qantas; Mr. John D. Bates, general manager in Australia of the Orient Line; Mr. P. J. Hannaberry, Commonwealth Railways Commissioner (representing Australian railways) ; Major G. B. Walker, a man of wide rural interests; and Mr. T. J. Hartigan, former chairman of the New South Wales Railways. The managing director of the association ii Mr. Charles H. Holmes, a nian with extensive experience and knowledge of the Australian and overseas travel industry. Mr. Holmes was recently elected persident of the Pacific Area Travel Association, an influential body of representatives “f nil countries in the Pacific region and with head-quarters in San Francisco.
The functions of the association are, briefly - («) To supply tourist literature to all overseas Commonwealth Government offices ; (*) To distribute tourist literature to overseas shipping and airline companies and travel agencies; te) To maintain active membership of bodies such as the Pacific Area Travel Association ;
To advise .the Commonwealth Government on tourist industry promotion; and e) To work towards the provision of better accommodation for tourists in Australia.
The association is at present engaged in trying to increase the flow of “ temporary arrivals “ to Australia, and the recent increase in subsidy by the Commonwealth is aimed at assisting the association to expand its activities in the service of this objective.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator O’SULLIVAN proposed -
That the bill be now read a. first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKENNA) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 22nd May (vide page 885) on motion by Senator SPOONER -
That the bill be now road a second time.
– in reply - When the Senate adjourned last night, I had begun my speech in reply to the second-reading debate, but I had spoken for only a few minutes. Therefore, I shall approach the matter de novo. The first point I wish to make is that when we are considering this measure we must remember that it provides insurance cover against risks that cannot be covered anywhere else. There are special types of risk - insolvency, imposition of import controls, failure to pay within a specified period and blockage of foreign exchange. I suppose, to be quite frank about it, the reason why these risks cannot be insured against elsewhere is that to. <cover them needs resources greater than those that are available to existing insurance companies. Some idea of the risk involved may be had from the fact that Great Britain itself had no less than £32,000,000 locked in Brazil in one transaction. To insure against a risk of that order is beyond the compass of the ordinary commercial community.
That leads to the next point which has been inherent in the debate and which lias been made particularly on the Opposition side of the chamber, that point being that as the corporation takes this risky business and has, of necessity, to charge a high premium for it, then, in order to compensate it for that, it should engage in the more lucrative business of normal insurance. That is a fallacious argument. An insurer can only reduce his premiums on risky business by increasing them on the other business. If this corporation engaged in the ordinary business and increased its premiums on that business in order to cover its losses on the risky business, it would not, on ordinary, fair, competitive terms, getthat other normal business. If it engaged in the normal trading as distinct from this special trading, the normal trading would have to bear additional insurance charges to compensate for the abnormal trading.
– Does not this bill deal only with a certain class of insurance, that class being as outlined in the title? Does it not relate only to the class of insurance calculated to promote trade for certain reasons? If it does, and sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 is deleted, then the argument that we wish the corporation to engage in all types of insurance trading falls to the ground. All we seek to do is to cover the trading that comes within the ambit of this bill.
– I am sorry if I misconstrued the honorable senator’s arguments. I thought that as sub-clause (3.) provides that the corporation shall not enter into contracts of insurance under clause 13 against risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers, honorable senators opposite, by suggesting that sub-clause (3.) should be deleted, were seeking to provide that this corporation shall be enabled to insure against all risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers.
– We wish it to insure only against those risks against which it is entitled to insure under this measure. We do not refer to the normal insurance trading to which the Minister referred as being worth something like £1,000,000,000 in Australia.
– I am sorry if I have been slow off the mark and did not understand the arguments of honorable senators opposite. I construed the attack to mean that the Opposition wanted to delete sub-clause (3.) in order to allow the corporation to enter into contracts of insurance against risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers. If that sub-clause is deleted, surely it means that the corporation is given the opportunity to enter into normal insurance contracts. If I am wrong on that, I shall be glad to hear where I am wrong; but I might mention that one or two honorable senators opposite spoke on the issue and I thought that was the particular argument to which I had to address myself. If that is not so, then, to the infinite content of every one in the chamber, my speech will be so much shorter. In view of the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that that was not his argument, I shall not pursue it any further, but T should be interested to hear what is the real purport of the a.in end/men t. Senator Kennelly said that the risk, amounting to 85 per cent, carried by the corporation, should be reduced.
– T said that the maximum risk of 85 per cent, borne by the corporation should be reduced, and the rate of 15 per cent, carried by the exporter should be increased.
– The provision involves a matter of judgment, having regard to this particular kind of insurance. The purpose is to insure the merchant to as great an’ extent as is practicable, while leaving with the insured a personal risk and interest in ensuring that if the event insured against comes to pass, he will have as big an interest as is practicable in assisting the corporation to make a recovery. The proportion of 85 per cent, provided in this bill is in keeping with the 85 per cent, on commercial risks in the United Kingdom, 85 per cent, in Canada, and in Holland, 75 per cent, to 90 per cent. I remind honorable senators that in the preparation of this scheme the Government had the assistance of expert officers, who had had experience in administering similar undertakings in Great Britain.
Senator Kennelly suggested that the staff should be appointed through the Public Service Board in the usual manner of appointing Commonwealth public servants. The reply to the honorable senator’s criticism is along three principal lines. In the first place, the bill provides that the terms and conditions of employment must be approved by the Public Service Board. Secondly, the commission itself will invite open applications for the positions; and, thirdly, the very nature of this organization will require a small, specialist staff rather than a large, general one. It must be able to draw its staff from outside the Public Service from, among those who have specialized knowledge of underwriting and similar business. The total staff engaged by the Canadian corporation on the same kind of work is only 27. This activity would never require a large staff.
A further criticism was of the provision giving the corporation the right to deposit funds with banks other than the Commonwealth Bank, and it was suggested that the provision should be deleted. To do so would, be to oppose the whole spirit and purpose of the corporation. In fact, and in practice, there is very little doubt that the overwhelming proportion of transactions handled by the corporation will be with the Commonwealth Bank. We must keep in mind that one of the things it is hoped to achieve is that insurers will insure against risks, that they will obtain the documents of title, deposit them with their ordinary bankers, and get advances on them. We should also keep in mind the thought that the corporation may well trade in areas in which there is no Commonwealth Bank activity. Surely, as a matter of principle, a trading concern such as this should have the unfettered right to decide where it shall carry on its transactions. I think that those comments answer the criticism that has been raised in this respect.
Some honorable senators inquired about the parts of the world in which insurance facilities would be available. I think it was Senator Byrne who asked whether those facilities would be available for transactions with red China and other countries behind the iron curtain. There is some obvious misconception on this point. There are no restrictions on traders trading from Australia, other than that we in Australia follow the policy laid down by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization concerning the supply of strategic materials to Communist countries. Trade with these countries primarily is a matter for the individuals concerned, so that the transactions are on a trader-to-trader or dealertodealer basis. We are to-day, of course, trading with Communist countries. According to the figures for the last five, years, between 2 per cent, and 3 per cent, of our total exports went to Communist countries. That is about the same proportion of our exports as that which went, to those countries in pre-war years. Not only do we export to them, but we also import from them. Between per cent, and li per cent, of Australia’s total imports comes from Communist countries. The figures for 1953-54 indicate that £41,000,000 worth of exports went to those countries, whilst we imported from them goods to the value of £6,000,000, leaving a balance of trade in our favour of £35,000,000 for that year. For the subsequent year, the value of exports was £16,000,000, and of imports £6,000,000. leaving a balance of trade again in our favour of £10,000,000. As I say, 1 sense a misconception on the part of the Opposition in this connexion. We are out for trade; we have always been out for trade. So far as I know, apart from the restriction on the export of strategic materials to these countries, we have traded with them continuously during the post-war years.
I am sorry that I am not able to reply to the points made by all honorable senators but oan answer only those comments that were made during the debate while I was present in the chamber. I turn now to Senator Wright’s comments concerning the provision of the £25,000,000 limit. I remind the honorable senator that the .Government is liable for that amount. With respect to those who may hold different views, I think that it is a good idea to keep a pretty tight rein on the total amount of the liability. Twentyfive million pounds is a substantial sum for which a government is to accept responsibility by placing the transactions concerned in the hands of a corporation. The honorable senator should remember, too, that this is a guarantee of £25,000;000 outstanding at any particular point of time. I do not know what would be a fair period for these transactions, but I make the guess that a guarantee of £25,000,000 liability at any given time gives room for the corporation to turn over perhaps £100,000,000 per annum. If that is a fair assessment - and I think that Senator Wright will admit that my guess is as good as his in this respect - I think we may feel reasonably satisfied with the prospect that this corporation is going to attract export business to Australia of £100,000^000, in addition to our present exports of £700,000,000 or £800,000,000.
I again cross swords with Senator Wright in regard ‘to his views about the advisory council. The honorable senator referred to the provisions of the British act, and my recollection of his reading of that act indicated that the corporation in Great Britain had to accept the advice of the advisory council.
– Had to consult with it.
– But did not have to accept its advice. I think it is a good thing to have an advisory council. The commissioner should be able to gather the benefit of its wisdom as and when he wants it, but I should not ‘like to see the corporation placed in the position that it had to consult with the council, which -will be composed of men of divergent interests, whose appointments will not be permanent. The corporation should take the best advice from them, but it should not be tied down.
The honorable senator also said that the bill should cover insurance within Australia. My recollection of this aspect of the matter is that there is a specific provision to cover the problems inherent in this type of transaction. If it were possible for a manufacturer to get orders for the manufacture of diesel engines for export from Australia, the construction of the engines would be spread over a period of from six to twelve months, and he would want to cover his risk during the period of manufacture because his capital would be invested during that period. If in the meantime his market is lost to him, that is one of the risks against which the bill provides insurance. So it is necessary to provide cover at least during that interregnum.
Senator Byrne raised the question of the responsibility of the statutory corporation to the Parliament. I have tried to think out the appropriate way in which to approach this difficult question. Unfortunately, the honorable senator is not now present in the chamber. The bill does contain some specific provisions. Under clause 33, the corporation will be bound to submit quarterly reports to the Minister, and the Minister will be required to table them in the Parliament. Under that clause, the corporation will advise the Minister quarterly of contracts entered into and of contracts that have been discharged. On the general question of the responsibility of statutory corporations to the Parliament, we have yet to evolve a completely satisfactory procedure. The honorable senator also referred to a recent British book on this subject. I could draw the line in a rough sort of way by saying that the Parliament is entitled to information on questions of policy, ‘but not on questions of ad, ministration. If an attempt were made to pin me down as to what would be appropriate in respect of this corporation, I should tentatively put forward the view that the Parliament might “well be entitled to ‘know with what countries this corporation was doing business. But 5f the ‘corporation is to succeed, I think that information as to transactions with particular companies should be retained on a confidential basis.
– Does the Minister mean re-insurance, or is he referring to companies ‘to which policies will be issued?
– I refer to companies to which policies are issued. I should not think that there would be reinsurance in the ordinary way, although there might be re-insurance with similar corporations in Great Britain or Canada.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses .1 to 3 agreed to. “Clause £ (Extension to Territories).
Senator COOKE (Western Australia) 1&41). - As the clause extends the operation of the .bill to all the territories of the Commonwealth, I assume that exporters in New Guinea and Papua will be able to insure transactions hi which they engage for the export of various commodities. I should like the Minister to inform me where :it is intended that offices of the corporation shall be established, bo that ^convenience -will not be caused -to residents of the .less-populous States and the territories. In the past, this Government has condemned the centralization -of power1; yet the offices of various .government instrumentalities have been located only in Melbourne or Sydney. I .should like to receive an Assurance from the Minister that offices of the corporation will be established in the several States and territories, and that sufficient authority will be vested in those ‘branches to enable the kind of business ‘envisaged in the hill to be handled efficiently and speedily.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Appointment of Commissioner) .
– This clause deals with the term of office of the commissioner. Sub-clause (3.) con tains a provision the effect of which is that the commissioner, irrespective of the period foi’ -which he is appointed, must retire upon reaching the age of 65 years. That is in accord with normal Public Service procedure and practice. But then, the sub-clause proceeds - . . but Hie Governor-General may, as from the expiration of that last-mentioned period, re-appoint him for such period, not being more than Aree .years, .as the GovernorGeneral determines.
In other words, the sub-clause provides that the commissioner might, in fact, be 68 years of age at the date of retirement. Does that mean that a new policy or standard is being set up by the .Government for those in the Public Service, or in quasi-Public Service bodies? Or is it prompted by the fact that the Government has it in mind to appoint as commissioner a man who has special qualifications, ‘but who is nearing the retiring age, and who will probably reach 6;”’ years of age before his term of seven years has expired? The Minister will recognize that it sets a new norm for the retiring age, possibly one of 68 years. It is not u matter of extending the term of appointment for one year, or from year to year, as was done with the conciliation commissioners who were appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It appears to me to be a new practice, and I should like to hear from the Minister whether a. new norm is being established or whether there are circumstances connected solely with the prospective appointee to the office of commissioner.
– I feel it is a great pity that the Government should perpetuate the retiring age of 65. I do not think it is wise to build up the human scrapheap in Australia, as we are -doing, and I should like .the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to give this clause further consideration.
[3.463. - The purpose of the bill is to give the commission the opportunity to insure goods from all the territories of the Commonwealth no less than from the States. It is yet too early to attempt to forecast what organization will be set up in each State. As to the reasons behind this particular clause we must remember that this is a specialist type of business. It will not be an easy task to get the right person to fill this post; but once having obtained such a person, as we hope we shall, then, if he is of the ripe old age of 65, and the Government thinks itis wise in the particular circumstances to depart from the normal Public Service procedure, this clause will give it the right to extend the commissioner’s service for a period of three years.
– I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to elaborate a little the answer he has just given. I agree that when a position requires a specialist and is hard to fill, it may be necessary to extend the age limit in order to obtain the right person; but I cannot see why an arbitrary limit of 68 years should be fixed in those circumstances. Will the Minister explain why, having obtained this man who is difficult to get and being satisfied with his services, he is automatically deemed to be unable to carry on his services at any arbitrary age? I should be very pleased if the Minister would explain the reason for that.
– Before the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) answers the question asked by Senator Gorton, I should like him to inform the Senate, with the knowledge at present at his disposal, if he agrees with Senator Gorton that it is going to be so hard to find an officer to carry out this special kind of work. It seems rather an astounding state of affairs. Surely, the Government would not go to the trouble of bringing in this bill with all the flourish with which it has brought it in if it doubted that it could find the right man to carry out the work? Secondly, the Minister, in answer to Senator Cooke, I think, said he was not certain whether the organization would he set up in each State. I think Senator Cooke was trying to find out whether the administration would be centralized. I take it from the Minister’s remarks that there is a possibility that at least some portion of the organization of the corporation will be spread over the various States.
– Through agents.
– When the Minister was replying to questions that were raised about staff during the secondreading debate, he said, in effect, that there was no need to worry about that aspect. The corporation set up under the Canadian Act employs only 27 persons, and the implication was that this corporation would not need more than that number, and possibly fewer. If, however, there is to be an agency in each State - and the affairs of each State are entitled to be properly looked after - it amazes me that the whole set-up will require so small a staff.
I do not want to see this bill used as a lever for the possible extension of the working life of federal public servants. I do not want it to be used as the thin end of the wedge. Whilst I candidly admit that I agree with the senator who first raised the question of age that it is quite possible to find persons whose health and experience are such that they are still of extreme benefit to the nation and to the occupation they follow, I hope that this bill will not be used at any time as the thin end of the wedge to increase the working life of public servants. It is more than likely that one of the big problems of the future will be how we can spend our leisure. Shortening of hours may be necessary, whether by shortening the working life of employees or the working week. With automation in the offing, I mention this important matter, hoping that we will at least hear something from the Minister when he is answering, I say, with the greatest respect to my friend, Senator Gorton, the more or less hypothetical question that has been asked. I still want to know why a person competent to carry out this important work will he so hard to find.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
The office of the Commissioner shall be deemed to be vacated -
if he engages in paid employment and the Governor-General declares, by notice in the Gazette, that the office has become vacant.
– This clause deals with vacation of office. After specifying the usual circumstances in which the office is vacated, this clause injects into the qualification a decision by the Governor-General. In other words, the statutory operation of clause 9 is made to depend upon the Executive. The clause reads -
The office of the Commissioner shall be deemed to be vacated -
if he engages in paid employment outside the duties of hi 3 office; and the Governor-General declares, by notice in the Gazette, that the office has become vacant.
I believe that the requirement of a declaration of vacancy by the GovernorGeneral, before the office is deemed to be vacant, is new. In my experience such disqualification clauses do not require a formal declaration to that effect, and where disqualification depends upon such a clandestine matter as interest or concern in a contract with his own corporation, it is not appropriate, in my opinion, that the disqualification should not become operative until the GovernorGeneral has fossicked it out and been persuaded that that particular gentleman should be disqualified in those particular circumstances. Bureaucracy gets close to government, and there are sometimes cases when the Parliament would take a more independent view than the Executive. I ask the Minister the reason for that additional condition of disqualification, namely, after the disqualifying events have occurred the GovernorGeneral should then make a declaration in the Gazette, and only upon the Governor-General’s declaration in the Gazette does the disqualification become operative.
– As it has been explained to me, the submission to the Senate of the proposal in its present form is to cover those situations that may conceivably arise in which there is a technical breach. Consider if the commissioner is absent on duty except on leave granted by the Minister. If the technicalities are nor observed, in such an absence, then there is a discretionary power. The event only occurs with certainty on the declaration of the Governor-General.
– I trust that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) will not expect us to relinquish our interest in the clause on that explanation. I cannot imagine that a man fitted to occupy the post of commissioner would be so forgetful of the few clauses covering his situation that he would be unmindful of the events which might disqualify him. If that is the concern, for my part I shall make the fourteen days into 28, and give the officer another fourteen days to think over advising the commission.
– I accept that proviso, but he might be interested in the absence.
– Let us approach this matter from a business viewpoint. Let us take the disqualifications one by one if the matter that the Minister has mentioned and that I have mentioned is not a fair example. The next matter is that the commissioner is disqualified if he resigns his office. I suggest that there would be no question about that. The next one is that he is disqualified if he becomes bankrupt. Bankruptcy is a definite fact, and there is no need to provide for a technical breach in that regard. Therefore, the only disqualification that can be explained other than the two to which I drew attention is the absence from office for more than fourteen days. Is it right that we should leave a disqualifying clause in the bill, if we think that it is improper that he should be disqualified if he engages in paid employment or if he gains a concern or interest in a contract with his own corporation ? Is it right that we should leave these disqualifications dependent upon a declaration by the Governor-General in the Gazette?
My view will fade away into the usual obscure corner if the Minister can cite substantial precedents for this clause in other Commonwealth legislation. If I arn satisfied that in those cases there is no more reason than in this, to make, one of the conditions of disqualification the Governor-General’s declaration, I shall be persuaded However, at the- present time [ entertain a very strong view that disqualification should not depend upon the Governor-General’s decision. I say that for two reasons. First, because the Governor-General is unlikely to be acquainted with secret matters- such as those envisaged, and,, secondly, because it is not within the proper jurisdiction of the Executive to exempt an officer from :t parliamentary disqualification.. If we lay down conditions of disqualification, they should operate;, and their operation should not be made conditional upon the declaration of. the Executive.
– 1 have been in process, of looking up the relevant parts of the Australian Constitution, but t have not yet had time to locate, them. There are similar acts, under the Constitution which, if performed by a member of this Parliament, cause automatic 1’ofs of office in the Parliament without any such qualification as thar to which Senator Wright has taken exception. 1 suggest that what is good enough for the members and senators of the Parliament, shon ra certainly be good enough- for one of the officers of the Public Service at large. or of the semi-Public Service.
I can see merit, in- what the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has put, that an officer might be absent, for fourteen days and might return, a few hours late, or half a day late, and it would be pretty tough if, as the result of a mishap or breakdown of transport or something, like that he stayed away beyond his statutory period and waa disqualified. Such a situation could be met by his immediate reappointment,, and I. should not imagine that that would cause a. great deal of difficulty. If such an event procured the retirement of the. officer, there- would be not the slightest difficulty in his reappointment by the Government. That would solVe that, difficulty.
However, in the case that the Minister is bothered about, I suggest that, on a casual look at the bill, it is sub-clause
The difficulty could he met in twoways. First, by making the occurrenceof any of the events in sub-clause (e) a cause of retirement, or, under (d) bringing, the words ar the end of the clause to qualify that sub-clause alone. I do not wish to move that way at this stage, in case the Minister isi inclined to adopt my suggestion.. Surely it is sufficient to say that if the commissioner engages in paid employment, becomes bankrupt, or. resigns his office, he shall be- disqualified. How could the words as they now stand have any sensible application, to those reasons? Could a. situation arise where a man had resigned, and his resignation was, not deemed to take effect because the Governor-General had’ not made, a declaration? The officer would cease to function, having tendered his resignation.
