7 September 1960

23rd Parliament · 2nd Session

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator COLE:

– I direct to the Minister for National Development a question with reference to the proposed sale to private enterprise of the Commonwealth’s interest in the Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s undertaking at Bell Bay. Has the Consolidated Zinc Corporation given any assurances that the service of employees with the commission will count for future furlough entitlements? If not, will the Minister assure the Senate that the complete protection and continuity of the accruing service benefits of all of the commission’s workers at Bell Bay will be guaranteed by appropriate industrial undertakings before enabling legislation is presented to this Parliament? My questions are prompted by the fact that employees who have less than eight years’ service with the commission will not have any entitlement to furlough under the retrenchment provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act, and service with the Commonwealth cannot legally count as service for the purposes of the Tasm an ian Long Service Leave Act.

Senator SPOONER:
Minister for National Development · NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I can give only a general answer to the question. As I said in my statement on the sale of the Commonwealth’s interest in the Bell Bay undertaking, the purchasing company will offer employment to all existing employees at not less than the rates of remuneration at present applying, and their superannuation, furlough and long-service leave entitlements will be protected. I think that I should go further and say that representatives of the company have told me that they are very keen to ensure that all the employees will come over to the new undertaking and that they will come over in a satisfied manner. I am sorry that I do not know enough about the technicalities to be able to answer in detail the specific questions that Senator Cole has asked.

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Senator WADE:

– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the Senate when the Government’s decision concerning the allocation of television licences for Ballarat, Bendigo, Goulburn valley and Gippsland may be expected? Can he also indicate when applications for licences to cover the remaining more populated areas of Victoria will be invited?

Senator SPOONER:

Senator Wade was good enough to tell me that he proposed to ask this question. In view of possible public interest in the matter, I thought it would be wise for me to speak to the Postmaster-General about it. Having done that, I am able to inform the Senate that the Postmaster-General recently received the report and recommendations of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board concerning the applications for television licences in thirteen country areas, in which phase of development Ballarat, Bendigo, Goulburn valley and Gippsland are included. The Postmaster-General is at present studying the report and will shortly make a submission on the matter to the Cabinet. The Government’s decision on the allocation of licences will be made after due deliberation by the Cabinet.

As to when applications will be called for licences in the remaining areas of Victoria, I can only reiterate the declared policy of the Government, which is that the further extension of television services will be considered when the present phase, which includes the places referred to by the honorable senator, is well under way. I might also add that no avoidable delay will be permitted to occur.

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Senator POKE:

– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I preface it by saying that yesterday the Minister, in reply to a question of mine, said, inter alia -

I would emphasize again to the honorable senator that these officers are interchangeable between ports and as the occasion demands are supplemented by additional officers flown to Tasmania from Melbourne.

I now ask the Minister whether he will inform the Senate of the number of occasions on which preventive officers have been flown from Melbourne to Tasmania to supplement officers at the ports of Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie during the years 1958-59 and 1959-60 for the purpose of maintaining a watch against all forms of smuggling.

Senator HENTY:
Minister for Customs and Excise · TASMANIA · LP

– The answer is that they are sent whenever they are needed.

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– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration aware of a statement made by Dr. J. G. Wilson at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital that migrants of Mediterranean origin could be the cause of the increase in a disease in children known as thalassaemia? If this assumption is not correct, will the Minister take steps immediately to remove any slur upon a section of the Australian community which feels, rightly or wrongly, that it is frequently being singled out for unfavorable publicity? If it is correct, can the Minister inform the Senate what steps are being taken to eliminate such a possibility?

Senator HENTY:

– I did see the article in question and, as I thought a question about the matter might be asked by honorable senators, I consulted the Minister for Health and the Minister for Immigration. This matter comes within the jurisdiction of the departments administered by those honorable gentlemen. The Minister for Immigration has furnished me with the following information: -

Migrants from countries bordering upon the Mediterranean, in common with other migrants, must undergo a medical examination and satisfy the standards laid down by the Australian health authorities as one of the conditions of admission to this country. It has not hitherto come under notice that the incidence of thalassaemia in Australia is giving cause for concern, but in. quiries are in progress, and the result will be conveyed to the honorable senator.

The Minister for Health replied as follows: -

I am not aware of the precise terms of any statement Dr. Wilson may have made. Thalassaemia is a disease in which there is defective formation of haemaglobin, the red pigment of the blood, with a consequent anaemia. There are two forms - major and minor. The major form is rapidly fatal. The minor form may exist unnoticed for many years and does not appear to be entirely incompatible with ordinary life and activity.

The disease occurs with comparative frequency among inhabitants of the Mediterranean littoral and has probably been introduced into Australia from that region. For a doctor to state such facts, if he has done so, does not imply a slur upon any one. Thalassaemia is an hereditary and not a communicable disease and those who suffer from it can transmit it only to their descendants. In this regard it has some analogies with such diseases as haemophilia and colour-blindness.

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Senator McMANUS:

– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether he is aware of the congestion that exists in the presidential list of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Is it a fact that Mr. Justice Foster is required full time for the maritime industry, that Mr. Justice Ashburner, although assisting in the general work of the commission, has a back-lag of about 80 outstanding matters in the stevedoring industry and that present demands of the Coal Industry Tribunal have precluded Mr. Justice Gallagher from sitting with the commission for many weeks past and will preclude him from so sitting for a possible further four to six weeks? If so, does the Attorney-General think that this state of affairs is consistent with claims that arbitration is operating satisfactorily? In this regard 1 refer particularly to the case of the professional engineers, whose claim for a new award has attracted the attention of the commission for more than two years - on and off - and whose case cannot continue until Mr. Justice Gallagher is free from his Coal Industry Tribunal commitments. Does this not suggest that additional deputy presidents should be appointed to the commission to ensure that two full presidential benches can be constituted without relying upon the services of any of the three judges already referred to? Has the Attorney-General considered introducing legislation to permit the appointment of acting presidential members to the commission?

Senator GORTON:
Minister for the Navy · VICTORIA · LP

– The information required properly to answer the honorable senator’s question is not readily available. To secure it would involve some consultation with the Department of Labour and National Service, which would have an interest in this matter. Therefore, T ask the honorable senator to put his question on the notice-paper, and I shall obtain a reply for him as soon as possible.

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Senator PEARSON:

– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. In view of the announced intention of the two groups of trading nations in Europe - the Big Six and the Outer Seven - to draw closer together to achieve their common objectives, will the Minister for Trade intensify the Government’s campaign, through its Trade Commissioner Service, to see that Australia holds its present European markets, which represent not only our traditional markets, but also our best and most stable markets?

Senator SPOONER:

– I can assure Senator Pearson that my colleague, Mr. McEwen, is constantly preoccupied with the problems that arise out of this great economic movement in Europe. As Senator Pearson knows, Australia’s problem is to ensure that in any trade arrangements we do our best to maintain our existing markets in primary products in particular. Developments so far have not been to our disadvantage.

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asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact, as reported in the press, that Swan Island is to be occupied by the Department of the Army?
  2. If so, has the Queenscliff Borough Council been officially notified?
Senator HENTY:

– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -

  1. Yes. As you are aware, Swan Island is Commonwealth-owned and is at present jointly controlled by the Departments of the Navy and Army. The portion currently under the control of my department is leased to civil interests. The balance of the island now occupied by the Department of the Navy is to be made available to the Department of the Army by mid 1961. Plans are now being prepared for Army use of the naval facilities and it is expected that the handover will be on a progressive ‘asis beginning early next year. 2, As the Army will not take over from Navy for some months the question of formal advice to the Queenscliff Borough Council does not arise at this stage. However I will be pleased to arrange for the Queenscliff Borough Council to be formally advised in due course.

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through Senator Wright

asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

  1. ls there any provision whereby a serving British Army officer desiring to migrate to Australia can enlist in the Australian Army without reduction in rank?
  2. If so, are the relevant facts adequately publicized in England?

    1. If not, in view of the necessity to increase the flow of recruits to the Australian Army, does the Minister not agree that the British Army could be a very valuable source of supply?
Senator HENTY:

– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers: -

  1. Provisions exist for a serving British Army officer to enlist in the Australian Army without reduction in rank. However he must first migrate to Australia. The Army can make no promises, prior to migration, in regard to the rank in which the officer would be appointed. This would depend on the individual officer’s qualifications, existing vacancies and the officer passing a selection board which would assess his qualities. Depending on his qualifications he might be required to qualify at a course at an Army school before appointment.
  2. The relevant facts are not widely publicized in England. The Army is not seeking to obtain large numbers of serving officers. The emphasis is on the provision of young junior officers for the Australian Army. These are being provided in increasing numbers by the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and the Officer Cadet School, Portsea. The Army is aiming to increase the intake into both these establishments to provide the required number of young junior officers. It is considered that the requirement will be met by both these establishments.
  3. The British Army is a valuable source of supply for recruits but it is also short of manpower and the War Office is disturbed at the lag in recruiting for the Army in Britain at the present time. The Austraiian Army Staff in London is now engaged in a limited drive for recruits in the United Kingdom. However, because of the British Army requirements we are permitted to call for applicants from ex-servicemen only.

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Senator BENN:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -

What losses were incurred last year by the various migrant hostels conducted by Commonwealth Hostels Limited?

Senator GORTON:

– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer: -

The trading loss for the financial year ended June, 1960, will be something less than £3,000 after crediting a Commonwealth contribution of £1,109,288 designed to compensate for uneconomic concessional tariffs charged dependants and for occupancy variations related to the migrant flow.

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Senator HANNAN:

– 1 understand that the Minister representing the Minister for

Territories has an answer to the following question which I asked without notice on 25th August: -

Is it a fact that a number of bathing beaches in and around Darwin are still protected, or disfigured, by the remains of thousands of steel supports erected as barbed wire supports, and as obstacles against an enemy landing, during the war? In view of the fact that at certain tide levels these steel members constitute a physical danger to bathers, and further, in view of the existing shortage of scrap metal, will the Minister have them removed and possibly put to some practical use?


– The Minister for Territories has informed me that during the years 1956 and 1957 Army personnel in Darwin carried out extensive removal of star pickets from local beaches as and when stakes became exposed by shifting sands. This work appeared to clear the beaches but of late more stakes have become exposed and the Army has resumed the task of removal. The Northern Territory Administration has joined with the Army in a further survey to fix priorities and complete the work.

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Senator SPOONER:

– On 17th August,

Senator Tangney:

asked me the following question, without notice: -

My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the importance ofthe Empire Games to be held in Perth in 1962, will the Minister consider issuing a postage stamp to commemorate this important event? If a commemorative stamp is to be issued, will Australian artists be invited to submit designs that will be in keeping with the importance of the event to be commemorated and also pay some regard to the city in which the contests are to be held?

The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -

It is intended to issue two postage stamps to commemorate the Empire Games to be held in Perth in 1962. In a statement to the press on 23rd April, 1959, the Postmaster-General invited Australian residents to submit designs or ideas for designs for such a stamp up to 31st December of that year. A number of excellent designs was received and on 17th August last the PostmasterGeneral announced to the press that a design by Mr. G. Hamori, of Coogee (N.S.W.), featuring the Arms of the City of Perth, had been selected for one of the two stamps which would be issued and that it was intended that the stamp be printed by the photogravure process. It was also stated that the design for the second stamp had reached an advanced stage and when it was completed particulars of it would be announced.

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Interim Report

Senator SPOONER:
New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development · LP

– For the information of honorable senators and to assist them in their consideration of the Estimates, I lay on the table of the Senate the interim report on the operations of the Commonwealth Railways for the year ended 30th June, 1960. As soon as the final report is available I will, of course, table it in accordance with statutory requirements.

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Motion (by Senator Sir Walter Cooper) agreed to -

That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Repatriation Act 1920-1959.

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Debate resumed from 6th September (vide page 432), on motion by Senator Paltridge -

That the following papers: -

Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1961.

The Budget 1960-61 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1960-61; and

National Income and Expenditure 1959-60- be printed.


. -When the Senate was adjourned last night, Mr. Deputy President, I was saying that I was amazed that my friends in the corner, the members of the Australian Country Party, had supported this Government for so many years but had got so little for the people they represent. After listening to various honorable senators refer in this debate to the position of the rural producers of this nation, my advice to those producers is to get people to represent them who will fight for what they want.

Senator Pearson:

– They would not find them in your party.


– My friend says that the primary producers would not find such people in the Labour Party. If Senator Pearson were to study the history of the help given to the rural producers of this country in both the Stale and Federal spheres, he would find that Labour’s record is equal to, if not better than, that of any other party. As I said last night, the main objective of the members of the Country Party seems to be to ensure that they are placed second in the Government parties’ Senate teams and thus guaranteed seats in this chamber. This is bad luck for the farmers. I know that the members of the Australian Country Party use the farmers. 1 say with all humility to the farmers of this country, “ You hold the balance of power. Now is the time to drive a bargain.”

Senator Vincent:

– Is the honorable senator talking about the D.L.P.?


– I do not mind interjections if they are sensible, but braying like the donkeys which Senator Scott mentioned last week, is a little disconcerting.

Senator Scott:

– What would a Labour government do?


– I shall leave the honorable senator with the donkeys. 1 think he would then be in his proper place.

We all know the position of Australian rural industries to-day. Costs have beaten them. When we wanted to retain control of land transactions we were told, “ Oh no, lft us get back to the good old days of free enterprise “. To-day, even the great wool barons are crying. Shall we hear from this party, which allegedly represents the primary producers, support for a floor price system for wool? It seems that the members of the Country Party represent the rural people only on the ticket that will put them in this place. I think it would be much more courageous if the Country Party said to those whom they have kept in power for the last eleven years, “ When do we get a go?” Are the representatives of the party frightened to say that? Are they afraid to ask for something for the people they purport to represent?

I listened with great interest last week to the speech of my friend, Senator Wright. I am prepared to admit that his acting is very clever and that his flow of language is perhaps unsurpassed in this chamber.

Senator Scott:

– You are not doing badly.


– I have already asked the honorable senator to stay with his friends. Not only did I listen to Senator Wright’s speech; I also read it. The theme seemed to be that the cause of our economic difficulties was the increases in margins and the basic wage by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In other words, Senator Wright apparently believes that the people should receive no increase of remuneration at all. Has he in mind driving them back to the bad old days? Mr. Justice Kirby, in his judgment, stated that, on the evidence adduced, the industries of this country could afford to pay increased wages. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in one of the extraordinary speechs that he often makes, exhorted, without success, the manufacturers and others not to increase prices. The ink was hardly dry on the judgment given by the commission when the people who have only their labour to sell were back where they started. If we want to cure ills in this country it must be an all-in effort and not merely an effort by the people who in the main support the Labour Party.

Senator Wright bitterly complained about the attitude of the seamen to their award. Has he studied the award?

Senator Wright:

– Yes.


– Very well, let us go through it. The material I have in my hands did not come from Elliott, because I would be the last to put up a case supplied by a Communist. This material came from the vice-president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I asked him to prepare this material for me on. the seamen’s award. I said, “ Cut out all the legalisms and let us get down to actual facts “. I will give Senator Wright a copy of this material afterwards if he would like one.

Senator Wright:

– Was it prepared before or after Mr. Justice Foster’s supplementary judgment?


– It was prepared on 25th August last. First of all, I want to deal with margins. Mr. Justice Foster, for whom I have the highest respect, increased the margins of seamen by up to 3 1 per cent, and the margins of firemen by 22 per cent. My informant, Mr. W. P. Evans, who is senior vice-president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, states that these increases should be compared with the general increase of 28 per cent, made in the Metal Trades Award.

Then, the keep allowance worth £2 6s. a week or ls. 2d. an hour, which was not included in the weekly wage for the purpose of computing overtime, was included in the wage and overtime calculated at the new hourly rate. Even allowing for the inclusion of the keep allowance the quarter-time penalty rate received by seamen is only 3id. an hour more than they received prior to the award.

Senator Wright:

Mr. Justice Foster analysed all that.


– I am going through the whole award; do not be impatient. Senator Wright comes in here and sheds tears about the berry-growers in his State. He may have good reason for doing that, but I have never yet heard him shed tears because of the fees for briefs that barristers obtain in certain courts. As Senator Wright was on my side when we increased our own salaries, he should not consider one section only.

Senator Wright:

– Are you suggesting that I agreed with that legislation?


– You voted for it.

Senator Wright:

– I voted against it.


– If the honorable senator voted against it, I offer my apology. However, he is taking the money now. It does not matter much when one is in the minority when a vote is taken in the chamber. The point is that he is taking the money now. The honorable senator is in the same category as I am. He is taking the money now.

Senator Wright:

– I opposed the legislation because I believed that it would trigger off another inflationary movement.


– I have heard the honorable senator make various speeches on inflation. Let us consider what has happened in regard to Saturday and Sunday work for seamen. Prior to the new award, when seamen worked on a Saturday they received quarter time over ordinary time, or, as we call it, time and a quarter, and they received a day’s leave in addition.

Senator Kendall:

– They got time and a quarter-


– Wait a minute! One at a time. I am answering my friend,

Senator Wright. What does this award do? It takes away from the men at sea a whole day’s pay. Now all that they get for Saturday work is time and a quarter, whereas they used to get time and a quarter plus a day’s leave. There is a similar provision in relation to Sunday work. They used to get time and a half for Sunday, plus a day’s leave. Mr. Evans states -

Under the old award, an employee who worked on Saturday was paid a penalty of quarter time extra, a full day’s pay-

I describe that as time and a quarter -

  1. . and a day’s leave, which was paid for either sooner or later. Under the new award, an employee working Saturday is paid a penalty rate of quarter time and is granted a day’s leave paid for sooner or later.

But he misses a day’s pay.

Senator Kendall:

– No, he does not.


– I bow to my friend’s great knowledge of the sailing of ships but I do not bow to his knowledge of this award. I shall give him a copy of it.

Senator Wright:

– If you read Mr. Justice Foster’s interpretation, you would agree with Senator Kendall.


– No, I would not. I think that this is pretty plain. The Sunday position is similar to the Saturday position, except that the penalty rate is half time instead of quarter time. Mr. Evans informs me that in these circumstances the loss to an employee working Saturday and Sunday would be one day’s pay in each case.

Senator Kendall:

– Nonsense!


– He has had a lot of experience in these matters and therefore I am prepared to accept what he says. He continues -

It is easy to understand the outcry from the seamen in respect to week-end rates. Week-end working is a normal feature of seagoing work and the employees, by the new award, are losing one day’s pay in respect to each Saturday and Sunday worked.

He says that there are a few cases in the industry where people are earning more to-day than they earned prior to the new award. He states -

This, of course, can be shown in a few cases. The effect of including the keep allowance and the increase in margins in the overtime rate means that it is possible to offset the two days’ pay lost at the week-end. If an employee works both Saturday and Sunday the two days’ pay lost can be offset by the increase in margins in the first place and by overtime if a sufficient amount of overtime is worked on Monday to Friday. On the figures presented by the shipowners, we have reached the conclusion . . .

I should say that “ we “ means the A.C.T.U.-

  1. . that the point at which the new award would provide the same result as the old award is where an employee has worked thirty additional hours as overtime on Monday to Friday (which would make a total of 46 hours overtime including the Saturday and Sunday). There are a number of these cases and they are being exploited to full advantage but they would not represent a majority of the employees concerned. Even if it were so, the employees concerned would be entitled to receive a real result from the increased margins gained and the correction of an obvious anomaly in respect to the keep allowance.

He continues -

The principal hardship appears to fall on the seamen in the B.H.P. ships who are on regular runs and work little overtime Monday to Friday, thus having no opportunity of recouping their losses for week-ends worked.

He finishes on this note -

It is abundantly clear that they have not secured any real improvement because of marginal increases that have benefited workers generally and have shown a real loss in respect to the weekend work.

Until that can be refuted, there should be less criticism of the men for taking drastic steps, although I cannot say that I always fall over on their side in support of such steps.

Senator Kendall:

– All overtime is additional to the monthly wage.


– I shall be glad if the honorable senator has an opportunity to reply to me. No doubt he will have such an opportunity in our discussion of the Estimates when the Appropriation Bill is before us. I shall give him a copy of this letter and then he may give his answer.

