22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Hie PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10. a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. I refer to a speech made yesterday in Canberra by His Excellency Lord Carrington, the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Australia. When addressing the convention of the Australian Primary Producers Union he referred to the decade ahead of us as “ better still “ and, in particular, he said -
Now atomic radiation, anti-biotics, and new food processing ideas will revolutionize production and drastically alter our prospects.
Radiation of pre-packaged meat, shell eggs that will keep indefinitely, and sterilized milk without heat treatment are a few of the possibilities ahead.
Has the Department of National Development done any work along the lines indicated in His Excellency’s speech? Can the Minister indicate whether industry generally has begun to use some of these ideas on which the department is working?
– I read with interest the newspaper report of Lord Carrington’s speech and gave it the respect which I always give to remarks that come from His Excellency. When I turned to the next page of the newspaper, I saw another report of a talk given by Dr. Gregory, of the Isotopes Division of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, which seemed to me to confirm, almost word for word, the theme of Lord Carrington’s remarks. Dr. Gregory pointed out that the research establishment at Lucas Heights would be producing isotopes next year, and that, without doubt, these would be extremely valuable research tools in the hands of the agricultural scientist.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I direct the attention of the Minister to reports from South Africa that the progeny of the four merino rams that were made available from Australia for research have been sold on the open market in that country. I ask the Minister whether he has been acquainted, with the details of that sale and whether the South- African. Government has been, reminded of the conditions which were imposed on it when the Australian Government made these rams available to South Africa, exclusively for research purposes. Is the report correct that the progeny of these rams have been sold on the open market in South Africa? Will a protest, couched in the strongest possible terms, be sent to the Prime Minister of South Africa, pointing out that we do not wish this progeny to be sold on the open market because it is important to us to retain the exclusive merino breed in Australia? Further, will instructions be given that no more rams be made available to South Africa under any conditions?
Senator PALTRIDGE__ Just before I came into the chamber I saw the newspaper report referred to by Senator O’Byrne. I am sure he will appreciate that I have not yet had time to discuss the matter with my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, but I shall do so at the first opportunity, and I am confident that Senator O’Byrne will be furnished with all the information he now seeks in connexion with this transaction.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by stating that I notice that the department is advertising for a clerk to supervise the publications section of its Investigation Branch, in Sydney. Is this position an addition to the existing staff, and is it part of the censorship overhaul promised by the Minister?
– The advertisement is merely a routine one for the staffing of a position which is shortly to become vacant. The officer concerned is a reader at the Sydney office. He deals with all the literature and pulp sent by the various collecting officers for review. He reads it and either releases it or recommends to the collector that it be sent for further review by central office. Central office then either releases it or sends it to the Literature Censorship Board. It is not a new position. It is merely a question of restaffing a position which will become- vacant shortly owing to retirement.
It may be of interest to the Senate to know of some of the steps I have taken recently in connexion with the censorship position. I have been asked some questions on the matter, and many honorable senators have shown an interest in it. The first step I have taken has been to ask the Literature Censorship Board to overhaul the present list of books that have been banned over the years. The board is now undertaking that task with a view to releasing as many as it thinks should be released under present-day conditions. When the truncated list is available, I intend to send copies to the chief librarians of public libraries in every State.
To ensure that all books about which there is a doubt reach the Literature Censorship Board before final banning, I have so organized the position that certain steps must be taken. I should like to say here that at no time does a clerk in the customs office ban books, as has been suggested in some quarters. All books go from the collecting agencies to the readers in the States and then to the readers at central office. If there is still a doubt about releasing any of them, those books about which there is a doubt are sent to the Literature Censorship Board for review. If there is an appeal against the decision of the Literature Censorship Board, I ask the appeal censor to make a decision for my advice on the final appeal. I have also taken steps to try to eliminate the delays which have been occurring in the making of decisions in regard to books. Those delays come into two categories. There has been delay in central office, and the Comptroller-General has undertaken to minimize the delay there. There has also been a delay in the Literature Censorship Board itself, and I have asked the board to split itself into committees along the lines adopted by the Tariff Board, and review “books in those committees, with the chairman to act as an umpire in case of a deadlock in any committee. I think the Senate will agree that those administrative steps will assist greatly in remedying the position, of which I intend to undertake a further review. I am consulting with numbers of people throughout Australia, so that it will ie some little time before I can make a -.final recommendation on overall policy in this matter. It remains only for me to make a recommendation.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister aware that Australian National Airways Pty. Limited, now under the control of the Ansett interests, is endeavouring to secure sufficient shares in Butler Air Transport Ltd. to enable it to implement a policy which will have detrimental results for country centres now served by the Butler organization? As this policy involves the return of less popular and not so-up-to-date aircraft such as the DC3 for use in country services, and the taking over of the Butler organization’s Viscount aircraft for use on the Australian National Airlines routes, will the Minister for Civil Aviation ensure that the proposed curtailment of the Butler country services by this opposition service will not be allowed to operate to the disadvantage of the communities in sparsely populated areas and to the detriment of the Butler air service, which has pioneered the development of air routes to the outback?
– Some weeks ago I made a policy statement on civil aviation in Australia which made specific reference to the maintenance of feeder route services in country areas. In that statement I detailed the policy of the Government which is, in effect,’ to extend assistance by way of subsidy to approved operators and, in appropriate circumstances, to guarantee loans for re-equipment. I think that should give the Senate and, indeed, the country, an assurance that this Government is interested in the maintenance of the kind of country service to which Senator Ashley has referred. The honorable senator need have no fear that the interest of the Government will in any way wane. As to newspaper reports of stock exchange activity in Butler Air Transport Ltd. shares, I merely say that, together with every one else who is interested in civil aviation, I have noted this activity. That is not a matter with which the Government concerns itself at all. Butler Air Transport Ltd. is a public company with shares listed on the Stock Exchange. Its shares are open, as are any listed shares, for sale and purchase, and stock exchange activity is merely taking its usual course.
– I submit a question without notice to the Minister for Customs and Excise following on the question asked by Senator Wedgwood in regard to censorship. Can the Minister tell the Senate, first, who comprises the Literature Censorship Board; secondly, what instructions, if any, are given to the board in relation to policy on censorship; thirdly, whether the board attempts in any way to co-ordinate its policy in relation to censorship with the various State censorship committees and, if so, in what ways is this co-ordination carried out?
– The appeals censor is Dr, L. H. Allen, formerly professor of English at the Canberra University College. The board consists of Mr. K. Binns, who was for some time Parliamentary Librarian, Professor D. P. Scales, and Professor E. R. Bryan. The Literature Censorship Regulations lay down the terms under which the board investigates these matters. There are two provisions in the act. One relates to literature which is blasphemous, indecent, or obscene. The other relates to literature which unduly emphasizes sex or horror, or which may lead to depravity. Those are the broad terms of the Customs Act under which these books are read.
As to whether the board co-ordinates its activities with those of State authorities, I wish to make it clear that the Commonwealth’s responsibility at the moment is limited to imported literature. Books published in Australia are entirely within the jurisdiction of the States themselves.
– Is the censorship policy co-ordinated?
– 1 have no idea. We function with regard to imported literature. The States have full charge of and full responsibility for everything that is published in Australia.
– I preface my question to the President by explaining that yesterday evening I entertained a friend from Alice Springs to dinner in the visitors’ dining-room. The division bells rang shortly after 8 o’clock, and I should like to bring under notice the fact that the
Senate bell did not ring in that dining-room when the division was called in this, chamber. I realize that it is quite a difficult job to examine and maintain in perfect working order every piece of mechanism inthis building, but a division is a major matter. Will you, Mr. President, see that ia future the division bells are tested at regular intervals so that members who are in the precincts of Parliament do not missdivisions?
– I can assure thehonorable senator that the division bellsare checked regularly. Of course, it isimpossible to guard against mechanical faults. That is something that all honorablesenators must be prepared for. No matterhow good the system, there is always thedanger of a mechanical fault developing.
It is proposed to install a new call system, throughout the Parliament. At present, it is difficult to obtain the correct type of bells,, and the system may have to be changed. While the system is not perfect, honorable senators should take reasonable precautions, to acquaint themselves with the possibility of divisions taking place.
– I direct a question, without notice to the Minister for National1 Development. Can the Minister adviseme whether any surveys have been carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resourcesof areas in the north-west of Western Australia? Did these surveys reveal any structures of interest to oil companies? Has theinformation been made available to thecompanies prospecting for oil, and will the bureau be carrying out further surveys in the area?
– The honorable senator invites me to give a dissertation on the search for oil in the north-west of Western Australia. I can only push that temptation resolutely to one side. TheWapet search in Western Australia is, I claim, founded on the activities of theBureau of Mineral Resources, which provided the basic information to the companies that attracted the capital. That basic work is still continuing. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has a regular, continuous oil exploration programme. The information that the bureau obtains and the mapsthat it issues are public documents. They are available, not only to the oil companies ;that are at present operating in Western Australian, but to everybody who may be interested. They are published, not only in Australia, but also overseas. The bureau is, I think, making an appreciable contribution to the provision of the basic information upon which all oil search activities are founded.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice ;
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– On 15th October, Senator Robertson asked me the following question: -
I direct a series of questions to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister seen a statement that was published in the “ Canberra Times “ of yesterday to the effect that, during a total transmission time of ten hours, the three television stations in Sydney televised sixty-five major crimes and brutalities? Is it a fact that the easing of control on the importation of television programmes has provided a channel by which undesirable films may gain easy entry to Australia? Will the Postmaster-General make a searching inquiry into this matter, and take immediate action to impose stricter censorship on imported films? Further, will he review the whole matter of television programmes, and increase the percentage of Australian plays and shows?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
AH films which are imported are subject to censorship by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board and all “films which are admitted are classified for use in television in acccordance with the relevant provisions of the television programme standards determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, a copy of which I shall make available to the honorable senator. The procedure followed with respect to the censorship of television films is set out fully in the -eighth and ninth annual reports of the Board. Section 99 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 19S6 also places on the licensees of commercial television stations the obligation of ensuring that all programmes transmitted are in accordance with the standards determined by the board. The decision of the Government to withdraw exchange control restrictions does not affect the position.
The development of the Australian content of television programmes is a matter which is receiving constant attention. Having regard to the short time since television stations commenced operations, the extent to which Australian programmes have been presented cannot be said to be unsatisfactory. With the expansion of television services in the Commonwealth it is expected that the Australian content of television programmes will be further developed.
– On 15th October, Senator Brown asked me the following question: -
Mr. President, I desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a number of questions but, in deference to your sensible suggestion that questions that cannot be answered immediately should be placed on the notice-paper, I shall adopt that course. However, the Minister may be able to answer the following question; at least, he can tell me whether he is prepared to get a reply to it for me.
Is it not a fact that thousands of citizens of Australia see no hope of their being entertained by television for many years to come? Apart from the costly method of relaying television, has the Minister any information for the Senate and the people of Australia regarding the progress that is being made in the long distance despatch of television - that is, apart from ordinary relaying?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
The extension of television services in the Commonwealth is not dependent on the availability of relaying facilities although they may become an important consideration in the future. The two basic methods of providing relaying facilities are by co-axial cable or micro wave links.
Long distance transmission of television signals has been achieved by tropospheric scatter propagation over a path between two points and a system utilizing this technique has been installed for use as a relay link between Florida and Cuba. The system necessitates the use of highly directional transmitting aerials to radiate very high powers in one direction and highly directive and costly receiving aerials capable of receiving very weak signals. It is unlikely that the scatter propagation technique will be useful for long distance reception of normal television transmissions. All developments in this field are, however, being watched closely.
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Wordsworth be granted leave of absence for two months on account of absence overseas.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second lime.
The provision in the 1957-58 Estimates of expenditure for Capital Works and Services is £122,403,000, made up of £121,368,000 from annual votes and £1,035,000 from special appropriations. This measure, which should be read in conjunction with the Supply (Works and Services) Act 1957-58 and the Supply (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1957-58, provides for the necessary parliamentary appropriation for the expenditure under annual votes, which may be summarized as follows: -
Details of the proposed expenditure will be found on pages 237 to 251 of the printed Estimates, in the schedule to the present bill and in the document, “ Civil Works Programme 1957-58 “, which was recently made available to honorable senators at the direction of the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall). The major proportion of the 1957-58 provision is required to continue works in progress and to meet other outstanding capital commitments. The new works included are those of an especially urgent and essential nature.
The bill provides a further appropriation of £35,000,000 for expenditure on war service homes, an increase of £5,000,000 on 1956-57 expenditure. The sum of £34,380,000 is included in the bill for Post Office works and equipment. The provision for broadcasting and television is £1,633,000, and is mainly to meet further establishment costs of television. The provision this financial year to cover expenditure on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric power scheme is £18,350,000. This provision will permit the authority to proceed with contractual commitments for major projects, such as the construction of the Adaminaby dam and the EucumbeneTumut tunnel.
The amount of £6,019,000 for the Department of Civil Aviation includes £2,619,000 for the acquisition and construction of aerodromes, £1,650,000 for the purchase and installation of modern technical equipment, £1,250,000 additional share capital for Qantas Empire Airways Limited and £500,000 additional capital for the Australian National Airlines Commission. Under the Department of Shipping and
Transport £500,000 is provided for additional capital for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission and a further £600,000 for rail standardization in South Australia.
Expenditure by the Atomic Energy Commission on capital projects is estimated to increase from £2,515,000 in 1956-57 to £2,674,000 this financial year, mainly due to the construction of the research reactor at Lucas Heights.
For the continued development of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory amounts of £3,361,000 and £7,824,000 respectively are provided.
Any details which may be desired regarding specific works will be supplied in committee by the Ministers concerned.
I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 24th October (vide page 812).
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Senator Wright (Tasmania) [10.38]. - I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that clauses 3, 4 and 5, as well as the First Schedule, be postponed until after consideration of the Second Schedule. It is only after an examination of the details of the Second Schedule that the other clauses and the First Schedule can be properly considered.
Clauses 3 to 5 and the First Schedule postponed until after consideration of the Second Schedule.
Proposed Vote, £986,000.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed Vote, £2,837,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed Vote, £3,274,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– In dealing with these items, we have an opportunity to discuss, during the little time at our disposal, the workings of the Parliament as a whole and, more particularly, of the Senate. The sittings of the Senate for this parliamentary sessional period commenced on 27th August. This is the seventeenth day of the sittings and the total time occupied is 129 hours and 45 minutes. We have passed eleven bills, and discussed two matters - the Japanese Trade Agreement and the Budget. I ask myself: Is the Senate making a useful contribution to the affairs of the nation? We all know that the founders of the Constitution intended that the Senate should be a States’ House. That has gone by the board. We are all responsible for that because we all, more or less, adhere to party politics, which, so far, has proved to be the best system. I could not visualize a government of independents or, with great respect to certain people, of what are called splinter groups. When I say that, I do not mean to be offensive. Some years ago, South Australia had a plethora of independents. At the time I was very interested in the politics of that State. The independents were sufficiently numerous to form the government, if they could have agreed amongst themselves.
– They made an effort to become the government.
– But they could not agree. I am not opposed to the system of party government because it is the only practical system. But when we come to the application of that system to a second chamber - I refer not only to the Senate, but also to second chambers in States which have them - what do we find? We find that, in the main, the arguments used in the lower house are repeated.
– We express new views.
– We attempt to get a new viewpoint, but many of the 120 members in another place also tried to find something new. If we are candid, we must admit that that is not easy to do. We have only five Ministers here out of an army of 21. To my mind 21 is far too many. Possibly, that vast number is necessary for political reasons because when a government is made up of more than one group, each group must have a share. We all know that that is how a cabinet is formed. Those facts must give us some thought.
Are we playing the part that, even in present circumstances, we should play? In criticizing the manner in which the affairs of the country are conducted in the Senate, some obligation rests on me to make a suggestion that might help. We have two good committees, truly but not wholly representative of the Senate. They are the Public Works Committee, which does very useful work, and the Public Accounts Committee. No one could say that the members of the Public Accounts Committee have not helped to elucidate facts. Where they have found that something has happened which should not have happened or that money has not been properly expended in their view or the view of the Auditor-General, they have brought those matters to the notice of the Parliament. However, I do not think that any one could honestly say at the moment that the Senate is a useful unit in the parliamentary system of government. As I said earlier, the time has long since passed when we represented States, although it is true that when sugar is debated here, we listen to the views expressed by representatives of the State concerned, and similarly, we hear the views of the Tasmanian representatives when shipping and other matters vital to that State ar discussed.
Let us consider what can be done. The only way to keep this system alive in view of world events - and we cannot close our eyes to them - is to create confidence in the minds of the people that the things we say we will do when we are attempting to get here or to retain our seats here, we will try to do in the interests of the people. We must gain their respect. That is not said from an individual point of view but from a collective point of view. If any parliament in Australia has fallen in repute, it is this Parliament. Unfortunately, the selection of our meeting place is over and done with and we have no chance of altering it to bring it closer to the people concerned. By our actions and by the work we do we must create confidence in the minds of the people, that we will be an even stronger force in this system of government.
We are foolish to shut our eyes and think that there will not be attempts to make inroads into the system. Possibly none of us who sit in this chamber to-day will see it, but I believe that with the normal march of time there will be a change from this system of government. I am not saying that I agree with the methods that have been adopted in other countries, but there has been a world-wide change. Britain, the United States of America, possibly some of the Scandinavian countries, and this country are democracies. Some of the remaining countries have semidemocratic institutions; but those which count are totalitarian.
It is easy to rise and say that the Senate should go out of existence. I know the platform of the party which I have given allegiance all my life, but I realize that there would be difficulty in trying to abolish the Senate. Under the terms of the Constitution, it would be necessary to have an overall majority of the people, and a majority of the States, voting in favour of the proposal. I can quite understand the attitude of Tasmania, which has five representatives in the House of Representtives and ten in this chamber. The Constitution was drafted so that the two larger States would not dominate the Commonwealth.
– It is not supposed to be a party chamber.
– That is so, but unfortunately it has developed into a party chamber. I cannot see any way of preventing it from developing into a party chamber.
– It has not been a * party chamber.
– I do not think that is so. Let us face the facts. In the four and a half years that I have been a member of this chamber, I can remember only one occasion, which was quite recent, when honorable senators did not vote on party lines. I am not including an occasion when a number of back benchers crossed the floor. On the part of many honorable senators that was a mean thing to do, but others acted honestly. Government is not carried on by that method. If some of us on this side of the chamber had changed our minds, we could have been as mean as were a number of other honorable senators. But let us forget about that incident.
I think the Senate ought to appoint committees to inquire into decisions of the Executive, particularly those relating to expenditure, as they affect the people of Australia. I know we have the Public Accounts Committee, but just think of what would happen if a committee of laymen in the Senate were to examine defence expenditure. We are all imbued with the idea that this is our country and we want to help it. even though we have different views about how we should help it. But no person in this chamber can be happy with the present method of expending money. We are all concerned about whether we are getting value for the money we expend. If we are not concerned, the value of the parliamentary system as it operates here must decline to a large degree in the minds of the people. We are not independent. We enter this chamber under a party banner and, irrespective of the party to which we belong, we have obligations to our party. To some degree, according to one’s views, that may or may not circumscribe one.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The time allotted for the consideration of the section of the Estimates under consideration expires at 1 p.m. Before dealing with this section, I wish to take advantage of the opportunity to express my views on a few matters that have been seriously engaging my mind for many months. They concern the effectiveness of the Parliament, but not particularly this chamber. The dazzling achievements of science in the last decade that have been referred to so eloquently by Senator Armstrong and Senator Byrne do not lessen but indeed increase the challenge that confronts the people so to order their organized community that it will be appropriate to this dynamic world in which we live. So far from thinking that parliaments, law courts and elected bodies should despair and yield to the scientists, we should be led to think that these scientific achievements indicate to us that we are under a terrific challenge, now as never before, to make the world in which we have a social influence catch up with the terrific gifts that science is bringing to humanity.
It is not this Parliament alone that is in need of some heart searching. I read in this morning’s “ Canberra Times “ a glowing account by a great journalist from the Old Country about the . sense of tradition in the House of Commons, but it was concerned mainly with frills and furbelows. I do not disparage that tradition; rather do I imbibe it with all the sense that my primitive existence can appreciate. But it is the reality of the institution that counts, and in this chamber, with a membership of 60 senators, which is sufficient to prevent any hole-in-the-corner business, which is not toolarge to be unwieldy, and which represents, the people of an adult franchise, we now have a unique opportunity to- galvanize theParliament into achievement. I speak in entire repudiation of the acceptance of the party system in the sense in which Senator Kelly - I should say Senator Kennelly, although, even though it was a slip of thetongue, in the circumstances that name may not have been inappropriate - referred to it. A political party is organized for a political1 purpose, a political philosophy, which does not become the exclusive right of any one section of it, whether one man or a body of men comes to the leadership of the party. It is the cherished tradition of the party to which I subscribe that when you come into the Parliament itself you follow the philosophy, and where your leadersdiffer, you diverge from them. You do not prostitute Parliament to the party. YOU come here representing the people.
Sometimes when we have debates I amclassified as a rebel, I think unfortunately, but of course, that is only because I am the object of the critiscism. I gained great consolation last week when I was handed a paper which contained the message of noless a person than Sir Winston Churchill, given recently in London, to a gathering of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The grand old man of the House of Commons said that he rejoiced at the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and he referred to the fact that the parliamentary institutions had been confronted with, and had triumphantly overcome, the heaviest assault ever made on them. This was his message -
Our Parliament has survived because it made itself the spokesman not of government but of the people. In the fiercest clash of debate we have jealously guarded the right of every member freely to speak for his constituents and for himself.
We are the spokesmen, not of government, but of the people.
I do not intend to detain the committee for very long on this occasion, because I trust that we shall develop opportunities toconsider seriously matters which are impeding the effective operation of the Parliament. I think they are many, but I shall list five or six and pass them by to-day almost without comment. First, I consider that with regard to remuneration and allowances for membership of Parliament, there has to be provided a method that commands the respect of the people. I believe that whenever anybody is entrusted with the fixation of his own emoluments, he is not likely to receive unqualified respect where the scale of the emoluments is to the advantage of the person having the authority. In fixing salaries on the last two or three occasions, the idea has been rather hesitantly adopted of having what has been called an independent committee. I think that the word “ independent “ loses some of its force in that context. I speak with tremendous respect for the late Mr. Justice Nicholas who, of course, operated with the greatest of independence, and I refrain from’ mentioning other members of the committee; but I submit that the ideas of economy that underlay the last fixation have been falsified, even in the economic interests of those very persons, since that time, and that like this nation, their enterprise has passed the year without dividend. We want a committee; we want a tribunal-
– The honorable senator is not reflecting on the committee, or any member of it, is he?
– I am not reflecting. I am saying that it was inadequate.
– It sounded very much like it.
– I am limited to fifteen minutes, and I shall explain these matters if opportunity is given for full debate. I simply say that it is timely to consider the appointment of an entirely independent permanent committee which will have the almost judicial job of recommending in these matters to the Parliament, instead of ad hoc committees appointed for the occasion. Committees that are appointed for particular purposes lose that element of continuity of policy which is a great contributor to the maintenance of respect for the impartiality of their decisions. Surely, there is nothing offensive in those remarks!
The next matter that I want to discuss is in regard to the privilege of the Parliament. We have, in our lifetime, witnessed the exercise by the other chamber of this Parliament of the authority still inherent in it, transferred here from the House of Commons by our Constitution, and itself adjudicating and giving judgment as to whether or not an individual person outside the Parliament had breached that code of respect which should be due to the Parliament. If honorable senators reflect on the terrific abuse to which the process of impeachment was put, a process which was directed, in the main, to members of Parliament who were supposed to have defaulted in public duty, I suggest that it is obvious that greater abuse could come about if there were a totalitarian outlook on the part of a majority in Parliament, whereby the rights and privileges of a minority - and especially an individual - could be subjugated, not to justice, but to power. I suggest that the Parliament could prevent the operation of injustice by committing the administration of the law with regard to the privilege of Parliament to the independent judiciary, upon which we depend for the interpretation of the law in disputes between people.
Thirdly, it is undoubtedly a fact, as illustrated by what Senator Cole said here last night, that the presentation of the work of the Parliament to the people, per medium of an institution in our country which is symbolic of freedom - and the preservation of whose freedom I consider to be entirely necessary - is not satisfactory. When the press transforms itself from an organ of enlightened purpose into a commercial enterprise, I think that the Parliament has a duty to consider whether, at the present time, it constitutes an adequate link between members of Parliament and the people - not for the advertisement of members of the Parliament, but so that the people might know what members of Parliament were doing and thinking. That is not individually important to members of Parliament, but the impact of the Parliament, as an institution, on the people is tremendously important to the electorate. It is one of the essential links in the free operation of our democratic institutions. The press is accorded a special place in the Parliament so that it may have facilities for recording debates.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- We could no doubt have a very interesting debate on the structure of the Commonwealth Parliament, but, at the outset, it should be remembered that we are not responsible for our parliamentary system. We had no say in its formation; we inherited it. We all know that over the years there have not been parliamentary reforms or reformers. Undoubtedly, if there had been we should have a very different Parliament to-day. Our system, which is bound to the Commonwealth Constitution, is known as the British parliamentary system. We often complain about it, but if we look around us we see that the countries which have been granted their freedom have in 99 per cent, of cases also chosen our system.
One often reads in the press of what is happening in countries where the British parliamentary system does not operate. I have in mind, especially, the Latin American countries. They seem eventually to fall under a military dictatorship, or some form of military control. That happened again in the Argentine last year, and now Guatemala is going the same way. In those countries, whenever there is a move to overthrow a parliament hurriedly it is done by the use of military force.
A very different system operates in this country. We speak glibly about the will of the people, but what is the will of the people? It can be frustrated, and submerged so deeply that it cannot again rise to the surface. We have a system of territorial representation, but the boundaries of electorates can be jerrymandered in such a way that the will of the people is entirely frustrated. We have a House of Representatives, and a Senate which has very limited powers.
– How are they limited?
– Our parliamentary system is such that it will allow the honorable senator to comment later upon what I am saying now. How does a bill come before the Parliament? First, some one has an idea that the law should be changed for a certain purpose. That idea is given effect by way of a bill. The bill is presented to the Parliament and discussion ensues. A vote is taken, the bill is passed and becomes an act, and then the act is implemented, and so it goes on. One can easily condemn our system and point out that it has many short-comings.
I propose to outline now the powers of the Parliament, and the Cabinet, or executive, system. We cannot do very much about it because the history of referendums on proposed alterations of the Constitution reveals that the Australian citizen is very conservative and does not like to change it. We are not responsible for the system, but if we ought to change it then let us set about the task of doing so. I do not wish to emphasize unduly the attitude of my party to the existence of the Senate beyond saying that we stand for its abolition. 1 say in all sincerity that if ever such a proposal were put before the people by way of referendum I should be the first in the field, campaigning for abolition. Section 61 of the Constitution reads -
The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Common^ wealth.
Section 62 goes on to say -
There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure.
We know that that is the legal theory, but in practice the system does not operate in that way. A party is returned with a majority of members, though not always a majority of votes, and then sets about selecting a Cabinet. But does the party really select the Cabinet? Under a LiberalAustralian Country party government the Prime Minister selects it. That is surely contrary to democratic principle. As honorable senators know, under this Government certain members of the Cabinet have been dropped because their views have not conformed to those of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), or the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden).
Cabinet Ministers are allotted various departments. We may well ask ourselves how these departments are created. The practice of executive government is rather an interesting subject for study. The other day I took the trouble to find out how the Department of Trade was constituted. The first step is to disembowel an existing department, take out some of the main organs and place them upon the operating table. Then one goes to another department, obtains a leg, and to yet another department to obtain an arm, an eye, an ear and a mouth. These are placed with the mass already on the operating table.
One then gives the new body a slap on the back and says, “ There you are, you are a Government department, but a Minister will control you “.
It is interesting to examine what was done a year or two ago when the Department of Trade was established. It took from the Department of Commerce and Agriculture the functions of trade promotion and trade policy, including the Trade Commissioner Service, trade treaties and arrangements, and trade investigation. Then, from the Department of Trade and Customs it took tariff policy, the Tariff Board, trade agreements, and import licensing policy. From the Department of National Development it took industrial development. It was surely a callous robber to do that, for that department had been so whittled down already that it could ill-afford to spare anything. To-day, the Department of Trade is functioning as a composite of the fragments of other departments. No doubt, the Cabinet system has its good features. Nobody regards the present parliamentary system as perfect. As I have shown it has its short-comings. I suggest that a department that has functioned over the years such as the Department of Trade and Customs with its operations of which the people of Australia are fully familiar, should not suddenly be destroyed and another department created.
Another matter that I wish to mention is the use of the guillotine in discussions. We speak of free speech and the opportunity afforded members of this Parliament to discuss the measures that are introduced. As I am speaking now, the blade of the guillotine is poised. If we look at the time allotment for this measure we find that we have to deal with several important departments before 1 p.m. If we want to look for improvements, we have not to go very far. There is the committee system. Evidently, all governments have been afraid to establish an improved form of government. There are inquiries which should be carried out. If properly constituted committees had been appointed to investigate the various operations of the departments throughout the year we should not have had to devote a whole day recently to the discussion of a project known as “ No. 509 “.