I suggest to the Minister that he should put the words- that I have mentioned immediately after sub-clause (d). If any of the other events occur by accident, as the Minister has suggested1, the office immediately becomes vacant, and if there is merit in tire- case that may be put by the commissioner, there is- not the slightest trouble in the Government re-appointing him. No practical’ difficulty would arise, and it seems to he an unnecessary addition *f a qualification in the whole affair; Either the Minister might drop the last few words altogether or apply them to paragraph (6) alone.
’. - I suggest that we are taking rather a narrow view of this- clause. The provision contained in it is not unusual. I have had handed to me a copy of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which contains a provision that is exactly similar. The fact is that the appointments are made by the Governor-General by notice in the Gazette. In modern terms, an appointment by the GovernorGeneral in the Gazette means, in effect, a government appointment. If the government makes the appointment, surely it is right that the government should take an overt act to end the appointment. Honorable senators have said that it applies only in respect of some of the provisions. Let us examine the first paragraph of clause 9, which states that the office <of the commissioner shall be deemed to be vacated -
That, in truth, is a question of fact. The question is whether the commissioner has engaged in paid employment. Being accused of having done so,, he might well deny it. Somebody has to make the decision., and the bill states, in effect, that, in £he final analysis, the government makes the decision.
– That is not the effect at all. If the man disputes the declaration by the government, the government would have to go to the courts for a decision.
– The government would declare in the Gazette that, the position had become vacant.
– That would not apply.
– What would happen if somebody had made an allegation retrospectively over a period of years? If somebody alleged that, in years gone by, the person concerned had done some of the things mentioned in this .clause, what would “happen then? The answer is covered by this clause, which provides for a certain procedure. If the Governor-General, on the advice of the government, declares that the office has become vacant, the bill provides for an act of certainty, instead of one of investigation.
.- The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has not entirely grasped .the point of the objection that has been put forward to this proposal. Nobody is suggesting that the ‘Government should not have the right to terminate the employment of the officer named in the bill. Nobody is suggesting that a notice in the Gazette could not well “be a proper manner ‘of making an overt act to terminate employment if the officer has engaged in .any of the activities mentioned in the bill. The objection, is that, in the clause as it stands, the Government is given the choice .as to whether or not it takes an overt act to dismiss the officer, even though he might have engaged in ‘some of the activities prohibited under this clause. For example, if it were a matter of undisputed fact that the man concerned had engaged in paid employment outside the duties of his office, he would still not be dismissed from that office unless the Government -chose to take an overt act. That is the point of objection to the clause, and it embodies an important principle. ‘That is the point that the Minister did not answer, perhaps because he did not quite grasp the exact meaning of the objection. I must say that I find appeal in the argument that, if this Parliament believes that certain things should not be done by one of its servants and declares, in legislation, that those things should not be done, it should not be within the choice of the Government whether or not. to dismiss a servant who has done those things.
– If the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has nothing further to say on this matter, I am. astonished. I was hoping that he would say whether he would accept one or other of the suggestions that have been made to him - either to omit some of the words from the clause or qualify one of the paragraphs. Since I spoke previously, I am in a position to refer to section 44 of the Constitution which provides that any person who, among other things, is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent - which is one of the headings in this bill - or holds any office of profit under the Crown, or has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth other than a specified position, shall be incapable of being chosen, or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. The mere existence of those provisions disqualifies a person from standing for a position, being chosen for it, or of sitting as a member of the Parliament. What is good enough in such a situation is proper in the matter that is before the committee.
The fact that a provision similar to one in the bill has been applied to conciliation commissioners in a matter of administration simply does not affect the issue that has now been raised. Apparently, the Minister is not prepared to accept any of the suggestions put forward. If he does not, I shall move that the last two lines of the clause be deleted altogether. If that were done, we would get back to the simple position that, if any of the events contemplated in paragraphs (a) to (e) of clause 9 should arise, the office would be vacated, and if it were deemed that they were only token breaches of the provisions of the measure, it would be easy enough for the Government to re-appoint the commissioner without any break in his tenure of office.
– I suggest that if the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is seeking what he last expounded to the committee, the clause should read as it is until the last two lines, which should be amended to read - and the Governor-General may declare, by notice in the Gazette, that the officehas become vacant.
That expresses precisely the purpose that has been mentioned by the Minister. Having said that, I do not want to repeat my former arguments but, so that the Minister may give some technical consideration to the matter, I move -
That the clause be postponed.
– I can only say that the clause, as drafted, has been approved by the Crown Law authorities and, to me, it seems to express in reasonable terms the purport of the legislation. We can go into all sorts of by-paths and arguments about the true meaning of the words. What is contemplated is that, in the event of the occurrence of any of the happenings mentioned in clause 9, certain action will be taken, and there shall be no uncertainty about it. If the event happens, and there is evidence of it, a declaration will be made by the GovernorGeneral in the Gazette. In the view of the Government’s technical officers, that is the best way to express the wishes of the Government. I can only say that if an amendment to the clause is moved, the Government will oppose the amendment, and it will be then the responsibility of the committee to express its opinion. I think that this is rather a storm in a teacup. It amounts to a play on words.
– It could be made such.
– I do not mean that in any provocative way. I merely say that a series of events sets out the circumstances in which the holder of an office shall forfeit that office, which shall be deemed to be vacated.For good measure, and for certainty, it is set out that if any of those events should happen then, so that there will be no misunderstanding or dispute about it, that fact shall also be shown by a declaration of the Governor-General. That seems to me to be the most desirable thing to do in the interests of the employee concerned for he is then not subject to what might he misunderstandings, false accusations or uncertainty.
– In view of what the Minister has said, I ask leave to withdraw my formal motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
.- Before this clause is finally voted upon, I suggest to the Minister that all those things which he has said are desirable would be attained, and all those things which we think are undesirable would be avoided, if the introductory words of the clause were to read -
The office of the Commissioner shall be deemed to be vacated and the Governor-General shall so declare by notice published in the Gazette if he does any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c). Such an amendment would give the Minister all the advantages he said he wanted and it would enable us to avoid the disadvantages which we fear, not from this or any specific government, but from Parliament’s granting to any executive the right of discretion in connexion with the dismissal of a public servant who has transgressed parliamentary will.
– I suggest that the purpose of the honorable senator would be better served by making a slight amendment in the last two lines of the clause, which would also satisfy considerations of grammar.
– I am prepared to accept that suggestion and, accordingly, I move -
That the word “ declares “ be left out with a view to inserting in place thereof the words “shall declare”.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Relations of Corporation with Minister).
– This clause deals with the relations of the corporation with the Minister, and provides - (1.) The Corporation shall keep the Minister informed of the decisions of the Corporation with respect to matters of policy in relation to the conduct of its business. (2.) Before adopting a policy (including an altered policy) with respect to a matter included in any of the following subjects, namely: -
The classes of contracts of insurance into which the Corporation will enter ;
The undertaking of liabilities in relation to trade with particular countries, and so on. When this measure becomes a statute, it will be found that the corporation will be able to deal only with insurance outside normal risks accepted by a commercial insurance company or agency. Under this clause, it will not be able to move freely even within the very limited field of insurance left to it. For example, if a deal in the export of wheat were envisaged by exporters, andthey approached the corporation to obtain insurance cover for it, could the Minister say, “ I will not permit insurance on that particular export, as » matter of policy “ ? Or would an industry with a great export potential, such as sugar or some other commodity, which has great favour with the Government, obtain insurance cover and be allowed to export, whereas exporters of timber would not have the same success? The Minister could declare that, because it is not in keeping with the policy of the Government to allow these goods to be exported, cover on them and permission to export them would not be given, in spite of the fact that the exporters were legitimately trying to expand the export trade of Australia to other countries. This is an important matter, because if exporters are to be allowed to obtain cover for an insurance risk which would not be accepted by Lloyd’s or other private insurance companies, restriction should not be imposed upon the corporation which is operating within an already limited field. Will the Minister be able to say that one class of export will be accepted and another refused, in accordance with Government policy? Will he be able to say to one industry, “ You may live” and to another, “You must die”? This corporation is being set up to administer a most difficult type of insurance, and I want to know to what extent the Minister can restrict its operations.
A grave complication could arise if an exporter, having made a contract to export goods, was refused cover when he approached the corporation, merely because the goods in question were notacceptable for cover, or the country to which they were to he exported was not acceptable to the Government as a matter of policy. How would exporters know the policy of the Government in this respect? What justification can there be for the Minister being able to say that he will allow A to insure, but not B?I hope that the Minister will make quite clear that individual export contracts will not be upset merely at the whim of the government of the day. I hope he will also make it clear that one class of goods or one country will not be favoured at the expense of others.
;. - Under this- export guarantee of the corporation, I can visualize that many companies will want to extend- trade with countries with which hitherto they have not been able to deal for fear of not getting paid. Does the Minister visualize, as I can,, a large export market on the mainland of China? “Would the exporting of goods to that country be a matter for decision by the Government or by the corporation?:
– In. reply to Senator. Cooke’s inquiry,, the Minister will have the right-
– To overrule the corporation.
– To decide what policy shall be adopted, and what class of insurance contract shall be entered1, into and’ with what country trade will be conducted. But the authority will have the right, within that limitation, to decide who shall be insured. It will be able, for good business reasons, to reject one applicant or accept another. That will be done by the authority automatically, and without reference to the Minister: It will not be able to discriminate between classes of goods, and say that it will insure one and not another. The Minister will’ be the last court of appeal’ in respect of areas in which the corporation may operate, and the type of insurance risk which will be accepted. At the. lower level, the authority will decide whether, on business grounds, it will’ deal with A or B, but it. will not be able to say that it. will, handle only particular classes of export goods.
– The Minister can. decide what goods shall be insured, but the corporation cannot.
– Neither the Minister nor the authority can differentiate between products which can be exported’. The Minister can decide what class of insurance shall be accepted, and be can say that in a particular area the corporation will not be prepared to accept a. risk against blockage of currency. But once the Minister has decided on the policy, the area, and the class of risk, the authority will, not: be able to say that it will do. business in that area. in. one commodity but not in: another. It has to do business with all. commodities,, but it can say, in effect, “ We will dobusiness with Brown, because in our opinion he is- of good, standing, but we will not do business with. Smith because
Ave do not think he is of suitable standing’”.
– I think, that Senator Cooke should appreciate that the main, part of this clause is designed to retain parliamentary control over this corporation. By making the Minister responsible1 for policy, we1 have his1 responsibility to< thi* Parliament to look to the proper- discharge of: that policy.. There- is> no substance at all- in the suggestion? that the Minister may, by direction, break a contract. If Senator- Cooke will look at subclause (4.), he will see a. specific prohibition against using the provisions of thebill as he suggested,, because it is there provided, that nothing in the clause fs tobe construed as requiring the approval of the Minister to the. corporation entering into any particular contract.
– Except insofar as that is dependent on policy.
– The substance of the matter’ is that we want to- retain responsibility to the Parliament for the operations’ of this body, according to a particular policy. That is required by subclause (2.) and sub-clause (3.). Subclause (4.) qualifies that, but does not add anything to it. It cannot be said that sub-clause (4.)- simply stops short of the ambit of policy. It does not do so. It is a corollary of sub-clause (2.) and subclause (3.)’ and does not go beyond them. I rose only to point out that it should be appreciated that an important parliamentary principle is incorporated in clause 11, namely, the responsibility of the Minister, and in turn, his ministerial responsibility to the Parliament.
Senator BYRNE (Queensland) [4.38J. - So that the matter may be made clear, at least in: my mind, I also refer to subclause (4.). My reading of that subclause indicates that if a particular contract or project went before the corporation for assistance- and it involved, the determination of new policy, or the alteration of existing policy, then inescapably, in determining that policy, the acceptance or rejection of the contract or project also would be determined. That is the position as 1 see it. 1. agree with Senator Wright’s interpretation of sub-clause (4.), but nevertheless, I think that the two matters I have mentioned could arise together in a particular case, and therefore the Minister, in determining policy in relation to such a contract, may at the same time make a determination and declare a decision on that separate and particular contract. We contemplate circumstances m which the Minister in fact will either allow or disallow am individual project or contract in the course of determining the overriding policy in which it will be embraced.
– Will the Minister say whether the interpretation placed on the clause by Senator Byrne, and explained’ by me in not so concise terms, is correct?’
– I think that Senator Byrne merely repeated what I said earlier.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 (Consultative Council).
– The Minister did not give us rauch information about the preceding clause, and I hope that some of us will be more fortunate in relation to this clause. Can the Minister say how this consultative council is to be appointed? F understand that it is to consist of not more than ten members, which indicates that it is to be a fair-sized body. I lake it that the council will be called into consultation when matters about which its members have particular knowledge are being considered. Has any thought been given to the method of selecting the members of the council, and can the’ Minister indicate from where those members are to come?
– The clause is in the bill for the honorable senator to< see. No thought has been given to the question of who will be appointed to the consultative council or to the sections of the community from, which its members will be drawn. That will be done on the best advice available, with a view to getting the best possible body. I see nothing unusual in that. This council will have a difficult task, and it will be necessary to have men of the right quality serving on it. I donot see any point in going about and asking people if they will be preparedto serve.
– But surely, when this bill was drafted, some one - perhaps the Minister for Trade - had in mind the people who were to be asked to act. in this capacity.
– The secondreading speech states pretty plainly that the members of the council will be drawn from exporting, manufacturing and banking spheres, and I do not think that we can go beyond that statement at this stage.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 - (1.) The Corporation shall, subject to thi* Act carry on the business of insurance . . (3.) The Corporation shall not enter into contracts of insurance under this section against risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers.
– I move -
That sub-clause (3.) be left out.
During his reply to the second-reading debate, the Minister more or less implied that if this sub-clause were deleted it would mean, that the corporation would be able to deal with all insurance matters, such as marine insurance, shipwreck,, and pillage,, which are denied to the corporation by this, legislation. I understood him to say, in effect, “If we agree to the omission of this sub-clause it will mean that the corporation may enter into the wholesale insurance business “. I suggest that the. corporation must conduct its operations within the framework of this legislation, and after all, the object of the bill is1 to promote trade with countries outside Australia by establishing an export payments insurance corporation to provide insurance against certain risks arising out of trade not normally insured with commercial insurers. I should say that this corporation will attempt to sell some, if not all, of our exportable surplus. It will sell goods in places where we have no markets at present and where normal trading facilities do not now exist. As the corporation will take a certain amount of risk, within the ambit permitted by the bill, it ought to be permitted to effect insurance in relation to the normal functions associated with the getting of goods to their destination. I am not asking for wholesale intervention in the insurance field.
– We thought that that was what the honorable senator was driving at.
– Senator Hannaford’s interjection reminds me very greatly of a statement that was made by the Minister who was in charge of the bill in another place - not the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), but the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne). He said that the Government would not accept this amendment because it expressed the socialistic objectives of the Opposition, and sought to change the whole nature of the scheme contemplated by the bill. That is not the position at all. The corporation will be able to work only within the ambit of the provisions of the bill. I believe that the acceptance of the amendment would enable the corporation to show a profit. If the corporation were permitted to deal in normal marine insurance, its profit from that kind of business would enable the premiums payable on other forms of insurance to be reduced. I suppose that, if the scheme envisaged by the bill achieves its object of enabling our exportable surpluses of certain commodities to be sold, in due course a bill will be introduced to permit the sale of the corporation. All I am saying now is that the Government should be prepared to give way to the extent that it will allow the corporation to engage in normal insurance associated with getting goods to their destination, and not restrict it to the riskier kinds of business. The Minister for Customs and Excise was quite outspoken in another place as 1o the intention of the Government in this matter. He said that the
Government did not wish to enter into the wide field of commercial insurance. I am not asking the Government to do that. The Minister then went on to say - I do not think he was as wise as is the Minister who is in charge of the bill in this chamber (Senator Spooner), who would not, I am sure, leave himself open - that the Government decided to establish a corporation to handle this kind of business only when it was convinced that the risks associated with overseas trade, against which this bill seeks to insure exporters, could not be covered by existing commercial insurance in Australia. I think that my friend, Senator Spooner, would be much too politically wise to make a statement of that kind.
Apparently, the Minister for Customs and Excise thought that the Opposition wanted the corporation to be permitted to engage in all kinds of insurance. Not at all! We only want the corporation to be authorized to work within the ambit of the bill. The Minister has stated that the object of the insurance scheme contemplated by the bill is to increase our export trade. I assume that the Government does not intend that the premiums charged shall be excessive. Therefore, I consider that the amendment could be accepted without disturbing any established principles. There is no question of nationalization or socialization involved. All that the Opposition asks is that the corporation will not be precluded from working satisfactorily. 1 remind the Minister that the nation, a.well as the Government, wants the scheme to work. The exporters want to sell good? overseas. In order that the scheme might work satisfactorily, and thus assist the balance of trade position, the Government should ensure that exorbitant premiums will not be charged. At least, the corporation should be allowed to make some profit. In conclusion, I emphasize that the premiums charged to exporters should be as low as business acumen dictates, and that the corporation should be permitted to engage in marine insurance, and so on.
– I have experienced difficulty in following the reasoning of Senator Kennelly, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition. His amendment would delete sub-clause (3.) of clause 13, which reads -
The Corporation shall not enter into contracts of insurance under this section against risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers.
And then, oddly enough, he said that he considered that the corporation should not engage in the whole field of insurance. The honorable senator was working on an entirely false premise when he assumed that marine insurance was not perfectly normal, every-day insurance.
– It is with normal trade, but I referred to risky trade.
-In any case, putting that aside for one moment, the position is that every risk has an assessment. Even if the corporation did go into the field of normal insurance the premium to be struck would have to be competitive with every other company operating throughout the world and catering for that particular risk. It is entirely fallacious to suggest that a corporation can go into other fields of insurance and build up huge profits at the expense of other companies. As far as other proposals are concerned, at the outset it would be merely a shot in the dark to assess what premium should be charged ; but the cardinal principle of insurance, which has been observed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, is that the risk has to be assessed in the light of the particular risk. Each risk stands on its own feet as far as assessment of the premium is concerned. I think it is dangerous to assume that the corporation can go into another field of insurance and draw out of that field huge profits, in view of the competitive premiums that would have to be imposed. Such reasoning is fallacious. An amendment has been circulated to omit subclause (3.) but, at the same time, Senator Kennelly referred to the preamble of the bill and said that that was the way the Opposition wanted the corporation to operate. The words in the preamble are the very words this amendment, if passed, would delete.
– The severity of the proposed delimitation of sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 on the operation of the insurance corporation can best be assessed by reference to next clause, if I may be permitted to refer to it, although I may be anticipating it. Clause 14 reads -
The Corporation shall -
endeavour to encourage trade with countries outside Australia by developing and expanding its business: and
pursue a policy directed toward? securing revenue sufficient to meet all its expenditure properly chargeable to revenue.
In that clause a firm and unrelenting statutory obligation is imposed on this corporation, in effect, to balance its budget. While that clause is written into the bill, at the same time, sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 actually ties the hands of the corporation in its attempt to discharge its statutory obligation. That appears to me to be completely illogical and contradictory. The inescapable effect of . clause 14, if the corporation measures up to it and attempts to discharge its statutory duty, will necessitate its imposing premium rates sufficiently high to enable it to recoup the demands properly chargeable to Consolidated Revenue. It is inevitable therefore, in view of the attendant risks attachable to the type of insurance in which the corporation is by statute required to engage exclusively, that the premium rates must be extremely high. As I have said, this will impose on the exporter who takes advantage of this measure the payment of high premium rates which inevitably will be passed on in export charges. It will actually complicate the position and, at the same time, deprive the corporation of the opportunity to extend practical financial help by way of lower premiums.
I am not very familiar with insurance practice, but I cannot see anything fundamentally wrong in the principle of an insurance risk being spread over a number of different types of risks, so that what is lost on the swings can be made up on the roundabouts, and, in the ultimate, the lowest practicable insurance premium can be charged. I can see nothing peculiar in that. After all, this bill requires the corporation to enter into what is acknowledged in the very terms of the statute, and in the preamble, to be a completely new insurance field. It is a field which so far is an insurance no-man’s land into which operating insurance companies have not elected to enter. Therefore, if this measure introduces a new principle in the determination of premium levels, then it is most appropriate that the new principle should be determined when that new field of insurance is being canvassed for the first time. For that reason, unlike Senator Anderson, I can see nothing illogical in the amendment.