Earlier, it was not my intention to speak of these matters but as they were raised I could not let them pass without comment. I wish to speak on two aspects of the economy with which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) dealt. The first relates to overseas investments and the second to the failure of the loan programme. If time does not permit me to deal now with the second matter - I have some thought for others who wish to speak - I shall certainly find an opportunity later to deal with it. Foreign investments have played a most important part in the development of this country over a period of 130 years, but in recent years there has been a very great change in the character and direction of investment, and I believe that this change is of very grave significance. In the last century, investment came mainly from Great Britain. The British invested in loans for railways and other public works. Those loans, in the main, enabled the building of the railways of this nation. Those investors who did not invest in such loans put their money mainly into pastoral, mining and banking undertakings. After World War I. there was a very substantial British investment in the metal and chemical industries. Since 1947 there have been significant and grave changes in the character and direction of overseas investment. The first change has been in the increasing proportion of United States capital invested here. I would be the last person to criticize the people of the United States of America, because I and a lot of other people owe a great deal to them. I, and I am sure many others, will never forget the help they gave to us in our hour of need. But the facts that I am about to outline affect the Australian economy, and therefore I am entitled to express my viewpoint.

As I have said, since 1947 there has been a significant change in the percentage of United States capital invested in Australia. From July, 1947, to June, 1959, the total amount of foreign investments in this country was £937,200,000. Of that sum the United Kingdom supplied £583,400,000, or 62.3 per cent., and the United States supplied £258,400,000 or 27.6 per cent. The figures for the year 1957-58 show that American investments in Australia amounted to 37.1 per cent, of the total amount of foreign investments, compared with 53.8 per cent, in the case of British investments. Overseas investments in Australia do not now take the form that they took in the early days of the development of Australia. In those days the money was invested in public works, but nowadays it is going into manufacturing industries. In recent years between 60 per cent, and 70 per cent, of the total amount of foreign capital invested in Australia has been invested in manufacturing industries.

In the past, most of the overseas capital invested in Australia was new capital, but now a substantial part of it consists of undistributed profits which have been ploughed back to make further profits in the future. In 1957-58, 49.7 per cent, of foreign investments in Australia consisted of profits that firms had ploughed back into industry here. Figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician show that in 1955-56 the United Kingdom companies ploughed back 37.5 per cent, of their profits and United States companies ploughed back 76 per cent. In 1956-57, the relevant figures were 31.9 per cent, and 76.6 per cent. In 1957-58, United Kingdom organizations ploughed back 40.2 per cent, of their profits and United States companies 68.9 per cent.

It is easy to understand why there is a marked difference between the two sets of percentages. United Kingdom firms in Australia have many Australian shareholders. Unfortunately from Australia’s point of view, the shares in United States firms here are almost wholly Americanowned. Just let us call to mind what happened in relation to General MotorsHolden’s Limited. That organization offered the few people who held 6 per cent, preference shares a very good price for their shares so it could control the whole undertaking, instead of making an attempt to increase the proportion of Australian shareholdings.

Another illustration of the growth of United States investment in Australia is to be found in information contained in a Department of Trade publication entitled “ U.S. Investment in Australia “. The 1957 edition of that publication listed 772 Australian companies which had ties with United States companies. Of that number 172 were either affiliate companies or subsidiaries. The 1960 edition shows that the number had grown to 850, of which 204 were affiliates or subsidiaries. These facts alone illustrate the growing influence of American investment in Australia.

Let me sum up. The change in the overseas investment pattern in Australia can be seen, first, in the increasing proportion of United States capital; secondly, in the growing percentage of investment in manufacturing industries; and thirdly, the increasing extent to which foreign investment takes the form of ploughed back profits. This change, I submit, has brought about some grave disadvantages. In the past foreign investment has brought substantial benefits to Australia, but 1 believe that the changing character of investment is a cause for grave misgivings, if not alarm.

There is a growing dependence on foreign capital on the part of manufacturing industries. The noted economic historian Brian Fitzpatrick says that one-third of the total amount invested in manufacturing industries is capital from overseas. What will happen if that is ever cut off?

Another great cause for alarm is the growing amount of dividends that are paid overseas. For the eleven years from 1948- 49 to 1958-59 the total value of exports from Australia was £8,707,000,000 and the total amount of dividends, including royalties, remitted overseas was £403,100,000, or 4.2 per cent. For the years 1954-55 to 1958-59 inclusive, the total value of our exports was £4,212,000,000 and the total amount paid overseas in dividends, including royalties, was £242,400,000, or 5.75 per cent. Those figures do not take into account the profits that were retained in this country. I am fairly certain that there is no law to prohibit all the profits made by overseas organizations in Australia being remitted overseas. I suggest to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is at the table, that the Government must get headaches over that.

One looks with some alarm at the growing volume of overseas investments in Australia. I am certain that no honorable senator on the other side of the chamber, or on this side, no matter how friendly he may be towards the United States of America, wants to see Australia placed in the position in which Canada finds herself. Canada is faced with a great deficit in her balance of payments because of her lack of an adequate policy on foreign investment. The total profits made in Australia from foreign companies and liable to become payable overseas, would equal at least 10 per cent, of our export income. That is bad and causes grave concern to many people besides me.

A practice followed by many foreign companies is that of stipulating the source from1 which raw materials used by their Australian subsidiaries shall come. Some place restrictions on franchise rights for exports. I am fortified in this contention by Professor Arndt and Mr. Sherk who, in a paper on export franchises, published in the “ Economic Record “, claimed that of 650 Australian firms associated with United States’ firms, 275 were interested in export trade. Of those 275, no fewer than 101, or 40 per cent., were restrained from exporting to certain areas. Seventyone firms out of a total of 560 Australian firms associated with United Kingdom firms were similarly restrained. In each case 60 per cent, of Australian affiliates could not export beyond Australasia, the South. Pacific and Asia.

I think that we should deal with foreign investments in the same way as we deal with investments of British capital. Let us obtain an interest in these foreign firms. Let us hold stock in them. Let us at least ensure that not all of their profits go out of the country.

Another criticism I make of undue dependence on foreign investment here is that it takes place when we need it least. The year 1951-52 was a boom year for Australia in view of the high price received for wool In that year £69,000,000 of new capital came into the country from overseas. But in 1952-53, following savage import cuts and the horror Budget, when our overseas balances were very low, the inflow of new capital fell to £7,600,000. It must be obvious to anybody that when we most need this new capital we are least likely to get it.

United States’ firms place their capital in manufacturing industries that will return the greatest profits. In 1959, a total of 494,000,000 dollars was invested in Australia, which earned a profit of 64,000,000 dollars or 13 per cent. I have taken these figures from a publication, printed by the United States Chamber of Commerce, dealing with the growth of foreign investments in the United States and abroad.

I said earlier that I would discuss the position in which Canada now finds herself. The figures that I propose to cite have been taken from a paper published in New Zealand entitled “ Financial and Monetary Policy and Capital Requirements for Industrial Development in New Zealand “. It quotes figures from the annual report of the Bank of Canada. The figures show that in 1926 the United States controlled 35 per cent, of Canadian manufacturing industries. In 1953, the figure had increased to 47 per cent, and by 1957 it was in excess of 50 per cent. In 1926, the United States controlled 38 per cent, of mining industries in Canada. In 1953, the figure was 57 per cent. No figures are available for 1957, but I venture to suggest that the percentage would have increased. In 1957, the United States controlled 50 per cent, of the capital invested in petroleum in Canada. This volume of United States investment in Canadian industries must have been an important factor contributing to Canada’s deficit of 1,460,000,000 dollars in her balance of payments in 1959. Of that amount, 1,074,000,000 dollars was the result of invisible transactions, of which 600,000,000 dollars at least was related to service of foreign capital.

Senator Scott:

– You have exceeded your time.


– I have a few minutes left. I have certain rights.

Senator Scott:

– You must be fair.


– I must be fair. I did not interrupt Senator Scott when he was speaking last week about the animals, and I do not want him to come in when I am speaking. If I am exceeding my rights the Acting Deputy President will tell me. I want to continue my remarks because this matter is one of the most important confronting Australia at the moment.

We must ask ourselves whether this inflow of foreign capital is desirable, and whether we should impose certain conditions on it. I would welcome foreign capital into this country if it came in the form of loans. We would be able to repay the loans in due course, and still retain control over our industries, thereby assisting to solve out balance of payments problem. I do not think that I am the only person in the community who is concerned about this matter. I propose to quote what the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, has said about it.

Senator Kendall:

– Why not do it when you are speaking on the Estimates.


– I will do it now. As recently as 19th May last Mr. McEwen is reported to have said -

To what extent should we, over the long term, see sections of our economy go to overseas ownership and profit? The short-term interests are cleat, and we are greatly advantaged. The long-term reconciliation of our Australian interests and the interest of the overseas entrepreneur will best be resolved in some measure of partnership.

Now let us see what the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has said.

Senator Kendall:

– This is the first time that anybody has broken the arrangement for limiting speaking time.


– There is no arrangement so far as two people on this side of the chamber are concerned.

Senator Scott:

– One.


– Two. I refused to have anything to do with it. However, we will talk about that later. I want to quote what Mr. Harold Holt said about this matter. Speaking at the National Export Convention held in Canberra in May last, he said -

Over recent years we have been favoured by a high rate of capital inflow. 1 know there are people who have differing views about this business of overseas capital investment-

Senator Toohey:

– I rise to order. Are you prepared, Mr. Acting Deputy President, to say whether Senator Kennelly has exceeded his time?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! There is no substance in the point taken by Senator Toohey.

Senator Toohey:

– I think that you. Sir, should control honorable senators opposite.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. -Senator Kennelly should continue his speech.

Senator Gorton:

– He has breached an agreement.


– I have not breached any agreement.

Senator Kendall:

– We have had this agreement for eleven years.


– I have not breached an agreement. My Leader and I are each entitled to speak for one hour.

Senator Kendall:

– Your Leader may be so entitled.


– And so, too, am I.

Senator Scott:

– No.


– We shall argue that later. While I believe I am right, I will continue. I want to read what the

Treasurer said, and if honorable senators opposite keep on interjecting 1 will take up more time.

Senator Sheehan:

Mr. Acting Deputy President, I believe you have a duty when you are in the Chair-

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Will the honorable senator please sit down or take a point of order? You may take a point of order if you so desire, but you cannot make a speech.

Senator Sheehan:

– I wish to raise a point of order. It is the duty of the senator occupying the Chair for the time being to keep order in the Senate, and I hope that duty will be carried out.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! If Senator Kennelly needs any help from the Chair he will certainly ask for it. If he provokes criticism, he must expect it in return.


– I will talk to you later, Mr. Acting Deputy President, about provoking criticism on this matter. Mr. Harold Holt said -

Over recent years we have been favoured by a high rate of capital inflow. I know there are people who have differing views about this business of overseas capital investment. While the Government has a clear view on this matter-

I doubt that -

I would not Like to see capital investment from overseas continue on the present scale (over £100,000,000 a year) indefinitely.

I submit that this is one of the big questions confronting this nation. I would be very pleased if the Leader of the Government or any senator on the opposite side of the chamber gave this matter some thought and then spoke in the Senate on this important question without interruption, so that each of us could learn from the other. If we continue as we are going, I am very concerned about Australia’s future balance of payments position.

I shall discuss the matter raised in the interjections at a later date, and if I find I am wrong - I do not believe I am - I will be the first to rise in this chamber and apologize to each and every honorable senator. However, I do not believe I am wrong.

Western Australia

– I rise to support the motion before the Senate for the printing of the

Budget Papers. In doing so, I should like to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Holt), who has been able to present what might be termed a safe budget which, I believe, is a sincere attempt by the Government to deal fairly with the many problems confronting Australia to-day. Many of those problems are very closely linked with the unprecedented and rapid expansion which this country is enjoying. Senator Kennelly is much more effective when he is quoting figures than when he is trying to drive a wedge between the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party. He gets over-excited about these matters and that is why he took up a good deal more time this afternoon than was really his share. It is a commonly accepted fact that in times of unprecedented prosperity a certain amount of inflation is pardonable and is not looked upon as a crowning disaster. From some of the speeches made by Opposition senators one would think that the inflation we are experiencing, which is not really very great in comparison with the prosperity in Australia, should be looked upon as a crowning disaster.

The aim of this Budget is really to avoid any further inflation which might create problems from which many countries in the world are suffering. In this Budget the Treasurer is trying to achieve a surplus of revenue over total expenditure, and for that purpose expenditure is to be kept down to a minimum. He also proposes to increase taxation slightly, in order to yield a surplus. I agree with the Treasurer’s statement about the aims of his Budget, which is as follows: -

The Commonwealth Budget has to be regarded as a means to guide the broad trend of the economy in the direction of certain wellestablished goals. It is common ground with all of us that we want to see a strong, continuous growth of population and industry, rising standards of living, full employment of labour and such a degree of stability as will promote these aims and safeguard the share in the gains of progress to which every one is entitled. These goals have to be sought steadily whatever the changes in conditions - changes which sometimes favour them, sometimes run counter to them - and policy measures have to be adapted to meet such changes.

While I am in general agreement with the Budget, I believe the Government could have given a good deal more relief to certain sections of the community. I -shall dwell on some of those points a little later. The criticism offered by Opposition senators has been based mostly on the timely warnings the Treasurer included in his Budget speech. The Opposition has followed what now seems to be its only practice of turning everything into a doleful tale. Even the Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna, joined in this sad tale about the way Australia is going downhill. How he can honestly defend such statements as he made is very puzzling when the facts are so apparent. The expansion of trade and commerce, wider ownership of homes, increased primary production and an improved standard of living are all evident and conclusive proof that the honorable senator’s doleful tale really is not true.

His condemnation of hire-purchase amazed me because stable employment, greater distribution of wealth and increased wages for every body in the post-war years have enabled the wage earners, whom his party is supposed to represent, to accumulate enough money to make deposits on the various amenities they want for their homes and to pay the instalments on them. Whatever may be our private opinions about hire-purchase, we must realize that the workers to-day are able to enjoy countless amenities which were unthought of in prewar days, such as home ownership, refrigerators, washing machines, radios and television sets. But even after all that lavish spending - we must admit that the amount of hire-purchase business indicates lavish spending - the workers are able to accumulate the sum of £1,490,000,000 in savings bank account. That is a very large sum of money. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was referring in his speech during this debate to savings bank deposits, he assured me, in response to my interjection, that the savings banks deposits in this country are not all held by individual depositors. I therefore went to the trouble to inquire into the matter. I have found that there are 8,640,000 private accounts in the savings banks. In view of the fact that we have a population of only about 10,000,000 people, this seems to me to indicate that Australia is enjoying remarkable prosperity under this Government. The workers of this country, in addition to enjoying the amenities that I have previously mentioned, are able to deposit money in the savings banks. The overall picture of our prosperity and rate of expansion would, I think, convince all but the most pessimistic people that we enjoy a high standard of living.

Senator Dittmer railed against the profits that are being made by some overseas companies, many of whose shareholders reside outside Australia. While I agree with the honorable senator’s contention that some limitation could well be imposed on the repatriation of profits, I think we would do well to remind ourselves that a great deal of money is ploughed back into our economy by these highly successful concerns, by means of wages paid to highly skilled men and women employees and, indeed, to all classes of workers. The honorable senator referred specifically to General MotorsHolden’s Limited. That company has ploughed back into our economy a sum of £50,000,000, which is reflected in the general prosperity that we are enjoying to-day.

We heard a delightful recital by Senator Nicholls last night of the companies which are making profits in this country and sending most of those profits overseas. If time permitted, I would refer in detail to some of the companies he mentioned. However, the honorable senator did not complete the picture, because he did not refer to the amount of money that those companies plough back into our economy. There exists in this country to-day something that should make the members of the Labour Opposition rejoice; I refer to the problem of full employment. I say that it is a problem. Mr. Syme, of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, has stated that that company has vacancies for 1,000 men in its works on the south coast of New South Wales, but that it cannot obtain the men to dc the kind of work it wants done. No fewer than fourteen pages of last Saturday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ were devoted to advertising vacant positions in New South Wales and in other parts of Australia. That shows that we do have a problem of full employment.

In my view, the problem is made more acute by the fact that we are continuing to retire people from their employment at the ages of 60 or 65 years. Amongst the ranks of the retired people in Australia, many of whom have been compulsorily retired, there are many who are fit and able to fill many of the vacant positions that are advertised in our newspapers. However, they are not allowed to do so because they are in receipt of pensions. We are building up our social services to an almost unmanageable degree, and I think it is high time that the Government gave very serious consideration to the loss to our economy that is being occasioned by retirement at the ages I have mentioned. Due to the longer expectation of life that good conditions of living and the sunshine in this country have given us, we are faced with a real problem in ensuring that people do not draw pensions at too early an age.

Many members of the Opposition are still wedded to the idea that the reintroduction of prices control would do away with some of the difficulties that we are experiencing to-day, such as rising costs. I believe that ultimately the lifting of import controls will do a great deal to stem rising costs because it will keep the Australian manufacturers on their toes in order to meet healthy competition by overseas goods, but I wish to revert to the subject of prices control - which is the prayer of the Opposition. I recall that when I was learning music some years ago, most music students were taught to play a piece called “ The Maiden’s Prayer “. I am beginning to think that the only prayer that is offered up by the Opposition is one for a return to prices control. We continually hear references to the effect of prices control during Labour’s regime, before this very successful Government came to office in 1949. Many of us remember the hordes of inspectors who harassed small shopkeepers and large shopkeepers alike. We also remember the black marketing and under-the-counter dealings that went on. Under prices control, neither the buyer nor the seller was satisfied. We do not want to return to the state of affairs that existed under Labour’s administration.

I have before me a copy of a very interesting publication, the Queensland “ Retailer “. I am not sure whether this is the magazine from which Senator Aylett quoted last night. If it is, I would like to say that the honorable senator omitted to quote from the most interesting article in the magazine, which contrasts conditions under prices control with the results of free enterprise. Addressing a large group of people who were interested in this matter - they were 150 members of the National Council of Women, who had set out to ascertain how rising prices came about - Mr. D. C. Black, the association manager of the Retailers Association of Queensland, stated quite definitely that food prices had generally not increased at a faster rate than the general economy. His statement was confirmed by Dr. J. McCarthy, the senior lecturer in agricultural economics, who said that research had shown that since 1925 food prices had not risen at a greater rate than the basic wage. Referring to the wonderful chart he had - I am sorry I cannot produce the chart in the Senate; it would repay all honorable senators, I think, to get a copy of this magazine in order to see the chart - Mr. Black stated, in connexion with the C series index, that in 1957 the cost of the C series commodities was £3 2s. 10d.. compared with £3 6s. 9d. in 1958 and £3 8s. 8d. in July, 1960. This means that it cost 5s. lOd. more to buy certain goods in July, I960, than in 1957. I am sure that nobody would say that this is a phenomenal rise. When we hear about the cost of groceries being one of the reasons for the terrible poverty that is alleged to exist in Australia, honorable senators can use these figures to refute that argument. Mr. Black went on to say that during the same period the basic wage had increased by £1 10s. in Queensland - from £12 ls. to £13 lis. a week.

As a shade over one-third of all spending is on food and groceries, it is reasonable to expect that increases in food costs would account for about one-third of the basic wage increases. The price of groceries, then, could justifiably have been expected to rise by one-third of the basic wage increases, or by an amount equal to an increase of 10s., whereas the prices of the groceries included in the C series index increased by only one-fifth, or by 5s. lOd.

Mr. Black concluded his remarks by saying that competition had proved a far more effective taskmaster for the retail trade than either the prices commissioner or his inspectors, and that so long as competition remained keen, so long would food prices be kept down. When members of the Opposition plead for controls here and controls there, they should have regard to expert advice which will indicate that quite a lot of the criticism they make about rising costs is not substantiated by figures that can be supplied. I do not need to remind the Opposition that this Government does not like controls and supports the continuance of free enterprise.