Committees which could be appointed by the Senate to function throughout the year include a committee to deal with public works, another to deal with tariffs and trade - that one I feel sure would sit for nine months of the year. A committee could operate in respect of the Defence Department; there could be another to examine development and carry out surveys of Australia’s mineral and other resources. A committee could also be appointed by the Senate to carry out investigations into external relationships, referred to at present as foreign affairs.
Of course, all administrative power does not lie with the Government. Power is delegated to the heads of departments. Members of the Liberal party and of the Australian Country party frequently refer to public servants, including departmental heads, State and Commonwealth, as bureaucrats. It is a term that is used to ridicule and disparage them. The members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party want to make it appear that the public servants are a force that can be done without. They look at taxation creeping up to the sum of £500,000,000 annually and ask, “ Why do we have to provide funds for public servants’ salaries? “ On this ground they object to the Commonwealth Public Service. But the Commonwealth cannot carry out its power without a public service. The Public Service is only an extension of its powers.
– Senator Benn was pleased to say two things in relation to the Senate. He commenced by stating that the Senate, in some way, was able to exercise only restricted powers. He decried the powers of the Senate and then proceeded to utter the usual Labour platitudes concerning the operations of this chamber. I think that Senator Benn, and anybody else who utters these parrot cries, does this Senate no good service. Indeed, he might do the Senate great disservice and harm in so criticizing it. I am criticizing his criticism. People who stand up here and decry the powers of the Senate or do anything else to bring it into disrepute do their own States and the country no service at all.
I refer honorable senators opposite to section 1 of the Constitution, which reads as follows: -
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called “The Parliament”, or “the Parliament of the Commonwealth.”
That means that this Senate has absolute and sovereign power. Any one who tries to argue that we have a restricted power does not understand what power lies in this Senate. We have equal power, in every respect but one, to that exercised by the other place. The exception is that this chamber cannot originate money bills or bills levying taxation, but, in effect, we can reject them. The Senate is the most democratic second chamber in the world. It is elected on a full adult franchise. Very few second chambers, either in the Englishspeaking world or elsewhere, are so elected. It has power to originate legislation. Very few second chambers in the world have that power. It is not, I submit, in all seriousness, essentially a chamber of review at all. It is a States’ house. If we do not exercise that function in this chamber, is it the fault of the Constitution? That matter has no relevancy to the argument that this Senate has no power. What Senator Benn should have said was that the Senate does not exercise its power. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. This chamber is a sovereign body and if we, as a Senate, are not exercising sovereign powers properly that is no fault of anybody but ourselves.
Senator Benn made one other point. It related to the annual parrot cry about the abolition of the Senate. I hope that we are not going to discuss that matter, but if we are, I invite honorable senators opposite to answer a question. They have been on the treasury bench in this Parliament on five or six occasions since federation; they have had full control of both chambers several times in the last 52 years; why then have they never taken any steps to implement their policy in relation to the abolition of the Senate? I think, after 52 years, that one can say with some justification that the Australian Labour party does not for a moment believe its nonsensical talk about the abolition of the Senate. I can see that we are going to hear it again. I can see that Senator O’Byrne is getting ready to open his mouth and say, “ Let us abolish the Senate “. Senator O’Byrne should, first of all, go to his own caucus and endeavour to persuade his fellow caucus members to do something about it. It does not assist his party for him to get up here and suggest the abolition of the Senate when his party has no intention whatever of carrying out that policy.
– I rise to order. I desire to know whether Senator Vincent is in order in discussing, not the Parliament, but the Australian Labour party.
– Order! He is discussing the Parliament. He is quite in order.
– Before I was interrupted by the great defender of the age pensioners, their protector from serious assaults by belligerent politicians, I was about to say that I am getting a little sick of hearing people like Senator Benn talk about the abolition of the Senate when the Labour party, which has had so many opportunities to do something about that, has failed, quite intentionally, to do so. I would respect a party which had such a policy and tried to do something about it, but surely members of the Australian Labour party cannot talk, without justification or with reasonable honour and integrity, about the abolition of the Senate when each of them, in his heart, believes that we should have a second chamber and has no intention of trying to abolish it.
Having said that, let me say that I think we should endeavour in this debate to suggest ways and means whereby the Senate can be made to function more effectively. There are many things we can do. We do ourselves no good by destructively criticizing the functioning of the Senate, but we could do great good by offering constructive criticism. During the short time I have been in the Parliament, I have seen the Senate go ahead and improve tremendously in the various aspects of its work.
– The honorable senator did not know it when it was good.
– 1 would have hated to see it when Senator Ashley thought it was good. It is very much better now, mainly because of the contributions made to our debates by many honorable senators on both sides. The standard of debate has improved tremendously during the last eight years. I believe there is a growing consciousness that the Senate has not only a function in relation to the normal processes of legislation, but also a national function. In short, I think, the Senate is gradually achieving the purpose for which it was intended - to act as a States’ House. The Senate is of the very essence of federation. Without the Senate, there could be no federation. The Parliament could not function as a federal parliament without a States’ House. As I have said, I believe there is in the Senate a growing consciousness of that very important element of a federation. I highly commend all honorable senators who are prepared to assist in achieving the very fine objective which is implicit in the Constitution, and I deprecate the efforts of some honorable senators to belittle the importance of this chamber.
– I should like to make it clear at this stage that, until 1 p.m., honorable senators are at liberty to discuss all items connected with the proposed votes for both the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s Department.
– In view of the information you have so kindly given to honorable senators, Mr. Chairman, may I ask whether I would have been in order in discussing parliamentary printing matters when I was on my feet? 1’he CHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator would have been in order. He can have an opportunity to do so later, if he so wishes.
– I direct my remarks to the proposed vote for the Parliament, with particular reference to the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Any discussion of the position of .the Parliament in the community, and, more particularly, of the position of the Senate, should, it seems to me, be directed, not so much to the constitutional rights of the Senate, as to what it can do to make itself politically more effective, allowing for the circumscription of its functions by the development of the party system over the years. I think Senator Kennelly’s contribution to the debate highlights what is becoming a challenge to the Senate. How, most effectively and within our powers, can we give ourselves duties which will effectively assist the processes of government and add to the status of the Senate?
Undoubtedly the work of the Public Accounts Committee has been one of the outstanding parliamentary contributions to the National Parliament over recent years. Honorable senators will recall that periodically reports of the committee are presented to us by the senior member of the committee in this chamber. Usually, the reports are presented only, and no motion is moved. The motion for the printing of the reports is moved in another place. As no motion is proposed here, there is no opportunity for debate. Some of the committee’s reports deal in detail with the operations of particular government departments, and present an unparalleled opportunity for carrying out the type of work for which the Senate is particularly fitted. We have brought before us ad hoc reports, usually up to date and in the most comprehensive terms, surveying every aspect of the organization and the operations of major government departments. They are based on evidence taken on oath from responsible officers of those and other departments. The evidence has been carefully considered by the members of the committee. I can imagine no better opportunity than the presentation of such reports affords for this chamber to do something really worth while. There should be a full-scale debate on the operations of the departments concerned.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that such a debate should take the form of a general debate on the report, with the Minister participating?
– I do suggest that. We shall be discussing, say, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the course of our consideration of the Estimates, but, under the “ guillotine “ procedure, our discussion will be limited to a few hours. It will not be possible for honorable senators to devote to the Post Office the time and the consideration that such a major undertaking deserves. As this is virtually the only opportunity in the year for what one might call a grievance debate, honorable senators sometimes use the opportunity merely to ventilate grievances, instead of examining the operations of departments as disclosed by the figures.
I think the Senate has always been particularly scrupulous in its consideration of the Estimates. That is why I should have liked to speak last night, when the motion for the “ guillotine “ was being debated. I feel that the Senate, as distinct from another place, has always shown a high regard for the responsibility which devolves upon it in the consideration of the detailed accounts of the departments. I understand that the view is commonly held among officers of the departments that the debate on the Appropriation Bill in the Senate imposes more work on them because of the specific questions and particular items on which they are often expected to advise, and do advise Ministers. That, in itself, is a tribute to the work of the Senate. Therefore, I felt that the Government was very unwise in imposing a time limit on our deliberations on these matters. It is a field in which, in the past, this chamber has excelled itself. The Estimates receive closer consideration in this chamber than in another place. At least, in the years in which 1 have been a member of the Senate and have had the opportunity of observing procedure, that seems to have been the case.
I remarked last night to somebody that the imposition of the “ guillotine “ is a very logical procedure. It has sweet reason on its side. Disraeli once cynically remarked, “ England is not governed by logic, she is governed by Parliament “. That is the point of view of those who support the “ guillotine “ procedure. On one side you have logic and on the other side you have Parliament.
– The only little bit of logic is on this side.
– That is so, only a little bit of logic. I have here a table of the reports which have been presented by the Public Accounts Committee since its reconstitution. Over the period since 1953 that committee has presented reports in relation to the following departments: - The Departments of National Development, Works, and External Affairs, the Joint Coal Board, the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Repatriation Department, a progress report on the Department of Civil Aviation, the Commonwealth Office of Education, the Department of the Interior on the subject of acquisitions, and the Department of Defence. From my recollection, none of those reports has been specifically debated except the report of the De partment of National Development. That debate was precipitated on a resolution by the Minister who challenged the report on the ground of inaccuracy and in an effort to protect the administration of that department. But otherwise, no report on any of the departments mentioned has been specifically debated; and no such debate has been initiated by any honorable senators. I believe that in future the opportunity to promote such a debate should not be allowed to pass.
– Any honorable senator could initiate a debate.
– I agree, and I feel disposed to initiate such debates in future. Honorable senators should ask themselves whether they are seizing the opportunities that lie within their grasp, which are of unequalled value, to examine the important matters contained in these reports. I certainly hope that we shall seize them in the future.
One matter to which I wish to direct attention - I have raised it before - is the contempt which has been demonstrated by the Government in relation to one activity of the Public Accounts Committee and which has persisted now over a period of four years. This matter was recalled to my attention by a reference in the appendix to the report of the Auditor-General. He raised a query concerning the status of the members of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool. He asked whether they should or should not have been appointed under the Public Service Act and gave an opinion on that matter which is germane to this debate. The Auditor-General had this to say -
The Pool is not the subject of any special legislation; it is not an incorporated body having an independent legal existence; and it is controlled by the Department. The Administrative Arrangements Order shows the Pool as a function of the Department.
The Administrative Arrangements Order was the subject of the third report presented by the Public Accounts Committee over four years ago. It is obviously of particular significance and has been relied on by the Solicitor-General to support a contention which he raised in the course of his opinion. Four years ago the committee found that the Administrative Arrangements Order was completely out of date and recommended that it should be immediately taken in hand and written up to date. Since then I have had occasion to direct questions to the Minister inquiring whether that had yet been done. I understand that it has not yet been done. That order is a document that has some legal efficacy and significance, even of compulsion. But apart from any legal implications in it, it has a general importance, significance and interest. Four years have passed, but the Prime Minister’s Department and other departments, which immediately got together and conferred on this matter when the Public Accounts Committee reported on it, have not as yet as far as I understand, managed to present a new Administrative Arrangements Order as a result of their deliberations.
– How many years have passed since then?
– There are some 23 of these orders.
– There is a process which operates, among lawyers at least, called “ masterly inactivity “, which ultimately solves all questions. Obviously the reports of the Public Accounts Committee are not receiving the consideration in some quarters that their importance and their worth deserves.
Finally, 1 return to the point I made earlier and leave it as a firm suggestion to honorable senators. In future we should seek the opportunity to review the work of Commonwealth departments by discussing the reports of the Public Accounts Committee as they are presented to the Senate. Obviously the general public is perturbed at the growth of the Commonwealth Public Service. There is not so much accent to-day in the minds of the people on the level of revenue and taxation - that, perhaps, has now become a chronic condition which the people have learned to suffer - but there is grave public perturbation about government expenditure and waste and extravagance in all fields, extending to the growth and staffing of the Public Service. In this chamber we would be reflecting the current public interest if we sought the opportunity to scrutinize in great detail the expenditure in respect of departments. I leave that as a firm suggestion to the Senate. Other honorable senators may wish to speak on the subject of new functions of the Senate, but they might also give this suggestion their attention and interest.
– The subject 1 wish to deal with has already been mentioned by some honorable senators, namely, the wide criticism that has been levelled at this Government and preceding governments in respect of the steady increase in the number of public servants and the increases in their salaries.
– What item is the honorable senator referring to?
– I wish to speak particularly about the Public Accounts Committee. There has been a reaction in regard to the criticism concerning the growth and cost of the Public Service. Many public servants, and also Ministers in charge of departments, have become rather sensitive - perhaps a little oversensitive - in regard to some of the things that have been said. Some Ministers have told me personally that the departments they administer are actually understaffed. When I note from the Estimates the steady increases in staff and salaries under the various heads such as “ Senate “, “ House of Representatives “, and “ Parliamentary Reporting Staff “, I begin to wonder whether these criticisms are not true or whether the persons employed are doing all that is expected of them.
There has been an all-round increase in the number of temporary and casual employees. That seems to suggest there is a need to employ temporary and casual persons over and above the permanent staff. The item of “Extra Duty Pay” in some instances has risen by 100 per cent., and in one instance by 300 per cent. When the Minister replies, I should like him to explain exactly what these items cover and the reasons for these increases. There is a steady increase in all the departments mentioned - in the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. I do notice, however, that there is no increase in the extra duty pay in the proposed vote for the Library, but salaries and allowances have increased by £7,500. It may be that some of the temporary employees have been appointed to the permanent staff. Perhaps I am on the wrong track there, and no doubt when the report of the Cabinet committee set up to consider these questions is before the Senate we will be better informed on the position.
.- I wish to refer to the Public Works Committee and what I have to say is somewhat similar to the opinions expressed by Senator Byrne in connexion with the Public Accounts Committee. I have the honour to be deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee, and I regret to have to say that at the present time we have no work on hand. Recently, in another place, there was submitted a list of works which had been recommended by the committee and which now form part of the civil works programme for the coming year. But the point I wish to stress is that the lengthy debate on the St. Mary’s project recently could have been avoided had that project been referred originally to the Public Works Committee, which, in the words of its proposer, was set up “ to be the watchdog of the Parliament “. This committee has done a tremendous amount of work over the years in examining proposals for the expenditure of Commonwealth funds on civil works programmes.
Over the past five or six years, the Public Works Committee has made repeated representations to Cabinet that an effort should be made to evolve a formula for the submission of proposals to the committee in order to safeguard the interests of not only the Government and the Parliament but, most important of all, the taxpayer. Up to the present time we have had no set formula for the reference of proposed works to us. The Public Accounts Committee, on the other hand, has authority to act on its own initiative in the examination of the accounts of various departments, and we all know of the very good work done by that committee since it was reconstituted. The Public Works Committee has recommended that it be mandatory for works proposals involving an expenditure of £250,000 and over to be referred to it. I think that the Parliament, at any rate, believes that this is being done when in fact, it is not being done at all. Occasionally, the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall) hands out to this committee a comparatively small job in order to keep us from complaining. We submit a report on the proposal and wait until another project is referred to us.
When the Estimates are before this chamber, we have an excellent opportunity for examining the important functions of committees such as this. I said what I did last night because honorable senators are not given enough committee work to do. It is claimed by many that the Senate has a value, that it should be retained, yet little support is given to the principle of setting up committees. I repeat that the Public Works Committee has asked that all proposals for expenditure on works costing £250,000 and over be compulsorily referred to it.
– Can you give us illustrations of the type of works undertaken without reference to you?
– Yes. An instance comes readily to mind. A hospital in New Guinea, costing £460,000, will be opened by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) next week. It is my firm opinion that works such as this in places like New Guinea, where costs can be very high and where the administration is inexperienced in this type of work and in the spending of large sums of money, shoud be referred to the Public Works Committee before they are undertaken. But that is by the way. The best illustration of all is the St. Mary’s project. Had that been referred to the Public Works Committee originally, all this criticism of the Government and all this smell of St. Mary’s that is in the nostrils of the Australian people to-day could have been avoided.
– There is no smell attached to St. Mary’s.
– There is a smell. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) himself has said that there is cause for criticism.
– That is quite different from a smell.
– It is a smell. Expenditure on that project has been wasteful. I have had experience of how these things can be avoided by the submission of the proposed work to a responsible committee. I refer to the occasion when I, together with my colleague from Tasmania the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) raised the matter of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission. The Public
Accounts Committee inquired into that matter and found that there had been duplication, maladministration, waste and no proper supervision over stores. All that could have been avoided if the project had been referred to the Public Works Committee before it was started. Senator Maher, with whom 1 have the honour to be associated on that committee, well knows the value of the work done by it over the years. We can show the Parliament, if we have the opportunity, that in a comparatively short period the committee has saved the Government and the taxpayers up to £1,000,000 through close examination of estimates of costs. For those reasons, I suggest that the claim by the Public Works Committee that all projects for the expenditure of £250,000 or more be referred to it should be given serious consideration by the Senate and should be taken up immediately at Cabinet level, especially when, as is now happening, the Government itself is under criticism.
At present the Public Works Committee itself is being criticized because of a decision it had to make recently in connexion with work required at Melbourne. We were asked to consider the provision of extra accommodation for the Department of Customs and Excise in Melbourne. We heard evidence from a wide cross-section of the community on various aspects connected with the proposal. I should say first of all that the Customs House in Melbourne is an historic building of more than usual architectural beauty. It is situated on a most valuable site. The Public Works Committee went to considerable pains to find an alternative to the demolition of this valuable historic building. The State Government had an alternative but was not prepared to negotiate with the Commonwealth Government. The Public Works Committee was then faced with the task of providing for the future accommodation of the staff of the department. The position was that if we had recommended some expedient in substitution for the overall plan on the particular site on which the present Customs House stands, it would have meant that the present building would have to be demolished, at any rate, by the next 15 or 20 years and the expense to the taxpayer in the long run would be much greater. We considered that as a Public Works Committee it was our responsibility to protect the interests of the taxpayer. Therefore, we made recommendations. However, jobs like that, which could be referred to the Public Works Committee, are not being referred to it. I believe that for that reason we should have more opportunities to debate the reports that are submitted to the Senate by the committee. I think the Senate is very badly acquainted indeed with the activities of the Public Works Committee because, when our reports are submitted, the ordinary procedures of the Senate are such that the proceedings are confined to a formal declaration that the report is being presented. Strict adherence to Standing Orders means that no comment whatever can be made in the Senate on a report submitted to it. Yet the Senate has representation on the Public Works Committee, and the usual practice is that either the chairman or the vicechairman is a senator. Practically no consideration is given in the halls of the Senate to the reports submitted by the Public Works Committee.
– Make it clear that the committee did not miss one opportunity in its attempts to secure the State Electricity Commission’s building in William-street.
– I am glad that Senator Maher has reminded me, at this time when the Public Works Committee is being criticized because of its report on the Customs House, Melbourne, that the State Electricity Commission has this excellent site where a customs house could be built. I was very pleased to note that Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, has taken up this matter at his level, and says that he will do his best to find, an alternative site. I am certain that that will suit the Public Works Committee, which will be more than prepared to take the opportunity of preserving an historic building provided the State government will pay for its being used as a museum or for some other State purpose.
– We had evidence that the Victorian Government would not agree to our acquiring the State Electricity Commission’s site.
– We tried to negotiate with the State Electricity Commission for that site, which would be a very desirable site, and I hope that the Victorian Government will now realize to what ends we went in our attempt to find an alternative site to the present Customs House site, which ended in our recommending that the Department of Customs and Excise build on the old site, which would mean the demolition of the old historic Customs House.
While I am on the subject of the Public Works Committee I wanted to mention also that many defence works which are excluded, in accordance with the Public Works Committee Act, from submission to the committee for consideration, could well be referred to the committee. We realize, of course, that there is a certain measure of security, sometimes a great measure, necessary in such matters, but we must also remember that there has been, and will continue to be, constant criticism of expenditure within the defence services. I feel that, in the light of the fact that government departments are subject to investigation of their affairs by the Public Accounts Committee, the defence services themselves could do with a bit of a shake-up in order to make them more responsible to their masters - the “people. Through the instrument of the Public Works Committee we have the authority to call witnesses and take evidence, to send for papers and to carry out a properly organized inquiry. That is another aspect of the work that could be done by this committee.
Over the past twelve months the committee has made recommendations, which have been taken up by the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall), for the erection of Commonwealth offices in Sydney, an automatic telephone exchange at the Haymarket, in Sydney, television and broadcasting buildings in Perth, and a wharf and administrative building in Darwin. All these proposals have been accepted on our report and are to be proceeded with in the coming civil works programme.
This is one of the few occasions on which we can get to grips with this subject, and I appeal to the Government now to extend the committee work of the Senate in directions in which we could help not only in the administration of this quickly growing Commonwealth but also - and this is a vital aspect - in the protection of the taxpayers, because it is their money that is being expended. Indeed, the protection of the taxpayers is the main purpose of the Public Works Committee to-day.
The other matter I wanted to mention is the Parliament itself. We should seriously consider in the very near future the development of Canberra and the work of the committee appointed for that purpose which, in conjunction with the other authorities concerned, must face the responsibility of choosing a new site for Parliament House. This present building was erected in 1926 and is now getting to the stage at which maintenance costs are becoming very high. So, the choice of a new site will have to be made soon.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I desire to address the committee on the subject of the Parliament, and in passing I shall refer to the remarks made by Senator O’Byrne. I think that we should pay some attention to the honorable senator’s remarks, since he is the vice-chairman of the Public Works Committee. The Minister could well consider use of a set formula, as mentioned by Senator O’Byrne, for the submission of matters to the Public Works Committee. I believe that not enough attention is being given to the structure of the Public Works Committee. The act which brought the committee into existence is of some antiquity and I think that, in the light of modern values, the whole question of the constitution of the committee and the use made of the committee could very well be looked at. I was rather amazed to discover that the committee has no work before it at present. If it wants work there is certainly a good deal to be looked at in Adelaide at present.
Now I pass to another part of the estimates relating to the Senate. I refer to the Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, which, as honorable senators may know, is a standing committee of the Senate, constituted under Standing Order 36a. Paragraph (4.) of that Standing Order provides as follows -
All Regulations and Ordinances laid on the table of the Senate shall stand referred to such Committee for consideration and, if necessary, report thereon.
For 25 years this committee has been functioning as an important adjunct of the Senate, and from time to time it has brought in reports. The committee’s eighth report was brought before the Senate in 1952. The committee at that stage thought it wise to state its internal rules or regulations, or its mode of operation, which it laid down in precise terms as follows -
Successive committees from 1932 have followed the principle that the functions of the committee are to scrutinize regulations and ordinances to ascertain (a) that they are in accordance with the statute; (b) that they do not trespass unduly on the personal rights and liberties of citizens; (c) that they do not unduly make the rights and liberties of citizens dependent on administrative and not judicial decisions; and (d) that they are concerned with administrative detail and do not amount to substantive legislation which should be a matter for Parliament.
The principle has also been followed, the report says, that questions involving Government policy in regulations and ordinances fail outside the scope” of the committee. From time to time these principles have been enunciated in this place by quite distinguished people. According to my recollection they were enunciated and supported by the former Attorney-General, now Judge Spicer. At one time, he was chairman of that committee, and at another time, when he was out of Parliament, he was legal adviser to the committee. More recently, he was Attorney-General, and had a good deal to do with the committee.
This year, Senator O’sullivan, the present Attorney-General, had some very interesting comments to make on the work of this committee. In May last, in this place, Senator O’sullivan referred to a matter that was then occupying a good deal of attention, namely, the committee’s approach to some import regulations. Senator O’sullivan was good enough to address the Senate at some length. He suggested that the extent of the terms of reference contemplated by the Senate, when it appointed the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, under Standing Order 36a, required urgent attention. We should look at this matter seriously in order to see whether the methods of the committee in the past have been adequate for the purposes of the Senate. I think they have been, because, as is clearly indicated in the report, questions involving Government policy in regulations and ordinances fall outside the scope of the committee. Since I have been a member of the committee that has been quite clear to members. However, the Attorney-General has focused attention on the matter, and I should like to know from him whether it is Government policy to limit in any way the present scope of the committee. 1 can assure the Senate that the committee is diligent in its work.
The committee meets weekly, and, under the Standing Orders, is obliged to consider all regulations and ordinances that are made in the Commonwealth and in the Territories, and these amount to many hundreds in a year. So, if the Government contemplates setting strict limits to the work of the committee, it should explain its intentions to the Senate. 1 can assure the Senate, and members of the Cabinet who are present in the Senate, that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee takes a very serious view of its responsibilities as defined in the Standing Orders. Without following the highways and byways of Opposition suggestions about committees on this and committees on that, I point out that this committee has had a continuous existence of 25 years, and if the Senate thinks the committee should have a clearer charter of its responsibilities, then let the Senate make it clearer. I assure the Senate that the committee is continually working. It is working on the charter, as it were, of 1932, which has been mentioned from time to time, and which, apparently, until comparatively recently, has received the full approval of the Senate.
This is an important committee, and its powers should be clearly defined - not left in the air, as was implied by the AttorneyGeneral in May. I compliment the Attorney-General on bringing the matter forward, because it is only right that we should know what is the position. A statement should come from the AttorneyGeneral on the Government’s policy with regard to this committee. I hope that he will find it convenient soon to make a considered statement on the matter.
.- I was speaking a while ago about the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and 1 explained how the Government exercised its various powers and administered the legislation passed by the Parliament. Besides the Prime Minister’s Department, there are nineteen or twenty other departments. One would imagine that the Prime Minister’s Department would be almost solely an administrative department. Perhaps one or two acts should be given to him to administer, and he should be responsible for the discharge of certain defined functions, but we find upon examination that the activities of his department go far beyond that. Evidence is accumulating of bad administration in various departments, and of a tendency for the Prime Minister to load himself with more and more responsibility. That is not right, and I have in mind the fact that two members of this party went to an early death because of the excessive work done by them when they held office as Prime Minister.
There is in circulation a document known as an Administrative Order, which has been approved by the Executive Council, submitted to the Attorney-General, and then published in the “ Commonwealth Gazette “. An examination of that document will enlighten any one on the matters with which each department deals and the acts it administers. According to this order, which should be correct - if it is not correct it is no fault of mine, and it would only confirm the point I am trying to make, namely, that the Prime Minister’s Department should devote itself entirely to administrative matters - the Prime Minister is responsible for administering the following acts -
Turning to a further column in the Administrative Order, I find that these are the matters with which the Prime Minister’s Department deals -
However, the Estimates set out different information altogether. Under the heading “ Prime Minister’s Department “ we find enumerated the following sections and proposed votes for the current year: -
One would imagine that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, which has a revenue exceeding £1,000,000,000 and a population exceeding 9,000,000 people, would be fully occupied with the affairs of departments administered by members of his Cabinet, and that he would not have any time to devote to the subjects which I have mentioned. They must entail a good deal of work. I propose to ask some questions of the Minister about various aspects of the work of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Do you think that he will answer them?
– I feel sure that he will, because they will be simple questions which relate to the Estimates. When considering the Estimates, we must keep in mind the fact that we are dealing with public moneys, which do not belong to any member of this Parliament. Some of the Ministers are possessive in their practices, but the moneys which they spend are public moneys. Therefore, I feel sure that I shall get replies to the questions that I propose to ask.
Dealing with the Public Service first, we find that 153,000 public servants are now employed. No member of the Parliament can say whether that is an excessive number or whether it is too small. We cannot venture a worthwhile opinion, for the simple reason that we do not know the whole of the ramifications of the Public Service. Honorable senators may make a comparison of expenditure this year with expenditure last year and in previous years, but that will not indicate to them whether the Public Service is fully staffed or understaffed. It is a heavy duty for any Minister to be in charge of the whole of the Commonwealth Public Service.
Looking at the report of the Public Service Board, we gain much enlightenment. We know of our own knowledge that during the war the Public Service suffered a few jolts, because it could not recruit the bright young men who are ordinarily available to it during peace-time. After the war and the subsequent settling down period, the Public Service Board set about training staff in a manner which would allow the Public Service to do the work which has to be done on behalf of the Government. There is an idea in the minds of some Government supporters that all that is necessary, when the Public Service Board wants to get staff, is to go down into the street and obtain a few bright fellows who have passed certain examinations, and then put them into an office. That procedure would not work out very satisfactorily. In the conduct of a trade, employers apprentice juniors so that they can learn the trade thoroughly. Now the Public Service Board has done something towards the training of recruits. It has established training organizations. It is interesting to look at the board’s report and see its comment upon what has been done in this regard. The report reads -
Since the Board was reconstructed in 1947 it has emphasized in its annual reports the importance which it attaches to training. It is an emphasis which is shared in most overseas countries with which the Board exchanges information. In its Report on Personnel and Civil Service in February, 1955, the Hoover Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government had this to say on the subject -
To some extent the Government and the Congress have tended to act on the assumption, perhaps unconsciously, that men and women should come into the Government already trained for all jobs. Funds for training tend to be the first cut from the Budget, and there has been reluctance to authorize training away from the job.