I draw attention to the important submission I have made in relation to the effect of clause 14. As I have said, the bill imposes a very serious statutory obligation on the corporation, but, at the same .time, makes it increasingly difficult for it to discharge that obligation without being able to impose high premium rates which, in effect, will serve to defeat the particular purpose which this measure attempts to achieve. It is for that reason I support the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly on behalf of the Opposition.
– I oppose the amendment, and I rise only to contradict some of the arguments made by Senator Kennelly. His submissions, I suggest, proceed upon an entirely false basis. He said that if one reads the preamble to the bill, he will see that its scope is defined in the following words : -
To promote trade with countries outside Australia by establishing an Export Payments Insurance Corporation to provide Insurance against certain Bisks arising- .out of that Trade not normally insured with Commercial Insurers.
Then, Senator Kennelly asks the committee to delete an operative provision, namely, sub-clause :(3.) of clause 13.
– It is the same.
– It is not the same thing. Sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 is an operative provision inserted to achieve the purpose expressed in the preamble. If Senator Kennelly thinks that Government senators are superficial enough in their consideration of this matter to accept his invitation to delete sub-clause -(3.) - the operative provision - thinking that by leaving that subclause out the preamble will achieve the same result, he underestimates the understanding of Government senators. The position is that subclause (3.) is an essential sub-clause intended to make clearer what is expressed in sub-clause (2.) of clause 13. The amendment proposed by Senator Kennelly poses the question of whether the Government is authorizing the corporation to undertake ordinary commercial insurance or is creating it merely for the purpose of undertaking extraordinary, external trade insurance. I conceive that it is devoted to the latter purpose and, therefore, it would be entirely misleading to accept the submissions that have been made. No reasonable interpretation of the bill can be put forward to suggest that sub-clause (3.) should be deleted.
While I am on my feet, I should like to make one further observation for the consideration <of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). I desire to adopt the Minister’s own illustration of a contract for the manufacture in Australia of motor car engines for export, say, to Syria or red China. The Minister informed me, in reply to a query I made during the second-reading debate, that it was intended to accept insurance under this bill to apply, not only after export, but while the goods were in the process of manufacture in Australia. In other words, the proposed contract is to be insured from beginning to end. I should like the Minister to consider the following situation: - A lorry load of engines is being transported from the factory to the port and during the journey three workmen .are killed involving a third-party insurance claim of £30,000, say £10,000 for each workman. But for sub-clause (3.) that would be permissible cover for this corporation to give against that liability. Then, suppose the lorry proceeds another 20 miles and catches fire and is burnt. That, too, but for .subclause (3.) is permissible cover for this corporation to give.
When the engines are placed on board ship ordinary marine insurance then covers damage to goods through penetration of sea water by reason of the ordinary perils of the sea. If the engines thereby become corroded during the voyage, that again is a matter for ordinary marine insurance. But for sub-section (3.) those matters would be cover that this corporation should provide. I have instanced three liabilities that could arise, namely, accident, fire, and damage by ordinary marine risk. All of those would, but for subclause (3.) of clause 13, I submit to thc Minister, be permissible insurance under clause 13 of the bill. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 13 reads as follows: - (2.) Thu contracts of insurance which the Corporation may enter into under this section are contracts of insurance with, or for the benefit of, persons carrying on business in Australia, being contracts of insurance against risk of monetary loss or other monetary detriment attributable to circumstances outside the control of the person suffering the loss or detriment and resulting from failure to receive payment in connexion with, or otherwise arising out of, acts or transactions in the course of, or for the purpose of, trade with countries outside Australia.
This is the thing that I particularly wish to impress upon the Minister. I believe that that submission as to the interpretation of sub-clause (2.) is incontrovertible, but I have always been led to believe, until this debate commenced in the Senate yesterday, that we were providing for a corporation which would insure only for losses under contracts - in other words, a guarantee of performance of contracts. That is to say, the insurance was to indemnify the trader against losses under a contract, and it was never within the scope of my anticipation that this bill would primarily cover accident, fire or marine risk. Therefore, I wish to say that I rely on the safeguard that subclause (3.) provides. It is an exclusion of ordinary commercial insurance whether accidents, fire or marine. However, to ray way of thinking it is a most illdesigned method of achieving the required result.
– Before the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) replies, I desire to make a few comments on this clause. I support the amendment. When I consider that the purpose of this bill is to set up a corporation to embark into a new field of insurance, I expect to see the position of that particular corporation buttressed at every possible pointApproaching the bill from that angle, I find that instead of that being the approach, in the sub-clause that we propose to delete these words appear -
The Corporation shall not enter into contracts of insurance under this section against risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers.
I pose two positions in that regard to the Minister. Let us assume that the class of insurance proposed to be undertaken by the commissioner is successful, that very great use is made of the facilities of the commissioner, and that his accounts show at the end of a year or two a profit, even a substantial one. If at that point the commercial insurance com- panies enter into the field that hitherto has been occupied by the commissioner alone, will their entry mean that those risks will then be normally insured against by commercial insurers, and the charter of the commissioner will be brought to an end? That is one implication that flows from the clause, because, if after a few years, the activity of the corporation is successful, and commercial insurers are admitted into the field, they will speedily complain that the risks the commissioner insures against are normally insured with them. I take it that the corporation will then lose its charter, and its functions will be brought to an end. I ask the Minister whether that is the correct position, because it is the position as I see it.
I could have understood it if a subclause had been put in in order to protect the commissioner against commercial insurance companies by stating that the commercial companies should not enter into contracts of insurance against risks that are normally insured with the corporation. If the corporation were protected against private insurers entering its own field, that would be a normal and logical approach. But that is not the position.
One factor that has not been put forward in the debate is that despite the fairly wide terms of sub-clause (2.), if it stood alone permitting insurance of various types of risk arising out of trade with companies, that would be a fairly wide cover. However, there is the factor that the whole of that clause is under the control of clause 11, which has already been accepted by the Senate. It is for the Minister, still with full ministerial responsibility, to say what class of contracts, what kind of risks and what liabilities are to be undertaken, so that if sub-clause (2.) with its comparative width in relation to overseas trade stood by itself, there would be still the overriding control of the Parliament, through the Minister, as to the types of risks that should be undertaken. Sub-clause (2.) does not stand baldly covering every kind of risk. I agree that it could cover a matter conceivably as an aspect of overseas trade, like workers’ compensation, for example, which was an instance given by Senator Wright.
It may be ministerial policy under present circumstances to deny the corporation’s right to enter that field; but that very field is one of the best illustrations of why the charter of this corporation should be widened. If honorable senators will refer to statistics made available by the Commonwealth Statistician in relation to that field of workers’ compensation, they will discover that in the six years ended the 30th June, 1954, £91,000,000 was paid to private insurance companies in Australia by way of premium, whereas only £53,000,000 was paid out in benefits.
– Where may those statistics be found.
– They are the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician, and I have a copy of them here which the honorable senator may see if he so desires. I do not suggest that this corporation should enter that field, but that is one field which would be covered by sub-clause (2.) if the sub-clause stood alone and the Minister did not intervene. I mention workers’ compensation as an instance of how very lucrative fields of business might be found. There, £38,000,000 was made available to private insurance companies over a six-year period, and if a profit of that kind were available to this corporation, a very real purpose could be achieved by the bill by lowering the premium rates that could be charged for the insurance of extraordinary risks such as those that the measure is designed to cover. The Minister would have complete control and sub-clause (2.) would not give an unlimited charter to the corporation. It would still remain a matter of ministerial responsibility.
Let us consider the realities of insurance contracts and how they are effected. The Minister, himself, faced reality when he said that no exporter would be permitted to ask for a cover only for his worst risks. He would be expected to give a fair cover to his risks, according to the Minister. The person seeking the contract might have dealt with well-established bodies in the United Kingdom for some years, and he might feel that he need not have insurance because he is sure of his payments there and other possible losses that we are seeking to guard against. He might want to export now to some country of political instability, but the Minister has indicated that the corporation will say, in effect, “ It is no good bringing this dangerous piece of export business to country X to us. We want you to include the whole field of your exports in your business with the corporation. We want you to insure goods going to the United Kingdom. Unless you give us a fair spread of your export risks, we will not take the biggest risk that you want us to take “. Surely, that is a principle of insurance. The person seeking insurance cover is expected to do the fair thing. He is expected to give the company a reasonable spread of risk. That is the accepted practice.
It is also accepted practice that, when a man takes the worst type of insurance to an insurer who is engaged in general insurance business, the insurer will say, “ You have brought me only your riskiest business. You have other insurance business - fire and accident or marine loss. Why do you not offer me some of that business? If I take this risk - which is your worst risk - will you give me at least some say in a contract of re-insurance with your usual insurer ? “ That is the type of proposition that is advanced.
A potential customer who approaches the corporation for insurance cover is likely to say, “ You are covering guarantees of payments. Do you also cover fire, accident, theft or ordinary marine risks as well ? “ He would prefer to deal with one company rather than spread his business over various insurers. The realities of the business indicate that there will be a demand for that sort of cover, and it should be met by the corporation. The Minister might say to the corporation, under the powers proposed to be given to him under clause 11, “ You must confine yourselves to overseas trade “. That is the first limitation. Primarily, the corporation must concern itself with risks against insolvency, war, revolution and the other risks covered by the provisions of the bill. The Minister might add, however, that, if a client asks for cover against other risks associated with the one cargo - fire, theft, marine and so on - the corporation should be free to accept the business. That would not involve the corporation in a search for other business. It would simply make indivisible one type of business activity in relation to one cargo. Only one cargo would be involved. Why should it not be the accepted policy to allow the corporation to cover all risks if the insurer so desired ? Surely, that is reasonable and normal.
The great purpose of this bill, as we have been told, and as I believe, is to stimulate exports. Accordingly, we do not want to add to the cost problems of exporters. If insurance by the corporation is to be confined to the worst risks at the highest premium rates, we shall only worsen the plight of our exporters. We shall not be helping them as much as we could. I believe that if we deleted sub-clause (3.) from clause 13, we should still leave this provision subject to ministerial control, and it could be extended into other branches of insurance that relate to the one cargo. That seems to be a reasonable proposition. I would prefer to see the wording of sub-clause (3.) so altered that the ukase would be on the commercial companies against competing with the corporation that is to be set up.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania”) [5.21J. - I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Kennelly for the deletion of sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 because the effect of that sub-clause would be to confine the proposed export payments insurance corporation to risky business in overseas trade. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has given examples of the risks that could be involved in sending goods from Australia to traders in other parts of the world, particularly in the United Kingdom. Let us consider the new field of trade that we expect to develop because of the establishment of this corporation. In particular, I refer to the countries immediately to the north of Australia, including Indonesia and Malaya. Trade with those countries would be new and risky business for a start until our reputation, and that of the purchasing countries, had been established. They are passing through important internal revolutions, but their peoples still have to eat, and they need machinery and many of the goods that we manufacture in Australia. Inevitably, some of the persons with whom we want to trade will be new to business, and they will not have the recommendations from the right places, perhaps in London or elsewhere. That, does not mean, however, that we should exclude them from our trading operations. I hope that this measure will encourage and assist Australian trade in those new fields of commerce, but I see dangers inherent in the sub-clause, which states -
The Corporation shall not enter into contracts of insurance under this section against risks that are normally insured with commercial insurers.
The taxpayer will have to finance the guarantees provided under this bill in the final analysis, and the sub-clause means, in effect, that the taxpayers will become a milch cow. Under the provisions of this sub-clause, the taxpayers will have to stand behind the corporation, when it accepts risky business, but the corporation will have to hand out the plums to others. Let us consider our shipping lines. If our business takes us into new fields, and the ships have to pass through dangerous waters, the established companies might put a surcharge on the insurance of our ships. Shall we have to ask some English company to insure our Australian ships in those circumstances? Insurance is a big factor in the balance of payments problem, and we should try to reduce our overseas commitments in that field. I believe that the restrictions contained in the subclause take away much of the value of the bill. The arguments that have already been put forward by previous speakers have borne out my contention that the deletion of the sub-clause would be advantageous. On the other hand, we should not have to take all the risks and get none of the advantages that can accrue from the opening up of these new fields. I believe that the time is more than overdue when the Australian Government should have its own insurance office engaging in all fields of cover. I hope that the day will come when this clause is deleted. In fact. I am confident that before very long it will be deleted, that is, when the Australian Labour party is returned to office. When it is deleted, we shall l>e able to ensure that the Australian taxpayer is not mulcted by a government which seeks all the time to protect only those people who are looking for the plums and leaving it to the Australian taxpayer to take all the risks involved in a matter such as this. I support the amendment that has been put forward by Senator Kennelly.
. -I support the amendment; and I am Accepting the present position. I do not know what future governments might or might not do. I am looking at the bill as it is and as it will be administered by the present Government. Looking at it from that point of view, I feel that this clause will very considerably limit the effectiveness of the whole measure. The Government lays it down specifically in sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 that -
Senator Wright, during the course of his remarks, drew attention to a number of incidents that may occur and which could be covered by this bill; but the actual position is that while we rigidly prohibit the corporation from insuring a risk that is normally insured, we do not give it any protection in the event of an insurance company’s refusing to take certain risks. There is no such thing as compulsory insurance. Various firms set themselves up as insurers against all sorts of risk, but always reserve to themselves the option of accepting, or rejecting, an application for cover. The purpose of this new corporation is the making of a drive to capture trade in various countries.
What is to be the position if a prospective exporter says to the corporation that he has been refused cover by the insurance companies? Can the corporation then effect the insurance itself? I feel that it is denied that opportunity by the clause as at present worded. In my opinion, the clause is far too rigid. It should be more pliable. It should be capable of meeting all sorts of unforeseen circumstances. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has referred to what the Minister can do. I think the Minister should have the right to say to the corporation, “ If you cannot effect cover with the present recognized insurance companies, then accept it yourself “. I feel that as the clause is now worded the corporation is precluded from effecting any such cover. For that and other reasons that have been expounded by honorable senators on this side, I support the amendment.
– I support the amendment, but probably my approach to it differs from that of previous speakers. In the first place, the corporation contracts with an exporter to take the risk connected with payment for goods exported and to protect him against other risks which normally would not be covered by commercial insurance companies. Sub-clause (3.) of clause 13 says -
If a prospective exporter is doubtful about whether the country or the person with whom he is contracting can pay for the goods, it would be possible, without this sub-clause, for the Government to say, “ We will offer you comprehensive cover on these goods, that cover to include marine loss, loss by fire or pillage, and non-payment “. It is possible that no other company would give a comprehensive cover which protects the exporter against risk of non-payment. For that reason, it is only fair to the people of Australia that the corporation should not be restricted by this sub-clause. Take the case pf a firm that exports a consignment of wheat which is damaged by sea, fire, or in some other way in transit. It is possible that one of the conditions of sale was that freight and insurance, in addition to the price of the wheat, was to be collected at the point of destination if the price of the wheat and other costs such as insurance and freight are to be collected at the point of destination, and the corporation is to protect the exporter, it is essential that it, too, should have some protection against possible losses.
It might be that the Government envisages some comprehensive policy to cover those risks. Some ordinary commercial insurance companies give comprehensive cover, but they generally farm out a proportion of the risk to companies like Lloyds. By spreading the risks, these companies can give an exporter a comprehensive policy covering all risks excepting the non-payment for the goods on his consignment. If the Government is to enter into the field of insurance, and if the activity is to be efficient, it must be in a position to give comprehensive cover against all risks connected with the consignment from the point of export to the point of delivery which would include insurance against the risk of non-payment for goods. If insurance and freight are payable at the other end, they should be collected by a government instrumentality. The Minister may be able to say that that will be done. If it is done, the Opposition contends that there is no reason for this provision under which a particular type of risk is covered but all other risks must be insured by the commercial insurance companies. The situation could arise in which a consignment covered by the corporation might arrive in the country of destination in a damaged condition. Normally, insurance against damage would have been provided by a private company, but this would not have been done by the corporation. If the object of this legislation is to provide credit and insurance for the purpose of extending our export trade, this clause could be deleted, even if it is the policy of the Government not to accept insurance on commodities other than those exported overseas, but to guarantee payment for exported goods in the countries to which they are sent.
Sitting suspended from 5.39 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan ) read a first time.
SenatorO SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for the Navy) [8.1]. - I move -
That the billbenow read a second time.
This measure, which is complementary to the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) for ordinary services now before the Senate, seeks parliamentary authority for a further appropriation of £3,783,000 for capital works and services for the current year. Any details of the various items which may be required by honorable senators will be provided at the committee stage. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna ) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 17th May (vide page 836), on motion by Senator Cooper -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: -
. (vide page 803).
.- The bill before the Senate to-night proposes to develop television in Australia along the orthodox lines of Public Service socialism. It also proposes to strengthen bureaucratic control over the existing services of sound broad casting. Because of the powers - and they are extremely wide - that have been given to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, it may do several things. It may dictate concerning the contents of the programmes submitted and the hours during which those programmes may be broadcast, and it can exercise censorship. Generally speaking, it states the conditions under which the Australian people may watch television or listen to broadcasting. In many respects, the measure before the Senate is worse than the one which it proposes to replace, because powers of a very vital character which were formerly exercised by the Minister - and a Minister is a person who is accessible to the Parliament - are to he transferred to what might be called a sheltered oligarchy which the Parliament can never reach.
In my humble opinion, this measure before the Senate represents a strange contradiction. On the one hand, the Government has appointed a commission to control broadcasting over the national service. That commission has been deliberately and most carefully chosen from persons outside the Public Service, for their breadth of knowledge and understanding, and also for their cultural capacity and general ability to give the nation a national broadcasting service of the highest standard. In that respect, I think that the Government is to be commended. But on the other hand the Government has appointed as the ultimate arbiters of the standard of the commercial service, an obscure board, if one may so refer to it, whose only permanent members are public servants and whose qualifications are not at all comparable with those of the members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. To me, this is a very strange paradox. I think that the method of selection of the commission has been admirable.
Perhaps this is bad enough, but 1 believe that worse is to follow. It is even possible that, in a conflict on a matter affecting the national service, the views of the public servants on the Australian Broadcasting Control Board could, and perhaps would, prevail over the considered opinion of the members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Is the honorable senator going to support the bill?
– The Broadcasting Control Board should be abolished and replaced by a commission similar to the Federal Communications Committee of the United States of America. Professional public servants should be excluded. The powers of the commission should be extended to enable it to supervise the use of the whole of the ether for communication purposes.
Senator Wood interjecting,
– An honorable senator has said something about chloroform. I suggest that some people may be chloroformed if we get television.
I believe that television is starting in Australia under a very serious handicap. This is due to the mismanagement of the allocation of television frequencies, so that radiation channels cannot be grouped rationally. In addition, they are not sufficiently numerous. Apparently, some honorable senators do not believe that what 1 am saying is correct. If an honorable senator thinks that my statements are incorrect, he has the opportunity to give me the facts and figures. I hope that the Minister will give us further information on this matter. I notice that I have already provoked one honorable senator to interject, and I hope that my remarks will provoke many more people to look into this matter of communications and attempt to understand it.
A competent and, perhaps, independent commission, able to hold fair balance between the communication needs of such government authorities as the post office, the defence services and the civil aviation people on the one hand, and that large group of non-federal users of radio services, including television and broadcasting, on the other hand, should be appointed to recast the whole allocation of the Australian radio spectrum. I think that that is one of the vital things that we have to consider, not only for to-day but also for the future. The post office is a business undertaking. As its most recent accounts demonstrate, it could profitably devote the whole of its energies to the management of its business affairs. Administrative functions in connexion with radio should be detached from it, and placed under a new communications commission. I admit frankly that 1 am not in favour of the introduction of television into Australia. Indeed, I am glad that the Government has kept it out of Australia for as long as it has done.
– But, just as Canute realized that the waves of the ocean could not be held back, so we realized that we could not hold back for ever the introduction of television, but 1 sincerely wish that it could have been held back a little longer.
– At a later stage, I shall tell Senator Brown why I should have preferred its introduction to be delayed still further. The Government’s decision to launch a television service now is perhaps untimely and unfortunate. It could be a direct product of departmental ambition. Sound broadcasting was firmly established in Australia by private enterprise. It was not launched as a government activity until after eight years of notable pioneering by private enterprise.
– A similar position obtained in relation to aviation.
– That is so. In those eight years, the radio audience developed at a faster rate than at any time since. Private operators bore the whole of the establishment costs, and provided the audiences to enable the government service to be launched on an economically sound basis. I believe that that policy should have been adopted in relation to television. I think that it would have been applied had not the Postal Department and other sections of the Public Service decided that the Government would not enter this new field after private enterprise; they wanted to be first in the field. Most unfortunately, I believe, the Government has allowed itself to be influenced by those ambitions.