I turn now to social services. In the field of pensions, I am glad that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) has been able to provide for certain increases, small though they may be. This Government has been consistently helpful in the pensions field. My colleague, Senator Mckellar, gave a very fine analysis of pensions when he spoke in this debate recently. His statement that it would be necessary to invest £5,000 to receive an income of £5 a week is worth remembering. The assistance given by the Minister for Social Services to provide homes for aged people, at a cost of more than £7,000,000, has helped over 7,000 aged people to enjoy the care and attention they so richly deserve. I have visited a number of new homes for the aged, and also homes to which additions have been made possible by the generous help of this Government in granting finance on the basis of £2 for each £1 raised by the organizations concerned.

I have visited homes in Western Australia, where excellent establishments exist, in Tasmania, and also in Melbourne, Geelong, and other parts of the Commonwealth. Everywhere I have gone I have been struck particularly by the happiness of the people who have been enabled to enjoy comfort in their old age. That has been especially evident at the places where geriatric care also is provided. People who considered themselves unwanted by the world have been made to feel, through therapy and geriatric treatment, that they are still useful members of the Australian community. I congratulate the Minister on being able to do that. At the same time, I am of the opinion that our present methods of dealing with the problems of pensioners do not provide the full answer. The introduction at the earliest possible moment of a national insurance scheme, such as that envisaged by this Government a few years ago, is the only means of solving a very complex problem.

The Government is to be further commended on its action to ameliorate the means test. It appears, from figures that have been supplied, that about 100,000 of our thriftiest citizens have been penalized for some years because, in their earlier days, they tried to provide for their old age. The merging of the means test provisions, which the Government proposes this year, has given great joy to those people. While I compliment the Government on these achievements, I must say how thoroughly disappointed I am that nothing more than the ordinary increase of the pension rate has been provided for the civilian widow. As honorable senators know, the pension of the civilian widow is less than that of the war widow. That is understandable, and 1 am not objecting on that score. My objection is that the amount that the civilian widow may earn in addition to her pension is severely limited. I do not think justice will ever be done to the civilian widows of this country until that embargo is removed, and they are allowed to earn as much as their talents will permit.

J am also terribly disappointed that wives of invalid pensioners are not to have their pension of £1 15s. a week increased. I commend Senator Drury who, 1 am sorry to see, is not in the chamber at the moment to hear me, on the very logical statement in this respect that he made earlier in the week. The wife of an invalid pensioner must also be nurse, cook, laundress, housekeeper for the family, and a financier of peculiar ability if she is to use her husband’s pension and her pittance of 35s. a week to the best advantage. The Minister for Social Services should direct his attention to the two pointed anomalies in the social services scheme to which I have referred. 1 come to the vexed question of education, in which I am very interested. A pleasing feature of the Budget is the assistance which is to be given to State universities. There remains in the States the difficult problem of providing accommodation for the training of teachers who are required not only for the migrant children now arriving in this country, but also for migrants’ children who have been born here and are now of school age. The State Education Departments are finding it exceedingly difficult to make ends meet. I know that certain pressure groups argue that the Commonwealth Government should’ practically take over the administration of education, but if it were to do that, the Commonwealth would direct the way in which the huge grant that would be necessary was to be expended. I should not like to see the Commonwealth take over the State education systems. I think it is much better that they remain as they are, and that the State governments allocate extra funds for education. I appreciate that the Commonwealth Government has realized the need to increase the grants to the States because of the increasing demands of education. I remind the pressure groups, which are writing to all of us asking for our views and urging us to press this matter, that the Commonwealth has given to the States larger grants than they have received previously and that, therefore, the pressure groups should press their State governments for a bigger allocation for education.

It is estimated that payments to the States this year will amount to £350,000,000, or £29,000,000 more than last year. An additional £4,000,000 is to be provided under the Commonwealth aid roads legislation. Special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania this year will total £8,618,000, or £292,000 more than last year. A special development grant of £1,000,000, spread over five years is being made to the Western Australian Government for the development of the northern part of the State. We are very grateful for all those increased grants, but we in Western Australia appreciate that the State government will still face a tremendous task in developing the northern frontier of Australia. I am of the opinion that we need a coastguard service along the north-west coast, and I hope the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) is listening.

There are many other matters that I should like to discuss, but my time is running out. I should like to speak about the success of our health scheme and our immigration programme. I should like also to say something about foreign affairs. However, discussion of those matters must wait until a future time. In my opening remarks, I referred to taxation increases. I do not believe that big businesses will feel at all the increased tax which the Treasurer proposes to impose. I say that, because big business will simply pass it on to the consumer. That is the difference between people in big business and the primary producer. The primary producer has no hope whatever of passing on any of the taxes imposed on him in the way that big business can pass on taxes. 1 am very disappointed that the iniquitous pay-roll tax still remains on the statute-book. I agree with Senator Aylett that sales tax too is an imposition. Both these taxes should have been swept away long before this. They were only war-time measures, and it is time that we found some other method of taxation so that you and I, and the man in the street, could know exactly how much we are paying in taxation. We do not know to-day because of the indirect forms of taxation. Pay-roll tax is a very definite item in rising costs, and for that one reason alone it should be dispensed with. lt was pleasing to note that in my own State of Western Australia we had a record wool clip this year and also that our beef cattle population, which is centered mostly in the Kimberleys, has increased. The wool clip of 157,929,000 lb. this year exceeded the previous record clip by almost 3.300,000 lb. Our cattle numbers declined in the year before last but has now increased by 4 per cent., and almost half the total increase occurred in the Kimberleys area where the sum of £1,000,000 that the Commonwealth Government is making available to Western Australia is to be spent. I hope the increase in the numbers of beef cattle will continue because, with a high world demand for beef, we have an excellent opportunity to develop the Kimberleys if we could produce bigger herds and take a bigger share in the wonderful air-beef scheme.

While I am talking about cattle and sheep, I should refer to something that could develop into a very serious threat to our wool industry. The press has contained warnings lately of Russia’s bid to overtake our lead as a wool producer. These warnings have come from more than one source. Some months ago a woman grazier, Mrs. Cooper, of Victoria, was a member of a group of farmers and graziers who visited Russia. She has sounded a warning note in addresses which she has given to various organizations. Recently, when addressing the Victorian branch of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, she said that the Russians expected to produce more wool in 1970 than Australia did to-day. She went on -

I came back convinced that the current sevenyear target of 1,200,000,000 lb. of wool will be reached by 1965.

The physical power of their regime is so tremendous that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that their whole wool clip could be used to manipulate the world wool markets and create an economic depression in wool exporting countries.

Since Australia now relies so much on wool exports, Mrs. Cooper’s statement is a very serious warning to us. She also said that she would like to see more definite research plans being made so that the Australian wool-grower will have the best possible advice, and be able to improve not only his herds but also his wool clip.

In conclusion, I join with my colleagues on this side of the chamber in congratulating the Government on a very successful year, and I commend it for keeping this country on an even keel of prosperity. I support the motion.

Senator BROWN:

.- I do not rise with any great enthusiasm, as we are nearing the end of this debate. All the young people have had their say, and at present we are getting down to the weight-for-age section. However, I am pleased to be able to say a few words of comfort to the few people assembled here and to people who may be listening in. I think that, with the development of television, the day of listening to Parliamentary broadcasts will soon be ended and I hope and pray that no one ever suggests that we televise proceedings in the Parliament.


– Members would attend more often if proceedings were televised.

Senator BROWN:

– Yes, and they would put on their best clothes and their smartest smiles. We have been talking in this Senate since federation, and there is no doubt that many honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives too, put a lot of work into their speeches. I read the speech of Mr. Turner, a tory, in another place and also the speech made by Senator Wright, an ultra-tory, in this chamber. I have a certain adm’iration for those gentlemen who, although their words are not promulgated or published throughout the country, do at least uphold the prestige of Parliament because they get away from the common rut of political bunk, political antagonisms and the rest that we hear from so many honorable senators here and from so many honorable members in another place.

It is good to hear some real reasoned arguments. I was certainly struck by the speech of Mr. Turner. I was not present when Senator Wright was speaking, but 1 did him the honour of reading his speech. I do not agree in the main with what he said, but at least he put up a case. Considering the work that must have gone into the preparation of those speeches, I do not know that they achieve very much, because the Budget will go through regardless of what is said by me or by any one else in this chamber or in another place. However we do get the opportunity to have our speeches printed and published throughout our constituencies.

There is a good deal of antagonism between the Liberal-Country Party, which runs on a unity ticket, and the Labour Party, which at present is running on a disunity ticket. The basic reason for this antagonism is that honorable senators opposite are men and women who are wedded to monopoly, the machinations of modern financial capitalism’, huge profits, take-overs and such like, whereas we on this side are interested in the organization of the mass of the workers.

Senator McKellar:

– Socialism.

Senator BROWN:

– We are not afraid of that at all, and 1 am going to explain what it is. I have been in this business of promulgating Labour’s ideas for 60 years. In my early days I read the publications of the various socialist parties. I even read Karl Marx, but you must not mention him to-day, because if you do somebody will say you are a Communist. Society progresses and develops. It goes through various changes. To-day, society is an economic and social organization wherein the mass of the people work together for the production of commodities and services. Our political ideas and ideology are based on the knowledge that society to-day is a social organism. We believe that if we produce socially, then, with the development and progress of the present system into another system, the people who produce socially will own socially. Of course, that will exclude all the necessaries of our private lives.

There is nothing wrong with our objective, which is social ownership. In the Post Office we have an economic organization that is publicly owned. Although money for it is borrowed by governments and interest is paid, it is an example of an economic organization that has been taken out of the arena of economic disputation and gambling, such as the buying and selling of shares, and has become public property. Those who work in the Post Office, from the highest to the lowest, are concerned with making it an economic and social organization working for the community. There is no buying and selling of shares; it is not subject to the vagaries of the stock exchange.

I am still convinced that the proper development of this country will be towards a system of society in which there is social production and eventually social ownership. That is the basis of Labour’s philosophy, lt can be readily understood by those who make a study of politics that the Liberal Party and the Country Party are conservative and are wholly bound up with the capitalist financial system. Honorable senators opposite applaud that system and everything done by its leaders and economic masterminds. Anything that we on this side do is deplored, derided and scoffed at. My withers are unwrung when I hear this constant political disputation. I recognize that our friends on the other side do not think as we think, because they are affected by their environment and, of course, partly by heredity.

I am amused, as I sit here in my days of near silence, to hear gentlemen opposite making various charges against Labour. They say that Labour believes in centralization and believes that if everything were centred in Canberra all would be well in Australia. What stupid utterances! We do not believe in centralization, but we do believe that if a law should be applicable to the whole of Australia there should be only one such law and it should be made in Canberra. Labour believes in decentralization. We believe, as does the old conservative from Tasmania, that the nearer administration is to the people the better it is for the people. We are advocates of decentralization and of greater financial assistance to local government so that it may carry out its work efficiently for the betterment of the people it serves. Labour believes in centralization only in relation to laws that have application throughout Australia, such as the divorce law we recently passed, after many years of State interference in the realm of marital trouble. 1 wish Senator McCallum were here, as he referred to this topic. Labour is the greatest safeguard against communism. If Labour has a number of political victories, it will carry out its programme, which will enable us to overcome much of the antagonism that has been generated by the stupid polices of our opponents, who are supporters of monopolies. It is the considered opinion of many thinking persons in Australia that it would be a pity if the disunity of Labour were not overcome, because if it were overcome we would be able to work together as a team for the purpose of gaining control of the treasury bench.

Our friends on the other side say that we are Jeremiahs and are always crying poor mouth. Our duty is to direct attention to the social and economic trends and the troubles in society to-day, so that those on the Government side who sit back in the breeching will not become too lazy and indifferent to the need for legislation to overcome our troubles. I shall quote a statement made, not by a Labour man, but by one of the leading newspaper columnists in Australia, Mr. Harold Cox. He writes for the syndicated press. He informs me that he is independent. I do not think that he is independent but he says that he is. Undoubtedly, honorable gentlemen, opposite take notice of him. Referring to the Government’s Budget - it is not our Budget; it is the Government’s Budget, framed to suit the system of financial capitalism in which honorable senators opposite believe - he wrote -

The current talk about a new “ stabilizing “ policy in the Budget is all claptrap.

Here is another quotation from Mr. Cox. At times I have a great admiration for him - when he is our way. He wrote -

The Menzies’ Government has found it wise to launch another anti-inflation drive that will lift out of Australian pockets an estimated £15,000,080 more than the amount necessary to restore a budgetary balance.

He referred to the re-imposition of the 5 per cent, reduction that was made in income tax last year and he stated that there had been two income tax increases. With inflation giving rise to increased wages, thousands of workers move into a hig’her income bracket and have to pay income tax at a higher rate. Not only has the Government increased income tax by 5 per cent, but also the increased wages, for which the workers were compelled to ask because of the Government’s inflationary moves, have put the workers into higher income tax brackets. Mr. Cox continued -

The real surplus in this year’s Budget will be nearer £50,000,000 than the £15,000,000 the accounts forecast …. Direct taxes, of which personal income tax and company tax provide by far the largest yield, have gone up by £9 14s. Od. to a new record level of £82 15s. 3d. a head this year.

They are not Labour’s figures; they are the figures of a tory writer. The information contained in the Budget shows that the tax burden per head of population for the current year will be £134 18s. 10d., a rise of £12 12s. lOd. or more than 10 per cent, on last year’s level. Senator Robertson congratulated the Government, but she did not mention that fact. I had intended to quote what the “ Bulletin “, which is a tory paper, had to say, but I have not the time.

Let me refer to the statement that Labour supporters are Jeremiahs and moaners. I have heard supporters of the Government say for many years that members of the Australian Labour Party are always moaning and groaning, are always seeing dark clouds on the economic horizon, and are continually saying that the storm will soon burst and we will all be on the bread line. I do not agree that that is so. I realize that Australia is going ahead and that she must go ahead, even though there are dark clouds of war on the horizon and even though the dark clouds of communism lie to our north over China and Russia. Economically, Australia must go ahead. It is during this period of excessive activity under the influence of capitalism that the workers have a chance to get a fair price for their labour. I do not blame the workers for organizing in an effort to gain power. If their efforts are to be stopped by the underground engineering of those who are of a different religious persuasion and who seek to destroy Labour, Australia will be faced with one of the greatest dangers that has ever confronted her. There will be a rapid development of communism. Let me say to honorable senators opposite and to any one else who may be listening to me that, if you stop the march of Labour by putting obstacles in its way and make it impossible for Labour ever to regain the treasury bench to carry out the reforms that are outlined in its policy, you will provide the greatest opportunity for the development of communism. Those persons who have been persuaded to fight against the Labour Party and to vote for the Australian Democratic Labour Party or the Queensland Labour Party must see that by helping the Liberal Party they are holding back the Labour Party. Labour, by its actions, has shown that it is one of the greatest forces in Australia that are capable of preventing the spread of communism.

While speaking about Jeremiahs, let me quote the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. McEwen. He is not a Labour man. He says that the economy is balanced on a razor’s edge. He further says that in four years there has been a decline of 11 per cent, in farm incomes. If we were all like “Senator Lillico and were able to persuade people to take lower wages and work harder, we might be able to improve that state of affairs. But, of course, we cannot do that; such a thing could be done only in the realm of tory fantasy. Mr. McEwen also said that in 1959-60 the value of the farmers’ production rose by £40,000,000. Mr. Adermann is not a Labour man. He said that last year the farmers’ income rose by only £3,000,000. We are told that we must work harder and longer, that the farmers must work harder, that the manufacturers must increase their overseas trade and that Australia must increase her exports by at least £250.000,000 a year. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said, the farmers’ incomes come down, production goes up, and the more you export the less you get.

I have before me also a report in the “ Courier-Mail “ - it is not a Labour newspaper - of a statement made by a certain gentleman in Brisbane only a few weeks ago. That gentleman is not a Labour man. In fact, T do not intend to quote the words of Labour men, so there will be no cause for argument on the other side of the cham ber. Before I refer to this gentleman’s statement, I remind the Senate of the way in which Senator Kennelly showed just how pleased American capitalists are with Australia. They are investing their money here and are gaining greater control of various undertakings, just as they did when I was in Canada in 1908, 1909 and 1910. The Canadians were warned at that time about what could happen. At that time British capital accounted for approximately 25 per cent, of all capital invested in Canada, and American capital accounted for approximately 75 per cent. Now American capital accounts for possibly 80 per cent, of the total amount invested. The same thing could happen in Australia, and we could become the 51st American State. The report in the “ Courier-Mail “ to which I have referred reads -

Australia’s financial boom would continue until Christmas, but it could “ tail off “ by the March quarter next year.

The person who uttered those words was Mr. John Donovan, an economist with W. D. Scott and Company Proprietary Limited, who are management consultants. The statement was made on 29th August last. The report continues -

Mr. Donovan said: “Everything is booming at the moment, but a deflationary force is coming from our balance of overseas payments.”

We on this side of the chamber, quietly and without rancour, say much the same. But let honorable senators opposite not take too much notice of us; let them take notice of their own people! The newspaper report continues -

The national income, he said, rose last year by 8.3 per cent to £5489 million.

Business income rose by 6.8 per cent, but farm income hardly increased at all.

What are the representatives of the farmers doing? It is time they woke up. Then the “ Courier-Mail “ report reads -

Mr. Donovan forecast Australia’s exports would fall to £850 million, imports would rise to £1050 million, and the trade deficit would increase from about £10 million “ to the order of £200 million “.

Further on it reads -

Mr. Donovan said the Federal Government had raised taxes to dampen the boom, but he felt the Government had under-estimated the balance of payments movement.

So much for Mr. Donovan, who is not a Labour man.

I wish to speak about inflation. I am not sure whether the Government believes in trying to stop inflation. I do not think certain very important personages in the capitalist world are eager to reduce inflation. Similar statements have been made by other than Labour men. I had thought that, if this Government was really eager to stop inflation, it may have appointed a Minister for Inflation who could have looked into the matter and have had staff at his command to help him. Of course, he would have looked, first, at the inflation of the Ministry. As our friend Mr. Cox says, the Ministry is terribly inflated. If there was a Minister for Inflation, he would need to have the greatest freedom and not be subject to pressure from the inflated egos who would like to impress their views upon him. In other words, he would have to be independent. Such a Minister would handle financial matters. He would have regard not only to wages of workers but also hire purchase. When the the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was speaking in this debate, honorable senators opposite scoffed at him. He showed how the control of finance has been taken out of the hands of the banks and handed to independent organizations. Australia’s hire-purchase debt is now in the vicinity of £440,000,000. Hire-purchase companies are seeking capital and are offering interest rates of 10 per cent., 12 per cent, and higher. The vending machine companies are offering up to 20 per cent, interest. I hope they get their money back.

This is a disturbing trend in the capitalist financial system. All is not well with Australia’s finances. With millions in finance being raised outside the banks and not subject to any government control, it is time for an investigation to see where we are going in the world of finance.

When speaking in this debate, Senator Wright referred to inflation. Although I did not agree with everything that he said, I thought his speech was very good. I support his contention that -

Inflation gives rise to the form of speculation which generates profits in figures, but not in terms of real value. These profits accrue to people who have l he time and wealth. . . .

We know that to be a fact. Behind all the glittering figures that honorable senators opposite dangle before the eyes of the elec- tors is the fact that the productive capacity of this country is not being used to get the best results. Men and women are being blinded by offers of high interest rates for their money. The Government will probably continue to play the game of party politics and use figures to blind the mob; but, after sitting here for almost 28 years, I want facts. I would like to see a ministry of inflation or a commission set up that would get down to business. Instead of playing the game of politics, let us know how the system operates. Let us know what is going on and where we are going. Let us know how we can avoid the stupidities and pitfalls that are present in our system.

Many good men in this world - not politicians - want to see the workers recognized as a power in the community. They want to see the workers take their rightful place in the community. If the Government is to improve the position of the workers, it must change its tactics. It must endeavour to obtain the goodwill of the people. This has not been done in England. I propose to show the Senate what is happening in the Old Country under the inflationary financial system - a system that makes the workers mere sellers of labour power instead of taking them into the government’s confidence and giving them real wages instead of inflationary wages. If the present trend continues, before long one will need a wheel-barrow in which to carry sufficient money to pay for a tram ride. I propose to read from a report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ under the heading “ H.P. Debtors Arouse Concern in the U.K.”. The articles states -

Concern is developing in Britain about the rapid rise in the number of imprisonments for debt because of failure to pay instalments on hirepurchase agreements.