Employees must, of course, prepare themselves to meet normal employment requirements. These requirements, however, are usually for broad categories of positions rather than for specific jobs. Some jobs are now so specialized that people adequately trained in all the required skills are not produced by standard educational programmes. In such cases, employees’ basic skills must be supplemented by special training.
The content of many occupations is changing rapidly. Employees require training to maintain the level of competence they had when appointed’. Also modern methods are constantly changing. An employee who is able to do his job perfectly well to-day may find work methods so changed to-morrow that he requires training in the new methods. Continuous job training is a necessary corollary of continuous technological change.
It is encouraging to the Board to find its own policies endorsed and also to have the cooperation of many major business organizations in Australia.
I feel sure that every public servant is doing his best in the interests of his employers - the Commonwealth Government and the people of Australia. One feature of the report which must be pleasing to every honorable senator is that the great majority of public servants have not been before any tribunal during the year in respect of discipline. The discipline of the Board, I think, has been satisfactory.
The Office of Education comes under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department. I know that some honorable senators frequently wonder why there is an Office of Education and make guesses about what it does. They know that there are within the Commonwealth no schools manned by officers of the Commonwealth Government. Before entering the chamber, I ascertained the functions of the Office of Education. Most of us can recall that nearly every fortnight we receive a copy of a publication entitled “ Current Affairs Bulletin “, which contains articles relating to the economic situation.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to relate my remarks to Division No.4 - Library. I listened to the earlier debate and the discussion of whether the power of Parliament had declined relatively to that of the Public Service. Undoubtedly it has, but one of the main reasons has been - as Senator Benn pointed out - that the Public Service knows about many matters that the Parliament does not know about. It is the aim of the present Library Committee to build up such a public legislative reference section that Parliament will have an ample fund of knowledge and we will not be dependent merely on the information supplied by Ministers.
As honorable senators know, the Parliamentary Library is completely under the control of the two Houses of Parliament. The Chairman of the Committee which, in an advisory capacity, helps to direct the Library is the President of the Senate. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is a member of it, and other members are drawn from both Houses. Recently, we decided to appoint a subcommittee to inquire into the extension of legislative reference, and being willing to work myself but much more willing to see others work, I carefully kept off that subcommittee, but ensured that it was a very effective sub-committee. Senator Kendall, and Mr. Bryant and Mr. Wentworth of the House of Representatives are on it. I am sure it will present a great report. I wish to emphasize that in relation to many matters the decision is made solely because of the facts. If we have a Public Service well informed and knowing the facts, and a legislature ignorant of the facts, the legislature must give way to the Public Service. The aim of the Library Committee at present is to see that we shall be able to get, wherever it is possible to do so, by written documents or books, such information that we can check everything that comes to us from departmental sources.
In the various discussions - and I do not want to enter into the argument about how parties are controlled or anything else - as to whether we are effective here or not, I think one thing was overlooked. It is summed up in an old copybook maxim that knowledge is power. If we have the knowledge, if we know what we are doing, then I am sure this chamber can be effective.
I shall quote an instance which was given to me from the other House. When Mr. Scullin was Prime Minister and Mr., later Sir John, Latham was Leader of the Opposition, very frequently Mr. Latham suggested amendments which Mr. Scullin accepted. The amendments, mainly, were not on matters of party policy, but on departmental bills, and were accepted because the man who put them up had knowledge about them. We would not be wringing our hands and talking about being frustrated if all of us made sure that when we spoke on a particular point we had sound knowledge of it. I want to assure the chamber that the Library Committee is at present engaged in seeing that the service of the Library which, I think, is very good, is so extended that no member of the Parliament will have any excuse for speaking in ignorance on any subject that comes before us.
– I just want to say a few words in regard to our good friend, the senator from Western Australia.
– Do you mean me?
– Yes, I mean Senator Vincent. For the moment, my old memory was not functioning as it should be. Senator Vincent got rather warm because we on this side of the chamber have as a plank of our platform the abolition of the Senate. He says that we do not mean it. Being, perhaps, a psychologist, he can look into our minds and understand what we are thinking!
I remember on one occasion - 1 have mentioned this in the Senate before - I was speaking in Rockhampton with the late James Scullin. I was the last speaker; they put me up to speak in order to put the audience in a good humour, and I did my best to do so. Towards the close of the meeting one old man with a beard down to his waist asked me whether I believed in the abolition of the Senate. I think I had then been in the Senate only about six months. I replied, “ I believe in our platform - the Labour platform - and that contains a plank for the abolition of the Senate, but for God’s sake do not abolish it just now because I have only just got in “.
None of us want to foul our own nests, but if we search our hearts- all of us must admit that the Senate to-day is not functioning as it should, and unless it is prepared to listen to honorable senators on this side and those who wish it well and do its best to improve itself as a part of our Parliament, then I think there is every justification for its abolition. If you do not believe in its abolition, you should do as Senator McCallum advises, and as others have advised; that is, try to improve it.
– Why do you not do something about abolishing it?
– Well, at the present time it is not politic, my dear friend. It is like many of our religious organizations. They have heaven as part of their platform, but not too many of them are anxious to get there. So it is in regard to political platforms. On your platform I suppose - I have never seen it, but I suppose you have one - your objective-
– Is to down Labour.
– Yes, of course! Government senators know that they do not try to carry out their platform all at once. But it must be admitted in these changing days, when it is essential to keep up with the times, that we must look to our parliamentary organization and try to improve it. T have been here many years and I have seen many good men and true come and go. When I came here, in 1932, there were 36 senators, of whom I think I am the only one left. But there have been splendid men in this Senate and I will not say anything derogatory regarding the personal character or the abilities of senators. Many earnest and sincere men have gone through this Senate, and they have done splendid work. I am not going to say anything in criticism. I rather doubt whether our debating capacity has improved, when I remember many of those men who were very able debaters. But that is by the way. We have always had senators who have thought a lot about this chamber. We had dear old Paddy Lynch. Senator Lynch was for several years .the President of this Senate.
– He was a wild Irishman!
– Yes, and he was very amusing and also very sarcastic at times. I could tell many stories relating to Senator Lynch, but the chairman would, quite rightly, stop me from doing so. Paddy Lynch was very proud of the Senate. One day in this chamber I heard him liken the Senate to the British Navy, which was the watchdog of the Empire. So, he said, we in this Senate were the watchdogs for the Australian people. Sometimes I think if we had television and the people saw us at work they would think we were sleeping watchdogs. But that is by the way.
– Tell us what Senator Collings told you in this chamber.
– I do not mind. You can tell me what he said.
– When you were advocating the abolition of the Senate he said, “ Sit down, Brown, and keep quiet. You are in it now.”
– In my early days I was an earnest, sincere man, fighting and battling on behalf of the Labour party’s programme.
– How times change.
– I do not know whether that is sarcasm. I am still earnest to-day because I believe that the Labour party is on the right road, and it is more necessary to-day than ever before that we have a Labour government. We are neither to the extreme right nor the extreme left; we follow the centre road. Senator Manner’s interjection referred to an occasion when I was speaking about the abolition of the Senate and several of our members got busy and said, “ What is wrong with Brown? There is an election and he is talking about the abolition of the Senate. How can we go and ask the people to vote for the Senate? “ A deputation waited on me, a member of which was Senator Collings. He sal “, “ Gordon, my boy, you want to be careful what you say. You are in politics now. You are a responsible citizen.”
– What a mistake to make.
– The trouble with many politicians is that they cannot contain themselves. If they could curb their tongues we would get along better. I said to Senator Collings, “ What is wrong? “ He said, “ You are going around speaking on the abolition of the Senate “. I said, “What about it? It is in the platform.” He said, “ It was put in the platform years ago for a certain reason, but you have to remember now you are a senator “ - he did not tell me the reason - “ So do not talk about the abolition of the Senate “. As I was saying the other day, there is tremendous room for improvement. I have mentioned Mr. Green, formerly the Clerk of the House of Representatives, who has now retired. At that juncture I did not have with me this cutting from the “ Canberra
Times “ of one issue in November, 1953, although I adverted to it in my speech. I was advocating the development of the committee system as an improved method of dealing with measures in the Senate and the House of Representatives. As honorable senators know, many backbenchers in the House of Representatives are disgruntled. They have not got any work to do in the House although they may have in their constituencies. They endeavour to make a speech occasionally, but in a total membership of 124 many have difficulty in getting an opportunity to do so. 1 am not saying there is anything wrong in the present system, but every Liberal party and. Country party member knows there is a good deal of dissatisfaction because of lack of work. In this article, Mr. Frank Green, who was Clerk of the House at that time, advocated the development of the committee system. He said -
The committees could be unofficial in that their deliberations would have no legal effect, but important enough for Ministers to be expected to attend them. Reflecting the party membership of the House, they might develop special interest in such subjects as foreign affairs, financial policy, development of territories, defence, fiscal policy, agriculture, food production, shipping and transport.
He continued - and I think it is well that his remarks should be repeated in this chamber although the article was written four years ago -
The official debates would continue as at present in the House, but if they were preceded by formal and expert discussions outside the chamber they would be less uninformed-
That bears out the argument of Senator McCallum - and members with special experience would be able to exert an influence on departments.
That is a very sensible argument. Mr. Green went on -
Greater opportunity for new members of these committees would help reduce the sense of frustration of which they complain.
That applies to-day.
– Speak for yourself when you say the Senate has nothing to do. Do not attempt to speak for us in that respect.
– I am putting my point of view and I would not attempt for one moment to speak for you. Whilst I have a great regard for all honorable sena tors opposite, I think they are grossly wrong and ineffective at times. I am a very humble, modest senator.
– Those who criticize never do anything constructive.
– The honorable senator says, “ You criticize the Senate and you do nothing to build it up “. What a paucity of brains in the cerebellum of the Senator. I am endeavouring to show it is necessary, if we are to retain the Senate and the Parliament as it is at present constituted, something must be done to improve it.
– What do you suggest?
– I should like to tell you one of Don Grant’s stories, but I had better not. It would be a very good one and apropos the honorable senator who is continually interjecting. I am suggesting that a great improvement would be effected in the Senate if the system advocated by Mr. Frank Green and many members ot Parliament were adopted and if, instead of making second-reading speeches in committee, as is done now, the committee system were developed to the same extent as it has been developed in America and England. That would be a splendid improvement.
– Have you ever done anything to bring it about?
– Do not bring up my sins of omission against me. In the past I have sat here hour after hour, bored to tears by certain honorable senators. But I have not done the things I should have done. That can be said of every honorable senator opposite, but surely we can start some day” to try to improve this place.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Although the contributions that have been made are of great interest, not all of them call for specific replies from me as the responsible Minister. With regard to Senator Wardlaw’s request for information as to the increases in costs in the House of Representatives, the main items have been wages and the salaries of permanent heads of departments. With regard to the library, a decrease in the number of temporary employees, has been effected by an increasing number of permanent employees. The greater part of the increase in costs has been caused by the usual annual increment in remuneration.
Senator Laught mentioned the matter of a debate in the Senate in May last with regard to the attitude of the Senate towards the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I think there has been a misunderstanding about the position. It was not a matter of Government policy that was involved. That committee is a committee of this Senate. I spoke rather as the Leader of the Senate than as a member of the Government. What I had in mind, and still have in mind, is that the Senate should clarify its attitude towards its committee. I thought it would be improper - and I still think it would be improper - that a matter that has been thoroughly canvassed by the Senate should be canvassed again in detail by a committee of the Senate. I hope that one day we will have a clarification of the nature of the charter of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee as from the Senate, not as from the Government.
asked some questions about the Public Service. I commend to his notice a rather interesting statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the House of Representatives on 3rd September. His remarks have been included in the “ Hansard “ report, and I. shall read portion of the last paragraph, which, I think, answers the questions raised by the honorable senator -
If we exclude rural industries and private -domestic servants, about each of which the statistical problems are considerable, we find that, of the total wage and salary earners in civil employment in Australia, 7.6 per cent, are employed by or under the Commonwealth. . . . 16.5 per cent, by State and semi-government authorities, and 2.6 per cent, by local government authorities. In the case of the Commonwealth, the percentage has actually fallen since December, 1949, while in the other categories it has increased.
I think I have answered the more specific of the questions raised by honorable senators.
.- I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) to give us some information with regard to Division No. 9. - Other Services, Item 1, Conveyance of Members of Parliament and Others. I notice that the amount for this item is given as £227,445. We are brought here week by week at inordinate expense from all parts of the Commonwealth to sit, in most cases-, for two days a week.
– Often three days.
– That is so. We sit for two or three days a week. Will the Minister give us information as to the figure at which this item stood in, say, 1949, and tell us of any noticeable trends that have occurred in connexion with the items? Will the Minister also give the committee information as to how the figures would be reduced if the Parliament were called together for periods of two weeks at a time, with a week intervening between each of those periods?
– And with the Parliament sitting for at least four days a week.
– Yes, it should sit for at least four days a week. Senator Vincent’s experience is an illustration of the tedium and the expense involved in too much travelling, which must also contribute towards inefficient working. I ask the Minister, first, at what figure this item stood in, say, 1949, and secondly, how it would be reduced if we sat according to the method to which I have referred.
– I cannot give the information offhand, but I will get it for the honorable senator. This item covers not only the actual transportation, but also life passes held by sitting members, of which there are 38 at £160 each a year.
– That is paid to the State railways?
– Yes. There are also life passes for ex-senators and exmembers, of which there are eighteen. The item covers estimated cost of official, hire and private cars, and estimated cost of air, sea and rail journeys not covered by passes, including travel on Australian Capital Territory and Trans-Australian railways.
.- During the discussion that has taken place, naturally a good deal of dissatisfaction has been expressed. I say “ naturally “, because, if we understand the circumstances that brought the Parliament into being, and the manner in which it has carried out its duties, it is quite natural to expect that people should be dissatisfied. It has been emphasized, again and again, that people outside the Parliament are becoming more and more dissatisfied. Our present parliamentary procedures spring from the fact that society is class-divided. From this class division have originated the two parties, Labour and anti-Labour, as they are known in Australia, or Government and Opposition. These two parties reflect the position outside the Parliament. Although the position outside is rapidly changing, the Parliament will not attempt to adjust itself to those changes unless it is forced to do so. The dissatisfaction that is becoming evident all over the world concerning the work of parliaments is evidence of the fact that parliaments are not adjusting themselves to rapidly changing economic conditions.
In the circumstances that prevail to-day, production is becoming more and more a co-operative effort. As man-power is replaced by machine power, we find fewer and fewer people assuming control of production. This situation gives rise to the growth of monopolies.
– What about getting back to the item before the committee?
– Of course, this is not understod by legal minds. Law is the codification of previous custom, and that is why most legal minds think backwards and find it very hard to adjust themselves to the changing conditions to which I have referred. What is happening now is that the people actually engaged in production are becoming virtually disfranchised and are being denied the right to express themselves. When I became Minister for Aircraft Production, I found, as we are finding now, that the government departments and outside contractors showed no team work; they were not collaborating with one another, but were working at cross purposes. As a result of deep discussion at the time with the late Sir Harold Darling, Colin Fraser, and many others, the Aircraft Production Committee was formed.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes at present before the Chair has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed Vote, £2,221,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of External Affairs.
Proposed Vote, £1,347,000.
Miscellaneous Services - International Development and Relief.
Proposed Vote, £5,850,000.
Defence Services - Other Services -
Economic Assistance to support defence programme of South-East Asia Treaty Organization member countries.
Proposed Vote, £1,000,000.
Department of Defence.
Proposed Vote, £960,000.
Proposed Vote, £1,845,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Attorney-General’s
Proposed Vote, £31,000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed Vote, £5,474,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed Vote, £120,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I do not agree with the experiment being conducted by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in dealing with the Appropriation Bill. In this group of estimates, we have the Department of External Affairs, Defence Services, the Department of Defence, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. They have no relation to each other as departments and it is very difficult to seek information when one has to jump from one section of the Appropriation Bill to another section. I am not enamoured of this system. We should be dealing with each department separately. I have several requests to make, but I know that in the time allotted and with grouping of the departments, it will not be possible for me to get the information I want.
I do not reflect on you, Mr. Chairman, or on Mr. President, but because of the action of the Government, we are asked to consider the bill in committee immediately after the first reading. We have not had an opportunity to study it. It is true that we have had a debate on the Estimates and Budget papers, but that is a general debate. This is a detailed debate in which each item is considered separately. If one were physically able, one could have sat up all night and studied the bill, but no opportunity has been given to honorable senators to discover exactly where each item can be found. Amongst this group is the Department of Defence. Yet only this afternoon have the defence statistics, apparently compiled by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), been made available to us. No time has been allowed to consider these statistics before the vote for the Department of Defence is debated. No adequate opportunity is given for honorable senators to seek information.
– The Government intended that.
– I know. This matter was dealt with last night. The Minister has said that this method of dealing with the Appropriation Bill is an experiment. I do not want any more of it and I hope that he will return to the traditional method of dealing with each department separately. 1 shall deal now with the Department of External Affairs. Overseas representation is growing rapidly, but we have no representation at some places where we had representation before. For instance, we have no representation in Egypt because of the quarrel with Egypt, which was accentuated by the actions of our worthy and honorable Prime Minister ( Mr. Menzies). While we had representation in Egypt, immigration problems in the areas to the south and east of the Mediterranean Sea could be dealt with. Because we now have no representation there, immigration and other matters are dealt with in Rome or Greece. That is wrong and something should be done about it. I ask the Minister whether any provision has been made for representation in an area adjacent to Egypt so that these matters can be attended to.
I turn now to the Republic of Ireland - the name that caused trouble recently. Mr. McGuire was appointed ambassador to Eire but, because of the dispute between
Australia and the Republic of Ireland, he did not take up his duties there. I think he was sent to Rome. I am speaking from memory because I have not had an opportunity to obtain exact information. I ask whether we have an ambassador or an officer of similar standing in what is called the Republic of Ireland or whether we have only an officer acting in the same way as Mr. Petheridge did? At the time I visited Ireland, Australia was represented not by an ambassador but by a first clerk. I should like to know whether that is still the position.
Some considerable time ago, we established representation in Burma. Initially, I do not think we appointed an ambassador to Burma but sent a representative of lower rank. Later our representation there was elevated to the status of an embassy. I take it that, if an embassy is established, an ambassador is appointed. I should like to know whether an ambassador has been appointed to Burma, because I note that the provision for this establishment has been increased. They are three questions relating to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs.
I now wish to direct one or two questions to the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan), and I refer first to Division No. 61 - Commonwealth Investigation Service, the financial provision for which has been raised from £124,000 to £134,000. an increase of more than £10,000. I ask the Attorney-General whether the members of the Commonwealth Investigation Service are policemen or whether they perform special duties as investigation officers.
I refer now to Division No. 64 - Peace Officer Guard, for which the financial provision this year is £87,000, or a little less than the expenditure for last year. I should like to know whether the Peace Officer Guard consists of officers who act as armed caretakers of Commonwealth buildings and assets or whether they guard particular persons. Are they used to protect property other than Commonwealth property?
– I should like to have your guidance, Mr. Chairman. There is still some confusion about the document with which we were issued yesterday and which is entitled “ Appropriation Bill 1957-58- Allotment of Time”. Underneath the heading “ Department of External Affairs “ is the heading “ Defence Services “.
– That relates only to portion of the defence votes. It does not include the general defence votes.
– To what particular portions do you suggest it relates?
– It does not include the proposed votes for the Navy, Army and Air Force.
– Does it include the proposed vote for the Department of Defence Production?
– The proposed vote for the Department of Defence Production will be taken in conjunction with the votes for the Department of Air and the Department of Supply, and will be considered on Tuesday next.
– I refer to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs, and direct attention to the fact that there are large variations in the provisions for the various embassies which are not immediately understandable. 1 should like the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) to give me some information explaining why there should be such wide differences.
– Would the honorable senator mind repeating that?
– I shall refer to the proposed votes of particular embassies to illustrate what I am saying. I note that the provision for the Australian embassy in the Republic of Indonesia this year is £76,900, whereas last year it was £82,600. As against that, the provision for the Australian embassy in Japan this year is £75,100, whereas for last year it was £81,200. It will be noted that the maintenance of the embassy in Japan, which I should think is a very important embassy, costs less than that of the embassy in the Republic of Indonesia. The provision for the Australian embassy in the Republic of the Philippines, which also I regard as being very important, is considerably below that for the embassy in Indonesia. The provision for the embassy in the Philippines this year is £48,500, whereas last year it was £48,300. I should like to know, apart from some general explanation such as the cost of living, what particular expenses are incurred to make the cost of our representation in Indonesia so much greater than the cost of that in other countries.
.- I refer to Division No. 217- Department of External Affairs - item 10, “Australian National Antarctic Reserch Expedition, £391,000 “. The provision for this item last year was £342,000. I submit that, commendable as is the idea of increasing the provision, it is totally inadequatein relation to the responsibility that this Parliament has to that part of the world.
It does us good to look at times at the extent of our responsibility in Australian. Antarctica. Geographically, the Australian! portion of Antarctica spreads virtually from south of New Zealand to south of Madagascar - a vast area of land covered with ice. That is the part of this vast continent that has been staked out by Australia. I understand that, unfortunately, Australia’s claims, in international jurisdictions, are not recognized by the United States of America and Russia, although an element of recognition is creeping in as far as the United States are concerned. I understand that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) was able to report to the Senate recently that one of his departmental officers who was in that country recently had negotiated certain rights for airways over the United States and that the United States had discussed with this officer certain rights over Antarctica. So a modicum of recognition is coming about.
I have been considerably encouraged lately to find that on the shelves of Australian booksellers is a remarkable publication by Mr. Law, Director of the Antarctic Division, Department of External Affairs, which deals amongst other things with all forms of life in Antarctica, including human life, bird life and animal life. It is good to see such a responsible civil servant as Mr. Law devoting so much time to presenting to Australia this really remarkable publication, “ Anare “, which I hold in my hand. At page xxiii of the introduction, there is a passage to which I should like to give a little time, because it states Mr. Law’s view of the future. He poses this question -
What does the future hold for the Antarctic? This is a question which will be more easily answered two years from now when the results of the IGY investigations are available.
He goes on to say that -
Meteorological information from Antarctica will prove highly valuable to forecasters concerned with predicting weather for the southern part of Australia.
In relation to mineral wealth, he says -
The mining of ores will present no great diffi culty but the transport of the material back to other continents will be a major problem, largely because ships have access to the coast only for a few short summer months. The development of air transport may, of course, solve this problem, just as the development of power stations using nuclear energy will solve the problem of power for the mining operations.
Mr. Law proceeds to deal with the importance of air routes, and states that there is a possibility of a long hop across the south of the world, in which Australian Antarctica would be very important. He discusses the extremely rich fish life in the Antarctic waters, and goes on to deal with matters of a more scientific nature relating to the International Geophysical Year.
I want to stress the following paragraph: -
Strategically, the Antarctic Continent is becoming more important. The vulnerability of the Suez and Panama Canals underlines the importance of the shipping routes via the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The great circle courses of ships which round these capes and proceed across the Southern Ocean pass within easy reach of the pack ice belt. Whatever the answers to the questions posed above, it seems certain that nian will continue to pit his brains and ingenuity against the forces of Nature until he has overcome the difficulties which at present delay the full exploitation of Antarctica.
The pattern of future development is now becoming apparent and the essential techniques, involving the use of nuclear energy and long-
Tange transport aircraft, are rapidly reaching the level of efficiency required.
I present that statement to the committee and ask whether the provision of £391,000 this year is sufficient to do all the expensive exploration, development, settlement, and so on, that is required in this Territory under the control of the Government. Let us look at what some of the other nations of the world are doing in Antarctica. In this respect, I am afraid I have not been able to obtain an Australian’ publication, and have had to rely for my information on the September issue of the “ National Geographic Magazine “, which is published in the United States of America, and circulates throughout the world. Some amazing facts are given in this issue. In the short time at my disposal, I can refer only briefly to some of the captions to the glorious illustrations that appear in it. I open it at random at page 344, and find a picture entitled “ Norwegian Sealers off Queen Maud Land Berth beside a Floating Ice Shelf “. The caption states -
Fourteen men wintering on this ice barrier will measure temperatures and magnetism and study the aurora. They plan to explore mountains south-east of the base. . . .
On page 345, there is a picture entitled “ Nipponese Scientists with Tractor and Sled Haul Supplies Across Rough Bay Ice “. The caption reads -
Japanese explorers early this year made their first visit to Antarctica since 1912.
There is a picture of the post office that the Japanese have established there.
I invite the attention of the committee particularly to the activities of Soviet scientists. At page 348, there is a picture with the title, “ Soviet Village of Mirny Stretches More than a Mile Along the Davis Sea Coast”. The Davis Sea! That is in Australian Antarctica, and is named after Captain J. K. Davis, one of our early Antarctic explorers. Then we see a picture of the huge Russian ship “ Lena “, which recently visited South Australia to load grain.
I conclude my reference to this journal by referring to what New Zealand is doing in connexion with its territory, which lies just to the south of New Zealand itself. It appears that a staging camp, of considerable size, known as Scott Station, has been established. The caption to a picture of the station states -
United States and New Zealand scientists work together closely; a joint party operates the Cape Hallett camp . . . Scott Station lies less than two miles from the U.S. Naval Air Facility on Hut Point . . .
So, we find that there appears to be a considerable degree of co-operation between New Zealand and the United States. Within the last few weeks, we have read of the vast airfield that the Americans have established at McMurdo Sound.
In view of what these other nations are doing, I ask the committee and the Government whether £391,000 is sufficient to meet our responsibilities in the area. I make the following suggestions: First, that we should do something about acquiring a suitable ship. Is it good enough to take on charter each year the “ Kista Dan “, that famous Danish ship which has served us so well? Should we not have pursued the idea that we had four or five years ago of building a special ship? There are, in the records of this Senate, answers to questions I have asked which indicate that a ship could not be built for financial reasons. Has not the time arrived for a ship to be built?
With regard to airways, only the other day an aircraft, with hostesses aboard, and all amenities, landed in Sydney after flying direct from McMurdo Sound, in the New Zealand portion of Antarctica. The Americans clearly have shown that they are able to establish normal air communication with McMurdo Sound, which adjoins Australian Antarctica. I feel that this Parliament should give considerable attention to our responsibilities in Antarctica. We have our Foreign Affairs Committee. We do not hear very much of it, probably of necessity, but 1 hope that it is giving this matter close study, because it may be a little “ later than we think “, if nothing is being done at this moment.
.- I have one or two queries in connexion with the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs, Division No. 20 - Overseas Transfers and Regional Conferences. Provision is made this year, apparently for the first time, of £3,7Q0 for regional conferences of heads of missions. I direct attention to the fact that this is a new provision and obviously contemplates a departure from the usual procedure in the Department of External Affairs, which, on the face of it, seems to have a lot to commend it. Apparently, provision is being made for heads of missions in the various regions to meet at regular intervals in order to discuss problems of interest to them in relation to the areas in which they serve. It is apparently a new and valuable idea and the Minister may care to indicate just what purpose is to be served by it. I am sure that it is salutory, and will prove valuable.
I wish to refer now to Division No. 29 - Embassy - Thailand, General Expenses, item 3, “ Rent and Maintenance, Office and Minister’s Residence, £20,000 “. There has been a tremendous increase on last year’s vote of £4,500. Actual expenditure was £5,027. An increase of such magnitude warrants our being told its purpose. We can then say whether we consider it to be justified.
I come now to the Attorney-General’s Department, and wish to refer especially to the 33rd report of the Public Accounts Committee on Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer, and variations made under Section 37 of the Audit Act 1901-1957. The committee passed severe strictures upon the inaccuracy of estimating a number of items. I do not wish to take up honorable senators’ time unduly, but in case they have not already read the evidence taken at the inquiry I feel that they should have the benefit of at least some extracts from it. They concern supreme examples of inaccuracy in estimating. I ask the AttorneyGeneral to what extent he and his department are acting in pursuance of the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee. At page 32, paragraph 72, of the report the committee states that it was concerned about Section 37 transfers, and adds -
I do not want to go into the details, but Supplementary Estimates amounted in 1953-54 to £53,000; in 1954-55, to £6,000; in 1955-56, to £46,000; and in 1956-57, to £75,000. The report continues -
The committee then discussed the matter with the department’s representative, and extracts from the evidence are given in the report. The following is an example - (Committee member) Over the last four years, there has been consistent over-expenditure on 64A-1 - Peace Officer Guard? - (Witness) That is true. We admit our sin here without qualification. It is an unquestionable illustration of bad estimating.
The report continues -
The Treasury representative said -
I think that the problem with that vote should be overcome to -some extent in the future. This year, we will introduce a statement in the salaries schedule to support this item relating to the Peace Officer Guard, That has not previously appeared in the Estimates. It will show the numbers and the class of positions and it will be a greater check against the employment, the establishment, and the amount estimated to remain unexpendable
The committee then considered a further example from the same department and adds -
To summarize, the vote for 1953-54 was £1,300, and expenditure, £1,129; an overestimate of £171. In the following year there was an over-estimate of £337. These are small amounts but they represent an inaccuracy of about 30 per cent.