The consequences will be both unfortunate and costly. At present, both Melbourne and Sydney have eight sound broadcasting services, to which are to be added three television services. I consider that two commercial television services would have been sufficient with which to launch the new industry. By contrast, no substantial provincial area is to have any television service at all in the initial stages. Perhaps that is why a television service will not be provided in Queensland at the outset. However, this position cannot continue. Inevitably, the
Government, having provided national television services in Melbourne and Sydney, will come under irresistible pressure to introduce television, first in the other State capitals, and later in the big provincial centres.
– Hear, hear !
– The prospective operating costs of the national television services are frightening. Even a limited service can cost £250,000 per station per year. I remind the Senate that past losses on sound broadcasting by the national service have approached £2.000,000 year. They may be dwarfed by the losses on television when the Government yields to pressure - as it must do - to extend its national service throughout Australia.
Undertakings should be given by the Government on another matter of importance regarding which very little has been said. I listened most attentively in the hope that the Opposition would deal with this matter, but it did not do so. I refer to the provision in the bill for the launching of sound broadcast services by frequency modulation, to supplement the existing medium wave amplitude modulation sound services. Very little has been said in this chamber about the introduction of frequency modulation. One of the excuses that the Government has offered in this connexion is that no more medium wave sound channels are available for new stations to enable better services to be provided to certain areas which are at present ill served. But the fact is that there are fewer than 160 licensed medium wave amplitude modulation broadcast stations in Australia at present, compared with more than 2,000 such stations in the United States of America, a country of comparable area, with a comparable pattern of population distribution, but immeasurably more exposed than Australia ever could be to interference to its broadcast channels by the services of neighbouring countries. It is nonsense for any one to tell us - as we are regularly told - that no more channels for ordinary amplitude modulation broadcasting services could be made available in this country, in view of the fact that American engineers have been able to provide in that country approximately thirteen stations for every station that is operating in Australia.
If frequency modulation is. introduced into Australia, I doubt whether the receiving sets at present in use would be capable of receiving the broadcasts, although it is sometimes claimed that- they could1 be successfully converted for frequency modulation reception. I think I am justified in saying that if frequency modulation broadcasting were introduced in Australia, many people would be forced to buy expensive new receiving sets. In turn, this would lead to increased pressures ou man-power and materials in the radio industry, which will be further strained by the production of. television receivers..
The resultant, hire-purchase business will accentuate the inflationary pressures in the community. I do not intend to enter into- a controversy at present on the pros and cons of hire purchase, because o’thers better skilled and more versed than I am in finance have already pointed, when reviewing our current economic situation, to some of the difficulties inherent in the hire-purchase system. They have said that hire purchase is straining our financial reserves, and that it has been responsible for the failure of the Government to fill recent loan issues. If that is so, the introduction of television will add to those difficulties, because receiving sets, whether frequency modulation broadcast receiving sets or television sets, will be very expensive. The greater proportion of such receiving sets now in use in England and on the continent of “Europe, as well as in America, have been brought under the hire-purchase system, and I believe that that will be so in relation to television sets in Australia.
Later, I intend to ask honorable senators who are advocating the introduction of this bill what great advantages will accrue from it. What are some of the reasons we have had advanced for the introduction of frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia? The main reason, we have been told, is to permit the Australian Broadcasting Commission to develop its plans for the provision of a third programme in the densely populated centres of Australia. In plain terms, this means that if the third programme plan proceeds the Australian Broadcasting Commission will provide three separate services in place of the present two in the capital cities and big provincial centres. The country, of course, will have to be content with its present limited service.
The spectacle that is presented appears to be rather queer to me. Under this plan Melbourne and Sydney, which now have eight separate broadcasting, services each, will be provided with a minimum of nine, by increasing Australian broadcasting services from two to three. In addition, each of these cities will have three television services1. I doubt whether any hope exists for any appreciable increase in. Australian Broadcasting Commission revenue as a result of the third programme. The listening audience is already near saturation point, and has been for years. In all probability the revenue from sound broadcasting licencefees will begin to fall over the next few years as more people switch from sound broadcasting to television. We are confronted with the proposition, that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, by a resort to frequency modulation broadeasting, will further serve areas- already over-served with sound broadcasting at a time when its revenues from sound broadcasting are in danger of dwindling, and in circumstances in which its programme bill can be expected to rise by at least £1,000,000 a year or more. .
It have mentioned briefly a few of the difficulties to be overcome in providing a television service. I have mentioned some of the probable costs and losses. I hope the Minister will discuss some of these aspects and that honorable senators will be able to tear what I have said to pieces and tell me where I am wrong. From what I have seen of the proposed set-up of television and from what I have read in this bill, those are the conclusions to which I have come. I have studied the bill fairly carefully and I believe that what I have said is a fair analysis of what it contains. So far, no one has told the Senate what beneficial result can be expected from television, other than, perhaps, possible amusement.
– That is a terrible thing. !
– I heard Senator Anderson express a certain view. It is doubtful whether some of the programmes that have been suggested will be of much benefit. If it were not for our sporting bodies the television people would have very little to televise. Other than that, the main features will be films and plays, and from my experience of television, if I wanted to see a film or play I would go to the place where the film was being shownor the play was being staged. I am glad that the rights ofsporting bodies will be protected. I should like some one to tell me whether I am wrong when I say that there is little else which will be shown to the public to attract their attention.
– The honorable senator would look nice on television.; he need not worry.
– Having seen television in operation, I repeat that 1 am in no hurry to have it introduced into Australia. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) told me the other day that about 7,000 telephone applications are awaiting fulfilment in South Australia alone. Wherever one goes in the country he is asked about the installation of automatic telephone exchanges. I should prefer to see automatic telephone exchanges installed in country areas rather than see Melbourne and Sydney get these extra broadcasting stations.
Another matter on whichI should like information from the Minister is the drain of skilledmen from the Postal Department and the Army particularly, into television services. The figures would be very interesting. Men who are most vital to the defence of Australia have been taken out of the forces to develop television interests.
– The electronics industry has some military value.
– No one denies that fact for a moment, but I am sure that some of the men in charge of the defence of Australia deplore the fact that qualified men are being lost to the Army, Navy, and Air Force when they would he much better employed in those services than in commercial television.I have studied this bill and I have listened with a great deal of attention to what other honorable senators have said, hut in spite of all that, if it were in my power, I would keep television out of Australia for at least another two years.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Read).- Order! Senator Cameron had not completed his address when the debate was adjourned on Thursday last. He was unavoidably absent when the debate was resumed this evening, and I ask that he be given leave to continue his remarks.
SenatorCAMERON (Victoria) [8.30]. - When I was finishing what I had tosay on Thursdayafternoon Iemphasized, in effect, the same note that Senator Mattner has just sounded. I said that first things should be put first. I again emphasize, as lie has done, theneed for telephones for thousandsof people in every State of the Commonwealth. I also emphasize that television would cause a diversion of necessary labour power from more essential manufacturing industries and services. I also objected to television being controlled by commercial interests, and pointed out that the dominant principle guiding commercial interests, or stations, was not that of rendering service to the community,but rather the making of profits. If other more essential works and services, such as telephone services, housing and road-making, were as profitable as television, there would he no call at all for television in Australia at the present moment.
I also said that commercial stations were not interested in educating the public and that, in the words of the. Minister in his second-reading speech, the need was to raise the public taste more than to make profits for those interested. It has been said that television educates the people, but I have yet to learn of any place where television has in any way whatever added to the education of the people. That statement holds particularly for England and the United States of America., and one proof of its accuracy is that the behaviour of the people in those countries has not improved since the introduction of television; in fact, quite the reverse has been the case among certain sections of the people, particularly in America.
It has been reported that in thai country, mainly because of the types of programmes used in television, teen-age Crime has increased. The same condition has been experienced in England. When last I spoke on this measure ‘I based my arguments on the experience that I had gained when I was PostmasterGeneral from 1945 to 1949. During my period of office I sent officers of the Postal Department overseas to inquire into the possibilities of introducing television into Australia. I also made other inquiries about the matter, and, as the result of all those investigations, I was, as I said last Thursday, convinced then, and am still convinced, that the time is not opportune to introduce television into this country. I have two reasons for saying that, the first being that the services of technicians and others which would be used in television are required for more essential work, and, secondly, that I am opposed to commercial control of television under existing conditions.
Now, I have on several occasions referred to education. What do we mean by education? Education from a social stand-point may be defined as a systematic process for the manufacture of correct opinions. What are correct opinions from the viewpoint of those who look upon television as a source of profit to themselves? From their viewpoint, correct opinions are opinions among the viewers that they are mental dependant* and followers of those who control television. The general conduct of mankind is determined by the opinions formed, and if we desire to improve - as we should - the conditions under which we live, and to deal adequately with the tendency towards an increase of teenage delinquency and other delinquency, an approach must be made by those in control of television who are more concerned with education than with profits.
As I have said, the general conduct of men and women is determined by the opinions they form and hold, and that statement applies just as much in Australia as it does in other countries. We find in Australia, as in other countries, the same deficiencies and the same objectives. We therefore have to ask ourselves what we are to do in the circum stances that face us at the present time. We may see proof in overseas countries that the effect of commercial or private control of television is not in the best interests of the people. I ask honorable senators not merely to accept what I say. but to study the position for themselves from press and other reports. If they do that, they will find that there is a great deal to be desired in overseas television, and a big leeway to be made up in the presentation of! programmes. Therefore, the people in charge of this important instrumentality should be men and women who are not responsible to shareholders for the profits that they may make, but are responsible directly to the Government and the people to raise public taste.
Private monopoly control - and that is exactly what is aimed at in the measure - depends on expensive advertising. Exorbitant fees are charged for advertising per medium of television, and that means that the cost of such advertisements is included in increased prices for the goods advertised. There is no other way in which such advertisements can be paid for, and the results of commercial advertising are exactly as I have stated.
– And those commercial concerns deduct the cost of advertising from their incomes for the purposes of taxation.
– That is so. They apply for rebates in respect of advertising charges. Therefore, under the measure, it is intended to hand over control to private persons whose dominant motive is the making of profits, and by so doing to give them ari opportunity to increase prices arbitrarily and unnecessarily and out of proportion to normal expenditure. The results of such a procedure will be as I have indicated. Private enterprise in the form of monopoly control without government restraint amounts to private robbery.
During a debate yesterday, attention was directed very properly to the enormous profits that are being made by private monopoly control of other instrumentalities. Those profits amount practically to unpaid labour. Senator O’Flaherty pointed out that enormous dividends were being collected by shareholders who were not producers, and who contributed nothing at all towards those surpluses. I insist that profit obtained by private monopoly control amounts to robbery. Fundamentally, the position is that, to the extent that labour power is a diminishing factor in production and wages are based on cost of subsistence, prices increase automatically. The result is that those who actually produce greater wealth are penalized. That is shown by the fact that in Victoria, 8,000 families are living in hovels. That estimate was made by the Housing Commission of Victoria, which deprecated that state of affairs, but stated that it saw no hope of any improvement. When we find that television is to be used for the same purpose as was the instrumentality to which Senator O’Flaherty referred, it is our obvious duty to see that such a state of affairs is not perpetuated. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) stated in his second-reading speech -
The Government has decided that the commission shall continue to consist of seven part-time commissioners, but it is proposed under clause 14 of the bill to discontinue the practice of appointing an officer of the Department of the Treasury and an officer of the Postmaster-General’s Department as members of the commission.
That means the appointment to the Australian Broadcasting Commission of more political appointees who have no knowledge at all of the technique of the Post Office or the Treasury. The Government cannot have efficient managers in television unless it appoints men who are directly concerned with the work, and are responsible for it. No minister in this or any other government could possibly carry on without the assistance of technicians, and that applies particularly to the Postmaster-General’s Department, which is the largest government instrumentality. I say that from experience. When I was Postmaster-General, I would not have attempted to make a decision of major importance without a conference - and agreement where possible - with .the responsible officers of the department. If I had my way, I would have those officers in this chamber, with the right to speak here and in the House of Representatives. If that were done, we would have the assistance of experts upon whom we could depend to express opinions based on personal experience.
The Government, for reasons best known to itself, has decided that officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of the Treasury shall no longer be appointed to the commission. The Government is in the best position to tell us why it reached that decision. If I were to hazard an opinion, I would say that the Government wants to act independently of departments. A government cannot act independently of departments in time of peace, any more than it can in time of war. When the Labour Government was in office from 1941 to 1949, and particularly during World War II. it depended most on the men who grew up in their jobs in the departments. Most postal technicians have done so. After World War II., General MacArthur wrote to the Australian Government and paid a fine tribute to the 700 or 800 postal technicians who assisted in the war effort. They knew their jobs and their advice was invaluable. General MacArthur depended upon it and, as a result, he was able to do better work for the Allies. The Government proposes to dispense with the services of such men on the commission. They will be expected to give advice only when asked for it. They will not have the right, as they did during the term of office of the Labour Government, to sit in consultation with those responsible for broadcasting and other public services.
If this bill is carried, no provision will be made for regional stations. Why? Simply because they would not be as profitable as city stations. Australia is a comparatively young nation, but the rural population is declining every year. The cities are becoming overcrowded. As a result, we have an unbalanced population, and it is having a detrimental effect upon the nation, just as it has done in other countries. That has been the experience particularly in Europe and in the United States of America, where, as a result of the congestion in the cities and the reduction of rural population, there is a state of undeclared civil war. Crime is increasing among adults as well as among juveniles. The Government proposes to follow in this bill the same policy that has been adopted in other countries. It is not prepared to benefit from the experience of others. The programmes will be syndicated. The country people will have no right or opportunity to express an independent point of view as compared with the city population, simply because it will be considered to be uneconomic or unprofitable to give them that opportunity.
The bill provides for censorship, and when any one mentions censorship, I am reminded strongly of what G. K. Chesterton, a well-known author on many subjects, said many years ago. In his book Victorian Era, which was published years ago, he said that no man can be impartial without honestly confessing that he is partial ; and that is true to-day. When we rely on censors, we are dealing with men who are more or less partial. Such men, according to the Minister, will claim to act impartially. In his secondreading speech, the Minister said -
I am sure that honorable senators ,viii be interested in the standards which have been adopted by the board, and I have accordingly arranged for copies to be distributed. The board will be responsible, for ensuring that licensees comply with the standards.
What are the standards? What have they done up to date? It cannot be claimed that programmes hitherto have been educational. Certainly, the Australian Broadcasting Commission does not broadcast misleading advertisements, but it has done really nothing in the matter of education or to raise the standard of public taste, as was suggested by the Minister. It has broadcast good music and so on, but it has done nothing correctly to inform the opinion of the people. The programmes that have been broadcast have merely repeated the opinions of people in authority. The Minister went on to say -
Hie board will have the full support of the Government in this matter and we will not tolerate any abuse of this new medium by licensees, advertisers or any one else.
Actually there has been abuse, especially by commercial stations, which have broadcast advertisements calculated not to establish correct opinion but rather to persuade the people to buy certain commodities. So far, the Government has not attempted to satisfy itself in any way that Hip.se advertisements are justified. As I have mentioned already, in order to conserve man-power during the war years, we analysed advertisements for proprietary medicines, and in almost every instance we found evidence of deliberate misrepresentation and deliberate attempts to capitalize on the ignorance and credulity of people who did not know any better. As a result, we prohibited the broadcasting of many advertisements. If this bill is passed, the Government will accept advertisements ex cathedra, no matter what they are, just as the press accepts advertisements without question now, and the people whom we are supposed to represent will be the victims of this practice.
I do not accept what the Minister said in his second-reading speech, and I base my opinion, an actual experience, not merely on theory or on what other people have said. The Minister goes on to pay -
The standards having been prepared in (.011sultation with the licensees, we are confident that by strict adherence to them they will avoid errors of taste and any other objectionable features.
In actual practice, the reverse has been the case with commercial broadcasting station?. The Minister says -
As an additional safeguard, however, the Government is retaining the following sections of the principal act, nml extending their provisions to television.
The first section he mentions is section. 62, which provides for the censorship nf programmes. I have already mentioned the kind of men censors are. They reason subjectively, and they are not impartial. Our experience during two world wars has proved that fact conclusively. The second section mentioned by the Minister as being retained and extended is 91, which prohibits the broadcasting of anything which i,« blasphemous, indecent or obscene. I suggest that deliberate misrepresentation amounts to blasphemy and indecency. Here, it might bc appropriate to mention my experience, when I was Postmaster-General, with a gentleman of the church named Jackson whose political opinions were diametrically opposed to mine. It whs suggested that I should refuse to allow him to speak over the air; but I would not do that. He had a right to express hi? opinions, and, so far as I know, he i* continuing to do so. If there were people in control who believed in suppressing others who did not agree with them, the gentleman in question would not bc broadcasting as he is to-day.
The Minister also mentioned that section 92 of the principal act was being retained. That section provides for the suspension, in certain circumstances, of persons responsible for the broadcasting of offensive matter. The decision as to what is offensive matter is left, of course, to those who may be in charge of the censorship of programmes. When I was Postmaster-General, I examined the files relating to every suggestion of offensive matter - and they all concerned commercial stations - and after satisfying myself that the people concerned had first been warned and had simply ignored tha: warning, I accepted full responsibility for putting them off the air. That should bc done, but I could not imagine this Government taking such action.
I conclude by saying that the most fundamental of all nature’s laws is the law of causation, and this is precisely the one that the specialists and primitiveminded do not understand. I have pointed out that they all deal with effects, that they emphasize effects but say little or nothing about causes. Through television, we have a powerful medium for addressing the public and educating them, but; if the job is to be done properly, if public levels and public morale are to be raised, we want something more than private control. It cannot be done under private control where profit is the dominating factor. We all know that in every instance, under private control, especially under monopoly control, prices are increased arbitrarily without any consultation and irrespective of whether the increase is justified. On the other hand, if the people who suffer most, those who are on the lower incomes, the wage- earners, attempt to increase the price of their services arbitrarily and without consultation, they are condemned as being the enemies of society. Finally, I emphasize the two notes I struck at the beginning. The first was that we should consider first things first. We should consider first the provision of telephones and so on. I even referred to the unifica tion of railway gauges. As far back as 1912, when Lord Kitchener was in Australia, he pointed out that this country could never hope to defend itself adequately unless a standard gauge railway line was built around its coastline. That has not been done even to this day, in spite of the experience in 1943 when the Japanese were reported to be close to the coast of Western Australia. Veritable chaos was caused because the break of gauge in the railway lines prevented the transport of soldiers and equipment to the Western Australian coast.
– Just as well, because the Japanese were not there.
– They were pretty close.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Before addressing myself to the bill, I wish to say that this debate on the introduction of broadcasting and television into Australia has provided the Senate with one of its most enlightening and educational sessions. The speeches have contributed both news and information. Although Senator Cameron has made many extravagant statements about the effect of television upon the people, I remind him that in countries where television has been in operation for a considerable time there is still a large proportion of sane people left. The honorable senator fears the effect thatbroadcasting and television might have in moulding the opinions of the people, but the danger, if danger there be, is not nearly so great under this Government as it would be if the Labour party - or the socialist party as it should be called - ever became the government of Australia again, and had the opportunity to control television.
I compliment the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) on the thoroughness with which he has prepared this measure, and on the way in which he has correlated broadcasting and television. Personally, I agree with Senator Mattner and Senator Cole in that I should have preferred to have seen many other things introduced into Australia before television..
However, I know that those two senators are well aware - as I am - that science is making such strides that we cannot stand in its way. It has become imperative for Australia to follow other countries in introducing television. I wish to pay tribute to the preparatory work on television done by Mr. Anthony, the present Minister’s predecessory in the office of Postmaster-General.
As a representative of the largest State in Australia - comprising as it does onethird of the total area of the continent - 1 look with envy at the amount of money which will be spent on establishing the two national television stations. If I had my way completely, I should have thrown television into the lap of private enterprise and commercial broadcasting stations. I should then have used the money proposed to be spent on national television stations on other forms of national development, particularly in “Western Australia. When I think of the empty northern areas of that great State - the Kimberley district - crying out for a water scheme on the lines of the .Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme in eastern Australia, I regret more than ever that the money to be spent on national television stations was not used to develop Western Australia, to aid settlement and to populate its empty spaces of the north.
I deplore the fact that both these national stations are to be established in the populous centres of Sydney and Melbourne. I know that population is a factor which influenced the decision to establish them there, but I am certain that honorable senators will agree that television is past its experimental stage. Other countries have had it for years and I cannot see, for the life of me, why one of the proposed stations could not have been established in the eastern part of Australia and the other in the western i;rea, preferably in Western Australia.