Last year 4,821 people were committed to prison from the County Courts, which deal with commercial debts in general.

This, as the yearly report of the Commissioners of Prisons shows, compares with 3,673 in 1958 and 928 in 1953: In the last two years the number more than doubled. “These prisoners come, we have reason to believe, largely as a result of failure to pay commercial debts of which the bulk will have been incurred as a result of hirepurchase agreements “, the commissioners reported. “ We view with misgiving the effect of this development on our limited accommodation.”

Honorable senators opposite should not laugh when we on this side of the chamber refer to these matters. They should not try to make us look like a pack of ninnies eager to make party political capital. We have a case to put before the people. We believe that these problems of inflation can be overcome if tackled properly. The Government will need to study the position and arrive at a definite conclusion that will take it on the road to economic well-being.

Senator BRANSON:
Western Australia

– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers. I hope that “ Hansard “ will record Senator Brown’s remarks correctly. The honorable senator has been here for 28 years and probably has the greatest length of service of any honorable senator opposite. If I heard him correctly, he stated that the Government parties were united but that the Opposition was disunited. He said that we on this side of the Senate ran on a unity ticket but that the Labour Party ran on a disunity ticket. I am glad that his statement is recorded in “ Hansard “.

Senator Brown:

– I admit that I said that.

Senator BRANSON:

– Thank you! I congratulate the Government on this Budget, because I think it is a sensible and business-like document. It will probably go down in history as a budget that has drawn the least amount of criticism from the Opposition, the press and the people. I remind the Senate that those three sections of the community are very vocal if they think that criticism is warranted.

It seems to be the fashion to name budgets. If I had to put a name to this document 1 would call it the “ realistic “ budget. I say that because it has been accepted without any real criticism as an accounting to the nation. The Australian people have come to realize that Budget day is not Christmas day and that the Federal Treasurer is not Father Christmas, handing out gifts and concessions to all and sundry. Hand-outs and concessions are very nice for those who receive them, but somebody must foot the bill and that somebody is usually the taxpayer. If taxation is too high there is a drop in production. I well remember that following the high wool prices in 1951, a number of farmers cut their wheat acreage drastically because it did not pay them to grow wheat. There is a limit to the amount of tax people can pay, and that limit controls the amount of tax concessions that can be granted.

I am delighted, and just as pleased as the rest of my Western Australian colleagues on both sides of the chamber are, to know that this year £1,000,000 is to be made available for the development of the northwest of Western Australia, compared with last year’s expenditure of £484,000. That indicates to me that the Government recognizes the need to treat this area as an area requiring special assistance. In my opinion the whole of the north of Australia is in that category. During the last recess, as a member of the Government Members Food and Agriculture Committee, I visited the wet tropics of north Queensland and I was very impressed by the tremendous possibilities of that vast and very rich area. Far be it from me to offer suggestions to a sovereign government, but after my visit to that area I believe that the Queensland Government should prepare a well documented case for presentation to this Parliament, similar to the case the Western Australian Government prepared when it sought assistance in respect of the Ord River scheme.

Senator Dittmer:

– Do you think its case would receive sympathetic consideration?

Senator BRANSON:

– That is why I said it must be a well documented case.

Senator Dittmer:

– Well documented cases have been submitted and committees of inquiry and royal commissions have been appointed in the past.

Senator BRANSON:

– If the honorable senator will allow me to continue, I want to say that I am very much in favour of the development of north Queensland. He should not discourage me when I am trying to help Queensland. The Queensland Government need not ask for assistance in water conservation, as the Western Australian Government did. That would not be necessary because there is plenty of water in the wet tropics. I believe the Queensland Government has a case, which could and should command support, for the provision of all-weather lateral roads from the breeding areas in the west to the very rich east coast areas where cattle could be fattened near the chilling centres. Senator Dittmer is interjecting, but I do not intend to answer any interjections because T have only half an hour in which to make my speech and in that time I want to develop this theme.

Queensland has a seasonal unemployment problem, and if the meat works could be kept in operation all the year round it would overcome one of that State’s real problems. There is no doubt about the demand for beef. On two occasions during my trip, Mr. Jack Shute, the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, in my hearing and when representatives of the press were present - and they quoted him - stated that Australia could sell double the quantity of beef it is exporting at present, if only we had the cattle to meet that continuing demand. Queensland could go a long way, if not almost all the way, towards meeting that target of doubling Australia’s meat production, provided cattle could be brought from the breeding areas to the east coast where beasts could be fattened and turned off as fats at the age of two and a half years, instead of waiting until the cattle are four years of age as at present. That is why I believe that all-weather lateral access roads from the west to the east coast are a must if fattening methods are to be improved. The Queensland Government, in my opinion, has a case for special assistance in the development of its northern areas, just as I maintain that the Western Australian Government has a case for assistance in the development of the north of its State.

The Commonwealth Government is to be commended on its action in easing the means test for pensioners. It has given recognition to those worthy citizens who have been thrifty and who, in the past, have been penalized to some extent for their thrift. I heartily commend the Government on that move. As an ex-serviceman, I would be most ungrateful if I did not express to the Government my thanks for its continued recognition of the servicemen and servicewomen of Australia. The fact that it has agreed to provide free medical treatment for disabilities not due to war service to war pensioners, including Boer War veterans - which I believe was overdue - is an example of the Government’s compassion and interest in the welfare of ex-service personnel.

In this chamber last year, I asked the Government to give relief to the maimed and limbless by granting a reduction in the sales tax payable on motor vehicles purchased by such persons. I am not the only one who has asked the Government to do that: probably most honorable senators have done so at some time. The reason for my request was so that those people could have transport to and from their places of employment. On account of their disabilities they have been precluded from taking employment because they could not use public transport. I am delighted to know that the Government has recognized what I regard as a worthy claim by exempting vehicles from sales tax in approved cases.

I direct the attention of honorable senators to the part of the Treasurer’s Budget speech in which he referred to sales tax exemptions on water de-salting apparatus. In the Senate last week I asked a question about the type of apparatus the Minister was referring to. The answer I received was that it is the small domestic type of plant using the electro-dialysis method. I take this opportunity to speak further on the de-salination of salt water. I seriously suggest to the Government that within the next 50 years and probably much sooner than we think, one of the most serious political and social problems of universal concern will be a shortage of water. W> must remember that history has a habit of repeating itself. When Marco Polo wrote a number of articles about his travels from Italy to Peking and back, he said that along his route he had passed through many rich areas with gardens and farmlands. Unfortunately, some of those lush areas are now desert because the water, upon which their richness depended, disappeared. That can happen to any country that lacks water.

The latest figures I have been able to obtain are those referred to in a hearing conducted before the sub-committee on irrigation and reclamation of the Committee of Interior and Insular Affairs of the United States Senate. Consequently, some of these figures refer to American conditions, but as they relate to the main problems associated with lack of water, they are perhaps equally applicable to Australia. It is estimated that the average supply of fresh water in the United States of America is about 515,000,000,000 gallons a day. At present America is consuming water at the rate of 312,000,000,000 gallons a day, but by 1980 the demand for water in that country will be approximately 600.000,000,000 gallons a day, so there will be a shortage of 85,000,000,000 gallons a day. I have mentioned previously in the Senate that Australia’s total darn.mable water, if every drop was conserved, is only 200,000,000 acre feet. Because of my fears about the ultimate shortage of water, I suggest to the Minister for National Development and the Government that a research programme should be initiated to provide for accelerated research, development and the application of practical means for the economic production of water from the sea or other saline waters for agricultural, industrial, municipal and other uses.

Many of us do not realize how much water is required to produce commodities which are in everyday use. The figures I am about to refer to relate to the United States of America. I am informed by the Water Research Bureau in Sydney that there is not a great deal of difference between American and Australian conditions in this respect. The production of grain crops requires 650,000 gallons of water per acre. One pound of beef for the dining-room table requires 3,750 gallons of water. A single slice of bread requires 37 gallons of water. Two hundred and forty thousand gallons of water are required to manufacture 1 ton of acetate or 1 ton of newsprint. The processing of 1 ton of steel requires 60,000 gallons of water and the production of 1 ton of synthetic rubber requires 660,000 gallons of water. In an industry such as the electro-metallurgical industry, the plant uses an average of 22,000,000 gallons of water a year for the performance of each man’s job. Some chemical plants require 17,000,000 gallons of water annually for each man on the pay-roll.

I should like now to mention some figures that I have found to be of interest. According to the United States Public Health Service, a 400-bed hospital requires 250 gallons of water a bed each day, or a total of 100,000 gallons daily. A onefamily house in which four persons are living requires a total of 550 gallons per day. From these figures, it can be seen that water plays a very important part in our everyday life.

The cost of the conversion of salt water to fresh water is one of the most important problems. In 1938, just prior to World

War II., the cost was approximately four dollars per 1,000 gallons. To-day, plants throughout the world are producing each day about 20,000,000 gallons of fresh water from the sea at a cost of approximately two dollars per 1,000 gallons. In America, the Office of Saline Water anticipates that in the coming summer at least two plants in that country will be producing fresh water at a cost of one dollar per 1,000 gallons. By 1963, it is hoped to reduce the cost to 40 cents per 1,000 gallons. I am quoting now from a White Paper entitled “ Hearing before the Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, United States Senate “. There have been rapid strides made since 1938; the cost of conversion has been reduced from four dollars per 1,000 gallons to two dollars per 1,000 gallons and it is expected that it will be reduced to 40 cents per 1,000 gallons by 1963.

In evidence given before the United States Senate Select Committee this year, it was stated that water from the newly authorized reservoir systems costs approximately lOd. per 1,000 gallons wholesale. The Saline Division estimates that a plant with a 50,000,000 gallons per day capacity could produce potable water from the sea for approximately 18d. per 1,000 gallons. It must be remembered that that price includes all taxes and similar charges normally assessed against private enterprise, which are not paid for in their reservoir systems. In comparing costs, it would be unfair to apply these charges in one instance and not in the other. The removal of these extra costs would, it is anticipated, reduce the cost of conversion from 18d. to lid. per 1,000 gallons, which is near to the figure for reservoir water, which costs lOd. per 1,000 gallons.

Another factor to be considered in respect of the comparative costs of saline conversion plant and the reservoir system is the area involved and the speed of construction. A conversion plant to convert 50,000,000 gallons of water per day, with emergency storage of 250,000,000 gallons, would require an area of approximately 10 acres; it may vary a little, one way or the other. On the other hand, a reservoir system of sufficient storage capacity to permit a draw-off of 50,000,000 gallons per day would require many times this area. The impounding of streams, the building of dams and the filling of reservoirs requires several years, according to this information from the United States, whereas conversion plant can be completed in a matter of months. This, to my way of thinking, is a factor of considerable importance, particularly in a time of national emergency.

I should like now to direct the attention of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to a bill which is before the United States Congress. I have before me the evidence that was given on 8th June, 1960 - only a couple of months ago - before the sub-committee of the American Senate that I have mentioned. The bill that is before Congress, which amends the existing legislation, shows how seriously the United States views this problem. I maintain that we also must give the problem urgent consideration because in Australia we can dam only 200,000,000 acre feet. That would be the total of our resources - the total quantity of water that is available. As 1 have said, the evidence that was given shows how seriously, in a country which is accepted to be rich in water, this problem is viewed. The new title of the American act will be, “ Saline Water Research and Development Act “. The policy and purpose of the measure is stated in section 101, which reads -

In view of the acute shortage of. water in many areas of the Nation, and in recognition of the increasing importance of finding new sources of supply to meet the present and future water needs of this country, the Congress reaffirms and declares its policy to assist in the development of practicable low-cost means of producing, from sea or other saline waters, water of a quality suitable for agriculture, industrial, municipal and other beneficial consumptive uses on a scale sufficient to determine the feasibility of the development of such production and distribution on a large scale. It is the purpose of this title to authorise a continuing, accelerated, and expanded saline water research and development program in furtherance of the foregoing policy objective.

Section 102, dealing with administration, reads -

The provisions of this Act shall be administered by the Secretary of the Interior . . . acting through such agencies of the Department of the Interior as he deems appropriate.

Section 103 deals with functions. I had the provisions of this section in mind earlier when I asked the Government to initiate research into this problem. The section reads -

  1. Studies and Research. - The Secretary shall conduct research and make careful engineering studies to ascertain the lowest investment and operating costs and the best designs and conditions of operation to accomplish the purposes of this Act. Such research shall include, but not be limited to -

    1. the use of small conversion units,-

These are the very items which we have exempted from sales tax -

  1. methods of extraction and use of byproducts,
  2. an evaluation of various materials for use in construction, and of types of components and equipment,
  3. methods of overcoming or lessening corrosion,-

In the electro-dialisis method, corrosion is one of the greatest problems -

  1. the use of atomic energy in conversion systems,
  2. methods of preventing scale,
  3. the development of improved membranes, and
  4. the advancement of scientific data on thermodynamics, polarization properties of solutions, ion exchange, absorption, and brine disposal. In connection with studies to ascertain the lowest investment and operating costs, the Secretary shall consider and evaluate methods for the recovery and marketing of by-products resulting from and incident to the production of water by the conversion of sea and other saline waters for the purpose of ascertaining the possibilities of offsetting the costs of water production in any area by the commercial utilization of such byproducts.

The figures that I quoted earlier in relation to costs did not take into account the sale of by-products. Those figures referred only to the cost of conversion. Under section 1 04, the secretary is given terrifically wide powers, which indicate how important this problem is. The section reads -

In carrying out his functions under section 103, the Secretary may - “ (1) acquire, by purchase, licence, lease, or donation, secret processes, technical data, inventions, patent applications, patents, licenses, land and any interest in land (including water rights, easements, and leasehold interests), plants and facilities, and other property or rights: Provided, That the land or other property acquired hereunder shall not exceed that necessary to carry out experiments and demonstrations authorized by this title;

I think that that provision could provide a heyday for the lawyers. The secretary may - make research grants to and enter into noncompetitive contracts with any educational institution, scientific organization, or industrial or engineering firm deemed suitable to do any part of the research or other work to be carried out under this title;

In other words, he is given pretty sweeping powers. In carrying out his functions he may - acquire the services of chemists, physicists, engineers, and such other personnel as may be deemed necessary; utilize the facilities of existing Federal scientific laboratories; and establish and operate a central laboratory and test site, serving both sea and brackish water, for the purpose of conducting the continuous research, testing, development, and programming necessary to effectuate the purposes of this title.

The United States Government is using the 10,000,000 dollars, which has been granted, to set up five pilot test plants, where five different methods are to be adopted. Of the 40 methods that have been accepted for desalination of water, five are now considered practical. The latest method, which is one of the oldest, is a freezing process whereby the salt crystals separate and freeze separately from the fresh water crystals. The greatest problem has been in separating the crystals once the water has frozen.

I believe that a new system has now been evolved. By using a machine similar to a spin dryer, the salt crystals are forced away from the fresh water crystals. The frozen fresh water crystals are then dissolved, giving fresh water. I think that the Government must do far more in this respect than it is doing at the moment through the limited resources of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That organization has been doing what it could with the funds available to it, but I think that the Government should have a further look at this matter of desalination of water. Research should be accelerated in this vitally important field. I ask the Minister to consider seriously implementing a plan somewhat similar to that of the American Government. I support the motion that the Budget Papers be printed.

Western Australia

– I doubt whether 1 should have entered the debate at this late stage had it not been for my interest in Senator Wright’s contribution and the interjections made by him! when Senator Vincent was speaking. I wish to quote some of the statements made by Senator Wright and to challenge him on them. You will remember, Sir, that the honorable senator referred to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I think it would be unfair to say that he blamed the commission entirely for the inflation that exists to-day, but he certainly placed a lot of emphasis on the degree of inflation which, he said the commission is causing in the community. He used very strong words, which is not unusual for him. The honorable senator, in referring to primary industry, said that it was - handicapped by a system of wage fixation that is unique in the world - irresponsible, unreliable, a system that has proved destructive of this continent’s economy throughout the whole eleven years during which this Government has been in office.

He went on to say -

The first Budget that was introduced by this Government was submarined by a basic wage increase of £1 a week the following month . . .

A little later, he said -

I believe it is the responsibility of those on this side of the chamber to look at the Australian wagefixing apparatus, which is unique in the world, and which is sacrificing this country by destroying the value of money. There is imposed on us a direct responsibility to overhaul the system before it destroys us and before it destroys the nation, which is more important.

Still later in his speech, the honorable senator stated -

The memorandum honorable senators have just received shows, as I interpret it, that as a direct result of the two decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission last year, £20,000,000 will be added to the cost of the Public Service to the taxpayer for one year.

I become rather alarmed1 when I hear some one on the Liberal side speaking of another overhaul of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I think I am right in saying that during the period of office of this Government there have been seven amendments, or seven overhauls, of that act. Every one of those overhauls has made the position of the trade unionists who appear before the arbitration courts so much more difficult. If there is an eighth overhaul, I know that it will make the position worse for those who have regularly to appear before the arbitration courts. If honorable senators opposite examine this subject closely they will arrive at no other conclusion. However, I shall deal with this matter in greater detail at a later stage, if time permits. 1 was a little unjust to Senator Wright when I first read his speech. On re-reading it, I realized that he did not blame the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission directly for adding £20,000,000 to the wages bill of the Commonwealth Public Service. Instead, he said that that resulted from the decision of the commission. The point I want to make clear as that the increase of the Public Service salaries bill by at least £12,000,000 of that £20,000,000 had nothing to do with the commission but was the direct result of a decision of this Government which was completely unfettered in that respect. It decided to add £12,000,000 to the wages bill of its own employees. I do not want to leave that matter there; I propose to say more about it later.

Last year, two important decisions were made by the commission, one to increase the basic wage by 15s. a week and the other to increase margins for metal trades workers by 28 per cent. It is quite untrue to say that when the commission increased the margins for metal trades workers by 28 per cent. it did something irresponsible which had the effect of increasing costs generally. The commission examined the circumstances of a particular body of workers employed in a specific industry, an old industry in the history of mechanization in this country, for which it was relatively easy to measure margins for skill. It was a matter of simple arithmetic to calculate how much money it would cost employers by increasing margins for metal trades workers by 28 per cent. The commission knew the number of people represented before it. It was not the commission’s fault that the Commonwealth Public Service Board adopted the judgment and applied it to its employees. At this stage, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later time.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.

page 457


Bill presented by Senator Sir Walter Cooper, and read a first time.

Standing Orders suspended.

Second Reading

Minister for Repatriation · Queensland · CP

[8.0]. - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Despite the general need to limit expenditure this year, the Government decided to make increases in certain repatriation benefits, including rates of war and service pensions, and the provision of medical treatment for service pensioners. The purpose of the bill which is now before the Senate is to amend the Repatriation Act, where it is necessary to do so, to give effect to that decision. The bill provides that the amending act is to come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent. The increased rates of war and service pension will be paid on and from the first regular pension pay day after that date. The increases which the Government has been able to provide apply to those whose needs are the greatest, namely totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen, service pensioners and war widows.

This bill provides for an increase in the rate of pension payable to the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. The second schedule isbeing amended to increase the totally and permanently incapacitated special rate pension by 10s. a week, bringing the rate payable to a single man up to £12 15s. aweek. This rate of pension is also paid to a war-blinded ex-serviceman, to certain war pensioners suffering from tuberculosis, and to those ex-servicemen who are temporarily totally incapacitated as a result of their war disabilities. A married totally and permanently incapacitated war pensioner and his wife will now receive between them, free of means test, a total of £14 10s. 6d. a week. In addition they may also qualify for an age, invalid or service pension. If they do, they will be eligible to receive up to £17 a week from the combined pensions. This amount is, of course, free of income tax.

These ex-servicemen also receive free medical benefits for all illnesses whether due to war service or not. For the family unit there is assistance under the Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme which guarantees to every child of a totally and permanently incapacitated war pensioner the opportunity to acquire a standard of education or training compatible with his or her aptitude and to attain a suitable vocation in life. For the more seriously disabled there are additional allowances, such as attendant’s allowance and recreation transport allowance. Outside the scope of repatriation legislation there are other concessions such as exemptions from sales tax on motor cars. The second schedule to the act also enables the commission to determine a rate of pension for sufferers from tuberculosis who, whilst not being totally incapacitated, are capable of performing work of only a light to medium nature. This rate, known as the class B rate for tuberculosis, will be adjusted to provide for an increase of 5s. a week making the new rate £8 17s. 6d. a week.