– What is bad about that?
– If honorable senators do not consider that to be bad, why are we sitting here to-day?
– Is it bad that less than the estimate was spent?
– Certainly it is worse to over-spend, but it all shows inaccuracy, either plus or minus, in estimation. The point is that there was a consistent overestimation.
– The honorable senator is suggesting that correct estimation is important for parliamentary control, but it is surely much more important to ascertain whether the expenditure is justified.
– That is so, but at the moment I am dealing only with the aspect of parliamentary control. I think that the
Attorney-General should take this opportunity of saying to what extent his department intends to give effect to the committee’s recommendations. The report continues -
During 1955-56 this sub-division was limited to two items but for 1956-57 two new items were created. In estimating the probable cost of each item insufficient funds were allocated to the above item whereas all other items were kept within their respective appropriations, particularly Item 4 - Incidental and Other Expenditure - which was under-expended to the extent of £700. The increased charges imposed by the Postmaster-General’s Department caused the gap to be larger than it would otherwise have been.
The committee obtained from a representative of the department what he described as a true explanation. I conclude by giving honorable senators one or two more comments from the committee on the subject -
It is very difficult for us to examine effectively estimates of expenditure if, subsequently, it is found that’ they were quite inaccurate, and unrelated to the real needs of the department. Our scrutiny of accuracy in estimating is, to some extent, a scrutiny of the desirability of spending funds for a given purpose. We have to consider whether more or less should be expended. The report continues -
The attitude of the department is perhaps summed up by the following statement: - “ The factors which create the difficulties in estimation create similar difficulties in establishing the precise reasons why a particular item is underspent or overspent at the end of a financial period. In order to isolate all the causes, a detailed comparison would be necessary of all paid claims under a particular item for all regions with the paid claims of the previous year. The explanation might well be found to be an aggregation of small additional sums incurred or avoided in the quantities of supplies and services corresponding to variations in work volume of the sections of a branch “.
Your Committee consider that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department does not properly appreciate the necessity for accurate estimating or the best methods for properly controlling expenditure. It seems that the Department’s approach to its present difficulties is not so much to improve methods of control but rather to reduce the need to control, by aggregating- expenditure within a lesser number of votes.
The Department has stated that “… the functional structure of the Department tends to make for some inefficiency in financial manage- ment …” Your Committee do not accept this view, nor do we approve an aggregation of expenditure within a lesser number of votes.
We consider the Department should immediately review its methods: it might be wise to seek the assistance. of the Public Service Board and the Department of the Treasury in such a revision.
I have little doubt that, when that report is brought to the notice of the Treasury and the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan), action will proceed in terms of the recommendation. I felt that the report was of sufficient importance to be read in detail to the Senate. I think that the AttorneyGeneral should be in a position to indicate exactly the significance and meaning to his department of the report. I think that he should be in a position to indicate what action is contemplated to avoid occurrences in future such as the committee mentioned as having taken place in the past. Again, I comment that this shows the real worth of the Public Accounts Committee in keeping the close scrutiny on public expenditure which is particularly vital to-day.
.- I want to draw attention to Division 54 which relates to the administrative section of the Attorney-General’s Department. The AttorneyGeneral’s Department is charged with the administration of one of the most important dead acts on the statute-book in Australia. I refer to the Australian Industries Preservation Act. That act was passed in 1906 and was amended half a dozen times up to 1952, but no prosecutions have been made under it since 1911. One of the difficulties in ensuring that evidence is available for a prosecution is that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department is charged with the almost impossible task of administering this act, many sections of which are, word for word, identical with the Sherman anti-trust legislation of the United States of America-. But in the United States of America a special Federal Trade Commission has been set up for the purpose of ferretting out and otherwise obtaining information and making the normal prosecutions, initially, before the commission and subsequently, if necessary, before the courts of the land.
In Australia, section 14 of the act to which I have referred makes the conduct of serious prosecutions and the recovery of substantial penalties the monopoly of the Attorney-General’s Department. In the case of a breach of the customs law, the Department of Customs obtains the necessary information. It has a vested interest in administering the law, and it submits the facts, statements, and other results of its investigations in the proper way to the crown law authorities under the AttorneyGeneral and a prosecution is launched. In the case of a breach of taxation law a similar provision obtains. But in the case of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, which is the sole bulwark in this country between the consumer and the ever-growing monopolies, the Attorney-General’s Department is supposed to obtain the evidence and then launch the prosecution, which is virtually impossible.
The decision in the Boilermakers’ case last year makes it impossible to combine administrative and judicial functions, and it is very right that that should be so. But I urge that the Attorney-General should see whether it is possible to obtain the requisite authority to establish inside his department, an authority on the lines of the security service, for which he is responsible. Of course, it would not be intended for the same purpose as the security service, which is appointed for the particular purpose of protecting the security of this country. The authority that I have suggested could be appointed for the express purpose of obtaining the necessary evidence under the Australian Industries Preservation Act so that the forgotten man in Australia, the consumer, could obtain the protection of this legislation.
The facts that come to light from day to day in newspapers and from various othersources indicate that there are very many prima facie at least breaches of this legislation. I say “ prima facie “ because only the courts, on the submission of appropriate evidence, can give a certain decision. We had, in this Senate, very recently a debate on the payment of money to a certain union by certain people in order to obtain permission to do certain things. The permission which was sought was permission to engage in the ordinary trade in which those people are involved, namely that of shipowners and carriers. In order to be permitted to carry out their ordinary work, certain sums of money running into many thousands of pounds were paid to a certain union. I wonder whether the Attorney-General’s special branch - call it what you will - could look at section 4 of this act which was put on the statute-book by that great liberal, Alfred Deakin, very many years ago. Section 4, sub-section (1.) provides that any person who, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is or continues to be a member of or engages in any combination, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, which is in restraint of or intended to restrain, trade or commerce is guilty of an offence.
The legislature viewed this offence very seriously because away back in 1906, the penalty allocated to the offence was £500, and in addition, one year’s imprisonment. I merely mention these facts to remind the committee that this legislation is serious. It means what it says and it is designed to protect the Australian consumer. It is called, according to the sub-title, “ An Act for the Preservation of Australian Industries, and for the Repression of Destructive Monopolies “.
Let us look at an obvious, prima facie offence which is probably committed from Cape York to Hobart. I say probably because J have no information on which the courts could pass judgment. I refer to section 7a of this act which was amended in . 1910. In this section the word “ person “ includes corporations. It reads -
Any person who, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, either as principal or agent, in respect of dealings in any goods or services gives, offers or promises to any other person any rebate, refund, discount, concession, or reward, for the reason, or upon the condition, express or implied that the latter person -
deals, or has dealt, or will deal, or intends to deal exclusively with any person, either in relation to any particular goods or services or generally . . . is guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Five hundred pounds.
– What does that mean in a few words?
– Perhaps the best example I can think of offhand is the onebrand petrol station. I have not before me a copy of a contract which is entered into in those circumstances, but it would appear, from what I know of such contracts, that they are in breach of section 7a of the Australian Industries Preservation Act.
– Does that mean that a person cannot set up an organization to sell his own goods only?
– Not to the exclusion of other people.
– Is the principle “with no intent to injure trade “ a necessary ingredient of that?
– Sub-section (3.) provides that it shall be a defence if the defendant can show that the agreement was not actually detrimental to trade. That, of course, would be a matter for argument on the facts of each case that arose. I ask the Attorney-General to investigate carefully the possibility of arranging for a special section of his department to undertake the administration of this most important piece of commercial legislation.
I desire to deal with the Department of External Affairs, with particular reference to Australia’s representation overseas. Before dealing with this matter, let me say to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) that this experiment by the Government of grouping a number of departments creates some difficulty when we want to deal with the estimates for individual departments. The two previous speakers have dealt with the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and nave raised very interesting matters, the debate on which should have been continued until some finality was reached. I am now cutting right across the discussion that has been in progress for the last half an hour. Possibly another honorable senator will deal with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which is also in the group of departments we are discussing. That is an excellent organization which should receive great consideration from the
Senate. I hope that this experiment will not be continued. The present proceedings are being broadcast, and if there happens to be any one listening this afternoon, he will wonder what we are talking about and what we are doing.
At the request of my fellow party members, I studied the estimates for the Department of Trade, but my investigations have led me to realize that the Department of External Affairs is closely associated with certain matters which concern the Department of Trade. I shall direct attention to Australia’s representation abroad. I should like to know what authority is responsible for fixing the salaries of the officers who represent Australia abroad as ambassadors, high commissioners, or under any other title. There is a considerable disparity between the salaries paid to these representatives and those paid to some officers in Australia. The Senate recently discussed the salaries of top public servants in Australia. I should like to know the difference, in the view of the Government, between the importance of their duties and the importance of the duties of senior officers who are sent abroad. I hope the officers who are at present in the chamber will forgive me if I make comparisons. The permanent heads of departments in Parliament House are in a salary group ranging from £4,250 per annum downwards. The head of the Joint House Department, which was recently created, performs duties which, I understand, were previously performed by the Clerk of the Senate in his spare time. He receives £3,750 per annum. No doubt the officers in the £5,000-£6,000 salary group are entitled, in the estimation of those who fixed their salaries, to such remuneration because of the work they perform.
Let us now consider our diplomatic representatives in some very important countries. Their salaries are in no way comparable with the salaries paid to officers who remain in Australia, although I am aware, of course, that they receive certain allowances. Our representative in Canada - a very important partner in the Commonwealth, with which we carry on a large volume of trade - receives £3,700. I know that he receives allowances in addition, but we do not know what for. There is some disparity betwen salaries in the diplomatic service. Our representative in New Zealand receives £2,500.
– Is he ‘an officer of the Department of External Affairs or of the Department of Trade?
– I am dealing with the Department of External Affairs which, I assume, is a very important department. I agree that there seems to be some overlapping of the duties of officers of the Department of External Affairs and of trade representatives. I think honorable senators are entitled to know the functions of each officer, so that we may know why the money is being spent.
We have our Ambassador to France. His salary is nowhere near that paid to top-ranking officers in Australia. Our Canadian representative receives £3,700, our New Zealand representative £2,500, and our representative in India £3,200. There is a great disparity between salaries. These men are adequately representing us overseas. Why, then, is there this difference between salaries?
– What about our representative in Ireland?
– I think he is in the lower group, on a salary of £2,500. Our representative in Viet Nam receives £2,700. There is no provision for any representation in Egypt this year. Why provision has not been made in the Estimates for a representative in Egypt during this financial year, I do not know.
– Where would we put him?
– These disputes all come to an end. One cannot help feeling that, for the benefit of the nation, some effort should be made to see that we are again represented in that part of the world. Provision should be made in the Estimates for that office to be re-opened. We frequently find when going through the Estimates that certain amounts have not been expended. We could provide financially for a representative in Egypt, even if the position were not filled.
The way in which these Estimates are drawn is altogether confusing. Sums of money are listed and the Parliament is asked to vote for or against them. The
Senate can make a request to the Government to do certain things, but I feel that the whole method of presenting the Estimates should be altered. I repeat what I said last year, that the Parliament should have placed before it all necessary information about how this money is spent and about what work the officers perform on behalf of Australia. Then, as intelligent people, representing the community and looking after the interests of the taxpayers, we would be able to know whether the money is wisely spent. If it costs us so many millions of pounds to be represented anywhere and the money is wisely spent, I feel sure that no one will cavil at the requisite money being voted. But when we are presented with just a mass of figures in respect of a number of items and the total of those figures, it is wrong for the Government to ask the Parliament, when it is not furnished with the details, to approve of proposed votes. That is particularly so when the Government is so unmindful of the requirements of the Parliament and of the people that it applies the “ guillotine “, as it did yesterday, and demands that the debate on these items shall be concluded by a certain hour. The period that has been allotted does not allow of a proper investigation of the respective estimates. That sort of procedure shows where we are drifting.
The comments made by Senator Byrne with reference to the investigations of the Public Accounts Committee illustrate how Parliament is not advised of the details of various expenditure. How can we expect to remedy the results that flow from such a procedure? When the Government deliberately prevents the Parliament and the people from examining items of expenditure, the situation is difficult indeed. lt may be that we are in the position of not having this information because some Ministers are lacking in appreciation of the importance of the parliamentary institution. Some Ministers have not been members of this Parliament very long, and some of them, because of the unusual conditions which existed at the time of their election, were appointed before they took their seat in the Parliament. I am not suggesting that as a result of the present method the Senate might disappear, but I seriously suggest that if Parliament is asked to discuss the Estimates without being fur nished with adequate detailed information as to how the proposed votes will be spent and about the functions of the officers for whom we are providing this money, not the Senate alone but the parliamentary institution itself, as we know it to-day, will disappear and something else will take its place.
I should like the Minister to indicate the difference between the functions of the representatives abroad of the Department of External Affairs and those of the Department of Trade. I should like to know also who fixes the salaries of the officials who remain in Australia and those who go abroad. I notice that one or two officers abroad recently received an increase of £50 whereas some who remained in Australia received an increase of approximately £500. 1 am not cavilling at the increase in salaries, but I think that there should be some uniformity in the rates. These officers are playing a very important part in the administration of this country.
, - I wish to follow on from where Senator Sheehan stopped in his wandering in relation to the salaries of Australian government officers abroad. As the Senate will recall, almost exactly twelve months ago I was privileged to be in the United States of America for a period of eight weeks. Because of what I learned, I took the first opportunity in the Parliament after my return to publicize some of the faults I noted in respect of the payment of allowances to officers of the Department of External Affairs in the U.S.A. I have heard of no results from my representations. That is contrary to custom, because on several other occasions after I raised matters in the Senate, in due course I received letters from the department or the Minister concerned in answer to my queries or thanking me for suggestions I made. But whoever is ultimately responsible for the fixation of these salaries - I think it is the Public Service Board; I know it is not the Department of External Affairs; the Department of the Treasury might have some say in it - I have had in this instance no reply or indication that my remarks did not fall on stony ground.
I will not weary the Senate by re-stating all the facts that I gave then, but the Government should give some thought to the problems affecting our officers . in all categories who are employed in the North American continent. We transfer them there, and quite often because they are family men they have to live in rented homes. Owing to local conditions and their responsibilities they have to purchase cars, and sometimes refrigerators and furnishings. Because many of them have not the requisite capital to take with them they have to borrow from American hire purchase companies which, like all hire purchase companies, charge exorbitant rates of interest. My suggestion to the Government, which I think is a good and very fair one, is that the Public Service Board should determine a maximum loan to be made available by the Treasury to officers transferred to the North American continent to enable them to provide themselves with necessaries in their homes. Such loans’ could be repaid in instalments deducted from the officer’s salary in the same way that taxation instalments are deducted, and they need pay only the reasonable Commonwealth bond rate of interest. That would save them a great deal of embarrassment. I have been told that it takes six, nine or even eighteen months for an officer who goes overseas to get anywhere near settled down financially. In many cases, he has to live like a pauper. If sickness strikes, he finds himself in very serious straits. A great deal of distress has been caused in certain instances because of illness in a family.
That brings me to another suggestion. Officers of the British government abroad are entitled to completely free medical and hospital treatment. New Zealand officers have about 75 per cent, of their medical costs paid by their Government. But the Australian Government - and this applies to the present Government’s predecessors - has not yet awakened to the extremely high costs of medicines and hospital and medical treatment in the United States. It cost me £7 10s. Australian to see one doctor for two minutes. Our officers abroad should be given greater assistance in respect of costs incurred owing to sickness or ill health. I have heard that as a result of a recent visit abroad by a representative of the Public Service Board some improvement has been effected in recent months in the allowances paid to these officers. Here again is another fault; These visits by officers of the Public
Service Board are made only once every five years. They visit our embassies, legations and missions overseas and report, and the Treasury decides what increase in allowance, if any, shall be granted. The salaries and allowances of these officers abroad, as far as I can gather, are not related in any way to local conditions or costs. In contradistinction to that, I learnt from the New Zealand and British officials in New York that their countries have a system under which the government of the day appoints several officers; - for example officers of the British Foreign Office in New York - as a committee to report on these matters. That committee reports immediately to the Government when its members feel it fair that allowances and or pay, or amenities should be improved. The Government, naturally, acts according to its own decision, but under that system the officers do not have to work overseas for a period of three or five years without obtaining any help to meet increasing costs. I. hope this Government will consider that point. I am not one who thinks there should be extravagance, but I am firmly convinced that the salaries of Australian officers overseas are at the bottom of the scale when compared with those paid to similar officers from other British Commonwealth countries.
I point out, too, that probably our representation in America, at Washington and in the United Nations, is extremely important in all aspects of the work, but it is amazing to see the extraordinary difference between the cost of that important representation in Washington and New York and what I sincerely believe to be the equally important representation in the United Kingdom High Commissioner’s Office. We have already voted a total of £754,000-
– I repudiate that. The item is passed, but we have not voted on it.
– That is an increase of £32,000 on the amount voted for last financial year. If I am right the United States of America is our most important centre of representation, having regard to the conditions operating throughout the world to-day and the policy this Government is pursuing. We are being asked to say that £225,600 is sufficient to meet our representation, which ds only one-third of the actual amount that it costs Australia for its representation in London.
I hope that the ‘Government will look into the points I have raised and do something to build up in importance our excellent representation in Washington and New York.
– I rise to order. I direct the attention of the committee to Standing Order 253. During the last hour and a quarter our discussions have developed into a polyglot debate ranging all over the compass, with no response at all from the Minister. Here I emphasize that I am not referring to individual contributions. They -have been stimulating and most interesting. But unless we have some sort of order in the matter and receive answers from the Minister, the whole thing leads only to confusion. 1 draw your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to Standing ‘Order 253, which refers to committee procedure. Amongst other things, that standing order says -
The proceedings in Committee shall be as follows: -
The Chairman shall (unless otherwise ordered) call on each clause or’ item, and ask if any Senator has any request to move thereon.
– Before I took the chair, the Chairman of Committees made it quite clear to the committee that the whole of this section of the Estimates could be discussed, that the various items could be taken in any order desired .by any honorable senator, and that any honorable senator could move a request. I have followed that ruling.
– No offence is offered to any one. No complaint is being made. I rose in the interests of elucidation if we are governed by any spirit to see the light. Now I am trying to get from you a definite ruling, because we have proceeded into confusion as a result of a statement made this morning by the Chairman of Committees, a statement which, I submit, was made without full consideration and because he imagined that as the “ guillotine “ had been adopted and items 14, 100, 95, 80, 27, 101, 76 and 105 had been bracketed for consideration and completion by 6 o’clock he could throw the whole thing open for discussion
We have experienced this type of debating now for an hour and a half this morning and an hour and a quarter this afternoon, and it is very uncomplimentary to an intelligent consideration. I rise because I submit that, with the rest of this day, and all next week before us, the committee could now address its mind properly to the Standing Orders, we all should be convinced by the confusion during the last few hours that we should adopt that standing order and go through the departmental divisions that are .listed in the brackets. I suggest that we discuss Divisions under the Department of External Affairs. An honorable senator would speak on a division and the Minister could give his answer. I suggest that we should adopt that course - that is, discuss the Estimates by divisions or by single item - and I take the point of order hoping that you will rule in accordance with the standing order.
– In the absence of .my colleague, Senator Spooner, who is in charge of the bill, let me say that I have no doubt that he would have no objection to the adoption of the suggestion outlined by Senator Wright. It would certainly be easier for the Minister to answer honorable senators. I do not rise as each honorable senator sits down because, if I were to do so, I should be taking up half the time allotted to the Senate. But I am prepared. I have a list of the points that have been raised, and I intend to speak shortly. I think, sir, that if you uphold the point of order, we can proceed.
– I rise to order. This morning I asked what course the debate on the Estimates would take. We were then speaking upon the proposed vote for the Parliament. You will notice, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it includes, amongst other things, item No. 8, which relates to parliamentary printing. At that stage, I proposed to deal with the cost of parliamentary printing and I asked the Chairman whether I could deal with that item then. He told me that I could not. Subsequently, he reversed his decision and said that we would be guided by what is contained in the schedule or time-table. In effect, he said that we would be guided by the times shown in this schedule, that honorable senators would be free to discuss all the items in the proposed votes, the consideration of which was to conclude by 1 p.m. Afterwards, the debate became higgledypiggledy.
This afternoon, the proposed votes under consideration are in respect of the Department of External Affairs, Defence Services, the Department of Defence, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. According to the ruling given by the Chairman of Committees, we could dance about between those departments until 6 p.m. I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that you uphold the point of order that has been taken by Senator Wright. Some time ago during the debate I intended to ask - and I still intend to ask - some questions of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) in respect of his department. I hesitated to do so earlier because the debate then had concentrated upon external affairs, and I was quite willing to allow it to continue in that way. So I beseech you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to uphold the point of order.
– I think we cannot go any further in relation to this point of order unless there is something fresh to be put.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The Leader of the Government said that the Minister in charge of the bill would have no objection to carrying out the standing order. When the Minister last night proposed this form of discussion I raised a protest against the experiment.
– I take another point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
We will deal with one point of order at a time. We are dealing with the point of order that has been taken by Senator Arnold.
– I want to raise a point of order on his debating the original point of order.
Order! A point of order is at present being taken by Senator Arnold. We shall have to wait until we have dealt with it before we have other points of order.
– We are, debating a point of order raised by Senator Wright.
I direct your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to standing order 430, which reads -
Upon a Question of Order being raised, the Senator called to Order shall resume his seat and after the Question of Order has been stated-
As it has been - to the President by the Senator rising to Order, the President may give his decision thereon, or he may first hear further argument thereon, at his discretion.
I ask you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to give your ruling on Senator Wright’s point of order so that the Senate may use to the utmost the time allotted to it for the consideration of matters of national importance.
– As the standing order quoted by Senator Gorton provides, the Chair has the right to hear further argument at its own discretion. I call Senator Arnold.
– I put it to the Senate that we have a code of rules known as the Standing Orders, and I feel that it is dangerous for the Minister, or any government, to cast those rules aside and try a new experiment. The Standing Orders state, as Senator Wright has pointed out, that items shall be dealt with one by one. If that is done, a senator who asks for an explanation from the appropriate Minister may obtain that explanation at the time, and, if it is not satisfactory, he can probe the matter further. This afternoon we are having, in effect, a first reading debate on all the items in the grant with which we are dealing. It is perfectly obvious that nobody will get any information from the Minister. The Minister need only sit here all afternoon listening to the arguments. So, I suggest to you, sir, that Standing Order 403 be applied and that you rule that the committee shall deal with the items one by one so that a proper and orderly debate can be carried on.
Order! As to the point order taken by Senator Wright I should like to say that a certain order of procedure was set down by the Senate, but apparently the matter has not been put before the committee. Therefore, in upholding the point of order raised by Senator Wright, I shall put the question as to whether the committee desires to take together the proposed votes in the groups of estimates listed in the schedule covering the allotment of time. Is it the pleasure of the committee that these be taken together?
– One dissentient voice has been raised, and the items will therefore be taken one by one.
– May I ask what the effect of your ruling is, Mr. Temporary Chairman?
When I asked the committee whether it was its pleasure that the items be taken together one dissentient voice was raised and, as a consequence, the items must be taken one by one. We are now dealing with the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs.
– If that is now the decision of the committee, in view of the fact that up to this stage the debate has proceeded with almost all the items being taken together, and as the Attorney-General has indicated that he has a number of replies which he intended to advance during the course of the debate, may I suggest that if we are now going to debate the provision, for the Department of External Affairs, the Attorney-General collate the replies that he has available in relation to that department and make them at a stage in the debate when no other senator wishes to speak. The honorable gentleman could then give the replies he has to questions concerning the Attorney-General’s Department when we come to deal with the particular items concerned.
– Is it the wish of the committee that the AttorneyGeneral make his replies now? There being no objection, the honorable senator may proceed.
– I do not completely grasp the procedure being adopted. As I indicated earlier, I did not intend to answer each question immediately it had been raised, because if I were to follow that procedure I would be using far too great a proportion of the four or five hours available to us.
In answer to Senator O’Flaherty, I inform the committee that there is no direct Australian representation in Egypt, but our interests are being watched there by another member of the British Commonwealth. I am not aware of any complaints by intending migrants, or immigrants already here, about the lack of immigration facilities in Egypt resultant on the closing of our embassy there. It is not far from Egypt to Israel, where we have representation.
– But what if they have not got the money to go to Israel?
– As far as I know, no complaints have been made.
The position in regard to Ireland has not changed, so far as I am aware, since the matter was raised last year. Ireland is represented by a charge d’affaires and we are represented in Ireland by a charge d’affaires. The status of ambassador was changed some time ago, when legislation was passed changing the name “ Eire “ to the “ Republic of Ireland “. The position has not altered since last year, so far as I am aware.
In reply to the question raised in regard to the Peace Officer Guard and the Commonwealth Investigation Service, honorable senators may recall that earlier this year a bill was passed by the Senate to amalgamate those services - which have nothing to do with security - under the Commonwealth Police Force. Commonwealth investigation officers are those who, at the request of Commonwealth departments, make investigations into alleged breaches of Commonwealth law and allegations of irregularities in the departments, and generally do the police work required by the Commonwealth. The Peace Officer Guard is in a different category. Those services will become one after the bill to which I have referred has gone through another place. The Commonwealth has a large amount of very valuable property which requires the provision of permanent guards. The Peace Officer Guard provides caretaker guards for property.
Senator McCallum and other honorable senators have raised the question of the differences in the votes for various embassies. If I may give an analogy, a commercial firm may have a representative in, say, Albury and another in a larger centre such as Sydney. They would represent the same firm, but their jobs would be different, because the job of the firm’s representative in Sydney would be more responsible and onerous than the job of the representative in Albury. An idea of the increased volume of work performed by the administrative section may be gained from a perusal of the proposed vote under Division No. 19.
asked how the £391,000 for the Antarctic Research Expedition under Division No. 217 was split up. Salaries and allowances account for £103,000; ship charter accounts for £95,000; purchase and operation of aircraft takes £60,000; hut and buildings account for £27,000; radio equipment takes care of £11,000; fuel cost £11,000; and miscellaneous costs amount to £84,000. That makes a total of £391,000.
Senator Byrne raised a question under Division No. 20 relating to regional conferences of heads of missions. Provision is made under this division in accordance with the prepared schedule, which sets out the proposed transfer of staff between Australia and overseas posts, and between various posts themselves. International air fares were increased by 5 per cent. This is a new provision which was designed to cover attendances by heads of missions at two regional conferences - one to be held in London for heads of posts in Europe, and the other to be held in Singapore for heads of posts in Asia and South-East Asia.
– It is a new idea.
– It is, and there is considerable merit in the idea. The heads of posts in Europe will have an annual conference, in either London or Paris, and the heads of posts in Asia and South-East Asia will meet in Singapore. Those conferences will be attended by senior officers of the Department of External Affairs. Such conferences can lead only to improved efficiency. Officers will leave this country to attend those conferences, possessed of last minute information, and our representatives overseas will obtain a little reindoctrination of what has been happening in Australia.
With regard to the increase in the representation allowance in Thailand, money has been expended in enlarging the accommodation in that country. Provision is also made for the installation of an air-conditioning service - rather desirable in that country.
Senator Byrne raised the question of the comments made by the Public Accounts Committee. When I read the report of the Public Accounts Committee, I asked the department for an explanation, and I understand, after consultation with officers of the Public Service Board, that what was commented on adversely by the Public Accounts Committee is. not likely to occur again.
With regard to Senator Hannan’s suggestion that the Australian Industries Preservation Act be made more effective - that it be given teeth, as one might say - I have asked for a report in order to see whether the act can be made a more effective instrument along the lines indicated by its authors.
asked how the salaries of heads of missions are fixed, and why some officers are paid more than others. A glance at Division No. 21 will show some of the answers to that question. The: salaries are generally fixed along a range, because, with the exception of a few, our representatives abroad are members of the Public Service, and their salaries are determined within the range of senior officers of the Public. Service. The extent of representation allowance is a matter for decision by the Minister concerned, on proper advice as to what obligations are incurred and what calls are made on a particular representative in a particular’ place.
– The Government has a very poor opinion of them.
– Senator Marriott is not the first, nor will he be the last, to express the view that our representatives abroad are not being overpaid. With regard to Senator Marriott’s other point, special provision is made for any of our representatives who suffer hardship or are called upon to meet heavy commitments because of illness.
– I think it is necessary to remind the committee of its position. The committee decided a few moments ago that the Minister would be requested to reply to questions already asked on the general series of items which are to be considered until 6 p.m. The Minister has done that, and from now on I rule that the debate must be restricted to the Department of External Affairs, until such time as. the debate on that department, has been concluded. I ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to the Department of External Affairs, the proposed vote being £2,221,000. Are there any requests?
.- I want to raise two points. The first concerns Australia’s representation abroad, and I ask that more be done to regularize the question of our representation in Formosa - or Free China - and in Eire, t understand that Free China has a Minister in Canberra, but the question of this country’s representation in Formosa appears to be very murky,, indeed. As we have accepted a Minister for Free China, I suggest that the Government should regularize the position of our representation in that country, more particularly because prospects of trade, as, for example, in tea, with that country are growing - I will not mention oil.