The introduction of television into Australia is an historic event, and I hope that the service will be rapidly extended to our country centres. Several honorable senators have pointed to the danger of its introduction in capital cities only. They have suggested that it will cause a drift from the country to the cities. Those who have the interests of the country areas at heart realize the importance of decentralization of population and industries, and of keeping people in country districts.
I agree with Senator McCallum’s remarks concerning the prohibition of broadcasts in foreign languages. I cannot see why no programmes should be given in foreign languages. They could be easily policed in the same way as are radio programmes. Australia has suffered because of its insular attitude over the years towards foreign languages. A great cultural avenue is being neglected by making regulations providing that none of the broadcasts connected with television shall be given in a foreign language.
In spite of these criticisms, I sincerely congratulate the Postmaster-General on the publication of a booklet dealing with television programmes, and setting out ideal standards. The proposed family programmes and children’s programmes are especially commendable, because they seem to be highly educational and include both cultural and entertainment features. The opinions of religious and political bodies seem to have been well studied by the Minister, and their interests will be safeguarded. Although I hate to agree with members of the Opposition, I rather, incline to their point of view that a more definite statement could have been made about the time to be devoted to political parties when they are being televised or broadcast. The present proposal leaves the way open for abuse. Much will depend on the type of government in office as to what time political bodies will be accorded on television. So long as a Liberal-Australian Country party government is in control, all parties will be given a fair deal, but if the socialists are in power similar treatment cannot be expected.
I have no doubt that social workers will rejoice that certain prohibitions will operate in respect of advertisements concerning alcoholic liquors. It is specifically stated that no child or adolescent shall appear in any of those advertisements. I think that is all to the good, because whatever one’s feelings may be about alcoholic beverages, it cannot be denied that a great number of people in this country have come to the conclusion that alcohol holds too much sway over not only some of the older people in the community but also some of the young people. In providing these standards for our television programmes, the Government is doing the right thing. The breweries are assuming octopus-like tendencies in this country, as figures recently published in New South Wales indicate.
Some disagreement has been expressed about the failure to provide that a certain percentage of Australian artists should be employed in television programmes. L was inclined to think in the same way when I first read the bill and saw references to the suggested programmes, but after chatting with a number of people who are interested in this matter, and realizing the great advances that are being made year by year in the standard of Australian musical and dramatic entertainment, I have come to the conclusion that the flexibility of the provisions in this respect is commendable. If a definite quota were to be laid down, it might be very difficult to have that quota altered. The elasticity of the bill in this connexion shows that the Postmaster-General is eager for Australian artists to have a fair go, and that is what we all want to see. Every one of us desires to see more and more Australian participation in our cultural life. The introduction of television, of course, will mean an impact of sight, sound and motion, and for that reason I think the Postmaster-General has done a good job in setting such high standards for television programmes. We want to he sure that our family life will not suffer because of television, and that our children will find it of great educational benefit. We hope that the enjoyment to be derived from television will bv of a high order.
I have two more growls about this bill. The first is occasioned by finding in the bill a perpetuation of the practice of retiring people at the age of 65 years. I refer to the provision relating to the appointment of the personnel of the commission. In my opinion, it is absolutely absurd in a country such as this, which is setting out to introduce the very latest scientific advances, to adhere to these outworn and outmoded ideas. I remind the Senate that Mr. Gladstone, the famous Prime Minister of England, did some of his best work for his country after he had reached 80 years of age. Titian did his most wonderful painting after he had turned 90. Thomas Hardy, the famous author, Bernard Shaw, and many other great writers, published some of their best work when they were in their late eighties. I could go on and give plenty of other examples. I have dozens of them here. We should not forget that the great Winston Churchill, after he had reached 65 years of age, saved England from a fate that none of us cares to contemplate. When the Senate was debating legislation dealing with the establishment of an export payments corporation this afternoon, I also voiced a protest about this matter. I say again that we, in Australia, are building up a human scrap-heap of people who have both wisdom and experience. When I heard Senator Kennelly speaking about the thin end of the wedge in connexion with the extension of the working day for workers, 1. thought that it was ridiculous nonsense. Which people are the happiest in the world to-day? I suggest that they are those who have a job to do and are doing it. I remind Senator Kennelly that, three years ago, when speaking in the budget debate in this chamber, I referred to this growing group of people that we are setting on the shelf in Australia. We must not forget that this is still a pioneering country. We cannot afford to let slip the experience and wisdom that these people have gathered in their work. Surely, there are still positions for them, especially in cultural work such as that entailed in television services. I think it is unpardonable to hang on to these outmoded ideas.
I remind Senator Kennelly that, after I had spoken on this matter in the Senate three years ago, a section of the Labour party - I am not sure of the actual name of that section, because there are so many parts of the Labour party now - led by Premier Cahill, of New South Wales, almost immediately extended the retiring agc of transport workers, I think it was, to 70 years. Another supporter of the Labour party - and again I. am not sure which part of the party he supports - Premier Cosgrove, of Tasmania, did exactly the same thing. Honorable senators opposite may see, therefore, that there are people in their own party who are recognizing the value of this suggestion, and who are using their common sense. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will reconsider this matter, and will not say that because a person has reached the age of 64 years, eleven months and 30 days, he is of no further use.
I have no doubt that, in relation to the matter to which I am about to refer, it will be said that I refer to it because .1 am a feminist. I am nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, I thoroughly object to clause 53 of the bill, which also proposes to perpetuate an outdated idea. Some people seem to think that, because a woman marries, she loses all sense of proportion and immediately becomes a lunatic, just as she was considered to be before she became entitled to vote. The bill provides that a married woman shall not be appointed to the service of the commission, except in special cases. Is there any one in this chamber who is prepared to defend the logic of that provision? Australia has signed the charter of the United Nations, which provides that there shall be no discrimination between the sexes. Yet, in this year of 1.956, when we are introducing in Australia one of the most significant products of the march of science, we propose to perpetuate the idea that a woman becomes of no use when she becomes the slave of a man. I protest. Perhaps this matter may be dealt with more appropriately at the committee stage.
Although .1 have voiced several grievances, I want it to be clearly understood that I think that the introduction of television to Australia will be one of the best things that have happened to this country. I hope that the fears that have been expressed by Senator Cameron will prove to be groundless. I support the bill.
– The Government, apparently, is of the same opinion as I am in relation to this bill, which is that the measure is premature because Australia is not prepared for television. “We have other more urgent problems, about which we could do something, before we tackle the gigantic problem of television. I listened to Senator Robertson with interest, particularly her remarks concerning the retiring age. In that respect, I suggest that the honorable senator does not need to try to convince the Opposition; rather has she to convince the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), because it was he who said that, at 65 years of age, she was too old. Yet she still won representation for her State, with the help of Labour preferences. Although the Prime Minister told the people that she was too old to be a senator, Labour supporters, who believe in equal rights for the sexes, gave their preferences to her and in that way made it possible for her to continue to be present in this chamber.
The honorable senator praised the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). In my opinion, the Postmaster-General and also the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), who is in charge of the measure in this chamber, are to be condemned, because, although in their speeches they praised almost all sections of the community, they overlooked the staff that works under the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General. Had it not been for the technicians and officers of the Postal Department, broadcasting would not be the success that it is to-day.
Although Senator Robertson complimented the Postmaster-General on his handling of this bill in the House of Representatives, I condemn him because he has agreed to the dictates of the combines that there shall be no representative of the Postal Department on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Neither will there be a representative of the Treasury on the commission, although that does not worry me at all. With all due respect to those concerned with broadcasting and communications generally, I think that television should be placed under the jurisdiction of the PostmasterGeneral, because the Postal Department will supply technicians and equipment in connexion with the television services. I hope that this bill will be withdrawn by the Governmemnt.
– It will not be withdrawn.
– I realize that Senator Scott does not want it to be withdrawn, because television will not be introduced in “Western Australia in the initial stages. If it were, we should no longer have to endure him in this chamber. Both the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Kennelly, who is the deputy leader, as well as other speakers from this side, have referred to those who have been entrusted with television licences in Mel.bourne and Sydney. I do not want to go into that phase of the matter any further, other than to say this: I do not make any accusations that any Ministers or members have got anything out of the people who are going to control television, but the fact remains that supporters of the Government, in both Houses, have done an excellent job on behalf of those people. Had it not been for the fact that those same people have spread insidious propaganda against Labour over the years, undoubtedly Labour would still be in office, because the people have never had an opportunity to decide, on the performance of previous governments, whether Labour or the non- labour parties should form the Australian Government.
Senator Robertson said that television would be a great thing for Australia. I think that many more urgent matters should first be dealt with. As Senator Cameron has said, many thousands of people have no homes in which to live. Where will they view television? T visualize the sick people who have been turned away, not only from the Alfred Hospital, in Melbourne, but from many other hospitals, because of the shortage of hospital accommodation, doctors and nurses. The people of this country arc in need of many other amenities, such as good roads. Senator Anderson said that, within a year and a half or two years, about 500,000 television viewers’ licences would bc issued in Melbourne and Sydney. That means that that number of television receiving sets will be sold within that period to interested members of the public. Does the Government realize that those sets will cost the public about £12,500,000, and that most of them will be imported?
– That is not right. They will not be imported.
– All I want to say is that television sets, or parts of them, will have to be imported into this country.
– But the honorable senator said a moment ago that most of the sets would be imported.
– Most of the material will be imported. Let Senator Scott explain to the electors of Australia which parts of television receiving sets will not be imported. At all events, even if only £1,000,000 worth of parts for the sets have to be imported—
– The honorable senator is now crawling back into his shell.
– Thousands of workers are becoming unemployed in the vital industries of Australia because of the import restrictions that this Government has imposed. This Government is ruining the secondary industries of Australia, and it now intends to foist upon the community this innovation - television. Well may honorable senators opposite sit in their places and smile. They will return to their cosy beds to-night contemplating the salary increases for themselves that have been recommended in the Richardson report.
– Will the honorable senator support the increases?
– I am prepared - if Senator Scott is prepared to do likewise- to refuse to accept my portion of the increase until the Government gives to those who are working under Commonwealth awards the amount of 21s. a week that it is robbing them of to-day. I think that it will be a sham, if this Parliament grabs salary increases for its members until those people who work under Commonwealth awards are given the cost of living rise in accordance with the decision of the Arbitration Court. I say that we should be thinking of providing more essential services for the community than television. In the current edition of Broadcasting and Television, this question is asked -
Do Australian sports promoters seriously need legal protection against the televising of their fixtures without permission?
T believe that every member of this chamber has received a copy of this periodical. Of course they need such protection. However. I shall deal fully with sport in due course.
– We have provided for their protection.
– It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to smile, but they cannot laugh off the implications of the matter. In a letter that 1 received from the Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations, this appears -
In the past, racing clubs endeavoured to prohibit race broadcasts by refusing access to the courses for commentators. Broadcasters kept faith with the listening public and arranged commentaries from points outside the courses. That this action was clearly within the law was proved by subsequent legal proceedings, including the rejection by tint iri/, Council of an application for appeal by the named racing body.
I want honorable senators to remember that, irrespective of whatever amendments are made to the bill, we should be careful to ensure that this matter is placed under the control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The statement continues -
Clearly there exists no right of copyright in a sporting spectacle, and as copyright is involved, any action is not one for consideration in this Bill but should be dealt with under copyright legislation. In the public interest however no action should be contemplated that would restrict the right of broadcasters to broadcast sporting events. Any action taken by Parliament which would limit the present legal position, and possibly lead to the prohibition of the broadcast of certain popular sports, would undoubtedly lead to protests from hundreds of thousands of listeners throughout Australia, and particularly from those living in country areas.
Yet the country areas are not to be provided with television at present. I repeat, that we should be considering many more essential things than television. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, in his recent financial statement, that we must restrict imports as well as hire purchase. I venture to suggest that most people who buy television sets will do so on the hire-purchase system. I ask the Government to see that they are not robbed by being charged excessive interest rates. Interest should be kept down to at least a normal rate.
Wo have been told by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that we must curtail expenditure, resist hire purchase and restrict imports. Yet, the Government brings down this legislation which will cost Australia millions of pounds in dollars with no credit fund to meet the expenditure.
– It is a racket.
– The Government should withdraw this bill and wait until the time is opportune. At present, there is no sale for our wheat or other primary products, such as dried fruit; yet, we are going to involve ourselves further by importing equipment from dollar countries. That is wrong. The bill should be withdrawn.
In regard to sport, the Government has given an open cheque to certain interests to run a television service in two capital cities, but the interests of sporting people should be protected. Any honorable senator who has had anything to do with sport at all knows that men and women give their lifetime, their money and energy to keep sporting bodies operating for the encouragement of the growing children of Australia. For instance, take Australian Rules football, which, with due respect to other sports, I say is the greatest game on earth. It is the only sport in Australia that can attract 90,000 spectators on a Saturday afternoon; and it provides the cheapest afternoon’s entertainment one can get in this country. When the Olympic Games are over and the Melbourne Cricket Ground is available, the sport will draw crowds of 120,000. Information from England and America discloses that attendances at games played in those countries has declined since the advent of television. Young people are not taking up the sport, but are sitting at home and watching it. If television is introduced in Australia it will not be long before, instead of having 100,000 people watching a football final in Melbourne, the crowd will diminish to probably 9,000 or 10,000, which is the average attendance at other sports in Australia to-day. If the people who will control the B class broadcasting stations are permitted to broadcast football and other sports - I shall deal with horse racing later - then the public who control the sport of football - at least in Victoria - should be given some say in how the game is to be televised. It is useless for those who control television to come along and offer to televise one particular football match for £20,000 or £30,000. That may be all right, but the game has to go on throughout the year. This Government will do an injustice to the youth of Victoria - I do not speak in respect of other parts of Australia - if it does not do something to see that some protection is given to the public who control football in that State.
– That protection is already given.
– The honorable senator has forgotten what I quoted earlier. I remember the time when Eric Welch used to sit like a cockatoo on a high pole outside racecourses to broadcast the races. The same thing may be done with television. This might seem a laughing matter to honorable senators.
– What about honorable senators opposite, they are laughing, too.
– They may be, but I point out also that due respect must be given to the men and women who give their lives to horseracing. It is the sport of kings. Just imagine how many people would attend the Melbourne Cup on a wet day if the event was being televised.
– Where is that place?
– I understand that Senator McCallum breeds thoroughbreds. Why, I do not know, because we never see them in Victoria. I have mentioned horse-racing and football because they are two sports that attract youth, the middle-aged and the aged in the State of Victoria. I am rather serious about this matter because honorable senators should realize that the thousands of people who are now employed in connexion with these sports may be unemployed in the near future.
– I know the honorable senator is not employed. He never has been and never will be. I am talking about the people who are employed in this industry and who could be ruined by the introduction of television.
– Because if people can stay at home and see football and horse-racing, in many instances they will not be prepared to go to the race-course or the football ground. For the information of the honorable senator who interjected, let me repeat that authentic figures from the United States of America show that the number of spectators attending the great national game of baseball is declining and that the youth of America is not taking up the game. In England, some protection was given to sporting bodies. If a football match is being played in Manchester that match is not permitted to be televised in Manchester. Something along those lines should be introduced in the interests of sport in Australia or the time will come when the youth of this country, bad as it is to-day, will become much worse.
– Cheer up.
– I venture to say that the youth of Australia is declining to-day because of the propaganda that is reaching them through films from America. Do not let us forget that the people about whom I have been speaking will be buying such pictures from America and paying dollars for them. That is the kind of entertainment the Government of this country is allowing the youth of Australia to have instead of being anxious for them to take a keen interest in the great game of Australian Rules football. The people employed in these sports will be unable to earn a living. Perhaps the Government would rather see them deprived of their livelihood.
– There would still have to be jockeys to ride the horses.
– All I can say is that if the honorable senator were a horse and I were a jockey, he would not get me anywhere. Senator Kendall might prefer to go fishing in a boat, but, for his education, let me tell him that 90,000 people attend the Melbourne Cricket Ground to see the grand football final. Say a thousand or so people provide that entertainment: If only 10,000 spectators attend, then only 100 employees are wanted. That is the way in which unemployment is created.
The matter before the Senate at present is a serious matter, and one that The Parliament will not be able properly in control. Perhaps all scientific entertainment mediums are of some advantage to the people, but there is a time and place for all these things, and first things should come first. Therefore, I say that, at a time when we are controlling imports, and the lack of essential goods is crippling many of our great industries, the Government- has no right to bring down legislation that will commit this country to the expenditure of millions of dollars on setting up television stations, and Senator Anderson admitted that we must get much of our equipment from overseas.
Every day representatives of industries attend at this Parliament House and make representations for the importation of materials that are essential to keep i heir factories in operation. Every day the Government is refusing to allow those materials to come in, and consequently factories are closing down. Now, however, we find that the Government has brought in legislation to satisfy those people who have supported it in the past, and to establish the television industry which will need to import much equipment from overseas.
The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) is constantly telling us that we are short of telephones. Of course we are short of telephones; yet apparently the Government intends to take technicians from industries all over the ‘Commonwealth to set up television in Australia. The Government will make it possible for equipment and workers to be taken away from industries that would improve our telephone services. That equipment and those technicians and other workers will be taken away from essential services to build up a television system in his rmm try in order to satisfy the com bines which will control television in Sydney and Melbourne - the two main capital cities of the Commonwealth.
– That will mean that the Government will create more employment. What does the honorable senator have to say about the unemployment problem now?
– There will not be more employment. Television will take technicians and workers from much more vital industries in this country. Senator Robertson, who i3 supposed to be a member of the Australian Country party, although I do not know what party she belongs to, surely should not support this measure. Let us consider the people who live in the country districts. The Government does not intend to give them anything under this measure, although they pay a large proportion of the taxes collected in Australia. The primary producers who work fourteen or fifteen hours a day driving tractors, ploughing, sowing and reaping harvests, will get nothing out of television. All that they will be asked to do is perhaps to pay extra taxes because of what this Government is committing them to. I say that if and when television comes to this country, it should come to every capital city at the same time, and that provision should also be made for television in provincial areas. Six licences have been granted, and three of those have gone to Melbourne and three to Sydney. No licences have been granted to any other part of Australia.
– Is the honorable, senator against that?
– Of course I am; I say that it is wrong. Apparently Senator Scott is in favour of it. If thi? Government is sincere, anl if it believes that television will have any effect on the education of the people, it should provide at least one licence for. each capital and provincial city in the Commonwealth, and so make it possible for everybody in Australia to enjoy the benefits of television - if, indeed, there are any benefits.
– That would create more unemployment, on the honorable senator’s argument.
– I am afraid that Senator Scott does not understand me. Perhaps the only languages that he does understand are Chinese and Japanese because they are spoken by the crews of his pearling luggers in the west. I do say that television will create unemployment, and that the time is not yet, ripe for television to be fostered on the people. I have had the opportunity of travelling through the country areas of Victoria, and I have spoken to the people who live there, as well as to residents of the cities. They all say that they do not want television. They say that there are many more important amenities needed by the Australian people, such as homes, hospital facilities and roads, before television is introduced.
Only three days ago I spoke to an eminent gynaecologist in Melbourne. This matter was mentioned, and he said to me, “ Senator, this Government is wrong. If it wants to find the best way to make Australia a healthy nation, it should give the workers homes, decent roads, decent conditions to live under, and last but not least, it should ensure that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should lift the pegging of the wages of those people who work under Commonwealth awards “.
I should like the Postmaster-General to know that I have been in many post offices in Victoria, and I venture to say that neither he noi’ Senator Robertson would like to be working the long hours under the conditions endured by the employees in those offices. Yet nothing is done to help them. We are crying out for accommodation for postal workers. I suggest there is not one honorable senator in this chamber who is not currently dealing with requests of that effect. We need better postal facilities, more telephones, increased rates of pay for postal workers and so on, yet honorable senators on the Government side have advocated that television should be brought, into effect immediately!
If we had only two months to go to a general election instead of about two years, I suggest that this legislation would not be before us, because this Government has never won an election on its works programme. When the “next general elec tion comes round it will try to gloss over its mistakes and pull the wool over the electors’ eyes again as it has done in th-; past. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and I hope the bill will bc withdrawn or defeated.
– When a bill to provide for television services was introduced into the Parliament some years ago I opposed it. and I would not be much in favour of this measure were it not for the fact that the bill will prevent television from being made a monopoly of certain interests. J. understand that that is why the last speaker (Senator Hendrickson), is so violently opposed to the measure.