To correspond with the increase in the totally and permanently incapacitated special rate pension the amounts payable under the first six items of column 2 of the fifth schedule to the act to certain amputees are being increased by 10s. a week to £7 5s. per week. War widows’ pensions will be increased by 5s. a week from £5 5s. to £5 10s. a week, and the domestic allowance payable to certain war widows will also be increased by 5s. a week to £3 a week. Domestic allowance is paid to a war widow if she has a child under the age of sixteen years or a child over that age who is undergoing education or training and is not earning an adequate living wage. It is also paid to a war widow who is over the age of 50 years or who is unemployable. War widows entitled to both pension and domestic allowance will now receive a total of £8 10s. a week and I might add that approximately 90 per cent, of war widows are in this class.

Service pensioners are to benefit in three ways: First, the rate of service pension will rise by 5s. a week, the amount by which age and invalid pensions are being increased. The new rate will be £5 a week. Secondly, they will benefit from the merged means test which is to be introduced into the Social Services Act. The amendment which this bill makes to section 87 of the Repatriation Act applies the benefit of the merged means test to service pensioners. And, thirdly, medical benefits will be provided for service pensioners whether or not their disabilities are due to war service.

Honorable senators will shortly have the opportunity to consider the amendment which is to be made to the Social Services Act when the details of the provision will be fully explained. I will therefore content myself by explaining the general effect of the merged means test as it will apply to service pensioners in the words which the Minister for Social Services used in a statement which he recently made. He said -

Under the merged means test a property component equivalent to £1 for each complete £10 of the value of a pensioner’s property above the present exemption of £200 will be added to his income. This sum may be called the means as assessed. The pension payable in any case will be the maximum rate of pension less the amount by which means as assessed exceed £182 per annum. This is the present amount of income a person may have before his rate of pension is reduced on income grounds.

The present provision whereby a person is disqualified from receiving a pension if the value of his property exceeds £2,250 will be repealed. The actual rate of pension payable will be reduced on a sliding scale from the maximum rate to nil, according to a person’s means as assessed. lt will take some time to make the administrative arrangements required for the operation of the new means test. It will commence from a date to be proclaimed which is expected to be early in March, 1961.

In addition to the pension increase and the easing of the means test this year’s Budget introduces a new and most important benefit for service pensioners. The Government’s decision to provide medical benefits for service pensioners whether or ot their disabilities are due to war service marks a significant step forward in the care of aged ex-servicemen. My own association with ex-servicemen has convinced me that this new benefit will be particularly welcomed and appreciated by First World War and Boer War veterans, whose ailments naturally have increased with advancing years. Ex-servicemen of the Second World War and of the Korean and Malayan campaigns who may, with the passing of the years, become eligible for a service pension need no longer have any anxiety as to how, where or by whom they will be cared for should they in later life suffer any illness.

Who are those who will benefit from this provision? Service pensioners are the exservicemen and ex-servicewomen, who have served in a theatre of war, and are over the age of 60 years, if males, or 55 years, if females, or are permanently unemployable or who irrespective of the area in which they served are suffering from tuberculosis; they are men and women of limited means as they are subject to the same means test as social service pensioners. Approximately 90 per cent, of all service pensioners are from the 1914-18 war. Their average age would be over 65 years.

The Government is mindful of the nation’s obligation to the “ old soldier “. So far as he suffers from disabilities due to war service, the war pension provisions of the Repatriation Act, and the medical treatment provided for those disabilities already amply care for him. But the time has now come when some special provision could and should be made for the ageing ex-serviceman of limited means whose illnesses are associated with advancing years, rather than with war service. The greatest assistance that can be given to them and their families is to provide them with care and treatment when they are ill.

They will now receive the same range of medical benefits for disabilities not due to war service, which has previously been available to war pensioners in receipt of pension at the full general, 100 per cent, rate or a higher rate, and to nurses from the 1914-18 war. This includes general medical practitioner service from a local medical officer of their own choice, the services of a specialist when required, a full range of pharmaceutical benefits, provision of surgical aids and appliances including spectacles, and dental treatment. They will also be admitted to repatriation hospital should they need hospital treatment. There they will receive the best of treatment in an atmosphere of understanding and comradeship which will assist in their recovery.

The regulation under which treatment for disabilities not due to war service is provided, and which is being extended to service pensioners - repatriation regulation 66 - does not provide for hospital treatment for certain diseases for which our repatriation hospitals are not equipped, for example, certain infectious or contagious diseases, nor for the same reason does it provide prolonged institutional care for chronic or incurable diseases. However service pensioners will be admitted to repatriation hospitals when hospital treatment is necessary for any acute or sub-acute phase of a chronic or incurable illness.

Each service pensioner who now becomes eligible for this service will be personally advised by letter of the details of the scheme, which it is expected will be in full operation in the course of the next few weeks. Amongst those to benefit from this provision are some three hundred veterans from the Boer War who are service pensioners.

I feel sure that the Government’s decision in this matter is one which will commend itself to all members of the Parliament as it will to all Australians. It makes provision for a deserving class, which is in need of sympathetic assistance; it is both a humane and a just provision. Although this scheme does not form part of the subject matter of the bill, I have taken the opportunity of explaining it because of its importance in principle and to the 25,000 service pensioners in particular who will become eligible under it. The remaining 8,000 service pensioners are already eligible for similar benefits by reason of their qualification as war pensioners previously mentioned, namely that they are receiving a war pension at or above the 100 per cent, general rate.

This service is a substantial complementary benefit to the additional amount of service pension which the increased rate and the easing of the means test mentioned above will provide, and with the increases which this bill brings to war pensions of ex-servicemen and war widows, represents a substantial increase in repatriation benefits. The cost of these increases in a full year is estimated at £2,374,000.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

Senator O’BYRNE:

.- The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) has outlined the changes in repatriation benefits that were foreshadowed in the Budget. Perhaps Government supporters have become so complacent in regard to the needs of exservicemen that they are thankful for small mercies, and indeed the mercies extended by this bill are very small. The Minister quite rightly said that the needs of totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen and of war widows and burnt-out diggers were the greatest. The provisions of this measure will be very acceptable to those recipients of repatriation benefits.

It is what the bill does not contain that concerns us on this side of the chamber very much. Every one knows that the high and rising cost of living affects most those on fixed incomes. They are the ones who find it most difficult to meet rises in the price of commodities, but this measure does not even remedy the decline in purchasing power that has already occurred, to say nothing of the further decline that is certain to occur. I have read in the press a statement made at the recent conference of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Servicemen’s League to the effect that the Government had, in the preparation of the 1960-61 Budget, shown a callous indifference to war pensions, and that the conference protested to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and to every member of the Government against the disregard of appeals from this highly respected body for improvements in the lot of repatriation pensioners.

An increase of 10s. is proposed in the special rate for totally and permanently incapacitated war pensioners, those who are blinded, certain tuberculosis sufferers, and those who are temporarily totally incapacitated. That 10s. increase will not overtake the lag that has been steadily growing, over the years, between what is paid and what was originally intended to be just compensation for the disabilities sustained by T.P.I, pensioners. I feel quite certain that Government supporters will admit that the original aim of the Repatriation Act was to compensate as far as humanly possible gallant ex-servicemen who had become incapacitated in upholding the honour of their country.

I have always contended that the public has a very short memory. Its representatives in the Parliament should keep jogging the memories of those whose responsibility and duty it is to grant pensions and allowances that are sufficient to maintain the decent standard of living that would have been achieved by these people had they not suffered disabilities. Over the past five years a new element has entered the computation of service and war pensions, in the fusing of social service and repatriation payments. This trend should be examined very closely so that people will know exactly how much is being paid under the Repatriation Act and how much under the Social Services Act. The Minister said that the rate payable to a single T.P.I, ex-serviceman will be £12 15s. a week. . A pension of £12 15s. a week in this day and age is quite insufficient. No one will contradict me when I say that it is almost impossible for people who have to pay board to enjoy the normal amenities of life, to say nothing of the luxuries they so richly deserve, on £12 15s. a week. They make do, because they are very adaptable people. Because of their experiences in the services, they have learned how to improvise, but that is not just good enough.

The Minister said that a pensioner and his wife will receive £14 10s. 6d. free of the means test and that in addition they may qualify for an age or invalid pension. This dual method of paying a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman tends to cause confusion. The Minister was quite justified in pointing out the whole range of benefits that were available. But we are now discussing the repatriation legislation, and I believe a move should be made to put all the entitlements in a compact form and have them administered by the Repatriation Department. A basic payment of £12 15s. a week for a single totally and permanently incapacitated exserviceman is unrealistic. It is not even equivalent to the amount such a person would earn if he were a healthy and able-bodied citizen taking his normal place in the community. Of course, the Government is faced with a great problem in trying to stem the tide of inflation. Inflation is gnawing at the vitals of our economy. The increases we are debating to-night are symptomatic of what is happening to our economy. The Government’s attempts to stem inflation reminds one of a dog chasing its tail. The Government is continually trying to maintain the status quo, but it always falls behind.

As I said earlier, it is what this bill does not provide that concerns honorable senators on this side of the chamber. An anomaly which has been perpetuated is the failure to include the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen in the medical and hospital scheme that applies to war widows and the nurses of the First World War. Since 1955 the wives of T.P.I, pensioners have been discriminated against. The peculiar thing about this state of affairs is that when a T.P.I, pensioner dies his widow is treated as a war widow and becomes entitled to those benefits. Why these wives should be overlooked in the interim is something 1 cannot understand. The practice of providing medical benefits for only a certain percentage of the wives is illogical. The majority of them, irrespective of whether they came into the picture before or after 1955, are nursing sick husbands and are doing a great service on our behalf. If many of these pensioners were not being nursed by their wives, they would be patients in repatriation hospitals and the Government would be meeting the expense of their hospital charges. The wives of the T.P.I, pensioners are carrying out a service which is not being fully appreciated.

A review of the funeral benefit payable on the death of a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman is long overdue. Most people who have had experience of this melancholy event in life will know that it is impossible to pay for a funeral with the sum of £25. Ex-servicemen’s organizations are asking for a modest increase of £25 to bring the benefit up to £50. It is the duty of the Government and of the people to see that these people are provided with a dignified funeral. A sum. of £75 would be below the average cost of a funeral nowadays, and would not even allow for the provision of a headstone. The Government should raise the funeral benefit at least to the equivalent of that which, is paid by ordinary industrial organizations under State compensation legislation when one of their employees is killed at work.

The Minister pointed out that provision had been made in the bill for an increase of 5s. a week for tuberculosis sufferers who are not totally incapacitated but are performing light duties. There is one aspect of the suffering of these people that perhaps is not borne in mind. During winter, particularly a winter such as the one we have just experienced, people suffering from bronchitis or other lung trouble are the worst sufferers. They need extra warmth, and extra wood, gas or electricity. Moreover, they need nourishing foods, which are expensive. The proposed payment of £8 17s. 6d. a week does not measure up to what we think is a reasonable benefit for tuberculosis sufferers.

It is strange that no increase has been made in the 100 per cent, disability rate.

People who have been assessed by tribunals to be 100 per cent, incapacitated have not been given any consideration in this measure. Perhaps the Government considers that the partial amelioration of the means test is sufficient, but over the years the Government has resisted moves to restore this pension to what was the original intention in the act. In 1920, after the First World War was over, when the spirit of repatriation was put into legislative form it was considered that 59 per cent, of the basic wage was the rate to which 100 per cent, pensioners were entitled. At that time the basic wage was £3 lis. and the 100 per cent, pension was £2 2s., or 49 per cent, of the basic wage. To-day the 100 per cent, pensioner receives about 35 per cent, of the basic wage. I believe the Government should give the fullest consideration to restoring the 100 per cent, pension rate to the level that was originally intended under the act.

I share with the Minister for Repatriation very great joy because at long last he has been able to prevail upon his colleagues in the Cabinet to provide medical benefits for service pensioners. For many years the Australian Labour Party has included in the policy speeches it has presented to the Australian people, this long needed improvement in the Repatriation Act.

Senator Henty:

– It did not make the improvement when it had the opportunity to do so.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– We on this side of the chamber have not had an opportunity to put our policy into effect, but I can assure the Minister that many proposals will be put into effect as soon, as we regain the Government benches. Those proposals are being rejected by this Government at present, despite the fact that spokesmen for 640,000 ex-servicemen have been asking, pleading with, and even imploring the Government to give more consideration to them. However, this improvement has. now been achieved. In this field, as in so many others, when the Labour Party puts forward a suggestion the automatic reaction is that it is impossible to carry it out because the Government cannot afford it; but constant dripping wears away the stone and we are hopeful that we will continue to make a little progress, even though we are in opposition, by continually impressing upon the Government the need for improvements in the Repatriation Act. We on this side of the chamber, in company with thousands of ex-servicemen, and the vast majority of the Australian people, are pleased to see this notable advance in repatriation benefits and we support the proposal very willingly.

During the committee stage, Mr. Deputy President, the Opposition intends to move amendments to the bill. The first amendmen will relate to the acceptance by the Repatriation Commission of cancer as a war caused disability. Those of us who appear before tribunals know the difficulty of producing evidence to support claims by exservicemen, particularly First World War veterans whose powers of recollection of detail have diminished. Often the records of their injuries or their experiences in the trenches are incomplete or have been destroyed.

The medical profession has applied itself Very diligently to the task of ascertaining the cause or origin of cancer, but to date it has not reached any conclusion. We contend that if the medical profession believes that the origin of cancer is uncertain, the Repatriation Commission should take the same view. Numerous ex-servicemen are suffering from this disease, which is one of the greatest scourges that face mankind to-day. How can the Repatriation Commission and the various tribunals hold that war service in the trenches and in other places was not the origin or cause of cancer in ex-servicemen?

The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron has said that the Repatriation Commission rejects claims by pensioners in respect of incapacity resulting from lung cancer only when it is satisfied that the incapacity is not due to war service. At a later stage, in reply to a question in another place, the Minister agreed with most people when he said that the real cause of lung cancer, indeed of any cancer, is not known. Therefore, it seems to be a contradiction to reject claims by ex-servicemen who have been exposed to gas, smoke, wounds, shockwaves, malaria, dysentery and many other dangers which may not have been noted in the records of the First World War.

That brings me to another amendment the Opposition intends to move in the committee stage. It relates to section 47 of the act, which is known as the onus of proof section. To illustrate my point, I refer to the report of the Repatriation Commissior for the year 1958-59 which shows that of the 3,492 appeals made by First World War ex-servicemen to assessment tribunals, 1,239 were allowed and 1,196 were disallowed. More than 40 years elapsed before some pensions were granted. As we all know, many applications have been rejected because the applicant has been unable to obtain substantiating evidence of the cause of his disability. I have had cases in which First World War diggers have racked their brains trying to recall the details of their war experiences. If they are lucky they are able to make out a case, but if they are not lucky their applications are refused. I contend that the spirit and letter of the act as to the onus of proof are quite clear, but for some reason we have never been able to get down to tintacks because the line of demarcation has constantly been the subject of disputes between ex-servicemen’s organizations and their advocates before tribunals on the one hand and those who administer the act on the other. The act says that the commission, board or tribunal, in hearing or deciding a claim shall not be bound by technicalities, legal forms or rules of evidence and shall give the claimant the benefit of any doubt which would be favorable to the claimant. Nothing could be clearer than that. Doubtless every member of this chamber has had experience of these matters. In many instances we have felt that the ex-servicemen presented genuine cases and that they were justified in asking for assistance in placing their claims before the tribunal, but the tribunal found a reason for rejecting them. Section 47 (2.) of the act provides that it shall not be necessary for the claimant, applicant or appellant to furnish proof to support his claim, but the tribunal determining the claim shall draw all reasonable inferences in favour of the claimant, and the onus of proof shall be on the authority who contends that the claim should not be granted or allowed to the full extent claimed. I know of instances in which a reputable medical practitioner in private practice has stated categorically in a certificate that he believed that the condition of the ex-serviceman was due to war service, but the practitioner has had the unhappy experience of having his diagnosis rejected, no reason being given for the rejection. There is a very strong case for the provision of a right of appeal to a member of the judiciary in relation to the contentious section 47 - the onus of proof provision.

The Minister stated in his secondreading speech -

The Government is mindful of the nation’s obligation to the “ old soldier “. So far as he suffers from disabilities due to war service, the war service provisions of the Repatriation Act, and the medical treatment provided for those disabilities, already amply care for him. But the time has now come when some special provision could and should be made for the ageing exservicemen of limited means whose illnesses are associated with advancing years rather than with war service. The greatest assistance that can be given lo them and their families is to provide them with care and treatment when they are ill. 1 believe that the time has come - I agree that far with the Minister’s statement - when the Repatriation Act should be amended to enable the provision of medical treatment to any ex-serviceman who served either in the First World War or in the Boer War. The principle of the amendment that I have foreshadowed and that I will move at the committee stage is already implicit in the provision of the burnt-out digger’s pension at the age of 60 years. It is acknowledged that war service causes premature ageing; no one denies that. When mcn returned from World War I., their desire was to get out of uniform as soon as they could and in many instances they did not bother to apply for repatriation benefits. As a matter of principle and of sympathy, ex-service men and women who served in the Boer War or in World War I. should be entitled to free hospital treatment in repatriation hospitals. If this principle were adopted by the Government, I am sure that it would meet with the approval of people throughout the whole of the Commonwealth.

We on this side of the chamber do not oppose this measure, but we feel that a date earlier than 1st March next should be fixed for the payment of service pensions in accordance with the merged means test. This is the first week of September. A promise to improve the lot of service pensioners in six months’ time is rather cold comfort when money is needed so much by so many ex-servicemen.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– They will receive the increase of 5s. much earlier than that.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– That is true. They will receive an increase of 5s. a week when the Royal Assent is given to the measure. I have foreshadowed that, at the committee stage, 1 shall submit amendments designed to enable the acceptance of cancer as a war-caused disability, to restrict the area of conflict in relation to the onus-of-proof provision, and to enable free medical treatment in repatriation hospitals to be given to all Boer War and First World War veterans.

In conclusion, Mr. Deputy President, J should like to say that I believe that the Minister has at all times done his very best for ex-servicemen. I feel certain that if he had his way, many of the anomalies ] have pointed out would be corrected. I wish to thank the Minister for the courtesy that he has extended to me on the many occasions when I have approached him concerning repatriation matters. 1 am; sure that most honorable senators on this side have had similar experiences. However, I feel that, as a matter of Government policy, immediate attention should be given to inserting in this measure provisions in relation to the various aspects of repatriation to which I have directed attention, in order to afford badly needed relief to exservicemen in the community.


– I rise to support this bill, which provides for increases in various rates of repatriation pensions and which will confer very real benefits on a great number of needy ex-servicemen. We have just listened. Sir, to a very rambling speech from Senator O’Byrne - a speech full of inaccuracies and misstatements. I should like to deal with two of those misstatements. The honorable senator claimed that the Menzies Government had shown a steady resistance to increasing the 100 per cent, general rate war pension. That statement, of course, was not true. As we all know, in 1949 the amount of that pension was £2 1 5s. a week. In 1950, immediately after this Government came to office, the pension was increased by 1 5s. a week. It was again increased in 1952, by 10s. a week; in 1953, by 2s. 6d. a week; in 1954, by 7s. 6d. a week; in 1955, by 5s. a week; in 1957, by 7s. 6d. a week; and in 1959, by another 7s. 6d. a week. I think that this record completely disproves the honorable senator’s statement that the Menzies Government has shown resistance to increasing the 100 per cent, general rate war pension.

Senator O’Byrne:

– I referred to the relation that the 100 per cent, general rate pension bears to the basic wage.


– I have replied, Senator O’Byrne, to the statement you made. Senator O’Byrne also complained about the fusing of social services payments with repatriation payments. I should like to remind him that under the Chifley Administration a ceiling limit was applied to combined social services and repatriation benefits, lt is to the credit of the Menzies Government that it very soon recognized the injustice of that anomaly, which it removed, to the very great satisfaction of u large number of pensioners.