The position with regard to Eire has apparently been in a state of suspense for quite a considerable time. I understand that there is a difference of opinion with regard to the method of accreditation of our representative in that country. Canada appears to have been able to solve that problem, and I see no reason why Australia cannot do the same. In the case of Free China and Eire, the Government should stop shelving the position and should make decisions to regularize our position in those two countries. 1 should also like to speak about relief under the Colombo plan. All honorable senators are very proud to be associated with the Colombo plan.
Our assistance under the plan has, broadly, taken two forms. The first form is material assistance, in the provision of machinery, diesel engines and engines of other types, and the second form, which I consider to be much more valuable, is the provision of facilities for Asian students, to train in this country. I listened a few days ago to Mr. Denis Warner, who is an authority upon the East, speaking about his recent tour. He referred to having, seen in Eastern countries some items of machinery given by Australia, and said he questioned very much whether the people in those countries knew that they were receiving that form of assistance from Australia. Obviously the amount that we can give is only a drop in the ocean compared with’ what is being given by much wealthier and more populous countries such as the United States of America. He said - and I have heard honorable senators say - that although we give as much as we can with full hearts, what we can give is very little compared with what others give, so it is lost sight of, and we do not really get much credit for it from the Asian peoples. He made the suggestion - I think it is a good one - that if we want to create friendship between ourselves and Asia through our Colombo plan activities, it would be far more valuable for us to spend more of the available money upon assistance for the training in this country of Asian students and less upon the provision of material things, which seem to be lost sight of. But that involves the difficulty that our universities and training establishments are not big enough at present to accommodate even all of the Australian students who desire to enter them’.
That is not an insoluble problem, and I ask the Minister whether the Government will give consideration to diverting some of the money that is being spent under the Colombo plan on material things to the provision of better university facilities and better facilities for technological training. If that is done, there will be more space for our own students and more for Asian students, who, having trained here, will, I hope, go back to their own countries as ambassadors of goodwill and create a better spirit between their countries and ours in the years to come.
– I should like to comment first on the suggestion made by Senator McManus in regard to representation of this country in Eire. We should like a representative of Australia to be accredited to the De Valera Government in Eire, but I express the hope that that accreditation will never take place at the expense of denying the claim of the Queen to be the Queen of Northern Ireland. The disagreement between the countries at the moment is that the Republic of Eire demands that our representative, who is the representative of the Queen, should be accredited in such a way as to recognize the jurisdiction of the Government of Eire over the whole of Ireland. While the inhabitants of Northern Ireland desire to give allegiance to the Queen and. to remain a separate entity, 1 would hope that this Government will never in any way deny that desire, or accredit a representative to Eire in such a way as to lend credence to the claim of the De Valera Government.
I now want to make some comments upon one or two other matters that have arisen during this debate. Like Senator Byrne, I commend the new idea of having from time to time conferences of heads of missions in certain regions. It is quite clear that the heads of Australian missions in Malaya, Thailand and Viet Nam are accredited to governments which have similar problems. There is terrorism in both Viet Nam and Malaya. In Thailand there are sanctuaries for Communists who cross from Malaya after engaging in terrorism there. It is clear that it is to the advantage of this country that those heads of missions shall be able, from time to time, to meet and discuss what is happening in the countries in which they are stationed, what the governments to which they are accredited are doing, and ways in which co-operation between those governments could be arranged to achieve a common object. It is, I think, a great step forward in the administration of our Department of External Affairs that these conferences between heads of missions in regions having similar problems are to take place.
The increased vote for the embassy in Thailand has been questioned. Those of us who were in that country last year, including honorable senators from both sides of the chamber, will remember that the embassy then was a small suburban villa, which was quite unsuitable for the entertaining which is inseparable from the duties of a representative overseas of Australia. In countries where face is so important, it is necessary to have, not something equivalent to what Great Britain or the United States of America can provide, because we cannot run to that, but something in keeping with our status in those parts of the world. In Thailand, until now, that has not been provided, but the proposed vote ensures that it will be provided. 1 think a senator on this side of the chamber raised the subject of Antarctica and what should be done about it. I do not think that this problem is as easy as at first appears. We must remember that although we lay claim to a large area of Antarctica, that claim is not admitted by most other countries.
Order! I am afraid that I cannot allow Senator Gorton to proceed with a discussion of that subject. I remind the committee that the items for discussion are listed on page 14. They are, Administrative, Overseas Transfers and Regional Conferences, Embassies, Legations, High Commissions, and so on. The honorable senator should refrain from discussing the subject which he has raised until the committee considers the items appearing on page 100.
– I was not quite sure how far the debate could be extended.
– It is a very restricted debate now.
– I take it that I am not allowed either to speak on the subject of the alleged evils of not spending the full amounts voted, although that subject has been raised.
– I am afraid so.
– I shall move on to the Colombo plan, which was discussed by Senator McManus.
– I am afraid that that would be out of order. That subject cannot be discussed until we reach the items appearing on page 100.
– The previous speaker referred to it.
– I realize that. I was in error in allowing him to do so, but I had not noticed that that subject was outside the scope of the debate.
– Very well. I shall rest until such time - if ever - as I am allowed to raise these matters.
– Am I to understand that discussion of the Colombo plan is out of order?
– It is a substantial matter under the administration of the Department of External Affairs.
You may refer to that when we come to consider the items appearing on page 100.
– That will suit me. I want to make a brief reference to a matter raised by Senator McManus in regard to the work of the Colombo plan. I ask the Minister-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. You have just precluded Senator Gorton from speaking on the Colombo plan, but now Senator Courtice is proceeding to discuss it.
– I cannot allow Senator Courtice to proceed.
– I should like to know when we are going to proceed on orderly lines.
– I remind the committee that I have called on for discussion the proposed expenditure by the Department of External Affairs of £2,221,000, as detailed on pages 14 to 23 inclusive. Until that has been disposed of, I must confine the discussion to the matters appearing on those pages.
– Shall we consider later the items appearing on page 100?
Yes, after the items we are now considering have been dealt with.
.- I refer to Divisions Nos. 19 to 45 - Department of External Affairs - for which the proposed vote is £2,221,000. I suggest to the committee that we are not getting full value for the money that we are expending on our representation overseas. The general trend of our foreign policy, based on the information that our overseas representatives have gathered from various contact points, has almost come to be known as brinkmanship, and this can lead to one of two things: A thermo-nuclear war, in which we will find ourselves involved, or the loss of the great prestige that we have been enjoying in the world for a considerable period. A new age has commenced - the age of nuclear submarines, intercontinental missiles and manmade satellites -
– And parasites!
– What Senator Courtice has implied is important. Our legations overseas should be obtaining for us valuable scientific information on which we can formulate a workable foreign policy but they are staffed with a vast army of people many of whom have not been trained to the necessary standard, having regard to the conditions of this day and age. Support for my contention is contained in an observation that has been made by Lord Lindsay of Birker, one of our officers at the Australian National University, who has applied himself to the rethinking of our foreign policy and has directed attention to the need for specialized research in international relations. Over the last week, we have heard numerous references to the need to train scientists and to expand our field of research.
– How does the honorable senator connect his remarks with the proposed vote before the chair?
– My remarks relate definitely to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs. As I have said, instead of having a vast army of people overseas engaged in routine matters, we need specialists conducting research into international relations. If you will allow me to develop this point, Mr. Temporary Chairman-
– I cannot allow you to develop it very far.
– The proposed vote under Division No. 21 - Embassies - United States of America - is £225,600. There is not on the staff of our embassy in the United States one scientist or technician. The day-to-day job of some of the embassy officials is to hover around with Sir Percy Spender at afternoon tea parties picking up tidbits from John Foster Dulles, who, in any case, is pursuing a disastrous foreign policy. I contend that, in order to get value for our money, we should proceed along the lines suggested in Lord Lindsay’s report, that is, that our representatives overseas should apply their energies to collecting specialized information to be Used as a guide in formulating our policy in relation to international affairs. This report states that the case for specialized research depends on-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I cannot allow Senator O’Byrne to develop that line of argument. He must confine his remarks to the proposed vote for our representation overseas.
– But, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I submit that my remarks are relevant to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs.
Order! The honorable senator may not ^canvass my ruling.
– 1 rise to a point of order. Before Senator O’Byrne continues, Mr. Temporary Chairman, will you advise the committee where honorable senators may find, in the documents before them, details of the expenditure on our overseas representation? Will it be in . order, in referring to the proposed vote for our ambassador in the United States of America, and his staff, to suggest that technicians and officers capable of conducting specialized research in international relations shall be employed at the embassy? I notice that provision is made only for the salaries of clerks, typists and so on. In view of your ruling that Senator O’Byrne may not direct his attention to this matter, how can honorable senators obtain the information they require?
Order! It is in order for honorable senators to discuss any aspect of the work of our overseas representatives. On this basis, Senator O’Byrne may proceed with his speech. I remind honorable senators that, in view of the decision that has been taken by the committee regarding this debate, I must restrict honorable senators to discussing the proposed vote before the Chair. I have no option in the matter, and I rule accordingly.
– I feel that, in the limited time available to me, I cannot thoroughly develop my theme, but it appears that I shall have no other opportunity to mention the matter. This supports the criticism that I have already made of the procedure that is being followed on this occasion. We are bogged down in our own quagmire. This half-baked plan for the consideration of the schedule is most unsatisfactory. Matters of great importance are receiving scant consideration. It is difficult for an honorable senator, in only a few minutes, to develop fully any theme.
I refer now to item 1 of Division No. 19 - Administrative - Salaries and Payments in the Nature of Salary - for which the pro posed vote is £282,200. I should like the Minister to inform me whether any provision has been made for the training of specialists in the Department of External Affairs, and whether any departmental officers have been encouraged to specialize in any particular field. If such encouragement has been given to them, is there any. guarantee that there will be a continuity of their specialization? Our knowledge of conditions in Cambodia, Singapore, Malaya, and other countries to the north of Australia is very limited indeed. I believe that the Department of External Affairs should consider stationing abroad specialists in research on international relations rather than ordinary old-world type of career diplomats who know the right words to say over a cup of tea or at a cocktail party in order to pick up .snippets of information. We cannot hope to compete with other countries unless w« receive the specialized .information to which I have referred.. The United States of America has already adopted this policy, as can be seen from the /act that specialists are attached to its embassies .throughout #ie world. I urge the committee to give consideration to the gathering of scientific information on our international relations, and the correlation of the history of other countries in a form that will be readily available to, and assist the Cabinet and the Department of External Affairs in formulating our foreign policy. For that reason, I urge the Minister for External Affairs, working in conjunction with the Australian .National University, to consider as early as possible means to develop the training of officers with a view to achieving a more scientific presentation of information collected through our various embassies, legations and missions overseas.
Proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs agreed .to.
Proposed vote - Miscellaneous Services - Department of External Affairs, £1,347,000 - agreed to.
Miscellaneous Services - International Development and Relief.
Proposed Vote, £5,850,000.
– I seek some information in relation to this item. I realize that it is most difficult for a Minister to answer questions covering a multiplicity of departments, but my interest in this’ matter is prompted by a report I read, in, the Ceylon press. It was. stated- by a high authority in the Parliament that lessthan half of. the Commonwealth contributions to the Colombo plan since 1951 has been used by the Ceylon Government. The statement caused a good deal of interest in Ceylon at the time. It was further stated that a large amount, of the contributions in the form of. machinery, bulldozers and so on, was rusting’ and rotting, in the jungle. I should like the Minister to inform the chamber whether, he is satisfied that the plan is working satisfactorily. I am very doubtful about it. Friends of mine in Colombo have confirmed the statement reported to have been made in the Ceylon Parliament. As so much development is required in our own country we should* scrutinize with the utmost care any large amount of expenditure proposed in respectof this Colombo plan.
.- Irefer to the item, “ Relief for Hungarian refugees, £25,000 “. Will the Minister inform the committee as to why the sum of £25,000 is estimated for this year, in view of the fact that £130,000 was expended for this purpose last year? Will’ he also inform the committee as to the extent to which we have absorbed the projected number of Hungarian refugees who were forced to quit their country about twelve months ago?
– I refer to the item, “ Colombo plan - Economic development, £3,945,000 “. This is a very important matter so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and 1 should like the Minister to inform the committee of the programme of expenditure. How do we furnish this assistance? Is it not true- that we supply goods to the value of £3-,945,000 in the form of tractors, earth-moving equipment and so on? In respect! of the item, “ Colombo Plan - Technical assistance, £1,300,000”, would it not be correct to say that is the1 expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth in training personnel from Asiatic countries in public administration and at Australian universities? I turn now to the item, “ United Nations technical assistance and United Nations International Children’s Fund - Contributions, £475,000”. I appreciate the difficulty which would arise in respect of currencies of the different countries if cash- payments- were made. Will the Minister inform the committee how the contributions, are made - in goods’ or in currency?
I -refer, to the item, “ United Nations Relief and- Works- Agency for. Palestine Refugeesin the Near East - Contribution, £50,000 “. Will the Minister inform the committee of the number of refugees at present in the Near East? I understand from information I have received that the Palestine refugees have been there since the end of World War II. and have been living on a pittance,, and it appears that in ‘the present circumstances they will continue as refugees for as indefinite period-. Then there is the item, “ United Nations Refugees’ Emergency Fund - Contribution, £50,000”. I should be pleased if the Minister would supply some information on that expenditure.
– Answering the last question first, the estimate of £50,000 has. remained the same for the last four years. That contribution will again be made in convertible currency, and it is likely to be used for the supply of milk powder, flour, etc. The item, “ United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, £50,000 “, is made up of contributions and gifts, shelters and services for the 900,000- odd Palestine-Arab refugees camping around the borders of Israel.
– Could the Minister say how long they have been there in that plight?
– All of them would not have been there all the time; numbers would- be coming- and going. I should imagine the number in the camp is being reduced, but I do not know to what extent. I think the camp is being reduced substantially, and will in the course of time be dispensed with.
– Does the Minister mean that this item No. 4. refers only to refugees on the Israel-Arab border?
– Yes i I take it that that is so, because the item refers to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East. As to the other matter raised by, Senator Wright regarding Hungarian, refugees, the £130,000 spent last year was split up between the International Committee on European Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Red Cross and the Government of Austria. In addition, there was a small amount of expenditure in Australia for Hungarian refugees arriving here. Some of the money has been spent on refugee camps on the Austrian border.
– Can the Minister say how many of the expected number of refugees have arrived in Australia? Is the £25,000 to be spent on some who are still in Europe and have to be brought here?
– I will endeavour -to get that information for the honorable “senator. As to the matter raised by Senator Courtice, until 1955-56 commitments undertaken were well within the limit of appropriations. However, for a variety of reasons a number of commitments made in the earlier years did not fall due until the last financial year and will continue to do so during 1957-58. Provision has therefore been made for increased expenditure under this item and is designed to assist the economic development of neighbouring States in South and South-East Asia. The chief fields in which we propose to provide assistance in 1957-58 include transport, communications and agriculture. With regard to economic development under the Colombo plan, we have supplied goods, over the period, to the extent of £3,950,000, and we have provided technical assistance to the value of £1,300,000. This assistance has consisted of the supply of equipment and the technical training of those who are using the tractors, plant and machinery, with the operation of which they were previously unfamiliar.
– Can the Minister say whether our trade relations with Ceylon have improved because of this plan?
– I cannot say offhand. I will let the honorable senator know.
– Under item No. 2, which provides for technical assistance under the Colombo Plan, it is proposed to provide £1,300,000 in this financial year. Can the Minister tell me whether we are sending technicians to these areas to show the people how to operate the equipment, or merely sending written advice as to its operation?
– During the last three years the importance of the technical assistance features of the Colombo plan have steadily gained favour amongst recipient countries, and the 1957-58 provision is based on the expenditure incurred in the last financial year. Already over 2,000 scholars and fellows from countries in the Colombo plan area have come to Australia, and over 230 Australians have served abroad as technical advisers. The main fields in which training has been given are engineering, public administration, education, nursing and agriculture. Australia’s experts have given help in the fields of health, education, engineering and agriculture. Australia has also provided equipment for schools and technical institutions in the area.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Defence Services - Other Services - Economic Assistance to support defence programme of South-East Asia Treaty Organization member countries.
Proposed Vote, £1,000,000.
– It is interesting to note that the expenditure last year on this item amounted to £25,852, whereas the vote was £250,000. This year it is expected that expenditure will be £1,000,000. I should like to know what this extra money is to be spent on. Having in mind the item that we have just disposed of, it is interesting to note that Australia is taking such a great interest in economic assistance to Seato member countries to support their defence programmes.
– I am advised that at the second Seato council meeting at Karachi in March, 1956, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) announced that he would recommend to the Australian Government that funds of the order of £2,000,000 should be allocated for assistance to support the defence efforts of the Asian members of Seato through the provision of equipment and services, other than weapons and munitions, for use by the defence services of those countries. It was envisaged that such items as military transport equipment, textiles for military use, food and training facilities would be provided under this programme. In view of its purpose, to increase the collective defensive strength of Seato, these funds are included in the defence budget. Expenditure from this fund is under the joint control of the Ministers for Defence and External Affairs. The phrase, “ under the control of the Department of External Affairs “ appearing in the Estimates is a technical term denoting simply that the necessary bookkeeping functions will be performed by the Department of External Affairs.
Owing to the time needed for receiving, processing and meeting requests for assistance which the Asian members of Seato will be submitting under this plan, the carrying out of the programme will extend over two or more financial years. In 1956-57 an amount of £250,000 was provided for bilateral equipment aid, but due to lengthy correspondence regarding sped-‘ fications only £26,000 was approved. Parliamentary approval for the expenditure of the remaining funds under the proposed £2,000,000 programme will be sought as appropriate.
– Will the Minister elaborate on the answer that he has just given to Senator Scott? I much appreciate the information that he has given, but when he speaks of economic assistance he might indicate to us the general nature of the programme that has been laid down for this expenditure. Who will be the recipients, and what kind of expenditure is envisaged?
– I shall have to obtain the details regarding the recipients, but I think that the important point is the emphasis on economic rather than military aid.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed Vote, £960,000.
– I notice that the total of proposed votes for the Department of Defence, which is apparently just an administrative body, is £960,000, and that the expenditure for this department in the previous year was £856,720. Amongst the proposed votes for this department is Division No. 132 which provides for the Joint Intelligence Bureau in the Department of Defence. The expenditure for this bureau has in creased from £186,331 last year to a proposed vote of £212,000 for this year, lt appears to me that intelligence services are established in the Department of Defence, in the Attorney-General’s Department and in the Department of the Army. Separate intelligence services involve a tremendous waste of money, unless some concrete reason can be advanced for their existence. Why could not the intelligence service in the Department of Defence be amalgamated with that in the Attorney-General’s Department? Of course, this may be a hushhush service and, if it is, I do not quarrel with it. However, I should like to know whether this bureau acts for all the defence services or whether it overlaps work done by other intelligence services. I realize that the activities of intelligence services are not confined to one country but extend to other countries. We have all heard of M.I. 5, which is an intelligence service in Great Britain. Its activities extend beyond that country. I ask the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) to enlighten me on this subject, not in detail but in general terms.
The proposed expenditure on defence services under the control of the Department of Works includes an amount of £38,000 for buildings, works, fittings and furniture. However, so far as I can see, no provision is made for the search for oil. The defence of Australia depends upon transport, which uses oil and petrol, and at the moment we are dependent upon imports for our supplies of those commodities. If the lines of communication were cut, defence would be impossible. In addition, no provision is made for the storage of oil. The Department of Defence should realize the necessity for this and make provision for it. The geophysical surveys made in the search for uranium and oil have not found one piece of uranium or one drop of oil; all discoveries have been the result of the physical work of the men in the field. A survey may suggest that something may be found in a certain area, but it is the prospector who really does the job.
The search for oil should be encouraged so that Australia will eventually become independent of other countries for the supplies of oil needed for our defence. Some machines of war are propelled by means other than oil, but the propellants are based either on oil or other minerals. For instance, ballistic missiles, some of them with atomic war heads, have been developed, but they are propelled either by minerals or by some derivative of oil. I suggest that provision be made to further the search for oil and uranium and to establish stockpiles so that the defence services will not be short of supplies if an aggressor should come to this country.
– I refer to the proposed vote of £38,000 for buildings, works, fittings and furniture. I should like to know whether that amount covers all expenditure on these items for all the defence services.
– The main expenditure would be included in the appropriation bill for capital works, I should think.
– One does not know where anything is with these proposed votes. I thought I would have to speak when the proposed -vote for the Department of the Interior was before the committee, because I want the Commonwealth to vacate a certain area. I made certain agreements with the Government, but it has not played the game. At the appropriate time, I shall produce letters and other documents. I do not want to miss the opportunity to speak on the matter I have in mind, and that is why I ask the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) to explain this proposed expenditure.
I wish to refer also to plant and equipment. Last year an amount of £25,864 was spent on this purpose, but it has now increased to £37,000. Possibly, £37,000 is a small amount, but it represents an increase of 50 per cent. It is all right for the officers who prepare these schedules; they know the details. But they should let us “know what the schedules mean. I hope that the Minister, when he rises, will be able to explain Division No. 135 - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture.
I refer now to Division No. 133 - Defence Signals “Branch. I should like to know something about this proposed vote, because at Albert Park in Melbourne there is a nuisance ‘that I am trying ‘to have -removed. The personnel of the unit concerned are all members of the armed forces. There is also a building in Queen’s.road, which is a delightful -spot in Melbourne. There is no objection really to their feeing there. I know that the personnel .who work in the building in Queen’s- road are connected with the people who are in Albert Park to whom I have already referred, and whom I want to have removed. I have received an undertaking in writing to the effect that they will get out. However, I do not wish to submit my case now; I shall make it later. I should like to know something about Division No. 133.
– I think that Senator O’Flaherty does not quite appreciate the significance of Division No. 132 - Joint Intelligence Bureau. Its main purpose is the co-ordination of the intelligence activities of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. It has nothing whatever to do with investigation or security; it is entirely a defence set-up. It is the nerve centre of the various defence intelligence services. Each of the services has its intelligence service, but this is the co-ordinating centre.
The overall proposed vote of £190,000,000 for defence covers specific expenditure for the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. The relatively small item of £37,000 in Division No. 134 to which the honorable senator referred relates to the Department of Defence itself as distinct from the requirements of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.
asked the reason for the increase in the provision for Division No. 135 - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture. The greater part of the increase relates to the Defence Signals Branch.
The search for oil comes under .the jurisdiction of the Department of National Development. I understand that the contracts for the supply of commercial oil are let by the Department of Supply.
– We dodge all over the place.
– It is a very orderly arrangement to have the Department of Supply as the contractor for the purchase of oil. In my -opinion, in no context could the .search for oil come properly under the control of the Department of Defence; it is more fitting that it should come under the control of the Department of National Development.
– I refer to the schedule of salaries and allowances, in particular the details relating to the Defence Signals Branch. 1 am not quite clear about the item, “ Typists, Assistants, Teletype and Cipher Operators, Technicians - £109,480”. At the foot of the division there appears the line, “ Less amount estimated to remain unexpended -£59,250 “.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - To which item is the honorable senator referring.
– I am referring to Division No. 133 - Defence Signals Branch. I did not quite understand what the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) said was the main item of expenditure in the sum of £336,000 that is shown in the proposed vote. I should like to know what is the Chief item of expenditure and why, as is indicated in the schedule of salaries and allowances, £59,250 is to remain unexpended.
– I wish to refer to civil defence. I do not know whether this section of proposed votes has been considered.
– That section has been dealt with. We are now dealing with Divisions Nos. 131 to 136.
– Well, I shall have a look at that section, if you do not mind. Are we not discussing the defence vote now?
– We are discussing one branch.
– Am I limited to that branch?
– What is the branch we are considering?
– We are considering the proposed expenditure of £960,000 for Divisions Nos. 131 to 136.
– I had intended to deal with the provision for civil defence.
– The honorable cannot do so under the heading we are now considering.
– I am barred?
– Very well! I shall resume .my seat.
– I refer to Division No. 143k - South-East Asia Treaty Organization Military Planning Office - Contribution Towards Cost. I note that, under different headings throughout the Estimates, there are several’ items that relate to the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization. In the division to which I have just referred, there is no provision for a contribution this year; last year the contribution was £9,000. I note that in another part of the Estimates there is provision for a contribution of £1,000,000 and in yet another part there is provision for a contribution of £47,000. It is difficult to ascertain just how much is being contributed towards this organization.
I ask the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) whether he can tell the Senate what amounts, under the defence heading, are to be contributed to this organization. Are we to make any contribution towards the military requirements of Seato?
– As the honorable senator will appreciate, I do not carry the figures in my head, but the contributions are set out in the bill, and it would be merely a matter of totalling them. If there is a specific item about which he would like to have details, I shall be very happy to explain it to him, if I am able to to do so, and if I cannot do that now, I shall get the information for him.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £1,845,000.
.- 1 refer to Division No. 63 - Legal Service Bureau. Ever since I have been in this Parliament, despite protests by me on three or four occasions, these legal service bureaux have been continued, at a cost to the Treasury of between £60,000 and £80,000 a year. The proposed vote this year is £65,000. I should like the Minister to inform the committee of the cities in which these bureaux exist. I believe that, originally, they were confined to capital cities. As we know, they were established to afford official legal advice to exservicemen and women. Will the Minister :reconsider this matter, because I submit that economy could be effected and far greater efficiency achieved for the benefit of ex-service men and women?
I suggest that, because the bureaux are in capital cities, ex-service people who are remote from those cities virtually are denied any benefit from this service. Secondly, by reason of the restricted nature of the bureaux, the type of service that they can afford to ex-service men and women is, without being unduly uncomplimentary, of a mediocre kind. An ex-serviceman who is really in need of legal advice to guide him in his affairs is referred by the bureau to a practising member of the profession. Therefore, the actual service that is available to people who consult the bureaux is of a very limited and lowly kind.
I do not advocate the discontinuance of these bureaux without being able to offer an alternative suggestion. I offer such an alternative because I believe that its adoption would not only save money for the country but also would improve the efficiency of the service available to exservicemen. I suggest that if the AttorneyGeneral would make contact with the Law Council of Australia, as the federal spokesman for the legal profession of Australia, consisting of both barristers and solicitors, he would readily be able to make arrangements whereby the services of that profession were offered to ex-service men and women on any concessional basis that would meet their economic circumstances. T have sufficient faith in the legal profession to feel sure that if an ex-serviceman carried with him a recommendation or request from the local branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, any member of the bar, or any solicitor, would make his services available in the category in which he was accustomed to practise. From the highest to the lowest in the profession, in every town and in every city of Australia, that service would be made available on a basis that would suit entirely the needs of ex-service men and women.
If that is not practicable, contrary to my expectation, then I remind the Minister that in several States legislation has been passed to make available to members of the general public, according to their needs, legal services that are subsidized from State treasuries. Such a service is available in my own State, and nobody, whether he is an ex-serviceman or not, can to-day complain of being denied legal advice by any member of the profession nominated by the Law Society, because of the lack of means of the client. I make this request, not in the sense of moving a request before the committee, but in the hope that the AttorneyGeneral will give earnest consideration to the discontinuance of these bureaux within the next twelve months, not only in the interests of economy, but also to provide a vastly more efficient service for ex-service men and women.
– I commend to the committee the remarks of Senator Wright, and I invite the attention of the Attorney-General to the scheme that the Law Society of South Australia has evolved over the years with regard to legal advice for the needy people of the State. That scheme leans particularly towards the requirements of ex-servicemen. I agree with Senator Wright that the professional skill and services of all sections of the legal profession in South Australia, in all parts of the State, are made available. As Senator Wright has indicated, bureaux situated in the capital cities are not readily available to ex-servicemen scattered over a vast State such as South Australia.
I wish particularly to invite the attention of the committee to Division No. 54. - Administrative. I ask the Attorney-General whether, in the central head-quarters of his department, legal research is being undertaken. As we know, research is being undertaken in industry, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and also in connexion with the International Geophysical Year, but I wonder whether research is being conducted in the important matters of law and jurisprudence. A matter in which I am interested, and which may soon concern this Parliament, is the question of appeals to the highest court of Australia, that is, the Privy Council. It should be remembered that the highest court mentioned in our Constitution - the ultimate court of appeal - for any individual or State of Australia is the Privy Council.
This matter of research into the structure and the rules and procedures of the Privy Council concerns us in this place. Of course, it is a matter that needs to be handled with great delicacy, because it must not be forgotten that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council tenders advice directly to Her Majesty. That is not something about which this Parliament could make rules, but after adequate research by the Attorney-General and his departmental officers, proposals could be suggested to Westminster for negotiation. It is important because the judicial committee of the Privy Council, and the procedure of appeal generally, are under direct attack from the Australian Labour party. That party’s policy includes the abolition of the appeal to the Privy Council, but, as happened in the bank case, a Labour government is not averse to appeal when that is convenient. The question of appeals is also under consideration by some leading Australian jurists. I have before me a statement from the Melbourne “ Herald “ by Professor Zelman Cowen, of the University of Melbourne. This gentleman, in a most constructive and learned article, reaches the conclusion that the appeal should cease to exist. My own attitude is that it should be retained even if, over the years, Canada, South Africa, India and Pakistan have cut the painter. We should also consider improving the mode of appeal, and possibly the composition of the Privy Council itself.