Our procedure in this chamber has surprised me. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) introduced this very comprehensive bill with a. second - reading speech. Then the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) moved a comprehensive amendment, and we have gone gaily along discussing the bill without paying the slightest attention to the amendment. In all other assemblies with which I have been connected, if an amendment was moved to a certain proposal, the amendment was always discussed and disposed of, either being adopted or rejected, and after that the debate proceeded on the main item of business. But here we are going through the bill and discussing it, without taking any notice at all of the amendment. That procedure seems to be quite wrong, and I believe that we should give due consideration to the merits of the amendment, decide whether it should be adopted or rejected, and then discuss the bill. In any event, we should not discuss two matters at the same time.
There is not much that I can add which would be new to this debate, but there are two particular matters that I should like to bring to the attention of honorable senators. One matter I should like to be cleared up by the Minister himself. Provision is made in this bill for televising in the initial stages in November of this year, when the Olympic Games are held, for fifteen hours a week. However, I can find nothing in the bill to indicate that those fifteen hours must be concurrent on all stations. We shall have the national broadcasting station and the two commercial stations in Melbourne, and I imagine that each will desire to send out its television programmes when the other stations are not sending out theirs. If that is the case, then if each station broadcasts for fifteen hours a week there will be a total broadcast of 45 hours a week. Will the Minister clear up that point? If that is so, the length of time occupied by television will be three times as long as expected by those who have addressed themselves to this matter so far.
Reference has been made to the fact that neither the Postmaster-General’s Department nor the Treasury will have representation on the Australian Broadcasting Commission as it is to be constituted under this bill. In that connexion, 1 direct the attention of honorable senators to the twenty-first and twentysecond reports of the Public Accounts Committee. That matter was dealt with extensively by the committee. When a man from a department is appointed to such a body, he has responsibility actually to two masters. His duty to his department might come before his duty to the body upon which he is a representative. The Public Accounts Committee came to the conclusion that it was not advisable to have a departmental officer upon a body such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, unless the Treasury were supplying money to it and, therefore, should have representation.
I join with other honorable senators in complimenting the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) upon the way in which he has dealt with this bill so soon after his appointment as Minister. Honorable senators have been supplied with explanatory documents which are very valuable. I am most troubled about the manner in which television is to be managed. Honorable senators have been supplied with a document entitled Television Programme Standards, and I compliment the people who prepared that programme. It is on a very high level ; in fact, I believe the level is too high for us to reach. I ask honorable senators to study the proposed television standards, and to compare them with the standards of our current radio programmes. This document states that great care will be needed in the production of television programmes, and one section reads -
No programme!, should contain matter which, if imitated, could be harmful to the well-being of individuals of the community; this includes such sequences as those which -
demonstrate any techniques of crime in such a way as to invite imitation.
I have listened to many radio programmes, and I should say that crime is almost the standard set for them. If television does not present crime in one form or another, it will lose much of the interest of the rising generation. The proposed television standards set down that a programme should not -
Deride or otherwise discredit the law and its enforcement or significant social institutions.
On the radio programmes now, we have the criminal classes at war with the police, and if that sort of programme is excluded from television, there will be an outcry from the youngsters of to-day because they have been brought up on that sort of radio diet. They would rather look at that than watch a demonstration of national safety rules as suggested by Senator Anderson. I agree with the honorable senator that it would be easier to convey national safety rules to children by means of television than to do it by word of mouth, but the average modern youth will not bother himself with that sort of thing on television. He will ask, “ When are we going to see Dead-Eye Dick?” He will be looking for that, and not for programmes of the high standard set down in this booklet. Another paragraph in the booklet states -
While certain forms of gambling may form an accepted part of the social structure, it is undesirable to transmit scenes or sequences which unduly emphasize betting or might tend directly to promote interest in gambling.
That will be something novel in Australia. Gambling is almost a national pastime, and it will be strange if we do not emphasize it on television. It might be all right to make that our aim, but if the objective is achieved, the level of the programmes will be such that even the adults will be bored.
– They might televise Tattersalls lottery.
– 1 would not be surprised if the drawing of Tattersall s became a feature on television. Many people might have more interest in that than they would have in other forms of entertainment. The document, Television Programme Standards, also suggests -
Thu presentation of cruelty, greed, selfishness, unfair exploitation of others and similar unworthy motivations should not be made in a favorable light.
I should like to see that put into effect, but I believe that it will be difficult to do so. Reference is also made to the use of correct English in all programmes. I hope that close consideration will he given to that suggestion, because the standard of English on some radio broadcasts is appalling. I told a Director of Education, whom I met recently, that I did not know how he could listen to the radio in view of the liberties that were taken with English pronunciation. lt has been said that public opinion will help to maintain a high standard, but we have not succeeded in that direction with radio. I heard a programme recently, and the speakers dealt with the domestic problem of a woman who wanted to keep her twelve-year-old child at school during the holidays because she and her husband were going away, her husband to get a divorce. Will we put that sort of material on the television programmes? Reference has been made to delinquent children. The fact is that most of them come from broken homes. Who will look after their interests on the television programmes? T have very grave doubts whether public opinion will cut much ice. T hope I am wrong, but I have not much faith in it.
Sena.tor Hendrickson suggested that television stations should be established in provincial centres so that people in the country could have the benefit of them. Obviously, he did not know what he was falkiner about, because there are many country residents who would be outside the reach of television stations even if they warp, established in provincial centres. “[ am opposed to the introduction of television at present because it will be another incentive towards the centralization of population. We talk about the need for decentralization, but we do very little to bring it about. We cannot blame those, who are denied the amenities that are available to their friends, if they move to the cities. Television will draw more people to the cities and denude the country areas.
I believe that other things are more essential than television. I am thinking, in particular, of telephones. I have at least two dozen urgent requests for telephones from persons who have been promised them for nine or ten years. Only recently, in Western Australia, I met a number of people who live 20 miles from a business centre. There are nine sub-exchanges connected by one wire into the central post office. They told me that it was just hopeless to try to get a trunk-line telephone call through. I visited some people on the Stirling soldier settlement area. One young wife there told me that she was 25 miles from the nearest telephone, 40 miles from one. business centre and 51 miles from another. She said that if her child should fall ill at night all she could do would be to get into the truck and drive 25 miles over a corrugated road in order to communicate with a doctor. People will not put up with that treatment in these times. Another woman who had a spastic child said that the kiddie was getting too big for her, that the father was out in the field all day and that if anything happened she could not get help because there was no telephone available.
If we want to increase primary production, we must give these facilities and amenities to the country people, to the people outback who are opening up the country, establishing farms and producing exportable goods. It is for that reason that I should like to see the money that the Government proposes to spend on television expended upon the provision of these badly needed facilities in the outback. One honorable senator said that television will be profitable. I can imagine nothing more profitable to the Commonwealth Government than the telephone. According to the last two reports published by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the profits from telephones run into millions of pounds a year. Actually, the Government is neglecting an avenue of great profit by not. installing more telephones for these people in the outback. That is the great objection I have to this bill. But as, at i he same time, I am opposed to monopolies, I shall support the second reading. ! t is because honorable senators opposite favour monopolies that they oppose the bill which provides for both national and commercial television stations. When it is introduced, I sincerely hope that we do not rely upon public opinion as a guide to the type of programme that should be televised or to decide whether programmes are of a reasonably high level. If we do that, we shall fail miserably. The determination of the standard of programmes must be left to people highly qualified in that field. If I am right in my surmise that instead of fifteen hours a week, television programmes will be broadcast for i ~> hours a week, it will give more opportunities to import films that may not be up to the standard that we desire to have put before our rising generation. With those few comments, T intend to support the second reading of this measure.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has made it quite clear that whilst Labour admits that television is a great advancement in science, we are definite in the opinion that its introduction into Australia will be expensive, and will not be in the best interests of the Australian people as a whole. As a matter of fact, it will benefit very few people in this country in the initial stages ; and on that point I must compliment Senator Seward on his approach to the bill. He stated quite sincerely, as he always speaks, that he opposed the original television bill in 1958. His objection then was that television should not be introduced until such time as the Government fulfilled its many other urgent responsibilities, some of which he mentioned again to-night. As Senator Seward has pointed out, in the country areas of Western Australia in particular, telephonic communications are appalling, and they are by no means satisfactory in the metropolitan area where business people who have some little priority are unable to get telephones. In the country areas, as Senator Seward has explained, people who are pioneering the country, and endeavouring to decentralize popular tion in accordance with the wishes of all political parties, have no hope of obtaining decent telephonic communication for some considerable time. I have taken the matter up with the authorities on many occasions, and I must emphasize that the Postmaster-General’s staff is most anxious and willing to do whatever it can with the limited facilities available to it to improve the situation, but is meeting with severe handicaps because of the undoubted shortage of material and technicians. When I say that it is impossible to cope with the demand for rural telephonic services, I am not in any way criticizing the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is sincere in its desire to give service, but is prevented from doing so by this Government’s policy. The recruitment of technicians has been bad and the Government’s attitude towards the extension of telephonic facilities has been parsimonious and mean. It refuses to give these facilities to the deserving people of the outback, yet, at the same time, it presents to us a bill that will mean a cost of millions of pounds to the country ; and that money could much better be devoted to the provision of adequate postal and telephonic services.
Let us cast our minds back to the bill which was introduced in 1953, when Senator Seward and others voiced strong opposition to the introduction of television at a time when other essential services were being sadly neglected. The reason offered by the Government for not providing these services at that time was that it was impossible to get material and technicians. The purpose in putting forward that reason was to lull the people of Australia into a false belief that these services would be provided before television was introduced into this country. In 1953, the then Postmaster-General said that the widespread benefits that may be derived from television should not be denied the Australian public any longer than was absolutely necessary. He also said that deficits shown in connexion with broadcasting and postal and telegraphic services amounted to £2,000,000, and that this left- much to be desired. If he was sincere in saying that, it was reasonable for the public to assume that, having made an analysis of the position, the Government would not do anything about television until it had first done something about providing essential services to the people.. Then, a royal commission was set up by the Government, and the story surrounding it is rather peculiar. The purpose of the commission was to satisfy Government supporters in both Houses of the Parliament who looked with alarm upon the possibility of television being introduced into this country by a few people dominated by overseas interests. The Government was concerned about the possibility that this powerful medium of mass communication, of mass distribution of propaganda, might become the sole possession of a few people influenced by overseas investors, combines or linkups. So alarmed was the. Government in 1951 that it carried the following resolution: -
That in thu opinion of this House it is undesirable that any person not an Australian should haver any substantial measure of ownership or control over any Australian commercial broadcasting station:, whether such ownership or control be exercised directly or indirectly.
At. that time, the then Postmaster-General had this to. say - ft would tie most dangerous to allow an overseas group to gain a monopoly of commercial broadcasting in Australia merely because, it has sufficient money to buy the available stations . . . the interests of overseas organizations, whether British or foreign, invariably diverge, in some respect at any rate, from those- of Australia on various important’, issues. Bor that very good reason it is necessary that we. should be able to prevent any overseas interests from infiltrating the homes of hundreds of thousands of Australians. No other propaganda is so effective as is radio broadcasting…
That is the story that Government supporters were telling at a time when they were doing all the talking and taking no responsibility. Now, the Government is introducing a more powerful means of propaganda into this country, because television will be tied to radio. Its power is undeniable. The royal commission was told of these things by representatives of public interests, religious bodies, education experts and people interested in child welfare. They made it clear that if television were, introduced into Australia it must be kept under close control and divorced from interests concerned in the mass dissemination of news and propaganda, and such other influences as strongly affect the public mind. In England, where television is well established, pornography is becoming a stock-in-trade, and in the United States of America traffic in this kind of literature has reached alarming proportions.
After the report by the Royal Commission on Television was published, the Australian public believed that when this great medium for conveying news, propaganda, music, culture, art and education was brought to the people, it would be in the hands of people who were not connected with powerful commercial combine*. They thought, also, that it would be free from overseas influences, that it would be conducted on a high standard, and that it would not have an undesirable effect on the minds and morals of the people.
But the personnel of the. Royal Commission on Television was chosen by the Government. One member was Mr. Colin Blore Bednall, who, at the time, was manager and editor of the Brisbane Courier-Mail. The report of that commission contained a recommendation that television licences should be allotted by a board or a proper authority. After serving on the commission, Mr. Bednall returned to his newspaper office and subsequently was sent overseas to study television in America. When he returned to Australia, he joined the Argus-Age set-up which, during his absence, had been given a television licence under the very terms and conditions which he had helped to formulate, in close collusion with the Government. He is now manager of one of the Melbourne television stations.
No one can deny that the newspaper combines throughout Australia are closely interlinked. Honorable senators are well aware of overseas influence on the press. Very little Australianism appears in the Australian press, or,, if it does, it is often discredited. A group of these powerful combines is now in control of the great television medium of propaganda. That is a disgraceful situation, and the Government should have something to say about it. Why did Colin Blore Bednall go to the United States of America if it was not to collect “ canned “ American television programmes of whatever standard he could obtain for broadcasting in Australia immediately the station for which his combine had been granted a licence went into operation in Melbourne? Before he was appointed to the royal commission, he probably knew that eventually he would become manager of the Melbourne station, although no one else was aware of that possibility. Yet he was one of the commission which assured the public that it would be protected from inferior television programmes.
I agree with the remarks of honorable senators concerning the manner in which the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) has gathered together material on broadeasting and television in presenting this legislation. Physically, he did a splendid job, but morally the Government has done a rotten job. It is interesting to consider opinions on television expressed in countries where it has been in operation for some time. Television appears to have reached the highest stage of development so far in the United States of America. The Australian Government says that we are living in a time of inflation and over-prosperity, and it is necessary to restrict spending and to keep down prices. I wish to read a statement published by the American Association of University Women. It is as follows : -
In fact, they are not. It continues -
Although strict controls have been imposed in the United States of America they have not been able to hold back the flood of undesirable influences. Honorable senators may find an even more interesting statement in the Current Affairs Bulletin, volume 11, number 6, published by the University of Sydney. It contains this statement -
If it (television) is- privately owned and operated, its costs must be recovered indirectly by added charges for consumer goods which advertisers are impelled to make to meet the charges made to them by the investors in I.V.. who will quite properly seek to recover reasonable interest in capital charges and their operating costs. Only to the degree that more successful advertising resulted in such an overall increase of orders to retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers that their unit costs of production and distribution were substantially lowered, could there be any possibility that TV would “pay for itself”. And this, having regard to the immense costs of TV, the smallness of the Australian market, the relatively small scale of industrial plants, and the geographical and other obstacles to effective competition, seems a most unlikely happening.
One does not need to have a university degree to come to that conclusion. The cost of television has been assessed at hundreds of pounds an hour - it could run into thousands of pounds - and this must be added to the cost paid by the public for the goods advertised. This means further inflation, and more cost passed on to the public, many of whom will not be able to enjoy television. In Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland there will be no television for a long time. Only viewers in the suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney will be able to have the benefit of television services. Advertising costs are a major item in commercial broadcasting, and the same sort of thing, will be a part of television.
Turning to another aspect, I wish to quote a press report on evidence given to the royal commission by Mr. B. J. F. Boyer, chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The caption of the article is -
TV “Explosive Politically”, says A.B.C. Chief.
The opening paragraph reads as follows : -
Politically, TV bids to be far more explosive than radio and demands tight non-political control, A.B.C. chairman, R. J. F. Boyer told the TV Royal Commission to-day.
Of course, it was never expected that the sole right to operate television would be given to two powerful press interests. Television is such a politically explosive thing that if the press were to criticize its introduction on the ground that it would do more harm than good, the Government could not stand up to such criticism for a moment. Therefore, the Government has pacified the press. Th<; truth of that statement is clearly indicated if we follow the career of a person who was a member of the royal commission which reported to the Government, who sat in close consultation with the Government concerning what should be done in relation to the issue of licences, who temporarily divorced himself from his usual occupation of managing director and editor of a newspaper in order to go to America, and who came back to find himself managing director of a television organization, under press control, in Melbourne. That is a good way of stifling anything that is going to be politically explosive, but I suggest that it demonstrates a pretty poor moral standard.
The welfare of Australia is vitally affected in this matter. All the principles that have been commended by supporters of the Government and Opposition alike have been lost sight of completely in relation to this legislation. I agree that the Postmaster-General has classified television programmes into certain categories, such as “ A “ for adults, “ not permissible for children “, “ not permissible for broadcasting “, and so on. That is to be done under censorship power, but I suggest that it will be no more effective in relation to television than it has been in relation to motion pictures. We all know that when films that are supposed to be not suitable for children are shown, usually children are present in abundance. As a matter of fact, we often find that unless the programme is of the “ red hot “ kind many children are not very interested in it.
– The classification is a warning to parents.
– That may be so.
– It ought to be effective.
– Parents have protested about being placed in this position of responsibility in relation to television. The Chicago Daily News recently had this to say about the matter -
It’s frightening to see these five and sis year-old tots sitting spellbound before TV sets, soaking up this sadism, lt is the height of irresponsibility for a network to so callously disregard the wellbeing of children.
There is plenty of protection in America. Yet almost every day parents who have been trying to control their children give evidence at child delinquency inquiries. As a matter of fact, we even hear of children shooting their parents in America because of the efforts of the parents to restrain the children in matters of this kind.
We have handed this great medium of mass communication to a very strong combine which already holds all the other mediums of mass communication in its hands. It will be sacrosanct and will not be subject to criticism for the simple reason that there will be no means of levelling criticism at it. Despite all the talk by the supporters of the Government about the undesirability of undue overseas influence on communications in Australia, we find that most of our news comes from overseas. Most of the shareholders in the newspapers live in other countries. That is a position in respect of which the Government should be put on the spot, because it has not been honest about it.
The attitude of the Government towards maintaining a high standard of television can be seen in relation to the televising of sports, probably the cleanest and most decent activity in which Australians indulge.
– That is, the people who play sport.
– Yes, the people who play it. I have done my share. T remind the honorable senator that there are many young Australians who are paying out of their own pockets for their sporting activities. When the honorable member for Chisholm (Mr. Kent
Hughes) moved an amendment in relation to the televising of sporting events, the Government, under pressure, adopted it. But on the eve of the amendment becoming effective, the Government further amended the provision in such a way as to render it completely ineffective. As the result of pressure from sporting bodies, the bill now contains a provision which is neither fish nor fowl, but is there simply so that the Government may be able to say that it did not jettison Mr. Kent Hughes’s amendment entirely.
– It suits the sporting world.
– It does not. Is is merely a compromise. Under pressure from the people to whom the Government has given television licences, the Government was prepared to cheat the amateur sporting bodies of Australia. The amendment was moved by the honorable member for Chisholm, who had been one of the most efficient members of the Government and the Government at first accepted it because it was frightened to do otherwise. Then,, as I say, pressure was applied by the groups that are going to exploit this great medium and the amendment was altered to provide for disputes to be referred to an arbitrator. The provision is to be further amended to provide -
The Commission or the holder of a licence for a commercial television station shall not televise, either directly, or by means of any recording, film or other material or device, the whole or a part of any sporting event or other entertainment held in Australia, after the commencement of this section, in a place to which a charge is made for admission, if the images of the sporting event or other entertainment originate from the use of equipment outside that place.
In other words, the object was to stop poaching. If it is desired to televise sporting events to which a charge is made for admission, the television people will haave to pay to do so. Those sporting bodies which arc strong enough to treat with the television companies and get payment for the televising of sporting events will be all right but what of the amateurs? The best Australian sport is amateur sport, but it is to have no protection at all. The object of Mr. Kent Hughes’s amendment was to force tele vision interests which wanted to televise a sporting event to enter into a contract with the people controlling the event and to pay for the privilege of televising it. The sporting bodies that hold their events at grounds where no charge is made for admission will be open to exploitation. I am not at all pleased that the matter should be left in this half-baked state. It means that amateurism can be exploited, but if there is an element of professionalism involved in a sporting event, the promoters will be able to charge for the television rights. The Government has not very much to be proud of in this connexion, and I do not think that the sporting bodies of Australia will lie deceived by its attitude.
The next matter with which I propose to deal is of serious concern to Australian broadcasting generally. Supporters of the Government, as well as members of the Opposition, have been approached with a plea to protect Australian artists, to encourage Australian television productions, and generally to promote the growth of Australian culture in relation to television. Although Australian entertainers have suffered badly in the field of broadcasting, they have nevertheless been able to maintain a semblance of progress. We have subsidized symphony orchestras, we have tried to support an Australian theatre, and we have made grants to writers in. order to stimulate Australian literature. Yet, in the Parliament, it has been, necessary for Labour to stage a consistent battle in order to ensure that some protection will be provided for these artists. It has been argued by certain sections of the community that our broadcast programmes are sub-standard and that, as the people are paying for them, they are entitled to receive the best available. Of course, people who argue on those lines believe that the best programmes are imported programmes. I remind the Senate that a great deal of sub-standard material is used on commercial programmes in the United States of America. Unless care is taken to ensure that, from the outset, n proper proportion of Australian artists and Australian productions are included on television programmes, gradually they will be squeezed out, and art, culture, and music will not be properly developed in this country. It is imperative that close consideration be given to this aspect of the matter.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said, amendments will be moved from this side at the committee stage. Senator Seward said that he thought the amendments should be moved and considered now. I do not propose to say any more at present, beyond assuring the Government that our amendments will be debated fully in committee, when we shall do our best to correct the provisions of the bill that are contrary to what the Government led the people to believe would be provided, and which are certainly most disappointing to the Opposition.