I would like, Sir, to congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Sir Walter Cooper). We are all aware of the selfless devotion that he has given to the problems of ex-servicemen and their dependants. Australians, no matter what their political views, take pride from the fact that his record of service to the serviceman and his dependants cannot be excelled by any person in any part of the world. Himself a victim of war-caused suffering, repatriation is no academic exercise to him. With warm, personal sympathy, he has never given up the fight on behalf of the old soldier. Many of the features incorporated in this bill demonstrate the strength of his quiet and persuasive work.

The bill follows a practice that must meet with universal approval, no matter what Senator O’Byrne may say, in that whatever benefits are proposed, first priority is allotted to those people whose needs are greatest. Therefore, Sir, the special total and permanent incapacity rate will be increased by 10s a week. As Senator O’Byrne said, that will lift the payment to £12 15s. a week for a single totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner and to £14 10s. for a man and his wife. I am sure that all women, will applaud the increase of pension for war widows. We feel that this gallant body of women, prematurely deprived of the security and companionship of their husbands, should be the very first to share in any concession that the Government proposes to make. The increase of 5s. a week, with an increase in the domestic allowance of another 5s. a week will, we hope, give benefit to the war widow. The Minister has pointed out that 90 per cent, of war widows draw the domestic allowance, so that the combined pension and domestic allowance will be lifted to £8 10s. a week.

There are several other groups of pensioners who will benefit under the bill. Pensions under the fifth schedule, which applies to certain amputees, will be increased by 10s. to £7 5s. a week, and the class B rate for tuberculosis sufferers will be increased by 5s. to £8 17s. 6d. a week. As the Minister has said, the rate of service pension will be increased by 5s. to £5 a week. The new social services means test will have the effect of making eligible for service pensions many ex-servicemen who previously were debarred from receiving pensions by the property means test limit of £2,250. The new means test will also increase the amount of service pension payable to many who are already in receipt of a pension.

On many occasions, 1 and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber have urged the Government to extend medical services to all aged and sick servicemen. Last year I made a special plea in the Senate on behalf of Boer War veterans and all ex-servicemen who had served in the 1914-18 war. As an alternative, I asked the Government immediately to consider the position of service pensioners. My colleague, Senator Mattner, was one who supported both those proposals. We pointed out that service pensioners, for the most part, were men. and women who, through age and disability, had found themselves unable to cope with modern employment. Therefore, although the qualifying limit for pension had been lowered, many of them found themselves in difficult circumstances. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, defined service pensioners in the following way: -

Service pensioners are the ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen who have served in a theatre of war and are over the age of sixty years, if males, or fifty-five years, if females, or are permanently unemployable, or who, irrespective of the area in which they served, are suffering from tuberculosis . . .

The Government’s decision to extend to those men and women medical benefits for disabilities that are not war-caused will. I am sure, find ready commendation in every section of the community, lt proves undoubtedly that the Menzies Government has not fallen into the error of the Opposition in believing that the problems of the sick and the aged can be solved only by increased amounts of money. No one denies that money is a necessary ingredient of comfort and happiness, but there comes a time in the life of many people when the greatest physical need is care and hospital treatment.

I should like to occupy the time of the Senate in analysing the scope and effect of this new, humane and understanding decision. Previously, medical benefits for disabilities not due to war service were available to three groups of people. Those groups were: War pensioners receiving the 100 per cent, general rate or a higher rate, that is, the 100 per cent. T.P.I, rate; the war-blinded and certain pensioners suffering from, tuberculosis; war nurses from the 1914-18 war and war widows and war orphans. In future, as the Minister has stated, all service pensioners will receive the same benefits as those received by the groups to which I have just referred. The range of benefits is very wide, and for the information of the Senate 1 shall detail them,. They include local general practitioner service at a doctor’s surgery or at home; attention by a specialist where necessary; a full range of pharmaceutical benefits; surgical aids and appliances, including spectacles; dental treatment, including the supply of dentures; treatment in repatriation general hospitals and, in country cases, treatment in country hospitals where treatment is urgent and/or it is medically inadvisable to transfer the patient to a repatriation general hospital. In addition, in country areas treatment is provided in local hospitals for short periods in cases in which it would not be economic to transfer the patient to a repatriation general hospital. I believe, Sir, that these benefits will prove a godsend to service pensioners and will remove untold anxiety and much work from the shoulders of wives, daughters and other relatives who have the responsibility to care for service pensioners.

I wish for a moment or two to say something about those who will benefit directly from this new proposal. As the Minister has told us, there are approximately 33.000 service pensioners. He mentioned that their means were limited because necessarily they have to comply with the means test. As he pointed out, the merged means test will have the effect of bringing an increasing number of people into the service pension group. It will also have the added advantage of increasing, in the future, the amount of service pension payable to those drawing a pension at the present time.

The Minister also explained that of the estimated 33,000 recipients of a service pension at present, approximately 8,000 also received medical benefits because they are in receipt of a 100 per cent, general rate war pension or more. The greatest benefit will come to the remaining 25,000 service pensioners, of whom approximately 300 are Boer War veterans. Every one of those service pensioners will receive substantial benefit from the new proposals. In bringing forward this bill the Government has made one of the most generous approaches to repatriation ever made by any Government. The bill assures free medical treatment to ex-servicemen of all wars who qualify within the framework of the merged means test. It may well be that in the long run the bill will prove to be of much greater benefit to all servicemen than the proposal put forward by Senator Mattner and myself that free treatment should be given to all ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 war. I say that because of the statement of the Minister that at the present time over 90 per cent, of service pensioners are ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 war. But time in its own inexorable fashion is marching on. Already we have 3,000 service pensioners over 60 years of age who served in the 1939-45 war. For that reason I believe that under this bill more exservicemen will receive benefits than would have been the case under the original proposal suggested by me and by many others.

The main need of these men and women, of course, is hospital accommodation. 1 understand that this accommodation will be available in repatriation hospitals, which, we all know, are amongst the finest hospitals in Australia. During his recent visit overseas, the Minister devoted virtually the whole of his time to a study of repatriation hospitals and artificial limb factories. He is thoroughly up to date on the problems associated with the ageing repatriation population. The department for some time has also been interested in the study of geriatrics, and it has carried out surveys of the probable trends in hospital treatment and the needs of entitled ex-servicemen over the next five or ten years. It is gearing its facilities to meet the changing medical needs of these men, and I believe that in Australia we have the finest repatriation system in the world.

Senator O’Byrne said that the Menzies Government has become complacent. I emphatically deny that accusation. During the ten and a half years it has been in office, the Government has continually demonstrated that national gratitude to the men and women who served in time of war, or to their loved ones, can never be expressed only in words, but that the acceptance of our responsibility must be expressed always in actions which derive their impetus from the very hearts of the people. Because I believe this so firmly, I commend the Minister for Repatriation for introducing this bill. I commend him also for his personal, constructive, thinking on the problem of repatriation, and for his neverfailing sympathy and courtesy to all who need help from his department.

There are other matters in the repatriation field that one would like to touch upon. I should like to see some method evolved to overcome the difficulty associated with proving entitlement to a pension. Time and time again, I, like other honorable senators, find myself having to submit to the Repatriation Department an application for a pension by either an ex-serviceman or his widow. Because of the circumstances surrounding the service, and the keeping of records, of those who fought in the First World War, it is undeniably true that at times entitlement to a pension is very difficult to prove. I make no accusation against the various tribunals. I say only that a difficulty does exist and I should like to see some method evolved to overcome it.

I commend the bill to the Senate. I congratulate the Minister and the Government and I heartily support every proposal contained in this measure.

Senator COLE:
Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party · Tasmania

– Having listened to the secondreading speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper), and having read it through, I can appreciate the efforts that he has made in this bill to improve the lot of ex-servicemen. He is most sympathetic and earnest in the work he does for these unfortunate people, but I am afraid that he has a very unsympathetic Cabinet with which to deal and that in this bill he has had to make the best of a bad job. His second-reading speech was based on wrong premises because it opened with the words, “ Despite the general need to limit expenditure “. I disagree with the Government’s view that there is a great need to limit expenditure. The fact that this Government is budgeting for quite a considerable surplus supports my view. That is the reason why this Repatriation Bill falls down. For that I do not blame the Minister or his officers. I blame the genera] outlook of members of the Cabinet. If there is one direction in which expenditure should not be limited it is in dealing with ex-servicemen.

I do not want to spend a great deal of time on this subject, because there is an element of urgency about the bill. However, I should like to bring a few matters to the notice of the Minister. The proposed increase of 10s. a week, although a little more than aged pensioners will receive, is not sufficient. All that it will do, as Senator O’Byrne said, will be to meet the cost of living increases that have taken place in the last twelve months. The value of the pension will not increase. The status quo will be maintained, or nearly so.

The Minister knows the difficulties of the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. All of us have received liters on the subject. I exhort the Minister to do all he possibly can to get rid of the anomaly in relation to such persons. They should receive free hospital and medical services. In many instances the wives of T.P.I, pensioners take the place of nurse* and look after their husbands to the detriment of their own health. It is only right that they should receive these benefits.

In Tasmania we are unfortunate in that we do not have separate mental homes for ex-servicemen who are victims of war neurosis. They are forced to go to Millbrook Rise, the infirmary for people of unsound mind. War neurosis is a complaint that comes and goes. After a few months the sufferer very often becomes a normal citizen again, but while he is suffering from the complaint he is placed in an institution that is used by the general public, whereas he should be looked after in a repatriation institution. 1 know that there are not sufficient sufferers from war neurosis to justify a separate hospital for them in Hobart, but 1 hope that in repatriation hospitals wards will be set aside for such cases, so that these men may receive the same excellent treatment that is available in those hospitals to other ex-servicemen.

The Department of Social Services and the Repatriation Department should try to come to some agreement in dealing with what are known as de facto wives. If the association was formed before or during hostilities, it is acknowledged by the Repatriation Department, but there have been cases where these associations have been formed after the cessation of hostilities. In the latter cases the Repatriation Department does not recognize the de facto wives. A T.P.I, pensioner who acquired a dc facto wife in these circumstances is regarded as a single person. That is the attitude taken by the Repatriation Department and I am not saying whether it is right or wrong. But in dealing with the Department of Social Services such a man and his de facto wife are treated as man and wife. The position should be one way or the other and the Repatriation Department and the Department of Social Services should get together on it. If the de facto wife of a T.P.I, pensioner is to receive nothing from the Repatriation Department, then she should be regarded as single for the purposes of social service benefits. It may be thought that this will not make much difference. It means a difference of about £1 a week. I should like the two departments to get together and iron that matter out.

I believe that the bill provides as much as the Minister could possibly get from an unsympathetic cabinet. What is being done is good, but much more should be done for those men who have given of their health in the service of their country. They should be given all the consideration that we as a Parliament can give them. If it had not been for their sacrifice, perhaps there would not be a parliament in Australia to-day. The Government says that it must limit its expenditure, but this is one field in which it should not do so.

Senator MATTNER:
South Australia

– It is with pleasure that I rise to support the bill. After I had spoken for some time on a similar measure nearly twelve months ago, Senator Toohey, who said he had been in the chamber while I was speaking - he was not quite correct in saying that - stated that I had not said anything in favour of World War I. veterans. I am sorry that the honorable senator is not in the chamber now to hear what I have to say. I invite him to read page 592 in volume 15 of the “ Hansard “ report of the proceedings of the Senate. In the course of my remarks on that occasion I made a plea for 21,000 veterans of the Boer War, World War I. and World War II. To hear to-‘night that those men and women will receive hospitalization and hospital benefits makes this perhaps one of the most pleasant evenings I have spent in the chamber.

The number of ex-service personnel who served in World War I., and particularly in the Boer War, is fast diminishing. We know that only approximately 40,000 men of World War I. are not receiving repatriation benefits in the form of either a war entitlement or war service pension. I am delighted to-night to know that hospitalization facilities have been extended to 25,000 service pensioners, more than 3,000 of whom served in World War II. It seems that at some future date perhaps the remaining 40,000 personnel concerned will be able to receive hospitalization at our repatriation hospitals if they so desire and if accommodation is available.

It is only reasonable and just to say that the Australian people have endeavoured to the best of their ability to discharge their obligations to our ex-servicemen and exservicewomen. It is only fair to say, too. that, generally speaking, no other country has devoted more attention and care to ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen than has Australia. The repatriation and successful settlement of ex-servicemen and exservicewomen is a big business, and I should like to congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) upon what he has done. I should like also to endorse everything that Senator Wedgwood has said. For years, both inside the chamber and outside, she has been a stalwart in endeavouring to obtain whatever assistance it is possible for a grateful nation to give to its returned service personnel. She, too, must be gratified at having had an opportunity to speak on this measure.

I said earlier that repatriation is a big business. It is interesting to note the increase there has been in the number of war entitlement pensions and war service pensions being paid to ex-servicemen and exservicewomen and their dependants. At 30th June, 1959, the number of personnel who were receiving pensions because of war injuries was 206,931. The number of dependants of incapacitated personnel was 386,879, and the number of dependants of deceased personnel was 48,253. That means that a total of 642,063 entitlement pensions were being paid to ex-service personnel and their dependants. War service pensions - that is, pensions that are payable to persons who have reached the age of 60 years and whose disability, if they suffer any, is not due to war service but may be the result of civilian occupation - were being paid to 28,314 personnel. Their dependants totalled 11,874, and the number of dependants of deceased personnel was 2,092. That makes a total of 44.372 pensions. In other words, a total of 686,435 pensions were being paid by the people of Australia in an effort to discharge their obligations to ex-servicemen and exservicewomen.

I am delighted that there is to be an easing of the means test. Following this laudable easing of the means test and the introduction of a merged means test, many ex-service personnel of World War I. and World War TT. will become eligible for a service pension. This step will benefit married ex-servicemen in particular, because under the merged means test many of the 40,000 persons whom T mentioned earlier will become eligible for a war service pension. Men and women who did not accept their service pension at the age of 60 years and perhaps continued working to 65 years of age or later, and who now receive the social service pension will be able to exchange that pension for a war service pension and thereby ensure that they will be able to receive hospitalization at a repatriation hospital. That benefit will be greatly appreciated.

Twice previously I have said that repatriation is a big business. The Repatria tion Commission provides an efficient medical care service. It has under its control 30 institutions which include large general hospitals, smaller hostels to accommodate totally and permanently incapacitated people, sanatoria for tuberculosis cases, artificial limb factories, and special hospitals for mentally ill patients. As a South Australian, let me tell the Minister that we in South Australia regret that no provision has been made to proceed with the construction of a psychiatric block at the Springbank repatriation hospital. I know that plans are in the course of preparation, and I sincerely hope that next year we will be able to congratulate the Minister upon having taken steps to have the block completed. I well remember the interest which my colleagues - Senators Pearson, Hannaford and Laught and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. McLeay - have taken in this building and the courteous manner in which the superintendent of the Springbank Hospital received us and placed his views before us. I can assure the Minister that when we met him and made various requests, we were fortified by the knowledge and experience that had been given to us by his loyal band of officers. The recruitment of the necessary trained nursing staff is difficult. As Senator Wedgwood has said to-night, the Repatriation Commission also employs 4,783 local medical officers. The commission has kept abreast of the most efficient medical practices in the world. I wish to refer to another happening in South Australia of which we approve. The Kapara Hospital was no longer required and it was transferred or sold to the South Australian Red Cross Society. That action was greatly appreciated because the commission was rather generous, if T may say so. That generosity has been greatly appreciated by the wonderful band of Red Cross workers iti South Australia.

Much has been said about the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner. I wonder whether the constitution of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Pensioners Association in South Australia could be amended in order to comply with the Aged Persons Homes Act under which the association would be able to receive £2 for each £1 it spent on buildings and equipment. I shall not touch upon any of the matters raised by Senator

O’Byrne and Senator Cole because Senator Wedgwood answered Senator O’Byrne very effectively. I should like to speak about the onus of proof. 1 was in this chamber when the Labour Government’s amendment was passed by the Senate and every senator who was present on that occasion believed that we were giving something of great value to returned servicemen. We did not use many words in framing the amendment because we thought that the fewer words used the easier its interpretation would be. Unfortunately, however, 1 believe returned servicemen are not receiving what the senators who were in this chamber on that occasion intended they should receive. I know it is a difficult situation and 1 am pleased that other honorable senators have spoken about this matter to-night. 1 wish to refer to the onus of proof, as it appears to me to apply. First of all, an ex-serviceman has to present to a tribunal his case as to whether he should receive a pension. The chairman of the appeal tribunal is a trained lawyer and his training in civil law has produced this effect: Under civil law the claimant carries the burden of satisfying the court that his version is more probably correct than not. Therefore, if he leaves the mind of the court in a state of equipoise he fails to establish his claim.. We begin with that premise as to the chairman. In my opinion section 47 of the act was intended by members of the Parliament to require that any reasonable inference which favoured the exserviceman be accepted by a repatriation tribunal; but this is the stumbling block when ex-servicemen appear before appeal tribunals. The Parliament hoped that the tribunal would accept an inference that would sustain the ex-serviceman’s claim and reject all other inferences even if the tribunal thought those other inferences were more probable than the inference favorable to the ex-serviceman. The onus of proof was shifted to the Crown, but the exserviceman must give evidence; and if the tribunal is in a state of equipoise the exserviceman’s claim must succeed. I believe that section 47 was so designed that the Crown would have to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.

But what happens? A claimant presents his claim and the case for the Repatriation Commission is usually supported by medical evidence. The Repatriation Commissioner presents his case and the medical evidence he supplies may support his view. I believe the tribunal should accept that evidence only if it has no doubt whatsoever about accepting it. In other words, the tribunal should accept the evidence for the commissioner only if there is no shadow of doubt in its mind. The commissioner insists that the ex-serviceman, the claimant, produce evidence that his current illness is due to or has been contributed to by war service. 1’he claimant must particularize his current condition. He has to have a medical examination and that must verify his assertion that his present condition is due to war service. He must also give an account of his war service. Then the tribunal says whether his condition is war-caused. No one knows how the tribunal arrives at its decision. It is never conveyed to the claimant if his claim fails. If the ex-serviceman has a pathological condition, the usual assumption is that it is not caused by war service. That assumption is always made against the claimant.

I wish to give one or two examples to illustrate the point I am making. If an ex-serviceman develops premature senility at, say, 50 years of age, which is a pathological condition that could be aggravated by war service, it becomes a matter of medical opinion as to whether that condition was induced by war service. If the medical evidence is that it is not due to war service, the claimant receives no benefit. If the commission produces a medical witness who says that the condition is not war-caused and the claimant calls medical evidence to show that it may be war-caused, the tribunal decides which opinion it will accept; and if it accepts the evidence for the commissioner there is no possible hope of the tribunal giving the claimant the benefit of the doubt. That is where the old diggers feel the express wish of the Parliament is being disregarded.

A claimant, who is a World War I. digger, is asked to produce his medical history during the 1914-18 war. Many men with courage and grit refused to report sick, and even if they did report, their front line unit medical records were often lost. Unless they arrived at a base hospital, there is no record whatsoever on their medical history sheets that they did actually suffer injury or were in a state of weakness.

Unfortunately, to-day these men and women are being penalized for having fought on and not reporting sick. Again, if a claimant has a pathological condition the origin of which is unknown to medical science, it is very unlikely that he will be given the benefit of the doubt. I know of cases in which men suffered from bulbar palsy and because some medical men said, perhaps, that they had suffered from stroke, we had to fight the cases for years and years. Surely in the name of humanity, the benefit of the doubt should have been given to the returned ex-servicemen concerned. It took us years and years to get that condition accepted as war caused.

Senator O’Byrne mentioned tonight the question of the acceptance of cancer as attributable to war service. I am pleased to tell him that, in some instances, it has been accepted. I hope that the honorable senator will not think that my remarks are personally directed to him. This is one of the things that I have fought through the Repatriation Commission, and the fact that cancer has been accepted as war caused will be a great boon to the sufferers from this disease. I have pleasure in giving this information to the honorable senator. I know that it will be most acceptable to him, and that he will act on it.

Senator O’Byrne:

– Thank you, senator.