In recent weeks the whole Commonwealth structure has been in an interesting state of change. Less than three years ago Her Majesty announced in this very Senate chamber that she was the Queen of Australia and we were members of her Parlia ment. The other day she announced that she was Queen of Canada.
The review of Privy Council procedure would no doubt be carried out with great
Care and attention if it were entrusted to a research officer of the Attorney-General’s Department. . The well-known Poulton case first came before the Privy Council about three years ago but, doubtless because of ineffective procedures, has not yet been decided. I understand that it takes some time to place an appeal before the Privy Council because one must first obtain leave.
With great respect to the learned gentlemen who compose the council, I believe that its members should include, not merely jurists trained at the English bar, but Commonwealth jurists also. Almost every member of the present Privy Council was trained in England. We are growing up as a Commonwealth and the Privy Council of the future could well comprise Commonwealth jurists. I understand that Sir John Latham, the former Chief Justice, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the present Chief Justice of New Zealand all possess the status and ability to sit on the judicial committee of the Privy Council. The inclusion of other persons, from various Commonwealth countries, who have held judicial office would result in a Privy Council with a far wider outlook. It would be desirable - and quite easy - for the Privy Council, like a circuit court, to proceed to the various Commonwealth countries as required. It would not then be just an English court to which litigants from Commonwealth countries were obliged to go.
I believe that this offers a field for legal research at the top level. It could be carried out with profit to the community, to the nation and to the British Commonwealth. We are accustomed to research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and also other research in the agricultural, industrial and atomic fields. The time has come for legal research also.
– I wish to make brief reference to a subject raised by Senator Wright, and mentioned by Senator Laught also. I refer to the Legal Service Bureau. I invite the attention of the Attorney-General to the reasons for the establishment of that service. He will no doubt remember that at the conclusion of hostilities in the recent war large numbers of ex-servicemen sought advice and assistance, including legal advice, in their efforts to re-establish themselves. A great task confronted the bureau. Thousands of ex-servicemen required help in the solution of personal problems, and they got it. However, I suggest that any legal service now being accorded the exserviceman cannot relate to his reestablishment. That surely was achieved years ago.
This aspect must be considered because, as the nature of the service changes its provision must be expected to expand. I have had some experience of the growth of the service. Not long ago I heard of one man whom the bureau had assisted in regard to three matrimonial cases. It was surely never intended that free advice, and indeed free’ professional service; should1 be given in- such cases. I have referered similar instances to- the Attorney-General. In some cases legal proceedings have actually been instituted and- I suggest that, unless those services related in some way to reestablishment, the Legal Service Bureau was exceeding its function.
I would like the Attorney-General to say in how many cases in the last financial year has advice been given and in how many cases has additional legal service been given, on behalf of the ex-serviceman or his relatives.. Will he also indicate to what extent those services relate to re-establishment problems? L believe that the time has arrived when we should take another look at the function of the bureau.
I agree entirely with Senator Wright that legal, advice for ex-servicemen can quite adequately be provided by legal practitioners who are only too willing to render service to their ex-comrades. I invite the attention of the Attorney-General to the splendid service that is given by the legal practitioners of every State to legacy beneficiaries. As the Attorney-General knows, there are many thousands of legacy beneficiaries in every State and legal services for them are given not only voluntarily but very willingly as one of the tasks that should be accepted by men in our profession. I ask the Attorney-General to look at the policy in regard to this bureau because I feel that here we have a possibility of the’ growth of a legal bureaucratic service which may, in- time, far exceed the original intention of the legislature by doing work which, in the ease of the needy, the profession can do more swiftly and effectively and which, in the case of those whose need is not so great, the profession can do in accordance with professional practice. 1 notice another matter that I would like to comment upon. I have been in touch with the Attorney-General about it. It concerns the operation of the Service and Execution of Process Act. He will recall that I submitted a matter to him concerning the issue of processes in coroners’ courts. It appears that a process issued from a coroner’s court is not deemed to be “ service “ under the Service and Execution of Process Act. For example, the attendance of a witness in such a proceeding cannot be enforced in a State because State coroners have no jurisdiction outside their own States. I understood from the AttorneyGeneral that- he was contemplating a consequential amendment to the Service andExecution of Process Act. If that is so, would- he be so kind as to inform the Senate whether that amendment will be introduced in this session?’
,- It is obvious that the previous speaker objects to- the Legal Service Bureau because, first of all, it smacks of socialism.
– What does it do?
– It smacks - or tastes - of socialism.
– Perhaps the honorable senator means that it smells.
– The Minister for National- Development (Senator Spooner) may use that word if he wishes but he is probably thinking of the St. Mary’s project, No. 509, and the concerns with which he is associated.
Another ground on which Senator Vincent objected to the Legal Service Bureau was that, if it functioned at all, it must take some of the fees away from the legal fraternity. In looking at the administrative orders of this Government I find that the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) is charged with the responsibility of administering no less than 33 acts. I notice that there is not one act which will prevent people from becoming bankrupt. Despite all the investigations that legal people have made, they have never devised an act which will prevent traders and citizens generally from becoming bankrupt.
If we examine the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department we find that the provision for the Bankruptcy Administration is £9,000 more than actual, expenditure last year. That is because it is anticipated that there will be more bankruptcies in the Commonwealth this year. Some one may doubt that statement. It may be thought that because of the condition of the economy at the present time, fewer people will become bankrupt during this financial year. If any honorable senators believe that they might inform me - and the Attorney-General might inform me - why, although only 302 schedules were filed under the Bankruptcy Act in 1949’,. last year the number was 798’.. That is an increase of more than. 100’ per cent, since this Government took office. People are becoming- bankrupt nearly every day.” and! I can: fully, understand why that increased amount has been provided.
Division- 59- relates- to- the conciliation and arbitration- administration. Quite recently, I- asked a question in this chamber relating to the court-controlled ballot that was- conducted in- Queensland’ in respect of the clerks’ union- this year. I asked’ how many ballot-papers had- been sent out by the officer controlling the ballot to- the clerks who were entitled to- record a vote. I also asked how many used- ballot-papers had’ been received from- the clerks. I was informed; in reply, that certain portions of the information that I had sought were not available because they were the business of the union. But I was informed that’ approximately 6,000 clerks recorded a vote. I knew of my own knowledge that the numben of- clerks who> were entitled to vote in that ballot was about 20,000, yet only 6;000 o£ that number recorded, a vote!’
I look at the position in- this- way: Clerks usually constitute a group of workers who reside in- one locality for- a long period. Therefore; none of the- votes posted to the clerks, or very few of them, I presume, went astray. If they had gone- astray they would have been- returned’ to the returning officer who was a court official and’ he would have been able to account for them. Looking at the position broadly, I say that of the 20,000 clerks who were entitled to record a vote- in the court-controlled ballot, at least 18,000 would have received ballotpapers. What was the result? Only 6,000 clerks recorded a vote.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for that statement?
– My authority is the Minister’s reply to my question. Surely Senator Gorton does not wish to doubt the Minister’s reply. The Minister supplied me with that information but there was other information with which he did not supply me. However, I knew that approximately 20,000 clerks were entitled to record a vote. What is the situation? Does the Government intend to champion the courtcontrolled ballot all the time? Surely it has to provide some facility for clerks and other workers who are subjected to a court- controlled ballot to record their votes in-, a simple manner. Ina Sydney; Brisbane, Melbourne,, on wherever a- ballot is- to- be conducted,, a polling booth should be provided in. a central place to- which the members, of the union: could; go and vote..
At the present time, court-conducted ballots are all carried out. by post and we all know what can happen when ballotpapers are posted to union members. In some cases, their wives open them, find’ that they are only printed papers, and burn them immediately. Often there is a certain amount of collusion between unions and. court officials when the court is conducting a ballot. The union is aware of the day on which the ballot-papers are to be posted and, on- the same day, they post their propaganda and sometimes a “ how to vote “ card is an exact replica, of the ballot-paper. When groups- of workers have these two> documents, one from the unions concerned and- the original ballot-paper from the official of the court,, there is- apt to be a certain* amount of confusion-. In conclusion* I ask the Attorney-General: How many courtcontrolled ballots were conducted during the last financial year?
,: - I desire to make a. suggestion with reference to Senator Laught’s request that there be legal research by the department. At the Australian National University there is a chair of law, and I understand that its function is research. I should’ imagine that the matter he mentions would come with the ambit of that, faculty.
.- Senator Laught’s comments on the retention of the right of appeal to the- Privy Council, as well as the composition and static or itinerant nature of the Council, have stimulated me to say a few words. I raised this matter some years ago. If I remember correctly, the terms in which I expressed myself were to the effect that I thought the intellectual remoteness of the Privy Council could be a grave danger, and that law should be handed down in the context in which the decision was to be lived out. I think that was the expression I used at. that time.
A very interesting development is taking place in the United! States of America. There is some concern in American legal circles about the development of the Supreme Court of the United States. I have always felt that the anti-segregation decision handed down by that body, which was of such tremendous national significance to the United States, might also have had tremendous international significance. It is difficult to assess what effect the possible international implications of that decision had on the court in arriving at its decision. In other words, the effect of such a decision on American foreign policy in Asia may have influenced the court, consciously or unconsciously, in handing down its decision that there should be no colour segregation within the United States itself.
If so, it is a matter of opinion, lawyers against laymen, whether a consideration like that should affect or disturb the cold objective aproach which, in the tradition of British justice, is always made to a determination of legal principles. However that may be, there is now some concern in the American legal profession and it has been said that the decisions of the United States Supreme Court are becoming less and less founded on the traditional principles of law and are becoming to a greater extent sociological treatises, more subjective in character, and lacking the objectivity which should characterize what is essentially a court of appeal handing down decisions of pure law. There are two points of view. To what extent should the decisions of a court of appeal be subjective? To what extent should they be purely objective, no matter how intellectually remote the court may be from the living scene in which its decisions are to be lived out?
Senator Laught’s suggestion, therefore, appears to be a good compromise. His suggestion is for a Privy Council which calls into consultation distinguished members of the council from all parts of the Commonwealth, a council itinerant in character, so that matters would be litigated and decisions handed down by a body constituted of distinguished members coming approximately from the zone in which the decision was to be lived out and, therefore, conscious of the problems of that zone. They would be, perhaps, more alert to those problems and would, therefore, hand down a judgment which had more vitality. That might be the solution for which we are all looking.
I think this is a very important matter. I remember that some years ago there was out here a distinguished member of the Privy Council who, I think, sat on one of our important constitutional cases. He came, if I remember rightly, from the Scottish bar, and no doubt had had a distinguished career there. Unfortunately, he was circumscribed in his outlook and appeared, as it were, to be saturated with the Scottish system of jurisprudence, which is, in a slight degree of tradition and history, different from the English system of jurisprudence. His task in giving a judgment involving the future of a great and young nation like ours would be difficult. He had never been here and he did not know our problems, but, coldly and objectively, he would hand down a judgment which would have a tremendous effect on the life of this young nation. Those are considerations which, over the years, have been pursuing one another in my mind.
I am glad that honorable senators are conscious of this problem. The suggestion which has come from Senator Laught, supported by Senator McCallum, is that it should receive the attention of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department through a legal research bureau. From that consideration there might stem one or two suggestions. As Senator Laught has said, an itinerant Privy Council, composed of distinguished Commonwealth jurists, with some abbreviation of the ponderous processes now necessary before an appeal can be made, would be a great advantage. For the information of honorable senators, let me say that the Privy Council preserves in a clear and unsullied way the stream of the English common law. It is not a court which hands down dissenting or minority judgments. It is a council which advises Her Majesty, and although various opinions might be held within the council, the final decision of the council emanates in one firm decision, which is the recommendation that the council hands to Her Majesty. Necessarily, there can be no dissentients. Therefore, when judgments come down from the Privy Council, in a peculiar way they do clearly and without qualification protect the unsullied stream of the English common law. But common law has always been, by its nature, a living, vital and growing thing. A decision would become unreal if, while purporting to be vital and living and to affect this part of the world, it were handed down by men who were out of the living and vital context of the part of the world in which the decision had to operate.
I make these observations in view of the very interesting and worthwhile contributions of Senator Laught and Senator McCallum. I trust that the suggestions they have placed before the Attorney-General will receive the consideration they warrant.
.- 1 rise to express a most welcome reception of Senator Laught’s remark concerning the Privy Council. I think that no more opportune remarks have been made to-day. We have just appointed an Australian to the International Court at The Hague, a court which is constituted for the purpose of administering the general international law. In the British Commonwealth, we have a community of nations for whom the Privy Council is the highest court of appeal, although for quite a number of those nations - Canada, India, Pakistan and, I think, South Africa - that tie has been cut.
If the Privy Council were reconstituted on a basis completely representative of all the units of the Commonwealth, who could say that it would not be an influence to unite the countries of the Commonwealth into one common bond? There is no tradition which satisfies people subject to British law so much as the traditional sense of British justice. Therefore, I think that the constitution of a representative court is a matter worthy of consideration.
The other matter Senator Laught mentioned was law reform. It, too, deserves further consideration and I wish to supplement his remarks. I wish that Senator McCallum were here, because I say quite firmly that his contribution reveals an altogether inadequate approach to this subject. It is not a subject that can be developed simply through the law school of the Australian National University. I bring to the notice of the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) a discussion that took place on this subject of law reform, involving legal research, at the convention of the Australian Law Council last July or August. I will content myself by reading to the Senate, in order to have them incorporated in “ Hansard “ for all in this chamber and those outside to read - there are some, still, who read our record - the words of the
Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Owen Dixon, on this subject in one particular. He spoke, of course, with profound interest, instruction and erudition, but I will take the time of the committee to cite only the operative paragraph. I put it forward in the hope that it will engage the attention of the Attorney-General’s Department.
Before reading it I wish to say that all the State units of the legal profession have, I believe, in the last few years, been giving active attention to this subject of law reform. When law becomes outmoded, the court interpretative process is not equal always to the task of bringing it up to date, and sometimes the interpretation necessarily imposed is contrary to what is considered as the just requirements of the nation at the particular time. It is in that respect that the Parliament comes in by way of law reform. But, of course, let me be the first to explain my complete inadequacy to undertake the task without special professional advice. That being so, we -need some very special agency to advise on the subject of law reform. The Chief Justice said -
The only suggestion which really I have to make is one which sounds rather as if it comes from a Federal judge. It is this. Is it not possible to place law reform on an Australia-wide basis? Might not there be a Federal Committee for Law Reform? In spite of the absence of constitutional power to enact the reforms as law, it is open to the federal legislature to authorize the formation of a body for inquiry into law reform. Such a body might prepare and promulgate draft reforms which would merely await adoption. In all or nearly all matters of private law there is no geographical reason why the law should be different in any part of Australia. Local conditions have nothing to do with it. Is it not unworthy of Australia as a nation to have varying laws affecting the relations between man and man? Is it beyond us to make some attempt to obtain a uniform system of private law in Australia? The Law Council can, of course, do much. But it is a voluntary association and, without a governmental status and the resources which that will give, a reforming body will accomplish no great reforms.
To instance what that means, let me say this: In private law, if you are defamed by a newspaper in Australia, you will find that your remedy, by way of damages, depends upon different rules in practically every State. So, for what becomes an identical defamation, you have different remedies by different rules of law. Secondly, we have in the federal sphere a rule as to adopted children. From a fiscal point of view they are being regarded as proper deductible items, in the present Budget; but from the point of view of federal laws for children, we have a barrier preventing adopted children from being regarded as what they are in the States - actual children. Again, in running-down cases, there are different rules for the assessment of damages, different rules for apportionment of liability, different crimes. I do not suggest that we should encode this whole law, but unless we keep the process of law reform adequately supplied and eruditely led we will not keep the law in sufficient relation to the needs of the people, which is the object of law reform. I commend to the earnest attention of the Attorney-General’s Department Senator Laught’s reference to the need for legal research, and, I add, also the practical purpose of law reform.
– I have listened attentively to the remarks of various senators in respect of the Privy Council. The three honorable senators who have had something to say about it are or have been connected in some way with the legal profession. Summed up, their collective opinion is that we should depart in some way from the acceptance of the Privy Council and put some other structure in its place. I think that was the opinion they expressed. Senator Laught indicated his dissatisfaction with the Privy Council itself. He said that in his opinion it was somewhat remote; and Senator Wright agreed with him.
– Now, do not put a “ Toohey “ twist to it.
– I am not trying to do that. All I want to do is to put the position in its true perspective, because I want to relate my remarks to Senator Wright’s opinions.
– Well, understand them first.
– I have understood quite clearly, and I think the Senate does also, that the honorable senator feels that there ought to be some alteration.
– There should be some improvement.
– “ Improvement “ means “ alteration “; if you do not alter a thing you do not improve it.
– But because it needs improvement, you do not destroy it.
– Do hot let us play on words. The situation is that Senator Wright feels that there should be some alteration, and Senator Laught feels the same way. They do not feel disposed to admit this at this stage, although their minds tell them that the Privy Council is a body to which we should not be subscribing in this country. They know that is at the back of their minds all the time or they would not be suggesting alterations of the existing system. I will be quite definite about the matter, although I advance my opinion with a certain amount of deference. The three preceding speakers have trained legal minds whereas I can speak only as a layman. But, speaking as such, I believe that the Privy Council is a relic of the Dark Ages so far as this country is concerned. As Senator Laught said, it is a remote body with final powers of decision in matters of a legal character affecting Australia. The very fact that Canada has ceased to have access to this body is an indication that Canada has assumed a more adult national mind than has this country. I think that is a clear indication of the position. Let us consider the practical side of the Privy Council. It is the court of final appeal. It has the authority to upset legal decisions made in this country. It is situated 14,000 miles from Australia, and I challenge the members of the legal profession on the Government side to prove to me that the Privy Council is accessible to the .ordinary citizen of this country.
– What about “ Hocking v. Bell “ ? One of the poorest widows in Sydney went there twice.
– I challenge honorable senators opposite to prove to me that the Privy Council is accessible to the ordinary citizen of this country, that the ordinary citizen can afford the processes and, what as more important still, that the ordinary citizen can afford the time to go before it. The question of affording the time is, in my view, the most potent ingredient in the argument that we -should not any longer associate our legal processes with some remote body because, while we do, time becomes a diminishing factor when it comes to doing justice to the applicant.
I should say that if in this country there is not enough access to the processes of law, or of appeal, we should establish another tribunal over and above the High Court. If honorable senators on the Government side, especially those of a ‘legal turn of mind, consider that the High Court does not fully meet the requirements of appeal and decision, let us establish an even higher tribunal of Australian character which will be readily accessible to the Australian people - -not remote and associated with some of the old clinging traditions which sometimes do not do a great deal of credit to the British system.
– I do not wish to detain the committee long, but I want to ask the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) a question relating to the item “ Publication of Commonwealth Statutes and Statutory Rules, ?50,700 “. Last year we were good enough to vote ?25,000 for this purpose and of this sum nearly ?16,000 was expended. Quite frankly, it horrifies me to see that we are row being asked to vote ?50,700. As one who likes the Government to .do away with as many rules and statutes as possible, I do .’hope that the vast increase of the provision for this item .does .not foreshadow an even .greater bloc of Commonwealth Statutes and rules.
Senator McCallum (New South Wales) [5.48]. - Briefly, I wish to offer an opinion on the Privy Council. Quite naturally, it is not the opinion of a lawyer, but it is the opinion of one who has studied the history of the Privy -Council. I think what was in Senator Laught’s -mind was that the Privy Council could become, not a remote or English institution, but an institution for the whole Commonwealth. The men who make the decisions are, in fact, distinguished judges. In the past, a most distinguished judge from Australia has sat on the Privy Council. 1 refer to the late Sir Isaac Isaacs. As Senator Laught suggested, it is quite possible that the court could go, as it were, on circuit. I think we should not adopt the narrow, purely nationalist attitude. The fact that Canada has done it and that South Africa has done it is no reason why we should do it.
We have, in the monarchy, and in the Privy Council, two remaining links with what we were once proud to call, and what
I am still proud to call the Mother Country. I hope that this link with the Privy Council will never be broken.
– I shall deal first with Senator Marriott’s question relating’ to the financial .provision for the publication of Commonwealth statutes and statutory rules. The reason for the increased amount this year is that it is proposed to expend that money on the consolidation and reprinting of those ‘Statutes and rules. The last time there was a consolidation and reprinting of .the statutory rules was in 1927, and the last consolidation of the statutes was in 1937. This is not an annually recurring expenditure. It probably will not be necessary to make provision for this purpose for another ten or fifteen years.
As to .the remarks of Senators Laught, Vincent and Wright in connexion with the Legal Service Bureau, I am happy to say that the circumstances which prompted its initiation years ago are gradually wearing out. I assure the Senate that this is a declining rather than expanding service. The time will come when it will become defunctus officio. But it still does a good deal of work. I do not dispute that the legal profession itself, had it been approached at the time, would gladly have made available from its own ranks panels to do just as effective, if not more effective work than that which has been done by this bureau over the years since its establishment. The fact remains, however, that this was not done, and when we came into office we found an established Legal Service Bureau.
I am not belittling the great and splendid work of the .devoted men who have constituted this Legal Service Bureau. It has done ‘splendid work for those servicemen and dependants of ‘servicemen who were in necessitous circumstances. The Legal Service Bureau has a branch in every capital city, with the exception of Hobart. There is one service it gives which professional practitioners are not able to make available to servicemen or their dependants. As honorable senators know, servicemen and their dependants have the right of appeal, through laymen, to the repatriation tribunals, and the services of the bureau are frequently availed of in that direction.
asked what the score was - what work the bureau had done. During the past year, the number of interviews on legal matters was 34,467. There were 7,583 interviews in connexion with war pensions and 6,378 interviews relating to fair rent matters.
asked what number of court-controlled ballots were held this year. 1 am able to tell him that for the year 1956-57 nine applications for elections, to be controlled under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, were approved.
The suggestion made by Senator Laught and supported by Senator Wright that we have an ambulatory or visiting Privy Council, which would come here from time to time has, I understand, received a great deal of consideration. No matter how desirable it may appear at first blush, there are many difficulties in the way of its visiting Australia, as the honorable senator will appreciate. I do not say that it is completely beyond the possibility of realization, but I repeat that there are great difficulties in the way.
As to the possibility of law review, the Commonwealth, in view of its limited legislative powers, would be under certain handicaps in initiating and conducting a committee of law revision, but I am quite sure that it would give every assistance to a federal body comprised of the component States in the conduct of an inquiry into such a matter. I repeat that the Commonwealth itself is very limited, as the honorable senator knows, as to the matters in respect of which it may lawfully legislate. As to the legal research mentioned by Senator McCallum, I think there is some misunderstanding between Senator Wright and Senator McCallum on that subject; but there are more facilities available, not only for the members of the staff of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department but for any one who is interested in pursuing a post-graduate research course of law, and I am happy to say that some of the lecturers in the law schools are very distinguished officers of the department.
– Before the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) goes off shift, I should like to say that I welcome the few minutes available to me as an opportunity for directing his attention to the conciliation and arbitration administration. I know that we have not the time now to deal with this very important section of the proposed votes, but 1 take this opportunity to speak on it even if only to record the fact that last week we had before us the first annual report of the president of the newly established Commonwealth Conciliation and Industrial Commission, and also to record my thoughts on how very good and very full a report it was. I raise the matter at this point, first, to give the Attorney-General an opportunity to make any comments he wishes to make, though I do not expect any comments that he may make at this stage to be very full. I also wish to put two points before him for his consideration. One refers to the amendments which were implicitly, if not explicitly, suggested by the Chief Justice in this very good and very full report. I ask the Attorney-General whether the Attorney-General’s Department has considered, as yet, bringing the suggested amendments before this chamber, particularly the very important one dealing with leave to appeal, a question which is obviously causing some embarrassment to advocates and with which the Chief Justice deals very fully in his report. Secondly, I am wondering whether the Attorney-General is in a position to comment on the rather dual role that the commission now fills, because the senior arbitral section has become, as a result of the fixation of the basic wage, rather a weapon of economic policy - probably even more so than was the case when the court was acting in its original jurisdiction over wages, the fixation of hours and the maintenance of industrial peace. I should like to say more on that matter, but I have not the time to do so at this stage. So I shall content myself in giving the Attorney-General the opportunity, first to comment on the fact that this report was brought before this Parliament and secondly to express any thoughts he may have on the amendments implicitly suggested in the report. Another point is that we always wonder whether the commission is as fully equipped to handle the economic side of its activities as we should like it to be.
– I have personally read, and I am sure that the officials of the Attorney-General’s Department also have read, the very excellent report of the Chief Justice of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, but I am not in a position at this moment to deal with it.
asked what were the prospects of bringing in amendments to the Service and Execution of Process Act. Last July, if I recollect correctly, I said that we would be bringing the necessary legislation in, but that it was not usual to introduce such a measure during the Budget session, and that it would be attended to thereafter as soon as possible.
I refer, Mr. Chairman, to Division No. 59 - Conciliation and Arbitration Administration, and Item 4 of General Expenses - “Reports of cases - £4,000”. I want to know what policy guides the provision of £4,000 for the publication of reports of conciliation and arbitration cases as distinct from the reports of decisions given in other federal courts for which, I believe, no provision by way of appropriation is made. If reports of the decisions of other federal courts are published, their publication depends, so far as I understand, upon the initiative of the publishing firms and on the support of the legal profession.
– The amount of £4,000 shown against item 4 under “ General Expenses “ in Division No. 59 is approximately the cost of publishing three volumes of the arbitration reports per year, and it appears certain that three volumes will be published during 1957-58. Also covered in that item is the distribution of copies of the Government “ Gazette “ containing the awards.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed vote has expired.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Miscellaneous Services - Attorney-General’s Department, £31,000, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £5,474,000, Miscellaneous Services - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £120,000- agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed Vote, £9,862,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed Vote, £1,168,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed Vote, £2,388,000.
Reconditioning of Marine Salvage Vessels.
Proposed Vote, £2,000.
Construction of Jetty for Handling of Explosives.
Proposed Vote, £500,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– It gives me some satisfaction to speak on the proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation, as Tasmania, being an island State, is dependent even more on air transport than on sea transport. In May of this year I took up with the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) the possibility of having the Wynyard aerodrome made a night-landing aerodrome by the installation of night-landing facilities. Senator Paltridge replied on 10th June to my letter, and the last paragraph of his letter read as follows: -
The question of providing night-landing facilities at the Wynyard aerodrome has been discussed at great length for some time. The cost of doing this work is of the order of £25,000, an expenditure which I could not approve, having in mind that there is no real operating evidence that regular night-flying operations would be instituted if the facilities were installed.
Only this week Senator Paltridge stated again that the cost of the installation of night-landing facilities at Wynyard would be £25,000. In my opinion, the expenditure of £25,000 now would be well worth while, particularly as this is a period of rising costs. It would be an economic proposition for the Government to provide £25,000 for this installation.
I have prepared some figures which are relevant to this issue. In 1954-55, 44,094 inward passengers and 43,622 outward passengers, making a total of 87,716, passed through the Hobart terminal, exclusive of those passengers travelling on Ansett aircraft.In the same year, 49.257 inward passengers and 52,377 outward passengers, making a total of 101,634, passed through the Launceston airport. These figures include those passengers carried by the Ansett company. At Devonport aerodrome, commonly known as Pardoe, 9,001 inward passengers and 9,489 outward passengers, making a total of 18,490, were recorded. We must keep in mind the fact that there are night-landing facilities at Devonport. In the same year, 1954-55, 12,885 inward passengers and 13,011 outward passengers, making a total of 25,896, passed through the Wynyard aerodrome.
In the following year, 1955-56, 60,193 inward passengers and 60,207 outward passengers, making a total of 120,400, passed through Hobart airport. The Hobart figures for this year do include those passengers carried by Ansett aircraft. In the same year, 52,027 inward passengers and 54,298 outward passengers, making a total of 106,325, passed through Launceston airport. At Devonport, 10,258 inward, passengers and 10,310 outward passengers, making a total of 20,568, were recorded. At Wynyard, there were 13,255 inwardpassengers and 13,784 outward passengers, making; a total of 27,039.
The following year, 1956-57, at Hobartthere were 63,46”4 inward passengers and 62,229 outward passengers, making a total’ of 125,69-3; at Launceston, 54,973 inward passengers and 57,329 outward passengers, making a total- of 112,302; at Devonport, 9,366 inward passengers and 10,284 outward passengers, making a total of 19,650. In this year the Wynyard figures dropped. I should say that the main reason for that reduction was the opening of the Smithton aerodrome. At Wynyard in 1956-57 there were 12,988 inward passengers and 13,524 outward passengers, making a total of 26,512. In the same year, 585 inward passengers and 878 outward passengers, making a total of 1,463, passed through Smithton aerodrome. It is likely that the passengers who travelled through the Smithton aerodrome would have travelled through Wynyard, had Smithton aerodrome not been in existence. In that event, the Wynyard figures, still would have been higher than the Devonport figures.