– As I understand that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) wishes to submit a motion, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, ;it its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
– In rising to address the Senate on this very important bill, I do so as one who is not opposed to television. During the time that I have been a member of this chamber, I have never known a measure to excite so much apprehension among honorable senators as has the bill now before us. Not one speaker from either the Government side or this side has overwhelmingly supported the introduction of television. Of course, their criticism has not been directed against this great new science, as such. I remember listen ing many years ago to university professors and others describing the great difficulties that confronted scientists who were then endeavouring to perfect a means of transmitting images from one place to another. During the discourse, it was suggested that once this problem was solved, it would be only a matter of time before it would be possible to transmit images, not only over short distances, but over many miles. “Whilst great strides have been made in that direction, much work remains to be done by scientists in order to discover a means of bringing people who live in remote places within the range of television broadcasts. Tonight, many honorable senators have said that, because of the limited application of television, the time is not ripe for its introduction into Australia. Although I am not one of those who habitually contend that the time is not opportune for introducing innovations, from various remarks that have been made in the chamber during this debate I feel justified in questioning whether the course proposed by the Government is the correct one at present. I should like to compliment Senate Cooke, who has just resumed his seat, on his excellent speech, particularly his remarks on this very important, aspect of the matter.
As I said at the outset, a note of apprehension has been discernible in the remarks of every honorable senator who has spoken during this debate. I have been reminded of the discussion that took place prior to the explosion of the first atomic bomb after the war. There was considerable speculation as to the probable effect that the explosion of the bomb would have not only on people in the immediate vicinity of the explosion, but also on those who were resident many miles away. In like manner, to-night honorable senators are apprehensive of the impact that the introduction of television will have, not only on the adult population, but also on the growing generation in Australia. Successive speakers have urged that this medium for the distribution of news and other information should be placed under very strict control. In 1953, when a similar measure was before the Senate, we were not all satisfied that the time was not then opportune to let loose television upon the people of this country. “We considered that the Parliament should obtain further information on the subject before giving the green light, as it were, for television to be provided. Despite the fact that, since that occasion, the Royal Commission on Television has concluded its proceedings, that lengthy discussion of the subject has taken place, and that Australia has had an opportunity of observing the impact of television on other countries, many of us fear that what the Government is about to do is very, very questionable. I regret that honorable senators opposite who will, in the final analysis, accept responsibility for enacting this legislation, have refrained from expressing their opinions on objections to certain provisions of the bill that have been voiced in this chamber. Surely, it is not expected that the Minister in charge of the bill will, in the time available to him, be able adequately to answer the arguments that have been advanced from both sides of the chamber. That is beyond the ability of any one man, and one would have thought that those who are responsible for introducing this measure would have assured honorable senators that all was well. As I have said, the Opposition is opposed, not to television, but to the manner in which it is to be introduced, and the methods that will be employed in utilizing this great medium of disseminating information. Notwithstanding the fears of its supporters and those who have taken some interest in this matter, the Government, instead of keeping strict control over this medium, is prepared to hand over to monopolies the right of using this instrument that can be of great benefit, but can also be a great danger, to the people in the same way as atomic energy. We know that atomic energy can be of great benefit to mankind, but that the atomic bomb, if allowed to get into the hands of certain people, can be just the reverse. Television is something similar. Senator Cooke, in his excellent speech, gave to the Senate facts and figures showing the impact of television on other nations. This Government, following its usual practice, is giving private enterprise a monopoly to control television.
Assuming for the moment that everything is well so far as this great advertising medium is concerned, the Government should have made more careful preparations to ensure that all sections of the community shall participate in thu benefits of this great discovery. Tb« benefits of television, if benefits are to be derived from it, will be limited to those people who are fortunate enough to reside within close proximity to the television stations. I understand that one will need to live within a radius of 30 miles of a station in order to obtain any benefit. Last week, I saw, in a Victorian newspaper, a plan of the locality in which television would be visible. I was amazed at the very small section of Victoria that will benefit. Complaints have already been made to-night of the amount of money that will be expended on this new idea. Attention has been drawn to the fact that a great majority of television sets will be purchased by way of hire purchase. Is not that an indication that, the great financial concerns, the monopolies and combines, to whom the Government appealed only a few short weeks ago to curtail their activities in the hirepurchase field, are not prepared to help the Government in Australia’s present economic difficulty.
– People will pay for their television sets with money they save by not going to the pictures.
– That is a very specious argument. People will not go into debt to buy wireless sets costing hundreds of pounds, nor will they refrain from going to the pictures. They will pay a deposit and then pay interest, but not with money they save by not going to the pictures. If I know the Australian people and Australian kiddies they will still want to go to the pictures on Saturday afternoon and also when their favourite artists are performing. The hours for television broadcasts will be limited and people will still have spare time in which to go to the pictures.
A great deal of interest has been stimulated in television simply because in Melbourne, at the latter end of this year, the great Olympic Games will take place. Those who get a stimulus by selling television sets have been very busy with the Government. They have said that television must be introduced for the Olympic Games. If the whole of the people of Australia, the millions who will not be able to go to Melbourne to see the world’s greatest athletes in competition, were able to derive any benefit from the introduction of television, then its establishment might be warranted. The position is that the millions of people who live beyond the radius of the television stations, the people of Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and other parts, will not receive any benefit.
– They will have to pay.
– As Senator Hendrickson said, they will have to pay while only a few will enjoy the advantage. Of course, the friends of the Government who are interested in the establishment of television will be the people who will enjoy the rake-off. I was very much amused recently when one company, anticipating that television would be introduced in Australia at an early date, tried to outbid its competitors by importing from abroad a number of television, receiving sets. It suggested that the time had arrived for future viewers to buy their receiving sets on the lay-by system, pay their deposit and thus, by the time television was put into operation, they would have their sets. But there was another firm in the metropolitan area which considered that these people were getting under their guard. Consequently, one of the leading officers of that organization made a public announcement, solemnly warning the prospective purchasers of the television sets that they should be very careful about them because if they bought them too soon and stored them away they were 1 likely to explode and perhaps destroy the bouses in which they were stored. That is an example of good old private enterprise - it always ensures that no one will get in under its guard.
I have no doubt that the fact that the Olympic Games will shortly be held has stimulated the demand for television. However, let us consider the attitude of the people who obtained a monopoly of television through being granted these very valuable licences. Do they want to pay for the right to televise the Olympio Games or any other games that will be interesting for the public to watch? Certainly not. They want to be in the same position as the newspapers. They want to be able to enter the arena and televise the proceedings on the same basis as the newspaper reporter makes a report of the proceedings for publication some time later.
Honorable senators should realize that sporting organizations spend a great deal of money to equip their members who take part in the particular sport that they are interested in. As one who has done some work in football, cricket and other sporting organizations, I am well aware of the great cost borne by a sporting club that has to field one or more teams. Consider our own Australian Rules football, which, as Senator Hendrickson has said, is the greatest game in the world. I believe that, in spite of the interjections of Rugby and Soccer supporters from the northern States, Australian football is a costly game, and involves great expenditure by the promoters and committees which organize it. It is not exactly a professional game, but those who take part in it are worthy of some reward, and that, together with the equipment, costs a good deal.
Sporting clubs incur expenses in regard to the players that the public sees, and also in regard to second and third eighteens, retainers, gate-keepers, police officers to maintain order, and so on. Therefore, honorable senators will well understand that it is very expensive for sporting organizations to run their competitions. However, the television people want to come in and, on their own terms, televise very valuable programmes.
I should like to know what the television monopoly will demand from commercial interests who wish to sponsor the broadcasting of a grand final football match, whether it is in Melbourne or Sydney. I should like to know the charge that the television monopolies will make to the sponsor of a television programme of a test match, or of any other important sporting event. Let us consider the Melbourne Cup race. Thousands of pounds are distributed in prizes during the Melbourne Cup meeting, and the cost of producing a race such as the Melbourne Cup, the Derby or the Oaks is tremendous. Consider, also, the cost of maintaining a stud farm in order that horses may be bred to race. All those activities culminate in the greatest race in the world - the Melbourne Cup ; and that one day’s meeting is therefore a most expensive event.
– It is not the most important race in the world.
– I suggest that it is, and that the attendances at the Melbourne Cup are quite equal to those at the English Derby. The television monopoly would come along and expect to televise an expensive race like the Melbourne Cup, without paying anything at all to the sporting organization that arranged it.
I know of no measure that has been introduced in the Senate since I have been a senator that has caused so much apprehension. We are all afraid of it, and that being so, surely it was for the Government to ensure that the correct course was taken with a measure of this importance. The Government was well aware that it had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament, and that it could implement any decision that it might make. Therefore, it was the Government’s duty to take all possible care to bring in a satisfactory measure. I suggest that we should have started with national television stations which would be under the complete control of the Government.
The Government should be the protector of the rights and morals of the people, especially of the rising generation, and it should have utilized this great invention of television to the best advantage of the people. It should have done that all the more because television will play an important part in the future of this country. The administration of television could have been entrusted to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, or we could have set up a separate department solely to administer this one institution.
Therefore, it is regrettable that not one supporter of the Government has tried to answer any of the arguments that have been brought forward by the Opposition, and I hope that when this bill reaches the committee stage we shall be able to devise a measure with much better features than the one now before us.
– I rise to support this measure. I believe that television is one of the greatest inventions that will ever be introduced into Australia, and I am glad that it is being brought in by this Government. The Senate has heard speeches to-night charging the Government with attacking sporting bodies throughout Australia, and indicating that we would like them to carry on their sporting activities in such a way that commercial television companies can come along and televise their programmes, either from the inside or the outside, whilst those bodis would have no protection whatsoever.
Right here and now I want to say that an amendment has been circulated among honorable senators by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), who introduced this measure into the Senate. That amendment follows the recommendations made by honorable senators from this side of the chamber to the effect that all sporting bodies throughout Australia, whether football clubs, racing clubs, tennis clubs or any other sporting clubs, shall be fully protected. No television station, commercial or otherwise, will be allowed to televise a sporting event, from inside or outside the arena, without the permission of the sporting body concerned. That amendment will be introduced when this bill Teaches the committee stage.
I was astonished to hear Senator Hendrickson tell the Senate that the Government was not looking after Australian sporting bodies. He also said that television would have a most inflationary effect in Australia. As against that view, I believe that television is the greatest invention that Australians will ever have the opportunity of using.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to refer to a deplorable statement that was made by Mr. J. V. Stout, secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and president of the Evatt Labour party in Victoria, concerning the intake of immigrants from southern Europe. He said -
The present intake of immigrants from southern European States could ruin Australia’s standard of living. We have no racial prejudice against them, but we have to safeguard our way of life, so we urge the Federal Government to suspend immigration commitments pending an inquiry.
I should like to know whether that is the attitude of the Evatt Labour party to immigration, especially as Stout is a key man in that party in Melbourne. I would say that Stout’s racial policy is indistinguishable from the Hitler superman creed that led to pogroms and annihilation. It is completely opposed to the Christian concept of human dignity. Stout’s attacks closely follow what has been the Communist policy for quite a long time. That policy is followed by the Communists because of the immigrants’ hostility to Communist domination from abroad and subversion in our own trade unions. The attitude of those who support him is in keeping with Communist policy to use the Labour party and the unions as the popular front, or the mouthpiece for Communist propaganda. It is designed to undermine our national strength and prosperity.
This is also a blow to the spectacular immigration policy which was initiated by the Chifley Government. Stout is out of line with national outlook and with true Labour views. They were expressed by the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Cosgrove, only recently when he opened an Australian-Italian Club in Hobart. He said -
We want Italians to become Australians and learn our way of life, but we also want them to remember their country and traditions. That is why this club has been formed.
As the club grows, so will the spirit of friendship between Australians and Italians. In that way, we will build a community working for the good of the State.
The Chief Justice, Sir John Morris, supported Mr. Cosgrove’s remarks, and said -
Australia has been enriched by the people who have come here. When we look back to Italy’s tremendous contribution to art, sculpture and architecture, we can feel optimistic that Italian immigrants will bring some of that art to Australia, but we will not expect them to forget their origin. It is of the utmost importance that our immigrants are not thrown among strangers. They must keep their own culture because no man can reach his full stature unless he has his own culture.
If we know the background, racialism in this case is closely allied to sectarianism, and Stout is adroitly using the one to cloak the other. All parties in this Parliament should try, by forthright repudiation and condemnation of Stout’s unbalanced outburst, to allay the hurt that has been done to our new citizens and the affront that has been given to friendly nations. It seems to be apropos thi? subject to mention the standard of living to which Stout has referred and to ask him, as the vanquished custodian of privies, to look after the conditions of his own people in the Melbourne Trades Hall.
– The statements that have been made by Senator Cole must not go unchallenged. He has taken a newspaper report of a statement that was allegedly made by the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, Mr. Stout, placed his own interpretation upon it and decided that Mr. Stout has attacked the immigration programme. Nothing is further from the truth. In the first instance, I believe that Mr. Stout was not quoted fully in the press.
– I can give the full quotation from the Trades Hall report.
– What the press decided to print.
– No, from the documents of the Trades Hall.
– Mr. Stout was speaking as secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, and not as an official of the Australian Labour party. Senator Cole ha3 no right to quote Mr. Stout as the mouthpiece for the Labour party on any statement he might make on immigration.
This attack indicates the shape of things to come. Like his former colleagues in another place, Senator Cole intends to use this chamber as a forum of hate against persons outside it so that he can direct his antagonisms towards them. Mr. Stout was not speaking on behalf of the Australian Labour party. He also made it perfectly clear that he was concerned with the economic position of Australia, and the danger of unemployment that is manifesting itself, and was questioning the advisability of maintaining the present intake of immigrants when the economy was showing some signs of cracking. I say quite seriously that this Senate should not be concerned with attacks by a senator against persons outside the chamber in pursuit of a. vendetta that has nothing to do with the Senate. I prophesy that the Senate will be heartily sick of this sort of thing in the next three or four months, just as members of the House of Representatives became heartily sick of it on a former occasion. I suggest to Senator Cole that, before he launches attacks in this chamber on persons outside of it, he should make sure of his facts. The remarks to which he has referred to-night had nothing to do with racial prejudice, and merely showed Mr. Stout’s personal estimate of the economic situation. The attack was unjustified. It lowers the dignity of this chamber, and I hope that we shall not see a repetition of it.
. –The particular argument between the various sections of the Labour party is not one with which I am concerned, but I feel that the question which has been raised by Senator Cole is not one of insignificance nor is it one that can be brushed lightly aside. The last thing I wish to do or will do is carry on a personal attack against any person, but I claim the right to attack fully and freely and to demand an explanation of statements made by persons in official positions in this country.
– The honorable senator should get evidence of the statements before making the attack.
– If Senator Cole’s assertions can be denied, let us have that denial so that the matter may be settled once and for all. The statement as published by Mr. Stout, perhaps in his capacity as president of the Trades Hall Council, urged a cessation of immigration. That is a statement of some moment, especially coming from a man, who, in addition to being president of the Trades Hall Council, is also president of the Victorian branch of the Evatt Labour party.
– What is wrong with what he said?
– The fact that a man holds those two positions must add some weight to the statements he makes. In those circumstances, the question arises - and it is a public one - as to whether Mr. Stout is expressing the opinion of the Labour party or merely his own personal opinion.
– I have already stated that he is not.
– I know, but the honorable senator has no more right to speak for the Labour party than has any other person. This statement by Mr. Stout has not been denied officially, and it would be a good thing for this country if it were either confirmed or denied officially so that- we may know whether it is the policy of the Evatt Labour party to put an end to immigration altogether. Is that the Evatt Labour party’s policy? If not, is it the policy of the Victorian branch of the Evatt Labour party to cease immigration altogether? This matter could be settled officially now by an official statement from honorable senators opposite. These are matters of great moment. Every one is entitled to his own opinion, but I believe that in this instance more than the simple question of immigration is involved. I remind honorable senators that the motion of the Trades Hall Council urging the cessation of immigration came only a few days after Mr. J. J. Brown, the Communist ex-secretary of the Australian Railways Union in Victoria was howled down at a meeting he was holding at the Newport railway yards when he was seeking a combined Communist-Evatt Labour party ticket for election to a position in that union. There was an accumulation of evidence that new Australians will not agree to domination of their unions by Communist officials, because they know what they had to put up with overseas and they tully understand what Communist domination means. If what happened at that meeting has any bearing on this matter - and I believe it has - then that, too, should be brought out in this discussion.
– The preceding speaker, Senator Gorton, sat down grinning. It might be a laughing matter to him, but I impress upon the chamber that this is a serious question. The very people who are complaining here to-night are the ones who are aggravating the sectarian issue in the country to-day. I have had a great and long association with Mr. Stout and Mr. Monk. Here, I point out for Senator Gorton’s benefit that Mr. .Stout is not president of the Trades Hall Council. He is secretary of that body and president of the Victorian branch of the Labour party. He, in conjunction with Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, has the closest co-operation of the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Harold Holt). That being so, honorable senators opposite who criticize Mr. Stout’s statement are probably criticizing the very things that are in the mind of the present Minister for Immigration.
– What did he say?
– I know only what Senator Cole said. I do not know what Mr. Stout said, but I know that many people would not bother, reading what the press publishes because one cannot always believe it. What I do know is that Senator Cole, who is constantly agitating for the purpose of keeping the sectarian issue alive, has brought this matter up here with that end in view. I assure honorable senators that his action to-night will do a great deal of harm, and I warn those who are complaining about communism that they want to be very careful indeed that what happened in England three or four weeks ago does not happen here. They want to be very careful that something that could take the place of capitalistic communism, that is fascism, does not creep in while they are fighting communism. What the groat trade union movement of Australia and the Australian Labour party say is that we should arrange employment, accommodation and homes for immigrants before bringing them to Australia. What probably prompted the statement from Mr. Stout is the fact that in Melbourne from 30 to 40 Italians are living in a house that was provided in years gone by to accommodate a mau, his wife and family of three or four children. Senator Cole would like to be a dictator with a whip to drive these people on whose behalf Mr. Stout is speaking. I remind the Government, too, that both the labour position and the housing problem, in Australia are very acute to-day.
– He would have them “ carrying their bluey “.
– He would, and Senator Vincent would have them “ carrying their bluey “ *, but the policy of the great trade union movement to which .Senator Cole never belonged, and of the great Australian Labour party in which Senator Cole was an infant still in napkins before he deserted it, is to foster immigration to Australia. We look forward to bringing immigrants here to build up the nation. I- remind honorable senators that our present immigration policy was first introduced by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) when Labour was in office, and that that policy has been carried on very ably by the honorable member for Higgins (Mr. Harold Holt) in the six years he has been Minister for Immigration. All I can say in conclusion is that if this Senate is going to listen to the type of trash and tripe that Senator Cole has brought before it to-night, then it must he very careful to see that we do not have television.
– I wish to make an explanation. Senator Toohey said that I was not quoting what happened at the Trades Hall.
– I said the honorable senn tor was relying on a newspaper report.
– I was not relying on a newspaper report at all; I was relying on a factual report from the trade union movement itself. To support that assertion I point out that an amendment was moved by Mr. Maynes, of the Federated Clerks Union, to the motion moved by Mr. Stout.
– Maynes is employed by Santamaria.
– The trouble with Senator Hendrickson is that although once upon a time he was “ on the ball “, at the present moment he has to shout his loudest so that .Senator Kennelly will hear him for he is a little afraid that he might become No. 3 candidate on his party ticket when there is a double dissolution, or at the next general election. He is afraid because he knows what would happen to him in that event. He continually interjects and becomes a little Sir Echo.
– I am not employed by Santamaria.
– The amendment was moved in order to defeat the racial prejudice that had been shown in the meeting, but it was defeated, and Stout voted against ‘ it. The drafting of the motion itself was the work of the Trades Hall secretary, Mr. Stout, who is also the head of the Evatt party in Victoria. I want to know whether that motion represents Labour’s official attitude to immigration.
– This is a national parliament, and the honorable senator is wasting its time.
– I am not wasting time. Senator Hendrickson has come along with a lot of balderdash, and his remarks have been quite wide of the mark. He knows very well where the sectarianism, of which he spoke,- comes from. The Labour party, in Victoria particularly, is allowing itself to become the mouthpiece of Communist policy and it is time that something was done about it.