Senator MATTNER:

– Many people feel that, in cases of doubt, the tribunal gives a decision in favour of the commission, and that the opinion that the tribunal accepts is not correct beyond reasonable doubt. As 1 have said earlier, the commission is doing a wonderful job. The tribunals are expected to act judicially. As I mentioned before, as the chairman is a legal man, he usually acts according to law. There are no provisions to correct any mistake which may be made. It is currently believed in returned servicemen’s organizations that the tribunals act on advice received from the Attorney-General’s Department. In effect, that department has said that there must be no lack of uniformity in the practice of the tribunals themselves. So we reach the position that, although the onus-of-proof provision was enacted in 1945 to assist the returned men it has, in fact, proved to be as controversial as section 92 of the Constitution.

Mr. Acting Deputy President, I have perhaps dealt rather more fully with the onus-of-proof provision than I should have done, but I point out that this is a vital matter concerning the health of the returned servicemen of the Second World War, and it applies particularly to the ex-servicemen of the First World War. That is why it is such a pleasure to me to learn to-night that free hospitalization will be provided for the war service pensioners. This will do much to alleviate their peace of mind because their future and that of their families is relatively assured.

It is my privilege to support the bill that has been presented to us to-night. In doing so, I express my belief that all honorable senators on this side of the chamber are anxious to do their utmost for the aged and ageing ex-service personnel, not only those of the Boer War, but also those of both World Wars. As I said a while ago, this measure ensures security for the service pensioners of World War II.

There are many other aspects of this matter that one could talk about. I omitted previously to mention the number of people who are engaged in the Repatriation Department. There are 7,865 officers on the staff of that department, including laymen and medical officers. They all deserve a creditable mention for the services that they are loyally rendering. In order to show that repatriation is big business, I wish to quote some figures. The amount that was expended in repatriation pensions and allowances in 1958-59 was ?60,638,740. In round figures, other repatriation expenditure in that year was as follows: Administrative costs, ?3,186,000; repatriation benefits, ?11,514,000; education for children, ?608,000; seamen’s pensions and other war pensions, ?130,000; maintenance, ?442,000; operation and maintenance of equipment, ?304,00; expenditure on capital works and services, ?307,000; rent of buildings, nearly ?19,000 - making a total expenditure of ?77,151,738 by the public in an endeavour to discharge its obligation to the ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen of Australia.

I should like again to say to Senator Sir Walter Cooper and to his officers and staff a sincere “ thank you “, and to express our gratitude for what all those men and women who are members of the staff of hospitals and so on have done and are doing to make the lot of the ex-service personnel, particularly those who are receiving hospitalization and other benefits, happier and brighter. I support the bill.


. Together with all honorable senators in this chamber, I am pleased to know that increased benefits are to be given to the exservice personnel throughout this country. As has been already mentioned, the proposed rise of 10s. per week in the amount of pension paid to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen has been forced upon the Government as a result of the inflationary period for which this Government is responsible. The Government is only endeavouring to maintain approximately the proportion that this pension bears to the basic wage. There are quite a number of things we could suggest in relation to repatriation, and in fact we have suggested them on all previous occasions when repatriation measures have come before this chamber for consideration.

As the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) said in his secondreading speech, the special rate pension will be increased by 10s. a week to bring the rate payable to a single man up to £12 15s. a week. Under this measure, a married T.P.I, pensioner and his wife will now receive between them a total amount of £14 10s. 6d. a week, but in addition to that, they may qualify for other social service benefits. The ceiling rate for a married T.P.I, war pensioner and his wife - the combined amount of repatriation and social service pensions - will be £17 per week. I have suggested in this chamber before that the T.P.I, pension and the social services to which they are entitled should be combined and paid at the T.P.I, rate. I have spoken to a number of exservicemen, particularly totally and permanently incapacitated men, and they agree that a lot of worry and trouble would be avoided if the ceiling rates for the social service pension and the T.P.I, pension were amalgamated. If that were done, the Government obviously would be saved a large amount because administration costs would be reduced. I do not know whether the Government has ever considered doing that, but I suggest that the adoption of the suggestion would simplify matters considerably.

I was very pleased to hear Senator Mattner speaking about the onus of proof provision. That is something with which we all should be concerned, and I intend to deal with it later in my remarks. It is good to know that service pensioners are to be given hospital and medical treatment through the facilities of the Repatriation Department, As a matter of fact, this Government is gradually stealing Labour’s policy. I point out that, in our last policy speech, we suggested that that should be done. Dr. Evatt stated -

The time has come when medical and repatriation hospital attention and treatment should be available to all returned servicemen and nurses of World War I., irrespective of whether war entitlement is established or not.

That is what we on this side of the chamber have been advocating for many years.

Senator Wedgwood:

– Why did Labour not give those benefits when it was in office?


– A world war was being fought when the Labour government was in power. We had to take over from your government, which had lost the confidence of its own supporters. We had to carry the country through the war, and at the termination of the war we had to re-establish service personnel in civilian life. However, we improved matters considerably. It was the Curtin Labour Government, in 1943, which introduced the onus of proof provision. The intention was interpreted to the Parliament at that time. Section 47 of the act states, in part -

The Commission, a Board, an Appeal Tribunal and an Assessment Appeal Tribunal, in hearing, determining or deciding a claim, application or appeal, shall act according to substantial justice and the merits of the case, shall not be bound by technicalities or legal forms or rules of evidence and shall give to the claimant, applicant or appellant the benefit of any doubt. . . .

Mr. Justice Spicer, when a member of this Senate and Attorney-General, interpreted the onus of proof provision as follows: -

Ordinarily, the onus lies on the party who makes a claim to prove the facts necessary to support it. Thus, unless otherwise prescribed by Parliament, the onus would be upon the claimant for a pension under the Repatriation Act to establish that the necessary conditions are fulfilled. In the Repatriation Act, Parliament has completely reversed the normal process. It is expressly declared in section 47 that it shall not be necessary for the claimant, applicant or appellant to furnish proof to support his claim, application or appeal; and that in all cases whatsoever lnc onus of proof shall lie on the person or authority opposing the claim, application or appeal. The effect of this is that it is not for the claimant to prove that he is entitled to a pension, but it is for any opposing person or authority to prove that he is not entitled. In every case the question is not: Has the claimant satisfied the tribunal that he is right? but Has the opposing person or authority satisfied the tribunal that the claimant is wrong? Of course, a claimant may find himself in a position in which it is greatly in his own interest to supply evidence to support his claim. 1 agree with other honorable senators that the Minister is most courteous and sympathetic, but whenever the onus of proof provision is mentioned he insists that ex-service organizations are perfectly satisfied that the provision is working well. I disagree with him in that respect, because I know quite a number of officials of ex-service organizations who are very distressed and worried about the way that the onus of proof provision operates at the present time. In actual fact, the onus of proof is most definitely on the claimant.

I have particulars of cases which could not possibly have been rejected had the tribunal which hear,d them administered the onus of proof provision in the proper way. There are thousands of such cases. Perhaps I may be permitted to mention two or three. In doing so, I do not wish to cast a reflection on the personnel of the tribunals, who have a duty to do. As Senator Mattner has said, some of them are legal men. They consider it their duty to reject every claim that they possibly can, and they regard that as a part of the job that they are appointed to do.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– You know that that is entirely wrong. They are independent bodies.


– No, it is not wrong. I am not reflecting on the personnel of the tribunals. I am merely saying that that is the atmosphere in which they have been brought up.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– They may have done that in your day, but they do not do it now.


– They are doing it now. T am speaking of recent cases.

Another matter that I have mentioned previously in this place is the almost thirddegree interrogation to which some claimants are subjected by the tribunals. Applicants go before the tribunals in fear and trembling. Quite a number of them are not represented by advocates. As Senator Mattner has said, in a number of appeals that are rejected no reason whatever is given for rejecting them. I think it was the Minister who said that an advocate could obtain from a tribunal the reason for disallowing or rejecting a claim. I have been told by advocates who have appeared before tribunals that they have endeavoured to learn the reasons for the rejection of claims and have not been able to do so.

I have also been told, and I know that it is a fact, that in many cases ex-servicemen who appeal are asked by the appeal board to state the cause of death of their parents and other members of their families and the age at which each member of the family died. In some cases, they also are asked to sign a document giving permission to the Repatriation Department to have access to insurance policies they hold. In addition, they are asked the amount of superannuation they are receiving. Ex-servicemen should not be subjected to interrogation of that kind, lt should not matter whether or riot they are receiving superannuation or other payments. Their cases should be judged without reference to such matters. I was told by an official of the T.P.I, organization that in the case of a certain applicant, the department kept putting him off for five years because he was in receipt of superannuation of £5 per week. Because of that, for a period of five years he was put off by either the Repatriation Commission or one of the tribunals. These questions are not asked of an advocate, but they appear to be the standard type of questioning. One question that applicants are asked is, “ Who cuts the lawn? “ One applicant, as a matter of fact, was even asked if he could use his own toilet paper. I suggest that that is a typical method of interrogating claimants for war pensions. Tn another case a war widow who appeared before a tribunal claiming a pension was told that in her marriage vows she vowed to marry her husband for better or for worse. That is the sort of interrogation to which these applicants are submitted at the present time; yet we are told that the onus of proof is on the department. If we have regard to these facts - and they are facts - it is perfectly obvious that the onus of proof rests very definitely on the applicants.

Another matter which is very disturbing and vexatious, and not at all conducive to the contentment of claimants for pensions, is the lag from the time when a person first lodges his claim until ultimately his appeal is heard by the various tribunals and finally by the War Pensions Assessment Tribunal. The time lag is in the vicinity of three to five months and that time keeps fairly static. In 1959, I asked a question with reference to this time lag and the number of appeals rejected during the twelve months ended 31st December, 1958. I asked how many appeals were lodged, how many were rejected and what was the average time lag from the date of lodgment of the first application to the Repatriation Commission and the date on which applications were finalized. The reply given to me was that during that period the number of applications for pensions and/ or medical treatment was 39,724. During the same period 37,413 applications were determined and of those 20,910 were rejected; the number of appeals lodged with the War Pensions Entitlement Appeals Tribunal was 5,410; and 4,990 appeals were decided, of which no fewer than 4,442 were disallowed. In all these cases no reason was given for the rejection of an appeal.

The reply to my question stated -

No statistics are available of the average time lag between lodgment and finalization of applications made during the twelve months ending 31st December, 1958. However, a survey carried out shows that in cases decided during February, 1959, the average time between the date of lodgment of a claim and the date of determination was 76 days.

That is a terrific time lag between the lodgment of a claim and the final hearing of the appeal. The picture is the same for the year 1959 in respect of the percentage of rejections. The reply I received in regard to appeals was-

Senator Anderson:

– Those are appeals to the tribunal?


– To the Repatriation Commission first. The number of appeals to the commission was 12,373, to the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals 6,804 and to the Assessment Appeal Tribunals 9,508. The reply continues -

No figures are available for the full year 1959 of the average time taken to determine appeals, but for December, 1959, the averages were as follows: Repatriation Commission 59 days, Entitlement Appeal Tribunals 114 days, and Assessment Appeal Tribunals 89 days.

I also received information in respect of appeals decided in 1959 as follows -

The following available information relates to appeals decided in 1959; some of them would have been lodged before January 1, 1959, whilst some appeals lodged in 1959 would not have been determined as at 31st December of that year.

Those figures clearly indicate that the onus of proof provision is not being administered as was intended by the Parliament. Having regard to the interrogation to which applicants are subjected and to some of the cases that I shall refer to in a moment, it is perfectly obvious that the provision is not being administered in the way it should be. In one case - I shall not mention the name of the person for obvious reasons - I received a letter from the Repatriation Department in reply to representations I made. In its reply the department said -

The decision of the Assessment Appeal Tribunal is binding upon Mr- , the Repatriation Commission and the Repatriation Board alike for a period of six months from the date of the decision.

If a person has anything wrong with him he could quite easily die during that six months. The letter goes on to say that the person in question -

  1. . cannot appeal in respect of his present incapacity during the binding period unless he is of the opinion that his incapacity has increased since he appeared before the tribunal.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– That is fair enough, is it not?


– He has to apply again and be rejected and then has to wait another six months. He has to produce evidence whereas the onus of proof should be on the department. On each occasion on which he appeared before these tribunals he had to produce evidence. The letter continues -

If at any time it is considered that his incapacity has increased he should advise me in writing so that appropriate action can be taken to review his case.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– That is quite right. What is wrong with that?


– Just listen to this; the letter continues -

The following is a statement of the disabilities accepted as due to Mr.- ‘s war service: Gunshot wound in the head, rhinitis, infection of the right maxilliary antrum, otitis media with conductive deafness right and left plus presbycusis, generalised osteo-arthritis general debility, deflected septum causing nasal obstruction.

All of those disabilities were accepted as due to war service, but that man’s appeal was rejected. He was told that the decision of the tribunal was binding on him and the commission for six months, but if his condition became worse he could write to the department so that appropriate action could be taken to review his case. That is only one case of many.

Another case relates to an ex-serviceman whom I was trying to have admitted to a repatriation hospital. Plenty of beds were available, but he was not admitted because he did not have a repatriation entitlement. A little later he died. He had enlisted at an early age and served in Singapore. He escaped from Singapore, returned to Australia, joined another unit, and went to New Guinea and the islands. Yet, because he had not established a repatriation entitlement he was virtually turned adrift to die. He left a comparatively young wife and a very young family.

I have another case relating to an exserviceman of World War I., who served in Egypt and Anzac. He was invalided from Anzac to Gibraltar and then transferred to the Beaufort War Hospital in England. Although he had had many bouts of severe sickness, he had not troubled the Repatriation Department since his discharge. There are thousands of ex-servicemen - 1 am one - who have never been near the Repatriation Department. They were eager to get out of uniform and return to civilian life. As far as 1 know, I have not any physical disability, but there are thousands who are not so fortunate and in their later life are suffering disabilities which, if not actually caused by war service, have been aggravated by it.

Some time ago, on account of severe and persistent pains, this man was obliged to make overtures to the Repatriation Department for a war pension. This was at the suggestion of the local repatriation doctor, who expressed the opinion that this man should apply for a T.P.I, pension. A full and complete examination was carried out at Hanna-street and at Caulfield Hospital and reports were made available. In a subsequent memo, from the Repatriation Department to him, the following passage appears: -

With reference to your application for acceptance of accident to left hand, head, legs and ears as due to war service, I have to advise that after investigation the following diagnosis was made: -

Athero-sclerosis with aortic stenosis - coronary insufficiency - generalised osteoarthritis and perceptive deafness.

The Repatriation Board, after full consideration, was unable to accept the above-mentioned disabilities as being attributable to your war service.

Does the Minister not think that in such a case there must inevitably be some doubt? 1 was given information about a case in which five private doctors had verified that the disabilities of one applicant for a war pension were, if not caused by war service, at least definitely aggravated by it. The three doctors who gave evidence for the Repatriation Commission were of the contrary view and their opinion over rode the opinion of the other five doctors.

The widow of another ex-serviceman applied for a war widow’s pension. Her husband had enlisted in the First A.I.F. at eighteen years of age and his medical history showed that he had been wounded in the head. He ultimately died of a depressed tumour on the brain. Her application was rejected. Must there not have been some doubt in that case? Some of the cases that come to my notice would make one cry. Other senators and members have had the same experience. Some of these fellows are in a depressed and agitated state and they say that making application to the commission and ultimately to the board drives them almost mad. lt seems to be like running up against a brick wall. They cannot get beyond tribunals, and this is because of the ineffectual operation of the onus-of-proof provision. The onus is very definitely upon the applicant. As Senator O’Byrne indicated, we intend to move in committee an amendment in relation to that aspect.

I could refer to quite a number of other matters, but I have dealt particularly with the controversial and vexatious onusofproof provision. Senator Mattner rightly described it as being comparable in Com,plexity and viciousness with the famous or infamous section 92 of the Australian Constitution. I shall be supporting the Opposition’s amendment at the committee stage, when I hope to have something further to say on these matters. I keep plugging away on them at every opportunity. The wives of T.P.I, pensioners are rendering a wonderful service and saving the community thousands of pounds in hospital charges alone. They deserve free medical and hospital treatment. If the onusofproof provision were made to operate in the way that was originally intended we would not have a vast number of applicants being rejected by tribunals without good reason. To-day the onus rests fairly and squarely on the shoulders of applicants.

New South Wales

– I enter the debate but briefly, being prompted to do so by some comments that came from the Opposition. However, at the outset, I give the bill my absolute support. I congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) upon the sustained effort that he has put into the cause of repatriation over many years. Once again we have in this bill strong evidence of his untiring advocacy at the Cabinet level in the interests of exservicemen. I congratulate Senator Wedgwood upon her very fine address in support of the bill. I regret that I was not present for most of Senator Manner’s speech.

Senator Sandford spoke at length and chose to deal with a lot of individual cases. That is not a very wise thing to do. It is almost unfair to take snippets of information from a file on a case and put up what the honorable senator would have us believe are unassailable arguments in favour of the granting of a pension. If Senator Sandford has handled all the cases that he has mentioned, he would know that consideration of a claim for a pension might cover a tremendous period of time and involve at least a dozen different medical reports and the history of the case in question. Simply to say that the existence of some peculiarity justifies the granting of a pension is palpably absurd and is quite inconsistent with a proper study of individual cases.

The honorable senator dealt with the case of an ex-serviceman who had been a prisoner of war. He said he could not get the person in question into hospital for treatment. But surely every honorable senator here knows that an ex-serviceman may be admitted to a repatriation hospital for diagnosis and report. Being an ex-prisoner of war, I can tell the honorable senator that, particularly in the cases of ex-prisoners of war, the Repatriation Department bends over backwards to make certain that the person concerned is put into a repatriation hospital for diagnosis and report. To suggest, as the honorable senator did by inference, that the person concerned died because there was no hospitalization at the repatriation level is most unfair. It reflects to some extent upon the ability of that person’s advisers. The admission of such cases for diagnosis and report has been in operation as long as I can remember, lt is inexcusable at any level that an exservice:nan, particularly if his is a serious case, should not be admitted for diagnosis and report.

Senator O’Byrne, who led for the Opposition, referred to cancer. I think he did so moderately and reasonably. But let me tell Senator O’Byrne that cancer due to war service has been accepted for pension right purposes. No honorable senator mentions the names of particular cases. I certainly do not believe in mentioning names, but I do point out that there is a famous case which I know the Minister will recall and which involved the widow of an Air Force man who died from cancer. In that case the illness was accepted, on appeal, as being warcaused and to-day the widow in question is the recipient of a considerable sum of money, even though no doubt it is inadequate for the suffering she has endured. Not only was the illness accepted as being warcaused, but in the final analysis the case virtually was determined upon the onus of proof and benefit of the doubt provisions of the Repatriation Act. So it cannot be said that cancer is not accepted as a war-caused disability and that the onus of proof provision does not work.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the onus-of-proof and benefitofthedoubt provisions in the act. If we were to take note of what Senator Sandford says, we would imagine that all an ex-serviceman had to do was to march along to the Repatriation Commission or to a war pensions entitlement appeal tribunal and say, “ 1 want a pension. I am sick, and the onus is on you to prove that I am not “. Such a suggestion is utterly absurd. It is true that the onus-of-proof rests upon the department, but the history of the case must be taken into consideration. I say again that, if we were to listen to some members of the Opposition, we would imagine that all an ex-serviceman had to do was to say to the department, “ I have a pain and it is up to you to prove that I have not. I am entitled to a pension “.

Senator Tangney:

– Oh, no!


– That has been the tenor of the references of the onusofproof provisions.

Senator Sheehan:

– That would be an extreme case.


– It is no more extreme that is the case that has been put up by the Opposition. That is where the Opposition falls down in its thinking. We must be reasonable. This Government has a magnificent record of achievement in this field. In spite of all the economic problems with which it has been confronted, it has met its obligations to ex-servicemen and also the obligations that have been accepted by previous governments.