I do not want to detract from the importance of the Pardoe aerodrome. It is very important. I am endeavouring only to stress the importance of Wynyard aerodrome, which serves a very large area. I shall not cite all of the figures for the carriage of freight, because time will not permit me to do- so; but the volume of freight handled at Wynyard aerodrome compares quite favourably with the volume handled at Pardoe. Wynyard does serve a fairly large population in the municipalities of Circular Head, Penguin, Waratah, Wynyard, and Burnie, which have a total population of 34,430 people. In the neal future a new road will be constructed from Rosebery through to Guildford Junction and give access to the west coast of Tasmania. People living there will then have a shorter distance to travel to Wynyard aerodrome than to Hobart airport. On the west coast, in Gormanston, Queenstown, Strahan and Zeehan, there is a population of 8,060. The total population then served by this aerodrome would be 42,500 people. At the end of June, 1956, the population of Tasmania was estimated to be 330,810. Therefore, Wynyard aerodrome would serve approximately one-eighth of the population of Tasmania. On the northwest coast of Tasmania, as many honorable senators know, is one- of the most fertile areas in the Commonwealth.
– It is more fertile than parts of Western Australia.
– More fertile than the desert!
– I shall challenge Senator Scott to name a part of Western Australia that is more fertile than is the north-west coast of Tasmania.
All kinds of agricultural products are produced on the north-west coast of Tasmania. In addition, there are some important industries there. One of the most important is the Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie, which is only a few miles from Wynyard. It is one of the most modern mills in Australia and is only 12 miles from the Wynyard aerodrome. Many high executive officers of the company visit the mainland and Wynyard is the most convenient aerodrome for them- to use.
Burnie is a large town. It is the centre of the Burnie municipality, which has a population of 14,500. In addition to a plywood mill at Somerset, there are large timber mills in the district and a. hard-board section associated with the. pulp and- paper mill. Another important industry is a paint pigment factory at Blythe, a few miles from
Burnie and about 15 miles from Wynyard. If the Pardoe aerodrome at Devonport were closed by fog, it is possible that the Wynyard aerodrome would remain open and could be used as an alternative landing ground.
During the past two or three years, the vote for the Department of Civil Aviation has exceeded the expenditure. In the past two years, the excess has totalled £223,984. In 1955-56, the vote exceeded expenditure by £104,000. That money should be available, and I suggest that it could be used for the purposes I have suggested and for the general installation of facilities.
There is another matter to which I should like to direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation, although I do not know whether it comes within his province. Two major airlines are operating services to Tasmania and I have noticed that their schedules are almost the same. There are two aeroplanes out of Hobart and Launceston .in the early morning, two in the middle of the morning, two early in the afternoon and in the evening. The schedules from Melbourne to Hobart are similar. The people of Tasmania would be served better if the airlines staggered the nights so that the aircraft would not be leaving about the same time. I suggest that the Government should consider nightlanding facilities for Wynyard.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a brief reference to Division No. 76 - Development of Civil Aviation, and the item “ Ground facilities in Pacific - contribution towards cost, £540,000”. The proposed vote has been increased from £170,500 last year to this amount. Will the Minister for Civil Aviation .(Senator Paltridge) inform the committee what is proposed in this connexion? The wording of the item suggests that it might apply to ground facilities in some of our mandated territories. That would be all to the good. I have been on some of the airstrips in New Guinea and other places in that area. While all concerned with those landing grounds are doing magnificent work, there is an urgent need to make some of them, particularly the feeder strips, more suitable for heavier and bigger aircraft.
The Department of Civil Aviation has done magnificent work in Australia. No other country has a better record in civil aviation. Our position in world aviation is attributable partly to the immense size of this continent and the fact that we are astride the Pacific air route to the United States of America and the air routes to the United Kingdom and South Africa. We have about five major international airports in Australia. That is far more than most countries have. With our population of less than 10,000,000, the upkeep of those airports places a heavy drain on our resources.
I have passed through a number of international airports, including London, Paris and Singapore, and in my opinion, although many of the buildings at our airports are of a semi-temporary nature, the facilities provided compare with those in other parts of the world. The service in Australia is excellent.
– Where are the semitemporary airports in Australia?
– I was talking about the structures on the airports. The airport building at Perth aerodrome is a fibro structure. It is not as majestic or imposing as the buildings at airports in other parts of the world. The buildings at the Mascot aerodrome were used during the war and have been rebuilt. They provide all the essential services that we might reasonably expect. I should like to ask the Minister for a brief explanation of a number of points. First of all, I am interested to learn the position in regard to our feeder services and the question of the continued use of DC3 aircraft. Quite obviously, the DC3 is one of the most magnificent planes of all time, considering the service that it has rendered. But it is also true to say that time marches on, and there must be other planes coming forward to replace this type of aircraft on the smaller feeder services which use relatively small strips. I should like the Minister to indicate what plans are in hand for the replacement of DC3 aircraft, particularly on the feeder services.
I understand .that the Government has made a statement in relation to subsidies for aerodromes in the rural areas. Senator Poke has referred to the airport facilities at Wynyard in Tasmania. I have visited that airport. He painted a magnificent picture of Wynyard and pointed out that improved facilities should be provided there because it serves Burnie and the surrounding districts. I agree with Senator Poke that, in view of its location, the facilities at Wynyard should be improved, but, speaking from memory, I think the strip there can carry only a DCS plane.
– Oh, no!
– I mean, under ideal conditions. It is true that that airport could be improved. However, I am thinking particularly of the airfields in rural areas. For instance, the Coolah airport in New South Wales is a dry-weather aerodrome, which has to be closed when rain occurs. I have known of it to be closed for days at a time, and sometimes for longer than a week. Therefore, I am interested to learn what the Government has in mind in relation to subsidies, because local governing authorities come into the matter. They have a responsibility to discharge, and certain relationships must be maintained between them, the State governments and the Department of Civil Aviation.
The only other question I want to ask the Minister relates to fire-fighting services. He will recall that some months ago I represented him at the inauguration of the fire-fighting service at Mascot airport in Sydney. Everybody present was greatly impressed with the service that has been established there, and I should be interested to hear from the Minister whether it is proposed to establish similar services at other major airports in Australia.
Having asked several questions, I shall conclude on this note: I think we all can be very proud of our Department of Civil Aviation, in view of the service that it provides. It seems to me that the principal problem associated with our major airport at Mascot relates to the length of time it takes for passengers to get to and from the city, particularly when road traffic is heaviest. Indeed, it takes almost as long to travel from the city to Mascot by coach as the flight from Mascot to Canberra. In view of the generally increased tempo of living, we should be thinking in terms of a long-range plan to provide facilities to reduce the time occupied in travelling between our cities and major airports.
When I was in London in 1955 an experiment was being conducted to determine the practicability of providing a helicopter service between Waterloo Bridge and the London airport. Honorable senators who> are familiar with the experiment may correct me if I am wrong. I think that, given a good run, a coach took about 50 minutes to complete the journey, compared with only a few minutes by helicopter. I know that, because of financial limitations, we cannot expect to solve this problem in the immediate future, but we should be making long-range plans to overcome it.
– In recent times, there has been quite a controversy between the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and certain private interests concerning the amalgamation of certain civil airline operators. Some years ago, when a private airline company in Australia was experiencing financial difficulties, this Government went out of its way to bolster it against its chief competitor, a national enterprise. Public money was expended on providing airport facilities, and charges were imposed for the use of them. Towards the end of 1952, all airline operators with the exception of what I call the Government airline, experienced difficulty in paying air route and landing charges that were imposed by the Government. At that time the present Minister was only an ordinary supporter of the Government; one of his predecessors was in charge of the Department of Civil Aviation. It is interesting to consider what the Auditor-General had to say about air route charges. In his report for the year ended 30th June, 1953, at page 40, he stated -
Under the Air Navigation (Charges) Act which came into operation on 16th December, 1952, the scale of air route charges was reduced to onehalf of that previously in force. Most operators are paying current charges. At 30th June, 1953, the indebtedness of airline operators to the Department for these services totalled £467,683, being £72,031 for 1952-53 and £395,652 for previous periods.
The Civil Aviation Agreement Act 1952 permits the acceptance from one operator of onethird of the Commonwealth’s claims for air route charges to 30th June, 1952; other operators, by negotiated settlements, had amounts owing reduced by two-thirds. Those operators who had paid charges had two-thirds of the amounts refunded.
Naturally, the operators who had not paid did not get a refund but they were, in effect, forgiven in respect of their indebtedness. In the following year, the AuditorGeneral again referred to arrears of payments. As I have shown from the extracts from his report for the year ended 30th June, 1953, the Government had forgiven some airline operators one-third, and others two-thirds of their indebtedness in respect of the charges. In 1954, the AuditorGeneral directed attention to the fact that after the forgiveness of the debts and one thing and another, £50,514 was owing at the end of that year, of which £20,955 related to charges owing as at 30th June, 1952. In 1954, air operators still owed a lot of money to the Department of Civil Aviation. Strangely enough, at some time or other we did receive the amounts owing by some airline operators. At the moment 1 am not concerned about who those operators were, but in the last report of the Auditor-General - which we have been trying to study in order to be able to. deal adequately with this bill - we find again a reference to air route charges. Similar references have appeared in every report of the Auditor-General since 1954. Although the wording may have been different, the effect has been the same in every report. The Auditor-General said in his latest report -
Revision of air route charges, authorised by the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952 and the Civil Aviation Agreement Act 1952, is still under departmental consideration.
– On what page is this reference?
– Page 40 of the report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June, 1957. Can the Minister tell me, first, whether there are still arrears of air route charges due to the Department of Civil Aviation by any of the airline companies? Secondly, can he tell me the amounts that are owing by, say, TransAustralia Airlines and by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited up to 30th June of this year? I know that the latter company has been taken over by the Ansett organization. Can the Minister also tell me the amounts owing by any other airline company? I am not particularly anxious to know what the other companies owe, but I do want to know what is owing by the new organization, under the control of the Ansett company, which is now competing with T.A.A. and whether T.A.A. has paid its air route charges.
Since 1952 the Department of Civil Aviation has been considering the question of air route charges. What stage has been reached in that consideration? Do the old charges still apply until a declaration is made by the Minister or the Government? Is it necessary to bring down a bill for the purpose of changing air route charges, as was suggested by the Attorney-General?
I come now to a third point. If the air route charges under the 1952 acts have not been paid to the Government, has any attempt been made on behalf of the Government to collect those charges, other than by simply sending the defaulting companies a note saying, “ Please pay up “?
– I address my remarks to the proposed votes for the Department of Civil Aviation, and to a particular matter that is of some interest to me and, I hope, to all honorable senators. I refer to the secondary role of our civil aircraft; that is to say, the role of civil aircraft in time of war. I think we can all remember vividly - 1 do not need to dwell on it - the magnificent part that was played by our civil airliners and pilots in World War II. Our civil aircrews distinguished themselves and carried on their magnificent work in the very best traditions of our Air Force, although still civilians. In those days, of course, we had what one might now call rather primitive Douglas aircraft, and other aeroplanes not even as modern as the Douglas.
I recall that when the Department of Civil Aviation was first put on a businesslike footing, if I may use that expression, this secondary role of our civil aircraft was considered to be of great importance. I should like to discuss for a moment this secondary role in relation to our presentday airlines. The Australian National AirwaysAnsett organization operates the large DC6B aeroplane, which, I should think, would be readily adaptable for defence purposes. It has a very long range and can ) carry a large number of troops, and in all respects would be a desirable type of aeroplane in time of war.
I do not want to discuss the relative merits of the various aeroplanes insofar as their civil functions are concerned. I have no remarks to make in that regard, but I invite the Minister to let us have his views on the merits of aeroplanes such as the Viscount. I am expressing only my own opinion when I say that the Viscount may not be the very best type of aircraft for defence purposes. Its range is somewhat limited. Much would, depend, of course, upon the field, of operations, but in the event of a war breaking out, say, in the Middle East, to which Australia was obliged to send troops quickly, I would have some doubts as to the efficacy of the Viscount.
From time to time we have heard in this chamber some interesting statements concerning the acquisition of new aeroplanes by various companies. I understand that Trans-Australia Airlines is considering the purchase of new aircraft, and I believe that the Ansett-A.N.A. company is also about to buy new aeroplanes. Qantas Empire Airways Limited has announced the purchase of a very high performance jet aeroplane, and the MacRobertson-Miller company in Western Australia is contemplating the purchase of new aircraft. It appears that, there will be at least four different kinds of civil aeroplanes in operation in this country in the not too distant future. I think some consideration must be given - perhaps it has already been given - to the wisdom of having four different kinds of aeroplanes in this secondary section of our air defence service. I do not know the answer to this problem. I invite the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to give his considered views on it because it is most important.
Unless we are very careful in the way we develop our civil air services, we will have an even greater variety of aircraft. That may be ideal for the prime function of the companies, but it is not desirable in time of war. I should like the Minister to address himself to that aspect when he is replying. After all, the taxpayer is providing most of the money for the purchase 1 of these aircraft, or the Government is guaranteeing the loan. In acquiring new civil aeroplanes, the first consideration should be the role of the aircraft in time of war. I am a little perturbed at the types of aeroplanes, that we are now getting’. Intime of war, these aeroplanes could’ become an embarrassment to the air services, and some further consideration should be given to that aspect.,
I turn from that important subject to one of a domestic nature and refer to the Kalgoorlie airport. A Tasmanian airport has been mentioned and I shall now refer to- one in Western Australia. A year or so ago* it was announced that the department was considering substantial alterations to the Kalgoorlie airport to make it conform, to. the requirements of international aviation. That announcement was hailed with a certain amount of interest by Western Australians. I understand that plans were drawn up at that time. Nothing has since been heard of the project and I would be very grateful if the Minister would inform the Senate of the present situation.
– Last year we spent £4,671,833 on the maintenance and operation of civil aviation facilities. This year, the proposed vote is £5,076,000. I should like the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to give us some idea of the part that civil aviation is playing in the north-west of Western Australia. I congratulate the Minister for having visited, within the last twelve months, not only many aerodromes and airstrips in the eastern States, but also aerodromes and airstrips in the northern and north-western parts of Australia. I am sure that he gained much information which will be of considerable help to him in the future.
The air service is the only rapid transport facility available to stations in the outback areas in the north-west of Western Australia. MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited is providing a service in that area. It is quite a good service, but overseas passengers frequently prefer to travel from Darwin to Adelaide and then across to Perth rather than venture out on a DC3 aircraft across the north-west to Perth. The DC3 aircraft used by MacRobertson Miller are becoming rather antiquated. The distance between Darwin and Perth is about 2,000 miles, probably the longest distance between capital cities in Australia, yet the service between those centres is provided by DC3 aircraft. I suggest that the Minister inquire into this- situation with a view to improving the. facilities.
MacRobertson Miller is doing an excellent job- and. I; do not criticize that company. The subsidy givers to the service amounts to quite a considerable sum. There are many aerodromes maintained by the Department of Civil Aviation in the north-west and northern part of Australia and they are used by MacRobertson Miller. TransAustralia Airlines and the Ansett interests are inquiring into the types of aircraft available for purchase and we hear rumours that fast turbo-jet aeroplanes will be used on the east coast and on the east-west service within the next twelve months or two years. Such aircraft would carry passengers over those routes at a speed of about 450 miles an hour. The DC3 aircraft are antiquated and are not suitable for the flight from Darwin to Perth. The Minister should confer with MacRobertson Miller with a view to putting faster and better aircraft on that route. If that company does not want to use better planes, then other companies should be allowed to provide the service.
I congratulate the Department of Civil Aviation on the work that it has done in the areas I have mentioned. I travel through those areas quite frequently by plane and stay at the various airports. I have observed that the department does all the construction and most of the maintenance work on the aerodromes. It has its own engineer, plant and equipment in the north. The people in that area, particularly the station owners who have their own aerodromes and have to maintain them at a certain standard, receive the utmost co-operation from the Department of Civil Aviation. The department is very highly thought of in the north. I should like to see it allowed to maintain its own repair and construction gangs in preference to having its repair and construction work done by the Department of Works. I repeat that we have had some excellent engineers and staff in that area. We have never had a complaint from the people about the service that the Department of Civil Aviation has rendered. I should like to see that service continued.
I refer now to the question of an international airport in Western Australia. A lot of air traffic passes through Perth, but I believe that considerably more passengers arrive in Darwin from overseas than arrive in Perth, I should like the Minister to investigate the possibility of diverting a considerable amount of that traffic from Darwin to Perth.
– Because the direct route from England to Sydney through Perth is 400 miles shorter than the route through Darwin. The Minister could well afford to bring pressure to bear so that airline companies operating on these overseas routes would be encouraged to pay more attention to Perth.
– The route is 400 miles shorter between which two points?
– I have been led to believe that from England to Sydney via Perth is shorter than from England to Sydney via Darwin. If that is so, more attention should be focussed on Perth. Perth is the most beautiful city in the Commonwealth. If tourists from overseas were to land first at Perth, they probably would not want to go any further. That is why 1 have suggested that the overseas traffic should pass through Perth rather than through Darwin and on to the eastern States.
.- I wish to make a few comments on Division No. 76 - Development of Civil Aviation. It will be noted that the proposed vote for this financial year is almost twice the sum that was expended last year. That is very pleasing, because the development of civil aviation, as has been very correctly pointed out by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to-night, is essential for the full development of this great island continent of ours. We have to depend on aviation to develop our outback areas. I do not wish to labour that point, because it is fully understood by almost every one.
I should like to re-emphasize some of the points that have been raised by Senator O’Flaherty. It will be noted that the expenditure last year under Division No. 75 - Maintenance and Operation of Civil Aviation Facilities, was £4,671,833 and that the proposed vote for this financial year is £5,076,000. The point I wish particularly to re-emphasize is that we have made repeated attempts in this chamber to elicit from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) some indication as to whether any safeguards have been taken in respect of moneys that are owing by private airline companies.
The report of Trans-Australia Airlines for last financial year reveals that that organization made a profit of £308,829, and returned to the Treasury the sum of £218,500 The total revenue was almost £11,000,000. Trans- Australia Airlines is one of those up-to-date and efficient socialized organizations that honorable senators opposite continually criticize.
– How much tax did it pay?
– At least, it has paid all its aviation charges.
– Any one can run a business profitably when he has not to pay taxation.
– Senator O’Flaherty pointed out that the private airline companies, particularly Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, had been in arrears with their payments since 1952. It will be recalled that, prior to 1952, when navigational and aviation charges were first imposed, A.N.A. challenged their validity before the High Court. That case was pigeon-holed until, I think, 1952, when this Government decided to impose charges on the companies. The Government then abandoned claims against A.N.A. for aviation charges prior to 1952.
– What was the court’s finding in that case?
– The court did not hear the case. The case was withdrawn with the sanction of this Government. That company was relieved of the need to pay those charges.
– Except for a sum of £370,000.
– I ask the Minister to answer specifically the questions that we have asked on this matter. It will be recalled that three or four years ago this Government guaranteed an advance of, I think, between £3,000,000 and £6,000,000 to A.N.A. when that company was in difficulties. The Labour party pointed out at that time that at least part of the money that was eventually loaned to A.N.A. probably would never be repaid. I have asked the Minister on more than one occasion about that sum, but I have never received satisfactory replies. He has admitted that the company owes the Commonwealth Bank £500,000. The loan is guaranteed by the Government, so virtually it is owed to the Government. What we want to know is whether A.N.A., prior to its amalgamation with Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, paid all its aviation dues.
In addition, will the Minister state specifically and emphatically whether the Government has taken any effective steps to ensure the repayment of the money that is owing to the Commonwealth Bank and which has been guaranteed by the Government? The only answer that the Minister has given to date is that there are plenty of assests to cover the liability. He has not said whether any steps have been taken, or are contemplated, to recover the money.
Senator Anderson refered to the use of helicopters, but I do not think that the time is opportune for such a wide use as he suggested. Probably, in the future, helicopters will be used to transport air travellers from aerodromes to the city areas. Recently I had the opportunity and the privilege of seeing the regular helicopter service that operates from a point near Waterloo station to London airport. It was obvious that the helicopters could not cope with the number of passengers to be carried. However, I think that the development of helicopter services probably will be the answer to problems of this kind. For this reason alone, it is pleasing to note that the proposed vote for the development of civil aviation is £762,000, whereas last year it was only £386,500. Of course, the use of helicopters would obviate the tortuous journey which Senator Anderson and some of his colleagues have to make so often from Mascot to Sydney. The journey from Essendon to Melbourne also is difficult, but it is infinitely worse to travel from Mascot to Sydney.
I again implore the Minister to give the committee a definite answer regarding the dues to be paid by A.N.A. and also the money to be paid to the Commonwealth Bank.
– Senator Poke spoke with understandable warmth in regard to the need for improvements at Wynyard airport. I am not, of course, unaware of the fact that, for some time, representations have been made by the honorable senator and other Tasmanian senators. I want Senator Poke to understand that, as’ I have said in this chamber before, the need for improvements at airports is under continual observation by the department. The honorable senator very closely documented his case to-night with figures concerning the traffic at the various airports in Tasmania. Those figures were most interesting, but I assure him that material of that kind is already in the possession of my department, which has to keep in mind the requirements not only of Wynyard, but of all airports in Australia. In the final analysis, it comes down to a question of priority. When money is available to improve the Wynyard airport, I assure the honorable senator that the enthusiastic Department of Civil Aviation will be only too happy to get on with the work. However, the question is one of finance. Demands on the finance available are made by some 400 or 500 airports throughout Australia.
The honorable senator spoke of a particular disadvantage to which the Tasmanian people are subjected by virtue of the fact that airline companies had schedules which provided for the almost simultaneous departure of aircraft from the various Tasmanian airports. I am not unfamiliar with this type of thing. We in Western Australia, over a period of years, have undergone the same experience, but as I have tried to explain before, in order to make an aircraft a commercial proposition the operator has to obtain from it maximum utilization. The argument advanced by the airline operators in all cases is that they must get their aircraft to Melbourne, or to some other important departure point, in order to be able to cater for the optimum number of the travelling public. I am hopeful, however, that rationalization proposals, which are now being discussed between the major trunk line operators, will go some way towards reducing what is, in effect, duplication. In some circumstances, far from proving economic, in the overall picture it can be uneconomic.
asked the reason for the big increase of the vote for the development of civil aviation, as did Senator Sandford. The biggest increase under this head occurs in respect of ground facilities in the Pacific, in regard to which there is an increase of £370,000 or £380,000. This provision covers the payment to the New Zealand Government of Australia’s share of the estimated South Pacific Air Transport Council expenditure on the provision, maintenance and operation of ground facilities in the United Kingdom territory in the Pacific, in respect of the financial year which ended on 31st March last, and the making of advances estimated at £400,000 to the South Pacific Air Transport Council trust account maintained by the New Zealand Government to bring Nandi aerodrome, in Fiji, up to Boeing 707 standard by 1959. It will be apparent to the committee that this airport is being improved in order to take the new services which will be provided by Qantas Empire Airways Limited in 1959, with Boeing jet aircraft.
Senator Anderson also inquired about the plans of the Government in respect of the operation of country DC3 feeder services. In a statement which I made last month, I indicated that financial assistance would be extended to approved operators for the provision of these country feeder type services and that, in addition, there would be, in some circumstances, ; Government guarantees for replacement aircraft. Plans for that to be done are now being worked out by the Departments of Civil Aviation and the Treasury and the operators concerned. The Government will take over, during a period of years, some 50 aerodromes from local authorities at a cost of £800,000, and plans for that particular negotiation are now in train. While we are doing that, we shall be paying maintenance grants for aerodromes in other country areas. It will be some years before the Commonwealth acquires all these aerodromes.
With regard to fire-fighting services, I am happy to inform Senator Anderson, who was kind enough to open the fire-fighting school at Mascot some months ago, that that project is going ahead very well indeed. It is the only civil aviation fire-fighting school in the southern hemisphere, and it is doing a grand job. The department has seventeen new fire-fighting units on order and by March they should all be delivered.
Senator O’Flaherty traced the history of the variations which have occurred in civil aviation charges, and concluded by asking me two specific questions. One was whether there were , any arrears in the payment of civil aviation charges. There is a small amount outstanding against -one operator, hut I am sure that .the honorable senator will be relieved to hear that that .operator is neither Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, nor Ansett, nor AnsettA.N.A. He also asked me to .explain what was meant by the comment in the AuditorGeneral’s report that revision of air route charges authorized by .the Air Navigation Act 1952 and the Civil Aviation Agreement Act J 952 were still under departmental (Consideration. What the Auditor-General meant was that plans for revising the charges fixed in 1952 were under examination. The ‘honorable senator will no doubt remember that in ‘September, when the Treasurer delivered his Budget speech, he referred to the fact - and it is now a painful reality - that there would be a 10 per cent, increase in charges. I shall shortly introduce a bill to that end. I am glad to say that there are no outstandings dating back to 1952.
Senator Vincent made a very interesting speech. Indeed, he referred to a matter that keeps me awake at night. I would not attempt to express more than a lay view of the defence value of civil aircraft. It is plain to any one that an aircraft of the DC6B type would be invaluable as a troop carrier in war-time because of its capacity and long range. I believe that the Viscount would also fulfil a very effective, if somewhat different, defence role. I leave it at that. I would not be prepared to comment on the relative merits of these aircraft for war purposes.
In commercial operation one has to look al rather different qualities, and when Senator Vincent speaks of the merits of Standardization in a country such as ours he is on very sound ground. Every now and then we have to ask ourselves how many types of planes we can afford. There is no doubt that if we can standardize on a reasonable number of types we cannot only standardize our facilities on the basis of the first purchase, but also continue to enjoy the benefits which flow from having one bank of spare parts, and so on. In a country such as ours there are still further factors to consider. There are the long flying legs, with which Senator Vincent and myself are familiar. At some stage or another they have to be catered for. I am aware of the plans which the various airline operators have announced, but I do not think that *hey are yet firm. The operators ;are still looking around, .and no doubt >will shortly place firm orders.
Kalgoorlie has been mentioned. It is a secondary co-ordinate to Perth, .and I am pleased to be able to tell Senator Vincent that this year we will be spending £7,000 or £8,000 on the re-sealing of pavements, roads, runways .and so on. Senator Scott spoke of the north west of Western Australia and of the part that civil aviation was playing in its development. As a Western Australian, I take every opportunity that I can to assure any one who will listen to me, that, despite the excellence of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and the splendid record of ‘Sir Hudson Fysh, Western Australia was the cradle of civil aviation in Australia. The first commercial civil aviation service was operated in 1921, just before Qantas began its activities, between Geraldton and Derby. It was conducted by the famous Brealey brothers. Ever since, civil aviation has played an outstanding part in developing the north-west of Western Australia.
I am happy to be able to announce some of the work that is to be done in that part of Australia very shortly. We are to spend1 £27,000 at Broome, £8,000 at Carnarvon, £12,000 at Derby, £41,000 at Geraldton, £2,500 at Learmonth, £2,500 at Onslow, £8,000 at Port Hedland, £10,000 at Wittenoom Gorge and £18,000 at Wyndham. All this indicates the importance that the Government attaches to that part of Australia.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I wish to address my remarks to Division No. 74 - Administrative. I should like to pay a tribute to the very skilful way in which negotiations, on an international scale, were recently conducted by the Director-General of Civil Aviation. I refer to the negotiations for the routing of Australian aircraft through the United States of America. This is a signal step in achieving round-the-world flight for Australian aircraft. The Minister for Civil Aviation and his senior officers are to be commended upon that achievement. .
As a South Australian, I should also like to express my gratitude for the work that the department is doing in my State. I would mention, especially, the very orderly transfer from temporary buildings to the present splendid terminal at the Adelaide airport. This sets a very good example to other organizations which, when it was apparent that the department had taken such a pride in its installations at West Beach aerodrome, adopted a similiar attitude. I was very interested to learn from my colleague, Senator Buttfield, that a number of immigrants had banded together and made available a number of trees for planting at the - Adelaide aerodrome. Gradually, the West Beach aerodrome is developing a real character. I think it is rather interesting, when one hears of the petty jealousy between government departments, to know that there has been rather a good partnership between the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Works in the construction of the new airport in Adelaide. 1 invite the attention of the Senate to one other very interesting partnership between Senator Paltridge’s department, the Department of Works, and a very strong, airminded committee in South Australia. I refer to the organization known as the Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith War Memorial Committee. At Adelaide airport there is in course of erection a remarkable structure of brick, steel and glass which we hope will house, for many years, one of the most famous aircraft that ever entered Australia. Honorable senators will remember that about two or three years ago, a new home had to be found for the famous Vickers Vimy aircraft which was in the National War Memorial in Canberra. South Australia” has been fortunate to be the place where this Vickers Vimy aircraft will find a permanent home. With the cooperation of the Department of Civil Aviation, the committee has been able to erect at West Beach a most interesting and imposing memorial with sculptured figures of the four famous airmen who made the momentous journey in that aircraft. I should like to thank the department for its co-operation in this matter. This memorial could be a permanent challenge to the youth of South Australia. It is in a perfect setting at the West Beach airport. I am pleased that in Queensland the aeroplane of the late Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith will form a permanent memorial to that famous man.