– Who is the honorable senator speaking for?
– As mentioned by Senator Gorton, election of officers for the Australian Railways Union will be held on the 6th j une, and it is disgusting to see what is happening in Victoria at the present time with the unity ticket. Desperate efforts are being made to have I. J. Brown, an avowed Communist, elected once again as secretary of the Victorian branch of the union. The Labour party knows what happened when he formerly occupied that position. The reason I brought this matter forward tonight was to try to ascertain the true Labour attitude to immigration. Senator Grant says that what I have suggested is its true attitude; Senator Hendrickson says that it is not. I should like some one to tell me what is the official attitude.
– I rise at this stage, only because of the superficial suggestion made by that stout defender of Mr. Stout, Senator Hendrickson, who said that immigration was an insignificant question and unworthy of being brought before this House. Honorable senators have all heard, the claim made by the Labour party that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in another place introduced a vigorous immigration policy.
– On a point of order. I have been misquoted by Senator Wright.
– Order! If Senator Hendrickson claims that he has been misquoted, he will have an opportunity later to make a personal explanation.
– I was about to reach the point I wish to make, and the intervention by Senator Hendrickson will not dauntme. The fact is that long before it dawned on Mr. Calwell’s intelligence to promote an immigration scheme for post-war development, the Labour party had adopted a miserable, narrow attitude, and was entirely opposed to any immigration to this country in the 1930’s, preceding World War II. It is most opportune that Senator Cole should bring this matter into proper focus tonight, because it is one of the most important issues with which the National Parliament could be concerned. Honorable senators know that the policy of immigration is fundamentally important for the development of the country and it: must be maintained, despite the obvious difficulties in doing so. I wish to bring this subject into its proper focus as a matter worthy of the attention of the National Parliament, and not one to be relegated to that insignificant gutter along the trend of which Senator Hendrickson’s mind travels. I now wish to deal with some of the comments made by Senator Toohey.
– On a point of order. The words used by Senator Wright are offensive to me. He made a statement to the effect that Senator Hendrickson’s mind travelled along the gutter. I believe, Mr. President, that those words ought to be withdrawn because I regard them as offensive.
– Order! Senator Kennelly, do I understand that you are taking objection to words used against Senator Hendrickson which Senator Hendrickson has not questioned? If that is so, the point of order is not upheld.
– On a point of order, I do take exception to the statement made by Senator Wright. The words he used are objectionable to me.
– What are the words?
– The honorable senator heard them.
– I heard them, but Senator Hendrickson does not know what they are.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– I wish to refer to one or two unworthy remarks
– I wish to move, Mr. President, that your ruling be dissented from. I think that this is the first time in this chamber that I have listened to such a biased ruling.
– On a point of order. Will you rule, Mr. President, whether it is necessary for Senator Kennelly to submit his motion in writing before he speaks to it?
– Order! In accordance with the Standing Orders, Senator Kennelly must submit his motion in writing.
Senator Kennelly having submitted his objection to the ruling in writing,
.- I move-
That the ruling be dissented from.
The ruling was to the effect that Senator Wright’s words were not offensive.
I submit this motion under Standing Order 418.
That the question of dissent requires immediate determination.
– I regret being compelled to say that I have never heard a more biased ruling. We on this side of the chamber have shown to you, sir, since your election to office, the courtesy that is due to you, and we expect from you unbiased treatment. You heard the words complained of.
– What were they?
– I mentioned the words when I rose to order. If the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) was not listening to the debate, it is not my intention to inform him of its nature. I take it that he is just as much entitled to listen to the discussion as are other honorable senators.’ You, Mr. President, heard the words about which the complaint has been made, and you have given a ruling which, to my mind, is not in keeping with the facts and is biased. For that reason, I have moved that your ruling be disagreed with.
– I second the motion formally, and reserve my right to speak to it.
– I rise with a great deal of regret. I invite you, Mr. President, to recall the circumstances which preceded the incident which is now before the chamber. It arose from an attack by an honorable senator on an individual who is not in this chamber. In the course of that attack, allegations of racialism and sectarianism were made. I put it that those are not matters to be treated lightly. They are things that should never be referred to in a place like this without complete justification and thorough documentation. They were mentioned as conclusions from a statement by a certain gentleman regarding immigration policy. Then an atmosphere of levity developed, particularly on the Government side of the chamber.
– I rise to order. I understood that the motion was one of objection to words on the ground that they were offensive, and I ask you, Mr. President, whether Senator McKenna is in order in canvassing the whole of the preceding debate.
– Order ! The point of order is upheld. I have been busy checking a standing order. I was listening to Senator McKenna and I thought that he was getting away from the motion before the Senate.
– I shall put it this way: In the circumstances which prevailed in the Senate prior to the utterance of the words by Senator Wright, about which the complaint has been made, the honorable senator stated that Senator Hendrickson^ mind ran in the sewer or the gutter.
– I did not say that.
– I should like to know your version, Mr. President.
– I made no mention of the word “ sewer “.
– Order !
– Senator Wright certainly mentioned the word “ gutter “. Since the honorable senator has admitted that he said that Senator Hendrickson’s mind ran in the gutter, I am content to rely on that admission. I confess that the honorable senator did not have my full attention at the time. I take my view of the matter from the motion moved by Senator Kennelly. However, I accept Senator Wright’s statement concerning the words that he. used, and I say that that was definitely unparliamentary language. It was obviously an insult to the honorable senator against whom, it was directed. I do not believe that the words came seriously from Senator Wright. I think that he was in the process of enjoying himself because of what he believed to be the discomfiture of honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
– Why should 1 have believed that?
– Honorable senators opposite made it very obvious that they were out for a prank. I should prefer to believe that Senator Wright would use language of that kind lightly rather than seriously. I should think very much more of him if such language were spoken lightly than if he meant it. Whatever provocation Senator Wright may have had, looking at the matter in the abstract and considering the words that were used, I invite anybody in this chamber to say whether that is the standard, the norm, of address between honorable senators in this place. Who is proud of such language? Who wants to hear it repeated? Which honorable senator on the Government side of the chamber would like to hear an expression of that kind directed at any one of them ?
I put it to you, Mr. President, that that kind of thing should be nipped in the bud. I have heard you on very many occasions, when utterances less forceful and less offensive have been made, taking immediate action in relation to the matter. The action that I take now is taken in the interests of maintaining a proper standard of conduct in this chamber, because if this ruling is upheld and that kind of utterance is to be permitted here, henceforth I shall not relish my association with the Senate. The proceedings are unfortunate, and the utterance was unfortunate. I think that the objection taken in the first instance by Senator Kennelly, and also taken by Senator Hendrickson, at whom the remark was directed, was most properly taken. Quite frankly, Mr. President, in the light of your earlier decisions in relation to this kind of thing, I cannot understand why you did not halt Senator Wright of your own accord. I regret very much being obliged to disagree with your ruling. I do so for thereasons that I have given, and I think that, on reflection, you will recognize that it would not be a good thing for this Senate if the standard set by that type of utterance were to be the standard for the future.
.- I cannot comprehend the reason for the impassioned address of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), particularly in view of the atmosphere and the circumstances in which Senator Wright was speaking, and in which Senator Hendrickson had spoken earlier. The tone of Senator McKenna’s speech was quite out of keeping with the spirit of the occasion to which he was referring. Obviously, Senator Wright was saying, metaphorically, “Who postulates, for instance, that Senator Hendrickson has a mind ? “ Therefore, the words must be taken in a jocular, metaphorical sense. I am sure that the ruling you have given, Mr. President, is the correct one.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to-
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from (Senator kennelly’s motion).
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Having survived that deliberate attempt to distract me from my train of thought, I recall to the Senate that I was about to address myself to the unworthy remarks of Senator Toohey. Par from the light-hearted way in which I chose to present myself,’ Senator Toohey chose to match himself against his erstwhile colleague, Senator Cole, and attributed to Senator Cole only a campaign of hate. Then the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) referred to the whole spectacle as causing discomfiture between two sections of the Opposition. These are things which appeal to the emotions even of a stolid individual like myself, and I confess that I cannot but be moved, on the surface of my emotional make-up, by demonstrations of acute faction on the part of the two sections of the Opposition. When Senator Toohey wishes to oppose this whole matter, on the basis that Senator Cole had engaged in a campaign of hate, I want to say that I am prepared to back Senator Cole’s moderate approach, and put to his erstwhile colleagues this fact. The introduction of this matter was no doubt based upon the sound considerations which I believe Senator Gorton made evident, showing a chain of incidents entirely in line with my apprehension that since this schism developed in the Labour party, it has been the constant” endeavour of its leader, Dr. Evatt, to allow opportunities for the growth of communism in the trade union movement to develop.
– That is a lie. The honorable senator is down in the gutter.
– Yes, he is down in the gutter.
– I rise to order. Standing Order 418 reads -
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, . . .
As Senator Wright’s reference to Dr. Evatt’s association with communism is offensive to me, I ask for its withdrawal.
– I, also, rise to order.
– Order ! Does the honorable senator wish to speak to the point of order that has been raised by Senator Ashley?
– Yes, Mr. President. As Senator Wright’s statement imputed improper motives against Dr. Evatt, who is the Leader of the Opposition in another place, and as that imputation is grossly offensive to me, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Speaking to the point of order, I am completely unable to see how it can be held to be offensive for Senator Wright to say that Dr. Evatt had made all sorts of opportunities for the growth of communism in trade unions. The Communist party is not an illegal party in Australia. It is a legal party, and it is very largely due to the efforts of Dr. Evatt, that it is a legal party. As it is a legal party it can hardly be offensive for any one to say that its activities have been fostered in the unions by Dr. Evatt.
– Order ! The point of order is not upheld.
– It is quite obvious-
– I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The ruling was that certain words objected to were not offensive.
– Order! ‘ The honorable senator should have taken action when I gave my ruling.
– Mr. President, are you ruling that .Senator O’Byrne is not in order in moving dissent from your ruling ?
– I am not ruling in that way; but I could very well rule that Senator O’Byrne is not in order. However, I am accepting his motion.
Senator O’Byrne having submitted in writing his objection to the President’s ruling.
– I second the motion.
That the question of dissent requires immediate determination.
– That being the case, I think it should be obvious to you, in view of your previous ruling on another matter, that conditions in this Senate are likely to deteriorate very rapidly if we continue along these lines. What is the situation ? I am speaking reasonably on this matter and I direct your attention and the attention of honorable senators to the fact that to-night in this Senate it has been regarded as proper for one honorable senator to say to another, “ Your mind is in the gutter “.
– - I rise to order. I submit that the statement made by Senator Toohey has no relevance to the motion before the Chair, and I ask that Senator Toohey speak strictly to the motion.
– The point of order is upheld.
– Having said that, and having accepted your ruling, let me say now that we have reached a further stage where, apparently, it is competent for honorable senators to describe one another as Communists.
– That was not the expression that was used.
– I am speaking seriously on this matter and 1 suggest that we have reached the stage where it is now competent for an honorable senator to describe another honorable senator as a Communist, whether the speaker be on this side or on the other side of the chamber. If this state of affairs is permitted to continue, I believe it is time we had some sense of responsibility in our consideration of what may happen in the future. Before I became a member of the Senate I was given to understand that the standard of behaviour and of debate in this chamber was very high indeed. I am not descending to abuse in my contribution to this debate to-night. I say quite definitely that if we continue along those lines you yourself, sir, must realize that we will reach a stage where this chamber will degenerate to a great degree. Let us realize that it is the senior House of the Parliament. I believe, sir, that your last ruling was a very bad one indeed.
– I rise to order. We have been very tolerant with Senator Toohey but the substance of his remarks during the last four or five minutes have been in violent conflict with Standing Order 415 which reads -
No Senator shall reflect upon the Vote of the Senate, except for the purpose of moving that such Vote be rescinded.
Senator Toohey, during the last few minutes, has been criticizing a decision given by the Senate and in doing so is entirely out of order.
– Order ! I should prefer to give Senator Toohey the opportunity to say what he wants to say on this matter. However, as I pointed out to him previously, he is not in order in canvassing a decision of the Senate. Furthermore, he has raised the question of whether the word “ Com munist “ was used in reference to a certain person. That is not the remark to which this motion is directed.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. President, that it was wrong for me to canvass a previous decision of the Senate; but on the question of whether a person was referred to as a Communist, I think we should be practical about the matter. If it is stated in this chamber that somebody is doing everything possible to help the cause of communism, the natural inference to be drawn from such a statement is that that person is a communist.
– I think the behaviour of honorable senators on the Government side is a clear indication of a very sharp- deterioration in the standards of this chamber. I have not attempted to be personal in any way in my consideration of the problem before the Senate, but I suggest to you, sir, in all seriousness that if you permit these conditions to continue, you yourself will have to accept some responsibility for the standard of behaviour in this chamber in the future.
– Our colleagues in the Oposition are very touchy to-night when there is the slightest suggestion that the policy which they are pursuing may advance the interests of the Communists It is a little strange that this motion of objection to the phrase that was used by the honorable senator should come from members of this chamber who, I think, in the course of this debate, have charged one of their former colleagues with being a fascist. This is not the first time that that kind of charge has been made by honorable senators opposite against some of their erstwhile colleagues.
The Senate will interfere to prevent the prosecution of any quarrel between Senators, arising out of debates or proceedings of the Senate of any Committee thereof.
It is perfectly obvious that we are now listening to a dispute between honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. I suggest to you, Mr. President, that Standing Order No. 443 provides that at this stage, you should intervene and prevent the dispute from continuing.
– The point of order is not upheld.
– I have listened to this debate pretty intently, and I say that it is not true that any one has been charged with being a Communist. As I understand it, the allegation was that the policy that was being pursued by the Australian Labour party under the leadership of Dr. Evatt was assisting communism. If honorable senators opposite intend to object to that kind of statement, they will be objecting to the Senate performing its functions as a deliberate chamber and will prevent honorable senators from indulging in the kind of criticism in which they are very properly entitled to indulge. I would have just as much reason for rising and objecting to being charged with being a representative of the banks.
– The honorable senator is a representative of the banks.
– I expected that remark. As far as I am concerned, the honorable senator is perfectly entitled to make that allegation, but, it is up to him to furnish some proof of his allegation if he is called upon to do so. The allegation that we are discussing has been proved, I believe, by the history of this country over the last eighteen months, and also by what is going on in the railway union in Victoria.
– I remind you, Mr. President, that a few weeks ago when I interjected and said that Senator McCallum was the Communist representative here, not only did you order me to withdraw, but also I made a statement to the Senate. I feel that you should follow the same procedure on this occasion.
– Instead of repeating, as did the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), the very allegation to which exception is taken, may I state that over a long period of time it has been the practice, when an honorable senator has felt aggrieved, foi: the President to show a great amount of latitude to that senator. Standing Order No. 418, which J understand is the Standing Order under which Senator O’Byrne took his objection, reads -
No senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member nf such House, or of any House of a State Parliament . . .
Senator O’Byrne was of the opinion that, in the terms of that Standing Order, the words used by Senator Wright were offensive. I suppose such incidents have arisen on previous occasions during the last 56 years; indeed, there is nothing very new under the sun. I direct attention to the book Australian Senate Practice, by J. R. Odgers, who was then Usher of the Black Rod. I feel, Mr. President, that if you were to read his book, and were to exercise the same degree of tolerance that you have displayed over the years, you would adopt a vastly different attitude now. Dealing with the question of offensive words, Mr. Odgers says -
If a senator takes exception to a remark or a name on the ground that it is personally offensive- which is exactly what my colleage has done- it adds to the dignity of the debate to require that it should be withdrawn.
I suggest that that attitude has been adopted by previous occupants of the Chair over a long period of time, and tha t they have thereby added to the dignity of debate. There have been some very interesting examples of what constitutes unparliamentary language. Previous Presidents, and particularly President Givens, who has been almost regarded as being the authority on the matter, have held that it is unparliamentary to ascribe the term “ scandalous “ to the language* of an honorable senator. I ask you, Mr. President, to compare that term with the remarks to-night of Senator Wright. To ask a senator if he is inclined to take a wager about a certain matter, to express an intention to repeat a diabolical slander. or to impute improper motives to a senator are unparliamentary. All thos© things have been held by the Senate to be unparliamentary.
– And properly so.
– And properly so, as Senator Wright says. Perhaps 1 was brought up in a rather tough school, but I ask you to compare Senator Wright’s remarks with the examples that. 1 have just quoted. I agree that, immediately an objection is taken, the Standing Orders provide that the President must decide the matter; but according to Mr. Odgers - and this is very relevant-
If doubt exists us to whether or not a statement that is declared by any senator to be personally offensive to him should be withdrawn, the Chair leans towards the senator who considers himself aggrieved. [f we allow the heat of the argument ro subside and return to the standard of debate that we have developed over the last few years, and of which we arc rather proud, I feel that you, Mr. President, in your very great wisdom, and Senator Wright will agree that, leaning towards the side of the aggrieved person, and adding to the standard of debate, will order that the remarks be withdrawn.
– I think I should clear up the position for the benefit of the Senate. If a senator objects to a word as being offensive, it is my duty to decide whether it is offensive. I appreciate the reference that has been made to the valuable book written by Mr. Odgers, but it is only an expression of opinion and does not influence me. Honorable senators have a right to object to my ruling, and they have exercised that right to-night. I have ruled that the words in question are not offensive. I feel that, if I were to rule otherwise, I might deprive honorable senators of the right to use freely in this chamber words that they are entitled to use.
– I would rather surrender my seat in the Parliament than forfeit my right to argue that the activities of any senator either inside or outside this chamber assisted the growth of com munism. I regard the desirability of being alert to such a situation as being one of the highest national duties, and I hope that honorable senators on both sides will be alert and scotch any activities that promote the growth of communism.
– In supporting the motion that your ruling be dissented from, Mr. President, may I say that I marvel at the latest outburst of the Senator whom you ruled to be in order. No doubt your ruling will go down in the history of the Senate, because to my mind it was the most remarkable ruling ever to be given by a person holding an honoured place in the National Parliament. You ruled that one honorable senator may use a. phrase to the effect that another honorable senator’s mind was in the gutter.
– Order ! Senator Kennelly must not reflect upon a previous ruling of the Chair which has been upheld by a vote of the Senate.
– I am not reflecting on your ruling, Mr. President, I am only mentioning it in connexion with the latest outburst of my friend, Senator Wright. I agree with him that there is no honorable senator here, and let us hope that there never will be one, who will aid in causing hurt to the nation. However, to say that the leader of a political party, because he has certain views which were upheld by the people of this country when the Government wanted to foist a decision on the people at the last referendum-
– What was the referendum about?
– The question submitted at that referendum was whether the Communist party should be declared an illegal organization.
– No, it was whether this Parliament should be given the power so to declare.
– That referendum showed that irrespective of our opposition to the political views of the Communists, they are at least given the right in this country to explain their views, irrespective of whether any body might oppose those views. We on this side of the chamber believe that the way to foster the growth of the Communist party is to force it underground. We believe that the Communist party will not bear the fruit that it thinks it will bear if we allow the people of this nation to bear what that party has to say and the philosophy - if we can call it a philosophy - that it advocates.
– That is why the honorable senator ran a unity ticket with the Communists.
– I do not want to say to the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) who is a friend of mine, that his mind was in the gutter when-
– I rise to order. You have already ruled, Mr. President, that no honorable senator can reflect on a vote of the Senate. By constant references, Senator Kennelly is reflecting upon your decision, and I suggest that he has no right to refer again and again to that matter.
– Order! Senator Kennelly has displayed a rather intimate knowledge of the Standing Orders ! I remind him that earlier in his remarks he seemed to be getting away from the subject-matter before the Chair. In other respects he is in order.
– Tell us about the unity ticket.
– I shall speak about that at the relevant time. I do not wish to take the Attorney-General’s mind out of the gutter at the moment. I understand I can use that phrase, and, therefore, all I say is that Senator Wright was offensive to refer to the leader of this party in the terms in which he did. In view of all that has been said on this matter, in view of the Standing Orders that have been quoted and the opinions given by one who, no doubt, within a day or so will he paid honour by the Senate, I uphold our viewpoint and trust that any bias will be left out of the vote that will shortly be taken, and that this chamber will return to what it was a couple of hours ago.
I say to you, Mr. President, with respect, that if this incident had not occurred there would have been others as well as myself in this chamber who would have been very pleased indeed. I regret to say that the two rulings that have been given will neither add to the stature of this chamber nor to that of the person who gave them.
Motion (by Senator Vincent) agreed to-
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from (Senator O’Byrne’s motion).
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Senate adjourned at 12.25 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 May 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560523_senate_22_s8/>.