This legislation has a number of significant features. From time to time exservicemen’s organizations make representations to senators and governments for certain concessions, if you so like to describe them, or improvements in the benefits given to ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen. I have before me the 1960 national pension plan submitted by the Returned Servicemen’s League. Every year this organization makes representations to the Government in relation to what it considers should be done for ex-service personnel. Its submissions are considered by the Government at the highest possible level. The league itself has its list of priorities. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that in the 1960 plan the league indicated the following improvement as having No. 1 priority: -

To seek repatriation medical treatment benefits for service pensioners.

That is the very thing for which provision is made in the bill. The league also submitted a series of other requests, and it was proper for it to do so. Of course, the league does not necessarily assume that it will get all the things it wants in the one budgetary period. But let me repeat that the first concession it sought in this budgetary period, and for which provision is made in the bill, was repatriation medical treatment benefits for service pensioners.

I do not wish to go through the bill in great detail. I rose particularly because I felt that, in justice to the Minister and the Government, I should direct attention to the fact that in some cases cancer has been accepted as due to war service and that there is not a complete embargo on it. I could cite a very important case in which it was accepted and in which the onusofproof and benefit-of-the-doubt provisions operated.

I also rose to speak because I felt that Senator Sandford did the wrong thing in mentioning specific cases and taking little sippets out of a particular appeal.

Senator Sheehan:

– His cases all appeared to be very genuine.


– I am not questioning that they are genuine cases, but the honorable senator was speaking on medical questions and endeavouring to convince the world at large that the claimant’s case was unassailable. For instance, he spoke about a gun-shot wound in the head and said that because the man had a tumour, that wound was responsible for it. Of course, as even the most humble layman would know, that need not necessarily be true. There could be - and no doubt there were - grounds for suggesting that there was not a relationship between the two. I suggest that the honorable senator was very unwise in being so dogmatic on these matters.

Briefly, the bill provides for an increase of 10s. in the total and permanent incapacity pension. It is interesting to recall that when this Government came into power in 1949 the T.P.I, rate was £5 6s., and it is significant that under the leadership of the present Minister for Repatriation in respect of repatriation matters, the Government has consistently increased the T.P.I, rate. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that the rate was increased by £1 14s. in 1950, the very first year of office of this Government. That suggests that there had been some sluggishness on the part of the preceding administration in regard to this pension. In 1951 the rate was increased by £1 15s.; in 1953 by 10s.; in 1955 by 10s.; in 1957 by 25s.; in 1958 by 10s.; in 1959 by 7s. 6d.; and this year by 10s. Since 1949 there has been a total increase of £7 9s., or 140 per cent. The same pattern is shown in the 100 per cent, general pension rate, although the increase is not identical. So this Government has given favorable consideration to ex-servicemen as my illustration of pension increases show.

I suggest that a significant part of this legislation is the increased benefits to be given to the service pensioner. There is some confusion in the minds of some people in regard to that pension. As most honorable senators know, it is payable to ex-servicemen of 60 years and over and to ex-servicewomen of 55 years and over. In other words they receive the pension which the ordinary civilian receives five years later. It has been referred to as the burntout digger’s pension, but I do not like that expression. I repeat it only because people know it by that name. The service pension is to be increased by 5s. per week. The second benefit proposed for the service pensioner is the alteration of the means test. He will derive benefit from what is now known as the merged means test, which is consistent with the new means test which will apply under the Social Services Act.

The third benefit that the service pensioner will receive is the one to which I referred a moment ago. The Government has decided to provide medical treatment for service pensioners irrespective of whether or not their disabilities are due to war service. That is an extraordinarily good provision which has had a high priority in the requests of the exservicemen’s organizations. I believe it will provide a benefit which is very hard to estimate. Most ex-servicemen of World War I. are now in the age group in which they qualify for service pensions under certain conditions; but it is very reassuring to the ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen of World War II. and to those who took part in the Korean and Malayan campaigns to know that with the passing of years their medical care and treatment will be provided. That has been on the minds of many men and women for some time.

I wish to refer to only one other aspect of this matter, and that is the criticism of the Repatriation Department, the Repatriation Commission and the various tribunals. I resent the reflections cast upon men almost 100 per cent, of whom are themselves ex-servicemen.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– They are 100 per cent, ex-servicemen.


– The Minister assures us that they are 100 per cent, exservicemen. I resent the implication that they would be so miserable as not to be honest in their dealings with other exservicemen. To me it is deplorable to suggest that for some reason which has never been explained they would not be fair to other ex-servicemen. The exservicemen’s organizations are represented on the tribunals. I am satisfied that, within the framework of the act for which we are responsible, those men do an honest and fair job at all times, without reservation. They have regard to the needs, the care and comfort of their former comrades in arms and nobody should ever suggest otherwise.

We do not always win our cases; we lose some and win others. I have presented many cases to the Repatriation Department and I always come away feeling that the department has tried to do the best it could. It is dangerous to believe that the department does not always make the right decision, simply because some claims are not successful. I believe that the department is always fair. It is heartening to know that this bill will enable the dedicated people in the department to give more and more service to ex-servicemen and to help their comrades with whom, years ago, they probably lived under conditions we do not like to think about. I support the bill. I congratulate the Minister on introducing it and 1 hope it has a speedy passage.

Senator TANGNEY:
Western Australia

– I believe that if any aspect of Government administration should be considered on a non-party basis, it is the department administered by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter

Cooper). I will say that I do not think any other federal Minister tries so wholeheartedly as does the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) to administer his department without displaying any party bias. In rising to discuss this bill, I want to commend those parts of it which I think are commendable and to express my regret at the omission of some things from it. Comparing the repatriation proposals with other proposals in the Budget. I would say that the Minister has had a great deal more success with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) than have many of his colleagues.

The bill gives some advantages to those members of the community who deserve them most - that is, the ex-servicemen of various wars who, in many instances, sacrificed their health over many years in the defence of this country. Having said that, Mr. Deputy President, I would like to say how much I regret that there has been no increase in the allowances payable to the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners and no increases in the allowances for the education of children or in the many other benefits which the Repatriation Commission offers to ex-servicemen and their dependants.

I am vitally interested in this department. I have two sisters who are war widows and two brothers who both saw active service. I would like to thank the Repatriation Department in Western Australia most sincerely for the wonderful treatment that my sisters have received. Just recently, the Repatriation Department moved into very fine premises in Perth. I have wondered how the members of that department did such a wonderful job for over 40 years under the disadvantages that existed in their old premises. It was only last year that a new building was erected for the department in Perth, and the advantages that have accrued to exservicemen and their dependants are very noticeable. For instance, very fine health services and medical services are now available at the department itself. This saves those who are in need of repatriation attention from having to go all round the town to various places in order to get the attention to which they are entitled. I spoke quite recently to some of the war widows in Perth, who told me that they had never had such wonderful attention as they were receiving at the new clinic which had been opened at the new Repatriation Department building in Perth. I should like the Minister to know that what is being done there is appreciated.

I turn now to the man who has come to be called the burnt-out digger. I would like Senator Anderson to know that I do not like the term, either. The fact that war pensions are given shows that successive governments have realized that, irrespective of actual war injuries, war service could have an adverse effect in later years upon the general health of soldiers. That is a point which, I think, has to be taken into consideration by the Repatriation Commission when we bring before it the cases of people who are applying for pensions now, many years after World War I. We all have to deal with these difficult cases - cases of men applying now for pensions in respect of disabilities which they suffered, they say, as a result of their service in World War 1. We find that it is very difficult to get the necessary evidence. This is particularly so - 1 have not heard this point mentioned in this chamber before - when men who enlisted in one State of the Commonwealth, after the passage of 30 years or so are domiciled in another State, lt is difficult for them! to get in touch with their old comrades, and so on, in order to produce evidence. It is impossible for the widow of a man who enlisted in one State and died in another to bring forward evidence when she is requested to do so.

Many of the cases with which I have to deal concern people who were gassed in World War I., and whose medical records were either lost or destroyed by enemy action. There are many of them. In some instances, men who were gassed in World War I. and afterwards suffered from lung cancer have been granted pensions. I would like the department to make it a general practice to accept that men who have been in known gas areas - even if we have no record of their having been gassed - and who are now suffering from cancer should be given the benefit of the doubt and granted pensions in respect of that disability.

I am pleased to note that, under this measure, service pensioners are to receive medical benefits. This is a matter upon which there should be no difference of opinion between members of the Government and members of the Opposition. We campaigned for this at the last election in a non-party spirit. We said that treatment in repatriation hospitals should be extended to the veterans of World War I., irrespective of whether their pension entitlement was established or not. I raised this matter during the debate on the repatriation measure last year. Senator Sir Walter Cooper was with me in Perth at the opening of the Repatriation buildings when we were approached by some ex-servicemen of World War I., who had made the same request on that day in ordinary conversation with the Minister. We all know that this is something that no person in the community will regret. We are very pleased to know that these people will be entitled to treatment, irrespective of whether their disability was war-caused.

There are men who at present are suffering from chronic illnesses, such as arthritis. 1 have in mind one particularly pathetic case. This man, who is a pensioner of World War I., suffers from osteo arthritis, which is not classed as due to war service. He was for the last couple of years in an annexe to the Perth Hospital, and he is now in a hospital in the hills about 35 miles from Perth. When his wife goes to see him, to take him some little delicacies and so on, she has to pay over £1 in fares. I feel that if we cannot accept chronic sufferers - it is not a question of their dying gracefully; they are really suffering - for treatment in repatriation hospitals, some hospitals should be erected under the aegis of the Repatriation Department where such men could receive treatment and be among old diggers. That would be of help to them during their long and painful illnesses. I do not think it would cost a great dealt to adopt this suggestion.

I know that in various States returned soldiers’ organizations are working to provide hostels for aged soldiers. I like the idea that was brought forward by Senator Mattner that the Government should subsidize, on a £2 for £1 basis, soldiers’ organizations and other bodies interested in providing homes for aged diggers, as is done in relation to other classes of aged people in the community. I think it is very sad to see people who, as young men, went forth to battle with faith and love of country so deeply in their hearts, numbered among the aged people who are without homes and, in many instances, without hope. I was amazed at the statement - I think it was made by Senator Mattner - about psychopathic senility in people of 50 years of age. I wonder what the members of this Senate would be like if they were subjected to the same test. I think that the average person of 50 is just at the zenith of his powers. If there is a suggestion that psychopathic senility may be due to war service, it seems to be that investigation is necessary, particularly if there is evidence that many people have such a characteristic so early in life.

Unfortunately, this bill is not a very large one. It proposes to give an additional benefit of 10s. a week to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, thereby bringing the payment for a single man to £12 15s. a week. But the wife of a T.P.I, pensioner will still receive only £1 15s. 6d. a week. We know that, in practice, where husband and wife both receive pensions the incomes are pooled, but it is rather sad to think that the wife is not given more consideration in this and other legislation that the Government has introduced. Surely she cannot be expected to survive on £1 15s. 6d. a week. She certainly could not do so if she lived where we live at the present time.

There are to be no increases in the education allowances. We all know that school fees, particularly those of private schools, have increased considerably, thereby draining more of the funds of the Repatriation Department. An excellent job is being done in regard to education schemes and also vocational and parental guidance. I have found that many of the officers of the department are both ready and willing togive such guidance to the boys and girls who are more or less their wards during school years. Of course, the cost of those services is not shown in the bill before us, but it is obvious that expenditure this year will be greater than it was last year. When we come to deal with the Estimates in detail I have no doubt that we shall find that that is so, because costs have risen a great deal. That is why I should like to cross swords for a moment with Senator Anderson. We are not children. Most of us are approaching the age of psychopathic senility, to which 1 have referred, and therefore we should be able to look at some of the problems that come before us in the Senate without party political malice. It is futile to speak of expenditure to-day in terms of the values of five, ten or twenty years ago. We know that the important thing is the goods and services that the money will buy. The value of money lies in its use as a medium of exchange. It is silly for anybody on the Government side to say, “ We are doing twice as much as you did because we are giving twice as much in pensions “, and it is just as silly for us to say, “ You are only doing half as much because the money is only going half as far”. We must take a yardstick and decide by that whether what we are doing is sufficient to meet the needs of the recipients of pensions, not whether it reflects honour and glory on the Government.

In the field of repatriation benefits, I believe that we are not doing enough. I am amazed, in the light of the general situation, that the Minister for Repatriation was able to obtain so much for his department when so little was given in other directions. Having said that, I think I should also say that those who are dependent on repatriation pensions for their living should not be stinted in any way. The payments they receive should have a much better relationship to the financial needs of to-day than is achieved by the granting of an all-round increase of 5s. or 10s. a week.

The provision for repatriation general hospitals throughout Australia is very good. We in Western Australia are more fortunate than are the people of South Australia in that we have a hospital for psychiatric cases. When Senator Critchley was a member of this chamber I used to hear him, not once a year but almost once a week, advocating better conditions for the mentally ill. I think that the Repatriation Commission should give a lead to the rest of the community in its approach to the mentally ill soldier. Medical science could very well be used to bring about a complete new consciousness of the responsibility of the community towards the mentally ill, particularly those who have become mentally ill because of the experiences they have undergone in the service of their country. I therefore hope that by the time the next Budget is presented to the

Parliament every State of the Commonwealth will have adequate facilities for the treatment of ex-servicemen. Having said that, I again say that I regret very much that the allowances for wives have not been increased. I commend the Minister on those parts of the bill to which I have referred and on which I think he should be commended.

Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [10.57]. - in reply - Having listened to the various speeches delivered from both sides of the Senate this evening I think I can say that, by and large, the bill has found favour. The Opposition has approved at least some aspects of it, while the supporters of the Government are pleased with the increases of benefits that are proposed. Reference has been made to section 47 of the act, which refers to the onus of proof. Ever since that section was incorporated in the act in 1929 and amended in 1943, there has been discussion of it in certain quarters. Some people have maintained that the provision has not operated in the spirit of the act. I should like to go further into this matter if time permits.

Senator Sandford stated that the exserviceman of the 1914-18 war was not receiving a fair go. I inform the honorable senator that, of 6,500 new pension grants made in the year 1958-59, 767 were to exservicemen of the 1914-18 war.

Debate interrupted.

page 480


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 480


Debate resumed.

In regard to section 47 and the onus of proof, I think we must take into account the set-up of our claims system. A man who is dissatisfied with the decision of a board can take his case right through to the appeal tribunals. During my recent visit overseas I found not one country which adopts the same generous approach to the granting of claims that we adopt here in Australia. 1 spoke to people associated with repatriation in America about our tribunal system and they could not understand a government giving such power to a body over which it had no control. They could not imagine a government giving a body power to make decisions involving money, without any government interference and without the government requiring some explanation of decisions. 1 found the same reaction in Canada and in the United Kingdom. Some European countries including the United Kingdom have given up granting further claims to exservicemen of the 1914-18 war.

We have to remember that under our system, the board to which the original claim is made comprises three members, each of whom is an ex-serviceman. One of them is appointed on the recommendation of ex-servicemen’s organizations and he is generally the secretary of the Returned Servicemen’s League. If a claim is not granted by the board, the applicant can appeal to the commission which again is comprised of three returned soldiers. Here, too, one member is appointed on the recommendation of ex-servicemen’s organizations and again, the national secretary of the Returned Servicemen’s League invariably holds that position. The next tribunal is the entitlement tribunal which is similarly constituted. At every stage the applicant is dealing with returned soldiers. I cannot think of a better set-up. If the ex-servicemen are not satisfied with the work being done by their representative, they can turn him out at the end of five years. They need not resubmit his name, and 1 have no power to put that man on a tribunal unless his name is submitted by an ex-servicemen’s organization. If what honorable senators have been saying tonight is true, it means that our comrades - and they are our comrades - are not doing the right thing by us.

Senator Sandford would have us believe that when a man appears before a tribunal, the members merely ask him some frivolous questions and then turn his appeal down. Of course, history does not support that contention. History shows that a large proportion of the claims made to these tribunals are accepted. I think that Senator Sandford himself said that about 70 per cent, of claims to the assessment tribunals were accepted.

Senator Sandford. - No.

As two processes have already been gone through before the case reaches the tribunal, naturally many appeals are rejected. This is substantially because we have encouraged members to make appeals to the commission and the tribunals. For the last few years, every letter of rejection from the board has been accompanied by a form that the member need only sign to indicate that he wishes to make an appeal to the commission. If the commission rejects the appeal, the member is sent a form which he signs if he wishes his appeal to go to a tribunal. That is why the work of tribunals has increased so greatly over the last few years. Shortly we shall establish another entitlement tribunal. When 1 came into office there were only two. We shall soon have four to keep up with the appeals being made. Most of the appeals are coming in because we encourage them. I think a man should go through the whole process if there is any chance at all. We encourage him to appeal to the commission and then to a tribunal. He cannot go further than that unless he obtains fresh evidence. We have done the best we can to give him every chance of having his claim accepted.

Of course, many people must be disappointed, but nobody can tell me that the tribunals and the commission do not observe the onus-of-proof provision and give the applicant the benefit of the doubt. It must be remembered that the doubt has to be in the minds of members of the tribunal or the commission, not in the mind of somebody who comes along and says that Tom Jones’s disability should be accepted as being due to war service.

Those were the chief matters that arose during the debate. I do not desire to detain the Senate. I appreciate what has been said about the department and myself. I echo the opinions of honorable senators on both sides when I say that this bill will be of great benefit to ex-servicemen especially in the extension to service pensioners of the provisions of regulation 66. I am very glad about this because many of the older men need assistance of that type and as ex-servicemen of the Second World War reach 60 years of age, as many have already done, they will receive the benefit of the legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.

Progress reported.

page 483


Industrial Arbitration

Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator KENDALL:

– During the debate on the motion for the printing of the Budget papers I had occasion to dispute one or two remarks made by Senator Kennelly about the seamen’s award. The honorable senator very kindly sent me a copy of the letter from which he was reading, and I should now like to go into one or two of the points raised in it. I refer first to paragraph (b), which deals with the keep allowance. It reads -

The “keep” allowance of £2 6s. per week has been treated as part of the wage and included for the purpose of calculating the hourly rate and the overtime rate.

Senator Kennelly seems to think that that has the effect of reducing the hourly overtime rate.

Senator Kennelly:

– No, I do not.

Senator KENDALL:

– That is what I gathered from what you said.

Senator Kennelly:

– I quoted the relevant figures.

Senator KENDALL:

– The addition of that board money must of necessity increase the rate.

Senator Kennelly:

– I quoted figures to show what the increase would be at the rate of time and a quarter. The weekly rate of £2 6s. works out at1s. 2d. an hour.I particularly based my calculations on the rate of £2 6s. a week.

Senator KENDALL:

– I say that by including the allowance you must increase the total amount payable and therefore must increase the overtime rate. Paragraph (c) reads -

A substantial reduction has been made in the recompense for working Saturdays and Sundays.

As I understand the situation, no reduction whatever has been made. Under the old award overtime payments were based on the monthly pay and not on a 40-hour week. The monthly pay was divided by 30 to get the daily rate, and from that you could arrive at the hourly rate. Under the existing award, if a man works for eight hours on a

Saturday he is paid the sum of £4 11s. 8d., or else is paid an extra 17s. 6d. and gets a day off. If a man is fully employed on a ship throughout the year, he works for 238 days and has leave for 127 days. In other words, he works for nine months and has three months’ holiday. In my opinion, that is not a bad effort.

Senator Kennelly:

– I am not arguing about that. 1 am only arguing on what is contained in the letter.

Senator KENDALL:

– If he worked on a Sunday he would get £5 9s. 2d., or a day off in lieu: If the days off are not given at the time, they are saved up and paid for when the ship finally pays off. I shall leave the matter at that until I have time to go into it more fully. I may have an opportunity during the consideration of the Estimates to do so.


– I stand by what I said earlier. I am not worried about a man working for 237 days; I did not mention that. I referred to Saturday and Sunday work and said that under the old award a person received time and a quarter for the day, and a day off.

Senator Kendall:

– Actually he got two and a quarter times his normal entitlement.


– That is right. But under the new award he simply gets time and a quarter. He loses one day’s pay when he works on a Saturday or Sunday. That is what I said earlier. I did read about the 237 days but I did not refer to that; I wanted to be on the safe side. I obtained authentic information from the Senior Vicepresident of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and I stand by it. I hope Senator Kendall will again raise the matter at a later date. I shall be happy to discuss it with him.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 11.27 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 September 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.