In conclusion, I would like to ask the Minister to make sure, in future, that his department does not let go into oblivion some of the famous old aircraft that are still in existence. We in Australia appear to disregard memorials. We tend to destroy things that become old. I hope that the Minister will realize, from the illustration that I have given this evening, that there is an opportunity within the compass of his department to ensure that these historic aeroplanes will find a permanent last resting place. 1 should like to thank him, with these few short remarks, for his co-operation in this matter.
– I should like to join with Senator Laught, first of all, in assuring the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) who has had to listen to all these cries for extra airports, that he has satisfied customers in the Adelaide people. We are delighted at the airport that has been opened there. It is certainly most farsighted of the Minister to develop such a delightful building, and to go ahead with the development of the airport in general. Senator Laught referred to the trees that have been planted at the airport. I should like to thank the Minister for his courtesy in inviting the immigrants of South Australia to plant those trees. They have been delighted to take such a prominent part in the development of Adelaide and to establish an avenue of trees as a commemorative gesture to the visit of Her Majesty the Queen.
Before leaving that subject, I should like to say also that there is one dissatisfied customer in South Australia and that is Port Augusta. The people of Port Augusta have been spending a lot of money and time in developing their town in general. The town is a very important part of the State. Unfortunately, aircraft have to by-pass Port Augusta and I think that the people there would like to know that their claim is being put forward among the cries for new airstrips. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us that Port Augusta is high up on the list.
I am very interested in the provision of the sum of £1,500 under the heading “ Rent (Territories) “. There was no such item last year, and it is a small provision this year. Having recently visited two of the Territories, 1 was most interested to see what was going on there. In Darwin there is a magnificent airstrip. I think it is being built by the Air Force, but whether that is where rent is being paid or not I do not know. Certainly there is scope for development of this type in New Guinea, where there is practically no other means of transport than by air. Airstrips are put down on the sides of mountains in a most precarious way. One may or may not be able to get off at Lae, depending on the weather, and having arrived over Garoka or any part of the highlands, because the clouds are down, one may have to hover above for an hour or two in most difficult conditions. There seems to be no system of weather signalling. Certainly it adds to the charm of the Territory - if one likes to put it that way - and of the Territorians themselves, because they never complain of their difficulties. But I think it would be of great advantage to the development of the Territory to improve the airstrips. I heard of one strip that had to go down very rapidly. The area was cleared, but, due to wet weather, there was no way of getting the aeroplane in. The ground was too soft. I understand that a number of tribes were gathered together and marched up and down the area in a sing-sing for two or three days until they had stamped down the soil sufficiently to land aircraft. That is indicative of the type of airstrip that is in New Guinea. I hope that the Minister will be able to say that something more will be done on airstrips and also in relation to signalling weather conditions in the Territory. 1 see that the proposed vote for the subsidy on shipping services for Papua and New Guinea is lower this year than it was last year. I should like to have some details as to why it should be lower.
– I should like some information from the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) in relation to general expenses for the Department of Civil Aviation. The sum of £36,000 was voted last year for “ Payments on account of damages sustained “. There is no vote this year. I am not quite sure of the purpose of the allocation last year, but I notice that £35,000 was spent, which almost exhausted the vote. Is it anticipated that no damage will be sustained in the coming year?
The other item to which I desire to refer is the proposed vote of £1,800,000 for aerodromes. In the light of the plea made by my colleague from Tasmania, Senator Poke, I need do no more than support his argument and rest on the Minister’s assurance that everything possible will be done to develop the important aerodromes at Devonport and Wynyard. There is no need for me to stress the importance of air communications to Tasmania. In conjunction with shipping, air transport is Tasmania’s very life-blood. I paid a visit to Adelaide recently and saw there the very fine aerodrome and buildings which have been provided by the department. They certainly whet my appetite. I can only think that those very fine facilities were provided as a result of claims made by the very attractive senator from South Australia.
I desire to refer also to the subsidy for the Tasmanian shipping service. I notice that the vote for this purpose was £234,000 in 1956-57 and that the proposed vote for this financial year is £202,800. I do not know the reason for that reduction, which would not appear to be warranted under the circumstances. However, there may be some reason for it, and I should be pleased if the Minister will supply me with that information at a later stage.
Then there is an item, “ Merchant ship construction - Subsidy, £1,855,000 “. Does that cover the construction of the new ferry steamer for the Tasmanian service? As I have stressed on many occasions, adequate shipping and air services are the life-blood of Tasmania. I trust that the appropriation for this purpose will be increased from year to year, so that two or three of these modern ferry steamers can be built.
I thank the Minister for the assurance he . has given that the claims of Tasmania will be given every consideration.
– I was very pleased to be assured by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) that the lighting facilities at Wynyard aerodrome are constantly under review and that improved lighting will be installed when the department can see its way clear to do so. We can commend the Department of Civil
Aviation for the safety facilities which it provides. When we travel by air in other countries, we realize what a good job has been done in Australia in the provision of safety facilities.
There is another matter which is causing me some concern. Probably I am stealing Senator Marriott’s thunder, but from what I can see in this chamber, it is a case of first up, best dressed, so to speak. The main aerodrome in Tasmania has only one landing strip. We are at a disadvantage there.
– To which aerodrome is the honorable senator referring?
– Launceston aerodrome. I stressed the importance of the Wynyard aerodrome when I spoke earlier in the debate, I have been approached by the Chamber of Commerce, the North-West Development League, the Retail Traders’ Association and the Wynyard Aerodrome Committee in regard to this aerodrome. The Wynyard Aerodrome Committee, apparently, is a committee which was set up to bring pressure to bear in every possible quarter in an endeavour to have nightlanding facilities installed at the aerodrome. It is of national importance, I would say, that night-landing facilities be installed there.
Although the Minister is, no doubt, aware of these figures, I should like to mention them for the information of honorable senators. Iri 1955, two years ago, TransAustralia Airlines claimed that of the 100 aerodromes it served throughout Australia, the Wynyard aerodrome ranked ninth in volume of freight handled and fourteenth in the number of passengers carried. The position was much the same with Australian National Airways.
I do not think one can overstress the importance of the tourist trade to Tasmania. There are some months of the year when I like to get out of Tasmania because of the cold weather, but during the summer months there is no better State in Australia for tourists than Tasmania. The installation of the facilities I have mentioned would probably entice more tourists to Tasmania.
The Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie has a very large output. It produces 42,000 tons of fine paper a year, 3,350 tons of grease-proof paper and 16,000 tons, or 38,000,000 square feet, of hardboard. The sawmill, which is the most modern in- Australia, produces annually 10,000,000 square feet of sawn timber. Tasmanian Plywood Mills Proprietary Limited at Somerset has a production of 12,000,000 square feet of plyboard a year. The pulp and paper mill at Burnie employs 2,000 people, and the plywood mill at Somerset has over 100 employees. I am sorry that Senator Scott is not present. He made a suggestion that the air route between Sydney and London should go through Perth, as that would be 400 miles shorter than the route through Darwin. He suggested also that if people coming to Australia first landed at Perth they would not look for a better place to live. I suggest that he should take a trip to Tasmania and see the attractions that State offers. I realize that Perth is a very beautiful city and I agree with him wholeheartedly on that point, but I suggest he would not find cities more attractive than Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Devonport. He should take a trip to Tasmania and see those places.
– And finish up in Queensland!
– I agree with the honorable senator’s view about Queensland. It is a beautiful State, too. We are all trying to peddle the wares of our respective States, which is a commendable attitude. I shall reserve what I have to say about shipping services until later.
– I cannot understand why Senator Sandford should express the view that I have been trying to avoid giving him information.
– The Minister has been pretty successful too.
– The honorable senator made the same allegation the other day. I was interested to hear him do so. Consequently I checked the information I have given in both chambers since early this month in answers to questions about the matter he has raised. I find that I have supplied no fewer than five answers to such questions asked here and in another place in which I gave directly the information the honorable senator now seeks.
To-night, so no doubt can possibly remain in the honorable senator’s mind as to my bona fides in this matter, let me repeat what I said in those five answers. There are three outstanding loans owing by . Australian National Airways Limited. Two of them are owing to the Commonwealth Bank and one to the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and they total £2,900,000. In June last a default occurred to the extent of £445,000 plus interest. There is no danger of .the Commonwealth losing money, because the security held adequately covers the debt.
– The Minister did not say what steps are being taken to secure payment.
– I told the honorable senator the other day that a measure will shortly be introduced into this chamber which will reveal, completely, the Government’s plans in respect of this matter. Then, Senator Sandford will have every opportunity to give free rein to his piercing brain to probe the very depths of this particular transaction, which, I can assure him, is completely fair and above board.
– The Minister has still not answered his question.
– I do not know what more I can do. Senator Buttfield asked about an aerodrome at Port Augusta. I regret that at the moment I cannot tell her anything about aerodrome arrangements there.
A subsidy of £100,000 a year is paid to the operator of the shipping service to Papua and New Guinea. It is paid yearly, and the current agreement will expire on 31st December next. Consequently, the Government is providing for only three quarterly payments of £25,000 each, which explains the reduction of £25,000 in the estimate. No doubt a new arrangement will be entered into when the current agreement expires.
Senator Wardlaw was interested in the Tasmanian shipping subsidy, in respect of which the estimate shows a decrease of £24,000. The explanation of the reduction is. that the Commonwealth has paid a subsidy to Tasmanian steamers each year since 1950 . in order to maintain the sole, remaining surface passenger link between that State and the mainland. The subsidy paid by the Department of Shipping and Transport includes a subsidy in respect of mails, carried in the preceding year on “ Taroona “ between Tasmania and the mainland. The mails subsidy is recovered each year from the Postmaster-General’s Department, and that adjustment accountsfor the reduction in the subsidy this year.
– There is an amount for damages also.
– The 1956-57 expenditure covered an amount of damages awarded in favour of Trans-Oceanic Airways as a result of a High Court judgment against the Commonwealth. I regret that I cannot give further details. Provision is made in the shipping subsidy to cover progress payments on the ferry.
– There are one or two general matters on which I wish to trouble the Minister in respect of these estimates. First, I notice the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation provide for an increase of expenditure in respect of revenue items of approximately £1,000,000. Of that sum £300,000 or £400,000 is represented by a payment to the New Zealand Government for the use of ground facilities in the Pacific. I should like a general explanation of the remainder of the increase.
– That is expenditure?
– It is an increase in expenditure, debited to revenue, amounting to £1,004,069. The total expenditure in respect of civil aviation facilities and development is estimated at £9,862,000. Under another appropriation bill this morning provision is made for an expenditure of £6,019,000 oh capital works for the Department of Civil Aviation. That makes a total provision for this department this year of approximately £16,000,000. When we turn to the income of the department, apart from dividends provided from Qantas Empire Airways Limited and TransAustralia Airlines Limited, we see that air navigation charges yield £473,515. That would represent a 5 per cent, return on something like £9,000,000. My recollection is that, over a number of years, sums of the order of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 have been voted annually for the Department of Civil Aviation. I want to know, how that represents a revenue return from the capitalized expenditure. I think we -should take stock of this aspect of civil aviation, having regard to the chaotic conditions in which other transport services run by governments in this country have got, due to over-enthusiasm in development and insufficient regard to economy.
I have referred to air navigation charges of over £473,000. I ask the Minister to relate that to the provisions of section 4 (3.) of the Civil Aviation Agreement 1952. To bring the matter into focus, we can remind ourselves that an undertaking was given in that agreement that the air route charges would not exceed one-half of the charges set forth in an air navigation order of 1949, with a provision that in certain cases, if the increase became necessary because of the provision of additional or improved facilities and services, or because of higher costs of maintaining operating facilities and services, increases may be made. My understanding is that that obligation not to exceed 50 per cent, of the air route rates of the order of 1949 was to continue for the term of this agreement, which was fifteen years. 1 mention these facts to examine the question whether these rates for air route charges were fixed upon an economic basis -or whether they represent a concession, because, in the main, the revenue from the department, as shown in the AuditorGeneral’s report, does consist, apart from dividends from Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines, of these air navigation charges; and 1 think we ought to understand the basis upon which we have fixed the revenue that is to be derived from this terrific capital : investment.
– I rise to speak on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. First, I congratulate the Minister (Senator Paltridge) because I think that this part of the estimates is outstanding in that in the seventeen items covering administration four decreases in expenditure are estimated for the current year. That is an example that every other department could follow.
The maintenance and development side of civil aviation is one of the most important aspects of Australian development. Looked -at from any angle, the development of civil aviation is of the utmost importance, and expenditure will be reduced in respect of only one of the eighteen items of maintenance and development. This shows the progressive policy of the department under the influence of the Minister. It is something we should record very gratefully, for it will help us to continue our present amazing development of first-rate air services.
It always amazes me, when we have the privilege of debating civil aviation and commercial airlines, and we know that this country has achieved a wonderful record since the end of World War II., that all we hear from the other side is crying and moaning from the few who take part in the debate. The others try to pick at any private airline that is in operation.
We can claim, as a nation, that we have the best commercial airlines in the world in both overseas and interstate spheres. As a Tasmanian, I am very proud that my State was the birthplace of the great commercial airline companies of Australia. Senator Scott did mention a line in Western Australia which, perhaps, started operations earlier than the Holyman brothers, and I do not take from Western Australia that credit; but I do say that Tasmania was the birthplace of the famous interstate airway services that we have now. I think that we, as a Commonwealth Parliament, should do all we can, through the Department of Civil Aviation, and Government policy, to ensure that we have at least two major airline companies conducting the air services of this country. If we do that, we shall keep ahead.
I should like to issue one word of warning to the Minister and his department, if I may. It relates to the construction of new airports. Here again, I must refer to the position in Tasmania, and I do so without actually blaming the Labour party that was in office at the time. For all I know, defence requirements may have dictated the action that was taken then. As one flies from Devonport to Hobart, which is on the direct line between Melbourne and Hobart, one passes over two disused airports on which hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent during World War II. All they are used for now is for the running of races in between raffles. They are of no use to civil aviation, nor are they of any use for defence. Literally, they were never of any great use during World War II. and for that we can be truly thankful. But there has been spent on those remote, useless areas some hundreds of thousands of pounds, and my point in bringing this matter up now is to plead, not only from Tasmania’s point of view but also from Australia’s point of view, that if any new airports are to be laid down for defence purposes, the defence authorities get together with the civil aviation authorities to ensure that those airports are constructed in places in which they will be useful not only for defence but also for ordinary civil aviation purposes in the years before any defence need arises. I know that if, instead of the two useless airports in the bush to which I have referred, airports had been constructed at St. Helen’s on the east coast and at Smithton in the far north-west of Tasmania, commercial flying would have been greatly developed.
I am certain that the Minister is aware of this need. He knows of the unfortunate situation with respect to the Pardoe airport, and I express the hope that in his developmental programme he will ensure that his department insists that the Department of Works lay down runways which are suitable for aircraft that are now on the drawing boards. Every one knows that it takes some years to prepare for and construct an airport. That being so, it is necessary, with the great advances being made, that when plans for runways are drawn up, provision is made for aircraft that are now on the drawing boards in America and Great Britain. 1 hope that he can also get the Department of Works to co-operate in that respect.
I congratulate the Minister and the Government on the continuance of our policy of assistance to aero clubs. I am very pleased that the grant has been increased by another £7,000 this year. There is a great need for the nurturing and support of aero clubs throughout Australia particularly now that, so many years after the second world war, we do not have the Air Force as a source of commercial pilots. Aero clubs are wonderful training centres for pilots. They imbue young men with a desire to gain knowledge and experience of flying. I know that the aero clubs in Tasmania are a great source of supply of airline pilots. I congratulate the Government for granting more money to aero clubs and I say to it, “ Please listen to their requests in future years. Keep up this policy in this field of initiative, which is of such great value to Australia “.
I wish now to deal with two other matters concerning Tasmania. It appears that in the re-organization of services by Ansett-A.N.A. King Island has lost its Saturday service. There is a daily service to the island from Monday to Friday inclusive, but I understand the islanders would prefer to forego a week-day service in order to have the Saturday service restored. Naturally, Ansett-A.N.A. knows how to run its business, and it is not controlled by the Government. All I ask is that the Minister will discuss with Ansett-A.N.A. the possibility of restoring the Saturday service.
I have been striving for a long time to achieve something which I think could be achieved under the Government’s rationalization policy in respect to civil aviation - a policy of which I am absolutely in favour. What I wish to see is the present excellent services between Tasmania and the mainland used to provide also an intra-state service. At the moment two aircraft holding about 70 passengers between them leave Hobart at 8 a.m. for the mainland via Launceston. About 11 a.m. two aircraft holding about 90 passengers between them leave Hobart on the same route. About 4.30 p.m. exactly the same thing happens again. It is completely uneconomic, but unless it can be impressed on the companies that the rationalization of these services would not only help them, but would also help in the development of intra-state services in Tasmania, nothing will be done about it. Trans-Australia Airlines could say that it would do the 8 a.m. service from Hobart via Devonport or via Wynyard to Melbourne and Ansett-A.N.A. could agree to do the 1 1 a.m. service via the northwest coast. The same principle could be applied to the flights from the mainland to Tasmania, and we would then have very good communication between Hobart and the north-west, a trip taking about one hour.
Road and rail communications in Tasmania have not improved in the last twenty years, which makes the lack of intrastate air services more serious. The companies may tell the Minister that they have tried before to institute such services and have found that they have not paid. The only reason they have not paid is that they have not been advertised, and I believe that they have not been advertised because the Tasmanian Labour Government has told the companies, under the lap, that if they started developing intrastate air services in competition with road and rail services it would impose a passenger tax on air travel. My advice to T.A.A. and the private companies is to take no notice of such a threat. The people of Tasmania would not stand its being put into effect and the Government, in fact, would not be game to do it. The institution of intrastate services would help the companies as well as being of great benefit to Tasmania, as I have said and, because I am in favour of the Government’s policy of rationalization of air services, I ask the Minister to use his undoubted powers of personality to bring that improvement about.
– I want to make three requests to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge). It is apparently the intention of the Department of Shipping and Transport this year to make available to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission a further sum of £500,000 as additional capital. Would the Minister be good enough to indicate how that money is proposed to be spent? My second request concerns the intention of the department to make available to South Australia a further sum of £600,000 for rail standardization in that State, presumably in pursuance of the old standardization agreement between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government. I should be glad if the Minister would say what portion of the line that money will be spent on. My third request concerns coastal shipping freights. It is revealed in the press to-day that it may be necessary, because of the present drought, to carry wheat from Fremantle and from South Australian ports to New South Wales. The press states that the freight rates on that wheat are, from Fremantle to Sydney, £5 16s. 6d. a ton - a rate which I have worked out as being equivalent to a charge of 3s. 3d. a bushel or nearly 10s. for every bag of wheat - and from Adelaide to Sydney the higher rate of £6 16s. a ton, despite the fact that the distance is less. A freight rate of £6 16s. a ton for wheat is a staggering rate when we consider that - again according to the press - the freight rate from
Vancouver to Sydney is only £4 7s. 6d. a ton. When the difference in the distances concerned is taken into account I can only say that those figures must surely alarm honorable senators. It is very disturbing for us to have to contemplate such a disparity. We know that freight rates round the Australian coast are, of necessity, high, and we make allowances for that. But it is absolutely staggering to think that the freight rate between Adelaide and Sydney, within our own national borders, is about £2 more a ton than the freight rate from Vancouver to Sydney across the Pacific Ocean. I know that the Minister is seised of the importance of this matter, and I should like him to offer, if he can, some comment on the reason for that disparity which, I say, is nothing short of alarming.
– I protest at the action of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority of reclassifying the port of Strahan, in Tasmania, from A grade to B grade.
– Has it been reclassified?
– I am not quite sure on that point, but I am led to believe that it has been. If it has not been, then it is in the process of being reclassified. I understand that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has the power to reclassify that port.
– Application has to be made.
– I wish to enter my protest at the possibility, at least, of reclassification. I stress to the Senate the importance of this port to the west coast of Tasmania. At Mount Lyell, Queenstown, we have one of the greatest copper mines in Australia, and probably one of the greatest in the world. Almost all of the residents on the west coast are dependent on the working of that mine for their livelihoods. There are other small industries there but, in the main, the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited is the main employer. If the port of Strahan were reclassified as a B grade port, the loss to the Mount Lyell company would be considerable. At present all of the coke requirements of the company come through the port of Strahan, but if alternative means had to be used to transport coke to Queenstown, it would have to be landed at Burnie, offloaded there, carried by rail to Zeehan, offloaded again, and carried by road to Queenstown. That would involve considerable expense, which, in my opinion, the Mount Lyell company could not stand, because it does not operate on a very high profit margin. As a matter of fact, the price of copper dropped considerably this year, and I have read a newspaper report to the effect that the Mount Lyell company is feeling the effects of the drop in price and that its profits will decrease considerably. The company has approached me and asked me to do what I can to bring the matter to notice in the right quarters. This is the appropriate time and place to bring it to the notice of the Government. I have been approached also by the Waterside Workers Federation, the Strahan Council, the West Coast Trades and Labour Council and quite a number of other bodies.
– I take a point of order. I do not want to prevent the honorable senator from speaking on this matter, which is important, but the classification of ports comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labour and National Service.
– That is quite right. The matter may not be discussed until the committee is considering the vote for the Department of Labour and National Service.
– Senator Wright asked me to indicate in a general way the main factors responsible for the increase in expenditure under the ordinary vote.” While steps have been taken to reduce staff, and the staff has in fact been reduced in many departments, basic wage rises and the normal increments amount to some £200,000. The balance of the increase, £800,000, will be mainly used for the carrying out of increased major maintenance works on aerodromes and buildings, greatly increased contributions to the Partner Government Pool Account, to which I referred previously, and additional payments, amounting to £100,000, to the Department of the Interior for rent and meteorological services.
On the capital works and services side, there has been an increase of some £860,000. The technical works vote, which includes provision for airways navigational aids and facilities, as well as for aerodrome maintenance plant, motor vehicles, fire tenders, &c, has been increased by £270,000, of which the greater part is for fire tenders. That is in addition to the capital provisions amounting to £1,750,000 for Qantas Empire Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines.
Of the remaining increase of £340,000, £149,000 will be used by the Department of the Interior to acquire further buildings and sites, particularly Royal Australian Air Force aerodromes, while £180,000 under the control of the Department of Works will be used for an expanded new airport and building construction programme.
Senator Wright then referred to the air navigation charges, and their relation to capital expenditure and to the operating costs of the airways system. He wanted to know the relativity of the charge now imposed to that which was imposed at the time of the 1952 agreement. The air navigation charges now imposed equal about 6 per cent, of the operating cost of the airways system. The increases which are proposed, and to which I referred earlier this evening, will maintain that percentage of 6 per cent, of operating costs. Senator Wright is disturbed - not surprisingly - at the tremendous volume of capital which, during the last few years, has been pumped into this industry and into those sections of the Department of Civil Aviation which provide the airways system. I can assure him, for what it is worth, that I share his concern. The holding of portfolios such as mine, which combine all the transport agencies, naturally makes one think in terms of relative costs and relative values. I do not know, however, whether it is entirely right to think in terms of the relative values of transport systems in a country such as this, where there is an immediately apparent demand for air services. I suggest that the debate to-night has indicated that aspects of this industry cannot be related to commercial or economic results. There is a developmental factor. The outback of this country, the north-west - which I mentioned, to the amusement of so many of my colleagues - Queensland and the Northern Territory, would be almost without communications if it were not for the aerial services which are provided. There is a defence factor. Goodness knows, we found the value of that in the last war. We realized the value of having aerodromes and an airways system ready for immediate use. Retaining as I do, and always shall, the surprise which I felt initially - and to which Senator Wright gives expression - at the tremendous capital expenditure and operating costs of this industry, I still believe that it will be necessary and justifiable for us to spend on the industry for the next few years amounts no greater, I hope, than those we are expending now, but not much less. Possibly the best comparison can be made between the amount that Australia is spending on actual services and that spent by other countries. Although my researches have not led me to any definite or precise conclusions, I am satisfied that the amount spent on the industry in Australia is not out of proportion, having regard to its particular needs.
asked me about the King Island services. I understand that there has been no reduction in the number of services each week. Some services have been transferred from one day to another, but the number has not been reduced. Apparently the change has not met the convenience of many residents of King Island; but I presume that the alteration was made to fit in more conveniently with the operators’ time-tables.
Senator Marriott spoke about the rationalization of air services, a subject to which Senator Poke also referred earlier in the debate. 1 can only direct the attention of Senator Marriott to the reply I gave earlier to Senator Poke.
I was glad to hear Senator Marriott praise the work of the aero clubs in Tasmania. The department is showing continued interest in their activities. Last year we spent on the clubs in Launceston and Hobart alone a total of nearly £9,000. A similar amount will be expended this year.
asked for information about the additional capital of £500,000 that is to be provided for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. That money will be required for working capital and to assist in taking up new tonnage coming off the slips. The honorable senator might be interested to know that when the report of the commission is released it will indicate that the new capital advance is not out of proportion having regard to the results achieved in the first six months of the commission’s operations. On a total capital of something like £12,000,000, the commission made in six months an operating profit of just over £1,000,000 and it will pay a dividend of 6 per cent.
The honorable senator also asked for information about the proposed £600,000 capital expenditure on railways in South Australia. Two or three works are proceeding there, and I do not know exactly how the amount is divided. I shall furnish him with the details later.
Regarding shipping freights, generally speaking, the explanation sought by Senator Pearson is that which I gave to a question asked of me in the Senate only a day or two ago. The distortion in shipping rates reflects, in the main, increased charges and costs which apply to Australian ships. That is the answer briefly. Having regard to the varying capital costs and operating costs, it is not possible to run an Australian ship at a figure comparable with the cost of running ships that are operated by most overseas countries. However, the rates that were quoted by Senator Pearson do not provide a basis for a real or complete comparison because the rate quoted for coastal ports is a coastal cargo rate. The rate quoted for the trade between Canada and Australia is a charter rate. The charter market is about the most sensitive thing I know. Indeed, if there is any sort of an increased demand for charter tonnage because of the wheat situation, the rates quoted to-night might be increased considerably to-morrow. Generally speaking, the answer to the question about variation in costs lies in the increased charges for Australian ships.
– Senator Cook, Senator Wade and I were members of a party which toured New Guinea recently. I should not like to think that it is suggested that the Department of Civil Aviation is not doing its job there. Statements were made to-night about some of the aerodromes in New Guinea which might have conveyed the wrong meaning. I propose to speak, not about the airfields at Port Moresby, Lae, Rabaul, Manus Island and Madang but rather of the outoftheway landing strips which we had an opportunity to see for ourselves. On some of these strips natives were used to tramp down the prepared earth works, as Senator Buttfield has said. The Gibbes organization and private airways generally in New Guinea give every attention to the safety of the passengers, and the landing grounds are kept in the best possible condition. That statement would be borne out by anybody who has travelled in the aircraft that are available there and has landed in those isolated places.
I pay a tribute to the Administration’s officers who, in many instances, risk their lives in the performance of their duties. The private companies and the Department of Civil Aviation take every precaution to protect the safety of the passengers, and I include in that statement the routes upon which Cessnas and Norseman aircraft are used. Of course, clouds sometimes blot out Lae, but the airfield at Canberra is blotted out at times also. I repeat that every care is taken of airways passengers in New Guinea.
I wish to refer to Division No. 75 - Maintenance and Operation of Civil Aviation Facilities. Perhaps the Minister for Civil Aviation will inform me how much is charged to overseas companies for the use of terminals and how much is charged to airline companies operating inside Australia. Has the department itemized these figures?
I direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to the fact that the reports of the Public Service Board show that, between 1949 and 1956, the number of personnel employed by the Department of Civil Aviation increased from 3,697 to 4,877. Will the Minister inform the committee of the reason for the increase?
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes at present before the Chair has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I shall not detain honorable senators for very long. Yesterday, when addressing myself to the pearl-shell industry,I referred to the fact that I had introduced a deputation from Thursday Island pearlshell interests to Mr. Gair, when he was Premier of Queensland, and also subsequently to Mr. Nicklin, who succeeded Mr. Gair. I then stated that I had introduced deputations to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck).
I regret to say that, due to the concentration I was giving to the subject at the moment, I forgot - quite inadvertently - to add that Senator Reid, who has friends at Thursday Island engaged in the pearlshell industry, had been in close touch with me throughout on these matters. I wish now to repair that omission by emphasizing that Senator Reid was associated with me in these discussions. He was present at many interviews I had with the Ministers concerned as well as with important departmental officials, and he contributed most helpfully to the success of the negotiations.
I assure Senator Reid that I sincerely regret that I overlooked mentioning his most valuable co-operation and assistance. Neither Senator Reid nor anybody else has raised this matter with me. I make this public explanation and express my regret to him entirely of my own volition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19571025_senate_22_s11/>.